Monday, November 30, 2009

More Autonomy: Yes it is that Bad

I have been writing about human autonomy for the last few weeks. I have focused most of my attention on how autonomy emerges in certain movements within the visible church. More specifically I have looked at how autonomy has impacted the emergent church movement. Autonomy shows up in every sin to one degree or another. It is the mother of all sin. Autonomy is the desire to act independently of God’s prescribed will. In other words, autonomy is any behavior that ignores God’s word as the authority for our lives in every area. In movements like the emergent church, this autonomy is demonstrated in a hermeneutic that integrates ungodly philosophies with partially biblical theology creating a new approach to how the Bible is to be understood. This new approach is designed with a pragmatic end in mind.

The idea is that the traditional model of preaching, teaching, discipleship, etc. no longer works in modern culture to attract people to the gospel, and to keep them in the church. A new way of doing church is necessary if the church is to survive. In fact, the EC movement, in many instances, argue that the church has been wrong about the gospel and the Bible all along. For 2000 years the church has misunderstood the gospel of Jesus Christ. The irony of this claim is that it is accompanied by men who assert that anyone who claims to have a sufficient understanding of God and the Bible amounts to assertions of extreme arrogance. So let me make sure I understand this correctly. For 2000 years, churchmen, pastors, and theologians have ALL misunderstood the gospel. Hundreds of tousands of them have been wrong about the simple gospel of Jesus Christ. And that claim is somehow not arrogant, but my claim to understand the gospel, along with millions of other Christians is actually a claim filled with extreme arrogance. Why would anyone claim that the church has had the gospel wrong all along?

The answer can be traced to a desire for autonomy. The desire for autonomy in what we believe and teach and most importantly, the desire for autonomy in how we live is the single greatest motivator for making such a claim. After all, EC leaders have come out endorsing the homosexual lifestyle, denying a literal hell, debunking the penal substitution of Christ, and doing all they can to degrade any and all high views of Scripture. If they can free themselves of this obligation to live according to Scripture, then they are free, just like God, to live their lives as they see fit. This is the same motivation that all godless philosophies have at their core. It is the driving force behind Darwinism. Prove God doesn’t exist and we are autonomous. The EC movement as well as liberalism seek to reinterpret God and Scripture in a way that gets them to the same autonomous status. They become free to order their lives, their business, and their church in whatever way they please. No submission to the authority of Scripture is required. This is because Scripture is not the final authority. Human reason has once again displaced Scripture and now serves as the absolute final authority. The EC might be a number of things; new isn't one of them.

This desire for autonomy and falling into it's traps can happen much closer to home if we are not diligent in our own prayers and studies. We must always remain open and teachable. This requires humility and the crucifixion of pride on a daily basis. I have learned that the only way to avoid the sin of autonomy is to acknowledge my sinful pride and to foster a constant awareness that my sinful nature stands ready at all times to reach for autonomy. This shows up in intellectual sin, and it appears in my daily life anytime I forget to examine my motives for how I am living. Part of my daily prayer is now for God to show me my pride, help me be aware of my autonomous desires, and help me every day to crucify this flesh.

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