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Bill Muehlenberg's commentary on issues of the day...

Yes, We Affirm the Inerrancy of Experience

Jun 4, 2014

In days gone by a church or denomination or Christian ministry would have a statement of faith. Core beliefs held to were listed, so that people knew where they stood. These may not be so much in vogue nowadays, but if they still are, they may not look like most of the older ones.

bible3For example, most of the older ones began with a statement about the authority of Scripture, one that featured a high view of the Bible, and/or even mentioned the inerrancy of Scripture. Well, a lot of that has now changed. You see, most churches today – whether they actually state it or not – would have high on their lists the inerrancy of experience.

That is, waves of Christians today believe that experience should trump everything, and be the final arbiter of all truth and morality. Thus personal experience should even trump the Word of God, if there is a clash between the two. If a person’s experience does not quite jibe with the clear teachings of Scripture, well guess what? Most of these compromised Christians will dump Scripture and run with their experiences.

Oh, and in case you don’t know what the word inerrancy means, it simply refers to the fact that something is without error. In the past Christians held up an inerrant Bible as the sole arbiter of what is right and wrong, true and false. It was held up as the standard, the norm, the absolute to which we look.

I say ‘in the past’ because regrettably today many believers actually elevate their own feelings and experiences above Scripture. They think that their own personal subjective experiences and feelings offer the last word on what they should believe and how they should live.

So they have effectively written a new statement of faith, which might as well begin with this solid affirmation:
1. We affirm the complete inerrancy of our personal experience.

And it is not just individual Christians who are now living this way, but entire churches and denominations are doing the same. They have decided that experience is king, and whatever does not correlate with their own experience must be changed or jettisoned.

I have seen this happen far too often. Thus churches will change their policy on things like marriage and divorce simply to accommodate all the folks in the pews getting divorced. Instead of letting Scripture determine these matters, they allow what is happening in the pews to be the final decider.

Therefore personal experience today sits in judgment on God and His Word. When the Bible does not line up with our own experience, then instead of changing our experience, we change the Word of God. This, quite simply, is utter and complete idolatry and sin. And we will be judged for it.

Let me offer you a crystal clear example of this which has just surfaced. It has to do with a California pastor who has radically changed his church’s teachings because of what his own son had done. The story begins this way:

A Baptist church in California has voted to welcome the gay community despite going against the Southern Baptist Convention’s views on homosexuality. The New Heart Community Church in La Mirada, CA faced a difficult decision in early 2014 when lead pastor Danny Cortez told the congregation that his son, Drew, had come out – and that he himself no longer agreed with the church’s teachings on homosexuality. A month later the church said in a statement that it would investigate the issues surrounding same-sex marriage and vote on May 18 whether to dismiss Cortez or not.
New Heart’s congregation elected to establish an in-depth theological study of same-sex marriage, so that congregants for themselves might more deeply discern both their own theological views concerning same-sex marriage and their willingness, whatever their views, to invite same-sex couples into fellowship, communion, and leadership in the church. On the date scheduled, the congregation took a vote and elected to keep Cortez in his post and change its official stance on homosexuality.

There you go folks: personal experience now trumps theology, which in turn trumps Scripture. We revise our theology to accommodate our (in this case) sinful experiences. That in turn of course leads to a revision of Scripture itself. This theological and biblical revisionism is now at epidemic proportions in so much of the church.

And the truth is, this was not actually a “difficult decision” for the church – or at least it should not have been. The Bible is completely clear on the sin of homosexuality, and the church should have done the loving – and biblical – thing: offered help, counsel and warning to this wayward young man, and not cave in, bless his rebellion and lust, and turn the Word of God on its head.

Now I have already had people ask me what I would do in such a situation. Well, the answer is clear: I certainly would not rewrite the church teachings on this, nor rewrite the Bible, just to get along with even my own son. The most loving thing I could do would be to tell him he does not have to be homosexual, and that there is genuine change and freedom to be found in Christ.

But I go into all that in a lot more detail elsewhere, so please have a read of this: billmuehlenberg.com/2013/06/16/love-is-not-the-same-as-acceptance/

The pastor went on to say in a statement, “So now, we will accept the LGBT community even though they may be in a relationship. We will choose to remain the body of Christ and not cast judgement.” Let me translate that for you: “So now, we have embraced fully the homosexual agenda, and thrown the Bible in the rubbish heap. We will no longer call sinful what the Bible calls sinful. Instead, we will accept, embrace and promote what the Bible calls an abomination.”

Scripture is perfectly clear that unrepentant homosexuals will not enter the Kingdom of heaven (see 1 Corinthians 6:9-11). But this pastor and this church don’t seem to give a rip about this. They would rather have people wallow in degrading sinful lifestyles now, and spend eternity separated from God, than stand true to the Word of God.

Just to see how ludicrous all this is, just change the scenario around a bit. Suppose a pastor has a son who is a thief in the congregation, so they change the church – and Bible – teaching on theft to make him and others feel accepted and welcomed. Sound ridiculous? That is exactly what these churches are doing regarding homosexuality.

This my friends is utter apostasy and rebellion. This pastor and his congregation have declared war on God and his Word. One day they will stand before their Maker and their Judge and give a full account of this treasonous idolatry and wilful rebellion. May God have mercy on them, and rescue them from their demonic deception before it is too late.

www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/06/02/baptist-church-pastor-gay-son_n_5432880.html?ncid=txtlnkusaolp00000592

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11 Responses to Yes, We Affirm the Inerrancy of Experience

  • This reminds one of a constant refrain in the Judges section of Judges-Ruth: “In that day Israel had no king. Every man did what was right in his own eyes”

    And we don’t have to read much of Judges-Ruth or Samuel or Kings etc. to see the problems of relativism.

  • As the Heidelberg Catechism says, we only come to know our misery through the law of God. If there is no law or sin, we remain in sin and are doomed to be punished in time and eternity.

    It is better to be warned by a pastor to quit sin than be encouraged to sin.

  • Joshua 24:15
    And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.

    Romans 1:32
    Who know the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.

    yep, endorsing homosexuality is really scriptural, and you really will stay as followers of Christ if you do so (sarcasm off now).

    Did this person actually ever sit down and study the scriptures? Not just read, but study.

    MMMM doesn’t the Lord also say a tiny something on those who dig a pit and lead His children astray? As another poster said, I would not like to be in his shoes when he stands in front of Christ.
    Neil Waldro

  • So sad, to see a church fall for the “love and compassion” trick over gay marriages, and indeed all things gay in general. You say that this church conducted their own in-depth theological studies into SSM…..well, I wonder who was collating the results? It’s pretty obvious that they must have looked at the real truth and decided to modernise it, to fit in with the world.
    The congregation vote should have been one hundred percent against changing its stance, if they had done their homework properly.

  • The inerrancy of Scripture is the most important issue for the believer and has always been. In the story of the rich man and Lazarus, Abraham says to the rich man that if his brothers will not believe Moses (Jesus here affirming the Mosaic authorship of the Torah) neither will they believe if a man is raised from the dead. Jesus also condemned the Pharisees because they placed their traditions as judge over the scripture and He condemned the Saducees because the rejected all Scripture as inspired that was in addition to the Torah and they denied God’s power in spite of what the Torah had to say on the matter.
    The problem is not with experience, the problem is judging your experience by non-Scriptural means, ie, judging your experience by the standard of atheism, Buddhism, Hinduism, or Islam. The God of Israel raised Jesus of Nazareth from the dead thus proving He was the divine Messiah, who in turn stated that the entire Hebrew Bible was inerrant (down to the punctuation) and that thr Holy Spirit whom He would send would provide further inerrant texts. As such, any time one comes across any situation or matter that contradicts Scripture they can be assured that such a contradiction is illusory… God is unable to lie.

  • Thanks Bill,
    I heard that very thing this past week on this very issue within a major domination in Victoria. It was very sad.
    I was amazed to hear how their opinions on interpreting scripture had to change due to their experience, rather than trusting scripture itself.
    “The Inerrancy of experience” may become a term I use in future.

  • If more preachers preached their way through books of the Bible difficult passages would come up and be unavoidable. Even if the preacher didn’t preach on the difficult section of a passage, so long as the passage is read, the people in the pews could still be challenged by it.

  • “Inerrancy” is actually a slightly ironic term when you consider The Holy Bible is virtually from cover to cover a chronicle of human error and God’s prophetic efforts to get us to willingly do what is right. From King David’s failure to the California Baptists Church’s “blind leading the blind” we stubbornly refuse to accept the truth of God’s instruction. If you took the Devil’s words in Matt 4 out of context we would all be instructed to worship the devil so if people want to bend scriptures to their own ideas and benefit, instead of seeking the truth behind them, they, to some degree, can do it. God does not prevent it.

    The sad thing is that, by denying his son the opportunity to repent of his sins, according to Paul and other scriptures, he is unquestionably, condemning his son to death. If the Baptist minister had been a decent father his son probably would not have become homosexual. Had he been a decent minister the congregation would have seen the error in their ways. Had they sought God’s direction with an open heart, they would have found it. What you do to work with God and try to get people to see their error, is the question. This is not simply a matter of opinion.

  • Michael Weeks, all I can say to you is: AMEN BROTHER!!!

  • Every Blessing Bill, GOD Himself was surely guiding your heart and your pen on this one. Excellent Statement. We are certainly in the Last Days. Thank you.

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