Pride, Part 66

What is popularly known as Christianity in our day bears little resemblance to the Christianity of the New Testament and of the theology and practice of believers in the time of the Reformation. What is thought to be conservative Christianity in our day is far below what the New Testament prescribes and what the Reformation shone forth. We have many intellectuals and seminary presidents analyzing the situation, but they must be careful or they will (have?) fall into the same trap at a different point than those they are analyzing. The goal of Christianity must always be the glory of God as God means that. The problems that come from Christianity always come from a low view of God and of pride. A.W. Tozer made some massively important points in his very good and helpful book, The Knowledge of the Holy. In the preface he said this:

“The Church has surrendered her once lofty concept of God and has substituted for it one so low, so ignoble, as to be utterly unworthy of thinking, worshiping men. This she has done not deliberately, but little by little and without her knowledge; and her very unawareness only makes her situation all the more tragic. The low view of God entertained almost universally among Christians is the cause of a hundred lesser evils everywhere among us. A whole new philosophy of the Christian life has resulted from this one basic error in our religious thinking.”

When we hear man-centered sermons and man-centered methodologies we are hearing what the norm is in our day. When we hear people crying out against man-centeredness we are often hearing a protest of a wrong kind of man-centeredness and the people want to replace it with another kind of man-centeredness which is just a different type of wrong. The lofty concept of God that dominated the Reformation and the theology of those that followed it for a while has been utterly lost. Tozer was writing in the 1950’s and would utterly despair if he lived in our day. The God of Scripture is rarely exalted in the modern day from the pulpits of this land. Where do we hear of the God who is so holy that He cannot be seen or approached? Where do we hear of the God that is so holy that angelic beings must hide their eyes and face from His presence?

5 “I am the LORD, and there is no other; Besides Me there is no God. I will gird you, though you have not known Me; 6 That men may know from the rising to the setting of the sun That there is no one besides Me. I am the LORD, and there is no other, 7 The One forming light and creating darkness, Causing well-being and creating calamity; I am the LORD who does all these. 8 “Drip down, O heavens, from above, And let the clouds pour down righteousness; Let the earth open up and salvation bear fruit, And righteousness spring up with it. I, the LORD, have created it. 9 “Woe to the one who quarrels with his Maker– An earthenware vessel among the vessels of earth! Will the clay say to the potter, ‘What are you doing?’ Or the thing you are making say, ‘He has no hands’? 10 “Woe to him who says to a father, ‘What are you begetting?’ Or to a woman, ‘To what are you giving birth?'” 11 Thus says the LORD, the Holy One of Israel, and his Maker: “Ask Me about the things to come concerning My sons, And you shall commit to Me the work of My hands. 12 “It is I who made the earth, and created man upon it. I stretched out the heavens with My hands And I ordained all their host (Isa 45:5-12).

The pride of man is so vile that it wants to attribute all things to nature and natural causes rather than God. The pride of man is so great that he will quarrel with God and even question God and His rights. But as Tozer said, this has happened little by little. Through the pride of man more man-centeredness has come in and we even think of God as being man-centered in our day. When we look out upon the barren landscape of our day, the real problem is that of a low view of God and a high view of man. A low view of God and a high view of man will lead to errors in all things having to do with God. All thinking leads from one or perhaps a very few foundational issues. If God is not the center of our thinking, as indeed He is the center of all things in reality, then this one basic error will lead us far astray in all things. If God is not the center of our thinking, then we have the wrong source of thinking and the wrong goal in thinking. We will go nowhere good in our thinking when that is true. Since pride is man essentially trying to take the place of God and exalting himself into the place of God, it can be seen how horrid pride is. Pride will remove the thinking and the foundation of all thought and knowledge from the heart of man. Luther and Tozer agree that we must strive to get man-centeredness out of our thinking at all costs. It is not just a thought here and there; it is the essence of God-centered Christianity.

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