LOOK WHO’S TALKING!

Question for you this morning: Do we speak for the Bible or does the Bible speak for us? No, it’s not the same thing! Folks, believe this or not, it doesn’t matter one single iota! The church today has a serious problem–when it comes to the answer of this question. In my own Tribe, the United Methodist Tribe, the given answer by leadership is literally ripping us apart. But before you Baptists gloat over our split, look at the beam sticking out of your own eye. And this isn’t just a 21st Century problem. It’s plagued the history of The Body Of Christ. The disease is speaking for the Bible rather than the Bible speaking for us–and thus–to us!

It was even a problem back when Jesus walked this earth as one of us. The Pharisees and Sadducces saw their job was to speak for The Word Of God. They thought it was their job description–but it wasn’t. And today, it isn’t in anyone’s job description to speak for the Bible. In my own Tribe we have those who are doing just that. Speaking FOR the Bible means it’s up to us to determine what it means and how it applies to daily life! Mishegas! Oy vey, nosh, klutz! It’s pure schlock! Pure bupkis! I love Yiddish words and phrases. Here’s some examples of speaking for the Bible.

  • Torturing and killing anyone NOT a “christian”–by their definition
  • Judging others based solely on their race
  • Justification of slavery
  • Making women as second class citizens by saying they can’t do certain things
  • Jesus only died for certain people (predestination)
  • The blood of Jesus wipes away every sin and gives us all a new beginning–except when it comes to divorce
  • Jesus came to show us how to love, so this eliminates the long-standing sexual ethic, so it’s OK to be how you feel, sexually speaking

On that last example–Oy, Oy Vey, Oy Gevalt! It’s Dreck! Our Tribal leaders feel it is their job description (remember how Jesus felt about the Pharisees and Sadducces?) to tell the world that the tried and proven sexual ethic from the Bible is outdated. It takes an enlightened person, like them, to straighten out what the Bible got wrong. And if we don’t agree with them, then we’re mean, ugly, phobic, and hateful. What a bunch of schmucks!

It Matters!

It Matters! There’s so much talk–scratch that–there’s so much SHOUTING about WHO matters. Black Lives. Blue Lives. Asian Lives. White Lives. All Lives. But this morning I don’t want to talk about WHO matters. The burden that has been in my heart for some time now has been IT MATTERS! The reason being is that there are so many–way too many–who believe IT DOESN’T MATTER–though it does. What is the IT I’m talking about?

The IT is What We Believe About God And His Word–otherwise known as The Bible! Theological progressives are promoting this crazy idea that when it comes to God and His Word, it doesn’t matter what we believe, as long as we believe, especially that part about Love. Progressives say, “Just let us believe what we want. And you can believe what you want. And let’s just live together side by side. As long as we love each other, then the rest doesn’t matter.” But IT does MATTER!

People are heading down what they believe is the yellow brick road to enlightenment full speed ahead. But left in the wake of their ignis fatuus are broken, disillusioned, and deeply wounded people. They live a disconsolate and wistful existence. And the Progressives blame that lugubrious state of mind on those who of us who understand that IT DOES MATTER what we believe. While their mantra has been “You believe what you want and we believe what we want and we can still get along” is an incongruity because it elevates US human beings as the highest and final authority of what it means to put our faith in Christ–and to be His disciple and follower.

This kind of thinking is built upon a supposition that we humans are fully capable of understanding the heart and mind of God. That WE have the mental acuities to determine who God created us to become. That WE are free to determine what is right and what is wrong; what is acceptable and what is unacceptable; what is sin and what is not sin. In an online conversation with a progressive, she told me, “The Fall was a good thing because it freed us to determine our own life.” Excuse me, but isn’t that what Satan told Eve and Adam? I think it was.

Another alleged Gospel has been presented–it may sound good and reasonable to the human mind. It even sounds like it’s the way for all of us to get along. But sounding good and being good isn’t the same. Paul warned about this in Galatians Chapter 1, Verses 8 and 9–“Let God’s curse fall on anyone, including us or even an angel from heaven, who preaches a different kind of Good News than the one we preached to you.  I say again what we have said before: If anyone preaches any other Good News than the one you welcomed, let that person be cursed.”

Good News includes the truth that there is also Bad News! The bad news is that we are all infected, tainted, and under the influence of sin. This infection has corrupted our mind, and thus our ability to understand exactly what God wants of us. And the only reliable source to understand both the nature of sin and how it is affecting us is found in The Bible. Though the Bible was written by human hands, and though human minds brought together all these books as our Canon–our source for authority over us–I maintain that God was watching over these processes ensuring that today we have an accurate and reliable foundation, both about sin and God’s Grace. If God cannot protect The Truth from being transmitted through the millenniums, then God cannot be trusted at all.

We are not equipped mentally nor spiritually to determine what is or isn’t sin. Besides, we already have those definitions. It’s called The Bible. Here in The Bible is where we find Personal Holiness. Do we always get it right the first time? Hardly! But we are not left alone to our own devices to figure it out. We have many centuries of writers and witnesses who attest to the Truth of God’s Word. The Orthodox ways, though not perfected completely, reveal to us that Truth is Truth is Truth. And we are not free to redefine things like sin and personal holiness.

We have the Holy Spirit to help us. And the Holy Spirit will not, cannot contradict The Bible. We need to be careful, very careful, how we handle This Word. It matters what we believe–when it comes to sin, salvation, and a life of holiness. It matters, even if you think it doesn’t matter.

An Inch Is An Inch Is An Inch–Or Is It?

Have you ever closely examined a measuring tape? You should because they teach us an important lesson about life–to be more exact–how to live in the way that makes us whole and complete. You didn’t know that? My ESPN just kicked in and someone just thought: “How in the word does a measuring tape do that?” Well, I’m so glad you asked.

An inch is an inch is an inch is an inch. Be it a Stanley Tape Measure, or a DeWalt, or a Milwaukee, or a Lufkin, or a Klein, or a Ryobi, or a Rigid, or one of those cheap store brands. Compare them all, lay them side by side–one inch is the same on all of them–well maybe except those cheap store brands. There might be one that is two one thousands of an inch off–but there is consistency! At least close enough for government work.

If you are building a house, this is a comforting thought–that the architect, all the carpenters, plumbers, electricians, flooring installers, and HVAC folks are all using the same inch for their work. But–and I must throw this out there–WHAT IF the measurements each is using is different from all the others? The carpenter’s tape measure is different from the architect’s–the plumber’s is different from both of those. No one is using the same standard. Your bathroom may end up in a closet, and the master bedroom may be on the front porch. What? Man, my ESPN is really tuned in today.

Someone was just thinking: “That is so preposterous to even think about! There is no way on God’s green Earth that would happen!” And you’re probably right. But–this happens on something far more serious and important than building houses. It happens when people are building their lives. Lives are built upon this thing called ethics. This word comes from the Greek word ethos which means character.

A person’s character can be good–or it can be bad–based on their chosen system of morality. The predominant one today is based on a system originally called Situational Ethics, which, by the way, began as an alleged Christian Teaching (not sure how it qualifies as “Christian” though). The rightness or wrongness of decisions and actions cannot be determined by moral absolutes, but by the situation a person is in. In 1966, this over-educated man by the name of Joseph Fletcher unleashed a firestorm when he brought Situational Ethics into the limelight of academia. Overnight, people had a new way to do what they wanted without interference from those old-fashioned Judeo-Christians morals.

Today it’s called Contextualization. Right and wrong are no longer standardized. It’s about you, your situations, your feelings, your understandings. An inch is no longer an inch across the board. Contextualization is a way to justify disobedience to the long established, tried and proven orthodox values of morality. One is free to pick and choose whatever they like from the Bible–and disregard the parts they don’t like. An inch is no longer an inch. It’s whatever you Contextualize it to be.

I wonder if Paul had a vision of the 21st century when he wrote to Timothy in 2 Timothy 3:16, “All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. Of course, those who love Contextualization would say that it fits for Timothy’s day, but not ours.

The Greek word Paul used for Scripture is graphē and it means something written. For Timothy it would have been what we call The Old Testament. And Paul was confident that The Holy Spirit that opened Paul’s eyes to those Scriptures, would also open Timothy’s eyes. And fortunately for us today, we also have the New Testament.

And there is another Greek word being misused today–Rhema. It literally means an “utterance” or “thing said”. The misuse happens when Contextualization trumps Biblical Values. Rhema is a spoken word. Now, Jesus wasn’t called Rhema by John; He is called Logos–that self existent light of truth. Human Rhema does not have the power nor authority to override Scripture. While the proponents of Contextualization consider themselves Rhema, I see them for what they are: Tauros Onthos!*

(*Greek word for bull=tauros Greek word for manure=onthos. That’s all I got to say about that.)