Friday, February 07, 2014
Words and Character
As Martin Luther rightly observed, the church house is to be a “mouth house” where words, not images or dramatic acts, stand at the center of the church’s attention and concern. We live by words and we die by words.That statement is buried deep in the Reformation and its thoughts are responsible for much that was wrong with Puritanism. It is entirely contextual. Arts, like all of cultural and society are to be transformed by the Holy Spirit. In the America of old, where we could count upon the artist and those that display the arts to act out of some base of Christian thought and character, then yes, preserving the church as a "mouth house" is a good idea.
But what of a world where the arts and culture are decidedly un-Christian? Should not the church provide space for such things to find redemption?
We are living in an anti-confessional age. Our society and its reigning academic culture are committed to individual autonomy and expression, as well as to an increasingly relativistic conception of truth. The language of higher education is overwhelmingly dominated by claims of academic freedom, rather than academic responsibility. In most schools, a confession of faith is an anathema, not just an anachronism. But, among us, a confession of faith must be seen as a gift and covenant. It is a sacred trust that guards revealed truths. A confession of faith never stands above the Bible, but the Bible itself mandates concern for the pattern of sound words.I agree deeply here that confession are important to institutions, but I must disagree that they are the only way to really experience Christ and His salvation. "Individual autonomy and expression" is a problem not because of the freedom within it that must somehow be constrained by a confessional boundary. Rather it is a problem when the individual involved is not well-formed nor constrained by a God-given and Spirit-nurtured character.
Lies are easy - unless we are the kind of person for whom lies are not easy. Words carry weight only when they are carried by weighty people. Rhetoric is empty unless it is backed by character and action. Confession is not enough. Unless we as the church and related institutions are actively engaged in things that train people not only in confession but also in the means to make that confession a living reality then we are gongs and cymbals.
character confession words