Monday, October 11, 2010

Should Church-Affliated Institutions Repudiate Christ, the Bible, and the Truth About Sin, Repentance, Faith, and Grace?

Leaving out for now any concern regarding the specific sin of intimate same-sex relationships, the video below is disturbing.

Taken from a presentation held during freshman orientation at a college of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), Gustavus Adolphus College, both atheism and sexual intimacy outside of marriage are commended. Both notions, of course, are contrary to the teaching of Scripture.

It also conveys the curious idea that we human beings are the hapless victims of sexuality, the idea that our biology must inevitably force us to express our particular sexual impulses.

Really? We're animals driven by instinctive forces and not human beings with the capacity to make decisions?

Are Christians then mere automatons, rather than Spirit-filled people given the power to God to live as loving, responsible human beings? If we're instinct-driven automatons, then what's that whole confession of sin thing about?

Granted, not all students who choose to attend a Christian college or university are Christians. But if non-Christians do come to such Christian institutions, they should be forewarned that those institutions are built on the Gospel, the teachings of Scripture, and the Lordship of Jesus. It should be made clear to them that those building blocks will inform every course, every administrative decision, and the total social life of the institution.

While the Gustavus Adolphus orientation presentation commendably attempts to address the horrors of bigotry and name-calling, it also commends sinful behavior and, in the case of atheism, spiritually dangerous behavior.

It conveys the notion that sexual promiscuity of all types and atheism are intrinsic impulses we cannot and should not resist. I agree that faith doesn't come naturally to us as human beings. Adhering to God's will doesn't either. But, God's words to Cain in the Old Testament, apply to us as well: "...Sin is lurking at the door; its desire is for you, but you must master it." The orientation doesn't commend mastery of sin and its temptations, but acquiescence to whatever impulses may be driving us, irrespective of the will of God.

Sin isn't to be commended; it is to be mastered. Of course, we can't do this on our own. We are born into sin, each of us born with common sinful inclinations and some that may be more peculiar to ourselves, what I call our "sins of specialization." Some may be tempted by the inclination to get rich at others' expense, for example, while others aren't even be moved by such inclinations. Some may have to battle to resist the temptation to take God's Name in vain, while others find the appeal of cursing and the general misuse of the gift of language indecipherable. It appears that we human beings then, have sins which we, either by heredity or socialization, find more appealing than others. Our peculiarities in this regard are something we all appear to have in common.

But as we humbly appeal to the power and goodness of the God we know in Jesus Christ, sin can be mastered. Temptation can be resisted. Jesus relied on God and God's Word during His wilderness temptations. We can rely on God and God's Word, too.

In today's edition of Our Daily Bread, Joe Stowell tells the story of a man who was tempted by (and often fell into the sin of) looking at online pornography (remember that teaches that lust for persons to whom we are not covenanted in marriage is as sinful as fornication or adultery itself):
A man once wrote to me about his lengthy battle with pornography—a disheartening cycle that punctuated seasons of victory with crushing forays back into an online world of empty lust. Finally, he found that putting a visible reminder of Jesus in the corner of his computer screen helped him achieve lasting victory. That constant reminder of the One who set him free caused the offensive Web sites to lose their appeal. The man wasn’t tapping into some gigabyte good-luck charm. He was giving himself a simple reminder of the teaching of Colossians 3 where Paul says, “put to death . . . fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness” (v.5).

When we turn our eyes toward Jesus, He becomes a powerful reminder that our old life “died, and [our] life is hidden with Christ in God” (v.3).
In Galatians 5:19-25, the Bible says:
Now the works of the flesh are obvious: fornication, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, anger, quarrels, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these. I am warning you, as I warned you before: those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also be guided by the Spirit.
None of us is perfect. Christians sin. That's why we repent. That's why I repent daily...often hourly...for my sins. The Holy Spirit comes to those who lay their lives before Christ enables Jesus Followers to fight temptation each day, not to surrender to our temptations.

But those who sin unrepentantly are telling God to go away, a request that God will respectfully fulfill.

And those who turn God down are throwing away their lives, severing themselves from the God Who gives life and meaning to this life.

God loves us and wants to give us life. God makes that life available to all people through repentance for sin and faith in Jesus Christ.

That teaching may be suppressed, repressed, or ignored at other academic institutions, of course. All people and institutions have the freedom to ignore Christ and the Bible.

But at a Christian institution, it seems to me, even while respecting the beliefs of others and not expecting acquiescence from its student body to Christian belief, that the Lordship of Jesus and the teachings of Scripture will always be held up.

Church-affiliated institutions should be unapologetic in their advocacy of the Lordship of Christ, the authority of Scripture, the necessity of Christ for salvation, the truth about sin and God's grace for sinners, and belief in the existence of God.

Lutherans love to sing, "Lift high the cross!" Why should Lutheran colleges and universities then, put the cross away and instead commend the life style of, "Lift high whatever boat you want to float"?

Does the important principle of academic freedom mandate that the teachings of Scripture be dissed and condemned at a church-related college?

Does this example of political correctness and heedlessness of Scripture's teachings cause any ELCA member to think twice about support ELCA-related colleges and universities in any way?

At the very least, I think, it should incite all ELCA Lutherans like me, who love the Church and want what's best for it, to redouble their efforts to reform the Church, to stand firm for the Lordship of Jesus, the authority of Scripture and the truth of the Lutheran Confessions, and above all, to pray without ceasing that God will spiritually renew the Church, turning it from all its errors and heresies.

The world needs the God revealed in Jesus. It should be a given that at least Christians and the Church would realize that.

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