Text: Matthew 28:16-20
I. God did not author confusion - I Corinthians 14:33
A. But there are people running around today insisting that He did
B. In July, 2012, the Episcopals approved transgender clergy and members, along with a service for blessing unions of homosexuals.
1. “We are entering into a time of individualized eros,” said Bishop Mark Lawrence of the Diocese of South Carolina, “The freedom of every individual to self-define every aspect of who they are in such a way that we no longer have any kinds of norms. We are entering into the chaos of individuality. It’s an idol that will break us.” [Dave Hohon, “Episcopal Church Approves Same-Sex Marriage, ‘Transgender’ Clergy,” The New American].
C. In June, 2006, the newly elected Episcopal bishop, Katharine Jefferts Schori, was asked in an interview if homosexuality was a sin. Her response, “I don’t believe so. I believe that God creates us with different gifts. Each one of us comes into this world with a different collection of things that challenge us and things that give us joy and allow us to bless the world around us. Some people come into this world with affections ordered toward other people of the same gender and some people come into this world with affections directed at people of the other gender.”
D. When asked how she reconciled her position on homosexuality with passages from the Bible which state that sexual relations between men to be an abomination, she said the Bible was written in a very different historical context by people asking different questions. “The Bible has a great deal to teach us about how to live as human beings. The Bible does not have so much to teach us about what sorts of food to eat, what sorts of clothes to wear – there are rules in the Bible about those that we don’t observe today. The Bible tells us about how to treat other human beings, and that’s certainly the great message of Jesus – to include the unincluded.”
E. Thus Katharine Jefferts Schori believes the Bible message changed regarding food and clothing so of course men can make changes to include people committing what used to be called sin.
F. Cal Thomas wrote a scathing editorial regarding this on June 22, 2006 and our local paper published a rebuttal by Richard Swenson, an Episcopal priest, on June 30, 2006.
1. Cal Thomas called the Episcopal position wishy-washy, “Apparently, they are so wishy-washy; they are even wishy-washy about the wish-washiness.”
2. To which Richard Swenson replied, “Thomas apparently sees the struggle of the Episcopals to remain inclusive of many theological points of view as a sign of ‘doctrinal wishy-washiness.’”
3. He then goes on to prove that God allows multiple theological views.
II. Is God or His Will not understandable?
A. “Theological pluralism should not come as a surprise to Mr. Thomas, given the Judeo-Christian belief in the transcendent Mystery-God whom ‘no one has seen’ (John 1:18). The Christian tradition has long held that the absolute transcendence of God vis-a-vis the human is such that no human language can comprehensively or even adequately image or encompass God.”
1. Thus, the argument goes, since we can’t understand God, we can’t claim that God has only one will for man.
B. Mr. Swenson misapplies the statement in John 1:18 by only quote a part of it.
1. Man doesn’t know God personally, but Jesus does and Jesus declared God to man.
2. If you understand Jesus, you understand God - John 14:9
3. This was Jesus’ purpose - I John 5:20
C. Mr. Swenson believes he is following a Mystery-God
1. Yet God has revealed Himself - I Corinthians 2:7-13
2. The apostles recorded His revelation in an understandable way - Ephesians 3:1-7
3. They proclaimed the formerly unknown God - Acts 17:23
III. Is the Bible contradictory, proving God likes diversity?
A. “The Bible is not a neat set of theological or moral propositions but instead contains many internal inconsistencies and even contradictions. There are, in fact, a plurality of biblical images of God in the Scripture that should suggest to us the richness and diversity of the reality of God and His Word.”
1. Thus, he is saying that God purposely wrote a contradictory book to prove that He is diverse and accepts diversity.
B. A contradiction means that at least one of two statements is false; both statements cannot be simultaneously true
1. The Bible states that a characteristic of God is that He cannot lie - Titus 1:2
a. Not chooses not to lie, but is unable to lie.
2. The Bible is the product of God - II Timothy 3:16-17
3. Thus if the Bible contains contradictions, as claimed, then this would prove that it is not a product of God – not that God likes diversity.
C. Notice too that there is a claim of contradiction and inconsistency, but there is no evidence given that it exists.
1. The lack of evidence is simple – it doesn’t exist
2. To state a supposed contradiction would open up an examination of the facts – something that he would not be able to support
D. Instead of being wide open, the Bible states that Christianity is narrow
1. Only one, narrow way into heaven - Matthew 7:13-14
2. Only one faith, among other ones - Ephesians 4:4-6
IV. Is the Bible only inclusive and not exclusive?
A. After referencing Matthew 22:37-40, he says, “These two commandments are profoundly inclusive, not exclusionary. A closed and exclusionary system of doctrine is not where the message of Jesus is to be found.”
1. Thus, the claim is that the Bible was meant to include and any reading that leads to an exclusion is wrong.
B. The assumption is that love means accepting a person exactly as they are, instead of a desire to want the best for a person, which might require changes.
1. To love God means to keep his laws - I John 5:1-3
2. If God says murder is a sin, can we claim to love God if we ignore that command?
3. If God says liars will end up in hell (Revelation 21:8), can we claim to love a man by telling him he doesn’t have to give up his lying?
4. Thus, in the name of “love,” people have become unloving
C. God demands that sinners change - Luke 13:3, 5
1. His demand is a part of His love - II Peter 3:9
2. Death comes to sinners, but there is no need - Ezekiel 18:30-32
V. What we see is an extension of the ecumenical movement
A. The began many years ago with a push to say that good people in all denominations will be saved and should work together.
B. The problem was finding common ground between the diverse denominations
1. Only a small portion of God’s will is declared necessary.
2. The result has been a watering down of God’s teaching to the point that there is not much left
C. The lack of distinction had an unintended side-effect.
1. The denominations most vocal about ecumenicism are dying out.
2. If you think for a moment, it makes sense. Why should I become, say an Episcopalian if Episcopalians say I am perfectly acceptable in my current beliefs?
D. Instead of seeing the mistake, those involved have decided that the doors need to be thrown open wider.
1. People involved in sin (the unincluded) are now welcomed
2. But again, why should they join, if they are fine as they are?
E. The problem is that the same line of thinking is creeping into the church
1. The popular false teacher, Max Lucado, has recently made this statement: “Unless we understand the principles of priorities in Scripture, the church cannot remain united. Either we’ll say there’s nothing about which we need to agree, and we’ll water down everything, or we’ll say we all have to agree on every little thing and there’ll be no unity at all. It seems to me the proper response is, there is one area- absolute essential upon which we must stand on common ground, shoulder to shoulder, hand to hand, and that’s the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. There are other things, which godly people throughout centuries, with towering intellects have talked about and discussed and still not quite come together in agreement on, and my thinking sometimes is, well, maybe God left that just a little bit fuzzy to teach us to learn to accept each other, to be patient with each other, and to learn to grow in love. We do not compromise when it comes to the cross. We don’t budge there. There are matters of essential doctrine. There are matters of controversy. We will discuss those – sometimes vigorously. But we can’t divide over those.”
2. Notice the same trend
a. A selection of only a small portion of God’s will is declared necessary.
b. If it is controversial, then it is non-essential. But notice who is deciding what is controversial – God or man?
c. But God is being blamed for the “mess” because in Mr. Lucado’s view God purposely left His doctrine “fuzzy.”
d. But that is all right; Mr. Lucado thinks fuzziness creates unity.
F. Galatians 1:6-10