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Sunday, May 22, 2011

Episcopalian Diocese of Sydney Wallowing in Toxic Time-Bomb.

Mark Christopher is a church planter in Cape Town, South Africa, and the author of Same-Sex Marriage: Is It Really The Same? (DayOne Publication, 2009). In the 2010 Annual of Evangelical Action Christopher has an article published under the heading The Ecclesiastical Promotion of Homosexuality and the Demise of Biblical Authority. In this article he nails the problem neo-evangelicals have got the church into concerning the practice of homosexuality despite the express prohibition of homosexuality in Scripture.

However, Christopher indirectly exposes the polluted theology of neo-evangelicals of the Episcopalian Diocese of Sydney which, while perhaps at present resisting the homosexuality push, has collapsed in the face of assaults of the world on the subject of origins. Sydney Episcopalians, like their fellow neo-evangelical travellers elsewhere of the world dismiss the importance of maintaining biblical authority on origins "because it is not a salvation issue" or "is not of Christ crucified and raised to life again." This, of course, is code for "leave us alone, we are comfortable in the world and we don't want contentious issues in the church."

Mark Christopher identifies and speaks to four "bromides" (corrosive agents) of biblical authority - Higher Critical Method, Naturalistic-Uniformitarian Science, Pluralism and Existentialism/Moral Relativism. He then goes on to discuss their accumulating effect on the church as it addresses the march of homosexuality. I take up extracts of his article here and urge readers to note how the evangelical church has set itself up for toxic death:

The outcome of the four mentioned bromides to biblical authority is fleshed out in our third consideration of this topic — the creed of diminished biblical authority. How do those who subscribe to a watered down variant of biblical authority phrase their skepticism? Well, Francis Schaeffer in his classic on this topic, The Great Evangelical Disaster, gave some good examples of the weasel words that are employed by skeptics. Here is but one example from the 1974 Lausanne Covenant which illustrates the creed of diminished biblical authority:

'We affirm the divine inspiration, truthfulness and authority of both Old and New Testament Scriptures in their entirety as the only written Word of God, without error in all that it affirms, and the only infallible rule of faith and practice.'

The question must be asked, what exactly does the Bible affirm and what doesn't it affirm? In the minds of biblical skeptics and pro-gay interpreters, the Bible only affirms that which is directly related to salvation while Other matters related to history, science, cosmology, and geography are deemed susceptible to errancy. The loophole here is found in the clause 'without error in all it affirms'. This one statement gives many skeptics the latitude they need to justify the latest secular findings without having to suffer the academic embarrassment often associated with maintaining a high view of Scripture.

An example of this creed of diminished biblical authority was advanced by the Rogers and McKim proposal. In 1981 Jack Rogers, a pro-gay interpreter, and Donald McKim published a tome entitled The Authority and Interpretation of the Bible: An Historical Approach. The thesis of the authors was to prove that the historically central tradition of the church emphasized a biblical infallibility that was limited to matters of faith and practice. Restated, biblical infallibility is confined to redemptive issues and not to other areas the Bible mentions in passing like history, science, geography et al. This means the Bible carries little to no authority in matters outside the circle of salvation.

In close connection to this new creed on biblical authority, the fourth consideration summarizes the roots of diminished biblical authority by surveying one of the key contributors to this thinking: G.C. Berkouwer, of whom Rogers, above, is a disciple. Berkouwer was bothered by the dual authorship approach (human and divine) to inspiration. He held that human involvement necessitated partial annulment of the divine aspects of inspiration. So instead of talking about a God-breathed word, he substituted the word 'witness' or 'testimony' for the idea of inspiration.' Thus, the Bible is only the word of God by virtue of its witness concerning Christ. Scripture is witness to Christ crucified and risen - one can almost hear the echoes of neo-orthodoxy here. Regarding the cosmology and history of the Bible, Berkouwer would maintain there are unintentional errors. This begs the question of how one can be certain there are no unintentional errors in the realm of salvation. This all leads us to the final consideration which culminates in the fruit of diminished biblical authority. The applications of this skeptical creed of Scriptural authority are multitudinous. Schaeffer rightly notes that '... compromising the full authority of Scripture eventually affects what it means to be a Christian and how we live in the full spectrum of human life.' When the standard of biblical authority is lowered it leads to the general worldview of the world infiltrating the church, to include the approval of ethical issues like homosexuality and its corollary same-sex marriage.

Unquestionably the deconstruction of biblical authority by professing evangelicals has swung the door wide open for the aggressive promotion of homosexuality within the church. In response to this, all confessing evangelicals need to ponder and act on Schaeffer's poignant reminder: 'We must say most lovingly but clearly: evangelicalism is not consistently evangelical unless there is a line drawn between those who take the full view of Scripture and those who do not.' Schaeffer would say this is to include not only the belief, but the accompanying practice (obedience) as well.

In order for concerned evangelicals to begin reclaiming some of the valuable territory lost in the same-sex debate, it is first necessary to unapologetically reassert a high view of Scripture while striving to consistently model the holy demands of Sola Scriptura!


Sam Drucker

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