Christ's Tendencies
Friday of Pentecost 11
25 August 2017
Today the theological unity of Scripture is in deep doubt. Theologians have made whole careers out of pointing out the divergent theological views of the biblical writers. A great deal of modern church politics pivots on the presupposition that the Bible does not present a single unified theology. For example, ecumenical discussions no longer seek to reach agreement, but merely to establish consensus on a "reconciled diversity." In other words, because the Bible seems to portray differing theologies, our ecumenical discussions are simply reduced to developing a modus vivendi between churches with differing theological tendencies or directions, all equally legitimate. Differing confessions and historic mutual condemnations on the basis of biblical doctrine are simply ignored or considered to be null and void now.
 
More insidiously, however, individual church bodies are beginning to act as though the Bible teaches wildly divergent theologies. This is not surprising in the case of churches which have long ago capitulated to the modernistic belief that we humans are capable of criticizing the Word of God with our reason and intellectual and scientific prowess. Where the Word of God undergoes the critical scrutiny of mere humans, a merely human and self-contradictory theology arises from it. That's no big surprise. This is not the fault of God or His Word, but the fault of humans. In the same way in which a person who misses a red light and causes a collision may not blame the traffic signal. The standard is there, he just failed to heed it.
 
More troublingly, is the case of church bodies which still formally accept the authority of the Word of God, teaching that there is an unified divine revelation of truth with in it, but deny that authority and theological unity by practicing as though the Bible actually presents divergent theologies. Perhaps there is even a streak of dishonesty when churches give lip service to the unique theology of the Scriptures, while acting like no such unity exists. At least the modernistic churches are honest, both with themselves and others. Confessional groups that accept the differing and even contradictory tendencies and practices are playing the game of bait and switch, perhaps worst of all with themselves.
 
It was not always so. Human philosophy was broken up into schools, tendencies, influences, etc. No two philosophers ever thought or said the same thing. This should not be surprising, because generally philosophy sought blessedness apart from divine revelation. It was not so with the biblical writers. They exhibit among themselves a wonderful, divinely worked theological unity focused in Christ. He Himself says of the Scriptures, "It is they that bear witness about me" (Jn 5:39). Christ has called the church to testify to that unity in Him by preaching Him and His tendencies, never our own. Teaching otherwise is blasphemy, because it supplants Christ's leadership and instruction in the church with our own. Christ has given Himself for us. We may teach nothing else.

Rev. Dr. Scott R. Murray
Memorial Lutheran Church

Augustine of Hippo

"The philosophers [of this age] seem to have labored in their studies for no other end than to find out how to live in a way proper for laying hold of blessedness. Why, then, have their disciples dissented from their masters, and the fellow-disciples from one another, except because as men they have sought after these things by human sense and human reasonings? Now, although there might be among them a desire of glory, so that each wished to be thought wiser and more acute than another, and in no way addicted to the judgment of others, but the inventor of his own dogma and opinion, yet I may grant that there were some, or even very many of them, whose love of truth severed them from their teachers or fellow-disciples, that they might strive for what they thought was the truth, whether it was so or not. But what can human misery do, or how or where can it reach forth, so as to attain blessedness, if divine authority does not lead it?
 
"Finally, let our holy authors, among whom the canon of the sacred books is fixed and bounded, be far from disagreeing in any respect. It is not without good reason, then, that not merely a few people prating in the schools and lecture halls in sharp disputations, but so many and great people, both learned and unlearned, in countries and cities, have believed that God spoke to them or by them, that is, the canonical writers, when they wrote these books. There ought, indeed, to be but few of them, lest because of their multitude what ought to be religiously esteemed should grow cheap. And there should not be so few of them that their agreement should not be wonderful. For among the multitude of philosophers, who in their works have left behind them the monuments of their dogmas, no one will easily find any who agree in all their opinions.
 
"But that nation, that people, that city, that republic, these Israelites, to whom the oracles of God were entrusted, by no means confounded with similar license false prophets with the true prophets. But, they, agreeing together, and differing in nothing, acknowledged and upheld the authentic authors of their sacred books. These were their philosophers. These were their sages, divines, prophets, and teachers of probity and piety. Whoever was wise and lived according to them was wise and lived not according to men, but according to God who has spoken by them. If blasphemy is forbidden there, God has forbidden it. If it is said, 'Honor your father and your mother' (Ex 20:12), God has commanded it. If it is said, 'You shall not commit adultery, You shall not kill, You shall not steal' (Ex 20:13-15), and other similar commandments, not human lips but the divine oracles have announced them.
 
"Whatever truth certain philosophers, amid their false opinions, were able to see, they were striving by laborious discussions to persuade men of things such as that God had made this world, and Himself most providently governs it, or of the nobility of the virtues, of the love of country, of fidelity in friendship, of good works and everything pertaining to virtuous manners. Although they knew not to what end and what rule all these things were to be referred, all these, by words prophetic, that is, divine, although spoken by men, were commended to the people in that city, and not inculcated by contention in arguments, so that he who should know them might be afraid of condemning, not the wit of men, but the oracles of God." 

Augustine, The City of God, 18.41
John 8:30-47

As he was saying these things, many believed in him. So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, "If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." They answered him, "We are offspring of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone. How is it that you say, 'You will become free'?"
 
Jesus answered them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. I know that you are offspring of Abraham; yet you seek to kill me because my word finds no place in you. I speak of what I have seen with my Father, and you do what you have heard from your father."
 
They answered him, "Abraham is our father." Jesus said to them, "If you were Abraham's children, you would be doing what Abraham did, but now you seek to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. This is not what Abraham did. You are doing what your father did." They said to him, "We were not born of sexual immorality. We have one Father- even God." Jesus said to them, "If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and I am here. I came not of my own accord, but he sent me. Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word. You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father's desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies. But because I tell the truth, you do not believe me. Which one of you convicts me of sin? If I tell the truth, why do you not believe me? Whoever is of God hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God." (ESV)
Prayer
Lord Christ, You have said that the Scripture bears witness to You. Send Your Holy Spirit that we might put to death our own perverted reason and listen to Your gracious, forgiving speech to us sinners. Keep us from the blasphemy that sets aside Your leadership for our human speculations. Send church leaders that are always servants of Your Word. Help us pray for them that they might be led in the way of the truth and protected from the onslaughts of the evil one, who would have us believe that You do not know what You are talking about. Kyrie Eleison! Amen.
 
For "Issues, Etc.," the theological talk show that many people might hear it and be led into the truth of Christ and His Word
 
For all police officers, that they might be kept safe as they serve the peace and quiet of our communities

For all the people of South Texas as they prepare for the inclement weather coming in from the Gulf of Mexico, that they would be kept safe and that property damage would be limited
 
For the people of Messiah Lutheran Church, Marysville, WA, who are celebrating the 60th anniversary of the congregation this Sunday, that the Lord Jesus would be with them, giving them the courage to deliver the message of Christ the Rock  to all people
Art: Albrecht DURER,  The Adoration of the Trinity (1511)
Memorial Lutheran Church
smurray@mlchouston.org
http://www.mlchouston.org
© Scott Murray 2017
Memorial Lutheran Church, 5800 Westheimer Rd., Houston, TX 77057
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