Saturday, 21 February 2015

The Clarity and Courage of Disbelief?

It is the season of Lent and there is an inevitable increase in the religiosity of liberal churches.

I have to admire the clarity and the courage of one of the local ministers of the Church of Scotland who has penned the “View from the Pulpit” for our local Johnston Press paper, the Milngavie & Bearsden Herald. No kowtowing here to creedal orthodoxy or confessional conformity.  He knows what he doesn’t believe, and he proclaims it with confidence from the rooftops.

Let me quote in part from his diatribe of anti-biblical, anti-confessional invective:

“The Carpenter of Nazareth willingly laid down his life for the good of others. Or, did he?

Did Jesus really come to Jerusalem to die? I was certainly brought up to believe that his death was part of a plan; a human substitute stretched out on a scaffold on a Friday afternoon in order to satisfy God’s wrath. “He died for you,” I was told, “in order that your sins may be forgiven and your life saved for eternity.” 

No wonder that we dwell on suffering and sacrifice during Lent. If this is an accurate portrayal of the Gospel Story, then what does it say about the true character of God? A punitive being? An angry lawmaker, displeased by the fact that his laws have been violated? A blood-thirsty deity bent on ensuring that somebody pays the penalty. And who better than his own son nailed upon the tree!

It’s neat. But it is damning! Not just in relation to God , but also what it says about us. Fallen sinners, hopelessly lost; unable or rather incapable , of shaping our own destinies…”

No such nonsense is acceptable to this defender of liberalism. He does not believe that we are hopelessly lost sinners but rather that if we live the life that Christ lived, sharing the life of God generously and unconditionally, we will embrace a kind of living that “contains the seed of its own redemption.”

There is nothing new here; there is nothing Christian here!

The forthright rejection of biblical authority and Scriptural teaching, the distain for the  historic, orthodox, catholic doctrine or redemption, these are clearly and forthrightly stated. I admire his clarity and lack of equivocation.  

However, I do not necessarily think that it displays courage, though he might think it does. There is no risk in this rejection of the Scripture, at least in terms of denominational risk, for his denomination doesn’t do discipline!  

However, God does discipline:

“Let God's curse fall on anyone, including us or even an angel from heaven, who preaches a different kind of Good News than the one we preached to you.” (Galatians 1:8, NLT)

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