Saturday, February 6, 2010

Evangelical/Gnostic Voyeurism

Martin Luther has said that every human being is intrinsically a mystic. The claim is indicative of the proverbial "vacuum" that every man longs to fill with God (or notions of God); and yet it is also "human" to want to "get into" this God through means other than that which He has prescribed in His Word. It is a desire to peer into, as Luther calls it, "the naked God."

This Gnostic voyeurism is very much apparent in the many mutations of modern Evangelicalism. From the hyper-faith, hyper-supernaturalism, and experientialism of the Pentecostal/Charismatic movement, to the extrabiblical, pragmatic, pietistic, and individualist "innovations" of the church-growth, purpose-driven, megachurch movement (interestingly, the Emergent Church movement merely gave the megachurch movement a "cooler" face, with essentially the same brain behind the operations), Gnosticism is alive and well.

The dangerously false assumption behind all this is that God is a God who can be approached, as Air Supply would put it, "Just As I Am." Yet the biblical account teems with examples of God meting out swift and final judgment on those who failed to approach Him, sincere or otherwise, in the means that He has prescribed. In the OT, we have Nadab and Abihu, beloved sons of Aaron, incinerated, and Uzzah struck dead. Especially in the case of the latter, sincerity and a desire to serve God were not, and will never be, mitigating factors. In the NT, we have Ananias and Saphira, the couple of deceit, snuffed of life by the same transgression. Fervent affection and devotion matters nil if recognition of the "otherness" of God, which is the reality behind God's use of physical and temporal means to interface with man, is rejected.

The Gospel is that God, through His Son Jesus Christ, became flesh, to the consternation of the Gnostics. Just as no Israelite could approach God unmediated by either Moses or the priesthood, so is it that only though the mediation of the God-Man, Christ, can anyone come into the presence of God without suffering the same fate as those sincere enthusiasts who gave no thought to God's prescribed means but thought of Him as like unto themselves. But then, even in the appropriation of Christ's merits, Gnosticism and Evangelicalism walk hand-in-hand in seeking out a private, personal Jesus who is accessible through techniques, methods, and devices, rather than the historical, objective, and enfleshed Christ who takes the initiative to reveal Himself to those whom the Father has chosen. It is "me and my God-ness" uniting with God, not God in His holiness and transcendence condescending to elect, justify, sanctify and eventually glorify me, all because of what Christ has done that is external to myself.

There are a host of other instances wherein this voyeurism is obvious. Suffice it to say that the only remedy to this insidious malady is the recovery of the great truths of the Reformation.

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