1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made.
He said to the woman, "Did God actually say?"
Here we have the first question ever asked by anyone. Before this there have been no questions, there is no one wondering anything. This question is designed to start Eve on path to questioning the word of God. This is the same path Satan uses today. This is still where the battle rages. Satan is telling us to sit in judgement on God's word. He is saying you have that right, you have that privilege, God cannot say something to you that is binding, it is all open to question, it is all open to human judgement. You cannot take God's word at face value. "Did God actually say?"
One thing that I have seen in the emerging church is an attack on the clarity of Scripture. There is a denial of the clarity of Scripture. There seems to be this idea that we really cannot understand scripture. It is really just nothing but paganism in disguise. It's a yearning for needs and wants to be met. It's about "feeling Jesus" but not having any knowledge of him.
In a review of Brian's Mclaren "A Generous Orthodoxy" John Frame helpfully points out "McLaren is far more eager to correct cocksureness (clarity) than to show how us how to correct doctrinal error." Mclaren says that "Let me go on record as saying that I believe sound doctrine is very, very, very important (Titus 2:1-3:11), and that bad doctrine, while not the root of all evil, is a despicable accomplice to a good bit of the evil in the world. In fact, this book is an attempt to correct what I perceive to be some bad doctrine, including bad doctrine about doctrine."
Mclaren says that doctrine is very, very, very important (3 times - count 'em). In fact his book is written to correct "bad doctrine, including bad doctrine about doctrine." And what is this very, very, very important doctrine? It's the doctrine of ambiguity that correct the bad doctrine of certainty. Mclaren calls us to set aside "false certainties." He is a theological liberal in disguise. Mclaren has a willingness to attacks those with a true and historic theology and an unwillingness to attack those who deny what the Bible says.
John Armstrong says "Certitude is often idolatrous. I have been forced to give up certainty" and "If there is a foundation in Christian theology it is not be found in Scripture. Theology must be a humble attempt to hear God never about rational approaches to text." He is basically saying that theology can never be the product of a rational approach to a text. "A humble attempt to hear God?" How are you going to hear God aside from a reasonable understanding of what God has said?
Mclaren states that "Sometime clarity is overrated and that shock, obscurity, playfulness, and intrigue often stimulate more thought than clarity."
N.T Wright is also very troubling. N.T. Wright has overturned the doctrine of justification and is really saying that nothing has been clear until now. We have never understood anything. Everyone has gotten it wrong. We have not understood the nature of God until now. We messed it up. Even the apostles themselves messed it up because they understand 2nd temple Judaism. It's never been understood until now. For 2000 years the message has been wrong and now we must trust N.T. Wright to tell us what it really means.
We are seeing a giant assault and attack on the clarity of Scripture by people like Wright who say it has not been clear for 2000 years and not it is clear and people like Mclaren who say nothing is clear. This is why it is important to attack these false teachings and come back to the clarity of God's word. This is where the attack always comes from. Has God really said? You can't be certain of anything. Not theology, not morals, not salvation, not homosexuality, not anything.
And this attack come flying in the face of what is clearly taught in Scripture. We have the mind of Christ. We know how he thinks. We have the word of God. We have the scripture. We know exactly how he thinks.
What kind of god has been created by the emerging church?
1 Brothers, my heart's desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved. 2 I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge.
Paul says that he has a desire for Israel to be saved. But there is a problem. They have a zeal but not according to knowledge. They cannot be saved because they do not know. They cannot be saved because they do not understand. This is a giant problem. If you do not know what you need to know you cannot be saved.
The next verses tells us what they did not know. They did not know God. They did not know his righteousness. They need to know that God is righteous and holy. This is the starting point for all of salvation. They need to know that God will punish sin and that he can have no part with the unrighteous. They also had no idea about how sinful they were. They had no idea how righteous God was and they did not understand how sinful they were and they came up with a works based system. They tried to meet God in the middle.
They did not know and understand that the righteousness God and the sinfulness of man puts man under divine wrath and judgement forever. This is what the law does, it judges man. They did not understand that "Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes." They did not understand that Christ broke the power of the law. They had no clue. They did not know that we get the righteousness of Christ by faith and not works.
They do not know that you must "confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead." They did not know that this was for Jew or gentile. You cannot be saved unless you know these things.
But how are we to hear? How are we to know? How are they to call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? How are they to hear without someone preaching? How are they to preach unless they are sent? How can people be saved unless God sends people?
1 John 5:13 says "I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life." So that you might know. So that you can have knowledge. So that you can be certain. Do we then preach and teach uncertainty? Do we teach without clarity? May it never be. No, No, No. We show up with the true, clear, certain message of the good news. "How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!" When we show up with the truth people rejoice.
And look at verse 17. So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. If we have an unclear message no one can be saved. If you cannot be clear about the basics of the gospel you have nothing to say. You can only give a message about "feeling" Jesus. When you attack the doctrines of Scripture you have a very real problem. You have to have a clear message.
If creation is clear enough to render judgement upon man, how much more so for those of us who have the written and preached revelation. We are rendered without excuse. The sinners reason allows him to grab hold of the law and the gospel well enough to be held accountable. How dare we try and blame God for our sinfulness and say that we have had the "interpretation" wrong and that the message was not clear. How dare we say that God simply delivered a myth, or story, or allegory. The problem is not due to a wrong interpretation or an unclear one, the problem is sinful minds and wills. The problem is not with God's word but with our minds.
And why dose this attack take place? Why does this "emergent cult that is blossoming within our Lord's Church rebel against authority and most particularly the Bible itself?" John 3:19 tells us "people loved the darkness rather than the light because their deeds were evil." This is the judgement. The light has come into the world. God's word, the light, has come into this world. The scripture is light. It is clear. But "people loved the darkness rather than the light because their deeds were evil." Why do we come up with the idea the scripture is not clear? Why do we question time and time again what the Bible says? Why? It is because what is clear is repulsive to them. They do not like what they see. They love their sin, they love darkness. The emerging church wants nothing to do with holiness. They want nothing to do with God's word so they question what has been taught. They do not want to accept what the Bible says. They want to hold on to sin. Everyone who does wicked things hates the light.
Do you trust the words of God? "Whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his deeds have been carried out in God." The light of Scripture and theology and doctrine shines bright. The emergent church has come up with many ways to try and explain the light away. They point fingers and say that we have the wrong interpretation. Wright tells us we have been getting it wrong for 2000 years. Mclaren says we cannot get anything right cause nothing is clear. But scripture is clear and the emergent church dose not like the message and has run back into the dark and says you have the wrong interpretation, let have a conversation, let's chat.
Scripture gives it meaning to the simple. There are no hidden messages, there are no mixed messages, there are no missed messages. Scripture is light. Jesus quote the old testament many times and never once says "I wonder if this is the right interpretation? I wonder if I am getting this right?" He never once questions the meaning or interpretation or clarity of Scripture. In fact he expect people to know the Scriptures. You are required to know what the Bible means. You don't see him saying "Oh...Here is your problem, you just have the wrong interpretation, you have the wrong understanding, I'm sorry it's just not clear."
I hope that this meets your instruction to "speak clearly and passionately - and not to hold back."
Those that are at places where the word of God is not taught will tell me that I do not understand the scripture. I will be told that I really can't know. Those that are part of the emergent conversation will say that this is the wrong interpretation. They will tell me that its not clear. They will say "Did God actually say?"