Dedicated to the devotional, exegetical and philosophical study of theological paradox in Conservative, Thoroughly Biblical, Historically Orthodox, Essentially Reformed theology . . . to the glory of God alone!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Misapplied Mystery and "the god of our many understandings"

"My intention is not to invoke the name of Jesus, but to make this a prayer for Christians and non-Christians alike. Although I hold the Scripture to be the word of god, those Scriptures are holy to me and to Jews and Christians, but to many other faith traditions, they have their own sacred texts, and so rather than insert that and really exclude them from the prayer by doing so, I want this to be a prayer to the god of our many understandings and a prayer that all people of faith can join me in . . . let's face it, each one of us has a different understanding of god. No one of us can fully understand god or else god wouldn't be god."
-"Bishop" Gene Robinson, on his invitation to offer a prayer at the Obama Inaugural Event this Sunday (source: NPR News)

Wow, that last sentence was really great. As for the rest, what else could we expect from the first openly gay Episcopal bishop?

There are those who want to emphasize the mystery and hiddenness of God in order to deny the truth He has plainly revealed about Himself. We must be careful not to overstate either the hiddenness or the revealed-ness of God. God has made known certain things about Himself, leaving all people guilty and without excuse in their rejection of Him. Yet He has also hidden some things from those who do not believe, while unveiling them to His elect. And He has left some of His glory shrouded in a wonderful cloud of mystery, even to those who trust in Him with all of their hearts (this is where Robinson's last sentence would rightly be applied by someone who believes the Word of God). The very angels who stand in God's presence wonder at His ineffable greatness. But it is pure heresy to broadly and recklessly use the hiddenness of God to undermine the crystal clear revelation of His nature, will and acts found in nature and the Bible. The Truth constantly shouts at us through the things that have been created, undeniably proving that God is good, all-powerful, eternal and wise. With the added testimony of the Scriptures, we are faced not only with a plain account of God's essential being, but also a written statement of His eternal will - and a record of His dealings with man in history. But Robinson ignores all of this, instead using one little piece of truth in a vain attempt to sweep away volumes of revelation. This is a crime against Truth itself (or should I say Truth Himself?). It is a crime that God will judge, but it is also a judgment in itself.

The reality is, mankind's "many understandings" of God are the rotten fruit of rebelling against the one simple understanding that is as plain as the nose on our collective face. For those who seek Him, there is a further development of this simple truth, but for those who make themselves His enemies there can only be obscurity and confusion in the maze of man-centered ideas that is falsely called "wisdom."

I once heard a Biblical counselor tell someone, "Here is why you are confused: you have been told what God expects of you, and you don't want to do it. When you agree with God and begin to obey Him, your confusion will disappear." There is much true wisdom in this statement.

Robinson's thinking is sad. It is confused. It is heretical. It is nonsensical. And yet, "but for the grace of God . . ."

Let us pray.
NOTE: What is written above is an extremely loose paraphrase of Romans 1:18-25.
"For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures. Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them. For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen."


  1. I am not surprised that he said that but it is so sad... I don't know if he reads his Bible but he puts condemnation on his head with his disobedience and twisting of Scripture...

  2. I heard the same interview on NPR and thought it remarkable: first, for Robinson's non-logical pronouncements [e.g., the Bible is the word of God, but I won't actually let it influence how I pray]; and second, because the interviewer actually pushed back a little bit {"What do you mean, the 'god of our many understandings?'"]. When even NPR is skeptical about theological liberalism, that's worth noting.

  3. Natasa,

    Thanks for commenting. Based on what we read in Romans 1, it appears that God has given this man over to his futile thinking (just as we were given over to our futile thinking before He saved us). Only repentance and real faith can change his mind and heart. It is possible, though, so let's pray for his salvation. What a wonderful testimony he would have, escaping from both his immoral lifestyle and liberal theology, and giving all the glory to Christ! God has already done things more amazing than this, so it is possible, as you already know.


    NPR really helps one to stay informed about the trends in liberalism. There was a similar push back when 60 minutes interviewed Joel Osteen. Liberal journalists have a fairly good idea of what historic Christianity stands for - and they hate it - so they don't know how to respond when it gets carved down into something that looks just like their own beliefs. Even a mild, moderate, compromising Rick Warren gives them something to fight against - but these other guys are baffling to them.

  4. It is sad and disturbing that "Christianity" here in the US is so diverse. How is it that one can say such things and still refer to himself as a "Christian". I believe that we as true Christians here in the states are in for some real changes. Persecution! Not just name calling, but the real deal. May take a couple of years, but we are headed that way! I also think that that is what we need and deserve. We have been so spoiled here in the good old USA. In country's where persecution of the church is prevelent and accepted you don't have to wonder about the guy standing next to you. If he professes Christ you can be sure he is the genuine article. Here the lines are so blurred, the term "Christian" used so losely that anyone can claim it.

    I long for the day that we are called home. Untill then, stand firm!


Feel free to respond to anything written in the posts, or to the comments left by others. All comments are reviewed before they are published.

Please be charitable. If you disagree, do so with grace. Keep your words positive, focused, and on-topic. We don't expect everyone to agree, but we do expect everyone to treat everyone else with respect and grace, speaking the truth in love.