Okay, so I know this is vague. And I will go ahead and confess up front – yours truly is the one asking today. This is something that has been pressing on me for a while – and I was pushed over the edge last week when I found myself agreeing with the Pope more than I did a Baptist. . . Hang with me.
This is a question about the Christian’s authority.
How do we know what is right?
Let me explain with a couple of recent examples. . .
There is a sense in which I say (very loudly – because that’s how Baptist’s roll), “AMEN!” I mean, who is he to judge what is right/wrong regarding homosexuality? Who is any mere mortal to judge?
Example #2: Recently, the Presbyterian Church (USA) refused to put the modern hymn “In Christ Alone” in their new hymnbook because the writers of the hymn would not allow permission to change the line “Till on that cross as Jesus died/The wrath of God was satisfied” to read “Till on that cross as Jesus died/The love of God was magnified.” Are both lines true? Yes. The Presbyterians (USA), however, did not want there to be any reference to God’s wrath. They chose to focus on God’s love. (One article can be found here).
Example #3: Related to Example #2 – last week, a writer for The Alabama Baptist (a publication I literally grew up reading) agreed with the Presbyterian’s proposal to focus on God’s love. He wrote, “Whichever phrase one chooses to sing it must be remembered that it is God’s grace that initiated the sacrifice of Jesus to provide covering and forgiveness for our sin and that His sacrifice satisfied the holy demands of God’s righteousness for sin to be punished. But God is not the enemy. He is our seeking Friend (Luke 15). That is why I prefer to focus on His love evidenced at Calvary rather than on His wrath.” (The article is here. The writer has sense responded with a clarification.)
Thus I ask the question, “How do we know what is right?” Or, to put it another way, “What authority do we have to decide what is right?”
I hope you’re sitting down because I am about to say something you will rarely – if ever – hear me say: I think Pope Francis is right. His question, “Who am I to judge?” is spot on.
Now – I am not sure what all he meant, but here is what I mean: When it comes to matters such as homosexuality and what we should focus our attention on in our singing – it is not our opinions that should ultimately drive our decisions. Who are we to judge? God has spoken and our authority is bound up in what He has made known through the Scriptures. I don’t care what the Pope thinks regarding homosexuality. I don’t care what Billy Graham thinks of homosexuality. In addition, I don’t care what the Presbyterians think should or shouldn’t be in their hymnbook. Ultimately (though it does bother me), I don’t care what the writers of the Alabama Baptist think we should focus on in our singing. But I do care deeply what God thinks. And, ultimately, what He thinks is what matters.
We can all have our opinions about homosexuality. But God – who loves all of us deeper than we will ever imagine – has spoken on the issue and His opinion matters.
We can focus on our personal preferences in our songs if we choose. But God – who has lovingly revealed Himself over 66 books in the Bible – cannot be limited to one attribute. That is, if we really want to worship the real, true, and living God.
By God’s incredible grace and love and mercy – we can know the truth. And last I checked, according to His opinion, the truth will set you free.