We compartmentalize and then we intellectualize. What I mean is, even if we admit what the Bible “seems to be saying” about some issue, we explain it away. Let me give you an example. In August of this year, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America voted not only to allow for non-celibate homosexuality in its ranks, but to ordain gays and lesbians as pastors. Now, my friend, the Bible is absolutely clear on this issue: 1 Cor 6:9 says:
Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders 10 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.
How, if the ELCA claims to revere scripture, can they take the action they just took. Well I went on their website and found their statement on their view of Scripture. They say of the Bible:
We find in the Bible human emotion, testimony, opinion, cultural limitation and bias. ELCA Lutherans recognize that human testimony and writing are related to and often limited by culture, customs and world view . . . Because Biblical writers, editors and compilers were limited by their times and world views, even as we are, the Bible contains material wedded to those times and places. It also means that writers sometimes provide differing and even contradictory views of God’s word, ways and will.
Listening to the living Jesus in the context of the church, we therefore have the task of deciding among these. Having done this listening, we sometimes conclude either that the writer’s culture or personal experience . . . seems to have prompted his missing what God was saying or doing, or that God now is saying or doing something new.
Will you notice who that statement says decides what the Bible is saying? It’s you and me! We get to choose what parts we’re going to hold on to and let go. We intellectualize. We explain it away.
Now most of you in this room would reject that statement that this church made about the Bible, but I have to tell you there is something I actually like about it! You say, “Well, Rusty, what could you possibly like about that statement?” I’ll tell you what: At least its honest. You see, this group decided they really couldn’t go by the Word of God so they’re at least admitting it. Many so called, “Bible-believing Christians” have intellectualized the Word of God while still claiming to follow it! But whether you admit your defection from God’s word or not, the result is still the same: Revival doesn’t come; real change is impossible until you see yourself and I see myself in God’s Word. Until I stop trying to judge God’s word or manipulate its truth and, instead, let it judge me!