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Sunday, September 11, 2016

The Foolishness Of God. Who Needs The Bible?

Have you noticed, how much effort some popular pastors put into sounding original? It's as if, they believe the resurrection story needs some new life and they are the ones to give it, through the sacrifice of sacredness of scripture in the absence of humility. Bold statements are made, if it's catchy, thought provoking, or cool.
 I guess some of it is ok, providing it makes sense and is truth. Often, these sermon series go a mile wide and an inch deep. It looks like they go around their elbow to get to their thumbs. I call it the Sherlock Holmes version of faith, because it reminds me of this quote from the character.

“How often have I said to you that when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth?

The only problem is you can not ever equate, infinity times eternity, carry the  three, divided by one, equals never eliminate the impossible with the power of God. His is not a variable to the equation. He is the immutable answer to it.
Other times, pastors are content with wading in the shallow end of the pool. Andy Stanley, ironically, author of "Deep and Wide",  a pastor I once respected and admired, decided to go head first into the shallows from the high dive.
Update
Originally, I linked the sermon, but for some reason there's a copyright issue it's been removed. No issues with any others, they are still there.

Andy Stanley, in this sermon from his series "Who Needs God", says the foundation of Christianity isn't the bible, but Christ. No theologically sound person, is going to argue with that. It's some of the other claims he made raising eyebrows. To be fair, the sermon taught some historical church history and pointed out how we should focus on Christ. Still, several doctrinal issues were abandoned. Even if the Stanley has the best of intentions, the sermon undermines tne articles of faith and tenets of Christianity. Someone should tell Stanley, "the road to hell is paved with good intentions."

Within the first two minutes, Stanely insinuates some people are stuck "somewhere in the middle" with God. At the risk of sounding dogmatic, I can't find any scripture where God is a fence straddler. Since five minutes into the sermon he states "Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so. This is where our troubles began", I can only conclude, if Stanley was looking for trouble, he wasn't looking at scripture. The sermon goes on to question the bible's inerrancy. Stanley suggests, holding to the perfection of the bible might have "unnecessarily" prevented someone from coming to Christ or either caused them to leave Christianity. Eluding to the problematic unsubstantiated claims of the Old Testament, as the reason for questioning  Christianity, Stanley says, "you grew up, but your faith didn't grow up with you". He calls into question the biblical account of creation's timeline, the flood, the Exodus, and the battle of Jericho. From there, he argues the validity of the bible doesn't matter, because the apostles didn't have the bible as we know it. Making the case, because the bible, as we know it, wasn't even put together for almost 400 years after the crucifixion, Stanley concludes the apostles did not believe in Jesus because of an infallible Old Testament. He warns that our children will not except the infallibilty of the bible. Twenty-nine minutes into the sermon, he basically makes the claim the the apostles would not have defended the Old Testament against scientist or historians. Stanley insist that Christianity doesn't "hang by the thread " on the validity of the bible, but rather in the truth of the resurrection. He concludes his sermon, telling us we can know that Jesus loves us, because John and Peter tell us so.
Where on Earth did we get that from? Oh yeah, the bible.

Stanley seems to think the Gospel will become more logical if scripture can be labled unreliable... Fascinating. (Sorry, I couldn't resist). You don't have to dive deep to dismantle this rationalization. You can't vet your star witness by poking holes in their testimony. Seriously, forget anything theologically or doctrinally wrong with the sermon and disconnect as much emotion as you can. Then, ask yourself this question from a skeptical point of view. Which is harder to believe, that today's historians and scientists got some facts wrong from 6000 years ago, or that actually eye witnesses confirming a virgin gave birth to a man that would rise from the dead are true? Would any science confirm a virgin birth or resurrection? Face it, no matter how intellectually invested you become in Old Testament miracles, or the resurrection narrative, no matter how emotionally attached you become to Christ through a relationship, it will require a belief in the supernatural power of God, who can do the impossible, even raise His son from the dead, as taught by the scriptures. While I'd never allude that Christianity doesn't have a analytical component, the Gospel, and the word of God, (I never seperate the two) never required or meant only for logic.  According to the bible, the understanding of the gospel lies in a revelation beyond mere human logic. God gives all understanding, yet man continues to trust in his own wisdom, concerning the things  incapable of comprehending. The foolishness of God trumps the loftiest enlightenment afforded to man.


1st Corithians 18-30  For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.”   Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.  For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”

The theological and doctrinal holes in the sermon would require we look at scripture as well. To one who has underminded their authority, why would scripture matter? Still, according Acts 17:11- 12. The first century church "searched the scriptures daily" and "as a result, many of them believed". Meaning, according to Luke, Old Testament scripture played a role in belief from the beginning.
Consider these words of Peter from his second book1.16-21.ESV For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,” we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain. And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.   Nothing, according to Peter, undermines scripture. The scriptures were confirmed by their testimony.

In the first chapter of John, we find that "in the beginning the word was with God".  Luke writes in Chapter 4, Jesus say's he has "fullfilled" the scripture. Matthew records Christ saying "heaven and earth shall pass way, but my words shall never pass away." Though some would make the bible into an idol,  in the absence of scripture, on the altar of his imagination, every man will sculpt a controllable god made in his own image, forged in the fires of personal passions, made from intangible fragments of his selfishness. To get another gosepl, you need a different Jesus. One disconnected from scripture, that will do.

 In 1600 years, the bible, as we know it, has stood the test of time. It can survive a few more bad sermons. Stanley was right about one thing he said. " as the bible goes, so goes our faith. Psalm 119:105 says "Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path."  I hope the word not only lights your path, but that you hold on to it so firmly, the word that put on flesh causes you to shine.

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