Pr. Jaynan Clark

August 8, 2014

photo of Pr. JaynanThe last few decades seem to be driven by “opinion.” If one wants to engage another in a conversation you will often hear the words, at the time it gets heated or you disagree, “Well, you’re entitled to your opinion.” The conversation could have been political, religious, historical, sociological, or a combination there of; usually most if not all conversations are a combination. The point of disagreement may surface early on or later but to try and state “facts” just doesn’t carry any weight in this post-modern, new age world of opinion. Whose facts—Whose truth? When everything has been “subjectified“ to fit the individual and everything beyond the individual is a ‘matter of opinion’ then those of us who were around before the advent of this relativizing of human existence are left scratching our heads realizing that there are at least a couple generations who float through life anchorless; tied only to their uninformed selfish opinions. Too harsh? Inaccurate? I don’t believe so---but I’m entitled to my opinion, of course 😊.

The effects on our society are incalculable. It seems to have, in short order, woven itself into the very fabric of our being as Americans. It has infected young and old alike as many in the older generation have just given up or merely conformed to this new way of “non-thinking” (as I call it) because it makes life with the anchorless kids, grandchildren and great grandbabies easier. Now that is an opinion! Because everything is about the self and what the self accepts as its own truth, with anything else being relative to and measured off of that self-invented plumb line, then there is no way to share any information or historically accepted facts and/or orthodox faith convictions without risking offending the hearer. And in this arena, offending the ears of the hearer is considered a major offense.

Thus enters Christianity as the global, historical faith that it is, has been and will always be (not a matter of opinion, in my opinion!) with its complete emphasis on “ears to hear” and the Word of God, sharper than a two-edged sword, that is both Law and Gospel functioning together to kill the self and raise up a new child of God. A new forgiven child who lives for the other and not for the self is a result of hearing this deadly, live-giving Word. For good measure, add in the all important offense of the Cross, which is rejected as not only an inconvenient truth but as a dated opinion. So, discipleship in this 21st century comes with many new challenges, obstacles and stumbling blocks. The least of which is not the Crucified Raised One. Conventional so-called ‘wisdom’ is a resounding thumbs-down for this One, an offense to Jew and Gentile alike.

So what to do? Most, but not all, have just taken the road most traveled, disengaging from the conversation completely. Passing on the faith will have to be by complete divine intervention at this point because the messengers are tight lipped with the “truth” for their own good reasons. The climate is unfavorable to the One who says of Himself that He alone is “Truth.” He alone is the One Way. He alone is life itself. No room for your so called opinions states Your Savior. How do you think this plays today? Savior?—who needs a savior when sin is a matter of opinion also. Oy!

Perhaps this isn’t a completely new phenomenon. The poet Samuel Coleridge had a conversation with a man who believed that children should receive no formal religious instruction. Instead, they should be free to choose their own religion when they reach adulthood. Coleridge did not openly disagree, but he later invited the man into his rather unkempt garden. “You call this a garden?” the visitor exclaimed. “There is nothing but weeds here!” “Well, you see,” Coleridge replied, “I did not wish to infringe upon the liberty of the garden in any way. I was just giving the garden a chance to express itself and to choose its own production.” (Source=Anonymous)

And so it goes. My German mother used to comment when she was in the presence of some unruly, undisciplined children, “They weren’t raised, they just ‘growed’”. 😊 Apropos, but not really funny as we look around and wonder where the anchorless, factless, faithless, opinion bloated have floated off to. If they are in church they occupy the pews of those “churches” that entertain with lattes, rock concerts and pass on a message of self improvement with Bible verses inserted in. Self help programs that have Jesus as the ultimate helper, supporter, cheerleader, inspirational teacher-prophet/profit but not given over as the One who will put an end to your self-centered opinionated existence that you call ‘life.’ Not passed on as the One whose blessings aren’t profitable, financial gains disbursed as rewards. Not presented as the One who does not busy Himself with rearranging this ol’world groaning in travail in order to meet your personal wants and desires while saving you from any suffering. Not delivered over as the One who repeats again and again, “Deny yourself, pick up your cross and follow me.” This is not the One preached because He is offensive to the self, the sinner, any and all ages.

To preach, teach and deliver Him over as this ‘One’ is an offense. Jesus is the Son of God, begotten not made, born of a virgin, healer of every ill, Lord over even the most basic laws of nature, the One who walked over the sea, fed the multitude, preached and taught like no other, died a real, forsaken, unjust death on a cross, descended to the dead and the gates of Hell, was bodily resurrected and has in His possession the keys to the kingdom of God. He is the Giver of His spirit that is Holy—One with the Father. All authority in heaven and on earth and under the earth is His. He alone can forgive sin and save sinners from themselves. These are the facts of the Christian faith as we confess in the Creeds—these are not my opinion, your opinion, anybodies opinion. They cannot and should not be treated as such. When we find ourselves floating off, unattached to this our anchor of faith, what then should we do? Confess our sin. Confess the sin of unrealistic independence from God—our original sin. This is the first, accepted, poisonous opinion launched in our Creator’s face. Forgive us Lord!

Stick to the faith-facts. The fact is that your faith was a gift given to you to be given away to the anchorless, faithless floaters, even those in your family. Your opinion on this matter doesn’t matter.