Making Our Brains Bigger Than God - Part I Rev. Matthew Versemann
Will we trust in a wise God or ‘wise guys’? Have you ever sat in church, about to ‘doze off’, when the pastor throws a zinger at you like, “Jonah wasn’t really swallowed by a whale”,“the Lord didn’t really part the Red Sea”? “God didn’t really create all things in six days”? Or “what God calls ‘sin’ in His Word, really isn’t sinful anymore”?Not only do you wonder if you ‘really’ heard what you ‘thought’ you heard, but just then your spouse jabs you in the ribs, so the pastor doesn’t catch you dozing. You then hear your pastor give you all the reasons why science, history and archaeology have proven Scripture wrong in parts; but, the pastor consoles, ‘Scripture can be factually wrong, and still meaningful to your faith life’! At that point your head’s spinning, so you jab your spouse back, to see if she heard the pastor say what you ‘thought’ he just said. So you leave church, grit your teeth and say ‘nice sermon pastor’, as you try to find comfort from a Bible that your own pastor told you, “you can’t trust it completely”.
So then, when you visit your pastor on Monday and ask him how you can discern what parts of the Bible are true and what parts are not true, your pastor gives you a long, convoluted answer of a “theory” he learned at the seminary, about how we need to ‘find the real story behind the written text of the Bible’. You’re told that you can’t just read God’s Word at face value, and trust all that you’re reading. He might even toss in a ‘zinger’ like: “Don’t you know that science has proven much of it to be untrue?” Although your pastor doesn’t come right out and say so, what you are actually being told is: “you need to replace your belief in the inerrancy of God and His Word, with the inerrancy of man and his theories.” You need to ‘leave it to the seminary-trained professionals’ (mainly of the last 50 years), to tell you what God’s Word says, because you can’t trust what the Bible clearly says, or what your pastors more than 50 years ago taught you! What you have just experienced is the invasion of the “Historical Critical Method” of interpreting the Bible! This ‘new method’ of studying the Bible has only been around in the last 200 years of Christianity, but for the most part, only in the last 50-70 years in American Christianity. It’s the “new kid on the block”, but it is this method that is the enemy of the Historic Christian faith that your parents and grandparents were taught from pastors and professors who were faithful to God’s Word. Many laypeople wonder: “what has happened to our church?” And the answer is: the “Historical Critical Method”. It has led countless churches, denominations, pastors and laypeople away from the rock-solid foundation of God’s life-giving Word, to doubt and question the Bible and the faith of prior generations of believers.
Sadly, many laypeople remain in churches where they are convinced from the Bible that their pastor is teaching wrong, but they console themselves: “Well, it must just be this pastor. We’ll get a new pastor someday, and all will be well”. Yet, their denomination only continues to fall further and further away from God’s Word, regardless of how many pastors their church gets. What happened to the church of our grandparents? I don’t know how to say it more clearly, but the problem is that most of the mainline denominations, and most of the seminaries, and most of the pastors have adopted the “Historical Critical Method” of interpretation – and much of this has only taken place in the last 50-70 years. This method is why you hear things being preached and taught that are contrary to God’s Word, and to what prior faithful generations learned!
So what’s the solution? There is no “easy” solution any longer. Most of the seminaries of the mainline churches have made their bed withthe “Historical Critical Method”, and what theyare teaching our future pastors is that you “cannot take the Bible at face value”; whenever you find something in science, history, archaeology, culture, etc…. that questions it. So is there any solution? About the best solution is this: FAITHFUL LAYPEOPLE. “It’s time for laypeople to stop being married to a church body, a denomination, or a building; but to be married to Christ and His Word!” The church needs faithful laypeople to start measuring their church’s doctrine,their pastors’ preaching, and their Sunday School’s lessons by the Word of God. We see a great example of this in Acts 17 with the Christian church at Berea, where we’re told: “Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness, and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul had said was true.” In I John 4:1 we read, “Do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.”
Sadly, I’ve heard many examples of churches where the members will argue whether or not to buy this item for the church kitchen, whether or not to buy new hymnals for the pews; but when the church is teaching false doctrine, these same laypeople will not utter a sound, but keep attending the church, which sends a terrible mixed message to our children of holding onto God’s Word. The faith of your children and grandchildren is largely dependent on what you the parents will do in defending or taking a stand for the truthfulness of God’s Word.
Once faithful laypeople begin to measure their church’s doctrine, and their pastors’ teachings, with the Word of God,if the truthfulness and complete reliability of God’s Word is being questioned by the pastors, professors, or leaders of your church, then first try towork with them to try to call them, yourself, and your congregation to repentance, forgiveness in Jesus, and a return to the truth of God’s Word. However, there may come a point, where “IF” your pastor or church body refuses to repent, turn from false doctrine, and teach ALL that God’s Word teaches, then faithful laypeople will follow Christ and look for a faithful church, rather than being married to a denomination or building. Paul warns Timothy and us in 2 Timothy 4:3-4, “The time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth, and turn aside to myths.”
If you don’t already have a church home that is laying a rock-solid foundation on God’s Word for you and your children, then please worship with us at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Waverly, where it is our joy to share with you, and your kids, the truth of God’s Word from the very first verse!