Friday, December 31, 2010
In the article Muether defends a robust, confessional view of the liberty Christians have as it relates to the sufficiency of Scripture. In short, Christians can do whatever they want except sin. And the church has no authority to try and bind the consciences of believers with extra-biblical forms or methods of piety and practice that the Bible itself does not explicitly or implicitly command. Only the Word of God can bind. So where the Bible is silent, the church would do well to shut-up.
One particular section that stuck out to me was Muether’s dealing with the argument that Christian Liberty will diminish the church’s relevance. To this, Muether writes:
Still the objection is raised: If the church is silenced on speaking to the ‘real world,’ hasn’t it lost its relevance? The assumption that lurks behind that question is that the world sets the standard for relevance. The gospel is not obliged to meet the world’s cravings; it is designed to challenge them. The message of sin and salvation is only irrelevant only to a church that has abandoned its calling in pursuit of worldliness […] In the desperate pursuit of the ‘very latest thing’ the culture sets the agenda for the church and the principle of sola scriptura has morphed into sola cultura.
I find that it is a very prominent notion that the church must capitulate to some assumed culture in order for people to understand the message. Yet what always happens is that the church begins to look like the world. People want the church to be scripted into their stories, to be relevant in their lives, instead of having their stories scripted into the drama of redemption and allow the natural relevance of God to shape what is important in the life of the believer. The gospel message and the appropriate forms of worship that follow from it are ‘other-worldly.’ We encounter the divine other in worship and in the Word. And the more we try to shove the ‘other’ into our own cultural preferences, the less relevant God actually becomes in our life, and we run the risk of merely utilizing Christ in our me-centered lives.
Great stuff by Muether.