Wednesday, January 7, 2015
The Scandal of the Christian Faith
According to the source of the Christian Faith, the Bible, Christianity is a scandalous proposition. According to the apostle Paul, Christianity’s most notorious figure in the first-century church, scandal is at the heart of the Christian message. Writing to the churches at Galatia regarding this odd idea of justification by faith alone, Paul argues that any attempt to add law to the Christian message removes the scandalous element of the gospel and hence makes the gospel no gospel at all. The Greek word skandalon, according to Louw-Nida means that which causes offense and thus arouses opposition. The idea that one who was hanged on a cross would actually be the Savior and Redeemer of the nation was nothing short of scandalous. Additionally, where the Gentile was concerned, that one who could not save Himself from such a humiliating death could actually be trusted to save others was simply foolish. In fact, from a natural standpoint, the whole idea of redemption in Christ by way of the cross is simply inexplicable in natural, rationalistic terms.
Paul expressed this view also to the church at Corinth when he said that the preaching of the cross is considered moronic to the unbeliever (1 Cor. 1:18). Moreover, once again, a few verses later he says to the Jew, the gospel is a scandal and to the Greek, the gospel is moronic (1 Cor. 1:23). In other words, the gospel and the natural mind are, from the start, antagonistic one toward the other.
The Christian message is scandalous because it rejects the notion of autonomous human reason from the start. Men do not weigh the evidence and the arguments coupled with the consequences and then decide that Christian theism is the best decision given all the facts. Christian theism is resistant to the proclivity of the natural mind which insists that all claims, to include God’s claims be placed in the dock and judged by the standards of rebellious and ungodly men. Instead, Christian theism demands that men take God at His word and do as Christ commanded without hesitation: repent.
The Christian message is scandalous because it is intolerant and narrow. Christianity claims to be the only true religion, the only way to God, and that all those rejecting it’s claims are doomed to the worse kind of eternal judgment imaginable.
The Christian message is scandalous because it claims that only it’s ethic and values are the ethic and values by which every human should honor, embrace, and adopt in every aspect of their lives. Moreover, rejection of the Christian ethic is considered a rejection of the Christian message. And rejection of the Christian message is considered an overt rejection of God Himself. Nothing is more scandalous than the judgments about human behavior made by the Christian message.
The Christian message is scandalous because it insists on a very narrow view of Scripture, that Scripture is inerrant, fully inspired and must be acknowledged and recognized as such by all subscribers.
The Christian message is particularly scandalous to modern culture because it rejects such popular movements as homosexuality, gay marriage, co-habitation, abortion, and a variety of other cultural values, not the least of which is that the human mind is capable of serving as the final reference point for how and what we know as well as how we ought to live. Christianity resists modern expressions designed primarily to subvert it into a system solely for the enjoyment and pleasure of self-righteous moralistic deists.
Yet, for some reason, modern, and especially, modern American Christians with their version of pop-Christianity think they are actually accomplishing something if they can get modern Americans to attend their churches, Sunday schools, prayer meetings, and receive the sacraments. It is a psychological gospel geared toward those who want more control over their lives. What do we think it is when people claim to want to be better in their career, more successful, better parents, better spouses, and so on and so forth. The “better” is actually a man-centered standard that is informed by Hollywood values to mainstream cultural values. The “better” usually has no relationship to the divine standard laid down in sacred Scripture.
Christian theism is a scandal and the only people who subscribe, it turns out, are those who have lost their minds and as a result have found redemption in Christ.