Welcome to Varied Expressions of Worship

Welcome to Varied Expressions of Worship

This blog will be written from an orthodox Christian point of view. There may be some topic that is out of bounds, but at present I don't know what it will be. Politics is a part of life. Theology and philosophy are disciplines that we all participate in even if we don't think so. The Bible has a lot to say about economics. How about self defense? Is war ethical? Think of all the things that someone tells you we should not touch and let's give it a try. Everything that is a part of life should be an expression of worship.

Keep it courteous and be kind to those less blessed than you, but by all means don't worry about agreeing. We learn more when we get backed into a corner.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Opus 2011-294, Attitudes about Authority, Part 3

In two previous posts I discussed in general terms the sources of religious authority.  I called them Revelation, Tradition and Reason.  I touched on how this expresses itself in the different branches of Christianity.  Today I want to touch on the offshoots of Christianity.  These groups often portray themselves as Christian but they depart from the faith in at least one major way.  I would go out on a limb and say that some people in these groups are actually believers but it is because they do not understand what their official religion teaches or else they ignore it.

One of the characteristics of these pseudo-Christian groups is that they have an authority that has the power to totally trump the Bible.  It can be in any category but usually is focused on both revelation and tradition.

One group that is working hard to sell themselves as Christians is the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, the Mormons.  You see their advertising.  You see them on their bicycles.  They seem to be really good people.  I imagine they make great neighbors.  They are not Christian.

Entire books are written on this subject.  Many “Christians” will claim that the Mormons are Christians.  Usually the people that say that also reject some key beliefs that are part of Christianity.  I want to focus on the three points of authority.  The key issues in this case are revelation and tradition.  The Mormons have no problem with the Bible itself.  The problem is that they have books that they add that are of equal or superior value to the Bible.  If there is a disagreement, the Bible loses.  It is not a matter of interpretation, it is a matter of superceding.  The Book of Mormon, The Pearl of Great Price and The Doctrine and Covenants are superior to the Old and New Testaments. 

What this does is teach some real heresies.  They reject the universal view of the church about the nature of Christ.  They have an alternate understanding of salvation.  They often cover this up by using traditional words and phrases, but they know they do not mean the same thing.

Tradition is also a bit slippery.  The “church” also has absolute authority on issues of faith.  Again, this is not nuances of interpretation, it is the right to reverse and reject.

Jehovah’s Witnesses are in the same situation.  The titles might be different but the power of the organization is supreme.

I would also include what I call liberal “Churches” in this category.  These are the old mainline denominations that have a rich past and a lot of ritual and pageantry but are being taken over by a hierarchy that is leading people away from the Bible.  So far the rot has not effected the majority of the people in the pews.  I wish I could say the same for the leadrs.  These people are in the process of rejecting the original revelation of the Bible and superseding it with new revelation, just like the pseudo-Christians.  The Bible has very clear teachings about things like homosexuality.  They deny and edit.  The Bible teaches the uniqueness of Jesus.  They cloud and confuse. 

Reason replaces revelation.  Totally.  The latest, with-it guru is considered a higher authority than the clear words of Jesus.  They develop their own traditions and substitute them for the orthodox in the name of being creative and open.  The problem is not that they have different opinions but that they reject clear teachings.  The church has always had different opinions.  We have managed to work through them. 

Often these “new ideas” are just applications of old pagan ideas and ancient heresies.  You take Gnosticism and talk about secret knowledge and special insights for the inner circle.  Of course you don’t call it “Gnosticism.”  Someone might look it up and call “heretic.”  Instead you label those who don’t agree with you as closed minded and literalists.  You make believing in the fundamentals a dirty word.  You begin to teach that there are many roads to God and that truth is different for everyone.

Where do you fit on the scale?  Remember in the Garden of Eden the original sin was to try to make us Gods.  It was to claim that the tree of knowledge was out of our reach to keep God in control.  It was a belief that with knowledge we could put ourselves above what He had clearly stated. 

Some things never change.

homo unius libri

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Comments are welcome. Feel free to agree or disagree but keep it clean, courteous and short. I heard some shorthand on a podcast: TLDR, Too long, didn't read.