So, after all the sound and fury, where are we left?
This morning, in response to my series on “Is the Holy Spirit a Liar?”, Christopher Kirk publicly called me a liar on his blog – after telling me I am not allowed to respond on his blog.
This crosses the line from a vigorous and needed debate on the important issue of scripture’s status and authority, into personal attack with no opportunity to directly respond.
More fundamentally, though, Christopher Kirk has now borne false witness – against himself.
Yesterday, I posted a debate I had on Facebook with those who claim that their personal “revelation” and “inspiration” can trump scripture, and that scripture is not the Word of God.
In that debate, Christopher Kirk, a longtime “organic” voice and blogger, finally made clear what he and many of the “old guard” in the organic/simple church community believe: “The bible is NOT the Word of God” and “God can tell you to go directly against scripture“.
The fellowships I’m part of are organic/simple churches. We are not big or flashy, but daily we see the transforming power of God as He works through everyone in dynamic functional community and open, participatory meetings.
Unlike the organic church “old guard”, we are growing, multiplying, and seeing folks move forth in authentic spiritual power. Many are coming to Christ, and their lives and whole communities are being transformed.
Why? Because we fully embrace a vibrant relationship with the Living Word, while submitting to the discipline and authority of His written Word.
On April 1st, I posted a statement on Facebook (what a wild and wooly place!) in opposition to some postings by Christopher Kirk in his blog, notesfromthebridge.
In his blog, Chris creates a dichotomy between scripture and “living by the Spirit” – as though what the Holy Spirit says in the Bible can’t be trusted, or lacks validity, absent some additional deeper, personal revelation.
In his blogs, he also claims the right to personal revelation and inspiration which contradicts and is more authoritative than the Bible.
Along those lines, his blogs suggest that we cut out significant parts of the Bible because he disagrees with their content (including most of Paul’s epistles); say that the Bible is not the Word of God; and repeatedly attack the plenary authority of scripture (“plenary” means we must submit our own contrary opinions to the authority of scripture).
As Christopher Kirk confirms below in his own words, “the bible is NOT the Word of God” (it’s interesting that those who hold this position never seem to esteem the Bible enough to capitalize it) and “God can tell you to go directly against scripture“.
The Seven Great Lies in the Church Today, by Steve Hill
Amen and amen. I stand shoulder to shoulder with Steve Hill on this important article.
If you’ve read Crossroad Junction for very long, you’ve seen me also tackle most of these same, out-0f-balance issues. I’m glad to see others raising identical warnings, now to a broader audience, regarding:
- Overemphasis of Prosperity
- Exaggerated View of Grace
- Deification of Man (or, as I put it, creating Jesus in our own image)
- Challenging the Authority of the Word
- Rejecting Hell
- Universal Reconciliation
Really, folks, it’s kind of simple: He defines what is ultimately true, real and right, not us.
He’s God. We’re not. Get over it!
This is another timely and important blog by Miguel Labrador.
As he points out, the “Christ is All” crowd has a fractured view of Jesus and scripture.
As I’ve discussed in my own blogs, those who follow existential authors like Frank Viola and his fellow itinerant “workers” like Milt Rodriguez, Jamal Jivanjee and Jon Zens, often create a Jesus in their own image based on their own sensibilities.
They then elevate their very postmodern Jesus over His own written word of scripture, under the mantra that “Christ is All” – such that Christ (or at least their perception of Him) trumps scripture.
As a result, they sever the Living Word from His written Word.
When called out, they make feeble assurances that they have a “high view” of scripture and think it is “inspired”, while nonetheless rejecting its plenary authority.
In fact, they follow the existential “theology” of Karl Barth, which elevates our own perceptions of Christ as higher revelation than God’s own chosen revelation of scripture. The result has been a pattern of anemic churches, introspective faith, weird doctrines and practices, manipulative and at times exploitive “leadership”, and self-referential “truth”.
In essence, they eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil – by choosing their own subjective perceptions of Christ and His Church over His sovereign authority to objectively define what, in fact, is true, real and right.
Fortunately, more and more are looking behind the curtain and seeing what’s what.
I look forward to Miguel’s new series on keeping the Messenger integrated with His message – and us in sync with both!
The low view of God in the Old Testament, found among those touting a so-called “Christocentric hermeneutic”, comes from too high a view of themselves.
They often take personal offense at how God dealt with humanity in the Old Testament – including His sometimes fierce display of holiness and punishment of sin and rebellion.
So they make God in the Old Testament an aberration. They substitute their own perceptions of Christ – rooted in their post-modern sensibilities – for the totality of scripture, and make their resulting “Christology” higher revelation than God’s own external Word of scripture.
They have joined Adam and Eve in choosing the moral autonomy of deciding for themselves what is right and wrong, and have the further hubris of then imposing it on God Himself.
Be wary of modern day pied pipers of existential theology, who say “Christ is All” but deny all of Christ in order to promote their own limited view of Christ.
What is meant by the “plenary authority of scripture”?
It means that we must submit everything we think, perceive or feel – even about Christ Himself – to His external, written Word of scripture.
Here, in a single simple quote, is the best explanation I’ve found.
Miguel Labrador has posted another thought provoking blog, entitled Theology Precedes Practice, Vice Versa, or Something Else?
In it, he states: “orthodoxy (theology) & orthopraxy (practice) are ‘simultaneous.’” I think he’s right, in the sense that we must seek to keep both in balance – our walk must match our talk, and our talk must match our walk.
Leading up to Tuesday’s elections here in the United States, I often used this blog and Facebook to urge Christians to vote. (See Does Jesus Want You to Vote?)
When I did, I always got heated push back – mainly from other Christians who oppose Biblical civic engagement.
Generally, they think God is only interested our personal relationships with Him, or that He is solely focused on the Church.
Jesus Loves Me
(An existential version of that favorite childhood song.
I encourage you to have some fun by singing along as you read it.)
Jesus loves me, this I know
Postmodern grace has made it so
With His Spirit in my heart
External truth now has no part
Did Jesus tell me?
Oh, how can I know?
I feel Jesus told me,
I hope that makes it so.
The Bible says that I must go
Proclaim His Word – oh no no no
Now existential I’ve become
‘Cause His commands just leave me numb
My sense of Jesus is true light
I do not worry what is right
With my sensibilities
I do not need moralities
The Bible’s NOT the Word of God
My own perceptions earn my nod
The Jesus I have come to see
Surprisingly looks just like me
I only want the Living Word
The Bible seems just too absurd
Now I perceive reality
The way I want it all to be
It is a sign of desperation: Those who indefensibly deny the plenary authority of scripture as the written Word of God inevitably proclaim – when all their other arguments fail – that you are making the Bible your god or elevating the Bible to the level of divinity.
Lately, I’ve been hearing this more and more from those who believe their personal narrative and perceptions about Jesus are more authoritative and higher revelation than His written Word.
They proclaim “Christ is All”, but their “all” ignores much of who Christ has revealed Himself to be in scripture. (See The Problem with “All”.)
I do not worship scripture or elevate scripture to the “level of divinity”. I do elevate it to the level of divine authority, because it is the external Word of God Himself – and thus supersedes all subjective claims of personal or private revelation.