This week’s Tuesday Tea-ology focused on the finality of Scripture; the relevance of this aspect of the authority of God’s Word is easy to illustrate. Consider, for instance, the current convulsions in the Church of England.
The C of E has seen tragic theological degeneration over the years—though, like many liberalizing Christian bodies, they have remnants of orthodoxy in the ranks. And, like other liberalizing bodies, the temptation to compromise with the world is very strong in the area of sexual morality.
At the beginning of 2020, I saw with some surprise that the C of E managed even the banal statement that “Sexual relationships outside heterosexual marriage are regarded as falling short of God’s purpose for human beings”—a notably anemic statement compared to the strong words Scripture has for homosexual relationships, but more orthodox than I would have expected from the Church of England.
But the pleasant surprise of orthodox theological anthropology coming from the C of E was short-lived. The archbishops of Canterbury and York swiftly apologized for having been so insensitive as to maintain basic Christian moral teaching. Such a move, they hold, was inappropriate, considering that the C of E is presently engaged in deciding whether or not they still hold to Christian sexual ethics—these matters are being re-evaluated in something called “the Living in Love and Faith project.”
That is the setup. The other day, news came that this project has yielded up its fruits, and the C of E will now, according to the Christian Post, “begin a formal ‘discernment and decision-making’ process ‘about a way forward for the church’ in regards to its teachings on sex, sexuality and marriage.” Though the description is broad, and apparently does consider the issues generally, same-sex marriage appears to be the focal point.
Considerable sophistry can be involved in these situations. A discernment process sounds careful, perhaps even reverent; but, when what you are trying to discern is whether or not to obey God, it turns out to be a process of deliberate rebellion. Engaging in a thorough discernment process to decide whether or not to declare stealing or adultery valid, to offer a parallel example, signals not wisdom but moral frailty. Even considering redefining marriage to accommodate sexual immorality is a denial of God’s authority, of the finality of God’s Word.
From the description, this discernment process is based on a three-year study “to help people participate in honest discussions, listen to life stories and understand each other’s views.” Honest discussions are good (much better than dishonest discussions!); listening to people’s stories is important; understanding one another’s views is valuable. But none of that has any bearing on the church’s doctrine regarding human sexuality.
That is the application of the finality of Scripture. God’s Word is final. The authority of Scripture overrules human experience, and declares us in the wrong when we attempt to contradict God. The Bible also overrules human rationalizing, theorizing, moralizing, philosophizing, obfuscating, and platituding—any and all reasoning and rhetoric that goes against what God has spoken. God is God, and what He says goes.
God created human beings, He knows what is best for us, and what He says goes. He designed man and marriage; they are not ours to redesign or redefine. To re-evaluate marriage in light of honest discussions, life experiences, and our views is to reject God’s authority as Maker and Master, Lord of life. God has spoken very clearly about these matters.
And God’s Word is final.