THE ENDURING WORD
When I was still practicing law, most constitutional law attorneys fell into one of two main categories: Originalism and Loose Constructionism. The originalists, like myself, believe that the statements in the Constitution should be interpreted based on the original understanding at the time it was adopted. In contrast, the Loose Constructionists believe the Constitution is a “living document” and, thus, should be adapted and transformed to meet the necessities of the current time and situation.
For example, the Fifth Amendment guarantees that the government cannot take private property for public use without just compensation (the eminent domain clause). Essentially, that means that the government can’t take your property to build a highway (public use) without paying you fair market value for your property. Makes sense. Originalists would interpret that clause to mean exactly that – the government can only force you off your property if they need your property for public use, and they must pay you to acquire your property.
Over the last 20 years, however, Loose Constructionists have interpreted that clause to allow the government to seize private property simply if the government can make more money by changing the use of your property. And now the government is even doing so without providing just compensation to the property owner! Such are the perils of loosely interpreting principles and laws…
We recently passed the five-year death anniversary of Justice Antonin Scalia, which had me pondering how much the Constitution has eroded, particularly over the past 10 years. Justice Scalia was an Originalist and defended his position by explaining, “The Constitution that I interpret and apply is not living, but dead, or as I prefer to call it – enduring. It means, today, not what current society, much less the Court, thinks it ought to mean, but what it meant when it was adopted.”
I love that explanation because our Constitution – the very document that protects We The People from government intrusion and tyranny – should not adapt to the modern times, but should ENDURE through the moral decline in society and overreaching government authority. But as I reflect on how lawmakers and judges have withered the Constitution, I can’t help but think about how churches and God’s people have withered the Word of God.
“I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed.” Galatians 1:6-9.
Approximately 10-20 years after Jesus’ ministry and resurrection, the Apostle Paul was already warning the early Christians to not give heed to different gospel teachings. The deceptive spirit that was leading Believers away in the 1st century is the same deceptive spirit leading Believers away in the 21st century. Sadly, very few churches hold fast to the true teaching of Christ Jesus!
More and more Christians categorize their faith with the qualifier: “liberal Christian”, “progressive Christian”, “red-letter Christian”, and the like. That is highly problematic because “progressive Christians” believe a different gospel Paul warned us about in Galatians. For example, many well-known progressive Christian pastors publicly teach panentheism (i.e. belief that all things compose and all-encompassing god) rather than theism (i.e. there is only one God), and embrace a loose, feelings based understanding of the Bible that celebrates that which the Bible clearly declares is sin (e.g. sexual immorality).
But, by definition, being a Christian means you are literally a “Christ follower”. And what Christ taught is that He is the only way to Heaven (John 14:6, Acts 4:12, 1 Timothy 2:5, John 3:16, John 10:9), and that the Bible is “God-breathed and profitable for instruction, for reproof and conviction of sin, for correction of error and discipline in obedience, and for training in righteousness.” 2 Timothy 3:16.
Similar to Loose Constructionists interpreting the Constitution to fit the desires of modern day society, many “Christians” are interpreting the Bible to fit the desires of their flesh. Your wicked heart desires what gives you fleeting pleasure, so you misconstrue God’s perfect and Holy Word to gratify your fleshly wants (Galatians 5:16-21). But God will not be mocked (Galatians 6:7). While many will fall away as The Day approaches, being led astray by false prophets, God’s Word will endure until the end. And only those who remain in Him will be saved. (Matthew 24:10-13). Don’t adapt Saints, but endure faithfully until the end.
“He who despises the Word will be destroyed, but he who fears the commandment will be rewarded.” Proverbs 13:13