Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Denying the Power of God

2 Tim. 3:1-5 (ESV)
But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. [2] For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, [3] heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, [4] treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, [5] having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.

Having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Sorry, but I am going to delve into a little Baptist bashing here. Having the appearance of godliness but denying its power. There are many different strains of Baptists, but at the root of all Baptist theology seems to be the denial of the power in that which is godly, divine. No where do you see this more than in their anti-sacramental approach to God’s word. It strikes me that at the root there has to be an assumption that not all things are possible for God. The divisions, common today in all evangelical circles, that there must be a division between Spirit Baptism, and Water baptism despite Ephesians 4, and that it can’t possibly be Christ’s Body and Blood in the Lord’s Supper, seems to betray this view. It would be one thing if they could prove from scripture that God doesn’t work through these things granting us the forgiveness of sins. But they don’t. Why? Christ’s word is pretty clear that God does work through these things. They today trump a “faith alone” doctrine that turns faith into nothing more than intellectual assent. They deny that infants, young children and mentally disabled can have this faith. They can’t understand it. So they don’t have it. What matters to them is a personal confession of faith, and a life that reflects that in obedience to God’s word. This faith saves according to them, and nothing else. They therefore believe in Christ, but refuse to believe him. This is a really bad dichotomy. How am I to believe in someone, for the forgiveness of sins, when I can’t believe him. Jesus says he works through the sacraments. He makes promises attached to these sacraments that should not be denied. All things are possible for God. Therefore we should not assume that he doesn’t work through the sacraments, but believe what He says about these blessed gifts. It is not faith that denies God’s power.
For the rest, I sometimes look with disbelief at what passes for Christianity today, especially in America, which is dominated by Baptist ideas. Now, to be fair, not all Baptists go along with the “name it and claim it” theologies, or health and wealth. Many of them rightly disparage the self-centeredness of modern evangelical movements. But I am at a loss to how the root of their theology does not lead to this kind of behavior, which infects the faithful across denominational lines. If everything rests on what we do for God, rather than what God does for us, then we cannot help but to breed a love of self, and spiritual pride. This stuff is truly toxic, and more than dangerous.


Steve Martin said...

Right on, Bror!

You have rightly described a lot of the foolishness that happens in the name of Jesus.


Dawn K said...

Thanks for the post, Pr. Erickson. I enjoy reading your blog!

Yes, those of the baptist persuasion speak much of godliness but deny the power of the very thing that they are named for. They deny the power of the very things that can be used in the battle against sin, doubt and despair - namely, Baptism and the Lord's Supper.

In some ways I understand how they read the Scriptures the way they do, having spent most of my life among them until recently. But it makes me very sad to think that I was being denied the power of these precious gifts for so many years just because "it can't really mean THAT."

Bror Erickson said...

Thanks Steve and Dawn K,
I too am sorry you were denied these gifts for so long Dawn. I never had to experience a day of my life questioning my salvation, I was baptized real young, not even a day old. But I have seen the effects of it on others, and it makes me mad.