Recently on Facebook I had an exchange with a friend who was musing about how each side of the political debate attempts to co-opt God to support their political arguments. I typically shy away from such tactics because it tends to shut down discourse but this friend is a liberal Christian and I find that he spreads a lot of misinformation using scripture against the traditional side of the faith, so I felt compelled to respond.
My friend was writing about our “Western lens” as he put it and how we interpret scripture from our own experiences and biases, and how he had done many things to “square his faith with scripture.” As if to suggest that preaching and doing certain things, in and of themselves, was evidence for sound doctrine. My wife asked him about that. His reply is on the box below:
My reply to him follows:
Sound doctrine is not discerned through a gnostic smorgasbord of man-made commentaries, nor is it attained by preaching, writing books, bible tattoos, knocking on doors or doing a 2-year Mormon mission. That’s how we got into this mess in the first place and that’s how Calvinism got started – because people pay too much more attention to interpretations of scripture rather than the scriptures themselves. That behavior is the epitome of the “itching ears” warning that Paul wrote about in Timothy. I have had countless discussions with believers on all parts of the theological spectrum and I can tell you that they are much more prone to twist scripture than non-believers are. What I find consistent about them is they all have isogetical doctrines and when asked about them, they flee the discussion because they are not grounded in the word, they are grounded in the doctrine and they can’t back it up theologically. For example, Baptists and Calvinists are absolute about things like dispensationalism but when asked to produced evidence for that doctrine, they have nothing to fall back on other than Calvin’s opinions. I’m not interested in man’s opinions for discerning God’s truth. That’s what men do in the absence of hearing God and knowing him personally. They lazily rely on others to define their beliefs. I’m only interested in God’s ideas and there’s only one way to get those for myself.
We need the Father’s heart for grace, mercy, justice and truth. It’s not a best 3 out of 4 or something like that. All equally apply and all too often the left-leaning Christian wants to strip justice out of their theology while the right-leaning Christian acts like they’re trying to strip out grace. Both are wrong. We need 100% justice and 100% grace. The scriptures are the scriptures. We need to stop trying to change them to suit our political ideologies. That’s an affront to God and an idol that must be taken down.
The words says…
“Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching”…
(and I’ll just add here – how would we rebuke if there is no right or wrong, or no justice and consequences in the word? And why would Paul mention patience if it was something done quickly?) It goes on…
“For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions,”
(Teachers like Bruggemann, Cone, Rice, Beck, Jones, Ortiz, and countless other mainstream Christian authors that I could mention here too. That’s how we end up with gay clergy) It goes on…
…”and will turn away from listening to the truth (scripture) and wander off into myths” (like endless commentaries from Harvard professors). 2 Tim 4:2-4.
And here’s what happens when we stray into said myths…
“If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness, he is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions, and constant friction among people who are depraved in mind and deprived of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain.” I Tim. 6:3-5.
I’d say that pretty much describes our day.
Jesus said, “Know them (false prophets which come in all forms) by their fruit.” Matt. 7:16. What Paul wrote above in 1 Tim. 6, is bad fruit. Same was the fruit of the false prophets that Jesus spoke of in Matt. 7, who were casting out demons, prophesying in Jesus’ name and they were doing “many miracles.” The reason that passage is apropos here is because if they being mere men, were doing supernatural things, like signs and wonders and many miracles, and Jesus still rejected it, how much less are our deeds which lack those supernatural manifestations, yet we claim those to be God?
I suggest we take a closer look at scripture before we try to annex truth and ask ourselves, why did Jesus reject the men in Matt. 7 doing such amazing things? It was because he said, “I never knew you.”
They weren’t interested in what He wanted. They didn’t ask him if they should do those things. They just ran off and did what they wanted and then stepped back in a most self-righteous way and admired their handy work, a work that Jesus cursed and call them “evil doers” for. So doing many miracles is evil? It was to Jesus if it’s done outside the will of God. What’s more miraculous is that they were still able to do those miracles in spite of that posture toward God, but that’s a discussion for another day. That means it cannot be about of our intentions, nor our works, books, preaching series, nor can it be because of the outcomes of those things such as miracles, because the outcomes of the men of Matthew 7 were miraculous and it still wasn’t good enough for Jesus. Therefore, it has to be about knowing him and his heart for people and doing what he asks, whether we agree with it or not. That means treating a trans-gender person with dignity, love and grace, while also telling them that God has a better way for them – one that doesn’t conflict with their God-given identity or physical nature because he was not confused about their identity when he made them. Same with the homosexual. God would not make people homosexual and then curse them for it in his word if they were acting as He designed them to be.
God’s better way is filled with grace, mercy and truth and the rest is up to them, not us, to work out with God. We are only the messengers but we better get our message straight or we’ll end up like the false prophets of Matt. 7. Know them by their fruit? Indeed!