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The Glory Has Departed
Norma Boeckler, Artist-in-Residence
Bethany Lutheran Worship on
Thursday, August 25, 2016
Two Authorities – The Word of God or Man
For all Christians, there are two authorities, either the Word of God or man. Only one can be the ultimate authority and judge of the other. The historic position of the Christian Church has been that the Scriptures are the first and the final authority concerning doctrine and practice. No claim or effort by man can replace this authority. But, in spite of pious and grand words about the Bible, people clearly cling to man’s authority, place it first, and interpret the Word of God through human traditions, loyalty to institutions, and sentimental feelings.
Many a pastor will defend false teaching by saying, “Professor Keinaugen was my favorite teacher, and he said…” to silence all objections.
Laity with misplaced loyalty will claim, “The synod says…” as if this politically driven, vote mongering human institution were a new and better form of the papacy.
Or someone will say with a glare than warns others about any contradiction, “My mother taught me…”
Entire denominations will recite their formal declarations while working against them, for this is clearly the Age of Apostasy, forewarned in the Scriptures. Even the Pope is viewed as a traitor and false teacher by his own clergy, as they do with Pope Francis, the Jesuit often imagined to be a Franciscan by virtue of his chosen name.[i]
In contrast, the Word of God must be the final and ultimate authority over all Christian teaching and practice. Otherwise, the Christian Church would break into thousands of factions, which is the case today, whether this happens in one big tent or many pup-tents, some as small as 17 mini-congregations. The solution is not another round of mergers where Biblical doctrine is tainted by material concerns, but an increased study of the Word and unity derived by acknowledging and practicing the unified and unifying Truth of the Scriptures.
This authority of the Word is asserted but seldom experienced, because the complete teaching of the Bible about the Word is lacking, distorted, sidelined, or forgotten altogether. These characteristics are:
4. Clarity or perspicuity
The authority of the Word is lost when claims are made and yet no one knows how to wield this terrible weapon, due to a lack of good education. The Word is a weapon against error, though seldom used that way, and a defense of sound doctrine. I asked the late Robert Preus and the late John (Slick) Brenner why pastors trained almost exclusively in their denomination were so much against Lutheran doctrine. Both of them said, “I supposed they were not trained correctly.”
That can be seen in case after case, where those raised up to offices of leadership, whether as teachers or denominational leaders, are in a state of rapture about Pentecostalism, Romanism, or Church Growth pseudo-business practices. Better Pentecostals can be found in the Assemblies of God. More astute Romanists can be found in the Church of Rome. Which successful business leader would be in awe of Church Growth, which has hollowed out and ruined all the Lutherans sects in America?
[i] This logic would presume that I am the master of the Gregorian chants, or even a composer of them.
GJ - I will be posting installments of this booklet as written. Feel free to add suggestions and corrections by email.
Posted by Gregory Jackson at 6:48 AM