Monday, May 13, 2013

Uncertainty Now Considered Supreme Form of Christianity

We live in a new era where absolute certainty is reserved for a movie review or the quality of your creme brulee.  Our faith no longer has such a resting place.  If we land anywhere in the state of Nevada, we're close enough.

Scripture smacks of certainty.  From a child, you can know what it teaches.  It's more sure than eyewitness testimony.

What's the benefit of an unsure word?  Scoffers walk after their own lust.  The benefit, if you could call it that, is lust.  Men have their desires and the Bible conflicts with them.  There is a sweet spot where enough uncertainty in scripture will harmonize a church with the world, now considered a supreme form of Christianity.

Is it that the Bible really is uncertain, or is it that the Bible's gotta be uncertain?  A biblical certainty is no longer acceptable.  FDR said the only fear is fear itself.   Now the only toleration is toleration itself.

How could uncertainty reign?  Doubt allows.  If you can't be sure, you can't enforce.  And by now it's had decades to develop its arguments.

One, humility.  If you know, you're proud.  You think you're better than everyone else.  When you point out error, you're  scorner.   The superior uncertainty is being called epistemological humility.  Nothing better than telling someone you're not sure, even if you are, just to make the point that you don't know. At least, I think.  I can't be sure.

Two, certainty caused postmodernism.  That's what I've been told.  Certainty is more responsible for chasing men into postmodernism than any other single cause.  The postmodern emergent gatherings are full of Christians disabused of certainty.  This is the counsel of Daniel Wallace.  You want to ratchet down your thoughts about inerrancy to spare from shipwreck when you hear the errors we actually know of.  Did I say "know of"?  We're uncertain of truth, but know error.

Three, uncertainty is catholic.  True catholicity disregards unanimity for unity around a limited number of doctrines.

Four, certainty flattens doctrine.  If you're sure about almost anything beyond the gospel, you've devalued the gospel.  You're sure about the gospel and almost anything else is negotiable.  More than that and you've relegated the gospel to a lesser place, and it requires first importance.

Five, most application of scripture is above that is written.  That means most application of scripture can't be dogmatic.  By being uncertain about application, you elevate what is written.

Six, isolationism.  A high degree of certainty will isolate you.  And there's no verse, but doesn't it seem obvious that isolation from a majority of churches is wrong?

Seven, pragmatism.  Uncertainty is pragmatic.  It works.  The less certainty, the more welcoming.  Little is excluded when much is doubtful.

Eight, mockery.  False accusations, ridicule, and marginalization are most effective.  They work the best.  They don't prove anything, but those listening to you will see their future in the treatment they see you experience.  2 Peter 2 talks about the self-willed speaking evil of dignities.

Nine, freedom.  I recently heard that your freedom might be license, but it's better to know license than to stay in bondage, as long as it means you will experience freedom.  Certainty erects barriers that box you in.  Jesus sets free and here's freedom.  They've got to be cousins, at least.

Ten, grace.  As Chuck Swindoll wrote, 'Why can't you see God in a pair of bermuda shorts?"  This isn't grace, but it is a version of grace used as an argument.  It's essentially the proverbial get-out-of-jail-free card.

Lust and uncertainty are not strange bedfellows.  They aren't strange.  They are bosom buddies.  For people to be in charge and stay in charge, God can't be.  Nothing will unseat God more in men's minds and actions than uncertainty, the now supreme form of Christianity.


Joshua said...

An observation followed by a question: As far as I can see, for a long time now evangelicals have been driving the "doubt is godliness" bandwagon, while their critics have accused them of world-lings using the grey of doubt to excuse what is convenient for them. Their answer seems to be that they will not compromise on the clear teachings of the Bible, but that fundamentalists are being more clear than the text demands. This has allowed them to stay much more palatable to the world then the fundamentalists.

It's pretty obvious how you and like minds would view this, but here's the question: How do you think the sodomy/gay marriage issue will change this?

It is plainly taught in Old and New explicitly as wicked. Can you see this as being a possible turning point for evangelicals - something they will be forced to be unequivocal about, and thus get them chucked off the bandwagon of worldly acceptance? How do you think they're going to go here?

I hope this doesn't detract from the post above - but this seems to me to be something that they can't play the "doubt" card on, and I think it could have very interested ramifications.

Anonymous said...

"Lust and uncertainty are not strange bedfellows. They aren't strange. They are bosom buddies."

Yep, pretty much. A lustful person doesn't want to give in to the clear literal reading of Scripture, so the solution is, "none of us know what it really means, and stop majoring in the minors, you biblehead".

The blob of "Christianity" wants to suck everyone into it. The end of that road is the beast.

Lance Ketchum said...

For about two decades now, we have seen once fundamental Baptist Bible colleges and seminaries begin to teach Theory-ology and slowly abdicate theological dogmatism.

Kent Brandenburg said...


Same-sex marriage is the harvest of a seed planted by evangelicalism, now watered by fundamentalism. Role reversal come to full bloom.

As you know, a segment of evangelicalism isn't confronting same sex marriage. Others are saying something like the following three things: (1) We're not going to say it's worse than any other sexual sin, (2) Everyone has lustful thoughts, and (3) The gospel delivers and we can't single out one group of sinners, so we won't -- we're not expecting people to clean up their behavior in order to be saved; that's moralism. You see a strategy with Tim Keller that says, I won't preach against it because they're at my church and my church members have friends and relatives.

Enough of the above and evangelicalism and then fundamentalism will be diminished the arguments of homosexual theologians: From the sin of Sodom was gang rape, and the sin Paul confronted was a particular abuse of same sex relations to just ignore it as lesser doctrine distracting from important doctrine (what they're already doing).

When you look at video of these fundamentalist Christian campuses, does your effeminate, metrosexual, and homosexual buzzer go off? Manhood is disappearing.

Kent Brandenburg said...

First Anonymous Person: exactly.

Lance, I like your Theory-ology. Very good. When do these things come to you?

Watchman said...

It calls to mind the statement released by Cedarville University a couple of years ago. The headline said that all of their Bible professors had signed a "Truth and Certainty" statement affirming their orthodoxy. The fine print revealed that they did not all share the same definition of "truth" and "certainty." It seems to me that person would have to be awfully well-educated to not know what truth is.

d4v34x said...

"If you can't be sure, you can't enforce."

Actually, even if you are sure, you can't enforce it, at least unless you have some legitimate authority over someone. But how are you going to enforce it in a blog conversation? One can argue, question, suggest; one cannot enforce.

Kent Brandenburg said...


We're talking about why the uncertainty must stand. Of course, I can't enforce, but that's not what I'm talking about. 2 Peter comes into play here. You've got to get rid of a sure scripture to stop people from misbehaving.

Kent Brandenburg said...



Joshua said...

Pastor Brandenburg,

I can't see how they will be able to make homosexuality a grey area without an explicit rejection of the Bible as being authoritative, but I guess folks 100 years ago wouldn't have been able to see how you'd get ladies in the pulpit without doing the same. I do still hope there will be a few defectors from evangelicalism who honestly do care more about the truth of the Bible then popular acclaim...


I thought that line about enforcement was actually the most salient point. People hate, and I mean HATE, having to confront somebody in the church about wrongdoing. Nothing makes them squirm more. If you're the pastor, and your congregation is dwindling, and the offerings are drying up, and then you find one of your stalwarts engaged in something that needs confronting... You get the picture.

When you have a strong conviction that the Bible speaks on a range of issues, then this stuff comes up more frequently. When you have doubt about everything but rape, murder and theft, then obviously your life is going to be a lot easier because that's rare and when it happens folks are going to hide it better.

d4v34x said...

Hi Bro. B.,

I agree with you about the local church situations. That's a legitimate excercise of authority (with proper consideration for the conscience--see LBC chapt. 21). Same with parents. But to shrink from confrontation over violations of what the church holds as a strong convicttion is disobidience, no doubt.