The church needs wisdom. In our time this is evident in the cultural miasma in which we dwell. Wickedness will seize the moral high ground if it can; this isn’t new, but it can change forms, and surprise you if you’re not careful.
Consider this recent salvo by Kimberly Knight over at the Patheos Progressive Channel – a fertile ground for all manner of nonsense to masquerade as Christianity. She attempts to rebuke the United Methodists for not outright abandoning a Biblical position regarding homosexual behavior:
United Methodist Church, it is you who are living in sin. Your assertion that “The practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching.” is patently sinful because it separates a child of God from their true self, from others and from a relationship with God.
What an exquisite twisting of truth! Those who defy God’s clear commands regarding human sexuality are not living in sin; no, it is those who uphold those commands who are living in sin! Why? Because homosexuality defines the “true self” for those who feel that way, and forbidding such behavior severs their relationships on every level. So says Kimberly Knight.
But who gets to define a person’s “true self”? Shouldn’t we look to God for answers about such a pivotal matter? And if we find that God created us male and female for complementary (heterosexual) joining in marriage (Genesis 2), and that homosexual behavior is fundamentally contrary to God’s design and exemplary of sinful distortion (Romans 1)? Ms. Knight’s accusation is indefensible slander.
The most direct response a Christian should make is appealing to the Scriptures. Ms. Knight is not unaware that the Bible might be a problem for her accusations against the Methodists. But she has headed this off at the pass:
Unfortunately, UMC, your current and evident theology and ecclesiology are predicated on bibliolatry that can not let go of a Enlightenment relationship with our holy text. This erroneous thinking forces some to assert that every jot and tittle must be literally, factually true in order for the whole book, and thus our faith in God to be True.
Ah. Of course. Those who take God at His word are actually guilty of a form of idolatry – “bibliolatry” – which goes far beyond saying that their understanding of the Scriptures is mistaken, and accuses them of the severest sin. How have they succumbed to this? It’s that troublesome Enlightenment again!
Scorn for the Enlightenment is, in this case, a more particular form of the common post-modern rhetorical strategy whereby faithfulness to Scripture (or any number of other things) can be dismissed by connecting it with Western thought, Greek thought, or American thought. Much could be said about this, but the simplest response is probably to point out that it is only after the enlightenment that some supposed Christians have rejected the Scripture’s teachings regarding homosexual behavior.
Bibliolatry, more generally, is theoretically possible. A person could worship the Bible instead of worshipping God. I have never seen it. The accusation comes out in contexts like this, where liberals are offended by the evangelical insistence on heeding God’s Word.
A reading of Psalm 119 should remove any doubt that reverence for what God has said is reverence for God, not idolatry.
Wisdom begins with the fear of the Lord, and that means absolute submission to God’s revelation. The Creator knows the true self of His creatures. Those who are told to repent for holding fast to God’s Word can only refuse.
God, not the zeitgeist, is our Master