With such sentiments as, “… [The General Assembly] continues to slide toward utter irrelevance and obsolescence…out of touch with the church, with Scripture, and with the historic Christian faith”, the Presbyterian Global Fellowship and friends continue to absolutely ignore reality. Instead of condemning apostasy and heresy and calling for immediate discipline of leaders who promulgate it, they instead continue the support of a denomination that is at odds with God’s inerrant Word. Heresy in my denomination…oh well…ignore it…it’s just a dying shell…keep giving your money…just keep on keeping on…do missions (social justice, compassion). How is this a proper answer to heresy? How will this change or renew anything? One cannot simply ignore apostasy, thinking that it will simply go away and become obsolete like rotary phones, and continue to be intimately yoked to it.
The liberalism and neo-orthodoxy that has infected the so-called “mainline” denominations denies and opposes all the essentials of the Christian faith. Ignoring apostasy supports heresy.
As I turn my eyes on a theology of the triune God, it is vital to interact with the mainline, postmodern theology of “what’s happening now.” As an example, the PCUSA has gone far down the path of a rejection of traditional Christian Theistic views of God, but has instead embraced forms of pantheism (all is god) and panentheism (all is god+) that are apart of liberalism and forms of neo-orthodoxy.
It is popular today among postmoderns to freely converse about God in a mixture of theistic (God as a personal being separate from all that he has created) pantheistic (all is god) and panentheistic (god is all of creation and more) terms. These categories seem to have no meaning for them and they freely move back and forth over those lines. This is often what underlies such sayings such as “god is still creating” (often meaning a pantheistic form of growth with evolution) and the “Christ or god within each one”. While it is clearly popular, it should have no place among Bible believing Christians. If a person’s theology is not theistic, it is not Christian.
Recently the PCUSA received a paper that affirms the Triune God, but they see overemphasis on male language of God and wanted a more balanced view of the femaleness in God. They began with the assumption that all titles are ultimately metaphor. They supported such terms as God/ess, Creator/liberator/comforter or Mother/child/womb. Male titles were revised, and Godself was approved instead of God himself. Jesus now becomes: human one and child of God. It is very typical among pastors and students to refer to God in neutral or female language. I recently read several statements of faith where the Holy Spirit was regularly referred to as “she and her”. Nowhere in the Bible is God referred to with the feminine pronoun, but always masculine and often as Father. While we must be careful how much significance we give to the male language of God and we shouldn’t imagine that God functions as a very large human male. We should call God Father, but be careful that we don’t make God into our masculine image.
But we must absolutely adhere and respect the fact that the Bible never refers to God with female pronouns. Theological concepts of God as female inevitably lead to forms of pantheism. The ancient forms of cult prostitution, involved the divine feminine. Feminist theologians are often welcomed with open arms among Presbyterian and other mainliners. Here are some examples: Carol Christ – “the goddess is not out there” biblical monotheistic religion is viewed as patriarchal…Rosemary Ruther – “god is the great womb within which all things are generated”…Virginia Malencott – “the undivided one god who births and breastfeeds the universe.”
The so-called 2nd Reformation 1993 The Re-Imagining Conference which was supported by many mainliners and continues to attract the leaders of the PCUSA and many others continues to push forward god as female. Here is part of one of the concluding prayers at the 1993 event: “Our maker Sophia, we are women in your image: With the hotblood of our wombs we give form to new life. With the courage of our convictions we pour out lifeblood for justice. Sophia, creator God, let your milk and honey flow. . . . Our sweet Sophia, we are women in your image: with nectar between our thighs we invite a lover, we birth a child with our warm body fluids, we remind the world of its pleasures and sensations. . . . Our guide, Sophia, we are women in your image: with our moist mouths we kiss away a tear, we smile encouragement. With the honey of wisdom in our mouths, we prophesy a full humanity to all the peoples.” This very dangerous movement and theology continues to be supported by all levels of the PCUSA, with leaders, pastors, and ordained elders and deacons attending and even participating.
In stark contrast to these kinds of movements, it is time to boldly proclaim what is another absolute essential to me and to all who uphold historic Biblical Protestantism and to do so with unapologetic boldness.
I believe that God has revealed himself in Scripture as an invisible, personal [as opposed to impersonal] (Isa. 11:2; Jer. 16:5), living, active, eternal Spirit (2 Cor. 6:16; 1Tim. 4:10). He is self-existent (does not rely on anyone or anything else for his existence), eternal and unchanging (Psalm 36:9; Acts 14:12-16). God is Spirit (John 4:24) and as such is a real nonphysical being. He is not simply some energy force, but a personal being (Gen. 1:27; 2:7; Job 12:13). The three basic dimensions of what we know of as a person all fully reside in the being of God. God thinks, comprehends, and understands all things. God also feels (Ex. 34:6; Matt. 15:32; 20:34; Luke 7:13), which is most fully revealed in the person of Christ, but is also seen in the pages in the Old Testament (Jer. 4:19-21). God also acts, which is found on nearly every page of the Bible. Women and men are created in the image of God as personal, knowing, feeling, acting beings (Gen 1:27; 2:7). God is a living, active God (1Tim. 4:10). God is self-existent and doesn’t owe his existence to anyone or anything outside himself (Psalm 36:9). He is non-contingent and non-dependent. Exodus 3:14 “I Am Who I Am” confirms God’s non-contingency. Jesus tells us that the Father has life in himself; so he has granted the Son to have life in himself.
God is Omniscient. He knows all there is to know about individuals: motives, characteristics, inner thoughts, struggles, sorrows, words, and actions. (Psalms 139:2-10; John 21:17; 1 John 3:20) God is faithful and true. God’s words in human language are faithful and true, because God is in his very nature faithful and true (Rev. 19:1-2). It is because God is faithful and reliable to His word, that we can trust in God and have hope for the future (Heb. 10:32). None of His promises failed (1 Kings 8:56). God’s love is unconditional (does not depend on object being loved), compassionate, empathetic, and self-giving. Out of love Yahweh chose Israel (Deut. 7:7-8). God’s love is not limited to a few, but is extended to all (John 3:16).
God is holy and transcendent, above creation (Isaiah 6:3; Rev. 4:8). God cannot even tolerate evil (Hab. 1:13) and cannot encourage sin in any way (Hab. 1:13). God is also an emotional being who hates evil (Nah. 1:3; Rev. 4:8). God is repulsed and acts emotionally to injustice and unrighteousness. God is jealous. This means that he feels a righteous possessiveness of his chosen people and is aroused for the well being of his people. (Ex. 34:14; John 2:17; 1 Cor. 10:21-22). God is authentic and always genuinely Himself (Isaiah 45:5; 1Thess. 1:9), never representing Himself as something that He is not. God is Omnipotent. He is capable of doing everything logically possible and consistent with His character and nature (Psalm 135:6; Acts 4:24-28; Luke 1:37). God is Transcendent in being (Isa. 57:15; 1 Tim. 6:15, 16) – above, separated and distinct from His creation. God is imminent in providential activity – present and active in sustaining, guiding and governing His creation (Jer. 23:24; Acts 17:28).
The Scriptures clearly set forth that “the LORD is one” (Deut. 6:4), denying that there is any value in other gods (polytheism) [there is absolutely no acceptance of pluralism in Scripture]. There is also some foreshadowing of a multiplicity within the unity of the Godhead that we can find throughout the Old Testament (Isaiah 48:16; 61:1; 63:9-10), with ambiguity especially in the texts of the prophets that speak of the Messiah as both a man and God. The oneness of God should be interpreted in respect to essence: God is one substantially (one spiritual being) and one essentially (one spiritual being with all the attributes belonging to him).
There is also a multiplicity (threeness) of persons to God. Those persons are capable of fellowship, communication and intercession with one another and with humans. The three are addressed as God and worshipped as persons. The Father’s deity is addressed and explicit throughout Scripture (Dan. 9:4, Matt 6:9). It is also explicit throughout the New Testament that Jesus (Emmanuel — God with us) was worshipped as God (John 20:28). The Holy Spirit was also equated with God (Heb. 3:7-9), for Ananias and Sapphira to lie to the Holy Spirit was to lie to God (Acts 5:3, 4). To be born of the Spirit is to be born of God (1John 5:18). There are several key passages that speak of all three in the Godhead equally (Matt. 28:19; 1 Cor 12:4-6; 2 Cor. 13:14; 1 John 5:7).
All three possess the same divine attributes equally. The Father (Gen 21:33; 1 Tim. 1:17), and the Son (John 1:1; 8:58; 17:5, 24) as well as the Spirit (Heb. 9:14) are eternal. The Son is always of the Father and the Spirit is always of the Father and the Son. Jesus is the image of the invisible God (Col. 1:15). He is thus of the same nature as the Father, but is distinguishable from the Father. Jesus as the Word of God expresses the overflow of the Father’s heart in creating and sustaining the world (John 1:1-2). .
A friend once told me that when you are blind and everything is dark, the only light you have is the truth. Would God if he truly exists leave himself without an infallible witness to guide his people into the truth?
In response to this statement that I made on my last blog entry…The Bible is inerrant, meaning that God’s truth resides in the words, propositions and sentences…what the Bible teaches about history and science as well as theology and ethics according to the standards of accuracy of their own day are truthful and accurate, a fellow blogger, who clearly presents himself as a liberal/progressive/postmodern wrote this, “This is interesting because I think almost every liberal would agree with your statement here. It seems very similar to the historical-critical position, in fact. The difference is perhaps what we mean by ‘the standards of accuracy of their own day.’ I don’t argue that the Bible wasn’t cutting-edge ‘science’ for the ancient world, I just doubt that it is still to be considered cutting-edge thousands of years later…when the standards for accuracy are far more exacting, especially in the sphere of science – which is a recently-developed category that the authors of the Bible wouldn’t even recognize.”
His comment, which I appreciate very much, highlights the academic liberal and neoorthodox perspective on evangelical theology. Sadly, they presume ignorance on the part of evangelicals on the historical and literary context of Biblical texts. The reality is quite to the contrary for most evangelicals I have known. As in my case, I am very passionate for the Word of God and I have a deep desire to understand the historical, literary, and social context of each section of scripture I am studying. In my own library, I have many hundreds of commentaries, theology books, and Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic reference books written by extreme liberal to extreme fundamentalist scholars (Western and non-Westerners), anyone that might help me understand – some do some don’t. I love God’s Word and I want to know it and communicate it as faithfully as I possibly can with the limitations I have (time, family commitments, etc.). I believe with 100% of my heart that to love God means to love His Word and to hold it to the highest authority in one’s life. I believe you cannot truly love God without loving what he has revealed about himself to be true.
I will refer to the theological liberalism that developed in the late 19th and early 20th centuries as liberalism, while I will be referring to the liberalism that has great affinity for postmodern relativistic thought as neoliberal, while it has many roots within German rationalists, such as Leibnitz and Lessing, and a great affinity for Neoorthodox authorities, such as Barth and Brunner, it stands firmly within the more modern skeptics of history.
For liberals supernatural revelation is at best problematic, more commonly denied altogether. Horace Bushnell (father of American liberalism) rejected in no uncertain terms verbal inspiration, the infallibility of the scriptures, and that God had a hand in guiding the early church in selecting the books that would be included in the Bible. The term “inspiration” was redefined to mean “the stirring of the prophetic spirit in living men”, as Walter Rauschenbusch put it. The Biblical books were no more inspired than much modern day poetry, or writers in different liberation movements. For liberals, inspiration has nothing to do with inerrancy or even final authority.
Neoorthodoxy also rejected the idea that the Bible was the actual Word of God in and of itself. Karl Barth rejected the conservative view of the Bible as a “paper pope”. For Barth, error was a natural consequence of humans writing the books of the Bible. Rather, the Bible becomes the Word of God in a moment of crisis, when the individual meets Christ through it. Neoliberals tend to float between these two positions, with an underlying skepticism and agnosticism of any definitive statements about scripture, including their own. Revelation tends to be experience based (emotive and affirming of individual choices) limited within community. For neoliberals objective truth claims in the arena of “religion” or “spirituality” is anathema (despised). While in our postmodern culture, this position often has a veneer of wisdom…it is self-refuting, inconsistent and ultimately affirms little or nothing.
Justin Martyr (100-165) and Athenagoras (133-190) both spoke of the inspiration of scripture often describing it metaphorically as God playing an instrument. Irenaeus defended verbal inspiration (the words of the Bible (down to the least important word) are given by God), “the Scriptures are indeed perfect, since they were spoken by the Word of God and His Spirit”. Gregory of Nazianzus argued that even the smallest stroke of Scripture came from the Holy Spirit. Augustine stood firmly for the full authority and verbal inspiration of the Bible, writing to Jerome, “I believe most firmly that not one of those authors has erred in any respect in writing.” John Calvin wrote that, “from Genesis to Revelation the Bible has come down to us from the mouth of God.” He referred to the biblical writers as clerks, penmen, amanuenses and organs and instruments of the Holy Spirit. He referred to the Bible as “the certain and unerring Rule…”, “sacred and inviolable truth”, “sure and inviolable record”, and “unerring light”. These same views are reflected in the 2nd Helvetic Confession and the Westminster Confession of Faith, as well as the Thirty-Nine articles in the Anglican tradition.
My position on the inerrancy of Scripture is very similar to that of Carl F.H. Henry, who believed that the Bible teaches truth in matters of history, science, theology and ethics. He wrote that the God’s truth resides in the words, propositions and sentences of the Bible.
“What the Bible teaches about history and science as well as theology and ethics according to the standards of accuracy of their own day are truthful and accurate.” What I mean by this is stated very clearly in the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy, which I recommend highly. Here is an excellent quote from that statement, which I wholeheartedly affirm:
We affirm that canonical Scripture should always be interpreted on the basis that it is infallible and inerrant. However, in determining what the God-taught writer is asserting in each passage, we must pay the most careful attention to its claims and character as a human production. In inspiration, God utilized the culture and conventions of His penman’s milieu, a milieu that God controls in His sovereign providence; it is misinterpretation to imagine otherwise. So history must be treated as history, poetry as poetry, hyperbole and metaphor as hyperbole and metaphor, generalization and approximation as what they are, and so forth. Differences between literary conventions in Bible times and in ours must also be observed: since, for instance, non-chronological narration and imprecise citation were conventional and acceptable and violated no expectations in those days, we must not regard these things as faults when we find them in Bible writers. When total precision of a particular kind was not expected nor aimed at, it is no error not to have achieved it. Scripture is inerrant, not in the sense of being absolutely precise by modern standards, but in the sense of making good its claims and achieving that measure of focused truth at which its authors aimed. The truthfulness of Scripture is not negated by the appearance in it of irregularities of grammar or spelling, phenomenal descriptions of nature, reports of false statements (e.g., the lies of Satan), or seeming discrepancies between one passage and another. It is not right to set the so-called “phenomena” of Scripture against the teaching of Scripture about itself. Apparent inconsistencies should not be ignored. Solution of them, where this can be onvincingly achieved, will encourage our faith, and where for the present no convincing solution is at hand we shall significantly honor God by trusting His assurance that His Word is true, despite these appearances, and by maintaining our confidence that one day they will be seen to have been illusions. Inasmuch as all Scripture is the product of a single divine mind, interpretation must stay within the bounds of the analogy of Scripture and eschew hypotheses that would correct one Biblical passage by another, whether in the name of progressive revelation or of the imperfect enlightenment of the inspired writer’s mind. Although Holy Scripture is nowhere culture-bound in the sense that its teaching lacks universal validity, it is sometimes culturally conditioned by the customs and conventional views of a particular period, so that the application of its principles today calls for a different sort of action.
Example of Interpretation from these different perspectives:
Problem: The gospels put the events of Christ’s life in different sequences.
Liberal response – 1 or more are in error.
Possible neoliberal responses – error or we simply do not know.
Evangelical Reformed response – No error. This is the nature of this kind of literature. The orderly fashion that Luke refers to has more to do with theological, rather than chronoligical ordering.
Problem 2:How many donkeys did Jesus ride on his way into Jerusalem? Matthew has 2, but Luke, Mark, & John have only 1.
Liberal response: Clear contradiction. Matthew most likely erred, thought it could have been the others that erred.
Neliberal response: Clear contradiction. Do not necessarily point out the error, but live with the tension realizing that we all err.
Evangelical, Conservative response: Absolutely no error. The Greek term for foal is not a scientifically precise term, and does not exclude the mother of the foal as well. The nature of biblical history is that it is “selective” and not exhaustive, so they include or exclude certain data for their theological purposes…a completely acceptable and accurate methodology within that context. Matthew includes both donkeys to emphasize the prophetic fulfillment of Zechariah’s prophecy. The texts are quite easily harmonized.
The final example I would like to look at is the very complicated and difficult issue that this neoliberal blogger referred to is that God in the book of Joshua commands the total destruction of the Canaanites.
Here is the issue: Ĥerem or killing in the name of Yahweh, which would be a difficult biblical issue even if Yahweh had not commanded these utter destructions of cities and people groups. It includes burning of entire cities and all their inhabitants, including women and children. The verb means devotion or devoted to the Lord for destruction – 10:40 and 11:12 – as the Lord commanded. How do we reconcile these killings with the Sermon on the Mount – Love your enemies, do good to those who persecute you?
Some Gnostic leaning Liberals: God the Father of the New Testament is not the same as Yahweh of the Old Testament.
Liberal and neoliberal solution: Biblical revelation is progressive….they didn’t have the sermon on the Mount, therefore this understanding had to wait until the new Joshua – Jesus Christ. The writer/s of the book of Joshua were in error, or were in the process of evolving with God.
Evangelical Reformed solution: There is no error. Consider these important points: the Canaanite religion and culture were extremely sinful… Abominations against God…Would entice the Israelites to follow other gods…Ugaritic documents discovered at Ras Shamra in Syria confirms such acts as religious prostitution and child sacrifice as a general practice…Ultimately their religious practices were a plague to the Israelites throughout their history…Purity of the Israelite faith had to be preserved for the purpose of blessing and salvation for the world…The commands were not to exterminate all non-Israelites, but only Canaanites…This policy is neither permanent nor a normative principle…Was for the immediate situation only – to occupy the promised land.
Also consider the fact that this is the response that all of us as completely corrupt sinners should expect from a holy, just and righteous God. We all deserve death, not just physical and temporal death, but eternal death.
No Final Conflict The Bible Without Error in All That It Affirms, Francis Schaeffer
“…at stake is whether evangelicalism will remain evangelical.” Without the entire Bible being considered “God’s verbalized communication to men giving propositional true truth where it touches the cosmos and history,” Schaeffer believes that Christians lack an adequate authority on which to build their faith.
The crux of the attack on Christianity is the reliability of scripture. This has been the place that Satan biblically and throughout Christian history has focused his attack. It began in the garden, when Satan deceived Eve…”…did God really say…” It continues today on one level or another in every church or denomination. The PCUSA has abandoned the inerrancy and infallibility of scripture, preferring statements of an agnostic, liberal type that makes the Bible a fallen human creation. For theological liberals the Bible is little more than a human created reflection of what people think to be true about God. It is “inspired” only so far as it inspires people to live on a higher moral and spiritual plain. The purpose of liberal leaders in regard to the Bible is to use it to enforce a justice agenda (as they interpret it) and to undermine the orthodox positions. For Neoorthodox (which many progressives fall back on when threatened and a theology that has influenced a majority of Presbyterian leaders), the Bible is not historically factual, nor authoritative in and of itself. It is only when God’s Spirit meets us in the reading of the text that it “becomes” God’s Word to us. You hear echoes of this theology even in the vows that PCUSA pastors are required to make. You hear it when Presbyterian pastors and leaders begin their reading of scripture with the words, “now listen for the word of God”, instead of “listen to the Word of God.”
It is my opinion that it is time to recover a solid stand on the truth, reliability, and absolute inerrancy of scripture. Emile Caillet, A French naturalist recovering from the wounds of war could find no life in his favorite literary and philosophical works, but when he read the Bible for the first time he wrote, “This was the book that would understand me!” He found in the pages of the Bible “animated by the Presence of the Living God and the power of his mighty acts.” As he prayerfully read the gospel of John he responded and his life became meaningful. This too has been my nearly daily experience with the Word of God. When we open ourselves, studying carefully and thoroughly, we find ourselves convicted and moved to believe obediently and live obediently, finding daily purpose and meaning. Having grown up with “culturally Christian” parents, I struggled to understand how the authority of the Word of God functioned. My father was an amazing hypocrite, and this created great doubt in my mind. How could someone who professed a knowledge of the Bible, live a life that was full of such anger and cruelty? How can some people use the Word of God as a hammer to hurt others with no redemption? For a time I rejected the Christian faith because of what I saw as the hypocrisy. But God and His Word would not let me go. The more I questioned, the more I became convinced of the veracity and power of the Bible. I was not convinced because I wanted to be, but because truth has great power.
The Bible is the only dependable way to Fellowship with the Living Word. “The Christian who wants to encounter God without listening to what he has to say, may remain in the condition of a smilingly sub-literate and disobedient two-year old. Sanctification of the mind is of pivotal importance in sanctification of the whole life, and sanctification of the mind involves an increasing ability to think biblically under the empowering of the Spirit.” – Richard Lovelace
The Scripture properly interpreted by a believer with the illumination of the Holy Spirit who inspired it is able to give spiritual vitality.
People do not have to receive the Bible for it to become the Word of God, it is the Word of God objectively whether received or not. It is the Spirit through the Word who enables receivers to walk faithfully with the Lord they love.
The Bible is also an Indestructible Weapon for Victory in Spiritual Warfare – The one weapon for spiritual conflict is “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” (Eph. 6:17).
I Believe in the Inerrant Word of the Living God!
Since all actively reject God’s general revelation in the world, God’s truth-based judgment declares that people are guilty (Rom. 2:11-12) and in need of salvation. Therefore, God reveals knowledge about himself to sinners through his written Word (John 20:31; 1Peter 1:16; 1 John 1:5). God reveals both Himself and information about Himself. One cannot know God, without knowing objective information about Him. It would be like saying I know and love my wife, but don’t know anything about her. The fallacy of the postmodern, neoliberal, emerging church leaders is to so subjectify our knowledge of God, thereby nullifying any knowledge or love for God.
The Word of God came first through the prophets. God providentially prepared the prophets (Jer. 1:5) and supernaturally inspired them by his Spirit (Zech 7:12) through an external voice (Exodus 19:3-6) or internal suggestions (1Kings 13:18-22, Isaiah 7:3-4) or visions (Ezekiel 37; Micah 4:1-4) or a miraculous seeing of hidden realities (Numbers 22:31, 2Kings 6:15-17, Isaiah 6). Signs must take place to confirm that the revelations were coming from God (Deut. 18:22). Their revelations must also be consistent with previous revelation (Deut. 13:3-4). The prophetic word is permanently viable as Jesus clearly affirms (Mt. 5:17-19).
The words of Jesus revealed the heart of God (Matt. 12:35; 7:15-20; 12:34-37) and were true and reliable (John 17:17; Matt 5:18; Matt 22:16). The apostles and their associates were the final way that the Word of God was transmitted and they preached with authority, delegated by Christ (Mark 6:7) and were Spirit-endued (John 20:21; Acts 1:8; 2:4). The apostles’ words equated with those of the prophets and Christ (2Peter 3:2) and their teachings originated with God (2Peter 1:21; 1Cor. 14:37). The apostles were taught by the Spirit (1Cor. 2:13; 7:25; 14:37; 1Thes. 2:13). Although the apostles credentials were to be tested (Gal. 1:9-11; 2:7-9; 2Cor. 12:12; Heb 2:4), the content of authentic apostle messages was to be received as normative teaching from God and foundational to the church (1John 4:1-3).
The Canon of the Bible is closed. In the past God spoke to us and revealed himself and his plans through the prophets, but in these last days he has revealed himself by his Son, Jesus Christ (Heb. 1, Revelation 22:18-19). Since those who had direct information of the life and work of Christ and those associated with them are all gone, it would give evidence that the canon is
“All Scripture is God-breathed…” (2 Tim. 3:15-16). The origin is God (2 Peter 1:20-21, 1Corinth. 14:37). Throughout Psalm 119, we see that the Word of God is dependable and valuable throughout all facets of life and completely trustworthy. God within his very being is true and faithful without hypocrisy, thus all that God would communicate to us would be truthful and without discrepancy (Isa. 65:16; John 3:33; 16:13; 17:17; Rom. 3:5-7). It is impossible for God to lie (Heb. 6:17-18).
The “inspiration” of the Bible (2 Tim. 3:16) is the belief that God conveyed his message to the mind of the biblical author through divine influence. I believe that all the words down to the least word are wholly and fully inspired (Matt. 5:17-18). The Bible is inerrant, meaning that God’s truth resides in the words, propositions and sentences…what the Bible teaches about history and science as well as theology and ethics according to the standards of accuracy of their own day are truthful and accurate. Throughout the Old Testament there are hundreds of references of “Thus says the Lord.” When a prophet spoke in God’s name, every word he spoke has to come from God or he would be a false prophet (Num. 22:38; Deut. 18:18-20; Jer 1:9; 14:14; 23:16-22; Exek. 2:7; 13:1-16). Thus to disbelieve a prophet was to disbelieve God (Deut. 18:19). The Apostolic writings are held up on an equal level with those of the Old Testament as well (2Peter 3:2; 1Cor. 2:13)
Jesus confirms that not the least part of the Law will disappear before all is completed (Matt. 5:17-18). This would signify that God is preserving all of Scripture and thus we are not missing anything that should be included. Connection to Apostolic/Prophetic authorship is required for canonicity into the Bible (Heb. 1:1).
Next time we will begin to look at what the inerrant Bible reveals about the attributes and character of God that are essential for us to believe.
Although I was gripped by the substitutionary atoning love of Jesus Christ during a high school retreat (while a member of a PCUSA church) at the age of 15 and committed my life to Christ…even though I grew in the knowledge and grace of Jesus for over a year afterwards, I came to a place where I rejected Christianity during college. The secularism and pluralism I was exposed to, accompanied by the abusiveness of my father led me to doubt God and to reject my church. It was after college, through a direct and amazing work of God in my life, the love of a conservative evangelical church and a missionary home on leave, with strong apologetic, biblical and philosophical training from mature evangelical leaders at Denver Seminary that led me back to the Lord. Because of the faithfulness of that once very conservative congregation, I turned my eyes to ordained ministry within the PCUSA. I received mild warnings about the liberalism that had infected the denomination, but was assured repeatedly that there were still many faithful congregations there. Though the road was long, and for a time I pastured a non-denominational church with roots in the PCUSA, I eventually became ordained and received a call to be associate pastor. It was not long after this when the PUP was passed and in that process I began to learn a whole lot more about the denomination that I now called my home, and the more my conscience assaulted me.
I have now become convinced that a gauntlet must be thrown down that once again affirms essentials of the reformed faith, and all those that reject those essentials must go through a thorough discipline process that seeks to reconcile and draw them back to the believing community. It is not loving to continue to have leaders within the PCUSA who affirm a false faith and lead others along the wide road that leads to destruction. It is not compassionate or even truly tolerant. A loving response calls people back to the one who is the way, the truth and the life. In a denomination where this is not possible requires some level of separation. PFR has suggested a two synod option. While this might be a good first step, I do not see it as the final solution or even a possible option considering the current environment and leadership of the denomination.
This is my attempt to lay down my gauntlet and proclaim what I believe and what I believe to be essential.
The concept of revelation presupposes that something is hidden and that this something has not been discovered, but rather, has been disclosed. Revelation insinuates dependency; it is God’s bestowal of Himself to humankind. People through General Revelation and Special Revelation progressively know God. General Revelation is available to all through nature, history, and their own moral conscience.
General revelation reveals three major categories of truths about God. From general revelation we know that God exists (Ps. 19:1,2; Rom. 1:19). We also can know that God is an uncreated being (Acts 17:24) who himself creates (Acts 14:15). We see that he not only creates everything, but then also sustains everything (Acts 14:16; 17:25). God’s universal lordship is also made clear (Acts 17:24), as is his self-sufficiency (Acts 17:25). General revelation reveals both God’s transcendence (Acts 17:24) and his immanence (Acts 17:26-27). God’s eternal nature (Ps. 93:2) and his immensity (Ps. 8:3-4) are also made clear.
We can certain things about his character. God’s majesty (Ps. 29:4) and his power (Ps. 29:4; ROM. 1:20) are revealed to us through general revelation. God also makes known his wisdom (Ps. 104:24), his goodness (Acts 14:17), and his righteousness (Rom. 1:32). Through general revelation we can also discover some things about God’s moral demands (Rom. 2:14-15) through our consciousness and through the order we see around us. We see in this same passage that God will judge evil, since people should perform the good. We can also discover that God should be worshipped (Acts 14:15, 17:25), and for this reason we see people worshipping almost anything. The eternal Word created the universe and illumines human intellectual and moral faculties; giving us a sense of moral conscious written on our hearts (John 1:4,9).
Although general revelation reveals God’s glory, his divine nature, and his moral demands, it is not salvific (able to save). Human depravity is real, but the Logos (The shekinah, glory of God in the person of Jesus Christ) still upholds to some degree the human mind and conscious, so that we have some knowledge of God (John 1:4,9). God does not arbitrarily condemn anyone but judges according to people’s works according to the truth they know (Rom. 1:18-21). But since none truly seek God, none are saved except through Special Revelation (Rom. 2:13-16).
Next time I will look at Special Revelation and Scripture.