I remember growing up hearing the old saying: "Whatever starts in California, will one day come to Alabama." For the most part, as I reflect over the last 60 years, that has proven to be true. There are some things however that were first publicly condoned in California that I thought would never be accepted down here in the Bible Belt of the Country, but I was wrong.
In October, I had to have some follow-up MRI's done at Flowers Hospital in Dothan, AL. As usual, I was jokingly giving the receptionist who was checking me in a hard time. I felt like I was signing enough papers to be doing a closing on my house. About the time we were finishing up, I told her that I was not signing any more papers when she said: "Oh, there is just one more document and I bet you are going to love this one."
I honestly thought it was a joke, but I was wrong. She told me that one patient had complained a few weeks before, so to avoid a lawsuit, every patient, including me, had to check the appropriate boxes and sign the document so that the staff in the back would know how to properly address me. This record would then be added to my permanent medical records, but I would have the opportunity to change it at anytime if my 'feelings' changed.
You have got to be kidding me! Could this really be happening in Southeast Alabama? You can read it for yourself to see how bazaar this really is.
I remember, not many years ago, when this kind of thinking would have been totally unthinkable, unless it was a joke. I never thought that we as a Nation, would ever be where we are today. Calling sin, sin--is much more offensive to us than the sin itself. Any sinful addiction must be called a disease to avoid personal responsibility. Sexual perversion and promiscuity have been accepted under the guise of inclusion because this is how some want to live and if God does exist, he is a god that wants us to be happy above all else. Any association with the name of Jesus or Christianity must be omitted from all government, public and business venues under the concept of 'freedom of religion', which is in fact, more accurately described as 'freedom from religion'. Our culture even tells us that we cannot pray, have a Bible, or wear Christian clothing or jewelry to school or to work out of fear that it might be offensive to someone else, but to prohibit followers of other religions from practicing the same freedoms is referred to as intolerance.
Many of the things that I taught my children and am now teaching my grandchildren about godliness and sinfulness, that would have been the moral norm just a few years ago, is now rejected as irrelevant babble. Biblical teachings are being twisted and undermined to be make sin more acceptable but less offensive and condemning.
To make matters much worse, even our churches are teaching that we should soften our approach to sin and be more 'sensitive' and 'inclusive' in what we call sin or as being against God's will. I believe that it is specifically because the Church has been silent and not taken a firm stance in dealing with sin, that our culture is where it is. We told God that He had no place in our schools and public domain, rejecting His lordship and the authority of His written Word--but not before we had already made Him unwelcome in our homes.
If Scripture has substantive errors, then how can it be authoritative? If Scripture in its totality cannot be trusted as God's Word to us, then anything goes--which is literally where we find ourselves today. Who is to tell me how I should live my life, how I should treat other people, and how I should determine what is right or wrong if there is no absolute truth or standard? More importantly, how can we know God, His character, sovereignty, love, grace, and holiness or believe in His redemptive work if His Word cannot be trusted?
When I went to Seminary is 1997, I was already 38 years old and not a new Christian. I had been married for 20 years, had three teenage children, and had already retired from the military. Because I am hearing impaired and because I was there to learn, I sat in the middle seat of the front row, so that I would not miss anything.
My first class of my first semester was Greek (literally). The professor was the new Dean of Biblical Studies and had written a whole box full of books. On the first day, he made his way down to right in front of my desk where he stood, holding his Bible above his head, and said: "You cannot go home to your Churches and tell them that this is the authoritative, inerrant Word of God because it has too many errors in it." and he dropped His Bible on my desk. I know my jaws must have dropped just before I raised my hand right in front of his face . He looked down at me and said: "Sir?" I said: "Please don't tell me that I sold my house and everything that we owned, uprooted my wife from her family and my three teenage children from all their friends, to come here, to be taught this! Tell me I didn't do that." He looked down his nose at me and said: "See me after class." I did. It didn't help!
Three years later in my last semester, I had a New Testament professor who had written more books than the other guy. I know, because we had to buy them all! He had even been on TV several times, supposedly as an Apologist of the Bible (a person who offers an argument in defense of the Scripture).
A couple of weeks into the semester, he was lecturing on Jesus' wilderness experience after His baptism. The Bible says that Jesus was led by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness, specifically, to be tempted by the devil in every way. It was during this forty days and nights of fasting when Jesus was lonely, exhausted, and vulnerable that Satan tempted Jesus to give in to His fleshly desires. Each time Satan tempted Him, Jesus responded by saying: "It is written..." quoting Scripture to refute him. Finally, Satan tried to tempt Jesus by misquoting Scripture and using it out of context. Satan said: "It is written...." but Jesus answered Him using more comprehensive Scriptures that effectively ended this temptation experience. Every time Jesus was tempted, He resisted the temptation by referring to the authority and inerrancy of God's Word! "For it is written...."
I thought that this experience of Jesus as recorded in the Bible was easy enough to understand, but apparently, it was not. This professor went on to say that Jesus' experience as described in these verses was not a real experience at all, but was only a "vision" that Jesus had. Well, once again, I had trouble with my flying arm. The professor's response to my question about how he could make the argument that this was a vision and not a literal, temptation experience was this: "You pay to come here to learn from me. My advice is that you learn from me."
To make matters worse, this professor decided that 1/3 of our final grade for that class would be based on a research paper addressing any topic that we studied in this class during the semester. Yep, I wrote my paper on Jesus' apparent 'visionary' experience versus any real spiritual warfare that took place when 'God in the flesh' was tempted by Satan himself. If Jesus was not really tempted in every way, then what does it matter that He remained sinless? If He was sinless without the enticement to sin, it would be meaningless as it relates to my being able to resist temptation--not to mention the fact that only a tested, perfect, sinless sacrifice could atone for my sinfulness.
If this central passage in Scripture could not be taken literally as truth, then how could any of it? If we believe that the Bible's account of Jesus temptation experience was not real, then how do we believe the harder things such as Jesus being born of a virgin or being raised from the dead? If Scripture is not accurate, then how do we know if demons and angels, heaven or hell, or sin and righteousness really exist? If He was not conceived by the Holy Spirit, then how could He be God in the flesh? If Jesus was not God in the flesh, then how can we really know God. You see where this is going!
I am not arguing that we should not approach the Bible without diligent study and research, but just the opposite. The more we study and dig in Scripture, asking the Holy Spirit o guide us, the easier it is to see that it is both substantively inerrant and authoritative. The more we see the awesomeness of His power, knowledge and holiness, the more we desire, and see our need to worship Him. In Scripture, we see that He is so much higher than us that His sovereignty is not limited by what we do not understand. The more we see the personhood of God, the more we know that we are not God! The more we see His love, the more we love Him. The more we see His mercy, the more we want to praise Him.
The best I remember, my paper was between 20-25 pages. The only red marks he made said: "The problem is that you are not 'educated' enough to recognize visionary literature." There is no way that God's omniscience could trump this Professor's knowledge of God. Scripture just has to be wrong!
No President and no government will be able rescue us from the depth to which we have fallen. Change must begin in our hearts, in our homes and in our churches! For It is written: "If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from Heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land." (2Chron7:14)