Guest speaker at our Reformation festival was Dr. Bill Weinrich, one of the grand old guys at one of our seminaries, a former native Ponca Citian. One of the other speakers at our fest gave a speech on evolution and how Christians can talk about controversial topics. I asked him why pastors don’t speak much about some of the strong political issues of our time, not the politics, but the issues and what a Christian should think.
Weinrich got up and did just that. Here’s my notes.
In the early days of the church, Bill said, the Greek philosophers thought of the origins of the earth as created by a god who found some amorphous matter and formed it into the earth. Why did they want to believe that? They wanted to think that the god was subject to limits and rules which they could find out. If they found the rules, they could plan. But the Christians argued that God simply created the universe. The Greeks hated that thought. Why then, God was arbitrary and chaotic, and it was no good to plan or think logically. Which came first, the nothingness or the god? No, the Christians continued. He didn’t create from nothingness. He spoke His word and brought it into being. “And God said, ‘let there be light…’” This means that there are two central questions. First who is this God and what is he like? Second, what did He intend by creating things? The answer according to Christians was that He was the living God, the God who imparts life. He “makes” things and gives them life. And His word says He made us in His image. Why? Well, that is what He does. He is living and gives His life to the universe and to us. He doesn’t just make things like a carpenter makes things (adding order to the matter). He brings them forth from nothingness and makes them live.
So? We are to love the Lord with all our heart and soul and mind, says the Shima. But sin entered the world. And so God made His Son. He is a Father because He made a Son. “I believe in Jesus Christ, His only begotten Son.” “And I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and giver (Greek word is “maker”) of life.” God gives us life and asks us “be fruitful and multiply”, i.e., to give life and procreate. That is His intent for humanity. So when people say that gays should marry, they don’t do so to give life. The relationship, no matter how loving, is sterile and barren. It doesn’t do what God asked us to continue. It ain’t from God. We have this thing called marriage and Jesus insisted that it was instituted by God of one man and one woman (Matt. 19:5). And so we have that as a definition of marriage and society also deems it has to be of an adult consensual age and not between close relatives. All that is make it procreate successfully.
God is merciful. Though we don’t deserve even a second look because of our sin, God came after us. The Jewish first commandment is “I am the Lord thy God who has brought you out of the land of Egypt.” God saves through His mercy and comes after us in love. Jesus, we confess, was true man, but in fact he was the only true man. He was what we are supposed to be. Trusting and humble and completely attuned to His Father’s will. And with a mercy big enough to save the whole world. On the cross, Jesus didn’t just save our sins like some sort of cash transaction, but they became part and parcel of who He was. He took our sins upon himself. And yet staring death in the face at a point blank distance, He did not waver but confessed his trust, “Into thy hands I commend my spirit.” Only a God begotten, true man would speak that way, because that is a mercy and humility that only God could fulfill. And so the God of Life gave His Son life and raised Him from the dead. Please note, it ain’t God the Father if there is no resurrection. It would have to be some other nature. And so too, we must strive to look death in the face and commend our spirit to God.
Hence Luther objected to indulgences as fundamentally against God’s nature of Grace. People in Luther’s day were saying that man was made in the image of God, had great talents, could speak the words of God unlike animals and all sorts of other wonderful things. Humanism. Luther countered, “and they all died.” If you are incapable of something, if you are flat on your back and someone comes and lifts you up, what do you say? You say, “It was done for me.” And so God has saved you, not from your deserving it, but it was just done and you accepted it in faith. Grace alone. And He put faith in our hearts to say “It was done for me!” Faith alone. And then it relies entirely on the living God who speaks. Scripture alone. It all follows from the nature of who God is and what was His intent.