Faith musings from the seat of a forklift.
Maps are pretty awesome tools. Seriously. A map can get you where you need to go. A map can also get you out of a place that you likely shouldn’t be in to begin with. Maps can show you all sorts of important locations and where the boundaries are. In shipping, we use maps to help us know where our customers are located.
Buildings have a map too. Usually it is called a floor plan. Not only does it give the layout of a facility, it also tells you where the exits are and how to get to them. This is something worth knowing in the event of a seriously emergency.
Yes, maps are quite useful, if you follow them. However, what happens when you don’t follow the map? In simple terms? You get lost. Yep. That is it. You get lost. Not much you can do at the point, unless you are willing to consult the map and see where you went wrong. Sometimes, doing that may also require a compass to help point you in the proper direction.
Is society lost? I’d believe so. Why? Simply put, our society has become more lenient than it should in some respects, yet it also represses those who disagree with those things which it has become more lenient of. It is as if it is almost a sin to profess yourself as a Bible believing Christian. The fact that Christians are being characterized as being intolerant is no surprise, nevermind that those who are doing this are the truly intolerant ones.
How did this happen? I wish I could answer that honestly. I have only heard theories and suppositions. However, they all seem to indicate the same thing. As more and more people began to reject the Bible as the word of God, our society slowly began to descend into moral depravity. With more riots and subjectively discriminate behavior, mostly against Christians, every year, it is a wonder that our society even manages to hang on.
What about the church itself? Certainly the church is a bastion of morality, isn’t it? I wish. I have spoken out against Joel Osteen and the mega-church phenomena several times in this blog. Alas, such groups are largely about amassing wealth. Indeed, it was recently reported that the popular televangelist Creflo Dollar (shouldn’t that be a warning right there?) was trying to persuade his adherents that God wanted for him to have a private jet. Whether or not Mr. Dollar understands the operational costs of such a vehicle is not for debate here, rather it is how he makes the church look through his greedy ambition that is of concern.
How did we get here? Simple. The modern church is all over the proverbial “map” when it comes to its belief structure. In a period of six weeks, I can visit 18 churches of various non-denominational, Bible only, standpoints, and yet find 18 thoroughly different statements of faith and beliefs about what the Bible says. Truthfully, if we truly believe that the Bible is God’s revealed word to humanity, then this should not be, yet it is. Why is that?
I am largely persuaded to believe that the main reason that churches (aside from the mega-church model, which I firmly believe is apostate to begin with) are failing is because they do not abide by the sound teaching of scripture. It gets even worse when they rationalize and symbolize things that should be taken literally. Sadly, too many churches do just that. In doing so, their belief structure ends up all over the map. Perhaps that is the one single strength of a unified denomination, specifically, all churches within that denomination are generally in agreement regarding what the Bible says and means. Unfortunately, the downside is that you may end up with several denominations who all claim to hold fast to the Bible, yet they have diverse doctrines regarding what the Bible actually teaches. Even the Lutheran tradition is quite firmly divided into four major groups and multiple minor groups, some more closely related in their confessions of faith than others.
Wouldn’t it be nice if all the churches had a single doctrinal book regarding what the Bible really teaches? Yes, though I know firsthand that many churches would reject it. How do I know? Easy, such a book does exist and has existed for nearly 500 years. It was, and is, called the Book of Concord. Sadly, it is regarded as being primarily a Lutheran book, yet some groups who call themselves “Lutheran” don’t even use it. Ironically, such groups tend not to use the Bible either. Interestingly, the Book of Concord is actually a Christian book discussing what the Bible teaches and pointing back to scripture, repeatedly.
There are many things in the modern church that the Book of Concord either condemns, or is silent on. Where it condemns such things, it gives reason from the Bible. Where it is silent, it is because either the Bible is silent or the Bible has stated that something is no more, such that there is no reason to give it consideration. One such area is tongues, which the Bible specifically states will cease (and they did). Alas, there are modern heresies which the Book of Concord is silent upon, yet so too is the Bible. However, a good real of thumb has been that if the Bible is silent upon a topic, it is likely that the topic is unscriptural, and perhaps even demonic. So-called “holy laughter” or “being slain in the spirit” are examples of unscriptural practices, which some churches have adopted. Since scripture does not promote, nor mention such things, those churches which practice them are “off the map”.
Bad practices in the church do help lend towards a rejection of the church, and the Bible. Proper practices and a sound understanding of scripture would likely lend towards more acceptance of the church, and perhaps even an improvement in our cultural morality. However, that last part is merely speculation, based only upon how a rejection of scripture has led our society down the ugly road we are on. Getting back to scripture, and a proper understanding, is akin to getting back on the right road by following the map.
Just as a map can get us to where we need to be, or out of a place we shouldn’t be, so too the Bible can get us to where God wants us to be. It is through the Bible we learn of Christ Jesus and his death upon the cross for our sins. It is through the Bible we learn of his resurrection and ascension, whereby we can have everlasting life. It is through the Bible we can know what Christ taught, and we can abide by those same teachings, even when our modern world makes it difficult to do so.
Maps are useful. They get us where we need to go. The Bible is also useful, getting us to where God wants us to go. Modern society only offers a map leading to death and Hell. God gave us a map to his throne. You can take what God has given you, or you can reject it and go your own path. Just remember that you will bear the judgment of being off the map if you do so.
I concede that I do not have a specific verse in mind here. Rather, it is a line of thought that I am concerned with. However, the Bible does say that there is a way which seems right unto a man, but its end is the way of death (Proverbs 14:12). Yes, it is found in a series of statements regarding right and wrong, yet it is somehow still appropriate, nor completely out of context.