Presbytery of Chicago: Authoritative Interpretation (3 of 3)

Finally, the third of three analysis posts.

They note that the Bible reflects many patterns and forms of legal, religiously approved marital relationships.

The authors use the word “reflects” as opposed to “approves.” Thus, the fact that the Bible describes “many patterns and forms of legal, religiously approved marital relationships” does not mean that they are all Biblically approved. And yet, it appears that the authors are utilizing this statement to advance their argument in favor of sane gender marriage.

With regard to this statement, we should inquire of the authors to which specific “patterns and forms” of marriage they are referring, with associated scriptural references. For example, does one or more of these passages clearly affirm same-gender marriage (I don’t believe so)? Also, what other “forms and patterns” of approved marriage do they believe that the Bible teaches? And, why shouldn’t these other “patterns and forms” also win approval for marriage in the PCUSA? The most prevalent Biblical marriage “pattern” aside from “one man and one woman” is polygamy.

Note the logical consequences of this statement. If same-gender marriage is Biblically justified as an extension of the above “pattern” principle, then polygamy is far more strongly justified, since it exists as a specific instance of the principle.

They appeal to Presbyterian principles of biblical interpretation, including reading in context, the use of knowledge and experience,

It should go without saying that the application of “principles of biblical interpretation” does not guarantee a specific result.

the centrality of Jesus Christ,

This phrase requires special attention.

I trust that if the reader has made it this far they have read the teaching of Jesus Christ on marriage’s definition (Matthew 19: 4-6). Christ is here not just reaffirming the Genesis definition of marriage, but is adding stress on the genders of the two parties involved – a man and a woman – as well as the settled, God ordained meaning of this union.

Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and cleaves to his wife, and they become one flesh. (Genesis 2:24)

He answered, “Have you not read that he who made them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder.” Matthew 19:4-6 (RSV)

And yet, the Rationale authors claim “the centrality of Jesus Christ” as a core principle. This stunning disconnect forces us to confront the question of who they believe Jesus Christ to be and how they come to knowledge of His teaching.

They have already said that Jesus Christ and his teaching supports same gender marriage. They claim that who He is and the meaning of His Gospel compels acceptance. And yet, we find that this same Jesus Christ has directly and clearly defined marriage to be between one man and one woman, without the slightest hint of flexibility.

This situation is at the core of my opposition to the postmodern Christians among us. For, to come to their conclusions in spite of this absolutely clear teaching by Jesus Christ, they must have chosen to ignore and subvert Christ’s actual teaching.

Postmodern Christians will throw up many Biblical passages that they claim open the door to same gender marriage. And yet, what is the standard for Biblical interpretation? It is this from the Westminster Confession of Faith.

“The infallible rule of interpretation of Scripture, is the Scripture itself; and therefore, when there is a question about the true and full sense of any scripture (which is not manifold, but one), it may be searched and known by other places that speak more clearly.” (6.009)

Same gender marriage is the ultimate test case for this central interpretative principle. Yes, with clever argumentation certain Scriptural passages may be construed to indirectly allow same gender marriage (though I strongly argue the opposite). But we have the ultimate “speak more clearly” passage in Matthew 19:4-6. And yet, in spite of this, postmodern Christians insist that Scripture in general and Jesus Christ in particular supports this innovation.

Postmodern Christians will also claim that we must interpret Christ’s teachings within the context of our current situation. Thus, surely words spoken by Christ in the context of an ancient, primitive culture must be updated to our contemporary, advanced situation. It turns out that John Calvin had to deal with this very same idea five centuries ago, to which he replied (Institutes of the Christian Religion).

“…What devilish madness is it to pretend that the use of Scripture, which leads the children of God even to the final goal, is fleeting or temporal?”

I’m deeply concerned that Jesus has become to postmodern Christians “that guy who surely agrees with whatever I decide is good and true” as opposed to the objectively real incarnation of God who said and did specific things that are authoritative in defining our understanding of the Christian faith and it’s playing out in our lives.

interpretation of Scripture by Scripture, the rule of love, and the rule of faith.

See the previous comment on “principles of biblical interpretation.”

A final note, this Rationale did not quote a single Biblical or Confessional passage.  What we do have is a series of statements about what the authors believe, supported only by the flimsiest of theological justifications and zero Biblical evidence.

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