Analogies have limited uses in theology, at least as far as I can tell. Even so, uses there are. Allow me to introduce an analogy of unsecured porches and extensive picture windows.
Analogy of Unsecured Porches and Extensive Picture Windows
The Church is built on the foundation of the Prophets and Apostles, Christ Himself being the cornerstone (Ephesians 2:20). God’s Word is the foundation of the Church.
Well, it seems to me that denominations, ministers, speculators, and other influences that stray away from Scripture in some matters are not necessarily outside the structure of the church entirely, but they’ve built foundationless hallways in bad directions. That is, there are Christians in many denominations. However, denominations that fall short in their understanding of God’s Word do not give the same security as those that do.
But it isn’t just heretical, misled churches that concern me. There are church fathers, for example, who are cited a) out of context, and b) in harmful ways. Or, if church fathers are too hallowed for you to personally consider, there are church philosophers in various times of church history who maintained elements of speculation.
I’m sure not burning anybody at the stake for that. Speculation happens. I do it plenty myself.
But perhaps speculation is like a picture window. People can curl up, reading their favorite bits of speculative theology, and find it meditative and beautiful. Still, folks, we should be able to say whether something is clearly substantiated by Scripture.
Picture windows are part of this earthly church. However, some seem to have followers who take out a pane of glass so that the picture window becomes an exit from orthodoxy. And that is terribly sad.
As our loved ones in denominations around the world wrestle with the heresies of this age, you know, gnosticism, mysticism, Christological heresies, works righteousness, theology of glory, etc., we can keep our feet planted on the foundation of Scripture and still reach hands out toward those tipping out of picture windows, leaning out toward rigged up “fire escapes,” and even those doing their things in that impromptu coffee shop held in the far detached garage.
Maybe the yard is the world. All belonging to the Trinitarian God.
Obviously, analogies are limitations in theological matters. But, my friends, if your pastor frequents unsecured porches and extensive picture windows . . . as can happen these days as in every other age of the church . . . it needn’t undermine the faithful teachings and divine gifts he has given. As a brother or sister in Christ, reach out from Scripture in love. Try to draw him back in to the Word, by the Word, if you can, but . . . ultimately the Spirit goes where and when He will. It lies in God’s hands and not our own.
Windows can draw attention to terrifying things. Especially when things are taken out of context to support modern twists on the devils aging lies. But we are secure in Christ. We are safe in His care.
Not only are we safe, but His Kingdom comes, His reign expands, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it (Matthew 16:18).
The days are coming when the gates of heaven will never be shut by day—and there will be no more night (Revelations 21:25). Thanks be to God!
There is much to see and things in Scripture yet to explore. We are simply blessed to remain within the Church to do so, upon firm footing, comforted by the Spirit and the Gospel, even as we are chastised by the Law when lines are trespassed.
Back to Personal Commentary
Just some things I’ve been thinking about. Have I gone to far? Or is this analogy helpful? 🙂 I’d hate to rest in unsecured porches even as lamenting them!
If it’s good, maybe it’s something I can flesh out for those affected by pastors who, for example, don’t confess or teach Six Days of Creation because of Augustine. Living in a time when Scripture was received as true and allegorical, I understand that Augustine believed in instantaneous creation, the six day language being allegory.
Augustine was not an evolutionist! Those who follow in Augustine’s reasoning or terminology are not trying to undermine God as Creator, Order of Creation, or anything else, unless they seriously misunderstand the guy and are only using him as an excuse for their own wanderings!
Still, we can admit that it can be a really big shock to hear something like “I don’t believe in six literal days of creation”!! God’s Creation is linked with every other of His gifts and teachings, including the efficacy of the Word.
I am far from an expert on Augustine or any other church father. From my own limited understanding, I think Augustine’s emphasis is that God didn’t gradually create as though God needs time or additional processes.
To keep things light-hearted but also seek common ground, I think it’s fair to say that Scripture does not lay out suggestions like, “It took about twenty minutes for God to speak the Word creating algae, bringing the plant creation time table up to 23 1/2 hours.”
For myself, I think our God likely took 24 hours to mark days of creation with human beings in mind. Why God created us suited for 24 hours is beyond me, but He did ordain the sun and the moon to govern—not establish, monitor, or variously mitigate it—day and night, evening and morning. Evening and morning, combined with specific “first” day, “second” day terminology is plenty Scriptural proof for me that God not only made time for us, He took time for creation.
That isn’t a line of questioning/thinking that Augustine specifically addressed. It’s speculation. But I don’t think what Augustine writes necessarily undermines it either.
So, after some jointed and some disjointed thoughts, affirm Creation! 😉 Rejoice in God’s Word, which creates out of nothing in both material and spiritual matters, even creating faith in my previously dead, stony heart. Rejoice in the absolute strength, wisdom, love, and mercy which surrounds you in Christ’s Church!
Happy All Saints’ Day. Happy all-who-benefitted-from-the-Fortress,-the-Rock,-and-the-Salvation-of-Christ Day! God brings His people home to Himself, and we will all be together again in God’s own timing. Thanks be to God.
PS. Sorry if I sound down on a Church Father—I intended quite the contrary!
PPS. Sigh. Correct me and maybe I can improve the post throughout the day.