“A God of My Own Understanding”
While we wait for the introductory post on the doctrines of grace, entertain yourselves with this, if you will.
I’ve seen a few quotes this week that kinda jumped out at me. Let me start with the smaller one, from a Nebraska senator who invited a preacher to pray. This preacher prayed for God’s forgiveness for abortion and evolution, and it caused an uproar. Here’s what the senator said:
Senator Jim Cudaback of Riverdale, the lawmaker who invited Swartley, said Swartley had stepped over the line. Cudaback said he sends letters to numerous churches in his district seeking those interested in giving the prayer, and Swartley responded.“You don’t bring that kind of subject,” Cudaback said of Swartley’s prayer. “You’re here to make us feel good.”
Wow. Talk about not getting the point of prayer.
I’ve also been thinking a lot about that Larry King Live show that Dr. Mohler was on. Something just hasn’t sat right with me since. The while at work tonight I got into a pensive mood, and it came to me. It was some things Chad Allen had said. Here they are from the transcript:
I have to say, if they’re going to speak about absolute transcendent truth, I need to tell you, I know absolute transcendent truth. I have a deep relationship with God and my understanding. It’s very powerful, and it’s taken its own shape and form. And I am very much at peace in the knowledge that in my heart God created this beautiful expression of my love. Listen, Larry, we are going to be different, we’re going to disagree on the details of this and we probably always will.
And again here:
CALLER: Chad, by whose standard do you think that it’s right to live the way you have chosen to live?ALLEN: By the standard that I judge all of my actions. These days I judge all of my actions by my relationship with God of my understanding. It is a deep-founded, faith-based belief in God based upon the work that I’ve done growing up as a Catholic boy and then reaching out to Buddhism philosophy, to Hindu philosophy, to Native American beliefs and finally as I got through my course with addiction and alcoholism and finding a higher power that worked for me. You know, I had to sit down with that same God today and say, “Do you want me to go on this show? Do you want me to speak the things that are in my heart? And if not, I’m happy not to go. Do you want me to make this movie?” It’s the same God that I go to for every decision.
And in one very revealing statement:
KING: Are you pained when religious leaders or spokesman call you a sinner or criticize you?ALLEN: You know what, here’s where I’m at. It really doesn’t pain me to hear them say, “We believe you’re a sinner.” That’s OK. That’s your belief, I can accept that. That’s OK, I understand that.
And once more:
ALLEN: I play a Christian, yes. And they’re going to be saying, “This is the way you be Christian, there’s only one way.” Well you know what, there isn’t. I’m a part of a wonderful community church here in Pasadena that has a very different interpretation of those same gospels that they are speaking of. There isn’t just one way to do this, there are a lot of paths.
I was struck by the fact that Allen’s entire line of reasoning centered around “a God of his own understanding.” Allen believes that absolute, transcendent truth is found in his own ability to figure out who and what God is. He believes that the God of his own understanding must necessarily be “a higher power that works for him.” The God of his own understanding can be reached through “a lot of paths.”
In that understanding there is no room to call his homosexual behavior “sin.” Indeed, there is no room to call any kind of behavior “sin” in Allen’s convoluted understanding. Chad Allen has successfully rationalized away the God of the Scriptures for “a God of his own understanding.” There is no hope of the only path to God, Jesus Christ and Him crucified. And God Himself, through Paul, has told us that this is the way it would be.
If there ever was a better example of total depravity, I’d like to see it. I’m reminded heavily of Romans 1:18-32, especially verses 21-25. I find the Contemporary English Version to put it very bluntly:
They know about God, but they don’t honor him or even thank him. Their thoughts are useless, and their stupid minds are in the dark. They claim to be wise, but they are fools. They don’t worship the glorious and eternal God. Instead, they worship idols that are made to look like humans who cannot live forever, and like birds, animals, and reptiles. So God let these people go their own way. They did what they wanted to do, and their filthy thoughts made them do shameful things with their bodies. They gave up the truth about God for a lie, and they worshiped God’s creation instead of God, who will be praised forever. Amen.
Indeed, Senator Cudaback, Chad Allen, and all who think like them, have exchanged the truth about God for the lie of “their own understanding.” They have re-arranged God so that He fosters their love of sin and makes them “feel good,” instead of calling them to repentance.
Many of us in the church today have done the very same. Our minds are stupid because of our sin. We think we know it all. So instead of being willing to submit to the God revealed in Scripture, we hem and haw and whine and complain until we have whittled that God down to something we can tolerate. We remake God into the “Buddy Jesus” of Dogma (a Jay and Silent Bob movie, for the uninitiated) fame. And the result of having our very own “Buddy Jesus” is to further enslave ourselves to sin, and more seriously and horribly than before. There is truly no fear of God before our eyes (Romans 3:10-18).
Let us close with a reminder from Proverbs 3:5-7 about the God of our own understanding:
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not upon your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your path. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil.