BLOGGER NOTE: I’m going to make some generalizations in the following blog for the sake of cultural argument. I will be, in no way, referencing every person of a particular demographic, Christian or non-Christian. I will be speaking in terms of popular culture in the Western World. Nuff said.
“Our church is recognizing there are a variety of viewpoints on scripture. There’s no longer a right viewpoint and a wrong viewpoint but several faithful viewpoints, one of which includes me in terms of being a minister in the Presbyterian church. So we’re honoring a diversity of viewpoints in our church.”
— Rev. Scott Anderson, newly ordained pastor at Covenant Presbyterian Church (PC-USA) in Madison, Wisconsin and who just became the first open homosexual ordained in the Presbyterian Church.
“What is truth?” This is the rhetorical question Pontius Pilate raised before Jesus at his official Roman interrogation (Jn 18:38). Indeed, “What is truth?” is the question that has been raised before every generation since. And it is the question that certainly defines my generation, “Generation X.” We came into adolescence after Woodstock, a pivotal event that expressed the previous generation’s desire to reject the truths of their parents in order to just “be free.” Truth became relative for so many but out of that generation also rose a great revival. The “Jesus Movement” of the early 1970s added fuel to the new Bible church movement, which, in turn, sparked the evangelical movement that has so influenced life and culture today.
But every generation wants to be different than the one that preceded it. And my generation was the same. We wanted different jobs, different lifestyles, and different spiritualities. When we became adults, we started questioning anything and everything. The biggest thing we questioned? What is and is not truth. How do we know — can we know — what is true and what is not true? What do we do when people disagree about what is true? Can there be more than one truth about an issue? More than one way of looking at an issue? Does this world have to be black and white? Does religion have to be black and white?
Our conclusion is that there is no absolute truth. No “law of God that must be obeyed.” There is some moral law out there based on a common goodness of humanity (like, killing is bad, for example). But each person is left to decide what is true for themselves. How will they live their lives? What standards will they implement for themselves? Indeed, what is true and, if not true to us, is it true to someone else?
Deep stuff, man. Or so we’ve concluded.
What Rev. (and I hesitate to call him that) Anderson is channeling is this cultural belief that truth is not absolute. That there is no black and white, only gray. Especially when it comes to Holy Writ. Interestingly, this is the only way to excuse his lifestyle. By taking the authority away from God’s Word. If the Bible is not God’s Word, then it is just a book and every command, doctrine, etc. is open to question. Every story about Jesus becomes suspect and every element of the Gospel transitions from concrete to quicksand. Resurrection, for example, becomes symbolic and not physical. God’s condemnation of homosexuality, which occurs in Old and New Testaments, becomes non authoritative and open to re-interpretation. Maybe it’s not condemnation after all? Maybe it’s personal attitudes and not actions?
The Presbyterian Church USA has been slipping into irrelevancy for a solid decade now. As its attendance numbers have declined, so has its firmness in what it always held to be truth. The Methodist Church has already crumbled. The Episcopal Church split in two. Thankfully, there is a faithful remnant in the Anglican Communion. As I prepare my mind and heart for going to dwell among the moors and heather, I know that the denominations in Europe are experiencing the same crumbling.
But Anderson is really drinking some weird coffee. There is no honor in doctrinal diversity within a church. Especially if that diversity involves such an important doctrine as the doctrine of scripture. What is there to teach if you cannot agree with what the scriptures say? What is there to honor when you reject the Author of Scripture? If you believe it originated with Him, that is. If it’s just a good book, then there is no honor to be had.
Diversity of doctrine was not the foundation of the Church. In fact, it was a strict adherence to several key doctrines that the Holy Spirit used in building the Church, one of which was the doctrine of Holy Scripture. From the church fathers (circa AD100) until the Enlightenment (circa AD1700), the belief about the Bible was the same — God inspired every word and those words hold authority over life and faith.
I’m saddened this day by what the PC (USA) is allowing. I do believe God loves sinners in wanting them to come to faith in Him. But compromising doctrine in order to find cultural acceptance is, well, unacceptable. It dishonors the Lord and makes a mockery of His word.
How can there be ANY honor in this?