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A vehicle for venting on philosophy, religion, and the general state of things. Proprietor: C. W. Powell

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

It just doesn't seem to be enough. Faith, I mean.

Humanistic faith is well promoted. "Ya gotta believe." "Believe in yourself." "Have confidence in your own heart." "Trust the child within." "How you live is more important than your creed." "There is no difference between obedience and faith."

Too often in the church there is fear that faith will prove to be vain or empty, or worse, irrelevant. The worse that can happen in the modern trendy church is for "faith" to become irrelevant. Christian are really up to date in these churches: they are happier, more fulfilled, make more money and even have better sex lives. What do they believe? Not that old fashioned stuff, you can be sure of that. People would no more be caught believing an old faith than they would in caught wearing bell bottom trousers.

There certainly is no doctrinal test for faith, as though it must be grounded in any idea that can pass as true. That implies an idea of what true is, and we don't want to get into THAT. We want a place where everyone can worship. Don't we?

In the Bible, the thing that matters is that faith be true faith, that is, confidence that the doctrine of Christ is true doctrine. 2John 1:9 "Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son." But who wants to hold to dead formulas that have lost their meaning?

Certainly not the modern existentialist church. Having Jesus in your heart, or Christ in your life, or being filled with the Holy Spirit doesn't mean anything doctrinal or anything subject to a biblical test. How do you test existentialism? Existence is before thought and knowing Christ is only marginally connected to the Bible. The Bible plays a certain role, of course, but only that of introducing us to the experience that is Christ. It must not play any part in critiquing the experience, for how can thought critique experience? Didn't the blind man say it all, "Once I was blind, but now I can see." But woe to the modern "biblicist" who asks "What is it you think you see?"

So simple faith in the message of the Bible, that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God, with all the implications that this faith has for the Bible, for the nature of God, for eternal punishment and reward, for the nature of the church, worship, creation, office in the church, etc., is minimized in favor of an existential reading of the text. Feeling the text replaces understanding the text. Faith in experience replaces faith in the promises of God.

So, the modern church is very apologetic about the Bible, apologizing for that six day creation stuff, predestination, God's kingdom over all things and His judgment of the world, Paul's hatred for women, the Bible's paranoia about sodomy and lesbianism, and countless other stuff. Most important, the inerrancy and infallibility of the Bible are the first doctrines to go because how can there be an existentialist test for THAT? The faith, therefore, of the modern church, being cut off from the root of faith, is left with a faith that is of a different genre than that taught by the Lord Jesus, who taught that Scripture cannot be broken.

But then, it would be non-existentialist to derive our doctrine of Scripture from Scripture, wouldn't it?

This sorry and impotent faith must be strengthened by making it relevant, up to date, moralistic, and robust, strengthened with man's zeal, recruiting fervor, and social concerns. A whole smorgasbord of offerings for every person's whim or desire. "Come on in," is the message and we are very careful NOT to tell folks what they are coming in to. Because the young are the most existential of any age group, these are "youth oriented" churches. "The young are the church of tomorrow," goes the slogan. Heaven forbid that we should expect them to grow up to prepare for leadership in the church! Especially if mature thought is involved.

The bible is taught everywhere, of course, but in the context of "what does this verse mean to you?" Redemption becomes transforming the culture [in the name of evangelism bringing the culture of the world into the church], worship becomes feeling the presence of God [let's all roll our eyes and clap and stomp], and preaching becomes helping everyone find his/her own "ministry," from roping horses for Jesus or motorcycle gangs for Jesus or gangsta rappin' for Jesus.

Isa. 29:8: "It shall even be as when an hungry man dreameth, and, behold, he eateth; but he awaketh, and his soul is empty: or as when a thirsty man dreameth, and, behold, he drinketh; but he awaketh, and, behold, he is faint, and his soul hath appetite...."

What ever happened to the relevance of repenting of your evil deeds and ungodly life-style and turning to the Living God and His Son Jesus Christ, who alone can save the soul from the fires of hell?

I wonder if John the Baptist had a satisfying sex life.
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