Use an elastic band too often and it loses all power to pull inwards again. The principle of “Constrained Difference” which can effectively be read as “Constrained departure from the text of Scripture” which the Theological Forum has tried successfully to get the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland to embrace and caress over recent years is subject to the same problem. Already there are signs it has lost its promised “constraint” element. I wonder when it will be wheeled out next as a powerless thing into which any disobedience and heresy can step and stay with ease with no grip of truth or revelation around its thieving feet?
It’s the same with “cultural context.” That valid tool and line of enquiry has lost all its elasticity. In fact, I think certainly in the hands of some, it has been broken. It has been stretched to embrace territory which is not its domain at all. Already “Atonement” is subject to its misuse. I guess the Resurrection will be too soon enough. “Well of course back in the culture of the time….” A valid tool has been usurped. What could and can bring light and illumination is now misused without limit to skirt round any bible verse that offends modern sensitivities. Texts are becoming meaningless in terms of having any unalterable fact content in the hands of some theologians and preachers. We are heading for days when bar a sheer undeserved mercy of God Sovereign and Holy Spirit Revival, Jesus, the Son of the Father, will be referred to by many within the Church as something like “The Universal Child of the Force,” for anything else that the Church has held dear and held faithfully to for years will be considered culturally conditioned. “Father” and “Kingdom” are now suspect phrases that some ministers no longer use. It has astonished me over the last ten years how the blessing of God Almighty, Father, Son and Holy Spirit is no longer pronounced at the end of a service or church meeting of one sort or another.
BUT GOD…. when you or I were dead in sin, unable to do anything about it, He saved us because of his rich mercy. He can do that on whatever scale he chooses. He is the Lord. And just to end on a politically incorrect note: The God of the bible, the ony true God there is, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ has an ability to laugh. According to Psalm 2, He holds in derision those who seek to cast off every restraint which is the true spirit behind “constrained difference/departure.” Adam and Eve’s constrained difference with God’s Word had a deeper, reasonable sounding but evil source beyond themselves. Sometimes we know we have yielded to a lie, often we don’t. Well intentioned and constrained departure from God’s Word is a bad idea whatever.
I am writing these bold thoughts from my bed as health is not good this morning despite being much better the last couple of days. Hopefully the day will improve for me health wise. These thoughts are easy for me to type as I do not now have the task of consoling a post Assembly dismayed congregation or encouraging it to stay true to the Christ and His Gospel, His Word and His Mission. Many of my friends and colleagues are faced with precisely that task. God bless every dismayed C of S pastor and congregation, saddened perhaps once more to the point of tears, with the life giving and refreshing Word and Spirit of Christ this Sunday. There is never a reason to ever stop praising Him, trusting Him, proclaiming Him, serving Him, loving Him. May His Lordship and Friendship and Favour be with you. In a denomination that you may feel has frozen out your voice, may the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ bless and keep you, make His face to shine upon you; lift up His countenance upon you and give you peace.