“Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure” Isaiah 46: 9– 10
This verse tells us that GOD at the very beginning laid out his plan for mankind. God controls history and He has given us this history, past, present, and future in the Bible. Much of God’s Word is prophecy and fulfilled prophecy proves it was inspired by God and yet rather than Scripture being the basis upon which everything else is judged, it is fast being relegated by the world to the realm of myths and fables and by much of Christianity, it now takes second place to the prevailing cultural canons.
Central to this issue is that many view the Scriptures as a source we can go to in order to support what it is we truly believe about the world around us, rather than revelation given by God Himself that reveals the world for what it is. Some even affirm that Scripture is the lens through which we must understand the world—yet have adopted worldviews opposed to Scripture itself. Thus, arguments using the Scriptures are in abundance, but when push comes to shove, what wins out is not what the text says, but historical, sociological, psychological, and anecdotal arguments (and often, emotionally manipulative ones at that). All of these systems are seen as a lens through which one can and should interpret the Scriptures, especially as they seemingly fall silent on some of the predominant cultural issues in our day.
It is increasingly rare to find Christians who will agree that the systems of thought concerning the issues of race relations, LGTBQ + narratives of identity, gender roles, etc., are under the domain of darkness and yet they are totally contrary to God’s commandments. The apostle John expresses it clearly when he says that the love of this world is incompatible with genuine faith (1 John 2). In this, he is not merely speaking to the things we typically gravitate towards in our understanding of “the world.” He is not solely identifying a love of possessions, power, prestige, and wealth—he is identifying a system of thought that denies God’s sovereignty. The apostle James likewise draws attention to this reality when he takes to task the adulterers and adulteresses guilty of making friendship with this world, which is at enmity with God (James 4:4). Jesus told us that the world would be like this prior to His second coming.
Many so-called Christians are seeking a sort of ecumenism with these various systems of thought the world holds dear. This, rather than God Himself, is what captures the hearts and minds of professing Christians. The Word is no longer the central, dominating focus of the church. It is claimed to be; it is preached as such; it is taught this way in our academic institutions—yet in practice, the Word is not sufficient to substantively inform us how we ought to think and even act on these matters. Instead, the broader church is integrating various disciplines from this world in a manner consistent with the mantra “all truth is God’s truth,” yet without subjecting these disciplines to the ultimate authority of the Scriptures. Yet they claim to do so. Compromising with evolution and billions of years is the stand-out example. How can you have death and suffering before mankind when God’s Word tells us that the world was perfect at creation and mankind’s rebellion is what brought death and suffering to the world?
On paper then, you can find one who is socially and theologically conservative, yet in practice, they embrace ideologies born out of socially and theologically liberal frameworks. These things become sufficiently “Christianized,” or draped in the language of redemption, yet at its core, it is a fundamental denial of many plain teachings of Scripture. For example, an elder candidate is not considered exclusively on the basis of the biblical criteria outlined in the pastoral epistles, but in part, includes things like diversity quotas. God’s Word is not considered the ultimate guide.
When we get into the issues of systemic or institutional racism, hegemonic power, white guilt, generational guilt, etc., the same can be said. The debate is not over the facts representative of each case, but the values of the people interacting with these facts. In more plain language: It isn’t about the truth of what objectively happens, nor the truth of the Biblical text in relation to those facts, but what emotions have been felt regardless of either. This is why one can continue to see riots even after the acquittal of officers based on the evidence at hand, yet likewise why you can see cultural commentators, pastors, and various others, comment on the injustice of it all when the verdict doesn’t match their anticipated outcome. One’s reaction dictates the truth, rather than the truth dictating how one then responds.
When we get to issues of gender roles, or whether or not you should identify as a gay Christian a la Revoice, the presenting issue is much the same. Objective biblical reality is not considered; the norm is the prevailing cultural dogma, draped in biblical garb. In either case, the subjective interpretation of reality informs the objective reality rather than the other way around—but the phraseology and language still bear intrinsic Christian likeness. Thus, you can have one who affirms one thing on paper, yet is a wildly different thing when the terms are defined and it is put into practice— it is this that reveals whether or not we truly take God at His Word, and therefore, whether or not we truly believe God’s Word is sufficient and authoritative on these things.
One of the things the recent pandemic, social unrest, and even political unrest has revealed, is what professing Christians genuinely believe about Scripture—not simply in its content, but in its nature and purpose. It has likewise revealed just how much the broader church has made friendship with the world, not just in those easy-to-identify idols of the heart we so often draw focus to like sex, money, and power, but in the embrace of the worldview this age expresses, which does not come from the Father. Much like any time of theological crisis, the solution is much the same: the people of God must return to being a people of His Word. We must approach the text as if God is truly speaking to us and He means what He says, otherwise, we will be driven by the ever-changing winds of cultural dogma.
adapted from “Why Churches Go Woke: They Deny The Sufficiency Of Scripture” July 28, 2021, by Grayson Gilbert http://www.patheos.com