[forthright] From Unthinkable To Unimpeachable / Anyone Can Quote Scripture

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From: "Forthright Magazine" <forthrightmag@...>
Date: Wed, 01 Jul 2009 10:49:44 -0300
Forthright Magazine
Straight to the Cross

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Anyone Can Quote Scripture
  by Stan Mitchell

   And said to him, "If you are the Son of
   God, throw yourself down, for it is
   written, 'He will command his angels
   concerning you'" (Matthew 4:6 ESV).

Mark was a young preacher, and this was his first
experience of this kind. Sitting across from him was a
couple, "living in sin," as the old people used to say.
The woman was no longer young, but she clearly took
care of herself -- slender, well-heeled, still very

"But the Lord wants us to be happy, doesn't he?" she
had just declared, and her lover chimed in: "That's
right. Doesn't the Bible say somewhere that God came to
give us life, and that life more abundantly?"  

"Now look who's quoting scripture," Mark thought.

Anyone can quote scripture. Even Satan did. Scripture
can be twisted, or used in isolation from the rest of
the Bible, torn from context like barbed wire on a
flannel shirt. Juvenile delinquents can quote scripture
to show that their parents should have brought them up
better. Church backsliders can quote scriptures to show
how the church failed in its responsibilities to them. 

And this couple was defending their illicit
relationship with scripture. Mark was neither shocked
nor outraged. He understood this as a natural human
response for people in denial. 

"That's a nice scripture," he began. "But we need to
consider some other scriptures, too ..." 

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From Unthinkable To Unimpeachable
  by Barry Newton

"Doctors ... don't decide what's ethical and then do
it; rather, if enough of them start doing it,
eventually they decide its ethical."/1

Such cynical thoughts no longer shock me. 

Initially I had expected more out of people since I had
grown up in a family valuing truth and integrity. But
the naiveté of assuming godly virtue in others has
since evaporated.

Two events stand out in my mind as contributing toward
a certain sophistication with a heavy dollop of
cynicism. The former occurred in a graduate church
history class where the professor stated rather matter-
of-factly, "practice precedes dogma."  

The latter of the two experiences occurred when reading
Philip Johnson's candid observation, that it is naive
to assume that if you present the evidence people will
change their minds. That is not how the world works./2
In other words, for many people, truth does not drive
understanding or practice.

These memories bubble to the surface because ideas
which had been unthinkable in America merely decades
ago and certainly a century ago have now become
unimpeachable for many. To even question the
acceptability of abortion, homosexuality or physician-
assisted suicide can ignite a firestorm.

The tyranny of a decadently-driven populism fueled by
didactic humor and the artificial lives of sitcoms
saturating the airwaves continues to mitigate against
Christian morals and values. Grasping for absolute
freedom, the culture becomes ever more enslaved to
self-destructive principles.

The dissolution of anything godly and noble should be
lamentable.  But if truly the ways of this world are
commanded by "the ruler of the kingdom of the air" and
if the evil one can "give authority and splendor to
whomever he desires," should we not expect such a
cultural sea surge?

Opportunity and danger stand before us:  Like a tsunami
devouring objects within its path that ever-pervasive
mentality rushes forward, which assumes that democratic
measures determine genuine acceptability. Culture
sweeps along in its surge those who confuse practice
with acceptability.

Meanwhile the opportunity to be a beacon of sanity
against the backdrop of a democratic experience whose
historic attempts at a godly mooring are fast
evaporating seems to constantly increase.

To weather this storm requires knowing where the rock
is and building on it. To spin Jesus to accommodate
popular ideas or to confuse practice with acceptability
involves building upon the sand which will be swept
along in the surge.
1/ "Rest in Pieces," Salvo 8 (Spring 2009): 35.

2/ I would be deeply indebted to anyone locating the
   exact quote. It might be in one of his books, First
   Things or Touchstone.

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