Posted by Scott Palmer on 10 February 2016 | Comments


“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”  II Timothy 3:16 (NIV)

“Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet's own interpretation. For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” II Peter 1:20-21 (NIV)

The only truth that we know about God is what He has revealed to us.  First, God has revealed himself to us in what is called, “General Revelation.”  The truth that God has revealed Himself to us in creation and our conscience (Psalm 19: 1-4, Romans 1: 18-25, Romans 2: 14-15).  Secondly, God has given us “Specific Revelation.”  This is where we learn what God is like and what He has said in his Word, the Bible.  As Paul says in II Timothy 3:16, Scripture is the very breath of God and has a very important role in our life and faith.  It teaches us what is true, rebukes and corrects us when we are wrong and trains us in right living.  The word of God matters because what we know about God is revealed in his word.

While that seems like a very basic understanding for most who claim to follow Christ, there seems to be an interesting and yet frightening shift in our culture among some that would claim a Christian perspective.  Here are three recent events in the news.

First, a story from Wheaton college, in December Wheaton college professor Larycia Hawkins, a tenured political Science teacher wore a hajib during Advent to show support of Muslim women who face discrimination.  Then she went on to say on Facebook ,  “I stand in religious solidarity with Muslims because they, like me, a Christian are people of the book and as Pope Francis stated ,we worship the same God.” 

The school did not have a problem with her wearing the hajib in solidarity for persecuted Muslim women but they took issue with her statement “we worship the same God.”  Hawkins had signed a statement of faith that all teachers at Wheaton, an evangelical Christian college have to affirm to teach at the school.   The schools theological convictions would not support her statement.  When she refused to change her position the school put her on suspension in December and has recently decided to proceed with plans to fire her over her comments.  Wheaton College put out this statement, “While Islam and Christianity are both monotheistic, we believe there are fundamental differences between the two faiths, including what they teach about God’s revelation to humanity, the nature of God, the path of salvation and the life of prayer.” 

The truth is that the New Testament and Koran have very different ideas about the person, work and nature of Christ.  In the New Testament Jesus claimed to be God (Mark 2, John 1, 8, 14, etc…) and affirmed his deity through his death and resurrection from the dead.  Jesus made claims like “no one comes to the father except through me” (John 14:4) and  the apostles claimed salvation was in Christ alone all through the book of Acts (Acts 4:12) and the epistles.  Muslims would say that Jesus is a prophet not God and that Jesus did not die on the cross nor was resurrected from the dead.  So while Christians and Muslims are both monotheistic , the words of our faith (New Testament and Koran) have a very different picture of Jesus.  The incarnation, resurrection, trinity and atonement of Christ are all rejected by Islam and yet are at the very heart of what Christians believe and affirm. 

It seems that Hawkins is affirming the cultural narrative of our day that wants to say that Islam and Christianity are fundamentally the same but superficially different.  The truth is Islam and Christianity are superficially the same and fundamentally different.  Implying they are the same is insulting to both orthodox Christians and orthodox Muslims because it is not taking either worldview seriously. 

Second, a few weeks ago the Anglican Communion which is made of the worldwide national and regional churches that consider themselves Anglican or Episcopalian,  suspended the U.S. Episcopal Church from full participation in the global body because of its decision to perform same sex marriages.  The U.S Episcopal leaders disagreed with the Communions decision.  Micheal B Curry the new presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church said they would not change their position, “They basically understand we made our decision, and this is who we are, and we’re committed to being a house of prayer for all.” The right Rev. Mariann Edgar Budde, Bishop of the Episcopal Dioceses of Washing was strong in her stance and said, “That there is a cost for making decisions that we believe are faithful to the love of Jesus is not a surprise to us.”

It is interesting these leaders of the Episcopal Church are taking a position about Jesus and his view of marriage that is in conflict with the very words of Jesus.  What we know of Jesus and what He taught is found in the words of Jesus in the New Testament.  Jesus clearly affirmed the biblical teaching that God’s plan for marriage is a man and women in a complementary covenant relationship for life (Matthew 19:4-6).  This view of marriage is consistent throughout the Old Testament (Genesis 2:24), and the New Testament (the Gospels and Epistles).  This has been the Christian view of marriage from its beginnings and is clearly supported by the words of Jesus. The most loving thing the church can do in our day is to not conform to a secular culture but lovingly proclaim the words of Jesus about marriage.  The church must do so with love, grace and compassion.

Third, James Emery White wrote a blog about a recent survey of young adults in Iceland.  In this survey they could not find one young adult who said they believed that God created the earth.  Only 20 years ago 90% of Icelanders claimed they were religious believers and now it is less than 50%. 

The evangelical Lutheran church is still the state church in Iceland.  In an interview with the Washington Post, Solveig Anna Boasdottir, a professor at the Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies at the University of Iceland, notes that scientific progress has changed religious attitudes in the country. But she said that about 40 percent of the country's younger generation still consider themselves Christian – but none of them believe that God created the Earth. "Theories of science are broadly accepted among both young and old. That does not necessarily affect people's faith in God," she said.

So these Icelanders would say, “Yes, I am a Christian but I do not believe in a Creator God.”  This in spite of the fact that the first sentence of the Bible says “in the beginning God created…”  It does not say how he created but it clearly says that GOD IS THE CREATOR.  White points out that they reject the great blend of science and scripture that support the idea of an intelligent designer, the idea of God being the instigator behind the Big Bang or even the idea of theistic evolution.

White concludes, “This is a key insight into our day. A growing number of people who espouse Christianity do so only through the lens of a settled secularism … they use secular values and dispositions as the filters through which they embrace their faith.”  Therefore if God’s revelation (Biblical truth) conflicts with perceived human knowledge or secular values then human knowledge and secular values win the day. Christianity becomes whatever secularism will accept.  This is what we see in all three stories. It seems we live in a world where words about faith are more important that the actual words of faith. 

Therefore as follower of Christ in this secular world, it is vital that we renew our commitment to the reliability and authority of the Word of God.  “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash." Matthew 7:24-27 (NIV).  Yes, THE WORDS OF FAITH MATTER.

Pastor Scott


Kirkland  An. The Washington Post, “Professor ‘flabbergasted ‘over Wheaton’s plan to fire her over
worship comments”  January 6, 2016. https://washingtonpost.com/news/acts-of-faith/wp

Washington Post (Colbert King)- The Anglican Communions  un-Christian stance on marriage.  January 15, 2016.

James Emery White, blog-“The Secular Christian,” Church and Culture.com.  January 28, 2016.