Monday, December 16, 2013

Is Christianity all about being relational?

Is Christianity all about being relational? Yes, to a large degree it is, and no, to a large degree it is not. The problem arises when the Bible is cherry picked to make a certain narrative work. For the liberal/postmodern thinker cherry picking the Bible is what they do best.

The postmodern thinker has a narrative about who Jesus is and what Christianity is suppose to look like. They tell us that Christianity is all about love and helping others just like Jesus did, so goes the chirp. They provide for us examples of Jesus feeding people, healing others, and just being a real nice guy. Where they err and fail, is that they throw out any narrative that does not fit their rosy self-painted picture of Christ.

Now we know at the heart of the gospel is reconciliation which at its core is relationship. The sinner who was estranged from God has been brought into a right relationship to God by the atonement of Christ. Man is in a very serious situation, you see, he is estranged form God by his sin, and his sin must be removed before he can enjoy any relationship with God.

So yes, Christianity is about relationship. Now here is the fly in the ointment for the liberal/postmodern, they will agree about the relationship part of Christianity, but will exclaim hogwash to the sin part. They are not so readily disposed to talk of sin, for them sin is a divisive word; it separates people, and marginalizes those who might be offended by being labeled a sinner. For the postmodern thinker sin is an outdated term and should be regulated to bygone days.

The liberal/postmodern has a different brand of Christianity...for them they have an offend none at all costs religion, for them, tolerance and being relational are the supreme virtues of the Christian life. Tolerance in their theology has morphed into a pervasive insistence that no one should hold firm convictions. In the end, this high value placed on being relational has distorted and perverted the whole message of the entire Bible.

The whole of their theology of tolerance is filled with structural flaws and is in direct opposition to traditional Christianity.  Neither Orthodox Christianity nor the Bible ever talks about relationship with God apart from first being reconciled to Him through atonement. Whenever we separate what the Bible has joined together we become guilty of cherry picking and we distort the true picture that the Bible paints of Christ.

The same Savior who told us to love our neighbor also said, "Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword (Matthew 10:34). The same Savior who showed kindness to the poor and marginalized also spoke to them in parables lest they should hear and understand and be converted, see Matthew 13:11,  "He answered and said to them, "Because it has been given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given.

Here is the full text:
Matthew 13:10. And the disciples came and said to Him, "Why do You speak to them in parables?"
11 He answered and said to them, "Because it has been given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given.
12 "For whoever has, to him more will be given, and he will have abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him.
13 "Therefore I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand.
14 "And in them the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled, which says: 'Hearing you will hear and shall not understand, and seeing you will see and not perceive;
15 for the hearts of this people have grown dull. Their ears are hard of hearing, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, so that I should heal them.'
16 "But blessed are your eyes for they see, and your ears for they hear;
17 "for assuredly, I say to you that many prophets and righteous men desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.

Revelation 1:7 gives us a description of the second coming of Christ when John records these words for us, "Behold He is coming with the clouds, and every eye shall see Him, even those who pierced Him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of Him. Did you get that? All of the earth will wail when Christ comes with power and glory...not the humble Shepherd as painted in the gospels, but the Lion of the tribe of Judea.

Let us heed the exhortation in the book of Romans 12:2 where Paul tells his readers to be transformed by the renewing of their minds. Let us submit our minds, wills, and emotions to the authoritative word of God. Let God's word sit in judgment upon all of your narratives, and let His narrative become your story to tell.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Some errors never die.

I am telling you today that something’s never die. Something’s just hang around and continue to morph and take other forms, but the core, their center is still the same. One of those things is theological error. Irenaeus of Lyons sums up error very succinctly with this definition---- “Error, indeed is never set forth in its naked deformity, lest, being thus exposed, it should at once be detected. But it is craftily decked out in an attractive dress, so as, by its outward form, to make it appear to the inexperienced more true than truth itself.”

One such error that has been able to wear a myriad of dresses is that old evil theological error of Marcionism. You are thinking what? Never heard of such a thing...well, that is most likely because it is so old and took place in the middle of the second century.

Back in the early church there was this bishop named Marcion who was extremely influential in that he succeeded in establishing churches of his own to rival the Catholic Church for the next two centuries. He was labeled a heretic and was excommunicated from the Roman church around 144 AD.

What was so dangerous about this man? Well, Marcion concluded that many of the teachings of Jesus were incompatible with the actions of the God of the Old Testament.  Marcion responded by developing a dualist system of belief around the year 144 AD. This dual-god notion allowed Marcion to reconcile supposed contradictions between Old Covenant theology and the Gospel message proclaimed by Jesus.

The main premise of Marcion's teachings were that the God of the Old Testament and the Jesus of the New Testament can not be reconciled. So Marcion set out to edit his own versions of the biblical books. Marcion's edited version of the Scriptures were known by The Gospel of the Lord.

Marcion did not like the picture of how the Old Testament presented God. The God of the Old Testament was wrathful and angry, and Marcion could not reconcile the God of the Old Testament with the Jesus of the New Testament, so he simply dismissed the God of the Old Testament as a Demiurge.

It seems that in some ways Marcion lives on today...maybe in another dress, but error nonetheless. How does his teaching live on today? Our modern liberal religious climate gives his error great soil to grow and take root.

The notion that God is only love, the notion that Jesus only came to show love, the notion that the primary mission and message of Jesus was to feed the poor and physically heal those who needed medical help. The notion of God punishing sin, judging sin, being angry at sin and the sinner is dismissed as some ancient tribal myth.

The next step that our modern liberal religious elite take is to edit the parts of the New Testament that does not fit in with their narrative of what God is supposed to look like. In the end we have idols that have been concocted in the depraved minds of those who reject the revelation of God throughout the whole sixty-six books of the Canon.

The liberal religious thinking of today has created a God that does not reconcile with the God that is presented in the whole of the Canon of Scripture. Their God is only love, sin never will be punished, in fact the notion of sin is dismissed as some old fashioned guilt tool used to manipulate the masses.

Let us heed the words of our old friend, Pastor J.C. Ryle:

Let us read our Bibles in private more, and with more pains and diligence. Ignorance of Scripture is the root of all error, and makes a person helpless in the hand of the devil. There is less private Bible reading, I suspect, than there was fifty years ago. I never can believe that so many men and women would have been “tossed to and fro with every wind of doctrine,” some falling into skepticism, some rushing into the wildest and narrowest fanaticism, and some going over to Rome, if there had not grown up a habit of lazy, superficial, careless, perfunctory reading of God’s Word. “You do err not knowing the Scriptures” (Matt. 22:29). The Bible in the pulpit must never supersede the Bible at home

The Renewing of the Mind

I've have written in the past on the life of the mind. I cannot stress enough the importance for the Christian to develop the life of ...