Monday, November 26, 2012

Liberals and Ecclesiastical Authority

I'm not going to go on and on today about this, but I did just want to point out one small thing, and that is this: Liberals are ecclesiastical atheists because their self-ascribed, interpretive grid can't allow for the Church to have authority when it conflicts with their experience. So if the Church has concluded the right interpretation of Scripture concerning what is orthodox and orthoprax, that Church must be seen as a bully that wants to inflict upon others its own interpretation of Scripture as opposed to allowing the liberal to have his way. Shame on it. Liberals are just trying to interpret the Bible with their own self-exalting interpretive experience and attack what the Church has concluded to be biblically true. Why in the world would the Church counter-attack the poor little liberal victim? What a mean, bad bully it must be.

Those of us who believe the Scripture, however, believe also that apostles and prophets were given by God for the purpose of giving revelation to the Church AND that teachers were given to the Church to rightly interpret the Scripture and bring us all into the unity of the truth (per Ephesians 4). This is a lifelong goal, where unity is something that is not immediate, but happens as the right teaching of the Church moves us more and more into orthodoxy and orthopraxis. Liberal heretics don't get this. They're trajectory moves away from unity in the truth because it moves away from ecclesiastical conclusions on biblical issues. It does not believe the Spirit of truth has guided His Church's biblical interpretation into the direction of the truth. To the liberal, we're on our own. There is no God guiding the Church. Hence, it must have concluded wrongly in its theology and ethics when interpreting the Bible.

One might think that this is a Protestant belief, but it isn't. The Magisterial Reformers believed that the Spirit guided the Church. They just believed that the Church had authority to interpret the Bible, not add traditions and contemporary folk religion to the Bible. But half of Calvin's Institutes are quotes from Church Fathers. He is in dialogue with them. Luther's conclusions about Romans came from his Augustinian assumptions and background.

So Immanuel. God is with us. We are not yet perfected, but we do not negate the theology and ethics of the ancient Church because they were without God guiding their teachers as we are without God guiding ours. Instead, it precisely because God is guiding our teachers into the truth in which He guided them that we know He is now guiding us. Those who are not guided into the same truth are not being guided by the same Spirit. Our big problem is that we want God to have guided them in areas that He hasn't. We want them to conclude on one eschatological time-frame, or the specifics of scientific or historical events that don't have anything to do with the theology and ethics with which the Holy Spirit's guidance has to do.

The problem with liberals is that they can't divorce the two. If the Church has concluded wrongly on a true, empirically verifiably, scientific matter (e.g., geocentricism), then that means it must have concluded wrongly on a theological or ethical interpretation of the text as well. But the problem with theological and ethical aberrations in Church History is that the latter departs from the former. It's never that the latter got something theologically or ethically  right that the former was wrong about. The Reformation, then, was a going back, not a departure from what came before. It was a rejection of the innovation within the visible church, not a rejection of Church authority and the idea that the Spirit has guided the Church into the sphere of truth.

Liberalism, therefore, is nothing but the same old Satanic heresy, where the truth and good is rejected by what comes later, a supposedly more enlightened path provided by a contemporary luminary. It is a ploy to steal the spotlight from Christ's Church and give it to oneself. The Church, then, is just a community of individuals who are only unified in so far as they get along with one another, but not in mind and speech. Their lives do not accord with one another beyond doing as they see fit. There is no submission to the external in one's thinking. There is only the Self. And Christ and His Church must bow down to it, or be taunted as a bully that seeks to oppress the self-imagined victim of the Self.

But the true bullies are those who come along and want to violently destroy what has been set in place and then falsely accuse their victims to be the oppressors. The truth is that the Church is just trying to faithfully preserve God's Word in an extremely hostile environment, and liberals have joined the side of that environment and have added to the hostility. They are the whore that rides the beast. The beast is more accepting of them, even though it still has less respect for them as a religious entity, but it tolerates them because they join hands to persecute the Church. They together falsely accuse it, as does their father the devil; but Christ's Church will be vindicated in the end because they did not love their lives even to death and they kept firm to the testimony of the Lord Jesus Christ. And they can do this, precisely, because they know what the testimony is. The Church has preserved the biblical message and it exists so that it may always find its way back from the false churches that are created by the innovators.

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