TO CHEW ON: “Having a form of godliness but dying its power. And from such people turn away.” 2 Timothy 3:5.
I have been following with interest the story of Greta Vosper, the atheist pastor of a United Church in Toronto. That there should even be a debate over whether she keeps her job seems to me the big story here. Of course Ms. Vosper is free to believe what she likes. But to call herself a minister and leader of a faith in which belief in God and the Bible are the foundation while she has bluntly stated she “… does not believe in God or the Bible” shows how far down the path we as a society have wandered toward the last days scenario of “having a form of godliness, but denying its power.”
It’s interesting too, that such a theological symptom is part of a quite horrendous list of self-absorbed behaviours:
“Men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self control, brutal, despairs of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God” - 2 Timothy 3:2-4.
(Had Paul been watching, in prophetic foresight, one of our newscasts?)
A little further along in the passage, Paul gives more insight into “last days” religion: “… always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth” - 2 Timothy 3:7.
This reminds me of the description of a modern stream of the Protestant church called "Emergent" found in the book Why We’re Not Emergent:
“Certainty for the emergent church is the same as pinning down Jesus and summing up God, while uncertainty is a breath of fresh air.”The authors quote Brian McLaren (a man prominent in the Emergent church movement):
“‘ Drop any affair you may have with certainty, proof, argument—and replace it with dialogue, conversation, intrigue and search … since reality is seldom clear but usually fuzzy and mysterious, not black-and-white but in living colour’” - Kevin DeYoung & Ted Kluck, Why We’re Not Emergent: By Two Guys Who Should Be, Kindle Location 522, Brian McLaren quote source: Adventures in Missing the Point, by McLaren & Campolo, 84.
What does Paul advise Timothy to do in the face of such beliefs and behaviours? He says simply: “And from such people turn away.”
[“Turn away” - apotrepo - means to turn oneself away from, shun, avoid.]
It might be tempting to get a little involved in the self-first behaviours that are so common today (often whipped up and spurred on by social media). Doubt is cool. It’s sophisticated to keep one’s belief options open to any and every belief system. But, Paul tells Timothy and us, that isn’t the path of the Jesus follower who lives by the certainty of God’s word - 2 Timothy 3:16,17.
PRAYER: Dear Father help me to detect any side trips I may be tempted to take into the realm of self first and denying of the truth and power of Your word. Amen.
Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.