Would you like to be thought of as enlightened? Want people to think of you as a progressive thinker, one not bound by traditions? Want to be praised for moving past the intolerant bigotry and narrow-mindedness of previous generations? If you want to be recognized as having broken free from the shackles of traditionalism, you should do the following.
Without offering any substantive proof from a study of context or producing any important evidence from the consideration of other relevant texts, assert that…
- The New Testament’s restrictions on the roles of women in the church simply reflected the first century Greco-Roman culture and have no bearing on us today.
- The teachings of 1 Peter 3 and Ephesians 5 regarding the roles of husbands and wives in a similar fashion simply reflected the cultural biases of the first century in which they were written.
- While you don’t want to downplay the significance of baptism, it is a dangerous thing to put the kind of legalistic emphasis on it that so many have in the past.
- Arguments about the silence of the Scriptures are nothing more than Church-of-Christ traditions.
- Instead of being so enslaved to the written word, we need to rely more on the presence of God within us.
- It behooves us to recognize that there are others ways of looking at some of the passages traditionally understood to condemn homosexual behavior. Remind people that God loves unconditionally and we’re all sinners, the people Jesus was happy to associate with.
- We need to be less focused on outward obedience and more concerned with the heart.
If you make these and similar assertions you will be applauded by many and on social media sites such as Facebook you are certain to garner multiple “likes.” And if someone were to question or challenge you on any of these assertions, rest assured that a number of people will rush to your defense and savagely attack your critics for “so obviously lacking the love of Christ.” Does this sound appealing? It seems to have a strong appeal to some, but please allow me to point out a few problems with this “enlightened” approach.
- Jesus associated with sinners because He had come to call them to repentance, not simply to make them feel good about who they were. Matthew 4:17; Luke 5:32
- Jesus is the revelation of God’s grace, but that grace teaches us to turn away from ungodliness, worldly lusts, and lawless deeds. Titus 2:11-14
- Jesus is the author of eternal salvation to those who obey Him. Hebrew 5:8-9
- The New Testament’s teachings about the roles of women were based on Old Testament precedent and apostolic authority in 1 Corinthians 14 (see 14:34, 37). In 1 Timothy 2 they said to be rooted in the principles of creation and the curse, not first century culture (1 Timothy 2:13-14).
- If one can simply dismiss the teachings of Ephesians 5:22-33 about the husband and wife, can he do the same thing with its teachings regarding Christ and the church? After all, isn’t one a figure of the other?
- Faith does not come through an inner voice, but by the word of God (Romans 10:17). To be filled with and influenced by the Spirit is equivalent to allowing the word of Christ to dwell richly in you. Cf. Ephesians 5:18-19 and Colossians 3:16.
- It was the Scriptures that Timothy was to allow to thoroughly equip him. 2 Timothy 3:16-17
- The book of Hebrews will still attach great significance to the things not said, i.e. the silence of God. Hebrews 1:5, 13; 7:11-14
- Baptism is still connected with being saved (Mark 16:16; 1 Peter 3:21), remission of sins (Acts 2:38), the washing away of sins (Acts 22:16), and the saving death of Christ (Romans 6:3-4).
- When you turn to the Scriptures you will find homosexuality described by the following: vile passions, against nature, shameful, error (Romans 1:26-27). It, along with other sins, will keep one out of the kingdom of heaven unless it is repented of (1 Corinthians 6:9-11; 2 Peter 3:9).
- It is not a loving and enlightened spirit that allows people to continue in sin. Truly enlightened people join God in calling all men everywhere to repent and turn from their ignorance. Acts 17:30-31
The choice is our—we can be seen as an enlightened people who have thrown off the shackles of traditionalism or we can hold to that which is incorruptible, the word of God which lives and abides forever. 1 Peter 1:23-25