I so often find myself hearing quotations from the Pulpit that I covet. I so often read in a book or hear from a good sermon a specific thought that I desperately wish I could take credit for.
But in order to submit to God’s Law, to love my neighbor and not to steal, I mist give credit where it is due.
Mark Dever is one of the most influential pastors in the nation, and for good reason too. He is doing almost everything right.
He preached a sermon on ecclesiology, and while the entire message was very good, he brought to attention an irony too brilliant to go unnoticed.
In his sermon he says,
“One of the things that separates, in the Old Testament, the true God, from the gods of the nations, the false gods, is that the false gods were mute. Do you know what is significant about that? You can make a mute God say anything you want.”
This is a great irony: A mute God is an endless chatter box. Mute idols are verbose, chatty, glib, and voluble gods.
How is this so? How is this not a blatant contradiction?
As pastor Dever pointed out, the reason the idol gods of the world can be loquacious mutes: their people speak for them. The idols adherents can make the idols say anything they want, and the idols are too worthless and silent to correct them.
This is relevant today as this is the predominant mindset of many modern unbelievers.
Atheism really is a dying a religion. Certainly, there are still many who pay homage to it; there are obviously still many who defend that faith with great vitriol and zeal.
With men in the public limelight like Bill Nye, Lawrence Krauss, Richard Dawkins, Neil DeGrasse Tyson, and Sam Harris, the tradition maintains its famous religious leaders for the novel movement, helping to keep it afloat. It is not dead, but it certainly does not have the energy and fame it carried for a while.
At least in my personal experience, millennials and centennials at large are not adopting Atheism. There are small pockets of the very scientific, philosophical minds who embrace agnosticism and other forms of atheism; but overall, people profess god.
The nihilism and meaninglessness of Atheism is no longer cutting it for the younger generations of people today. Instead, they embrace god. However, this is not a rooted, justified, grounded, and saving faith in Christ. Instead, they embrace generic deity for many feel-good reasons.
There is comfort in believing there is a good place to go after death, there is comfort to know someone in the heavens loves you, there is comfort in knowing there is more to a human individual than just meat, water, skin, and bone.
However, that is as far as people are willing to take god. They do not want Him to be defined. They want no specific details. They just want an existing god who loves them, accepts who they are, and provides a transcendent meaning for life. If that is all there is to god, we can fill in the blanks. Then we can make him look just like us. He can love what we love and hate what we hate. He can even be a she! Who is to say otherwise?
In Acts 17, Paul confronts the Athenians for worshiping an unknown god (Acts 17: 23). And people cannot chalk this up as being some primitive, idiotic, religious behavior. An unknown god is exactly the kind of god that most of America worships today.
Not only is public homage to a nameless god not a novel thing, the hateful and angry reactions to Christians defining God is not novel either. The mockery Christians experience today happens to be exactly how the Athenians in the 1st century responded when Paul introduced them to the true God (Acts 17: 18-20, 32).
As long as the god or gods we worship are silent, we can do what we want with them. Our law is their law, our feelings are their feelings. There needs not be any such thing as law, judgment, condemnation, holiness, or other messy topics which may confront our passions and ideals. The mute idols of the world say whatever our heart’s desire. This is the reason people hate the Bible so much.
Hatred for the Bible is not found in the individual verses that people cite. They do not hate the Bible because of slavery, or patriarchal theology, or the severity of hell, or the condemnation of homosexuality, or anything along those lines. They hate those things certainly. However, those are but the manifestations of the real and ultimate reason they hate the Bible: it speaks.
The Bible reveals God, that is why people hate the Bible. It is as simple as that. The Bible is God speaking to us about Himself. The claims of the Bible mean we are not permitted to define god on our own. The Bible means our preferences, ideas, and traditions are not worth anything. The Bible means we cannot fashion God in our image, but must submit to the One who fashioned us in His.
Because God is not a mute idol, because He has spoken, we are then inclined to listen. And once listening, we are then obligated to believe and obey. That is what the Bible provides: a standard.
This is on full display in the modern social wars. Most people do not argue for homosexuality on the basis that God is dead and there is no standard so we may live how we want. They believe God accepts their homosexuality. They do not support abortion because there is no god, they are convinced God loves them regardless. They are convinced they are forgiven regardless.
When people are confronted with their sin, they no longer echo the likes of atheistic philosophers asking questions about how we even know God exists. Instead, they want to believe that God loves their sin just as much as they do. But by the grace of God, He has spoken.
He has spoken to us and we can know Him. And for those who have be reborn, who have had their hearts regenerated, who have been raised from the dead, we can all agree together in unison that God, as He is, is far better than anything we could have ever imagined ourselves.
God is not like me; God is not like you. He is wholly different. His ways are not our ways, His thoughts are not our thoughts, His desires and passions are not our passions.
And it is quite an understatement to say this is very, very good news.