Now the Spirit speaks expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils. –1 Timothy 4:1
“It’s sad that people use religion and idolatry of the Bible to demoralize same-gender-loving people.” — Forrest Harris, President of American Baptist College, Nashville, TN
The above quote is from an interview with The Tennessean in which President Harris defends his decision to invite openly lesbian Bishop Yvette Flunder of the United Church of Christ to speak at the college’s Garnett Nabrit Lecture Series March 15-18, 2015. This decision resulted in opposition and criticism from Baptist pastors, which is understandable from the position of pastors, who are charged with keeping of right doctrine within the church. From the college’s point, the presentation of alternate or opposing points of view is not necessarily a bad thing. If that was the motive of American Baptist College–to expand its students’ worldview to make them better leaders–then that might be okay. I suspect, however, that that was not the motive, but the furtherance of a liberal social and religious agenda incompatible with orthodox Christianity. But I digress.
What kind of stupid, STUPID statement is “idolatry of the Bible”? What does President Harris mean when he says that? Well, Jordan Buie of The Tennessean asked exactly that question of President Harris, to which Harris answered, “When people say (the Bible) is synonymous with God and the truth.”
Oh my. President Harris just went from stupid to blasphemous in one, short sentence fragment. Let’s examine his statement in more detail and in comparison to what the Bible says.
Is the Bible synonymous with God?
Unfortunately for President Harris, it is:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 The same was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4 In him was life; and the life was the light of men. — John 1:1-4 (AKJV)
This is the hallmark scripture for the doctrine of Jesus Christ as the Living Word of God. It establishes the presence of the Word of God “in the beginning” at creation. Not only at creation, but since “the Word was with God,” it coexisted with God the Father in the eternal past. The deity of the Word is established with “the Word was God”-– self-explanatory, I should think. If there are any lingering doubts, verse three declares that He (the Word) was the active force of creation.
Is the Bible synonymous with truth?
Not just synonymous–identical.
Sanctify them through your truth: your word is truth. — John 17:17
Strike two, President Harris.
But what is idolatry in biblical terms? Simply put, it is the worship of anything other than God Almighty, Creator of the Universe. And in that definition, President Harris may have committed the worst mistake of all. It is impossible to have an idolatrous relationship with the one, true God. Im-possible. The only way a person could commit “idolatry of the Bible” is if the Bible were not God. We have already demonstrated above the mystical truth that Jesus Christ is the Word of God (i.e. the Bible–although explaining it or even understanding it is far beyond human comprehension). Could it be said, that in his statement, President Harris is essentially saying that Jesus Christ is not divine?
It gets worse. 2 Peter 1:20-21 “Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. 21 For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” The Apostle Peter here clearly states that the Word of God as scripture was laid down by men as they were inspired by the Holy Spirit.
In Matthew 12:24-32, Jesus delivered a blind and mute man from demon possession, and healed him. The Pharisees said that it was only by Beelzebub, the prince of demons, that Jesus could do this. It is because of this grave offense against the Holy Spirit that Jesus speaks of the unforgivable sin of blasphemy of the Holy Spirit, in that by their statement, the Pharisees have attributed the work of the Holy Spirit to the devil. In saying that people are wrong to equate the Holy Spirit-inspired Word of God with truth, could President Harris have said that the Holy Spirit inspired lies? Jesus says this in John 8:44:
“You are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father you will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and stayed not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.“
Only God knows how he regards this utter foolishness from the mouth of the apostate President Forrest Harris. Maybe God does not equate this as blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. I hope not, for President Harris’ sake. Maybe Harris could say in his own defense that he was just speaking off the cuff. It might be a problem, however, that right after his condemnation of the Pharisees for blasphemy, Jesus said “But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.” Matthew 12:36-37
I doubt that uttering his folly in defense of the pet apostasy of the 21st-century church will help his case either. Things aren’t looking too bright for President Harris.
The more I look into the controversies surrounding homosexuality and the church, the more I am convinced that it is merely the symptom of a darker, more insidious problem.