The One Great Obstacle to Human Independence

The Bible is probably more ignored than attacked in Canada today, and that probably goes for much of North America and the West. But when it is read, and read seriously, attempts to bring its teachings to real application is met with an incredulous hostility. It might seem that this is a contemporary problem, but it is quite old.

Consider this quote:

“It must be evident to all who pay close attention to the spiritual conditions of our day that there is being made at this time a very determined and widespread effort to set aside entirely the authority of the Bible. Let us note that one of the unique characteristics of that Book is that it claims the right to control the actions of men. It speaks “as one having authority.” It assumes, and in the most peremptory and uncompromising way, to rebuke men for misconduct, and to tell them what they shall do and what they shall not do. It speaks to men, not as from the human plane, or even from the standpoint of superior human wisdom and morality; but as from a plane far above the highest human level, and as with a wisdom which admits of no question or dispute from men. It demands throughout unqualified submission.

But this assumption of control over men is a direct obstacle to the democratic spirit of the times, which brooks no authority higher than that of “the people,” that is to say, of Man himself. To establish and to make universal the principles of pure democracy is the object, whether consciously or unconsciously, of the great thought-movements of our era; and the essence and marrow of democracy is the supreme authority of Man. Hence the conflict with the Bible.

Not only is the Bible, with its peremptory assertion of supremacy and control over mankind, directly counter to the democratic movement, but it is now the only real obstacle to the complete independence of humanity. If only the authority of the Scriptures be gotten rid of, mankind will have attained the long-coveted state of absolute independence, which is equivalent to utter lawlessness.”[1]

The language, more complex than we’re used to, might give it away. It was written as a chapter in The Fundamentals, in 1909, by New York Attorney Philip Mauro. I quote it because it is so prescient to our own times. We humans make it our business to remove ourselves under the authority of Scripture, and replace it with the authority of the poll. We’ve been doing it a long time.

[1]Mauro, Philip. Chapter VII: Life in the Word. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2005.

And Such WERE Some of You.

1 Corinthians 6:11 (ESV)
“And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”

I read long ago a comment by theologian/counsellor Jay Adams. Adams might be called the “Father of Nouthetic Counselling.” His comment was that this passage can be understood by an old joke: “When is a door not a door?” Answer, “When it is ajar.” The humour is that “ajar” sounds like “a jar,” which, of course is not at all what the door is, but in context means that the door is slightly open.

Adam’s point is that if you break it down grammatically you have this: “When is a door not a door?” Answer: “When it is something ELSE.” (i.e., “a jar”). The application to this passage becomes obvious. Paul had just listed sins in 1 Corinthians 6:9-10:

9 Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.

Don’t misunderstand Paul’s intention here, by thinking that only a few sins and not explicitly naming others that only these sins are under consideration. This list is one of several Pauline lists that act as a synecdoche for a number of others.

So what Adams argues, correctly, I think, is this. “When is a (fill in the blank: unrighteous, sexually immoral, idolater, adulterers, homosexual, thief, greedy person, drunkard, reviler, swindler) not that?” Or, “When is a homosexual not a homosexual, when is a drunkard not a drunkard?” Answer: “When they are something ELSE!”

The answer is verse 11. The unrighteous becomes righteous (based on Christ’s imputed righteousness). But this is not simply to say that the adulterer becomes faithful, or the homosexual becomes heterosexual, or the drunk becomes sober; a person can be all these things and be every bit as unrighteous. There is SOMETHING ELSE.

1 Corinthians 6:11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

That “something else” is a man washed (regenerated, Titus 3:5) ,sanctified (made holy), justified (made righteous by another, and that other is Christ).

The force of the verb, “were” is that those behaviours were the customary habits of the person prior to being washed, sanctified, and justified. When one turns to Christ for salvation, these things no longer describe what a person is, but rather, what that person was.

A person who is a Christian is no longer identified by the sins of their rebellion. For this reason, we cannot encourage a Christian to identify with a sin as a part of that nature, when that nature has been killed. One might say, “I was once a drunkard,” but if one is no longer a drunkard, because they are something else, they are no drunkard. I know AA disagrees, but unless a man is found in Christ, he is simply a dry alcoholic.

We must not truncate the Gospel by leaving any part of our lives outside of the God’s justification and sanctification. We are not what we were; we are something else. This is why, to answer a question in another post, is homosexuality a salvation or holiness issue. The answer for this, and all rebellion against God, is YES.

QOTD

From Martyn Lloyd-Jones, commenting on Ephesians 1:1:

“The lack of influence of the Christian Church in the world at large today is in my opinion due to one thing only, namely, (God forgive us!) that we are so unlike the description of the Christians that we find in the New Testament.”

David Martyn Lloyd-Jones, God’s Ultimate Purpose: An Exposition of Ephesians 1 (Edinburgh; Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth Trust, 1978), 24.

 

The Multi-Site Church and the Doctrine of the Church

In this lengthy post, Ted Bigelow critiques those who critique the multi-site church, by showing that bad ecclesiology makes it possible. He artfully calls all back to Scriptural church behaviour.

The multi-site movement is growing without solid Biblical footing, at least in the Restoration Movement (Christian Churches/churches of Christ). This discussion is long overdue.

A Few Problems regarding Multi-Site Churches

22 to be exact. Having lived long enough to say this, I think we 21st century Western Christians tend to err on the side of the pragmatic. If it works, it must be ok, and sometimes the “what works,” doesn’t’ get fully unpacked as to what something works toward. We repeatedly fail to understand that method and technology are not neutral, and that there are unintended consequences directly attached to our methods. This is not to say that they are automatically bad, but rather we need the view to “see down the road” to what may arise as a result of our actions. Because we have the technology and the method to do certain things, does it follow that those things should be done?