Faith musings from the seat of a forklift.
Recently a new tool was added where I work. We use this tool to tie up the baling wire we use to secure binders and clip on winches on our flatbed trailers. However, this tool really isn’t new. In fact, I was using this same type of tool twenty years ago, while I was in the US Navy. It is simply a wire tool, found quite readily in most hardware stores.
Verse 1:9 of the book of Ecclesiastes reads “What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun.” This refrain has been proven true time and time again. Bicycle technology has come a long way, lighter frames, more durable tires and tubes, yet, the bicycle is still more or less the same as it has always been. It is a non-motorized two wheeled vehicle for getting from one point to another. Yes, there have been some variations, such as the tandem bike, the trike, and the unicycle, but they are just expressions of what already is.
What about the church? Hold up. Lets take a look at something else first.
In Genesis chapter three, we read of the serpent. This is possibly one of the best known stories of the Bible. He confronts the mother of our race and starting with “Did God actually say”, he questions Eve regarding God’s word, deceiving her into eating that which God said not to eat.
What does this have to do with the modern church? Plenty. The modern church has become something of a gnostic playground. Over the decades, we have slipped away from our one true foundation, scripture, and gone off after various social causes and issues. In a certain sense of the matter, we’ve gone whoring after other “gods”. Sadly, this is nothing new. It had happened to the church in Martin Luther’s day, and its happening now in our era too.
Two of the three biggest issues I have with most church organizations, and part of the reason that I identify as a Lutheran, is Communion and Baptism. My third issue is in regards to eschatology. Truthfully, all three have a common element. They take the Bible and ask what it says, then reason against it. Usually the attempt will be to symbolize or otherwise reduce what was said to a metaphor, despite the otherwise plain language reading of the text. How this is done is quite simple.
Regarding the Lord’s Supper, also known as Communion, we have the plain words of Jesus in both the Gospel of Mark (chapter 14) and the Gospel of Matthew (chapter 26), where Jesus tells the disciples “take and eat, this is my body” and “drink it, all if you, this is my blood”. Jesus did not say that represents or symbolized his body and blood. He said, very simply, it was his body and blood. However, many modern churches can’t accept this, and skip to the “do this in remembrance of me”, and reduce it to a rote memorial and then rarely do it. One of things that is missed in doing this is the meaning, which is “for the forgiveness of sins”. Yep, they repeat the refrain of the serpent and twist God’s word to say that which it does not say. Sadly, in denying the plain words of Jesus regarding the bread and wine, they are implicitly denying his crucifixion and resurrection, whereby our sins were forgiven.
Regarding Baptism, this is even worse. First, they reject infant baptism. Why? Because it violates the preconception of “age of accountability”. Let me just say that this is not scriptural. There isn’t anything that even remotely suggests this. Second, they only affirm believer only, full immersion. Why? Mostly because of a lack of understanding of the Acts 2:38, and a rejection (in practice, though not in word) of Acts 2:39. These two verses together read “And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.”” While they acknowledge the “repent and be baptized”, they ignore “the promise is for you and for your children”. Additionally, they completely ignore 1 Peter 3:21, which reads “Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ”. Understand that the context is a metaphor, that metaphor being the ark of Noah, by which Noah and his family were saved from the waters of the flood (this is important). OOPS! If baptism saves and there is no age of accountability, how can we deny infant baptism? Truthfully, we can’t. In fact, King David said it best in Psalm 51, while confessing his sins before God, he said “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.” David plainly confessed he was sinful from birth. OOPS!
As for the eschatology issues, the modern church is awash with various and conflicting beliefs, more than space here permits. Some I have addressed in previous posts. Others I plan to address at another time. However, what is interesting is how the church now takes what is a metaphor and tries to make it literal, and then tries to add to scripture that which is not there. This is especially true of churches that believe in “the rapture”. It should be noted that their two biggest failures are that their primary proof text, 1 Thessalonians 4:17, which reads ” Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.” can also be read as “The we who are left behind”; and that in the days of Noah, it was Noah and his family who were “left behind”, the wicked having been swept away (refer to 1 Peter 3). Can this be reconciled? Yes, but that is another topic for another time.
The modern church has become a gnostic playground, questioning what the word of God really says. Even worse, many of these churches outright deny it, even as they claim it as their foundation. I won’t say that the Lutheran church doesn’t have problems. It does. However, I know full well that the Lutheran church has strove for years to keep gnostic heresies out, though some have still managed to creep it. I choose the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod for it seems closest to what scripture truly teaches. The ELCA, on the other hand, is barely even Christian, much less Lutheran.
New spins on scripture may abound. However, it is really just that same old refrain of “did God really say”, which the serpent asked the mother of our race. Much like a bailing wire tool, it is nothing new of itself, just a different application. If Bible does not indicate a metaphor, we should not imply one. If the Bible does indicate a metaphor, we should not take it literal. Churches do this, and have done so for centuries. Nothing new under the sun.