A house may have a perfectly good foundation, but this will do no good if the house does not stay on it, as graphically illustrated by this picture.
Scripture As Our Foundation
In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus refers to His teachings as a foundation that will enable a house to weather the storms of life. Likewise in Ephesians 2:20 Paul described the church as being built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets.
It is fairly evident why Scripture serves as our foundation. We know about God, His nature, His purposes, and a vast array of other information through Scripture. Apart from the Word of God we would be clueless regarding any of these topics. Therefore, Scripture must be foundational to our faith and practice.
Scripture also refers to Christ as our foundation. However, we can only know about Christ through Scripture, so in some sense Scripture is even more foundational.
Jars of Clay
By now most of you have probably heard of the infamous tweet by Jars of Clay lead vocalist Dan Haseltine regarding gay marriage: “I’m trying to make sense of the conservative argument, but it doesn’t hold up to basic scrutiny. Feels akin to women’s suffrage. I just don’t see a negative effect to allowing gay marriage.”
Perhaps more troubling than this tweet is a later one that came in response to those tweeting him passages of Scripture that clearly expose the unbiblical nature of homosexuality. He replied, “I don’t particularly care about Scripture’s stance on what is ‘wrong,’ I care more about how it says we should treat people. … Tweeting Scripture verses to settle my questions of gay marriage isn’t helpful. Simple answers to complex questions = meh.”
The problem with this response is that it misrepresents his previous tweet, which did not deal with how we should treat homosexuals but instead took a position regarding gay marriage being okay. An even more profound concern about this response is that it reflects a lack of concern regarding scriptural teaching, as if direct scriptural prohibitions regarding homosexuality are too simplistic and therefore should be ignored. He comes across as conveying, “Don’t bother me with that Bible stuff. I’m looking for real answers.”
“My concern is not with proof texts but with people” sounds pious enough. He is not one of those pharisaical people more interested in condemnation than in grace and love. He has risen above that. If only those judgmental legalists tweeting him verses could attain to his stature of maturity.
The problem with his position is that various passages in Scripture, including the New Testament, are quite explicit on the issue in question. One might understand his attitude if we were dealing with weather Chick-fil-A should open on Sunday.
Employing his approach to Scripture would in effect eliminate all commandments except that we should accept unconditionally. Come to think of it, that’s what evangelicals teach. Dan Haseltine is merely applying that teaching to a practical issue. As it turns out, his response to homosexual marriage is helpful in that it underscores the implications of contemporary evangelical theology.
Therefore, the ultimate pious heresy is not Dan Haseltine’s condoning homosexual marriage, but the evangelical teaching regarding God’s unconditional acceptance, which Dan Haseltine took seriously enough to apply to gay marriage.
His application exposes the error of unconditional acceptance, not only that Scripture does not teach it, but also that it removes the church from the foundation of scriptural teaching, serving as an alternative. “No need to bother with those verses about homosexuality. Just accept unconditionally and you will be acting like a real Christian. Biblical answers to questions regarding acceptance = meh.”
I can only hope that through this situation evangelical leaders will be confronted with the unbiblical nature of unconditional acceptance, come to grips with its error, and return to a biblical foundation. If not, the picture above graphically portrays the future of the contemporary evangelical church. The only thing missing is the steeple.