If I had to lodge one complaint against modern Christians today, among the litany of complaints that I have against fellow believers, that complaint would be in regards to their abuse of Scripture.
One of the things that I have learned over the years, in teaching a class on the nature and use of Scripture ,it became especially clear that most Christians do not know the origin of the Bible, or how to understand what it says and then to apply what it says. I often accuse atheists of this very thing, and I have dedicated large portions of the posts on this blog to articulating to them their errors, and I’ve criticized liberal Christians for doing the same thing.
I place much of the fault squarely on the shoulders of new interpretations of Scripture that appeared in the 19th century, such as dispensational premillennialism (try saying that three times fast), which seemed to be built upon scare tactics of a non-historical reading of the book of Revelation. I actually grew up in churches that were such, but had a historically reformed post-millennial or amillennial interpretation of everything but Revelation, and I have to say that until I actually read Revelation for myself, in light of Old Testament familiarity with terms presented in the text, I would probably be so inclined myself. I want to avoid painting with a broad brush because there are a lot of pre-mil believers who take Scripture seriously and try to understand it in its original historical context, but my point is this: when scare tactics quit working and Jesus didn’t show up on cue for the rapture, many of these churches changed tactics and sound doctrine suffered at the expense of drawing crowds. This has resulted in a church with a shallow faith and Christians who simply seem unable or unwilling to articulate their beliefs meaningfully.
As evidence of this I offer a discussion that we had in a recent Sunday school class where we are learning about what it means to be a disciple and to disciple others where we took a week, one lesson to skim the doctrine of God. When we came to the doctrine of the triune nature of God the wheels came off. While the lesson attempted to articulate the doctrine, albeit in a muddled fashion, I discovered that those who were essentially lifelong Christians were functioning modalists. Their conception of God was so skewed by bad and heretical analogies that when I pointed it out I was chastised for identifying their error. That should be very concerning for believers when clear doctrinal error is given a pass. What happened to expecting Christians to have a clear understanding of the faith? Why are clear, heretical teachings that undermine the nature, extent, and effect of the gospel allowed to go unchallenged and uncorrected?
I would have to say that it has something to do with post-modernism and the relativism that comes along with it.
I do find it interesting that I was the one who was called “wrong” for pointing out the error. Is this an indication that Scripture and its meaningful interpretation no longer has authority in Christ’s church?
One has to wonder.