Sunday, May 3, 2015

How Not to Be An Anthropocentric, Autonomous, American Christian



It is becoming more obvious these days that to be an American is not ipso facto to be a Christian or to even embrace Judeo-Christian values. In fact, from one perspective, it is becoming less and less clear what one means when one says he or she is an American. I suppose the same is just as true when it comes to the claim that one is a Christian. But this is nothing new. Since the inception of the Church there have been those who want to external benefits that come with calling themselves Christians without having the internal prerequisite of being born again.

Modern Christianity has become almost entirely man-centered. If Christianity cannot lift man up the way man thinks he needs to be lifted up, then, for modern Americans, it seems of little value. Why bother? American Christians have replaced God-worship with worship of an ideal of man and country that is deceptively idolatrous top to bottom. For example, take my discussion with Dan Trabue. This back and forth is an excellent example of a discussion with someone who posits an anthropocentric, autonomous, form of Christianity that bears no resemblance to Christ or to His Apostles in the ancient church.

Men like Dan defend nearly every practice and belief that selfish men can conjure up. In the Calvinism-Arminian debate, most Christians are far more interested in defending the freedom of man than the sovereignty of God. Regarding the question of Scripture, far too many are very comfortable placing the Scripture in the dock and subjecting it to the authority and scrutiny of human reason. On the subject of homosexuality we see a broad range of reactions from the ridiculously naïve to the ostensibly ignorant. One evangelical will try to convince us that the gay community has a point. We have not been very welcoming of them. We have neglected them. We have been guilty of judging them without taking any interest in getting to know them. Another evangelical, like Dan Trabue, will push it farther and attempt to convince us that we have simply been deceived for centuries regarding what the Bible actually teaches regarding gay sex. They claim that the Bible is not opposed to same sex relations after all. God loves and accepts everyone just they way they are. Supposedly, this is the message of Jesus. This is what Jesus did, right? Wrong! Jesus NEVER accepted people just the way they were. Jesus had the same message for the downtrodden as He did for the privileged: REPENT!

The big headline this weekend was “Bruce Jenner’s Amazing Journey.” The Boston Herald in an almost giddy fashion, celebrating the profanation of God’s design for human sexuality as this man, in defiance of what God had made him to be, decides he will ignore the sovereign will and law of God and try to become a woman. And ignorant, irrational, brainless Americans go along with these fruitcake ideas thinking it makes them virtuous and intellectually sophisticated somehow. Sad to say, much of the professing Church is not too far behind.

How do we turn the tide in our own Christian communities? How can we avoid becoming an anthropocentric, autonomous, American Christian? I think Paul can help us with this the same way he helped Timothy some 2,000 years ago. “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.” (2 Tim. 2:15)

The first point here is that we must be diligent in our Christian relationship. We have to start to care more about Christ than we do about Facebook, texting, football, Duck Dynasty, the Draft, our careers, our children, their hobbies, our hobbies, and a million other distractions that stand between us, and acquiring a more perfect understanding of Biblical Christianity and what it means to be a Christian. The Greek word σπούδασον (spoudason) means that we should put forth intense effort and motivation. The word is used in Hebrews where we are told to make every effort to enter into that rest that God has for His people. Peter uses it with his audience to tell them to make every effort to make their election and calling certain. But exactly what does Paul intend with young Timothy? 

The intense effort has to do with making sure our faith is genuine before God. The Greek word dokimos has to do with something being determined to be genuine on the basis of testing. It has been proven to be genuine. Paul is telling Timothy to put forth intense effort to show that you have been approved, tested and found genuine, before God. It is strikingly dissimilar to what we hear in most evangelical churches in 2015 where everyone is reassured just about week in and week out from Sunday school to the morning sermon that God loves them regardless of how they carry on their lives during the week when they are away from the mega campus and routinely carrying on with their unchanged sinful lifestyles, hardly even noticing the there is such a thing as a Bible until they need it one again for the next service.

One that is approved of God will not find themselves ashamed in the day of judgment. They will find that in Christ their sins were forgiven and the proof of this redemption will be indicated by their intense desire to submit to God’s holy law, His divine commandments. I am reminded of Christ’s own words where He said “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” I am also reminded on John who said that anyone claiming to love God but who does not keep God’s commandments is a liar and does not know Him.

Finally, for Timothy and for us too, it comes down to how we handle Scripture. Everything always comes back to Scripture. Paul caps it off with the indication that a person who wants to be approved by God and not ashamed at the judgment is also one who will accurately handle the word of truth. Now, for men like Dan and the emergent Church postmoderns, the idea of accurately handling Scripture is outdated. What can we say for men like this except that Paul must surely be sharing his own opinion here, nothing more and nothing less. But if we simply take Paul at face value, it seems clear that Paul thought it possible that one could accurately handle, or interpret & teach, the Scriptures. The Greek word orthotomeo means to teach correctly, to expound rightly. This at least means it is possible to get it right and it was possible to get it wrong. Paul would not have agreed with modern liberal men like Dan when they argue that all we can give are our respective opinions and that Scripture is not binding.

We are not losing the battle for Christianity in America. We are not falling backwards in terms of the gospel. America has been an external expression of some Christian values, and only some since her inception. I am not convinced that America was ever truly a Christian nation and if you fix her beginning as a nation post the revolution, then surely she was not Christian then and she is not Christian now. What we are seeing is a decrease in the external embracing of shared values in preference for more pagan, secular ones. But America is not becoming less holy. What is happening is that it is becoming easier to distinguish between those with genuine faith and those without it. Those without it are becoming more courageous and outspoken in their rejection of our shared values, even if the sharing was superficial at best. They are targets for evangelism, these quibblers who want to turn Christianity into an anthropocentric, autonomous religion built on the naturalistic leanings of human reason.


5 comments:

  1. CAVEAT: Ed has problems separating his false opinions from demonstrable facts. Ed has problems conflating his human opinions with God's Word.

    Given this separation from reality, it should go without saying that any claims Ed makes about "what Dan believes" is, as a point of fact, either mistaken or twisted, not reality.

    Ed, I ask you again to have some basic human decency and quit misrepresenting my actual positions. Remove my name from your false claims.

    I know, based on past history, you won't have even the basic human morality/decency to do this and that you will continue to slander, gossip and bear false witness, but I feel compelled to make the request again.

    Remember Ed, those who bear false witness, who slander, who gossip, they are not living into God's Kingdom. Where is the love of God in this false witness and arrogance?

    In Christ,

    Dan

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. http://www.albertmohler.com/2015/05/04/the-briefing-05-04-15/

      Listen to Mohler.

      You are a spy Dan. You are a false Christian determined to destroy what is the Church. You deny Scripture's authority, promote perverse sex, and reject God's revelation of the created order, not to mention His dealings with man historically and his future judgment. Christ is not returning like some gay man with a soft female disposition. Christ is not only returning for His bride, but He comes to kill her enemies with such ruthlessness that men like YOU will not recognize Him because He is nothing like you think He is.

      Delete
  2. And once again, all lies. Have you no shame? You appear to be entirely devoid of morality, Ed.

    Repent, little brother.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Here, Ed, let's let me do things the way you're doing things:

    I have NO proof of it and I don't know Ed at all, and yet, it is a "fact" that he molests puppies and eats baby hearts. Ed has a thing for women's underwear and likes to post his blog "stories" while wearing his mother's bra. Ed plays poker with the Devil and they make up stories together to post on the internet.

    It's a "fact" because I said it, and therefore it needs no proof...

    Is that how respectful adults conduct themselves online?

    Remove the false and unsupported claims, Ed. Don't be an ass.

    In the love of Christ, nonetheless,

    ~Dan

    ReplyDelete
  4. Again, waiting to see if your hard-heartedness has softened any, I'll return to this claim...

    They are targets for evangelism, these quibblers who want to turn Christianity into an anthropocentric, autonomous religion built on the naturalistic leanings of human reason.

    Again, setting aside the false parts (I have certainly never suggested, nor do I believe in anthropocentrism, for instance) and the questionable parts (we ought to be autonomous, NOT under the control of some centralized religion as determined by a few men, but autonomously - and in community - seeking God's way, but if we must choose between God and men, we ought NOT be under the thumb of those men... Thank God for religious liberty!), but setting aside these questionable statements, IF you think I should be evangelized, then do so. Tell me, what must I do to be saved?

    Recognize my sinful nature? Done that.

    Repent from my sins? Done that.

    Accept God's gift of salvation, recognizing I can't be saved by works or some perfect knowledge on my part, but only by God's grace? Done that.

    Accept Jesus as my Lord? Done that.

    What have I done wrong? According to you, I should be evangelized. Evangelize, brother! It should be interesting and perhaps instructive to at least one of us.

    Dan

    ReplyDelete

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