“I am the way, and the truth, and the life: no one comes to the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6.) “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber. . . . I am the door; if anyone enters by me, he will be saved.” (John 10:1, 9.)
Jesus Christ, as he is attested for us in Holy Scripture, is the one Word of God which we have to hear and which we have to trust and obey in life and in death.
We reject the false doctrine, as though the church could and would have to acknowledge as a source of its proclamation, apart from and besides this one Word of God, still other events and powers, figures and truths, as God’s revelation.
Every confession in the Presbyterian Book of Confession underscores the fact that we are subject only to God. The reformation and its teachings were born out of lived experiences of persecution and discrimination. Watching the church become tyrannical in its leadership the reformers like Calvin and Luther realized that the Pope was no better than Cesar. Luther listed many of the abuses in the church 95 thesis nailed to the church door in Wittenberg.
To that end, throughout the protestant tradition we are always skeptical of leadership that tries to assert divine qualities or preach a message contrary to the Gospel in its whole. Simply stated it is our belief that no one can attain access to God except through the love and Grace of Christ. Additionally, the unwritten assertion of this “Evangelical Truth” is that there is no human mediator between any human and Christ.
The argument many make is that the church should not be political, but the church by its very nature is that our goals and purpose is to follow Christ and when we see actions that are not we are called to act Christlike and make people aware. Otherwise we risk becoming pawns of powers that do not truly uphold the values that we hold dear.
It is interesting when we look at the Barmen declaration, a document written in 1934 only 1 year after the Reich took over. Think about this, at the time, very little was known about the extent of what the Nazi Party would become, it was 5 years before the start of World War II. However, what they had seen in that first year of this new Reich government was that the government had co-opted the Christian message combining Christianity with nationalism and militarism. From an Evangelical standpoint this was problematic because it assumed that the state was equal to God and that the leader of the state would be able to assume a Godlike status. Of course, history tells us that, in fact, this did happen as Hitler was seen by many as a God.
What is scary right now is that the Modern Evangelicals have taken a stance that is contrary to Biblical teachings placing an emphasis on moral issues that are either not found in the Bible or require an eisegetical reading of certain passages in order to prove a singular point over actual call of the Bible. In fact, while we label them as “conservative” this form of reading the Bible is one of the most liberal ways to interpret the Bible because it relies on using the Bible to proof text a narrative, not follow what the message actually says. While the actions may serve to promote a “social conservative platform” there is no way you cannot see how that narrow interpretation is actually quite liberal.
What is really scary is that this was the exact way that Hitler co-opted so many to make the German Christian Cult. And, to record, the same thing that Osama bin Laden did with the Quran. But those are only two examples, history is packed with one example after another of leaders promising new ways to salvation through narrow readings, strict morals and an insatiable thirst for power.
There is a reason why early in every confession, we claim Jesus Christ is the head of the church. With no equivocation, we believe in Jesus Christ and that it is through Christ that we attain salvation. No Government, no celebrity, no guru, no captain of industry can take the place of God. As a church we are called to pay attention and speak out when we see people creating a cult around leaders and ideologies that do not support the basic truths we know.
Rev. Dr. Bryan James Franzen