relativism2

The plagues of moral elasticity and re-definition

“Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man’s sake. Rejoice ye in that day, and leap for joy: for, behold, your reward is great in heaven: for in the like manner did their fathers unto the prophets” (Luke 6:22-23).

In a discussion panel I watched recently, Arizona State University Professor (theoretical physicist) Lawrence Krauss listened with as much tolerance as he could muster while an avowed gay Catholic priest (or bishop, or something) attempted to explain how he melded his way of life with his chosen religion. Krauss finally couldn’t take it anymore, and interrupted the priest, saying (I paraphrase): “Why not just throw out the whole thing?”

Krauss, 1. Gay priest, 0.

The gay Catholic priest’s collegiate approach to religion and morality is deluded. It’s like going to work in a Ford factory when your passion in life is making ice cream. That’s fine, but don’t keep trying to convince everyone at Ford that making ice cream is part of the business model, because it’s not.

Krauss is correct. There is no need to be religious if you’re just going to keep re-interpreting the standards – it doesn’t matter whether you profess to be Christian, Hindu, Muslim – whatever. If your religion is so elastic as to encompass anything you prefer, what is it, really?

Or, if it’s just a mechanism to make you feel better, more secure, give you peace, etc., there are plenty of other ways to do it without having to justify the re-writing of history, tradition, and text. That’s a futile and self-defeating exercise if ever there was one.

Far too many so-called Christian apologists – the kind that do and say really stupid things on TV – sell out biblical truth under the premises of love and tolerance. They put the emotional before, and often in place of, the rational. They value feelings above rational thought. They put lifestyle above plain language to the contrary. And when they do, and are called out for it by secularists, they deserve every harsh word they receive. They are essentially no more “Christian” than the atheist.

Contrary to what many of the religious world believe (notably: Episcopalians, Lutherans, Methodists, Presbyterians, Catholics, the Disciples of Christ, and even non-denominational groups in the form of “community” churches, for example), – that we need to go with the proverbial flow, that the Bible needs to be re-interpreted through the lens of modern thinking – they are not making things better. On the contrary, they are making it worse.

Their constant, fluctuating re-definition of Christianity to include such things as women as elders and bishops,  or to recognize homosexual unions as normative aspects of the Christian faith, are not constructive at all. They are by nature de-constructive. These people are not builders, they are destroyers. Oh, what a morbid pity when it takes an infidel to correct the theology of professing believers!

Of particular note to this discussion is Jesus’ understanding of Scriptural authority. When Jesus interpreted Scripture, he didn’t view it as a document to be re-interpreted, to be expounded under the light of the culture in which it found itself. When pressed about the definition of marriage, for example, he didn’t seek to push modern definitions into Scripture, he actually went further back to establish precedent (“from the beginning”), and forced the then-modern way of thinking through the sieve of ancient revelation (Genesis 1:26-27; 2:24; Matthew 19:1-9).

To Jesus, the Bible contains central and unalterable truths – definitions of certain concepts, like marriage, family, home, etc. – that exist whether the words are on paper or not. They certainly weren’t on paper when Adam and Eve were created. Jesus makes it clear, Scripture cannot tolerate a subjective interpretive method.

Eternal principle, not subjective revisionism, must be followed. Every step away from that method doesn’t acceptably re-define Christianity, as some would have us think, but it un-defines it, until nothing is left. It’s like a child slowly taking one Lego block at a time off a completed structure.

For the sake of time and space, let me offer a thought, relative to the passage cited at the beginning of this article. Consider for a moment such interpretive flexibility in the light of Jesus’ warnings about the persecutions that would surely accompany discipleship to him (Luke 6:22-23). The inclination to sanitize Christianity to make it acceptable to the masses is counter-intuitive at best.

What persecution? If anything is permissible, Jesus’ warnings about persecution are irrelevant.

Spiritually speaking, if our interpretation of Scripture continually moves us toward greater acceptance by the non-Christian world, rather than toward greater resistance; if, as Christians we are becoming more comfortable by living out our faith, according to Jesus – to borrow a popular phrase – we’re probably doing it wrong.

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A graduate of West Virginia School of Preaching (2004), Rick has been in full-time ministry since then serving the church in Prestonsburg, KY (2004-2014), and Massillon, OH (2014-present). He enjoys spending time with his wife, Samantha, their six children, and enjoys writing, playing and writing music, a good cup of coffee and a hot wood stove. He hates shoveling snow and plans to buy a snow blower soon.

About Rick Kelley

A graduate of West Virginia School of Preaching (2004), Rick has been in full-time ministry since then serving the church in Prestonsburg, KY (2004-2014), and Massillon, OH (2014-present). He enjoys spending time with his wife, Samantha, their six children, and enjoys writing, playing and writing music, a good cup of coffee and a hot wood stove. He hates shoveling snow and plans to buy a snow blower soon.

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