I read an article in Sunday’s paper that, I think, illustrated some of the problems with the contemporary American gospel. The article, by an LA Times journalist, is about a woman who is famous for glorifying the darkness of the occult but has now left that behind and returned to the Catholic church. Here I simply want to respond to the article in light of some things Bob and I have been discussing. I don’t want to misjudge this person nor do I wish to scrutinize her or evaluate whether or not she is a Christian. I don’t know if this article is an accurate portrayal of her views and experiences. Not confident that my perception of this individual is correct, and not wanting to defame her, I will refer to her as “Mrs. X.” I don’t necessarily trust the media to give me the full picture, however there are some statements that I want to respond to. My goal is simply to look at how this article gives examples of some trends in today’s Christianity.
(1) New Gospel? The journalist notes that Mrs. X “is revealing her own message about Jesus.” Liberal theologians, such as those comprising the Jesus Seminar, have sought to reconfigure the message of Jesus. Is the gospel up for re-interpreting or is Jesus’ message clear? When the Bible loses its authority as the complete, inerrant word of God, then even the very words of Jesus are a matter of the reader’s interpretation. There is a rich Christian heritage of sound doctrine which has withstood the test of time and the survived heresies that still attack it. To stray from the simple good news of salvation (apart from our merit, by Christ‘s sacrifice on the cross on our behalf, through faith in Christ) to one’s own relativistic message is a grave error.
(2) Levity of Sin. Mrs. X’s conversion was compared to that of Augustine’s. However, “St. Augustine renounced his earthly sins. But [Mrs. X] isn’t renouncing anything.” Where is repentance? Where is the turning, the transferring from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of light? With Mrs. X there is no distinction. She considers her path from the darkness of atheism and the occult to Jesus as “a continuous lifelong spiritual quest.” Sin has no gravity.
(3) An Idol. Because sin is treated so lightly, few people understand the wrath of God which they justly deserve. Like many of today’s American Christians, Mrs. X says that her God “is all merciful and loving.” And I praise Him for His mercy and love, but can we really understand those two concepts without acknowledging His hatred for sin and those who live in it? To pick and choose the attributes of God that we prefer to emphasize is to create our own “god,“ an idol.
(4) The Authority of All of Scripture. Mrs. X basically said that since Jesus didn’t explicitly refer to homosexuality or abortion we shouldn’t make a big deal those issues. We can’t elevate certain sayings of Jesus over others, nor can we exclude parts of Scripture. Regarding these particular issue, Jesus also said He did not come to abolish the law (Old Testament law is pretty straightforward about murder and homosexuality). The epistles are also very clear on the matter. As believers, the Bible should shape how we view the world. Our view of the world should not determine how we interpret the Bible. Like many others, Mrs. X seems to have let her emotions and political views distort the word of God.
I fear that if these trends continue, they will ravage the church and lead many souls astray. May God have mercy and open they eyes of our understanding. For Mrs. X and the rest of us.