I’ve had enough! Does anybody believe the Bible anymore? Then why are we quoting all these people?
A few days back an untraditional “out of the box” Christian posted an article by A.W. Tozer called, “The waning authority of Christ in the churches.” I’m sure you can find it online and here was my online comment to the blogger who posted it:
“I have a question. It’s not meant to be given as some kind of accusation but rather to make us think about why we do what we do.
“I’m in the habit of never quoting what another “Christian” says or has said in my writings or on my sites. The reasons I do this are as follows:
1. Every man ever quoted has been wrong on more than one front. They are fallible just like we are.
2. Many of the “Christians” people quote have had seriously questionable beliefs, many which some people consider to be heretical.
3. It tends to lead some people to either follow these men, their beliefs or what they say without investigating their claims to truth.
4. Quoting any man outside of the Bible is not necessary to discover the truth of God or buffet one’s arguments. If anything it actually diminishes to some degree, albeit likely small, what many claim is the authority of the Scriptures.
In the last year I’ve seen man after man quoted on site after site, the majority of which are very dangerous influences. Some of these just have skewed beliefs while others are outright heretics. WHY DO WE QUOTE THESE PEOPLE? Is it simply because they have or do share a similar faith as our own in one manner or another? Is it because we think that their likeminded words will somehow encourage others or us? Do we actually know that the benefit in quoting these men outweighs the detriment of their errors and/or heresies? We cannot know this.
I like parts of the article above and I can most certainly identify with some of it. But if you read with a discerning eye many errors exist in this short article. Can I offer just a few?
To prove his point about Christ not having authority in the “churches” (something He (Jesus) has absolutely no need nor desire to have in the first place because He doesn’t dwell in houses made with hands) he uses as his example these things: Sunday School, a conference chairman, a foreign missions board, speaks of the Lord not controlling a church service, a theological school and tithing. What does ANY of the aforementioned have to do with Biblical New Testament Christianity? Exactly, nothing. The whole basis of his argument stems from the wrong platform(s) altogether. It tends to lead people to think that the “churches” (what man has built with bricks) needs to be reformed. But wouldn’t that be contrary to what Jesus said about the inability to put new wine into old wineskins?
The part of this article I agree with is his reasons for a lack of Christ’s authority: custom, precedent and tradition. This is true. But that’s exactly what his examples are too! Do you see the problem? If you do, then you also see how his solution is untenable. It will take a whole lot more than just admitting and confessing we have grieved the Spirit and dishonored our Lord. That’s a good place to start. The real solution resides in discovering not just that Christ’s authority is lacking but the manner and vehicle through which Jesus’ authority is exercised. We can start that process by quoting the Bible itself and abandoning everything related to church as a whole and any author who’s solution falls short of that.
To be fair, here is the bloggers reply:
“Hi Michael, welcome. Should I allow your comment to be published on my site? You would agree that you do not have perfect theology? I have yet to meet or read the man who does. In almost 700 articles on this site, almost 90% of them are written by me. I am very particular as to who I would quote. I think your main point on this particular article is countered by Tozer himself who acknowledges his own guilt of participation in the system. We agree on custom, precedent and tradition. If you have read just a few of my articles you will see that we probably agree. You can quote me if you like Michael although fresh manna is better”
My response (here only): Obviously he was very cordial and was courageous enough to post my comment on his blog. That was nice. But their are huge differences between the author and myself- the least of which is the fact that I’m still alive and can be held accountable for my errors and renounce them when necessary. Dead men cannot do either. Their errors remain for all to see and be deceived through- unless a wise man avoids his errors altogether and encourages others to follow suit. It appears this blogger has failed in the same place most others do- they deem that imperfection is somehow acceptable when before God it never is. God’s standard is perfection, and when a man can no longer renounce himself and his errors he needs someone to do that in his stead. The continual quoting of dead authors contributes far more error to the cause of Christ than it ever does good. That is not superstition but fact. Even a brief visit to any local “Christian” bookstore by a discerning believer will show most of what they sell to have little to no real benefit.
In the end, notice what is oddly missing from his response- the answer to my question. That’s because their is no justifiable answer to the incessant quoting of “Christian” authors in light of the sufficiency of Scripture and the additional reasons I share above and below.
The battle for or against the Bible
Once again I’ve recently had the unfortunate experience of being directed to a man’s wisdom from a bloggers recent post. Sadly, this wasn’t all, the site aggressively promoted Catholicism and its false Jesus and false gospel. How can this happen? How can professing Christians seem so oblivious to the damage such a recommendation can cause?
If your not up to speed, an all out attack against the Bible is well under way. At times its “versions” of the “Bible” littered with New Age themes and words such as The Message translation- it’s so bad it can’t even be justifiably called a paraphrase version. Then we have the multitudes of people obsessed with “experiencing Jesus” who throw Scripture to the wind and practice all manner of “spiritual disciplines” (see: dead works) in the hope of attaining union with God. One after another quotes some new revelation, a personal prophesy or wild experience the rest of us are supposed to believe because “they say so.” This includes a vast majority of those within the Emergent camp but also includes those involved in Purpose Driven, Word Faith and New Apostolic Reformation streams of s0-called Christianity as well. If that wasn’t bad enough, even the real saints are being deceived too.
The letter kills, but the Spirit gives life
“Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God, who also made us adequate as servants of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life” [2 Corinthians 3:6]
Despite how obvious it is that Paul is speaking of the law as the letter herein, one professing Christian after another equates it to the Bible as a whole. Purposefully or otherwise, these too demean God’s Word and relegate it to some lesser form of authority than God Himself. These never cease with these claims, along with ones eerily similar to past Gnostics who had just a little more wisdom than the rest of us. Of course their answer to their special wisdom is due not to Scriptural fact (which is the means whereby we discern truth from error) but rather by their personal experiences. They simply expect others to believe what they say without any reasonable manner in which to judge what they say. Pay attention: These people aren’t simply deceived, they are dangerous.
The subtle drift from truth
Another favorite of the crowds above is this verse in John 5:39, 40:
“You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me; and you are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life.”
I can’t begin to tell you how many times professing Christians have used this verse to demean and discount the Scriptures as if they are somehow separate from or lesser than God Himself. Let me ask you something, “Is any statement Jesus made in the Scriptures any less authorative than the very same statement spoken today were He speaking to you directly?” Obviously not. The truth is the truth. The parameters of what is termed “the faith once delivered” is finished- it was created through God’s authority and is sustained by that same authority for all time. Despite this, many people feel as if the Bible is somehow restricting their freedom and preventing them from freely serving God as they would choose. Guess what people, it is (meaning He is) – and for very good reasons. One of those reasons is this: not every manner we choose to approach God is acceptable, nor is every sacrifice acceptable.
There is no avoiding this, those who drift away from the importance of objective truth will lean in favor of personal subjective revelation. At times this starts with a sincere desire to know Him more or more intimately, at other times one is tempted to utilize “forbidden fruit” in their search of what is spiritual in nature. But keep this in mind: It is the origin of something that determines its end whether good or bad, righteous or unrighteous. Just as “flesh and spirit” are contrasted in John 3:6, so is the Holy Spirit opposed to all other spirits which are not of God. Look at this next text closely:
“But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ. For if one comes and preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted, you bear this beautifully” [2 Corinthians 11:3, 4]
“Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, “Indeed, has God said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden’?” The woman said to the serpent, “From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat; but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat from it or touch it, or you will die.'” …..then in verse 6;
“When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate……”
What can we learn from these passages?
- The warning is that we might not be led astray as Eve was. How was she led astray- By rejecting what she knew in her mind was God’s prohibition (Genesis 3:2, 3) and based upon what she “saw with her eyes” she believed the serpents lies.
- Her mind was led astray as she relied upon “her own judgments” about matters instead of the command of God.
- Instead of simply obeying a simple command she “reached for” took the initiative of her own will. Her sin was first in deciding to disobey God- her action of eating the fruit the result of that.
- Our Father has never told us to stop thinking and simply rely upon some form of subjective revelation. The warning in Proverbs 3:5, 6 refers to our human understanding in Adam (the mind corrupted by sin) not the mind of Christ all believers partake of.
Our Father has made abundantly clear what is and is not permissible for His children. He has called each one of us by grace, through faith and within the framework of a body of believers He is presently bringing together as one. Within this body dynamic their is a proper manner of functioning and there is a manner of functioning that is not proper, but in reality is very deceptive and dangerous. Paul’s warning above is given due to the very likelihood that some “saints” will drift away from the faith (Hebrews 2:1) because they give “their attention” to people (for if one comes– as above) who preach a different Jesus, are propelled by a different spirit and share a different gospel. These individuals will be offering what they say is a better way for you to have what it is you desire. They prey upon basic instincts and needs to convince you to “take of their fruit” and thus “experience” what you have always wanted. On many occasions they promise a deeper fellowship or union with God.
Every solution has an origin….and destination
We talked a post or so back about God Himself being the originator and finisher of all truth. That all of that truth is encompassed within the Person of Jesus Christ. We are called and commanded to walk with Him, to obey Him and to walk in intimacy with Him. Although most “Christians would agree with this last statement, men everywhere are suggesting all manner of ways/methodologies to use in order to accomplish this. Here are just a few authors found on “Christian” internet sites that have nothing to do with the Scriptures or the faith once delivered. ALL OF THEM claim to have discovered a better way to intimacy with God- despite the fact that “their ways” are no where sanctioned by God Himself.
1. “I have said that the ultimate goal of spiritual growth is for the individual to become as one with God…..it is for the individual to become totally, wholly God” M. Scott Peck in The Road Less Traveled
2. “Today I personally believe that while Jesus came to open the door to God’s house, all human beings can walk through that door, whether they know about Jesus or not. Today I see it as my call to help every person claim his or her own way to God” Henri Nouwen in Sabbatical Journey
3. “I’m glad that as a conservative evangelical who still believes in biblical inerrancy and penal substitution, I’ve gotton over my Catholic phobia, and I’ve been studying contemplative prayer, practicing lectio divina, valuing monastic retreats, and worshipping through ancient liturgy. I appreciate Bernard of Clairvaux’s provocative insights. I’m drawn to Brother Lawrence’s profoundly simple ways to practice God’s presence. I’m intrigued and enticed by Julian of Norwich’s mysterious appearings of Jesus” Larry Crab in Real Church
4. “And I believe by openness to Buddhism, to Hinduism, and to these great Asian traditions we stand a wonderful chance of learning more about the potentiality of our own traditions, because they have gone, from the natural point of view, so much deeper into this than we have” Thomas Merton in Lost Christianity
5. “We should without shame enroll as apprentices in the school of contemplative prayer” Richard Foster in Celebration of Discipline
6. “Mystical awakening in all the great religious traditions, including Christianity, involves arriving at an experience of unity or nondualism. In Zen its known as Samadhi…..transcendence and immanence are not separate. The divine is one. The dancer and all the dances are one” Sue Monk Kidd in The Dance of the Dissident Daughter
7. “What Jesus does is declare that he, and he alone, is saving everybody. And then he leaves the door way, way open” Rob Bell in Love Wins
8. “Western Christianity has (for the last few centuries) said relatively little about mindfulness to meditative practices, about which Zen Buddhism has said much. To talk about different things is not to contradict one another; it is, rather, to have much to offer one another, on occasion at least” Brian McLaren in A Generous Orthodoxy
9. “If you want success, if you want wisdom, if you want to be prosperous and healthy, you’re going to have to do more than meditate and believe; you must boldly declare words of faith and victory over yourself and your family” Joel Osteen in Your Best Life Now
10. “Personal computers have brand names. But inside every PC is an Intel chip and an operating system, Windows,” Warren says. “The Purpose Driven paradigm is the Intel chip for the 21st-century church and the Windows system of the 21st-century church.” Rick Warren, Christianity Today
What we have within these ten quotes above are some of the most irreverent, blasphemous, arrogant and deceptive statements ever made by individuals professing faith in Jesus Christ. And these individual statements spoken or written by these individuals could be backed up with many, many more that could easily be found in the public domain. These are not minor little mistakes or misjudgments by these individuals- these are bold statements that contradict the very fabric of New Testament Christianity and are without question opposed to that.
It would have been easy to add a hundred more living authors to this list, but why do that? These are merely some of the more obvious quotes from people who long ago abandoned “the faith once delivered.” But even those who haven’t abandoned the faith are still speaking lies from the grave- like the example I offered above. It doesn’t matter if bloggers or site owners are using discretion with the authors they use if those authors are speaking error or have lived their lives in error. Either way, those bloggers are driving people to those authors as an authoritive resource for the truth. That’s the problem. A few occasional good quotes from an author do not erase even a single serious error anymore than our good works will suffice to make us fit for heaven. We need to live in today with the living and let those who have passed remain there.
All Christians are sojourning upon this earth to a destination not made with hands which God has prepared for them. Whether we have planted our tent in a particular city or nation, spiritually speaking we are still hopefully moving in the direction of deeper intimacy with Him. That intimacy is hindered by every form of error and what Christians unnecessarily utilize in the advancement of Christ. That’s includes more than the traditions of men found in all institutions, it includes anything and everything tainted with sin and those things that detract our individual attention away from Jesus Christ. That’s exactly what pointing people to men does. Would any real Christian who has left this physical world want you directing people to them? I certainly wouldn’t.
How did denominationalism get started in the first place? Wasn’t it due to men failing to seek God daily for “fresh manna?” Wasn’t it because they neglected to rely upon “words from God” and preferred to rely upon the words of men instead?
One last illustration
Every day each of us as believers has questions in regard to what our Father desires to do within the framework of our lives. People everywhere are offering “solutions” which basically amount to anything and everything under the sun. In reality though, it isn’t all that difficult.
Jesus is building His ekklesia. This we know. He’s building this universally in the heavens and also on a smaller local scale- in individual geographical regions. He’s building it right where you are. It doesn’t matter if you are the only one there or if a hundred other people are there with you. Your task is simple: to work with God to be that ekklesia to those around you as He leads you. Sounds simple right, but yet there are ramifications that we so often don’t recognize, that we prefer not to recognize. That’s my next posts topic: The cost of true fellowship.
If every day you and I would simply act as if we were part of a local ekklesia where we live it would make so much of a difference. If we anticipated sitting in someone’s living room, sharing the truth, our lives and one another. It would revolutionize us and those around us. Just you, just me, just Jesus. Have we need of anything more? And this is my point. If we don’t need any book other than the Bible in that setting, if we don’t need anything other than Jesus and one another, then why do we think they are necessary outside of that setting?
No Christian is needful of any man’s book or blog for that matter. What we need is Life itself- the Life that is found within the few living and breathing faithful servants of God still to be found on earth today. I want to hear what our Father is speaking to you in the now. “What has Jesus spoken to you or taught you today?”