Theology: Queen of The Sciences Blog #21

Where the Bible Reigns Supreme

            Historians are agreed that the “University Movement” had its origin in the High Middle Ages, 1000-1300 A.D.  This was the period in history when it was common to refer to theology as the “Queen of the Sciences”.  In that period no thoughtful person would ever suggest that the Bible was not a “scientific textbook”.   It was the key textbook in all universities, studied endlessly by university professors and students alike.  The Biblical scriptures were regarded as the source of all true wisdom, a touchstone for all science.

William John Grassie, frequently quoted by Wikipedia, is a contemporary advocate of many liberal causes who acknowledges that theology was once recognized as the “queen of the science”.  He hastens on to say that “Theology departments today, however, are increasingly irrelevant backwaters in the modern university…”.  Grassie wants us to agree with him that all reality flows from what he calls “The Great Matrix of Being…” or “Big History” produced by the “new Epic Narrative of evolution.”

Christians today have to recognize that Grassie is just one spokesman for that chorus of liberal opinion now dominating our Academic and Intellectual world.  These are the folks who have entirely forgot that the Bible was once the key textbook for the whole world of professors, teachers and students.  The Bible was regarded as the fundamental authority for all of thought, all of philosophy, all of science, in short – all of life.  There was no higher authority anywhere.  The bible lays claim to being the very WORD OF GOD.  The Apostle Paul regards scripture as “God-breathed” (II Tim. 3:16) and that means it filled with the authority and life-giving power of God Himself.

Theological Liberalism forgot and denied this historic fact.  These folks have spent their lives dedicated to denying any real significance to the Bible.  Following the so-called ENLIGHTENMENT (Voltaire and the 18th century), they have dedicated themselves to 3 centuries of “higher-critical” attack on the Bible.  There is a massive egotism and enormous hatred of God in this deadly movement.

In consigning  theology departments to the irrelevant backwaters of the modern university, they have done irreparable damage to our whole culture in two ways.  First by reducing God to a meaningless cipher, they have robbed mankind of that reverence for God and attendant respect for man that is intrinsic to any success worthy of the name.   Second, by reducing the law of God to mere opinion, they have denied man his next greatest need – an unchanging code of behavior capable of guiding all men in all circumstances.  The massive destructive impact of this “liberal victory” is a spiritual hydrogen bomb ripping the heart and soul of our culture to pieces.

Now we can be quite sure that all of this horror did NOT happen just because someone of many someones succeeded in popularizing the idea that “the Bible is not a scientific textbook”.   It is even a possibility in my mind that somebody who believes the Bible was the first one to say it, starting it on its way to acceptance and common-place usage.   It might have happened that way.

No matter how it started, we should object.  THEOLOGY is still the Queen of the Sciences.  We have good reason to recognize a high view of scripture as a basic principle of life that should rule in every age of human history.  The Bible is the most important scientific textbook we have.  This book teaches us the science of knowing God and loving God, knowing one another and loving one another, knowing and living under the ever-gracious authority of our RISEN LORD JESUS CHRIST.

That is what I am pleading for.  I am pleading for that view of the Bible that sees this great book as leading us to a crucified and resurrected Savior.  Ascended to glory and sitting upon the Throne our Lord is leading his church out of its sins, its failures, its trials and disappointments to the Marriage Supper of the Lamb and to that majestic city where the Lamb is the Light.  What a wonder that this great “text-book” should conclude with those last two chapters where we will celebrate forever the glory and grandeur of final triumph in  the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.


Success in the Early Church and Today

              In this 21st century we seem to be convinced that numerical growth of the church is the only evidence of real success.  In the United States especially the “numbers” thing dominates our idea of a truly “successful church”.

I am personally convinced that this is a deadly error.

It is the deadly error that causes church leadership to lower its discipleship standards for church membership.   Because we must have numbers to be successful, we must be extremely careful not to expect members of the church to be serious disciples.  Such expectations could limit membership growth statistics, budgets, and building programs.

It seems easier to attract “clients” than disciples.    The evangelism and disciple-making of previous years has produced a generation of professing Christians, sometimes merely nominal Christians, who are looking for a church that “meets their needs”.  Business management leadership in the church, therefore, is responding to “clients” rather than to serious disciples.  “Client” Christians are pleased when the church they find provides an outward show of orthodoxy without challenging them to the kind of serious commitment that real discipleship requires.  The pews become filled with “customers” and “club members” and the pastor is serving them as their “chaplain”, willing to pronounce his blessing on any life-style they happen to choose.

This may sound cynical, but how do we account for the fact that divorce is almost as common in the evangelical church as it is among non-church members and even atheists.   I still remember a 1999 headline in the Huntsville Times (our local newspaper) giving us statistics indicating that Baptists (so numerous in our Southland) were right up there with the Atheists in their divorce statistics.

And how do we account for the fact that many of our evangelical churches take no disciplinary action against members who are guilty of unbiblical divorce?  Too often this is even true in the PCA (my denomination), as in those Baptist churches noted above.  And the issue is not just divorce.  Abortion is frequently ignored.  Pornography goes unchecked.  Members allow their children to watch X-rated movies and to associate freely with unchristian and undisciplined friends.  Nobody seems to care if membership entirely ignores family worship and regular church attendance.  Is there any discipleship standard at all for present day church membership?

O.K., so this blog has turned negative, critical, unsympathetic, even legalistic.

Before you make this conclusion, be sure you look honestly at what is happening in the church.

Then, look again at the alternative this blog has been offering – RADICAL RESURRECTIONISM!

The Apostle Paul was a “radical resurrectionist”.   He met the Risen Lord on the Road to Damascus and he never “recovered”.  Paul was so awed by the wonder and the joy of that first meeting with Christ that his mind and heart were forever filled with that grand experience.  He could write whole chapters of the Bible on the resurrection of Jesus (I Corinthians 15, for instance) and when he wrote on any other subject Paul’s resurrection perspective was inescapable, giving beauty and meaning to everything he touched.

Sin had been a cruel taskmaster that ruled the life of Saul of Tarsus.  Astounded by the Resurrection and Ascension, overwhelmed by forgiveness through the crucifixion, overjoyed by the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, captivated by the Sovereign Lordship of Jesus Christ, he became “the righteousness of God” (II Cor. 5:21), a “new creation” (II Cor. 5:17) dedicated to leading others into the true freedom of genuine discipleship.

And so did Paul the Apostle set the example for all pastors and church leaders from that day to this.

Resurrectionist leadership is discipling leadership.  It produces Godly membership, joyful participation in serious service to Christ, happy living in anticipation of the Marriage Supper of the Lamb.


Correcting a Commonplace Error

                It is a commonplace statement among evangelicals to say that the Bible is not a scientific textbook.  There is, of course a sense in which this is true, but it should be disturbing to us to hear it stated so often and so dogmatically when it needs to be significantly qualified.  It is certainly true that the Bible is not a textbook on any of the particular sciences such as biology, physics or astronomy, but it is not true that it is unrelated to those sciences or any other science.  We should want to insist that the Bible is the basic scientific textbook in this world.

It is my opinion (warning: an Alexandrine opinion approacheth) that the HUMANISTIC-ATHEISTIC consensus that rules most of Academia today is guilty of making this opinion commonplace.  Learned professors representing the academic establishment have simply repeated this idea so frequently that even Evangelicals  have adopted it.

To the contrary, we should be outraged.

We should be insisting that the Bible is the basic scientific textbook in our world.  This is the fact because it deals with the basic science of human existence.  That basic science is the science of God’s relationship to mankind, other persons and all reality.  It is a fact that the humanist-atheist culture in which we live does not even regard God’s relationship to man or to other persons or things as having any scientific standing at all.  That dreadful opinion, however, is a most unscientific idea, deserving of our pity if not our contempt.  This dreadful idea is having the effect of denying real hope to our whole society.  It is wrong for Bible believing Christians to tolerate such a misleading and hurtful idea, allowing it to go unchallenged, even repeating it themselves as if it were some kind of undeniable axiom.

While we may concede validity to the idea that the Bible is not a text-book about any of the particular sciences – biology, physics, astronomy, – we should hurry on to insist that the Bible fully deserves status as a text-book about the most important science of all – the science of God’s relationship to persons and things.  The universities of the middle ages were built on this idea.  That was the key idea in the syllable “Uni” in the word “University”.  “Uni” represented the idea that everything in the universe was united around one central reality.  That central reality was God. Furthermore, that God was identifiable.  He was the God of the Bible.  This is why it is so wrong to call that period in history “the dark ages”.  People in those so-called “dark ages” saw the rise of the University Movement as a beam of light shining into their world, revealing the Trinitarian God the Bible as a wonderfully unifying reality which held all of the world together and gave meaning to their lives.

And of course the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ was at the heart of the whole “University” idea.  Our Savior’s resurrection from the grave was a historic fact.  It was not just a religious idea or a piece of philosophical speculation.  It stood firmly established within the scientific framework of human history so that it was utter foolishness to deny it. If He “appeared to above 500 brothers at one time” (I Cor. 15:6) you would have to be a blindly prejudiced fool to deny it.

Because Jesus had risen from the dead, triumphant over the Devil, death and sin, those who believed in Him could build their lives on this grand reality. The church began to rise in that Caesar-dominated world.  Christ was now LORD in the fullest and most glorious sense, liberating believers from the Caesars and other pretenders to lordship over man and all of life.  There has been a long succession of such “pretenders to the throne”.  They all fall one after the other.  Their political systems, their psychological theories, their religious inventions all turn out to be mere human speculation.  This succession of historical phonies succeed in creating a political correctness that protects their empty guesses for a time.  Then it all comes crashing down around them and those they have deceived by their “charm” and coercion.  This is the sad story of the anti-Christ systems of the past, and a story that will repeat itself interminably until the Savior returns in final triumph and glorious liberation of all who have believed His word and followed in His way.

So let’s throw out this offensive phrase, suggesting that the Bible is not a scientific textbook. Let’s insist that it is THE ONE DEPENDABLE SCIENTIFIC TEXTBOOK ON THE SCIENCE OF GOD’S RELATIONSHIP TO ALL PERSONS AND THINGS IN OUR UNIVERSE.

Our RESURRECTED LORD AND SAVIOR has conclusively demonstrated this grand truth.