The definition of words and terms is everything in our modern culture. I mean it. I feel as if multiple times a day I have to stop conversations and ask the person I am chatting with to define what he or she meant by X or Y. Shared meaning and definition are absent in our world today and we are the worse for it. Gone are bright lines and in their place, muddled gray.
So when I saw the article from yesterday’s Boston Globe, Religion is a Constant Part of Elizabeth Warren’s Life, I was intrigued. Predictably, my first question was, “How does she define religion?” And, more specifically, “How does she define Christianity?”
Let’s take a few minutes to briefly define Christianity-real, orthodox, creedal Christianity.
For those unfamiliar with orthodox Christianity, there are the core essentials and peripherals.
Examples of the core essentials are:
- There is one, triune God.
- Jesus Christ died for our sins and rose on the third day
- There is a heaven and there is a hell
- There is sin and there is Truth
These are some of the essentials of orthodox Christianity, many of which are ensconced in the Nicene Creed. Without believing in these core essentials, you are not a Christian. You may be sincere in your faith (and by this I mean a Kierkegaardian leap of faith), but you are not a Christian. It’s that simple. Either you are or you aren’t by your acceptance of these core essentials. They are non-negotiables. And for those who will instinctively ask, “Who are you to judge?!” I will simply say, “I am not. I did not create the standards. I am merely pointing them out.”
Then there are the peripherals. Peripherals follow upon the core essentials-you have to have the core essentials established first.
Examples of peripherals are:
- Infant baptism versus adult baptism (my Baptist, Presbyterian and Anabaptist friends all just took a deep breath).
- Sabbatarian versus non-Sabbatarian
- The role of Christians in politics
- Etc, etc, etc.
Having established the above for the parameters of this post, let’s breakdown the article on Warren starting with the first quote.
But then Warren shifted her focus to Matthew 25:40 — and Jesus. “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me,” Warren said, quoting the Gospel. Then she shared her interpretation: “He’s saying to us, first, there’s God in every one of us, there’s Jesus in every one of us — however you see it in your religion, that inside there’s something holy in every single person.”
I liked the start. It’s true and it’s something I think the modern Church has lost sight of as government has drifted heavily into the business of welfare. Jesus said, “You always have the poor with you. . .” Poverty is a constant and it is up to the Church to care for the poor.
Then Warren veers away from Christian orthodoxy with, “There’s God in every one of us, there’s Jesus in every one of us. . .”
There’s not, actually, and that’s not what Jesus is saying.
That line is some modern combination of Eastern mysticism and pantheism and really bad theology. God created each one of us in His image, but He’s not in each one of us. The Bible is very clear about this subject, from the Old Testament to the New Testament. As the John wrote in I John 5:1, “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God and everyone who loves the Father also loves the one born of Him.” For there to be an transformational indwelling, there must be genuine belief (see core essentials).
“See,” Jesus says, “I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.”
Then there is the passage that should give anyone who reads it pause: Matthew 25: 31-46, the parable told by Jesus himself about the sheep and the goats.
When the Son of Man comes in his glory and all the angels with him, then will he sit on his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before him and he will separate them one from another, just as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on his right, “Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.”
As the passage continues, Christ gets to the goats.
And they (the goats) will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.
I could delve deeper into this, but the Bible is definitive on this subject. Warren has clearly drifted into trying to modify God into her own image because if God is in each one of us, then the distinction above between the sheep and the goats cannot be true.
As Tozer writes, the downfall of modern culture is that,
We insist upon trying to modify Him and bring Him nearer to our own image.
But let’s be clear on this subject: a god created in our own image is an idol.
As the article progresses, it becomes increasingly clear that Warren is engaged in a 21st Century version of Liberation Theology. This is reinforced by her relationship with Jim Wallis of Sojurners, a man for whom I have grudging respect and yet suspect his theology.
Wallis has (in)famously said, “Jesus didn’t speak at all about homosexuality. There are about 12 verses in the Bible that touch on that question. Most of them are very contextual. There are thousands of verses on poverty. I don’t hear a lot of that conversation.”
And, “I don’t think that abortion is the moral equivalent issue to slavery that Wilberforce dealt with. I think that poverty is the new slavery. Poverty and global inequality are the fundamental moral issues of our time. That’s my judgment.”
The problem for Wallis and Warren is that Scripture speaks to all of life and there is a continuity in the Old and New Testaments. The Triune God of the Old Testament is the same Triune God of the New Testament (“He who has seen me has seen the Father” and “I and the Father are one,” are just a few statements of this that Jesus made in the New Testament clarifying this. Even God says in Malachi, “I AM the Lord-I change not.”).
What does that mean? That Jesus did address the subject of homosexuality and sin and truth and our relationship to all of these subjects.
The other problem Wallis and Warren appear to face is absolute truth. As I wrote recently, this is the modern conundrum. When Jesus said, “I am the Way, the Truth, the Life,” he wasn’t walking about speaking truth or believing truth, he was saying, “I am Truth.” That is an absolute statement and from this Truth springs all other truth. The power of that statement begins with the first two words, “I am,” echoing God when Moses asks God who he is to say sent him when the people of Israel ask. God answers, “I AM who I AM.”
Given her voting record on abortion and her stance on same sex marriage, there is a clear divide between Biblical truth and Warren’s (and Wallis’) attempt to create a modern, “more friendly” God. There is an attempt by both to sweep stances that are contrary to Scripture under the rug. You cannot take parts from the sum and expect the whole.
So what have we learned about Warren’s faith from this article?
That it is skin deep, not life deep, picked and chosen for her own comfort.