I’ll never forget the sage words of a mentor nearly 30 years ago. A great man who was blessed to manage a young, fresh out of seminary, all-change-is-good minded pastor said with love, “Sometimes, change is good.” That pastor was me, and I must admit as I look back I was convinced that there was much that needed to be changed about church and society, and I had a pretty darn good idea that my way of change would be best for all.
Sometimes, I was right…but sometimes I was dead wrong. In thinking about the collateral effect of what is happening in church and culture, I think we better count the costs of thinking the current wave of change is somehow a smarter and better choice than those who have carried out God’s great Kingdom work over the past 2000 years. For many of us, the past few days have focused on the SCOTUS decision to protect the civil rights of all people who desire equality. That’s a noble thing, a good thing, a just thing. I love all God’s people, every single one. However, the context this time is marriage, which belonged to God well before the state began to homestead it. This brings about a plethora of issues, more than I can address here. However, there is one systemic dynamic that is occurring that I believe important enough to highlight. It is far bigger than just a single issue or court ruling. It is a paradigm shift that could produce the greatest fracture between humanity and God since the beginning of the Church.
I think we are missing the bigger picture in realizing that some of the issues the government is trying to solve are not primarily about gay rights, human rights, or civil rights. It is really about the authority of Scripture. Don’t roll your eyes yet, just hear me out.
The authority of Scripture has been the backbone of the Judeo-Christian heritage, no question. In Jude 3, we are reminded that the faith embodied in the Scripture was, “once for all delivered to the saints.” The Scripture has been the foundation of all moral and ethical law for us since the birth of the Church. Marriage has throughout history been recognized as a covenant instituted by God for a three-way covenant between God, a man, and a woman. The authority of Scripture has historically been the final authority when considering reason, tradition and experience in interpreting life God’s way. But after 2000 years, there is a cultural wave of unrest saying, “That was a mistake.”
Now before you think I’m stupid, please know I am fully aware of all the arguments in and around interpretation and intent. Just let me ask this, “Do we really think we are smarter than the people who comprise 2000 years of church history? Do we claim to possess greater reasoning or are we holding to some new revelation that God has withheld from humanity for thousands of years?” If God is unchanging, then who or what is changing? Some of my dearest colleagues who once held Scripture in high esteem have now gone the way of the culture and placed the deification of personal experience as the final authority.
It is a most interesting day to see that the product of biblical illiteracy for just a generation along with a dash of humanism and pluralism in the teaching seminaries along with the gravity of the pressure of personal experience, have now yielded a cultural phenomena that is moving at epidemic proportions across the west: experience trumps Scripture. Say what? It’s a radical philosophy inferring God exists for us rather than vice-versa. The result: We don’t align our lives with God’s Word and plan, we align whatever interpretation of God’s Word works that serves our lives and experiences. That shift has never happened to this magnitude in the history of the church. Be reminded that this Church has defended a Sola Scriputra foundation, and has proclaimed God’s divine inspiration as the source as we have aligned our lives to God’s plan and purpose. Pray with me that we awaken before much is lost. The primary authority by God’s own design is God’s Holy Word contained in the Scriptures. Lord forgive us for the deification of our own experience at your expense and save us from our sin and ourselves.