As many of you who read my blog know, I spent a year or more trying to engage in discussion with "Progressive" Christians. I've since realized that there is not much point in arguing with people who refuse to compromise and funny, I'm sure they'd say the same about me.
Today, I write this even though I have said that I do not wish to contribute to the divisiveness that has sprung between the "Progressive" and "Conservative" Christian but as I was discussing what I planned to write about next with my husband this morning something occurred to me that had never occurred to me before, it is nothing new, as you will see.
I do not write this to be divisive, I write this because I believe it to be the truth and I believe that we each have a responsibility to share the truth as God blesses us. I plan to explain why it is not the "Conservative" Christian who divided the Christian Community, as "Progressive" Christians like to claim but rather the Word of God which has divided the Christian Community just as it has historically done throughout generations. First I must lay a little ground work before I can share what I realized this morning (Aug. 16). I'll do that by posing a few rhetorical questions:
Can one be a Muslim without believing in the Koran?
Can one be Hindu without believing in the Bagivad Gita?
Is a Jew a Jew if he or she does not believe in the Torah?
Likewise, can one be a Christian if one does not believe in the teachings of the Bible?
In the early 1500's there was a movement called "Reformed Christianity." What is Reformed Christianity? For one thing it was :
"...a return to faithful doctrines which had become corrupt under a system of authorities of men, orders, unethical regulations, ostentatious ceremonies, and unbiblical traditions produced by ecumenical councils."
It's purpose was to:
"bring the doctrines of the Church back into agreement (thus the word, Reformed) with the truths written in the law of Holy Canon."
Tony Warren, in his essay on Reformed Christianity, shares that:
"God's Word is the anchor and foundation of any true Church, and man's subjection to it is essential. Thus these faithful men of old were convinced that true and proper worship of God requires a strong rejection of every doctrine that is contrary to His divinely inspired Word. However, the Roman Church rejected this principle and held steadfastly to rule of Church hierarchy and traditions of men over both the scriptures, and the Church. Noted Theologian Martin Luther, who understood this error of usurping authority from God, took the stand that is often looked upon as the watershed of the Reformation. For all intents and purposes, he started the Historical Reformation movement in 1517 when he nailed his 95 Theses to the door of the Roman Church in Wittenberg."
Further in Luther's Address To The Nobility of the German Nation, 1520, he complains that councils have become of no value and might just as well be done away with all together:
"...so that they would have the Pope alone over them as is indeed the case now; he deprives bishops, archbishops, and primates of all the authority of their office, taking everything to himself, and leaving them only the name and the empty title; more than this, by his exemption he has withdrawn convents, abbots, and prelates from the ordinary authority of the bishops, so that there remains no order in Christendom. The necessary result of this must be, and has been, laxity in punishing and such a liberty to do evil in all the world that I very much fear one might call the Pope "the man of sin" (2 Thess. ii. 3). Who but the Pope is to blame for this absence of all order, of all punishment, of all government, of all discipline, in Christendom? By his own arbitrary power he ties the hands of all his prelates, and takes from them their rods, while all their subjects have their hands unloosed, and obtain licence by gift or purchase."
Now, you might be asking why this is pertinent to a discussion on the divisiveness taking place today in the Christian Community? I'll tell you why it is pertinent, because if, as Tony Warren states and Martin Luther believed that "God's Word is the anchor and foundation of any true Church, and man's subjection to it is essential." If, as Martin Luther believed in 1520 and beyond, that "no order in Christendom" results in a "laxity in punishing and" a "liberty to do evil" then all of the discussions I have had in the past with "Progressive" Christians who do not believe in an inerrant Bible (albeit today perhaps not the original manuscript referred to by Luther) becomes VERY pertinent to any discussion on polarization of the Christian community. Is it this "Progressive" Christian failure to believe in the inerrancy of God's Word that causes the division or is it the "Conservative/Evangelical/Fundamentalist" Christians' responsibility because they remain true to Tony Warren's belief and the flavor of Martin Luther's Reformation, that "God's Word is the anchor and foundation of any true Church, and man's subjection to it is essential?"
And so, to change the subject slightly, let's take the example of The Emergent or Emerging Church as a study regarding deviance from "God's Word as the anchor or foundation of ANY true Church: Wikipedia describes it this way:
"The emerging church or emergent church is a diverse movement within Protestant Christianity that arose in the late 20th century as a reaction to the influence of modernism in Western Christianity. The movement is usually called a "conversation" by its proponents to emphasize its diffuse nature with contributions from many people and no explicitly defined leadership or direction. The emerging church seeks to deconstruct and reconstruct Christianity as its mainly Western members live in a postmodern culture."
Not all "Progressive" Christians are members of an Emergent or Emerging Church and not all "Progressive" Christians fail to believe in an inerrant Bible but most of the Progressive Christians, with whom I debated, argue about basic tenets of the Bible in ways that could not be considered anything but twisting words and taking words out of context in an effort to excuse behaviors which they would like to support or enjoy, behaviors which God's Word tells us are sinful.
In God's Word it is clear that God hated sexual promiscuity, ANY sexual promiscuity, whether engaged in through fornication, which would include unmarried couples whether they be gay or heterosexual, or adultery. It is clear from scripture that God valued the life of the innocent unborn, even knitting them together in the mother's womb. These are Biblical tenets. These Biblical tenets divide people today. The scripture divides people, why should that come as a surprise? God's Word has always divided people.
In the emergent church they have no explicitly defined leadership, no explicitly defined direction, no explicitly defined doctrine. Martin Luther might say that "there remains no order in Christendom. The necessary result of this must be, and has been, laxity in punishing and such a liberty to do evil in all the world." Martin Luther asked: "Who but the Pope is to blame for this absence of all order, of all punishment, of all government, of all discipline, in Christendom?" Today, would he ask "Who but the" New Age/Emergent/Progressive Christian "is to blame for this absence of all order, of all punishment, of all government, of all discipline, in Christendom?"
What occurred to me this morning was this:
If one believes that "the Word of God is living and active," that it is "sharper than any two-edged sword" and pierces "even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow," (Hebrews 4:12) then one must realize that it is God's Holy Word which divides men from one another, Christians from non-Christians, truth from falsehood, right from wrong, sin from good works and yes, "Progressive" Christians from "Conservative" Christians.
"Conservative/Evangelical/Fundamentalist" Christians generally believe that the Bible is true, that it is inerrant. If one does not at least believe that the Bible is true as it relays the story of the Gospel of Christ how can one be expected to entertain the idea of believing on Him, accepting his sacrifice for our sin, washing us clean with His blood?
It is the fundamental belief in an inerrant Bible which defines sin absolutely and without question which divides "Conservative" Christians from "Progressive" Christians who appear to be somewhat fuzzy about whether one who practices the gay lifestyle is sinning because it feels natural to him or her to sexually love a partner of the same sex.
It is the fundamental belief in an inerrant Bible which defines sin absolutely and without question which divides "Conservative" Christians from "Progressive" Christians who are fuzzy about whether one who chooses to kill a child still in the womb has murdered one of God's creations or not.
The acceptance or non-acceptance of gay marriage and abortion are pivotal issues which divide "Progressive" from "Conservative" Christians and if there is not a realization among "Progressive" Christians that, as Tony Warren stated and Martin Luther believed "God's Word is the anchor and foundation of any true Church, and man's subjection to it is essential," they will continue to separate themselves from Believer's who still believe in the same tenets that Martin Luther first espoused when he pinned his 95 Theses on the door of the Roman Church in Wittenberg.
The first two "Fundamental Beliefs of Reformed Christianity:"
1). We accept without question that the 66 books of the Bible, both the Old and the New Testaments, are the divinely inspired Words of God to man (Psalm 119:160).
2). We believe that the Bible in it's original manuscript, is infallible, and thus the ultimate authority for the Christian Church today (2nd Timothy 3:16).
So, can one be a Christian and not hold a belief in an inerrant Bible? Martin Luther didn't think so:
"Unless I am refuted and convicted by testimonies of the Scriptures or by clear arguments (since I believe neither the pope nor the councils alone, it being evident that they have often erred and contradicted themselves), I am conquered by the holy Scriptures quoted by me, and my conscience is bound in the Word of God: I cannot and will not recant any thing against the conscience." ~ "Luther," "before the royal diet in the city of Worms on April 18, 1521"
On the morning of August 16, what I realized was that the Bible is as divisive today as it has always been. The Bible does not tolerate sin. The Bible tells us how God feels about sin. We either accept the Word of God as true, as useful for instruction, as the "anchor and foundation of any true Church," or we do not.
Of necessity, if one does not believe in an inerrant Bible and consider it the guidebook for the Christian life it separates him from the one who does believe in an inerrant Bible, from the one who does consider it the guidebook for the Christian life. It is not "Conservative" Christians who are intolerant of sin and it's practice, it is GOD who is intolerant of sin and its practice. The Holy Bible is intolerant of sin and it is still the lightening rod of controversy which it has been since early Christians first shared it with unbelievers.
When Christians politically attack each other they do not attack each other so much as they attack the precepts and tenets of the Bible. The same Bible which Martin Luther was "conquered" by when he said "my conscience is bound in the Word of God," We would all do well to remember our "anchor and foundation."
All that said, only God knows the heart(s) of man. Only I can know my heart and God in it. I leave my readers, once again, not in a spirit of divisiveness but in a spirit of concern over the division among people who claim the moniker of Christian and yet have such bitterness in their hearts for fellow brothers and sisters in Christ...whether those Christians are politically progressive or politically conservative they should not seek to divide themselves from their brothers and sisters, rather they should hold fast to the Holy Scripture:
7Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son[a] into the world that we might live through him. 10This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for[b] our sins. 11Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. BibleGateway.com: 1 John 4:7-11