Thursday, August 02, 2012

Asking for directions


But the more I [Jason Stellman] read and wrestled, the more I began to see that Geneva was not being “confused with” Saddleback at all; the two were just different sides of the same coin (or to be more precise with the metaphor, they were sister-cities in the same Protestant county). Readers of this site have no need for the arguments to be rehearsed here, so suffice it to say that, philosophically speaking, it became clear to me that Sola Scriptura could not provide a way to speak meaningfully about the necessary distinction between orthodoxy and heresy (or even between essentials and non-essentials)

Compare that to this:

If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder, 2 and the sign or wonder that he tells you comes to pass, and if he says, ‘Let us go after other gods,’ which you have not known, ‘and let us serve them,’ 3 you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams. For the Lord your God is testing you, to know whether you love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul. 4 You shall walk after the Lord your God and fear him and keep his commandments and obey his voice, and you shall serve him and hold fast to him. 5 But that prophet or that dreamer of dreams shall be put to death, because he has taught rebellion against the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt and redeemed you out of the house of slavery, to make you leave the way in which the Lord your God commanded you to walk. So you shall purge the evil from your midst (Deut 13:1-5).

Isn’t that a meaningful way to distinguish heresy from orthodoxy?

What about this?

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2 By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, 3 and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already (1 John 4:1-3).

Isn’t that a meaningful way to distinguish heresy from orthodoxy?

Several NT epistles (e.g. Galatians, Colossians, 1 Thessalonians, Hebrews, 1 John) were written with the express purpose of distinguishing orthodoxy from heresy. Suppose Stellman was attending the church of Ephesus when John’s letter arrived by courier. After hearing the latter read aloud to the congregation, Stellman gets up and exclaims: “That’s not a meaningful way to distinguish heresy from orthodoxy!”

Stellman is like a man standing in front of fingerpost. There he stands, dumbfounded, with his back to the fingerpost, scratching his head and wondering where to go. Well, turn around!

If that’s not the answer he’s looking for, then he’s asking the wrong question. Right answer, wrong question.

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