Friday, February 29, 2008

Stepping Over the Edge

Apparently Luke Timothy Johnson has officially stepped over the edge. The professor at Emory University has made it known that he knows better than Scripture. In arguing for same-sex marriage, he stated:

I think it is important to state clearly that we do, in fact, reject the straightforward commands of Scripture, and appeal instead to another authority when we declare that same-sex unions can be holy and good. And what exactly is that authority? We appeal explicitly to the weight of our own experience and the experience thousands of others have witnessed to, which tells us that to claim our own sexual orientation is in fact to accept the way in which God has created us.

Pretty straightforward and honest, eh? The clear teachings of Scripture are jettisoned for our own experience.

Now I could spend another 47 posts arguing that we are all created with sin nature and that nature takes on various forms which would include homosexuality, but that's a discussion for another day.

What I want to call attention to instead is that a respected teacher at a respected school has said that at least on this one issue, we should chuck the Bible out the window and accept what we think as authoritative instead.

Are our feelings and experiences authoritative? Can we believe them as truth? I've had plenty of feelings which were no more than wishes and hopes. I've had a number of experiences which I thought was real but others with me said didn't happen. The Mormons believe in the Book of Mormon as divine because of a felt experience, despite the disagreements with the Old and New Testaments. How is it that because someone has a sexual attraction or preference for the same gender, that this means it is of God? I know people who have been greedy since they were greedy little kids.

The point being that the authority of Scripture is a standard. Make an exception once and you then have no reason not to make more exceptions. I have no problem with the study of scripture and textual criticism so that we can find out what the earthly authors of these books really meant to say. But to know what it says and reject that truth in favor of subjectivism steps over the edge.

A tip of the ol' ballcap to Dunker Journal.


Kim from Hiraeth said...


You could apply that reasoning to divorce, theft, murder. . .

That's what happens when absolute authority is not longer considered authoritative.

rev-ed said...

True enough. Perhaps I'm just a bit more alarmed that Johnson openly admits he is going against Biblical teaching. Most folks making the argument try to twist the words and teachings to fit their bias. Johnson just says, "The Bible says this, but I think it's wrong."

Paul Littlefield said...

Interesting comment by Dr. Johnson. You could apply the same reasoning to slavery (which the Bible approves but we no longer do), polygamy (ditto), the paying and charging of interest (strongly condemned, but we allow it anyway), and even the minor issue of whether or not to permit blended fabrics (also strongly condemned, but how many Christians even know that?). There is also the whole question of allowed and prohibited foods, to which Peter found a resolution (see the Acts of the Apostles).

Be it remembered also that the description in Acts of the early Christians' pooling their property and income was rejected in the 16th Century as an example for the rest of us to follow, but that this passage became even more unpopular among American Christians of all varieties during the Cold War.

Obviously, the Church picks and chooses all the time. The question is simply how to do so, and on what basis. Let's try and remember, also, that Jesus said that he had many more things to tell us than we were ready for two thousand years ago. Perhaps we can let the Holy Spirit have a guiding role in our thinking about the difficult issues that confront us?

rev-ed said...

Just found this comment, but I find your knowledge of Scripture to be a little lacking. The Bible doesn't approve of slavery, it recognizes that it was part of society at that time. Ditto with polygamy. In fact, there is nothing in the Bible that shows approval of the practice, and in fact, we usually see the pitfalls of it. The fabrics and the food prohibitions were part of Jewish ceremonial law, replaced by the New Covenant.

Your pooling property comment doesn't make any logical sense to me. Maybe I'm missing your point there.

However, your overall point of the church picking and choosing is simply out and out incorrect. You would be correct if you replace the word "Church" in that sentence with "Christians."

We do agree that the Holy Spirit should be guiding us, but the Spirit will not violate what God has already revealed about Himself in Scripture.