For it is by grace you have been saved...

Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Standard of Scripture

In response to a previous post about Declaring the Whole Gospel, a well meant comment was left about not wanting to call anyone a heretic. The argument is that we can’t be dogmatic about interpretation, and so we have to leave things open to the interpretation of each individual in what this comment called the “unique relationship to both God and the Bible.”

The person leaving the comment mentioned that this was offered in a gracious manner and asked for any response to be gracious as well. I did offer a quick response there, and I do hope I was gracious while still doing my best to put forth the truth in such a brief space. You can read it on the link if you really want.

The point here is that Dan Phillips over at the Pyromaniacs site just posted a tremendous article regarding this very issue. He likens Scripture to a teacher’s guide for a school curriculum. His overall point is that God has declared His truth, and if we have any thought, any theory, any idea, it must line up with that revealed Word. If it doesn’t, then our human, sin-limited, minds are the obvious ones at fault, and our idea, thought, theory is the one that needs to be altered to match the teacher’s guide, not the other way around.

Dan does a great job, and I’ll just bungle the attempt to repeat it here, so I urge you to go the Pyro site and read for yourself. This is good stuff. God’s Word is the standard. The Gospel is the message. We have no other.

As Martin Luther so famously stated: "Unless I am convinced by Scriptures and plain reason, my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and I will not recant anything. Here I stand, I can do no other!" Preach the Word, in season and out, my friends; not your ideas. Preach the Word.


Jeffrey said...

Thank you and, yes you were gracious in your last response to me.

I fully agree with Dan Phillips when he say that any thought, any theory, any idea, it must line up with the revealed word. My question though is how much does it? Throughout his teaching Chuck Missler repeated says, "We are victims of our Sunday School coloring books here". His point being we are unconsciencly influenced by what we have been taught and are not reading the passage correctly, eg. Isaac was an adult not a child he was supposed to be sacrificed and Ishmael was a teenager in Genesis 21:15 (in both cases just do the math).

What we call orthodoxy (literally right thinking) is given too much weight. I make this statement because otherwise even the demons mentioned in James 2:19, or at least that is the logic conclusion to what my western religion professor taught (secular institution). Jesus did not come teach us right thinking, but to seek and to save the last (Luke 19:10), his objective was to being them into right relationship with God, not teach them to think correctly, the Pharasees had that market sewn up.

It has been my experience that is not possible live by othodox, only maintaining right right relationship. Imagine having to answer a doctrinal question from a prison inmate who is also being visited by a JW. Oh and by the way the chaplain paid by the government to oversee both myself and the JW, who are volunteers and have never met, is a Roman Catholic.

And I am running out of time but the point is God is more concerned with the states of our hearts than the states of our thoughts.

And my objective here is dialogue, not correction. But I am now late and must run.

Scott said...

Your suggestion that orthapraxy is crucial is right, however it cannot be divorced from orthodoxy. The only way to right living is through right thinking. The great commission tells us to go and make disciples, teaching them to obey all that he commanded. There is an emphasis on the teaching there. Again, Scripture clearly tells us to fight for sound doctrine.

I'm not saying this replaces right living. Your original comment was to the effect that we can't say what is right and wrong, and I'm just affirming that we can and should. Furthermore, how do we know what "right living" is; what a "right relationship" is apart from the clearly defined teaching of Scripture.

There is a huge difference between misunderstanding how old Isaac was during that event, and suggesting that Jesus is not God (to use your JW friends' belief) or in denying the substitutionary atonement.

There are things that are true, hands down, no discussion. And we ought to be faithful in teaching those things. To quote John Piper:
Not to care about truth is not to care about God. To love God passionately is to love truth passionately. Being God-centered in life means being truth-driven in ministry. What is not true is not of God. What is false is anti-God. Indifference to the truth is indifference to the mind of God. Pretense is rebellion against reality and what makes reality is God. Our concern with truth is simply an echo of our concern with God.

Don't give up on the passion for right living, but it must from from an equal passion for right thinking. They can not be separated.

Thanks for the discussion.

Anonymous said...

"Jesus...objective was to bring them into right relationship with God, not teach them to think correctly, the Pharasees had that market sewn up."

J Gresham Machen (See Aprising Ministries blog) wrote;

"According to modern liberalism, faith is essentially the same as “making Christ Master” in one’s life; at least it is by making Christ Master in the life that the welfare of men is sought. But that simply means that salvation is thought to be obtained by our own obedience to the commands of Christ. Such teaching is just a sublimated form of legalism. Not the sacrifice of Christ, on this view, but our own obedience to God’s law, is the ground of hope."

Calling orthodoxy the domain of demons and Pharisees is an old liberal trick. Orthodoxy (by definition) is true whether I believe it or not! It is true whether I practice it correctly or not!

"It has been my experience that is not possible live by othodox, only maintaining right right relationship." Is your experience the test of all truth or is scripture? What we are seeing here is an "Existential Methodology" as Schaeffer would call it.

As the WC so lovely states,

"The authority of the Holy Scripture, for which it ought to be believed, and obeyed, depends not upon the testimony of any man, or Church; but wholly upon God (who is truth itself) the author thereof: and therefore it is to be received, because it is the Word of God" (I:4)

It does not matter what I think...I am not the Standard...The Bible is the Standard...That's what DJP was saying!

Scott said...

Well said, Sam. But then again, you can't go wrong when you quote both Machen and the Westminster Confession!