Truth or Lies: Part 1
October 12, 2023 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments
Posted in: Pastoral Encouragement
This is part one of a multipart series introducing and interacting with Rosaria Butterfield’s new book, Five Lies of Our Anti-Christian Age. As followers of Christ, we must be rooted in biblical truth as we are confronted by the lies of “this present darkness.”
Whether it is gay marriage, transgenderism, feminism, or spiritualism, there are many ideologies that are challenging what was once normal not only in American culture, but also in the church. If we believe that the Bible is God’s holy, inerrant, authoritative Word (as we do at Oak Hills as a congregation of the Presbyterian Church in America), then we believe there is a norm, a standard, that will not change with the ebbs and flows of cultural movements. We believe in unchanging truths.
The lies of “this present darkness,” to use Paul’s phrase from Ephesians 6:12, have been prevalent in every age of the church. It was a lie that plunged humanity into sin and the Fall. The good fight of faith has always included identifying the current lies and contending for the “faith that was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3).
It is in this spirit of contending for the faith that Rosaria Butterfield wrote her most recent book, Five Lies of Our Anti-Christian Age. In her introduction she asks the question, “If my enemies are Christ’s enemies, and if Christ is not divided, why are enemy lines drawn within Christianity?” (p. 6). These enemy lines within the Church are being drawn around issues of sexuality and gender. Butterfield answers, “The world is in chaos, and the church is divided because we have failed to obey God and value his plan for how men and women should live” (p. 6). In this book she aims to expose the lies that are dividing Christians and call the Church back to an affirmation of biblical truth.
Before we begin to dive into the content of the book, it would be appropriate to give an introduction of Rosaria Butterfield. In fact, I’ll let Rosaria introduce herself, “I was not raised in a Christian home, and when I first started attending church, I found myself bristling under the word of God. It was patriarchal (and that was bad), and I was a feminist lesbian (and that was good). The Bible was outdated and untrustworthy, and I was progressive and kind. The Bible's narrative worked from a worldview of totality and total truth, and I was a postmodernist, a person who believed stories were fragmented and arbitrary, like shattered glass. I was confident that the Bible was androcentric (man-centered), heteronormative (promoting heterosexuality, which I thought was a bad thing), and misogynist (woman-hating). And I hated everything to do with the Bible, since I was a women-centered, pacifist, lesbian vegetarian (and this was all very good and moral, in my opinion). How in the world did I end up with faith in the Jesus Christ of the Bible? And why did faith in Jesus change my loyalty such that I had to reject feminism and homosexuality—all of it?” (p. 37-38).
The story of her conversion Rosaria tells in her first book, The Secret Thoughts of An Unlikely Convert. In a nutshell, she was drawn to Christ through the faithful and kind hospitality of a pastor and his wife. She started to meet with them to learn more about the Bible in order to criticize the Bible. They invited her into their home for meal after meal in order to share with her the beautiful Gospel message of the Bible. She came to faith, renounced her lifestyle of homosexuality and feminism, married a pastor, raised four children, and now has a writing and speaking ministry.
She opens this new book, Five Lies, confessing that she once believed and promoted these very lies. She even admits that she “continued to believe some of them for years into my Christian life” (p. 17). So she starts by speaking about the necessity of repentance. She writes, “Sins spin webs of confusion. Repentance breaks those webs and replaces sin with clarity. But sin does real damage. I have done real damage” (p. 20). Using the Puritan Thomas Watson, Butterfield describes the extent of repentance. “Because sin is a matter of the head, heart, and hands and corrupts our thinking, feeling, and doing, repentance is known by its fruits” (p. 20). In other words, repentance is not merely saying, “I’m sorry,” but it also must be revealed in breaking the patterns of sin.
If we have believed, and operated according to, lies, we must repent, just like Butterfield. She writes, “Confronting these five lies begins with repentance. Mine and maybe yours. Repentance gives us a clean slate, a deep fear of God, and the wisdom to go forward. Along with repentance (which is a daily and lifelong practice), we must confront these lies with biblical truth” (p. 21).
Over the next few weeks, we will be considering Butterfield’s teaching on these Five Lies and digging into the truth of Scripture. May you be found faithful to our Savior and the truth of His Word. May we “contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3).