Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The Word and Experiences

This morning I heard on NPR that the PCUSA denomination passed a measure that will allow clergy who are not celibate to be ordained.  When I listened to this on the news, I realized that this will allow the denomination to have clergy who are actively homosexual.  But, if it is worded in a certain way it will also also heterosexual, unmarried clergy to be ordained and pastor congregations.

To me, this seems like such a stretch from what the Bible says.  And in truth it is a stretch from what the Bible says.  But, this quote from this article on Christianity Today India's website ( explains how this stretch is made:

"Rather than the Bible, the beginning point for discussions on homosexuality, he maintained, should be "the personal experiences we all share".

While Protestants always look to God's word to guide them, Barron contended that Scripture is not the only source of moral authority.

"We also look to the continuing revelation of God in our experiences in history and tradition, in science, in reasoning, and in everyday events to guide us. Scripture and experience both must guide our moral decision-making. And reliance on one without the other can be dangerous and offensive," he stated.

"Experience should lead us into the Bible instead of beginning with the Bible and discounting the importance of personal experience."

This is the same reasoning that Grudem talked about in the book Evangelical Feminism.  It's the same reasoning, but a different issue.  

My heart grieves for the PCUSA as they go away from the truth of the Word.  I don't want to enter an argument about why this man is wrong.  To me, it's obvious.  Our world has come to believe that experience trumps the truth.  But, that's not true.  One scripture haunts me when I ponder this.  It is the last verse of Judges.

Judges 21:25 NIV In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.

Last Sunday, our pastor was speaking about Psalm 2.  He preached about what 

1Why do the nations rage
   and the peoples plot in vain?
2The kings of the earth set themselves,
   and the rulers take counsel together,
   against the LORD and against his Anointed, saying,
3"Let us burst their bonds apart
   and cast away their cords from us."

He explained that to rage against God means to not take Him into account--to pursue one's own way--one's own counsel.  When we allow experience to trump the Word, we are our own counsel.  What this man above speaks of--our reasoning.  That is putting what man thinks equal to God's Word.  

These are things to ponder.  I wanted to write about these things so that you would be aware and be wary.  We have to guard against this thinking.  It sounds good and logical.  Be careful of the weight you place on experience as determining what is true and what is not.

I have a tangent that just came to my mind about this.  It was what I read in The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman 10 years ago.  Though the book is Christian psychology, not really theology, there was an idea about marriage that I have kept in my bonnet for many years.  I will paraphrase the idea here.  It is that Falling in love is an emotion and staying in love is a choice.  It is a mental choice that we make every day.  Often that choice must be made despite feeling and experience.  There is a similarity between what Chapman talks about and the choice to believe what the truth is--experience draws us to the Lord and His Word, but we choose every day to Trust God and His Word--on days when we feel his presence and on days when we don't.  

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