Bill Muehlenberg’s commentary on issues of the day…
In days gone by a church or denomination or Christian ministry would have a statement of faith. Core beliefs held to were listed, so that people knew where they stood. These may not be so much in vogue nowadays, but if they still are, they may not look like most of the older ones.
For example, most of the older ones began with a statement about the authority of Scripture, one that featured a high view of the Bible, and/or even mentioned the inerrancy of Scripture. Well, a lot of that has now changed. You see, most churches today – whether they actually state it or not – would have high on their lists the inerrancy of experience.
That is, waves of Christians today believe that experience should trump everything, and be the final arbiter of all truth and morality. Thus personal experience should even trump the Word of God, if there is a clash between the two. If a person’s experience does not quite jibe with the clear teachings of Scripture, well guess what? Most of these compromised Christians will dump Scripture and run with their experiences.
Oh, and in case you don’t know what the word inerrancy means, it simply refers to the fact that something is without error. In the past Christians held up an inerrant Bible as the sole arbiter of what is right and wrong, true and false. It was held up as the standard, the norm, the absolute to which we look.
I say ‘in the past’ because regrettably today many believers actually elevate their own feelings and experiences above Scripture. They think that their own personal subjective experiences and feelings offer the last word on what they should believe and how they should live.
So they have effectively written a new statement of faith, which might as well begin with this solid affirmation:
1. We affirm the complete inerrancy of our personal experience.
And it is not just individual Christians who are now living this way, but entire churches and denominations are doing the same. They have decided that experience is king, and whatever does not correlate with their own experience must be changed or jettisoned.
I have seen this happen far too often. Thus churches will change their policy on things like marriage and divorce simply to accommodate all the folks in the pews getting divorced. Instead of letting Scripture determine these matters, they allow what is happening in the pews to be the final decider.
Therefore personal experience today sits in judgment on God and His Word. When the Bible does not line up with our own experience, then instead of changing our experience, we change the Word of God. This, quite simply, is utter and complete idolatry and sin. And we will be judged for it.
Let me offer you a crystal clear example of this which has just surfaced. It has to do with a California pastor who has radically changed his church’s teachings because of what his own son had done. The story begins this way:
A Baptist church in California has voted to welcome the gay community despite going against the Southern Baptist Convention’s views on homosexuality. The New Heart Community Church in La Mirada, CA faced a difficult decision in early 2014 when lead pastor Danny Cortez told the congregation that his son, Drew, had come out – and that he himself no longer agreed with the church’s teachings on homosexuality. A month later the church said in a statement that it would investigate the issues surrounding same-sex marriage and vote on May 18 whether to dismiss Cortez or not.
New Heart’s congregation elected to establish an in-depth theological study of same-sex marriage, so that congregants for themselves might more deeply discern both their own theological views concerning same-sex marriage and their willingness, whatever their views, to invite same-sex couples into fellowship, communion, and leadership in the church. On the date scheduled, the congregation took a vote and elected to keep Cortez in his post and change its official stance on homosexuality.
There you go folks: personal experience now trumps theology, which in turn trumps Scripture. We revise our theology to accommodate our (in this case) sinful experiences. That in turn of course leads to a revision of Scripture itself. This theological and biblical revisionism is now at epidemic proportions in so much of the church.
And the truth is, this was not actually a “difficult decision” for the church – or at least it should not have been. The Bible is completely clear on the sin of homosexuality, and the church should have done the loving – and biblical – thing: offered help, counsel and warning to this wayward young man, and not cave in, bless his rebellion and lust, and turn the Word of God on its head.
Now I have already had people ask me what I would do in such a situation. Well, the answer is clear: I certainly would not rewrite the church teachings on this, nor rewrite the Bible, just to get along with even my own son. The most loving thing I could do would be to tell him he does not have to be homosexual, and that there is genuine change and freedom to be found in Christ.
But I go into all that in a lot more detail elsewhere, so please have a read of this: billmuehlenberg.com/2013/06/16/love-is-not-the-same-as-acceptance/
The pastor went on to say in a statement, “So now, we will accept the LGBT community even though they may be in a relationship. We will choose to remain the body of Christ and not cast judgement.” Let me translate that for you: “So now, we have embraced fully the homosexual agenda, and thrown the Bible in the rubbish heap. We will no longer call sinful what the Bible calls sinful. Instead, we will accept, embrace and promote what the Bible calls an abomination.”
Scripture is perfectly clear that unrepentant homosexuals will not enter the Kingdom of heaven (see 1 Corinthians 6:9-11). But this pastor and this church don’t seem to give a rip about this. They would rather have people wallow in degrading sinful lifestyles now, and spend eternity separated from God, than stand true to the Word of God.
Just to see how ludicrous all this is, just change the scenario around a bit. Suppose a pastor has a son who is a thief in the congregation, so they change the church – and Bible – teaching on theft to make him and others feel accepted and welcomed. Sound ridiculous? That is exactly what these churches are doing regarding homosexuality.
This my friends is utter apostasy and rebellion. This pastor and his congregation have declared war on God and his Word. One day they will stand before their Maker and their Judge and give a full account of this treasonous idolatry and wilful rebellion. May God have mercy on them, and rescue them from their demonic deception before it is too late.