Obeying and Worshiping a Holy, Loving God Hebrews 12:25–29 -- By: Kent Hughes
SBJT 2:4 (Winter 1998) p. 34
Obeying and Worshiping
a Holy, Loving God
Kent Hughes is pastor of The College Church, Wheaton, Illinois, where this message was first preached. He is the author of numerous volumes, including Disciplines of a Godly Man, Disciplines of Grace, and the extremely popular Preaching the Word series.
During Christianity’s second century, a notable heretic by the name of Marcion came to power in Asia Minor. Though he was excommunicated early on, his destructive teaching, which focused on the total incompatibility of the Old and New Testaments, lingered for nearly two centuries. Marcion believed a radical discontinuity existed between the creator god of the Old Testament and the God of the New Testament, the Father of Jesus. Marcion created an alternate canon for his followers that had no Old Testament and a greatly modified New Testament. This “Bible” consisted of only one Gospel (an edited version of Luke), and ten edited Pauline epistles (excluding the Pastorals). Marcion’s views were spelled out in his book Antitheses. Thankfully, neither Marcion nor his teachings went unopposed. He encountered his strongest refutation in Tertullian’s five-volume Against Marcion.
Marcionism never completely disappeared, however, and in the nineteenth century it was revived by some who wished to separate what they considered to be the crude and primitive God of the Old Testament from the civilized and developed portrait of him in the New Testament. Friedrich Schleiermacher, the eighteenth and nineteenth-century father of liberalism, said that the Old Testament has a place in Christian heritage only by virtue of its connections with Christianity. He felt that it should be no more than an appendix of historical interest. Adolph Harnack also argued that the Reformers should have dropped it from the canon of authoritative writings. Intentionally or unintentionally, thousands today have similarly rejected the Old Testament, either formally or in practice.
Albert Schweitzer, himself a liberal, demonstrated that such thinking amounts to choosing aspects of God which fit one’s theology. He concluded that men create a god of their own making. They do so by confusing their own unbiblical views of God with God himself. Of course, anyone in touch with modern culture knows this kind of Marcionite reasoning is alive and well.
So why do I bring up Marcion? Because Marcionism is very much alive in evangelical churches. Certainly the New Testament gives us a fuller revelation of God than the Old Testament because it tells us about Jesus Christ. It is true that we do not live bound by the Old Testament ceremonial laws. Nevertheless the God we worship is still the same God…“yesterday, to...
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