Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Jesus' redemptive work on the cross & the word of God under attack

 Jesus’ redemptive death on the cross and the word of God are under attack within the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) as well as other mainline denominations. Too many in leadership are promoting false teaching; sexual sin among laity and leaders is simply the continuing symptom of a broken faith. During this past Holy Week two extremely troubling examples of false teaching appeared on Pathoes, “Why a Crucifixion?” and the Religious News Service, “Scholars Piece Together a New New Testament.”

It is not surprising that both the cross and the word of God are coupled in the ongoing assault without and within Christianity. The word of God upholds the atonement from Genesis to Revelation. From God’s promise that Eve’s seed would bruise the serpent’s head to the image of the Son as a lamb slain, the biblical message is clear, “He was pierced through for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the chastening for our well being fell on him, and by his scourging we are healed (Isaiah 53: 5)

The Old Testament speaks of the foundation of God’s throne—it is both justice and righteousness. On the cross, through the death of Christ, God’s justice and righteousness shine. God is just toward our sin, but he gives the gift of his Son whose righteousness covers our sinful nature. Sharing in the power of the resurrection we are continually transformed into the likeness of Christ.  

The contemporary attack on the redemption Christ bought by his shed blood began several decades ago with such books as Proverbs of Ashes, the heretical ideas presented at the first Re-imagining Conference which circled around radical feminist’s desires to get rid of the idea of redemption through the blood of Jesus and changing the theology of redemption which is now endorsed by emergent Christianity. Tony Jones, an emergent pastor led a recent foray with the question, “Why a crucifixion?”  Many answered with their own postings. Not all are awful, but too many are. At his own blog, Presbyterian teaching elder, John Vest, in answer to the question posts, “Sh*t Happens and God Picks Up the Pieces.

Vest contends that Jesus was simply killed because he was troubling the powers of his day and that God’s purposes had nothing to do with his crucifixion. He believes that now God has experienced through Jesus the wretchedness which humanity suffers. One of Vest’s statements is that. “God is present in the redemption, not in the causality.” And Vest places his hope for the future on the resurrection. “… the resurrection gives us hope that nothing—no tragedy, no mistake, no sin, no evil—is beyond the redemptive power of God’s love.” In other words, we killed Jesus and God raised him from the dead to prove that no matter the sin we can be redeemed.

But doesn't that just beg the question? There truly is no evil beyond the redemptive power of God’s love. But the redemptive power of God’s love comes by way of Christ’s death on the cross. One has to take a pair of scissors and cut holes in the Scriptures in order to have it any other way. And that is why the word of God is under attack. While the angels, as Peter states, wish to look into the redemptive death of Christ the evil one wants to hide God’s goodness.

On March the 5th, 2013,  A New New Testament was published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. The New New Testament with additional books included as scripture was put together by Hal Taussig and a council of scholars including professor and Presbyterian teaching elder Margret Ayers as well as former moderator Bruce Reyes Chow. Some of the additional books include the gnostic Gospel of Mary and The Secret Revelation of John.
In an interview on Amazon, Taussig, when asked what will non-Christians learn from the New New Testament, states:

Non-Christians will learn that some of the narrow-minded doctrines of orthodox Christianity and the old-fashioned ideas of the traditional New Testament are not the only way that the early Christ movements expressed themselves.

Taussig attempts to make his case by pointing out that the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox have additional books in the Bible. And he goes on to state that Marten Luther was able to have some books in the Old Testament removed. What he does not say is that he is speaking of the Apocrypha which was in Luther’s first German Bible but placed between the Old and New Testaments. It should also be pointed out that the Roman church did not officially consider the Apocrypha inspired until the 16th century and the Council of Trent.[1]

Going further the Eastern, Roman and Protestant churches all have the same New Testament and none would accept gnostic and spurious texts in the Church’s canon. Both attempts by Satan to destroy the work of Christ and the word of Christ will be defeated, perhaps not in the mainline denominations but somewhere in that place where God intends his church to flourish.

A year ago my husband and I enjoyed, in Sacramento, the NYC play Of C.S. Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters.  This is the story which involves the demon Screwtape writing letters to his demon nephew, advising him how to keep a human from Christ and/or how to cause the human to reject Christ after he becomes a Christian. One watches the demon become more and more frustrated until his jacket is off and his hair is a mess. The Christian enters glory via a bomb in war torn England. Screwtape is defeated.


[1] See, “The Roman Catholic Bible” by James McCarthy.


Joe Duffus said...

Good post. One error. CS Lewis's book is called The Screwtape Letters.

Viola Larson said...

Thanks you are right. I knew that: -) Everyone is probably having a good laugh which is good.

Joe Duffus said...

Maybe "Shrewtape" was his wife?