Wednesday, November 19, 2008

"The Agony of Modern Theology"

Peter Jensen in his book, At the Heart of the Universe, writes, "Modern theology has abandoned a religion in which the word of God is identified with the Bible." A bit later in the same book he writes, "to obey his word is to obey him; to trust his word is to trust him; to repudiate his word is to repudiate him. You cannot strip him (God) of his word and him remain as he was. That is the agony of modern theology."

By "modern theology" Jensen is more than likely referring to Protestant Liberalism and Neo-orthodoxy. Both of these "modern theologies" have abandoned the identification of the Bible with the word of God. On the one hand, Protestant Liberalism stripped the Bible of its supernatural elements, such as miracles, predictive prophecy, and the deity of Jesus Christ. Neo-orthodoxy broke with Liberalism, but still refused to recognize the Bible as God's Word. Instead, the Bible could become the Word of God as a record of people's religious experiences.

Recently, I came across a book by Liberal professor and Jesus Seminar member, Marcus Borg. Borg's view is that "the Bible is a library of books . . . that, while of human origin, were written in response to real experiences of the divine. The Bible is sacred because of its centrality to a particular community, rather than any divine origin." And so, Borg continues this "agony of modern theology" with its antipathy to identifying the Bible as God's "breathed out" word (2 Timothy 3:16).

There are many problems with this modern theology which rejects the Bible as the Word of God. But Jensen put his finger on one of the most important problems when he says that "to repudiate his word is to repudiate him (God)." For, fundamentally, the triune God of the Bible is a speaking God. He is just the opposite of "dumb idols" who cannot speak. This speaking God has always ruled, not only his universe, but his people, by his word. And, when he sent his beloved Son into the world, his Son lived by every word that came from the Father's mouth (Matthew 4:4). Jesus answered every temptation from the enemy with the words, "It is written" (Matthew 4:4, 5, 7).

Sadly, modern theology's unbelief in God's written Word is nothing but a tired replay of Eden. Satan's strategy in the garden was to attack God's word by which Adam and Eve were to be ruled. By succumbing to the temptation to disbelieve and disobey God's word, the world was plunged into the colossal mess of sin and death in which we now exist. Modern theology* will do nothing to get us out of this mess, but will perpetuate and exacerbate man's spiritual darkness and death, until it comes to believe what Christ's church has always believed, namely, that the Bible is God's "breathed-out" word, which is profitable to bring us salvation, eternal life, and a new way of living in dependence "on every word that comes from the mouth of God" (Matthew 4:4).

*Because so many mainline denominations are tied to this modern theology that has abandoned the church's long held view that the Bible is the Word of God, this also renders them ineffective in bringing salvation, eternal life, and a new way of living to people who so desperately need intimacy with the Father and the Son.

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