by Randy Bushey – For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God (1 Corinthians 1:18,KJV).
Increasingly, the values and moral direction of our culture are drifting away – some would say streaking away – from the standards of the Bible.
And we shouldn’t be surprised.
Most people I talk to think that the Bible was OK for its day; but that it’s message and morals – and particularly the preaching of the cross of Christ – really don’t fit the 21st century paradigm.
Those principles, standards, beliefs may have been upheld by our great-grandparents; but in a progressive era like our own, they are dismissed as passé, archaic, even obsolete.
Even worse, our friend Dr. Kirk Durston of Power to Change has characterized an all-too-common position among self-identified Christian university and college students, described as “a widespread attitude that the Bible must be interpreted to fit with what society finds acceptable”.
So rather than a mechanism to mold societal understanding of right and wrong, of truth and lies, of righteousness and evil, within Christian circles the Bible is now the proverbial rubber nose, constantly reshaped to fit the changing face of political correctness.
Because many today have totally written the Bible off, asserting that such an narrow-minded piece of literature has no place in a pluralistic society and should be discarded. It’s an anachronism, fit only for a culture, era and people totally different from our own.
But wait a minute! Isn’t the hallmark of our culture held up to be tolerance for those thinking and believing differently?
It would seem not.
Take the case of the protracted ordeal involving Trinity Western University (TWU) and that institution’s attempt to be recognized as a degree-granting school in the field of law. (Arguments will be heard by the Supreme Court of Canada later this month.)
The complaint across the country has not been of insufficient academic rigour; but rather of being on the wrong side of political correctness.
TWU expects its students and staff to voluntarily uphold a community covenant, the preamble of which clearly asserts, “The University’s mission, core values, curriculum and community life are formed by a firm commitment to the person and work of Jesus Christ as declared in the Bible.”
The TWU community seeks to “cultivate Christian virtues, such as love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control, compassion, humility, forgiveness, peacemaking, mercy and justice”.
Whoa! Pretty subversive stuff!
But wait – it gets worse!
Furthermore, to “live exemplary lives characterized by honesty, civility, truthfulness, generosity and integrity” and “be responsible citizens both locally and globally who respect authorities, submit to the laws of this country, and contribute to the welfare of creation and society”.
Who wouldn’t want our citizens – our own kids – to be educated within that framework?
But, here’s the real bone in the throat of the legal regulatory community: TWU staff and students are to voluntarily “observe modesty, purity and appropriate intimacy in all relationships, [and] reserve sexual expressions of intimacy for marriage…”. This is further explained with an agreed prohibition against “sexual intimacy that violates the sacredness of marriage between a man and a woman”.
And that’s an ethical position clearly out-of-step with what we are told is current Canadian thinking.
Consequently, the Law Society of Upper Canada have simply refused to accredit lawyers with a TWU degree. (Parallel organizations in Nova Scotia and BC also fought – and lost – this legal battle against TWU.)
So what’s the message for those of us who believe the Bible is the inerrant, infallible Word of God. What are we to infer from this national debate, if we’ve deliberately chosen to base our lives and eternal destiny on the teaching of this ancient text?
The prevailing worldview in our country is one that promotes broad-minded tolerance.
But none of us tolerates everything.
The question is where to draw the line, and so we teach our kids to tolerate others who look differently, dress differently, think differently, or practice differently.
But accepting people who promote different thinking and practices, doesn’t mean that all thinking and practices are equally valid, equally right.
And although we are constantly told the prevailing Canadian position is one of open arms promoting broad-minded tolerance, it is increasingly evident that this doesn’t include biblical assertions on abortion, end-of-life issues, gender identification – and certainly not on human sexuality, including Ontario’s reviled elementary sex-ed curriculum.
On those topics, tolerance quickly becomes rampant intolerance.
And we had better get used to it, because all indications are that more opposition to the preaching of the Bible on social and other issues, is on the way.
Takeaway: Jesus warned His early followers, You will be hated by all for My Name’s sake (Luke 21:17).
As Christ-followers, we are swimming against the cultural current of our day. The authentic Christian faith – and the true, biblical, salvation-offering image of Christ – is hated in our culture.
Consequently, the proclamation of the biblical ethic and the preaching of the good news of the Gospel of Christ is deemed irrelevant, maybe even harmfully restrictive in its narrow-mindedness.
In short, the preaching of the Gospel of Christ is considered foolish.
But therein lies the beauty of the Gospel to the one who loves Jesus, as the contrast is most vivid: to those of us who are being saved by the transformative energy of the Spirit based on the sacrifice of Christ, the power of God is evident in our powerless, fearful, random and crazy world.
As an authentic local church, we at Bethel are called to embrace, declare, and live out the Gospel of Christ, as we follow the Christ of the Gospel.
…edited and updated text from original post of November 2016
~graphic by Terry Heisele, freeimages.com