A Consuming Fire -- By: R. Kent Hughes

Journal: Reformation and Revival
Volume: RAR 02:1 (Winter 1993)
Article: A Consuming Fire
Author: R. Kent Hughes


A Consuming Fire

R. Kent Hughes

See to it that you do not refuse Him who speaks. If they did not escape when they refused Him who warned them on earth, how much less will we, if we turn away from Him who warns us from heaven? At that time His voice shook the earth, but now He has promised, “Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.” The words “once more” indicate the removing of what can be shaken—that is, created things—so that what cannot be shaken may remain.

Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our “God is a consuming fire” (Heb. 12:25–29).

Introduction

During Christianity’s second century, a notable heretic by the name of Marcion came to power in Asia Minor, and though he was excommunicated early on, his destructive teaching lingered for nearly two centuries. Marcion taught the total incompatibility of the Old and New Testaments. He believed that there was a radical discontinuity between the God of the Old Testament and the God of the New Testament—between the creator and the Father of Jesus. So Marcion created a new Bible for his followers which had no Old Testament, and a severely hacked up New Testament which consisted of only one Gospel (an edited version of Luke), and ten select and edited Pauline Epistles which excluded the Pastorals. His views were spelled out in his book Antitheses, which set forth the alleged contradictions between the Testaments. Tertullian, in his famous Against Marcion, wrote a five-volume refutation.

But Marcionism never completely died out, and in the nineteenth century, especially, with the rise of liberalism it underwent a revival among those who wished to separate what they considered to be the crude and primitive of the

Old Testament from the New. Friedrich Schleiermacher, the eighteenth- and nineteenth-century father of liberalism, said that the Old Testament has a place in the Christian heritage only by virtue of its connections with Christianity. He felt that it should be no more than an appendix of historical interest. Adolf Harnack argued that the Reformers should have dropped it from the canon of authoritative writings. Likewise, there are thousands today who have rejected the Old Testament either formally or in practice.

The error of this kind of approach was pointed out by a fellow liberal, Albert Schweitzer, who demonstrated that such thinking amounts to choosing aspects of God which fit one’s man-made theology. Men project their own thoughts about God back to God...

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