As Christianity declines before the twin onslaughts of science and critical scholarship, the left-behinders are following a predictable course: They’re retreating to the more stringent, survival-mode cultism in which Christianity was born.
Albert Mohler exemplifies this as he analyzes the recent UMC decision to reject gay clergy and participation in same-sex marriages.
Adam Hamilton, the pastor of the largest UMC in the United States, suggested that all the texts in the Bible, including the texts about human sexuality, must be sorted into three different buckets. The first bucket contains verses that never amounted to “the expression of God’s will.” The second bucket encompasses texts that, at one time, denoted the expressed will of God, but no longer. The last bucket holds texts that “are true expressions of God’s will and always will be.”
Hamilton has repeatedly denied the inerrancy of the Word of God. But he goes even further and actually argues that human beings are to decide which biblical texts are — or ever have been — God’s Word. The audacity of applying human reason to jettison verses as never expressing the will of God is lunacy. Furthermore, some elite must decide which verses go in which bucket. You can guess which texts get thrown into the first bucket quickly. Confusion begets confusion. Capitulation on first things sows capitulation over all things.
Just so’s you know, Mohler exhibits the virtue of intellectual consistency; he also insists that the good times went south when that tricky talking snake beguiled Eve, et cetera, et cetera.
More importantly, consider the implication of his choice of the word ‘audacity.’ How dare you! What do you think you’re doing, going around having thoughts! You are not — repeat, NOT — to think!
That kind of belief ignites the auto da fe.
There is a sad irony in this. Holy Men argued for centuries over which texts ought to comprise the canon. One group opposed the inclusion of the books of the Old Testament, and another group argued that their history would be needful to understanding Christianity. Catholics and Protestants settled upon different texts. Nobody knows who authored the canonical gospels — Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Whether or not Revelation should be included was argued for centuries; nobody knows who wrote that text, either (John … who?).
Were those church fathers audacious, behaving inappropriately?
Forced by critical scholarship to acknowledge that thousands of changes have been made to the Bible over the course of centuries, such as Mohler have been forced to a bizarre claim: The ‘inerrant’ texts are the original autographs of the canonical texts. The text of Mark that you find in your Bible is not inerrant. No. The inerrant text of Mark is the text prepared by Mark’s own hand. This is important, because what it means is this: Neither Mohler, nor any other human being who has ever lived, has laid eyes upon an ‘inerrant’ Bible.
Nobody. Ever. And the bland assertion that Our Invisible Friend surely would have … done something … to protect those texts and make their essence available to us are unconvincing. After all, the oldest extant text of Luke does not even include the famous verse, “Forgive them, Father, for they do not know what they do.”
Mohler knows all of this, and so it’s hard to me to understand how he expects anybody but a blinking-neon ignoramus to take him seriously, and how he can feel anything but contempt when he preaches and looks out over the pews.