heresy


What did the wise man of Proverbs have in mind?

Yours truly, E4Unity

Yours truly, E4Unity

I’m going to have another birthday in a few days so I guess that explains why I’m doing a little more cogitating than usual, thinking about life and how to live in a manner pleasing to the Creator and Sustainer of all life.
This phrase which comes from the Book of Proverbs in the Old Testament,
caught my eye and off I went looking for just what the wise man meant.
There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death”. (14:12 and 16:25)
If you have a couple of minutes I’ll try to tell you the gist of my thoughts and then tell you what I discovered, from all people, Charles G. Finney, who seems to have come to the same answer.
I always took it for granted that in keeping with so many of the wise sayings about life by the wise man of Proverbs, that this “right way” of living was in stark contrast to all those he labels as “foolish”, “wicked”, “sinner”, “scoffer”, or even “backslider”, etc. It just made sense that this expression also referred to a specific, observable class of individuals who seemed to be radically different (by observation) than these others. And yet it struck me that he says these folks, living a way that seems to them to be the right way to life, ended up instead coming to the same end- death.
So I thought about other parts of the Biblical narrative, wondering if the answer was not clearly revealed in other places both in the New as well as the Old Testaments. Could it be, I mused to myself, that this has reference to the “religious” folks- those that not only believe this is the right way to live, but actually practice a specific codified system of rules of an organized religious order? In the context of the Old Testament, the keepers of the Old Covenant-those who lived by the rule of law?
Now I’ve speant a lot of time in Paul’s letter to the Romans over the last forty years or so, and I remember that part of Paul’s thesis in that letter is that there is something that the law, as perfect as it is, just can’t produce: the right way of living before God (righteous living). So to make a long time of meditating as simple as I can, that is exactly the conclusion I came to, not only reflecting upon one book of the Bible, but reflecting on the entire story-line. The reason why the announcement to the Shepherds that Jesus had been born was such good news, “tidings of great JOY to all peoples” makes sense to me now as I prepare for Advent season. Read the following Scripture and see if you see what I see:
“2) For the law of the Spirit of life has set you  free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. (3) For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin,  he condemned sin in the flesh, (4) in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.”  (Romans 8:2-4)
FinneyTo see what Finney said about
this in July, 1859, Go Here! (approaching his 67th birthday)

Michael Horton, editor-in-chief of MODERN REFORMATION magazine, writing the “Final Thoughts” for the recent September/October issue makes the statement that orthodoxy has always been risky business for the Biblical Christian. This essay has given me new hope. I quote it here at length and think you’ll agree, that in the midst of the present heated debate, we all need to ponder this reality of being

“in the world” and “sent to the world”, while not “loving the world”.  

The Risk of Orthodoxy

Orthodoxy is risky business. The choice before us, or any generation is not whether we’ll be apostates but to which side of the front we will defect. We will be faithful either to the spirit of the age, delivered through its parodies of God’s Word and sacraments, or to the Spirit of Christ, whose reign brings true freedom.

Either we will surrender to the market, the state, utopian ideologies, pragmatism, and the therapeutic worldview that feeds our narcissism, or we will be called out of ourselves by the surprising announcement that God has accomplished our liberation from the guilt and tyranny of our sins in Jesus Christ.

Ours is not the first generation that has had to decide to fight on. The early Christians might well have survived and thrived in the Roman Empire under the Caesars if it were not for their narrow-minded conviction that Christ alone is Lord and the only Savior of the world. It is never hard to go with the flow. Where did we ever get the idea that orthodoxy is for conservatives?

Today, religious pluralism has become the new orthodoxy of the American empire. But let’s not forget that the civil religion of our supposed glory days was as threatening to the health and vitality of Christian orthodoxy as it was for the era of “Christendom” after Constantine. Postmodernism becomes an easy target for those looking for a easy way of lionizing or demonizing whatever time we happen to be living in by God’s appointment. Yet regardless of our time and place, we are living in that tension of “the present age”, defined by sin and death, and “the age to come”, inaugurated by Christ’s resurrection, ascension, and sending of His Spirit.

Even in circles where we affirm the right doctrine on paper, do our lives indicate to our spouses and our children that we cling to Christ alone for our salvation and hope rather than to the ephemeral fads and fashions of entertainment and marketing? Do our children know by the way we speak and pray at home, in formal and informal ways, that the truth changes the way we think, feel, and live in relevant ways?

Or do they have reason to conclude that orthodoxy stops at the level of assent? Does it change the way we relate to them and to others? Connecting doctrine and practice…has always brought fresh witness to the watching world and service to our neighbors.

“Like the Word that defines it, orthodoxy is “living and active”, God’s true and faithful speech that creates the world of which it speaks. Before we can live it out, we must hear it, receive it, be bathed in it, and fed by it”.

 

A CLASSIC From The PAST

The present political environment has for some time included as never before the religious element. I view this as a necessary part of our national reality and have already spoken about the urgency of addressing it openly and with civility. At a critical time in the English Revolution, what we now enjoy as separation of Church and State was being debated before Parliament by giants such as John Milton. His side did not prevail, and soon England returned to the Monarchy, which among other things, placed the Church under the rule and power of the Crown, and brought men like Milton and John Bunyan prison time for their convictions, which was judged to be HERESY by the State Church.

But the brief freedom once tasted and thoroughly discussed was used to launch what has been called the Free Church movement (Baptists, Congregationists, and Quakers,among the best known) and was largely responsible for America’s founders to insure the Liberty of Conscience among the other basic liberties for all American citizens. Those who would in any way try to undo this separation simply do not understand history and specifically, English/American history of the 1600′s.

A TREATISE OF CIVIL POWER IN ECCLESIASTICAL CAUSES

                                                          As a primer on the subject which I find incredibly applicable to our present age of confusion both in the churches and in the Nation as a whole, I submit that we can do no better than to read and study great classics such as this treatise by JOHN MILTON presented to Parliament in 1659. Only the dedication follows with the hope that you will get yourself a copy of the entire treatise which is available on the web.                                                                               

                                        I have prepared, Supreme Council, against the much-expected time of your sitting, this treatise; which, though to all Christian magistrates equally belonging, and therefore to have been written in the common language of Christendom, natural duty and affection hath confined and dedicated first to my own nation; and in a season wherein the timely reading thereof, to the easier accomplishment of your great work, may save you much labour and interruption: of two parts usually proposed, civil and ecclesiastical, recommending civil only to your proper care, ecclesiastical to them only from whom it takes both that name and nature.

Yet not for this cause only do I require or trust to find acceptance, but in a twofold respect besides: first, as bringing clear evidence of Scripture and protestant maxims to the parliament of England, who in all their late acts, upon occasion, have professed to assert only the true protestant Christian religion, as it is contained in the Holy Scriptures: next, in regard that your power being but for a time, and having in yourselves a Christian liberty of your own, which at one time or other may be oppressed, thereof truly sensible, it will concern you while you are in power, so to regard other men’s consciences, as you would your own should be regarded in the power of others; and to consider that any law against conscience is alike in force against any conscience, and so may one way or other justly redound upon yourselves.

One advantage I make no doubt of, that I shall write to many eminent persons of your number, already perfect and resolved in this important article of Christianity. Some of whom I remember to have heard often for several years, at a council next in authority to your own, so well joining religion with civil prudence, and yet so well distinguishing the different power of either; and this not only voting, but frequently reasoning why it should be so, that if any there present had been before of an opinion contrary, he might doubtless have departed thence a convert in that point, and have confessed, that then both commonwealth and religion will at length, if ever, flourish in Christendom, when either they who govern discern between civil and religious, or they only who so discern shall be admitted to govern.

Till then, nothing but troubles, persecutions, commotions can be expected, the inward decay of true religion among ourselves, and the utter overthrow at last by a common enemy. Of civil liberty I have written heretofore, by the appointment, and not without the approbation, of civil power: of Christian liberty I write now, which others long since having done with all freedom under heathen emperors, I should do wrong to suspect, that I now shall with less under Christian governors, and such especially as profess openly their defence of Christian liberty; although I write this, not otherwise appointed or induced, than by an inward persuasion of the Christian duty, which I may usefully discharge herein to the common Lord and Master of us all, and the certain hope of his approbation, first and chiefest to be sought: in the hand of whose providence I remain, praying all success and good event on your public councils, to the defence of true religion and our civil rights.

                                                                                       John Milton

 

OnLine LIBRARY of LIBERTY

You may be surprised, if not shocked, to see how this is playing out in RELIGIOUS RUSSIA, these days. Yep, Russsia. Our “godless” enemy of the cold war era & the main reason that President Eisenhower led congress to insert “under God” in our national pledge of allegience and on our money!

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.