Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Separating Jesus from the written word

It is possible, by tearing Jesus from the Scriptures to change who he really is and use our false image as a cultural idol.
This past weekend, May 5th through the 7th, was the Sacramento Presbytery’s pastor’s conference.  I wrote about the conference here, Speaker for Sacramento Presbytery retreat teaches others how to move the orthodox to accept 'new' truth and here, How important is the written word of God & confessional Christology to Sacramento Presbytery?  One of my concerns was speaker Bishop Yvette Flunder’s views about Scripture.

I have quoted her understanding:
 Somebody said this [the Bible] is the word of God. My response is that these are words about God. Jesus is the Word of God. In the beginning was the word and the word was with God and the Word was God—capital W-o-r-d. That means that everything else feels less, theology are words about God but if there were no words about God at all, if they all disappear, we would still have a word of God, Do you understand what I’m saying to you. …I love the book, I’m close to the book, I love the Bible I guess there are parts of the book that don’t love me.

I know a lot of progressive theologians, teaching elders and laity hold a similar view. So, I was surprised when I read a similar statement by a German Christian (during the Nazi era). The author of the statement was “Bishop” Heinrich Oberheid, who “at a district meeting of the German Christians in Jena” was attempting to show that the German Christians were still upheld Christianity although they did not consider the whole Bible to be the written word of God. 

The quote is taken from an English translation of a German biography of Pastor Paul Schneider who died a martyr in the German concentration camp of Buchenwald, Paul Schneider: Witness of Buchenwald.
The reason the German Christians denied that the whole Bible was the word of God was so they could disparage all of the Jewish content. The quote:

The New Testament cannot be considered an appendage of the Old Testament. It is crass to read the message of the New Testament through the eyes of the Old Testament. Luther pushed aside a centuries old tradition and broke through to the Scriptures. We have continued the search for 400 years and have broken through to the Savior. This intellectual work spanning 400 years must not be suppressed. We have broken through to the Savior, for he is the Word of God and not the whole Bible. We will remove the Old Testament, and we will also critically examine the New Testament. The Jew named Paul cannot be a standard, just as any confessions from the past cannot either. We will demand that many, many verses from the New Testament appear before the judgment seat as well.[1]
So can the progressive’s aversion to the inspiration of the Bible really be equated with the German Christian’s denial that it is God’s word? Well no, not in several ways, but the effect can be the same. The German Christian was attempting to keep Christianity from being equated with what they supposed was the taint of Judaism. They were rejecting Jews, and they, in doing so, despite their supposed adherence to Christianity and Jesus the Savior, were rejecting the true God.

Jesus divorced from his history can be turned into anything. He can be the noble Savior who picks Germany and Hitler to be the favored people and the new revelation of God, which is exactly what the German Christians made him. Jesus was to be the one who would bring the German nation together in unity. Jesus would be the noble hero who was a model for German youth.
And this always happens if Jesus is taken away from the Old and New Testaments. In the United States, as the Scriptures lose their authority in the church, both morality and true grace are being lost.  Many believe the Bible is tainted by an archaic morality, (as Flunder, a lesbian, states, “there are parts of the book that don’t love me”), and they see the ancient understanding of blood sacrifice as having no connection whatever to Jesus. Many who call themselves Christian have began rejecting the sacrificial death of Jesus. The cross becomes only a political symbol that calls the believer to advocacy rather than repentance.

The division isn’t complete—the separation of the Word of God from the written word of God is not complete. Perhaps in mercy God will not allow this to happen, but if it does happen, the outcome is not yet known. But there is this: Christ separate from his word always becomes implanted in the dark forces of culture. And then he is a false Christ. An idol not recognized by those who lift up the written word of God. Then good become bad, grace becomes works.
Walking to Emmaus with two of his disciples after the resurrection, Jesus beautifully connected Himself to the Hebrew Bible. And in doing so he put himself in that place where the church, the true church, has always adored him as King and their only glory.

And he said to them, ‘O foolish men and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and to enter his glory?’
Then beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, he explained to them the things concerning himself in all the Scriptures. (Luke 24: 25-27)

In verse 44 of the chapter Jesus includes Moses, (the law), and the prophets and the Psalms. Jesus sacrificial life, death and resurrection are not lost when the church’s faith in him rests in Holy Scripture.  The Christian is fastened to truth by the written word of God; the believer is tied to the suffering of the cross because of the Word of God. The church is connected to a glory and a kingdom that is not culturally bound.

[1] Heinrich Oberheid in K.D. Schmidt, Dokunete des Kirchenkampfes 11/2 (1965), p 984, in Rudolf Wentorf, Paul Schneider: Witness of Buchenwald, trans. Daniel Bloesch (Vancouver: Regent College Publishing 2008) 190.

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