Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Dark Ages

The term references a period of time roughly in the 10th and 11th century. It was a time of decline in all aspects of human life, and it would be appropriate to say that darkness pushed out the light. It marked the period when Rome fell and it lasted almost until the time called the Renaissance. As a general definition it was a time where the human race placed its intellect upon the shelf and almost every aspect of civilization seemed to deteriorate. Of course the later years of enlightenment came with their own liabilities and spiritual corruption.

But today we live in what could easily be called the Spiritual Dark Ages. It is a time of great spiritual upheaval and the deconstruction of Biblical truth disguised as enlightenment. I realize that believing the New Testament Scriptures is considered non-intellectual and even archaic, and any who would believe such things are deemed to be caught in a historical paradigm of ages far past. But we should expect such from darkened minds and hearts.

But as the Industrial revolution began to unfold, and as high learning became available to a broader swath of the population, there arose a tension between education and science, and the truth as revealed in the Scriptures. Some retreated into viewing the Scriptures as a sort of comfort food meant to help us emotionally. Many use the scriptures as a collection of hallmark cards that can elevate the spirit and as an aid to living with a positive attitude.

Others have abandoned the Scriptures completely as a passing phenomenon that are nothing more than man made superstition. They may even retain some kind of belief in a god, but they reject the veracity of the New Testament as it pertains to absolute truth and the exclusivity of Christ. They live their lives based upon some innate sense of morality and earthly purpose.

But one of the most insidious ways in which the Scriptures are handled is by those who attempt to marry human reason with a diluted view of the teachings of Scripture. This reinterprets Scripture so as to remove the affront to the earthly intellect, and they attempt to make it palatable to the educated. In effect, they rewrite the New Testament in such a way as to compromise the Person of Christ and to treat salvation with such a malleable interpretation that almost all religions have redemptive validity. But it appears very creative, very attractive, very compassionate, and very enlightened in its unfolding of Scripture.

But what appears as Biblical light is in effect spiritual darkness. The light of God’s truth, when refracted through the prism of man’s intellect and any predetermined theology, ceases to be God’s truth. As the old preacher once observed, “If it’s new it isn’t true”. I believe Solomon originally made that same observation. Just because it may be new and exciting, innovative and creative, intellectual and nuanced, and incredibly enlightened, it is not necessarily true. But I would like to make this observation lest we rest on our doctrinal laurels.

In order for one to be saved and have an intimate and personal relationship with Jesus Christ you must have a Biblical view of truth. But one can have a Biblical view of truth and be saved but not have an intimate and personal relationship with Jesus Christ. So just because we can identify the Biblical darkness that continues to descend upon the visible church of Christ, that must not lead us into an air of superiority that results in a complacency about the vibrancy and depth of our own spiritual walk with the Risen Christ.

Let us take those thoughts a step further. If we indeed are living in the midst of a progressive spiritual darkness, and if the church by and large is quickly departing from the Crucified and Risen Christ and His eternal Word, then what should the expression of the true and living church be? Is it enough just to batten down the doctrinal hatches? Are we to guard the fort and receive daily updates about each new encroachments gained by the darkness and be content by shaking our theological heads in disgust? Can the exposing of error be considered our spiritual food? And if the darkness has become lightless and pitch-black, then shouldn’t the true body of Christ shine forth with an unmistakable and remarkable bioluminescence that shines brighter and brighter as the darkness descends?

It is time for the “orthodox” wing of evangelicalism to take a good, long look into the mirror of the Spirit. So often watchman are reduced to watching instead of completely surrendering to a living expression of Jesus Christ and not just a positive confession of doctrines and creeds, regardless of how Biblical they may be. The depth of our own Christ expressions are not based upon our ability to recognize and confront false teachers and their teachings. Warning the sheep about wolves is necessary, but sheep will starve if that becomes their exclusive focus.

Thank God we can see the darkness. That means that the Spirit has granted us the grace to see and avoid that which is not truth and undermines the eternal Word of God! But we do not mold ourselves against the darkness. No, we must be molded into the image of the Christ. Our eyes must be fixated upon the Risen Christ and with surrendered hearts we must allow the Spirit to cut away our flesh and replace it with the Spirit. Let others be obsessed with all the cast of false teachers, but let us continue a journey that includes our own cross, our own crucifixion, our own denial of self, and our own sacrificial lifestyle.

It is infinitely easier to see and confront doctrinal error than it is to exhibit a living revelation of our own doctrine in our own lives. Speaking and writing doctrine is not living it. In fact, it is more desirable to be 85% doctrinally accurate and live 95% of it than it is to be 100% doctrinally accurate and only live 50% of that. Regardless of how we refute it by spoken and written word, the darkness will continue to descend. But our calling is to be the light of the world, not just the darkness police.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Pastor Rick for reminding us of this. I've been convicted about it for long time now. It's almost like an addiction for me, constantly monitoring the problems in the church, when I should be praying and reading my bible instead!