I have gone out of my way to be provocative, mischievous, and unclear, reflecting my belief that clarity is sometimes overrated, and that shock, obscurity, playfulness, and intrigue (carefully articulated) often stimulate more thought than clarity. There is great danger in the quest to be right.Brian McLaren, A Generous Orthodoxy
Yesterday I pondered the idea of simplicity, of accepting God for who He says He is. Is it so bad to be simple-minded? I think it’s quite a gift, actually. Today, with some help from the headlines, we look at the idea of certainty and ask the question, “is it bad to be sure about things?” As always, real life in the year 2020 does the work for me, and provides me with some fantastic, parody-level examples of postmodern anxiety regarding truth:
Thanks, CNN. I thought I was reading The Onion, but alas, we’ve just made the leap into being led by personal perspectives and narratives. Apparently, truth is whatever you want it to be. And it’s more virtuous to have stimulating conversation about a topic than to have any clarity about it.
So we have ‘pastors’ such as Emergent Church leader Brian McLaren, writing actual books that glorify skepticism over truth, eternal questioning over fixed faith, and a contextualized Christianity perfectly suited for a culture with divided hearts and minds.
I mean, if we can’t know everything (which we don’t), do we even know anything? And what if we simply don’t like what we hear? I think the latter is our biggest problem now. After all, we operate every single day in good faith with limited (but enough) knowledge about things. No, our nature is already pretty selfish, we like to do what we please. Now throw in our current political and social climate and it’s like a nuclear bomb of every evil thing in man just blowing up.
Authority? Nope. Law and order? Doesn’t matter now. Police? For sure no.
The human heart is so depraved, and we are seeing it play out right in front of our eyes. The animosity toward civility is just a symptom of a deep hatred and rebellion against the Creator. These people will not be ruled, they will not be told what to do. They decide what truth is. If you think about it, this is a pretty predictable outcome of what we have sown in recent years… horrific, but predictable.
So there is genuine, relational, upward growth in the Christian life (sanctification), and then there is willful unbelief. They are not the same. Questioning everything has been marketed as some kind of humility, but it’s a false humility. This is denial of Christ, pure and simple.
The mark of a Christian is not that they never question, but they know and have a desire for the truth. The Bible doesn’t mince words in this area.
Christ has spoken in the Bible, and He holds us responsible to understand, interpret, obey, and teach what He said – as opposed to deconstructing everything the Bible says. Notice that Christ repeatedly reused the Pharisees for twisting Scripture, disobeying it, setting it aside with their traditions, and generally ignoring its plain meaning. Not once did He ever excuse the Pharisees’ hypocrisy and false religion by apologizing for any lack of clarity in the Old Testament.
Jesus held not only the Pharisees but also the common people responsible for knowing and understanding the Scriptures. “Have you not read…?” was a common rebuke to those who challenged His teaching but did not know or understand the Scriptures as they should have. The problem lay not in any lack of clarity on Scripture’s part but in their own sluggish faith. The notion that everything should be perpetually up for discussion and nothing is ever really sure or settled is a plain and simple denial of Scripture and the unanimous testimony of the people of God throughout history.John MacArthur The Truth War
This is a great book by the way, written in 2007, absolutely full of Biblical explanations as to why we Christians need to be able to identify what is happening to our culture and stand in Truth. (And nice to see John MacArthur walking out what he preaches in 2020 still!)
So, have you not read…. dear Christian? Do you not know that all this chaos was predicted long ago? Do you not know that we are messengers for the Truth with a capital T? Have you not heard that you are an enlisted soldier in this war? Far too many within our ranks have put down their greatest weapon and have started taking advice from the enemy.
Whatever remains of the church after all this will be the real deal, that is for sure. Like those giant Redwood trees in California that survived raging wildfires while everything else around them burned… this is not a drill.
I’ve watched influential Christians go from preaching cutesy self-help fluff to seething vulgarity and anger almost overnight, because they have rejected and do not accept what God has actually spoken over us.
His truth is not oppressive or enslaving or keeping us from living our best lives… it’s the guardrail that is keeping us from careening over a cliff to our death. Sorry to be dramatic, but it’s absolutely true.
“A creature revolting against a creator is revolting against the source of his own powers–including even his power to revolt. It is like the scent of a flower trying to destroy the flower.”C.S. Lewis
The sooner we understand that there is safety and beauty to be found in God’s fixed (yes, fixed!) truths, the better off we will be.