Thursday, April 26, 2012

Nothing new under the sun...

The Montanist impulse, the desire to supplement or reinterpret the Bible, or the tradition of Christian doctrine and practice generally, has recurred constantly among Christians. One of the reasons why it is a good thing to know the heresies of the past is that they are never simply in the past.  They are reborn as popular movements over and over again.  Over and over again the Church  must answer them with the same rebuke formed and framed in new and different ways.

A HT to William Tighe for exposing the Marcionite and Montanist tendencies so apparent in modern day liberal Christianity today.  He writes to expose the soft underbelly of those who would re-write Christian history and its failings as the patriarchal deterioration of what was and what was meant to be a feminist proposition.

Bettany Hughes, an expert in ancient history, was quoted recently in London’s Daily Telegraph as saying that Christianity “was originally a faith where the female of the species held sway. To oppose the ordination of women bishops in the Church of England is to deny the central role women played in the faith’s founding.” She added: “Who knows whether God is a girl, but mankind has turned to the female of the species for good ideas.”

Who knows, indeed.  Well, apparently Scripture knows but, then, since when does liberal Christianity pay much attention to Scripture?  It is entirely frustrating that the old lies once exposed continually are reborn as new challenges to orthodoxy but it is the lot we face, because of sin.  We are still not content with the Word of the Lord, no more or less so than we were in Eden, and still rebelling against that Word, editing and writing afresh words that oppose the Word that they intend to illuminate.

It is a strange thing that we look inside ourselves and we look around at our culture and then decide that the words of Scripture could not possibly be correct or that a Gospel principle (a love principle) requires us to break with Scripture and the stand of the Church through the ages.  We once knew what morality was with respect to sex (fidelity in marriage and chastity outside of marriage).  Now we have come full circle.  My bad, as they say.  Sex is good and God wants you to do it however you want to do it as long as it pleases you.  We once had a sense of complimentary roles for which God made us male and female and a sense of love that showed itself not in self but in service to the other.  Now we have come full circle.  My bad, as they say.  Desire trumps everything and if it feels right and good, go for it.  Marriage itself is a changing institution and so the church must change, too.  No marriage or relationship is good which asks you to sublimate self.  Just the opposite.  If it is good, it supports self-expression and freedom.  We once believed that children were essential to family, that children were the God given gift of a fruitful and sacrificial love between husband and wife.  Now we have come full circle.  My bad, as they say.  Children are not just optional.  They may be completely irrelevant to and a detriment to a full and complete relationship between consenting adults.  You may choose them but only if they are ornamental to a relationship already built upon freedom, love, and desire.

But this is not something new.  Some of this was already there in the culture around early Christianity.  Yet we act as if these represent newness, sophistication, and even progress.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  There is nothing new under the sun -- only the same old errors repackaged for the modern eye.  Not even the expression is new --nihil novi sub sole (Eccl. 1:9).

1 comment:

Janis Williams said...

Nothing new under the sun, indeed.

It has always amazed me that the liberal faction seems never to have read the texts they deny.

Deconstruction is nothing new to our postmodern age, apparently.