Saturday, January 14, 2006

Big and Ambiguous

If you are a parent, perhaps you don't know much about the seven deadly sins, but you at least know about the seven deadly excuses. Let's recite a few together: "I forgot." "I don't remember." "I didn't know that." "I didn't get what you meant." Who can be wrong when no one can know what's wrong?

Recently a former church member sent this to someone in our church: "I believe there should be room for disagreement in many of these areas just because there is so much ambiguity and problems with two people and groups seeing exactly eye-to-eye when debating these issues. I believe there are certain truths that are more clearly revealed in Scripture than others. And while no truth should be treated lightly, we still have a greater obligation to separate over, or stand for those truths that are more clearly revealed in Scripture (like the deity of Christ, inerrancy, the substitutionary atonement of Christ, etc.)." Does this sound familiar to you? You've heard it. Perhaps we can call it the "big and ambiguous" argument. It comes in many different forms, and I hear it mainly from unsaved people. In essence, it is a denial of the doctrine of perspecuity, Claritas Scripturae, to throw a little Latin at you. Scripture is clear. When God says He can and will judge us for His Words (John 12:48) and that we are to live by every one of them (Mt. 4:4), that means they are clear enough to understand.

For the unsaved person, ambiguity of Scripture excuses worshiping the creature rather than the Creator. It strikes at Authority. God can't make Himself clear enough for me, so I get to do what I want. First, God is a horrible communicator. Second, God doesn't have to be heeded or followed. These aren't true. God is justified in His wrath because men can know what should be known (Rom. 1). For the professing saved, worldly "Christian," it excuses the music, dress, associations, and really about anything else. Any standard that they don't want to keep has reasonable arguments on the other side. Not that any of those arguments represent the grammar and history, nor the historical theology, but they exist, so now no one can be expected to keep them. If you do, you're squelching their liberty, hindering their spontaneity, raining on their parade, preparing them for therapy, causing deep psychological damage, disrupting unity, bombarding their superego, messing with their heads, and pushing them away from meaningful dialogue. The Bible---big but accessible and requiring interpretation but clear.


Titus Quinctius Cincinnatus said...

Very good, Dr. Brandenburg! Granted, there may sometimes among Christians be a seeming ambiguity about some areas of the Scripture because one may not have grown to the point where certain passages are as easily understandable as others. But still, the Scriptures ARE perspicacious, and that's all the more reason for us to "study to shew ourselves approved unto God" so we can grow to understand the things we didn't before. This is why we're told to "be swift to HEAR" concurrently with being "slow to SPEAK, slow to WRATH".

Throwing Latin at us? You're starting to sound like one of them law-talkin' guys!

Anonymous said...

Too bad he has gone that way! I have just discovered your blog and I am enjoying it!- Jack Lamb

Kent Brandenburg said...

Hello Jack...I was going to say Hi Jack, but I had to check to see if I was in the airport first. I think you know "he," an old friend of yours.