So, after all the sound and fury, where are we left?
After all the attempts to personalize the issues rather than honestly deal with the issues, it comes down to this:
We need a vibrant relationship with the Living Word, while submitting to the discipline and authority of His written Word.
We need to individually and collectively hear what the Holy Spirit is saying today, but always subject to the plenary authority of what He’s already said in scripture.
We need to reject all vain philosophies that want to fracture the logos of Jesus as the Word made flesh from the logos of His written Word of scripture.
Rejecting the Extremes
Existentialists want their relationship with the Lord (and even the Lord Himself) to conform to their own subjective perceptions and postmodern sensibilities rather than the external authority of scripture.
To do so, they deny that scripture is the written Word of God, and claim that the Holy Spirit can give them contrary personal revelation.
They are just as wrong, however, and just as deadly to healthy lives and healthy churches, as legalists who want scripture with no real relationship.
All of Christ
Unfortunately, when it comes to the status and authority of scripture, the extremists on both sides – the legalists and the existentialists – have dominated the debate for too long.
No one wants to go back to the dead legalism of the past.
But let’s not fall prey to hollow existential ideologies, which have robbed God’s people of spiritual health, healthy churches and authentic spiritual power by internalizing the prevailing postmodern sensibilities of our age.
Rather, let’s embrace all of Christ – our Sovereign Creator, Supreme King, Merciful Savor and Final Judge, who defines and reveals by His person and His written Word what is ultimately true, real and right.
Let this be the foundation for our lives and our churches.
As for me and our fellowships, here we stand. We can do no other.
~ Jim Wright
- Is the Holy Spirit a Liar? (Part 1) (crossroadjunction.com)
- Is the Holy Spirit a Liar? (Part 2) (crossroadjunction.com)
- Honesty (crossroadjunction.com)
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And here stands the house church we are part of, AND any we will walk with in the future.
The Bible is not the Logos. It may contain Logos, but it is not Logos. You are a smart man Jim, but you seem to be unable to see this distinction which amazes me. Your crticism of those who embrace Jesus, the Divine Logos and absolute Logos seems very Pharasaical, when the Pharisees clung to their Logos while rejecting the real Logos.
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Clang, clang, clang!!! And now, a word from our most prolific one hit wonder, the tiresome boor, Jim Wright.
Although this violates my rule against personal ad hominem attack, it is just too good to let go to waste. It shows the kind of personal attack that I’ve otherwise had to routinely block from those who profess to be Christians but have thrown off all external standards.
Craig, is this really how you want to address real issues within the Body of Christ?
This is not the first such comment you have made, although I generally have removed stuff like this which crosses the line of civil debate. But given your persistence, I finally decided to let you expose yourself for all to see.
As an aside, the venom from those who disagree on these issues has been amazing. I can only conclude that my series hit too close to the mark. I am not naive and never expected to change the minds of those who want to elevate their own sensibilities over scripture. Rather, I simply wanted to flag these issues as a warning to others, and to show that such existential ideologies could not withstand close scrutiny. By that standard, I am content.
Someone said: “I know there is balance, a middle ground, because I see it every time I swing past it.”
Acts 2:42 And they were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.
Silly Rabbits, extremes are for spiritual kids. Hope you guys grow up by learning, believing and living the truths found only in the written word.
“To do so, they deny that scripture is the written Word of God, and claim that the Holy Spirit can give them contrary personal revelation.”
Strawman. You have worded it in such a way as to convince us that these existentialists are endorsing teaching and behavior that they admit is contrary to scripture.
Give us an example.
I have heard Peters vision of meat or jesus’ violations of the sabbath used as examples… but they aren’t actually examples of going against scripture. They are merely examples of going against certain perceptions and interpretations which were later shown to actually be in line with scripture.
Jump forward many years and we have similar take place with response to slavery and the value and roles of women.
Someone reads scripture a certain way for a number of years, believing god is confirming their understanding… then either scripture is directly enlightened to them first or something else challenges them and they end up confirming it in scripture as they read with new glasses.
It’s very naive to assume Jesus has stopped saying “you have heard it said… but i say…”
If you want to minimize the bible to become an “external authority” like its some sort of rule book or legal document that stands on its own thats your business. I would prefer to think of anything god says as built into the very fabric of the universe. Everything is connected… the external or material not being the source but just the result.
Eli, thanks for your thoughts – and for commenting in a civil, issue-focused manner (as you have always done, whether pro or con on one of my blogs!).
I wish it were true that those who buy into the ideology of existential theologian Karl Barth were simply bringing external evidence to the process of understanding scripture.
If that were the case, I’d have no problem with that, and in fact think it is appropriate to do that. After all, all truth is God’s truth, and scripture must be understood in that context (but now we’re are digressing into hermeneutics, which I really don’t want to do here because it goes beyond the central issue of the status and authority of scripture).
When folks deny that scripture is the Word of God, and then say they can obtain revelation that contradicts scripture, it goes far beyond what you think they are saying. There is no sense that they are simply coming to a more full understanding of scripture, but rather using those arguments to say that we are not bound by scripture and thus free to claim any private, personal “revelation” as more authoritative.
So we get back to the issue of status (is all scripture the God-breathed Word of God?) and authority (when push comes to shove, what is more authoritative and binding – God’s external Word or your own internal sense of “revelation” and “inspiration”?).
The difference here is more fundamental then you want to acknowledged. Even Karl Barth tried to obscure the significance of his departure from the essential status and authority of scripture, often by using orthodox terms but in unorthodox ways. However, time has proven the great harm to the Body of Christ from his denial of scripture itself as the Word of God, and his elevation of personal “inspiration” over the authority of scripture.
As noted by church historian Carl R. Trueman: “Look, if I wanted a pretentious and incomprehensibly abstract theology with an impeccable record of emptying churches, I’d convert to Barthianism, wouldn’t I?”
As Barth explained in his book Church Dogmatics, “the Bible is not the Word of God, but a book like other books.” Barth therefore believed that only our existential experience of Jesus, as inspired by the Bible (or by anything else, for that matter), becomes the one and only “Word of God.”
This is a neat logical trick that allows us to look like we are affirming the supremacy of Jesus, while leaving behind all the things that He says and reveals in scripture – and that we happen to not otherwise like.
For more on existentialism, see Karl Barth by John W. Robbins, in The Trinity Review, Feb. 1998 (http://www.trinityfoundation.org/PDF/The%20Trinity%20Review%200155a%20KarlBarth.pdf).
Honestly its not my intention to defend an ideology or practices I myself do not actively or fully participate in.
I just think its easy to caught up disputing what someone believes, but it is also crucial to talk about actual practice and behaviour. Of course there is merit in attempting to examine an idelogy or stream of teaching objectively.
It is too easy to categorize then claim guilt by association, which it is hard in this case not to draw from your writings.
You have mentioned repeatedly the lack of fruit and inward looking nature of fellowships born out of these ideas and doctrines. And that has value.
What you should understand or at least concede is that the same can be said of churches of all denominations globally.
If you are saying participating in any church that does not share similar ideology, practices and/or character as your own context is dangerous and to be avoided then fair enough… what’s new as I’ve heard that line most everywhere… implicitly or explicitly.
Reality is the landscape is pretty barren so the easier part is often leaving/avoiding something we think is toxic… than starting something ‘healthy’ or ‘balance’. Perhaps where you live healthy church as you see it is very accessible and doable.
“We need to reject all vain philosophies that want to fracture the logos of Jesus as the Word made flesh from the logos of His written Word”
LOGOS… a Greek philosophical idea… “borrowed” from the Stoics and further developed by certain educated Jewish guys… IN THE BIBLE!… need I spell out my point?
Tam, you totally miss what John and others were doing in the New Testament. They were not adopting the Stoic and gnostic idea of the logos, but refuting it.
The Stoics and gnostics believed in a dualism the made the logos a mystical abstraction that was divorced from all creation, such that they had higher personal “knowledge” and “revelation”. John showed that the logos was not fractured, but that Jesus was the Living Logos (word) while also affirming His written Logos (Word) of scripture. See John 1 (Jesus in the Word made flesh) and John 10 (scripture is the written Word of God).
I think you do great violence to how God inspired John and others to counter the Greek idea of logos, when you claim they were adopting it when they actually were challenging it.
In fact, those who now want to separate the Logos of Jesus as the Living Word from the Logos of His written Word are more Stoic and gnostic than those of us who reject such dualism.
Sigh… I suppose I do need to spell out my point since you don’t get it… but I won’t… because …YOU miss what John is doing…
After several deep breaths and a prayful walk in the spring morning sun shine…
I apologize for losing patience with your …arrogan…ah…I mean… I’m sure you know more about this than I do Jim but that lawyer in you…
John was simply using a word whose meaning, the concept he was conveying, would be understood by his readers. You know, that cultural influence stuff.
You see you put McBarthyism where it’s not.
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Can’t they get it! The Bible is simply some of God’s communication that has been captured in writing for our benefit. And, being written didn’t make it lose its life and power.
“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,” 2Tim 3:16
Consider Jesus’ life:
“But he answered, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.'” Mat 4:4.
“For I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment–what to say and what to speak” John 12:49.
Notice in Mat. 4:4 that Jesus, filled with the Spirit, lived from Scripture as God’s word along with other words from God as seen in John 12:49. In our relationship with God and along with all that God is saying to us, we would do well to live from Scripture as though it is God’s word too. And the two cannot contradict!
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