Tuesday, 17 July 2018

Holiness and idolatry

In his excellent book "The Holiness of God" respected theologian R.C.Sproul, talking about the holiness of God writes:

"We have seen that the term holy calls attention to the transcendence of god, the sense in which he is above and beyond the world. We have also seen that god can reach down and consecrate special things in this world and make them holy. His touch on the common makes the common suddenly uncommon . Again we say that nothing in this world is holy in itself. Only God can make something holy. Only God can consecrate".

He continues:

"When we call things holy, when they are not holy, we commit the sin of idolatry. We give to common things the resepct, awe, worship, and adoration that belong only to God. To worship the creature instead of the Creator is the essence of idolatry."

Sproul then goes on to illustrate this with the picture of a man fashioning something out of wood or stone in his workshop then bowing down to it in worship and adoration. "Yet people" he writes, "would ascribe holy power and worship to these objects."

It struck me reading this, calling holy what is not holy and therefore turning it into an idol, as something the church is attempting to do with regards to Gay Marriage. First, the marrying of a man and woman is described as Holy Matrimony. It is 'holy' because God has clearly ordained it in the Scriptures. Anything other than such a marriage is not holy. And second, if we recreate marriage in our own terms, we are in essence creating an idol every bit as man-made as that made of wood or stone in the aforementioned workshop. How can we commit such a transgression and think that we can get away with it? How can God bless an institution that makes what is unholy 'holy' and what is man-made into an object for reverence?

I was very struck by the actions and words of Rico Tice recent who quit the Archbishop of Canterbury and York's task group on evangelism because others on the committee follow a "different religion" to him. The article about him on Premier Christian reported:

The author of the Christianity Explored course and minister at All Souls Langham Place in London has been speaking from the GAFCON conference in Jerusalem where around 2,000 conservative Anglicans have gathered.

In an interview published on the GAFCON website he said he had "profound disappointment" over the way some within the Church have pushed for complete inclusion for those in same sex relationships.

Tice has served on the evangelism advisory team to Justin Welby and John Sentamu for a number of years.

Addressing why he stepped down, he said: "While I was on the Archbishop Task Group's for Evangelism - and I've been to see him in person on this - Bishop Paul Bayes of Liverpool was affirming same sex relationships, which is putting people on the road to destruction. I don't know how you could submit to his leadership? I had to leave that committee.

"It's a different religion. Bishop Paul Bayes and I have a different religion and it's around whether scripture is authoritative in terms of human sexuality."

I hugely admire the step Rico has taken which, he says, he wept over. He did not take the step lightly but he was spot on in saying that the Angligan Church in moving in this direction is slowly becoming "a different religion". I agree. "You shall have no other gods before me" (Exodus 20:3) forcefully reminds us that any form of idolatry that denies that the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ is the One True God is not the religion of the Bible, the saints and Christian Tradition and must be rejected. Any attempts at making 'holy' what is not holy is heresy and to be rejected.

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