Thursday, October 15, 2009

Islands in a Sea of Meaninglessness


More recently, in some of the post modern readings, we are called to all experience Christ in our own way and not be bothered by the confines of some ancient Apostolic proclamation. Post modernism urges us to live as independent islands in a sea of meaninglessness. Your autonomous opinions, they argue, are just as meaningful and valid as those who deliberated at Nicea or who were first commissioned by the Risen Lord. A hermeneutic of proclamation and faith is replaced by a hermeneutic of suspicion and doubt and both called equally valid. According to this scheme, theology, it seems, is really – after all – only anthropology. The church is a human construct, not a divinely ordained community. Yet, in the face of all of this - though the tempest rages for a season, the church is once again reconstituted into the truth. What we are experiencing in our day has been the re-emergence of a more faithful church from other quarters, mainly in the non-western world and the great unanimity of the church throughout the ages marches on, because God is the one who preserves His church and its living witness to Jesus Christ...

...If Nicea does not lay out boundaries, then we are left only with self-identification and we can no longer use the word ‘Christian’ or ‘Body of Christ’ with any real meaning. For if you don’t have doctrinal stability, you cannot have ethical stability and if you don’t have ethical stability you don’t have stability of worship and therefore we are no longer related vitality and necessarily to the headship of Jesus Christ. Our historic boundaries would become lost in a post-modern sea of autonomous self-definitions. What a contrast from the Apostle John who gives that final testimony at the end of time which gives us the courage to know that in the Final Day the church will be preserved out of every snare for he hears this act of worship in heaven, testifying not to another gospel or something novel, but to the Apostolic proclamation:

You were slain and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation…and so… to him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power forever and ever (Rev. 5:9,13), thus fulfilling those words of the Apostle Paul in Col. 1:18: And He is the head of the body, the church; He is the beginning and the firstborn from the dead, so that in everything He might have supremacy.

- Dr. Timothy C. Tennent, President of Asbury Theological Seminary from his essay here.