Saturday, June 19, 2010

Humble Orthodoxy

"The solution to arrogant orthodoxy is not less orthodoxy; it's more. If we truly know and embrace orthodoxy, it should humble us. When we know the truth about God--his power, his greatness, his holiness, his mercy--it doesn't leave us boasting; it leaves us amazed. It doesn't lead to a preoccupation with being right but to an amazement that we have been rescued.

"Genuine orthodoxy--the heart of which is the death of God's Son for undeserving sinners--is the most humbling, human-pride-smashing message in the world. And if we truly know the gospel of grace, it will create in us a heart of humility and grace toward others. Francis Schaeffer, a Christian writer and thinker from the twentieth century, modeled this kind of profound compassion. He genuinely loved people. And even as he analyzed and critiqued the culture, he did so 'with a tear in his eye.'

"That is humble orthodoxy. It's standing for truth with a tear in our eye. It's telling a friend living in sexual sin that we love her even as we tell her that her sexual activity is disobedient to God. It's remembering that angry, unkind opponents of the gospel are human beings created in the image of God who need the same mercy he has shown us. It's remembering that when we're arrogant and self-righteous in the way we represent orthodoxy, we're actually contradicting with our lives what we claim to believe.

"But while we shouldn't be mean and spiteful in representing biblical truth, neither should we apologize for believing that God has been clear in his Word. The humility we need in our theology is first and foremost a humility before God. As pastor Mark Dever puts it, 'Humble theology (is) theology which submits itself to the truth of God's Word.' This is a good reminder for me. Because I think it's possible for me, or anyone for that matter, to overreact to arrogant orthodoxy with a brand of squishy theology that believes others are arrogant if they think the Bible teaches anything clearly.

"But truth can be known. And what the Bible teaches should be obeyed. Just because we can't know God exhaustively doesn't mean we can't know him truly (Psalm 19:7-10; John 17:17). Just because there is mystery in God's Word doesn't mean we can pretend God hasn't spoken clearly in the Bible.

"'Christian humility,' Dever writes, 'is to simply accept whatever God has revealed in His Word. Humility is following God's Word wherever it goes, as far as it goes, not either going beyond it or stopping short of it...The humility we want in our churches is to read the Bible and believe it...It is not humble to be hesitant where God has been clear and plain'" (Joshua Harris, Dug Down Deep, pages 225-226).

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