Monday, March 2, 2015

Christianity and The American Way


The state of affairs that has developed between Christianity and American culture is more than a little interesting. Two extremes are emerging in terms of versions of Christianity within American culture. One version of Christianity is the version that subjects itself to American philosophies of life top to bottom. In this version of Christianity, the individual is the captain and pilot of his own ship. The Bible is useful in a few scenarios and only in a few scenarios but it must be kept in check, in subjugation to the modern minds of enlightened men and women that know better than the ancient, out dated, backwards thinking, misogynists, narrow minded bigots, often blood-thirsty, and hyper-patriarchal men that wrote it. Modern American minds are thought (only by American culture) to be superior, not only to the minds of the men God used to write Scripture but also to the rest of the world in many cases. The superior attitude of the typical individual in American culture is both fascinating from a psychological standpoint, and incredibly appalling from a moral perspective.

This modern, enlightened, sensible, but perverse understanding of Christianity is the product of unregenerate scholars, pastors, teachers, Christians, and Churches. This perversion begins with a rejection of the ancient tradition of Christian doctrine as it is expressed in Scripture. Moreover, this version of Christianity begins with a rejection of the traditional view within Christianity on the subject of Scripture. The two most distinguished statements of faith in modern Christian thought are the Westminster Confession and the London Baptist Confession. The former was adopted by the Presbyterians and in modified form by the Congregationalists while the latter served as the Baptist expression of Christian belief. With only a few nuances, the documents are virtually identical and it is understand that the Baptist Confession used the Westminster Confession for much of its work. I should add that the Congregationalists modified version of the Westminster Confession is known as the Savoy Declaration. First, most Christians in modern American Churches are completely oblivious to these historical documents. This fact tells you a great deal about the mindset of the typical American Christian and their leaders. The reason I mention these confessions is first and foremost to point out that all three of them begin with what creators believed was the single most important factor within Christianity: a proper understanding and perspective regarding the Christian documents we now call the Bible. Each confession holds to virtually identically language concerning the high position of Scripture within the Christian community. For these men, Scripture was over the Church, something to be appreciated, understood, believed and obeyed. This was the only acceptable disposition of the Christian and his attitude toward sacred Scripture.

In the mind of the modern American, it is the individual that is elevated and placed over Scripture. In the minds of the overwhelming majority of modern “Christians” Scripture is no longer viewed as something that holds us captive and frees us from ourselves and the sin which we so dearly cherish, but rather, it is precisely the other way around. Modern Christians, American ones especially, think it is their duty to rescue Christianity from the embarrassing claims and teachings of the Bible. Hence, anything in the sacred writings that runs the risk of offense to the modern sensibilities of the autonomous and enlightened mind is either cut away from the text overtly or reinterpreted covertly so that the Bible can co-exist with the tastes and preferences and sensibilities of the modern American mind.

If there is no one standard by which Christians ought to live their lives, eventually we end up in a radical free-for-all where anything goes. And it is this exact place that I believe best defines the pop Christianity of American culture. The numbers of negotiable beliefs that are on the table seem to extend of every Christian belief that has come to shape Christianity from the beginning. This pop Christianity over time has called into question and deemed acceptable just about every modification Christian doctrine imaginable.

The very first movement of this pop Christianity of course is the challenge to Scripture as our final authority for faith and practice and long held Christian belief that Scripture is of divine origin and must be believed and obeyed. The London Baptist Confession of 1689 opens with this line, “The Holy Scripture is the only sufficient, certain, and infallible rule of all saving knowledge, faith, and obedience.” Once Scripture is depreciated to the place where human minds can either dismiss it or subject it to radical reinterpretation, the Christian worldview is no more. The distinctive of Christianity as a religion evaporates upon a non-Christian perspective of the nature of sacred Scripture. Once this move is made, Christianity becomes a religion based upon the autonomy and authority of the human mind. And there will be as many versions of that religion as there are human minds tinkering with it. When the sole standard for what must be believed and obeyed is discarded either by way of overtly relegating it to the ash heap or covertly by perversion of what it expresses, then every other competing standard has an equal opportunity to sit at the table. And whatever that religion is, at the end of the day, I can tell you what it is not. It is not Christianity in any true sense of the word, Christian.

When pseudo pop Christians become the face of Christianity in a culture, mass confusion and chaos follows. This is exactly what has happened in American culture. Pop Christianity has come to the place where it rejects the Bible as the inspired and inerrant word of God. PC rejects the view that one must believe that Jesus is divine in order to be a Christian. PC rejects the sexual ethic of biblical Christianity, not only permitting sexual promiscuity within its community but also rejecting the biblical teachings concerning marriage as between a man and a woman. PC has accepted the view that you can engage in the perversion known as gay sex and still be a Christian. PC has rejected much of the OT teachings about God and His activities and believes one does not have to accept these stories as historical realities in order to be genuinely Christian. Things like abortion on demand, female leadership, divorce on demand, and a host of other ungodly practices have been deemed morally acceptable with pop Christianity. There is essentially no difference between pop Christianity and the general values principles of American culture. Pop Christianity is a religion that uses the language of historic Christianity but then it empties that language of all its historic content and replaces it with modern philosophies based on the sensibilities of modern enlightened minds that know better than the ancient documents of sacred Scripture.

There is a way which seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death. (Prov. 14:12)


9 comments:

  1. Ed...

    “The Holy Scripture is the only sufficient, certain, and infallible rule of all saving knowledge, faith, and obedience.”

    The great irony here, Ed, is that the argument is self-defeating.

    This is an extra-biblical, human idea, not a biblical one.

    IF the bible is our "only" certain "rule" for " all saving knowledge, faith, and obedience," then ought we not set aside this rule, which does not come from the "only" source that can be trusted?

    I don't see how this human theory can stand without defeating itself.

    One man's opinion.

    ~Dan Trabue

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    Replies
    1. The orthodox view of Scripture Dan is that it is self-sufficient, self-authenticating, and yes, self-interpreting. So the rule that you claim is extra-biblical is actually the Scripture's claim about itself from beginning to end. That is not only how the Bible presents itself, it is how authentic, historic, orthodox Christianity views the Bible. Whatever version your subscribing to, it is a modern invention without any basis in sound biblical exegesis and it does not comport with tested Christian principles of hermeneutics that pre-date your puny, modern, liberal nonsense. You should say you "won't" see this view, not that you can't see this view.

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    2. If this theory of yours is biblical, then you should be able to present where the Bible says this, right?

      Then please produce where the Bible says the Bible is the "only sufficient, certain, and infallible rule of all saving knowledge, faith, and obedience.”

      I'll wait...

      Delete
  2. Ed...

    And whatever that religion is, at the end of the day, I can tell you what it is not. It is not Christianity in any true sense of the word, Christian.

    May I ask you a question, Ed?

    Who gets to decide what is and isn't "Christian..."?

    Is it the Pope and/or the Catholic Church?

    Is it the Dean of some Evangelical Seminary?

    Some guys who agree on the internet?

    Who is the determining/final authority of what it means to be a Christian?

    Now, you and I can both probably agree, "GOD." God is the final authority and that's fine.

    But back here on earth, who or what group of people get to speak for God? On which topics? On what basis?

    Is there one group of people who are solely the ones who hold all knowledge about God and who hold it perfectly? If so, who and on whose authority are they the ones who get to speak for God?

    I suppose, even if you don't answer my questions, you can see the rational and moral and biblical problem of your declaration that those who disagree with your opinions are not, "in any true sense of the word, Christian..." right?

    I mean in a very literal and real and biblical way of thinking, those who follow Jesus, the Christ, are literally "christ-ian..." whether or not they will agree with one human faction of Christianity or the other, right? So, in that very real and true sense of the word, those who disagree with you are, factually, rightly called "christ-ian..."

    Where am I mistaken?

    Respectfully, your brother in Christ,

    Dan Trabue

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  3. From the very beginning Dan, the marks of true Christ-followers and the practice of identifying them was part of the Christian community. In Matt. 18, Jesus tells us how to deal with those who claim Christ but desire to continue in sin and obstinately reject His word, His leaders, and His Church. They are to be excommunicated. The practice of ostracizing and shaming was and still is very powerful and the Church is instructed to do it for the sake of the soul of the sinning person.

    The Scripture, you know, that book that you claim is not binding, is not authoritative, yeah, that book Dan, serves as our guide for governing the Christian community. Heretics are also to be excommunicated. Titus 3:10. See 1 Cor. 5 for a real situation that involved sexual sin and excommunication, unless of course you take that passage to be non-literal.

    By removing any objective, single, final source of authority Dan, that leave only one source: you. If a person rejects the authoritative nature of Scripture, it can only mean that they are replacing Scripture with themselves. Now, some of you liberal fellows elevate science to the sacred place of authority. But since your the one doing the promoting, your still the one with the power. Others claim that human reason is the answer and they elevate rational thought and human logic to the place of final authority. Once again, they are the ones holding the power since they are the ones deciding what goes in the seat.

    Contrary to that process, Christians do not decide by extra-biblical means that Scripture is our final authority. It has been the view, going all the way back into ancient Judaism, that Scripture is our final standard not because we put it there, but because of what it is and because that is precisely how it presents itself. Work through every book of the Bible and see if you do not see authoritative language explicitly put forth in every one of them.

    Does a police officer have to walk around reminding everyone that he is the enforcer? Paul, Peter, John, Jude, James, and Jesus expected to be believed and they expected their word to be followed. Why? Because every one of them spoke as if they were speaking from God. And at a minimum, that is what each of them believed. That is how Scripture expresses itself. Only a blind fool cannot see that.

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    Replies
    1. Dear brother Ed, you are not Paul, Peter or Jesus, On whose authority ought I bow to the word of Ed?

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    2. Tell you what I will do Dan, I will post a short and concise argument for the traditional, historic, Christian and ancient Jewish view of the nature of Scripture on my blog by the end of today. It is easier to do that than it is to put that argument in a com box.

      Delete
  4. I'll wait to see what you have to say. Keep in mind, though, I've probably heard the arguments you'll offer. It's not from ignorance that I disagree with your personal opinions... I was raised with these opinions and just no longer find them biblical, rational or moral. But I kept an open mind before, I can certainly do so now.

    Waiting, then, to see on whose authority I should submit to Ed's (and those who agree with him) opinion, over what seems most biblical, moral and rational to me.

    Also, I'll wait to see you produce where the Bible says the Bible is the "only sufficient, certain, and infallible rule of all saving knowledge, faith, and obedience.”

    Respectfully,

    Dan Trabue

    ReplyDelete
  5. http://reformedreasons.blogspot.com/

    Enjoy

    ReplyDelete

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