Humble Orthodoxy & Authority
Questions & Answers today and/or next week
Big Idea: In the last two centuries, questions of faith and science - as in the age of the earth, the origin of man, and miracles - has tended to polarize the Church. The divisions among Southern Baptists illustrate what can happen when Christians make idols of orthodoxy, reason, and novelty. From these we learn the critical importance of biblical authority, but also our need to approach conflict with humility.
Two things we are seeing:
1. How much has been learned in conflict, rather than avoidance.
2. How we can respond to conflict ourselves.
Being a disciple of Jesus is challenging on several levels.
1. Disciples learn and obey.
a. How can we be certain that God has spoken, that the Bible is a faithful record of His intentions, and that we rightly understand what has been written?
b. How do we live out the truth-claims of Jesus and the Bible?
2. We can learn from those who have gone before us and from those who challenge our faith.
ORTHODOXY…a Sure and Certain Word…
I. The Word of God, it's claims, it’s claims upon us, and compelling trust
a. Hebrews 4:12—active, sharper
PWPTHebrews 4:12 “For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”
PWPTHebrews 1:1–2 “God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world.”
b. Psalm 19: The heavens declare the glory of God
“The heavens are telling of the glory of God;
And their expanse is declaring the work of His hands.”
II. We can have full confidence in the Authority of Scripture.
General & Special Revelation (Ps 19:1-6; Rom 1:18-20; 2:14-16; Acts 17:24-34; John 1:14-18)
i. INSPIRED: Theopneustos¬—God-breathed
i. Metaphorical—God has no lungs, therefore no physical breath, BUT
ii. Intent—from God Himself, therefore…
1. To be taken seriously, “life or death”
““For this commandment which I command you today is not too difficult for you, nor is it out of reach. “It is not in heaven, that you should say, ‘Who will go up to heaven for us to get it for us and make us hear it, that we may observe it?’ “Nor is it beyond the sea, that you should say, ‘Who will cross the sea for us to get it for us and make us hear it, that we may observe it?’ “But the word is very near you, in your mouth and in your heart, that you may observe it.…
“I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants, by loving the Lord your God, by obeying His voice, and by holding fast to Him; for this is your life and the length of your days, that you may live in the land which the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give them.””
ii. ILLUMINATED: PWPT To be understood, mediated by the Holy Spirit, 1Cor2:14-16
“But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised. But he who is spiritual appraises all things, yet he himself is appraised by no man. For Who Has Known The Mind Of The Lord, That He Should Instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ.”
iii. RELIABLE— PWPT Matthew 5:18
““For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass away from the Law, until all is accomplished.”
1. Hebrews 4:12 NASB—
“For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”
2. PWPT 1 Thessalonians 2:13 NASB
“And for this reason we also constantly thank God that when you received from us the word of God’s message, you accepted it not as the word of men, but for what it really is, the word of God, which also performs its work in you who believe.”
III. Humility on our part, with an ear to those who disagree, and a mind open to reading the Word with fresh eyes.
A. I am aware of my limitations in correctly perceiving the meaning of God’s Son and God’s Word.
i. That confusion is no slam on God’s Word nor on its
B. Those limitations were apparent in…
a. Galileo vs The Church? Actually, Galileo vs the Aristotelian philosophers who insisted that the heavens were fixed, that the moon was a smooth, perfect sphere, etc.
i. Galileo didn’t attack the Church, he offered verifiable evidence that the philosophers were wrong.
ii. The Church was too tight with the philosophers, not the Word.
iii. Science vs Christian faith only became an issue in the twentieth century—Christian thought has provided the foundation for reasoned investigation.
b. Innerrancy battles of the late twentieth century?
i. Southern Baptists:
1. Liberalizing views of Scripture by those in power moved the SBC into conflict.
2. Conservative push-back put them into power; they used largely the same power techniques. The SBC remains divided into two camps, 30 years later.
ii. Similar tensions and divisions occurred among Canadian Baptists in the past century; division remains.
c. Creation vs. Evolution among evangelicals today.
i. Some Creationists question the faith of any who support theistic evolution.
ii. Some Theistic Evolutionists question the mental capacity of those who deny evolution.
C. Those limitations are common to all humans.
Lessons to be learned:
a. God doesn’t ask us to believe anything that’s not true, contra Richard Dawkins (faith means believing something you know NOT to be true.)
b. Also, he doesn’t call us to reject anything that is true. We’re not to ignore what we see,
c. but we are to believe what we can’ t see as well. (i.e., what we can and can’t see can’t be the main arbiter of truth; that’s why we need His revelation).
In our culture, we’ve made an idol out of not knowing. We assume it’s arrogant to have an answer to any question. This borders on anti-intellectualism, denying the rational minds that God gave us to use.
d. In traditional church cultures though, we’ve made an idol out of uniformity: offering one interpretation and making it the test of orthodoxy—Genesis 1, 2 vs. Evolution
Fundamentalism is an expression of modernity: we can figure all this out; the Fall did not impact our minds, such that we can rightly parse all data, we can come to our faith through reason alone.
Orthodoxy: faith involves all of us--mind, will, emotion; faith comes as a gift through the Spirit of Christ.
a humble orthodoxy sees that faith is not blind but informed and humbly hungry to understand more profoundly
Humble Orthodoxy means... holding conclusions, and holding them loosely.