The Battle For The Bible Continues

One day during my seminary training, I was sitting in a theology class at a school that just 15 years earlier had been influenced by liberal theology – a school where faculty members questioned biblical inerrancy and the exclusivity of the gospel. Thankfully, the SBC had fought “The Battle for the Bible” starting in 1979 and this school had returned to the faith of its founders. But, my theology prof said something on that particular day that I’ll never forget: “The Battle for the Bible didn’t start in 1979. It began in Eden’s garden, and it won’t end until Jesus returns.”

Wise leaders have told me repeatedly that our generation will have to fight for the Bible, and I’ve been reminded of those prophetic warnings in recent days by two key figures in the evangelical world.

First, Andy Stanley tweeted a link to an article where a young lady who has renounced Christianity talks about how much she misses being a Born-Again Christian. Along with the link, Stanley tweeted, “Why we must teach the next generation the FOUNDATION of our faith is an EVENT not a BOOK.”

Second, Christian singer Gungor is drifting from biblical orthodoxy. He doesn’t believe the early accounts in Genesis are historical, or that there was an Adam or an Eve or a global flood. Ken Ham pointed out that Jesus referenced Adam and Noah as historical people, to which Gungor replied that even if Jesus was wrong about the historicity of Adam and Noah that wouldn’t deny the divinity of Christ. Ken Ham responded again, and then he gives a screenshot of a Facebook comment where Gungor writes, “There is a trend in modern society, no more than a trend…a religion, an idolatry that elevates Scripture above Jesus.”

So, Stanley and Gungor seek to drive a wedge between the Bible and the person and work of Jesus. Stanley says the Bible is not the foundation of our faith, but rather an event. Gungor says that people elevate the Bible over Jesus and thereby worship it as an idol. The problem, though, is that we don’t know about the person or the saving event of the gospel except for the book! Any attempt to divorce Jesus’ person or work from the book is impossible because we wouldn’t know about these things without it! My dad tweeted Stanley after his tweet and said, “You do not know the event apart from The Book & the divinely inspired understanding of the event. You know this Andy.”

Honestly, none of this is new. Liberalism has sought to do that for hundreds of years. The impulse behind liberalism was never really to destroy Christianity; liberalism wanted to rescue Christianity from things that the modern mind couldn’t accept. It was in many ways well intentioned – as Stanley is well intentioned in his concern that this lady’s modern objections to the Bible caused her to walk away from Christianity and as Gungor is well intentioned to interpret the Bible through modern scientific analysis.

However, much would be gained if every “evangelical” Christian would sit down and read a book that was written nearly 100 years ago – J. Gresham Machen’s Christianity and Liberalism. Machen was battling for the Bible a long time ago and what he wrote was prophetic in his day and is still prophetic in ours. In his book, Machen destroys any notion that Christianity can survive if one divorces the Bible from the person or work of Jesus. His basic premise is that any belief system that would do that ceases to be Christian and is instead something else entirely. He writes, “For Christianity depends, not on a complex of ideas, but upon the narration of an event” (70), and that narration is found in the Bible.

Here are some things in Machen that are instructive for our modern debates:

  • You can’t elevate Jesus and downplay the Bible because Jesus had a high view of the Bible

Machen wrote that the trouble with liberalism, which sought to elevate Jesus over the Bible, was “that our Lord Himself seems to have held the high view of the Bible which is here being rejected” (75). So, Machen points out that “the modern liberal does not hold fast even to the authority of Jesus. Certainly he does not accept the words of Jesus as they are recorded in the Gospels. For among the recorded words of Jesus are to be found just those things which are most abhorrent to the modern liberal church…Evidently, therefore, those words of Jesus which are to be regarded as authoritative by modern liberalism must first be selected from the mass of the recorded words by a critical process. The critical process is certainly very difficult, and the suspicion often arises that the critic is retaining as genuine words of the historical Jesus only those words which conform to his own preconceived ideas” (77).

Machen wrote these words nearly a hundred years ago, but it is still the case that some modern Christians jettison or re-interpret things in the Bible that don’t conform to their preconceived ideas. This is exactly what Gungor is doing by jettisoning the early accounts of Genesis. Machen writes, “It is no wonder, then, that liberalism is totally different from Christianity, for the foundation is different. Christianity is founded upon the Bible. It bases upon the Bible both its thinking and its life. Liberalism on the other hand is founded upon the shifting emotions of sinful men” (79).

  • You can’t separate the person and work of Jesus from the book that proclaims Him

Machen was clear that the events of the gospel were not enough to save; the re-telling of the events and the interpretation of that narration were necessary for saving faith. He writes, “The world was to be redeemed through the proclamation of an event. And with the event went the meaning of the event; and the setting forth of the event with the meaning of the event was doctrine. These two elements are always combined in the Christian message. The narration of the facts is history; the narration of the facts with the meaning of the facts is doctrine. ‘Suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead and buried’ – that is history. ‘He loved me and gave Himself for me’ – that is doctrine. Such was the Christianity of the primitive Church” (emphasis mine; 29).

But, Machen anticipated the objection that we can free ourselves from this and appeal to Jesus Himself. Let’s go “Back to Christ” (29-30). In that day there were those who wanted to drive a wedge between Jesus and the Bible. He gives their objection, “Should not our trust be in a Person rather than in a message?” (39). But, he responds with the problem in that view, “The plain fact is that Jesus of Nazareth died these nineteen hundred years ago. It was possible for the men of Galilee in the first century to trust Him…But we are separated by nineteen centuries from the One who alone could give us aid. How can we bridge the gulf of time that separates us from Jesus?” His answer is the New Testament (39-45). He says that Jesus and the Bible are under attack, but we cannot know the Savior apart from the Bible!

Again, Machen writes, “From the beginning, the Christian gospel…consisted in an account of something that had happened. And from the beginning, the meaning of the happening was set forth; and when the meaning of the happening was set forth then there was Christian doctrine. ‘Christ died’ – that is history; ‘Christ died for our sins’ – that is doctrine. Without these two elements, joined in an absolutely indissoluble union, there is no Christianity” (27). If we divorce the person and work of Jesus from the book that tells us about who He is and what He did, then we no longer have Christianity.

Saying the foundation of our faith is an event – the cross and empty tomb – not a book can sound right, but we have to think a little more deeply and say to ourselves, “I wouldn’t know about that glorious cross and that empty grave without The Book!” Saying let’s elevate Jesus above our Bibles is true enough, but the only Jesus we know is the one to whom all the Scriptures point! So, don’t give up your Bibles because without them you don’t have Jesus, and if you don’t have Jesus, that’s Hell. Christianity is based on a book and Machen challenged us nearly 100 years ago, “Let it not be said that dependence upon a book is a dead or an artificial thing…Dependence upon a word of man would be slavish, but dependence upon God’s word is life” (78).

 

Original article found here.

Indicators You Might Apostatize

What follows is a link to a blog I read this morning.  It is mainly geared to those in professional ministry or academic pursuits, but I found it especially appealing as I often think along the same lines.  I have posted the sectional highlights below in the hopes that you will be enticed to read the article, and while it is a long read, in my opinion, one that is well worth it.  After you read it, spend some time thinking about it.

10.  Your ministry ambitions are fueled by something other than to see Christ’s Kingdom expanded.

9. You are more interested in enjoying your personal liberty than in erring on the side of personal restriction when it comes to the use of liberty.

8. You play fast and loose with Scripture.

7. When you are confronted with an interpretive difficulty, your tendency is to find fault with Scripture rather than to resolutely work through to a valid conclusion.

6. Your interpretive decisions are more likely to be influenced by popular opinion than by the grammatico-historical model of exegesis.

5. You will alter your theology based on life circumstances/experiences.

4. You will alter your theology due to relationships.

3. You stop struggling against sin.

2. You give up/replace on your devotional studies with activities.

1. You are not primarily motivated by an adoration for Christ.

The entire article can be found here and I hope you head on over and read it.

As an added bonus, there are two sermons by Brian Rickett entitled Ten Indicators That You Might Apostatize in 2013.  Here are the links to those:

Ten Indicators That You Might Apostatize in 2013 – Part 1

Ten Indicators That You Might Apostatize in 2013 – Part 2

Quenching The Spirit

quench the spiritI spent 26 years of my life associating and considering myself a Pentecostal and regularly attended either the Assemblies of God or the Church of God (Cleveland, TN).  I have also at times attended Foursquare and Pentecostal Holiness churches, so I would say that I am very familiar with the beliefs and practices of these denominations.  What is funny is that i never took the time to really read and study the Bible for myself during these years.  I never used the Word of God as it’s own interpreter, I just accepted what was preached.  That all changed about 4 years ago.  Since then, I have started leaning way towards the Cessasionist camp.  The following link, which I read this morning, really made me stop and think about my views.  Please read on:

The Charismatic Art of Quenching the Spirit

Scripture and Scotch Revisited

In case you missed the original post, it can be found here and you might want to read it first.  Then read this blurb from KSPR33, a local newsstation from Springfield, MO, and then read on in this post.

First off, I want to say that I am by no means a “prude” in how we share the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  I think it should be share promiscuously which is something most of us know little about from a Gospel perspective.  Yet, when we talk about promiscuous sex, we all know that that means someone who will have sex with just about anyone, at any time.  So, don’t think that I am against the spreading of the Gospel.  My concern is with the way in which it is being done.  Just this morning I was listening to the Mortification of Spin podcast and heard Carl Trueman say, “If you are into something because it is cool and hip, that is going to vanish like the morning dew when the heat comes.”  It would appear that church’s (and I use that term loosely) today think they have to be all “cool and hip” to reach the lost.  What are the results?  What were the results of the Scripture and Scotch time?  Were lives regenerated?  I do not see any of that posted on the facebook website.

When we use the ways of the world to reach the world, haven’t we by definition said to the world that the Church just isn’t good enough?  While most would say that this isn’t the case, I think if you look at it from a scriptural perspective, you will find it to be true.  1 John 2:15-17 really could not be more explicit in saying, “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.”

Octavius Winslow says:

Therefore, come out from them and separate yourselves from them, says the Lord. Don’t touch their filthy things, and I will welcome you. (2 Corinthians 6:17)

There is not a stronger mark of the Lord’s people than their separation. They are separated from the world, separated from their families, separated from their own righteousness, and often separated from the religious world–a godly people whom the Lord has set apart from all others, that He might set them apart for Himself. Now, it is this distinctive badge ofseparateness the Lord will have His saints retain in all their Christian course. We are very apt to forget it.

We live in the world, mix with the world, hold transactions with the world, and, in some measure, are guided by the Continue reading

Scripture & Scotch?

My wife came and told me that she saw an event on Facebook that was endorsed by a pastors wife that she is friends with.  Scripture and ScotchI guess the premise of this event is to go to a local nightclub in Springfield, MO, play secular music, drink, and share scripture with those who attend.  Judging from the facebook page it would appear that  at least one person who hasn’t been at church in a year, will be there along with many others.  So, my initial impression is that this is a way for those who attend church to have an excuse to go act like the world, which is exactly what Paul said not to do in Romans 12:2 and the Apostle John talked about in 1 John 2:15-17.  I am constantly amazed at the rationalization those who call on the name of Christ come up with to reach the lost instead of just preaching the Gospel message and calling on people to repent and believe.  What is even more troublesome is that I know that the church (cough, sputter, etc) where a lot of those who are leading this is affiliated with a denomination that used to believe in holiness and separation from the ways of the world.  Isn’t it interesting how times have changed?

 

 

Chris Rosebrough’s Museum of Idolatry

Obviously not for the faint of heart, but it is what the evangelical community has had to resort too since it can’t be the true Church.  With songs and preaching like this, it won’t be long before the evangelical church’s have to resort to even more vile things to draw a crowd.  These video’s were inducted into the Museum of Idolatry from Ignite Church in Joplin, MO, and they certainly deserve the induction. 

Ten Contemporary Sacred Cows that need Tipping

Found this an interesting read this morning. 

1. Entertainment-based Sermons

Pastors/elders/teachers want to be liked. Some want to be liked so much that they’re willing to entertain their hearers while preaching the Bible. They wrongly assume that because people enjoy their sermons, they enjoy Jesus as well. The problem is that if we’re seeking to entertain our hearers, then we don’t believe God or Scripture can hold the attention of God’s people. In other words, you may say “the Bible is worthy of your attention,” but if you’re using entertainment to communicate this, then you’re undercutting your message with your methods. If the Bible is worthy to be heard because God is its Author, then you shouldn’t have to use entertainment to get Christians to listen to it. You just might be entertaining your hearers to death.

2. Bribes

Easter Sunday was just a few weeks ago. With the heightened cultural interest in the resurrection of Christ, churches pulled out all the stops to persuade attendees. Churches gave away cars, money, ipads, food, etc. Continue reading

The Devil’s Mission of Amusement

In my perusings this morning I came across something by Archibald Brown that is so applicable to what seems to be happening to the Church today.  It also reminded me of something Carl Trueman said at a breakout session at the Together for the Gospel 2012 conference.  He was talking about the church campus model that seems to be accepted today.  He led into the talk by explaining church architecture of old.  It seems that in the past, church’s, cathedrals actually, were designed in such a way that your eye was drawn to what was most important when you walked into the building.  He talked about a Catholic cathedral that was centered on the Altar and on a Protestant cathedral that was centered on the Lectern.  In the Catholic tradition, the Altar is where God and man come together.  In the Protestant tradition, the Word and the preaching of the Word is where God and man come together and architecture of old emphasized that.  Mr. Trueman then went on to talk about the modern church that is built around a “stage” that seems to have been borrowed from the theater in the 1800’s.  He then proceeded to talk about the way that a lot of modern church’s, with their satellite campus systems have live music and piped in sermons.  He said, and I agree, that this model seems to show what is important.  He went on to imply that if the preaching of the Word is the most important thing, then why isn’t the music piped in and the preaching live?

I relate all of this to set the tone for something Reverend Brown said a century ago in a sermon entitled The Devil’s Mission of Amusement.  Here is the text of his message:

Different days demand their own special testimony.  The watchman who would be faithful to his Lord and the city of his God has need to carefully note the signs of the times and emphasize his witness accordingly.  Concerning the testimony needed now, there can be little, if any, doubt.  An evil is in the professed camp of the Lord, so gross, so brazen in its impudence, that the most shortsighted of spiritual men can hardly fail to notice it. During the past few years it has developed at an abnormal rate, ever for evil, It has worked like leaven until now the whole lump ferments, Look which way you may, its presence makes itself manifest.  Continue reading