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Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Taking God's Position -- A Baseline

I recently wrote a piece entitled Taking God's Position in which I attempted to answer the question about whether or not God sees babies as innocent. The title was intended to be provocative, but I'm pretty sure the content obscured the point. So let's revisit the point.

We are Christians. We are to be disciples of Christ -- learners of Christ, students of Christ. We are to be constantly "transformed by the renewal of your mind" (Rom 12:2). We are to be drawing reality from the source of reality -- God Himself -- which He offers in His Word. It is God-breathed, so by the help of the Holy Spirit, we should be able to see truth there that a world blinded by the god of this world will certainly miss. With that truth we ought to be correcting our own fallen views by replacing them with God's position on things.

The process itself is fairly straightforward. Pray. Read your Bible. What does it say? What does it mean? What should I do? There are certainly important considerations. What is the content? What is the context? How does it fit with the rest of Scripture? What does the bulk of Christianity have to say about it? (That last one gets missed a lot, but Scripture says that we are to "contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints." (Jude 1:3) If it's new, it's questionable.) It doesn't take a super genius or a seminary degree. It takes a Christ-disciple who wants to know Him.

It can be complicated at times, to be sure, but I'd suggest that the largest part isn't that hard. It is simply our failure to do it that causes the problem. It is our failure to aim to find out what God's position is on the subject and then take it. Take, for instance, the whole debate about homosexual behavior. What does it say? What is the context? What has the Church always held? We're being swayed by emotion and compassion and normalization and the arguments of the world, but Scripture is not unclear. All references to homosexual behavior call it sin. No hint in Scripture ever gives any other option. And the Church has always taken that position. So we wrangle about it and pick up new things and question, "Only 6 references?", as if these things are reasonable (let alone truthful).

Take my recent entry on God's view of the innocence of babies. Sure, the popular view is that babies are without sin, but what does Scripture say? It certainly wasn't a popular view that I took, but I listed Scriptures and gave biblical reasons and laid it out. No one refuted it except to say it was wrong. There was no textual or contextual criticism and no historical criticism. Just, "No." "No, you're ignoring what you see." "No, that's not what those Scriptures mean" (without a hint of what they do mean). Not one biblical response to the contrary. So what are you going to do? You can take the position that you find in Scripture or take the position that feels better. Only one of those is "God's position" (unless taking the position you find in Scripture makes you feel better).

The truth is that we can get it wrong. The truth is that each of us does. But that's not the question. The question is whether or not we're intending to make God's position our own, or plan to make His whatever ours is. Will we let His Word define truth, or do we allow whatever we might prefer to think to define God and His truth? Is it our aim to take His position whatever that might be or is it our intent to allow our preferences, our feelings, our diseased hearts and minds to sway His view to ours? Especially in those cases where the Bible is consistent, the Word is clear, and even Church history has spoken in agreement, do we choose God's position or do we choose our own? I think that the answer to that will go a long way to determining whose disciple you really are. "If God says it, I believe it" or "I don't like that, so I won't believe it." One is submission; one is defiance.


Bob said...

Does intention proceed content? If so, what happens when our intention is to prove our world view thru the scriptures? will we be receptive of it's content?

what happens when our intention is to know the truth apart from our world view?
will the content challenge us to renew our minds?
Intention - content - challenge - renewed mind.

Stan said...

I think -- given that God is infinite and we are finite, that God's thoughts are not our thoughts -- it will necessarily be true that our worldview will be challenged if we submit it to God's Word. The content of God's Word must challenge the views of fallen humans. You're right.

Marshall Art said...

Ah, I'm told, but are we to take that (the verses put forth to prove a point...say...about the innocence of babies) literally? On what basis must we take it literally? Yada, yada, frickin' yada.

Some simply want to believe what they want to believe, because what Scripture says doesn't make sense to them, isn't rational to them, just isn't what a loving God would do in their minds.

Stan said...

Odd, isn't it? "We're not supposed to take them as they plainly state or as the context of Scripture sees them or even as the Church has always understood them to mean." But, there is is no offer of how we are supposed to take them. Just "not the way you did." And, as it turns out, it appears that the goal is to get Scripture to align with "how we see things" because "how we see things" is the ultimate arbiter of truth. We end up with a warm, fuzzy, comprehensible God. Not biblical, perhaps, but we feel a lot better about Him.

Stan said...

On the other hand, oddly enough, "This is what it says and this is what it means based on the words, the text, the context, the rest of Scripture, and the history of the Church" is classified by them as "You're not giving any reason for your conclusions." At this point it just seems like irrationality.

David said...

Any time someone asks if we're supposed to take from that passage what it seems to say, I can't help but hear Satan in the garden, "Did God say...?"

Stan said...

I tend to hear that, too, except that it's somewhat a product of my prejudice rather than an echo from the Garden. Satan's question, "Did God say ...?", did not ask if God said what He actually had said. He asked, "Did God actually say, 'You shall not eat of any tree in the garden'?" The correct answer was "No, He didn't."

In this case, they ask, "Did God say, 'the intention of man's heart is evil from his youth'?" The correct answer is, "Yes, He did. Now, are you going to believe it?" In other words, Satan's effort was to push the boundaries of what He said and theirs is to ignore what He said. In the end, though, both are questioning God's Word.

David said...

I think I see more of the "innocence" and insidiousness of the question than the direct link of the questions. It sounds pretty innocent to ask if that's what it really says, but it's always on the back of,"because that's not what I feel it to mean."

Craig said...

But Stan, you can't actually know that the plainest, clearest, most straightforward reading of scripture is really what God says, it's just not possible.

It is so much more logical and reasonable to conclude that the clearest, plainest, most direct reading of scripture does not actually mean what it clearly and plainly says, but that our Reason dictates that it must mean something else. Now, you might ask "What else does it mean?" but obviously it doesn't fall on the scoffer to provide a Reasonable, rational alternative that aligns with the rest of scripture and historic Christian teaching. Why should the scoffer do anything but scoff? It's so much easier to simply make pronouncements about what something doesn't mean, than to offer a positive Biblical alternative.

I can't imagine what you are thinking.

Craig said...

Clearly the above is sarcasm. Clearly you are right on target.