Stand With Israel

Martin Luther’s “Sola Scriptura” has gotten us into trouble

Last month, two of the most significant earthquakes in decades rocked Central and Southern California. I was with my brother and his family during both earthquakes. They were long and exhilarating and lasted at least a minute. The damage would have been more extensive if the epicenter had been in a major city.

Sometimes, seismic events like those are followed by shaking in other realms.

As a former homeschooling Dad, I’ve followed with interest the public collapse of Josh Harris’ 5-point Calvinist “faith.” Although to be consistent, in Josh’s case, God elected his faith to collapse (Calvinist humor). Then, after Josh’s announcement, Marty Sampson, the Hillsong worship leader, and songwriter, tweeted that he had lost his faith too.
I suspect we’ll see more of this sort of thing, high-profile people abandoning their faith.

I think these things tend to expose that our congregations and pulpits are full of religious people who are threatened when prominent leaders abandon their faith because, most likely, they haven’t yet had their own crisis of faith… their own “dark night of the soul.” I applaud their courage and honesty; if their “set of beliefs,” or their “Christianity,” isn’t working for them and has failed to answer tough questions, there’s an opportunity to lead beneath the surface of their crisis.

Behind the scenes, the “Corporation” prefers that men like these just swallow hard, choke it down and carry on towing the “party line.” Their crises of faith will pass, and if not, they should be dealt with quietly, “in-house.” This approach is in the “Corporate” playbook. A tried and true method for dealing with scandals.

Expressing uncertainty or asking tough questions publicly makes many people nervous and insecure because the people being asked either have no answers or haven’t thought deeply about challenging issues. People feel comfortable in their ignorance, and the folks who ask hard questions or struggle with faith make some people nervous.

This might shock some of you, but Jesus didn’t come to start a religion called “Christianity.” And by the way, Jesus isn’t exactly a “Christian,” either. Nevertheless, a faith did spring up over the centuries, and we have many problems within “Christendom,” the religion called Christianity.

Things really began to change under Constantine and Augustine. In addition to the primarily ethnic variations within Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy, there are over 40,000 Protestant denominations, all differing slightly on some point of theology or practice.

And, like my father-in-law used to say, “Everyone is right, just ask them.”

I have a high view of scripture, but we have over-emphasized doctrine and elevated it beyond its place. In doing so, we have painted ourselves into a corner by placing too much pressure on what our set of beliefs is rather than the efficacy of the incarnation. When we think about the word of God, we should think of Jesus first, the word of God made flesh, before we think of the Bible. Jesus is the one who indwells all of us, and we live and move and have our being in HIM, not a book translated by men with biases.

Do you know why 11 of the 12 apostles and hundreds or thousands of followers of Jesus were martyred before the end of the 1st century? Because they knew “Whom” they had believed. They knew Him. The most important thing was the who question, not the what question, because some of what they thought changed over time.

The first thing I ask people who have lost their faith or claim there is no God is to tell me about the God they don’t believe in because there’s a lot of fiction mixed in with our sets of beliefs. Out of our pain and sorrow, we can easily project false pictures onto our idea of who God is and what He’s like. I ask former believers if they have ever met Him? Did they know Him? Or have they just swallowed someone else’s explanation of how salvation works and liked the music and how they used to feel after attending a gathering or congregation?

We must provide space for people to wrestle with tough questions. But it’s more important that we help people encounter the risen Lord… that they might know Him… the mystery hidden from the ages, Jesus in them… the one in whom they live and move and have their being.

The good news of the Gospel isn’t if you can recite a few scripted words, Jesus will come into your life.

The good news of the Gospel is that our Triune God has included us in their life.


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