Thump or Be Thumped
Monday of Epiphany 4
4 February 2019
Fundamentalism is a problem, or so it is thought. Those Bible-thumpers aren't to be trusted, to be sure. At the beginning of the modernist vs. fundamentalist debate of the last century, those who believed in the inspiration of Scripture and its inerrancy were considered to be imposing their own views on the Bible, as though no one had ever before considered the Bible's record of the divine self-revelation to be theologically decisive. Now there would have been plenty of things to quibble about with fundamentalists, but they were right about the Bible's own testimony to its truthfulness. The Bible claims to be God's own voice. This idea was not dreamed up by American fundamentalists at the beginning of the twentieth century.
For the fathers of the ancient church the Bible is from beginning to end theologically decisive. When God has spoken there is nothing else to be said. The only option is that we begin a debate with God, blown about by every wind of doctrine (Eph 4:14), so that God is forced to kow-tow to us and our ill-formed opinions about His mind and will.
The view of the ancient church was that when Scripture had revealed something it is dangerous to reject it and always safe to believe it. The Bible is safe and saving, even when it seemed to place things together that human reason could not reconcile. If the church's confession is the Christ of the Bible and His work to save us humans, it will resist all the onslaughts of our enemy. Christ Himself calls us back to the Bible. As it turns out, it is better to be a Bible-thumper, than to be thumped by our enemy.

Rev. Dr. Scott R. Murray
Memorial Lutheran Church

  Hilary of Poitiers
"The Only-begotten God suffered indeed all that men can suffer. But let us express ourselves in the words and faith of the Apostle. He says, 'For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures' (1Co 15:3-4). This is no unsupported statement of his own, which might lead to error, but a warning to us to confess that Christ died and rose after a real manner, not in name only, since the fact is certified by the full weight of Scripture authority. We must understand His death in that exact sense in which Scripture declares it.
"In his regard for the perplexities and scruples of the weak and sensitive believer, Paul adds these solemn concluding words, 'in accordance with the Scriptures,' to his proclamation of the death and the resurrection. He would not have us grow weaker, driven about by every wind of vain doctrine, or vexed by empty subtleties and false doubts. He would summon faith to return, before it would be shipwrecked, to the haven of piety, believing and confessing the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, Son of Man and Son of God, 'in accordance with the Scriptures.' This is the safeguard of reverence against the attack of the adversary, to understand the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ as it was written about Him.
"There is no danger in faith. The reverent confession of the hidden mystery of God is always safe. Christ was born of the Virgin, but conceived by the Holy Spirit 'in accordance with the Scriptures.' Christ wept, but 'in accordance with the Scriptures' that which made Him weep was also a cause of joy. Christ hungered, but 'in accordance with the Scriptures,' He used His power as God against the tree that bore no fruit. Christ suffered, but 'in accordance with the Scriptures,' He was about to sit at the right hand of Power. He complained that He was abandoned to die, but 'in accordance with the Scriptures,' at the same moment He received in His kingdom in Paradise the thief who confessed Him. He died, but 'in accordance with the Scriptures,' He rose again and sits at the right hand of God. In the belief of this mystery there is life. This confession resists all attack."

Hilary of Poitiers, On the Trinity, 10.67
1 Corinthians

Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you- unless you believed in vain.
For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.
But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed. (ESV)
O most merciful God, You have taught us Your commands. We implore You to pour out Your grace into our hearts. Cause it to bear fruit in us that, being ever mindful of Your mercies and Your laws we may always be directed to Your will and daily increase in love toward You and one another. Enable us to resist all evil and to live a godly life. Help us to follow the example of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, and to walk in His steps until we shall possess the kingdom that has been prepared for us in heaven; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.
For Michael Koutsodontis, that the Lord would grant him strength and healing in accordance with His good and gracious will
For Ethan Michael George, that the Lord of the church would keep him in his baptismal faith unto his end
For all pregnant mothers and young children that they may be kept in the embrace of Christ
For all those who doubt the truthfulness of the Word of God that through the compassion of Christ they may be converted to the true faith
Art: MICHELANGELO Buonarroti Isaiah (1509)
Memorial Lutheran Church
© Scott Murray 2019
Memorial Lutheran Church, 5800 Westheimer Rd., Houston, TX 77057
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