Thursday, September 23, 2010

Postmodern Mutilation of the Bible

The following dialogue is from a CNN interview between Larry King and Jennifer Knapp. I am not picking on her because she recently came out that she is gay. I would like to share some thoughts on this but that conversation is for another day in another post. The reason I am sharing this interview is because it is yet another example of a Christian (or at least someone claiming to be a Christian) going on the Larry King show and completely misrepresenting the faith. In this case, she is articulating a thoroughly postmodern, relativist approach to the Bible which should not be held by any orthodox Christian. She presents an absolutely mutilated viewpoint of the authority of Scripture. Furthermore, she tries to act like she is knowledgeable by mentioning the Greek text of Scripture, but clearly she does not have a orthodox view of the Bible. You cannot just "read your own interpretation" into the Bible.

Finally, if any of you talk to Larry King...tell him I would love to come on the show and finally present an accurate view of what it means to be a Christian. I don't presume to represent Christianity because I am without sin, but precisely because I acknowledge I am a sinner. Larry please have me on your show and I will tell you how much of a mess I am, and how great my Savior is. Please, Please....Larry, bring a Christian on your show who can actually articulate the gospel.

KING: No problem for you to be Christian and gay.

KNAPP: Not with myself personally, no.

KING: You don't feel that your Bible speaks against it. Or, do you?

KNAPP: Well, I think there's plenty of evidence in my exploration of my faith through the sacred text of the Holy Bible that I have definitely recognized that we are somewhat at the handicap of our own interpretations of a sacred text. Let's take for example the original Greek translation of which I am no academic scholar of. Yet, you know, we all know that any time that we read a book or we read any kind of word, that it becomes the interpretation of our life's experience, what we want to bring out of that.

And so, I mean, in the long run, I don't have the greatest deal of problems with it because there are other -- there are not -- I'm not the only person in the universe that's ever, you know, looked at, you know, a different interpretation. We have --

KING: We can read things into any things.

KNAPP: Yes, doesn't make the truth any less the truth or love any less love.
This portion of the transcript from the show was taken from:

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing

"What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing us." Knowledge of the Holy, A.W. Tozer

"You have made us for Yourself, and our hearts are restless until they rest in You." Confessions, Saint Augustine

"God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him." Desiring God, John Piper

"What were we made for? To know God. What aim should we set ourselves in life? To know God. What is the 'eternal life' that Jesus gives? Knowledge of God. 'This is life eternal, that they might know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent' (John 17:3). What is the best thing in life, bringing more joy, delight, and contentment, than anything else? Knowledge of God." Knowing God, J.I. Packer

Thursday, September 9, 2010

"Do you feel pressure to be good all the time?"

I don't want to make a habit of this, but I want to provide a link to a post I just wrote on my personal blog. I think the story might be interesting/relevant for readers of Faith Comes Though Hearing who might not read my personal blog. Read it here: "Do you feel pressure to be good all the time?"

Thesis/Summary of the story: "The gospel has been covered up by far too many layers of secondary issues"

Monday, September 6, 2010

Monday AM Prayer

O God, our Father,
We thank you for Jesus Christ our Lord,
and for the great hope that he has given to us.

For the victory he has won;
That he defeated the attacks of the Tempter,
and that he can also enable us also
to overcome evil and do the right;

For the opportunity to be called sons and daughters that he achieved for us.
For the life that he has opened to us;
That in this world he has given us life
and life more abundant.
That in the world to come
He has promised us everlasting life.

So grant that, victorious with his victory, pure with his purity, and living with his life, we may never be ashamed of gospel hope. This we ask for your love's sake. Amen

From Prayers for the Christian Year by William Barclay. Some wording changed by Aaron Elmore.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Giving up on the church...but not on God?

It is becoming increasingly popular among Christians today to officially announce that they have, "Given up on the church, but not on God." In other words, they still consider themselves to be Christians, but they are no longer participating in a formal Christian community. Is this a problem? The short answer is yes.

Some might go so far as to say that it is impossible to be a Christian without being a part of a church. One of the early Church Fathers, St. Cyprian had this to say, "He cannot have God for this father, who has not the Church for his mother." St. Augustine and other church fathers were noted for teaching that outside the church there is no salvation. I would not go that far, because I believe that we are justified by faith through grace (Eph. 2:8-10). However, I think the New Testament teaches very clearly that our faith is designed to be lived out in the context of community.

Some would argue that this concept of community could come from a small group, a family unit, or some other substitute for a formal church. While it is true we can find certain aspects of community in the context of these relationships, it is unlikely all the necessary components of "church" will be fulfilled through these informal mechanisms. Churches are designed to preach the gospel, offer accountability and fellowship, teach the Scriptures, meet practical needs, and commission and empower the people of God for gospel mission. (That list is probably not exhaustive I realize.) If your "small group" is accomplishing all of these aspects, maybe you are really functioning as a type of church.

One of the major issues with substituting a small group, or in some instances a house church, for participation in a formal congregation, is the issue of false teaching and heresy. (To be clear: I am not completely opposed to the idea of house churches, but they should be done carefully, biblically and with the awareness of inherent weaknesses/problems.) There must be accountability for what is taught, and formal churches generally have structures in place to make sure the congregation doesn't "accidentally" find itself forming a cult. If churches don't have accountability, they need to get, yesterday.

Furthermore, we must address the issues of why one might want to give up on the church. The issues are many and complex, so I will only attempt to address two big ones.

1.  Many people want to disassociate themselves from the church because of the mistakes Christians and churches have made in the past and the common perception that all Christians are hypocrites. To me, this is the easier issue to address. Let's make this clear: all Christians are hypocrites if we mean they are unable to consistently live out their beliefs or ideals. This is true of all people, regardless of what religion they are or what they believe. We are all hypocrites. The Bible offers a good reason for this, it is called sin. Secondly, we must ask the question of who the church is pointing to. We are not telling people to believe in us, we are pointing them to Christ. We are not perfect, but Christ is perfect. Ultimately our imperfection should not be an issue. If anything it should be expected and points all the more to the need we all have for Christ.

2. Some people give up on the church because they find it boring, irrelevant, failing to meet their needs, they don't like the music or any other number of reasons that ultimately reveal our identity as consumers of worship. When this becomes our perspective, we have made church about us. We see the church as something to make us happy, enrich our lives, improve our social status, etc. When it no longer serves one or more of these functions, naturally we give it up. It's like a hobby, sport, or club. What if church was about more than this. What if the point of church was to have an encounter with God. Who? You mean church is not about me? a way. But what if church was not so much about what God is doing for us, as it is about what he is doing in us and through us. What if it was about knowing and worshiping God more than what we can get from out of it. For to be sure, when our focus in worship is on God, we will get a lot...perhaps more than we bargained for.

Alright, this post is getting too long...more on this topic later.

Further Reading:
Ask not what the church can do for you but what you can do for the church by Craig Blomberg