Truth or Lies, Part 2
October 19, 2023 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments
Posted in: Pastoral Encouragement
This is part two 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.”
There is one more introductory matter that we should address before we begin to consider Rosaria’s teaching on the Five Lies. This is the matter of how one views the “world” in this present time. This introductory matter can be framed by one of several questions. The first question draws from one’s understanding of the end times: will the world progressively grow more evil before Christ returns or will the world progressively improve before Christ returns? Another way to approach this issue is in this question: what is the greatest, present threat to Christianity and Christian faith: corruption and hypocrisy in the church or moral decline in and persecution from the world outside of the church?
This issue of how one views the “world” is at the core of many disagreements within the Church. This issue impacts how one thinks about cultural engagement, evangelism, outreach, and mercy ministry. It also shapes how one thinks about the current trends surrounding gay marriage and sexual identity.
Rosaria Butterfield approaches the topics of gay marriage, feminism, and transgenderism from the perspective that the world is evil and the greatest threat facing the church today is compromise. Her book is a clarion call to the church to reject the lies of the world and hold fast to biblical truth. She compares this present age with the city of Babel, which represents man’s rejection of God and man’s effort to make a name for himself. She ties this comparison with Paul’s teaching in Romans 1. She writes, “We all live in Babel now because people exchanged the truth for lies and have codified these lies into the law of the land. It’s a tragedy that we embrace lies because we don’t remember the truth. Paul describes three ‘exchanges’ of truth for lies in Romans 1:21-28: 1) The exchange of the Creator for the creature (idol worship), v. 21-23; 2) The exchange of truth for lies, v. 24-25; and 3) Exchange of natural sexuality (heterosexuality) for dishonorable passions (homosexuality), v. 26-28” (p. 10-11). She concludes by stating, “A world that grows in its homosexuality and gender confusion is a world judged by God, given over to sin (Rom. 1:24), and increasingly barren and corrupt…the world we inhabit is one that has completed all three exchanges in Romans 1” (p. 12).
While every Christian who seeks to be faithful to biblical truth will agree that the world is living in rebellion against God and his truth, not every Christian agrees with Rosaria’s perspective. Not every Christian wants to operate as if the world is “increasingly barren and corrupt.” Some in the Reformed tradition, and even in our denomination, want to highlight common grace, believing that God’s grace is still at work in the lives of unbelievers. Some Christians are uncomfortable with speaking about the condemnation of sin.
I highlight this issue because I know there are different perspectives among the members of Oak Hills. I believe it is worth our time to listen to Rosaria because it is not an either/or issue but a both/and issue. It is not either the world is increasingly barren and corrupt, or God’s common grace is working good in the world; it is both/and. The world is absolutely corrupt in its rebellion against God, and God’s grace is restraining evil even in unbelievers’ lives. I believe Rosaria would say the same thing. Exposing the lies of our anti-Christian age is beneficial for both the health of the church and for compassionately calling people to repentance. Rosaria primarily writes her book for the church because so many, who call themselves Christian, have compromised commitments to biblical truth in order to be winsome and relevant to a culture that has rejected biblical truth. Such a compromise undermines the health of the church and the gospel call to repent and believe in Christ as Savior.
So, next week we’ll consider Rosaria’s teaching on the first lie, homosexuality is normal. We consider this teaching not that we may become self-righteous in our condemnation of others, but that we may faithfully hold fast to God’s truth, while we compassionately proclaim the gospel in a world that wanders in darkness.