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Wednesday, November 27, 2019

The "Lone Ranger" Problem

Today there is a rise in a category of religious belief that they're calling "the Nones." These people do not identify as atheist; they simply don't identify with a religion. They aren't anti-religion; they just don't want yours. America itself has long been identified with two brave characteristics: equality and individuality. We kind of like to think of ourselves as a nation of mavericks.

As a result, we have a host of misguided belief systems that we too generously refer to as "Christian" and are not. Where do they come from? Typically they come from the "Lone Ranger" Christian, the "None" in some sense. "I don't need a church to tell me what to believe; I can figure it out on my own." A sense of "You and me, Jesus; just You and me" runs through it. We are given information and means to get this right (Eph 4:11-13), and we run off on our own. "Don't worry; I've got this." We ignore the host that have gone before and determine to blaze our own trails. "Maybe that's what the text says, but I'm pretty sure that I've figured it out that it doesn't mean anything of the kind." "Lone Ranger" theology.

Look, here's what we know. 1) God is God. He is omniscient, which means He knows what was, what is, and what will be. He didn't "get it wrong" in the past and He didn't fail to anticipate what was coming in the future. 2) Jesus is the Incarnate Word (John 1:1). He recognized God's word as truth (John 17:17). Our Scriptures are "God-breathed" (2 Tim 3:16). Therefore, all of Scripture could be "red lettered," no Scripture can contradict Scripture, and all Scripture is useful (2 Tim 3:16-17). 3) God has instituted means by which we can rightly understand His word. We have the Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:20-21) promised by Jesus (John 16:13-14). We have the church (Eph 4:11-13). God's word can be understood ... correctly.

If you have a new idea about how Scripture ought to be interpreted, welcome to "Lone Ranger" theology. If you've finally figured out the truth and no one else did before you, welcome to "maverick" Christianity. Understand that what you're practicing voids Scripture itself. Jesus didn't know what He was talking about when He promised the Holy Spirit. God didn't know what He was doing when He inspired the Word. The Godhead failed ... failed to provide an ongoing string of believers who actually had the truth from the Spirit through the church. This is the danger of the Lone Ranger approach. Sure, it's American. It's avant-garde -- cutting edge. Maybe you understand what no one before understood, like the suggestion that hell isn't real or that things always taken as real were actually mythical or that the sins of the fathers weren't actually sins and everything's okay. Sure, it's pushing the envelope. The only problem is it denies the God it tries to approach, and that can't be a good thing. Ultimately the "Lone Ranger" approach denies Scripture itself and, therefore, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit all in one fell swoop. Not a good idea for one trying to follow Christ.

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