A Season For Contenders

contender

There is brief introduction in one of my Bibles for the book of Jude (all 25 verses of it…)

At the beginning of his letter, Jude focuses on the believers’ common salvation but then feels compelled to challenge them to contend for the faith. The danger is real. False teachers have crept into the church, turning God’s grace into unbounded license to do as they please.

The 3rd verse of Jude read as follows

Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write to unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write to you and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.

Note, he said THE (the inference is ‘the’ and ‘the only.’) The heresy he goes on the expose must have had to do with the fact that there were some false teachers who said there were ‘other’ faiths that were equally true. Note also that he uses strong language… ‘Earnestly Contend…’

The Greek word for ‘earnestly contend’ carries with it the idea of a struggle…to compete or contend with an adversary…to endeavor to accomplish something. We get our word ‘agonize’ from the word Jude used. It was used elsewhere in ancient literature to mean either ‘the one with whom one is fighting’ or ‘the person or thing upon whom one depends for support in a fight’

In future posts we’ll talk about what these false teachers taught. The New International Version (NIV) of the Bible says in verse 4 of Jude,

For certain men whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are godless men who change the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord.

Second Peter chapter 2 also talks about false teachers. Peter writes that these teachers will have another motive. “In their greed, these teachers will exploit you with stories they have made up.”

Think of some of the recent scandals involving nationally known ministers. Did they not involve activity that revealed a ‘license for immorality’’ and a penchant for greed?

I began The Jude 3 Fellowship around the same time my book was released. Fatal Drift…Is the Church Losing its Anchor? I wrote the book because it had become increasing clear to me that seminaries and denominations were adopting a stance that (by their own admission) pandered to Postmodernism. Here is what I wrote in Fatal Drift,

What does postmodern mean anyway? I came across this insightful description of the term.

A general and wide-ranging term which is applied to literature, art, philosophy, architecture, fiction, and cultural and literary criticism, among others. Postmodernism is largely a reaction to the assumed certainty of scientific, or objective efforts to explain reality. In essence, it stems from a recognition that reality is not simply mirrored in human understanding of it, but rather, is constructed as the mind tries to understand its own particular and personal reality.

For this reason, postmodernism is highly skeptical of explanations which claim to be valid for all groups, cultures, traditions, or races, and instead focuses on the relative truths of each person. In the postmodern understanding, interpretation is everything; reality only comes into being through our interpretations of what the world means to us individually. Postmodernism relies on concrete experience over abstract principles, knowing always that the outcome of one’s own experience will necessarily be fallible and relative, rather than certain and universal.

From that definition I glean that postmodernism is:

 

  • Primarily a reaction

  • That it constructs reality in the mind rather than relying on objective truth

  • That reality only comes into being in our interpretation

  • That personal experience trumps objective propositional truth

It is significant that we are in a season in our national life in which combatants are vying for position in a quest to win the Presidency. The pundits actually refer to these combatants as contenders.

Get some extra Tylenol and maybe even some antacid tablets. As we get nearer to the general election. politicians have figured out that the way to reach these Post Moderns is to intentionally keep things ambiguous. You will see them contort themselves into pretzels as they parse and dissemble and out and out lie, as the occasion warrants. That politicians behave like this is no surprise. That self- identified ‘Evangelical Leaders’ are providing them with some religious cover is to me particularly troublesome.

It is naïve to think that we will not become embroiled in controversy if we ‘contend for the faith’…especially in times like these. Peter in his second letter cited the example of Lot. The Lord “delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked (For that righteous man dwelleth among them in seeing and hearing vexed his righteous soul (he suffered ‘anguish’) from day to day with their unlawful deeds.” (II Peter 2:7-8)

Did you hear what Peter said? A righteous individual will actually experience anguish (torture) in an atmosphere of day to day lawlessness.

I couldn’t find exactly the right word to describe how I have feeling lately. ‘Vexed’ about sums it up. Preachers and politicians alike are using this ‘Postmodern’ generation as an excuse to turn a blind eye to the license for immorality and greedy exploitation that passes as ‘the new normal.’ We have become accustomed…no resigned…to it all.

Here is a question. Did the early church adopt a stance that in essence said, there is nothing that we can do about what is going on? Why then did the Holy Spirit prompt every writer in the New Testament to mention false teachers and what to do about them?

Dr. J.

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