Est. May 2008

18 January, 2016

By What Authority?

If you've been keeping up with religious news, over in England ...
The Anglican Church has slapped sanctions on its liberal U.S. branch for supporting same-sex marriage, a move that averted a formal schism in the world's third-largest Christian denomination but left deep divisions unresolved.
The media focus here, and in other articles about this, is basically a chant of 'homophobia': the US Episcopal Church (ECUSA) changed the church's stance on homosexuality, and now the wolves are howling.

But what this is really all about, as Eric Metaxas points out, is Scriptural authority within the church itself.  He writes:
[Historian Philip] Jenkins tells the story of an African and American bishop in a Bible study. While the African bishop "expressed his confidence in the clear words of scripture," the American bishop "stressed the need to interpret the Bible in the light of modern scholarship and contemporary mores."***This prompted the African bishop to reply, "If you don't believe the scripture, why did you bring it to us in the first place?"
Which is, in reality, a question which ought to be asked in every Christian church today.

If you've kept up, it's not just American Episcopals who've danced away from Scripture: the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, the  Presbyterian Church – USA, the United Methodists, and many others have apparently seized upon the same thing the Galatian Christians did in Paul's time:
I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel; which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. (v 6-7)
Far too many denominations of Christianity out there no longer endure sound doctrine, much happier to have their ears tickled; and there are plenty of teachers out there who are happy to oblige.  And when you look at membership statistics, a great many of those churches are having their lampstands pulled from them as they hemorrhage communicant members who are bailing out in search of true doctrine, doctrine based on the authority of God's Word.

Those preachers who ignore the authority of Scripture and teach 'as doctrines the precepts of men' ought to remember that of those who would lead the flock astray Jesus says 'would be better for him to have a heavy millstone hung around his neck, and to be drowned in the depth of the sea (Matthew 18:6); Paul warns that 'if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed' (Galatians 1:9); and James warns teachers in general that they 'will incur a stricter judgment' (James 3:1).

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