10 Things Your Minister Can’t Tell You
Reverend Oliver “Buzz” Thomas has written an engaging but extremely light book entitled 10 Things Your Minister Wants to Tell You (But Can’t Because He Needs the Job). In the book, Rev. Thomas asks 10 questions but supplies no real answers. Which just goes to prove that liberal Christianity has no answers for the tough questions of today.
Liberal Christianity doesn’t start from the premise that the Bible is the Word of God, as I’ve discussed in my review of John Shelby Spong’s book, The Sins of Scripture. In his section on the Bible, for example, Rev. Thomas dismisses that the Bible is the Word of God based on numerous perceived contradictions and errors in the Bible. Any skeptic would be proud to see that his usual objections top Thomas’s list: valuing pi at 3, Genesis and Acts confusing the detials of Abraham’s departure from home, the gospel of John standing alone as having Jesus’ death occuring on the day of Passover, contradictions in the Resurrection accounts, and whether God or Satan inspired the first census of Israel.
Thomas is on dangerous ground. He, like other liberals, claims that the Bible is neither inerrant nor inspired, but maintains that the book is still authoritative. The problem with this position is: which parts are authoritative, and which parts can we safely ignore? The answer is obvious: whichever parts don’t fit with Thomas’s theology can be ignored. This is a recurring theme throughout the book, and is punctuated in the chapter on homosexuality.
Not surprisingly, Thomas concludes that homosexuality is not sinful. He does so by appealing to the now-famous “Open Letter to Dr. Laura.” The intent is emotional rather than logical and presents no biblically-based arguement in favor of homosexuality. That is because there is none possible.
Also not surprisingly, Thomas concludes that Christianity isn’t the only pathway to God. He casts doubt on John 14:6, and emphasizes that the message of the gospel is that we are saved by grace through faith. Good, but he begs the question: faith in what? Faith must have an object, and in Christianity Christ is the object of our faith.
Thomas is correct that Christianity wasn’t intended as a coerced religion. It only became so after Constantine. Authentic Christianity is choice: faith in Christ is the only way to please God, and from this faith flows love of God and love of neighbors. So you choose to deny yourself, take up your cross and follow Jesus, or you choose to isolate yourself from your Creator. God has offered us no other path to him; but man-made religions offer pleanty of ways to attempt to please God through works. No, you don’t need to be a Christian to love God and love your neighbors, but as C. Michael Patton points out here, right doctrine pleases God. This concept seems lost on the liberals, who are more focused than ever on doing something to please God, when all God asks for is simple faith.