[In Case You Missed It...][6]

Bible Study
Bo Giertz
Book Reviews
C.F.W. Walther
Current Events
Daniel Preus
Dog Days
Dr. John Kleinig
Evangelizing Evangelicals
Facebook Theology
False Teachers
Friedrich Carl Wyneken
Germans Like Latin
Herman Sasse
Holy Sacraments
Luther's Commentaries
Lutheran Doctrine
Lutheran Podcasts
Lutherandom Musings
Lutheranism 101
Martin Chemnitz
Martin Luther
Matthew C. Harrison
Office of the Holy Ministry
Pop Culture
Prayer Requests
Propitiation Posts
Rock N Blogroll
Salomon Deyling
Seeking Seminary
Twitter Patter Five
What Luther Says

Abraham Came Down From The Mountain Even After His Remarkable 'Mountain Top Experience'

One of the things I despised most about American Evangelicalism when I was deeply entrenched in it was this burdensome concept that we weren't really "true Christians" unless or until we've had a so-called "Mountain Top Experience" to speak of in the form of some personal testimony.

You'll recall that it's all about Me, Myself, And I as opposed to being all about His Son, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ -- SAID GOD NEVER!

This gross un-Biblical concept has even trickled down to the Sunday School curriculum where our little ones are taught something that claims that "meeting Jesus on the mountain top is not a stopping place, it is a starting point!" What!?!

Typically, Evangelicals will often cite Luke 9:28-33 as some sort of "proof text" to support their faulty claims that we must always be looking to "do something great!" for Jesus in this life, because it's never enough to just fulfill our God-given vocations faithfully instead they say.

This is the sort of twisted belief system that sounds good to us (2 Timothy 4:3-4), but that leads to that bad kind of piety or the sort of thinking that leads to books like "Crazy Love" and "Radical" which we all know are incredibly inconsistent with "the faith that God has entrusted once for all time to his holy people" (Jude 1:3).

We looked at piety in the past and it's probably a good time to quickly revisit that subject before we continue. Here are a few of the pieces that were written about the topic...

Martin Luther, Vocation, And 'Churchyard Piety'

Christian Piety (Why Piety Matters)

Why We Need To Exterminate Pietism (And False Piety)

Pietism's Connection To Revivalism

Why I'm Starting To Hate Pietism...

CAUTION: Converting From Pietism (Or Even Exposing It) Can Lead To Legalism!

Pastor Matt Richard: 'Pietism Made Religious Experience More Important Than Christian Doctrine And Stressed Sanctification More Than Justification'

I thought about this "Mountain Top Experience" nonsense after reading this morning's devotion by Martin Luther. As always, Luther has a way of pointing out the obvious that is so often overlooked by us!

Here's what he had to say about Abraham after Abraham had his very own legitimate "Mountain Top Experience" as recorded for us in the Book of Genesis.

Then Abraham returned to his servants, and together they left for Beersheba. Abraham remained in Beersheba. GENESIS 22:19

Abraham left Mount Moriah. This was the mountain where he had been asked to sacrifice Isaac -- where he has heard the voice of the angel and experienced God's presence. This place was a holy mountain -- a place unlike any other in the whole world. It was where Abraham had received God's promise and pledge. 
This story shows how highly Abraham regarded his duty toward his family and his God-given responsibilities as head of the household. Since God gave him no further commands, he didn't start doing anything differently after this experience. Instead, he returned to his familiar household activities -- overseeing his servants and guiding his wife and family. His life didn't appear to be especially religious or spiritual. Abraham left all that on Mount Moriah. He didn't even let the fact that he had seen angels on the mountain hold him there. He went back to the young men watching his donkey. 
If certain overly religious people were to comment on this passage, they would question Abraham's piety and condemn him for leaving the mountain. They would think that if Abraham really were such an outstanding example for later generations, then he wouldn't have left that holy place. After all, that is where Abraham had met God and His angels. How could he return to his donkey and go back to his everyday work? What kind of piety is that? It's remarkable how much certain religious people despise honest work and everyday chores.

Now, please go back and read that one more time.

Boy, does he nail it or what? I mean, we see the very same problem nowadays some 500 years later! That's because the "Old Adam" within us always wants at least some of the glory and fame and so even when it appears and sounds like we're crediting God for our own so-called "Mountain Top Experience," we're actually only using that as justification to usually do something that the Lord hasn't purposed for us to do.

I think of all the times I incorrectly labeled some sort personal experience I've had as my very own "Mountain Top Experience" and did so only so that I had a good excuse for ignoring my existing God-given vocations and all because I wanted to follow my own selfish desires ("In Jesus' Name," of course) instead. Lovely, huh? How "Christian" of me.

After all, who's going to ever think to criticize you or talk you out of doing something, especially when you go on-and-on about your deeply moving "Mountain Top Experience" if not also go on-and-on about how "I just know that God has placed this desire in my heart and I want to follow y heart on this one!" too?

It's not gonna happen.

Plus, the danger in this sort of belief system is that it's only a hop, skip, and a jump away from crossing the line into Mysticism.

How so? Well, when you firmly believe that you've had some sort of unique "Mountain Top Experience," you start to think that that's the norm and that that's how God has promised to regularly speak to His children, and to you.

Goodbye Word and Sacraments! Hello lying signs and wonders!

Soon, it becomes about your emotions, and feelings, and songs you hear on the radio, and billboards you see around town, and the words that people use in daily conversations with you.

Before you know it, you allow yourself to imagine that you have a direct hotline to heaven without the use of prayer, the Word and Sacraments, and all because you're now convinced that God just speaks to you directly by putting thoughts in your head and feelings in you heart to replace the promises and truth found in His Word and Sacraments.

"And why wouldn't He?" you think to yourself. You did have a "Mountain Top Experience," right? So, naturally, that must mean you have a "favored" status with Him (even apart from Jesus), otherwise, He wouldn't have "chosen" you to give that experience to, right? Now, you have no choice but to respond to it all by "doing something great for Him" in this world (something other than fulfilling your vocations that is) like bringing His kingdom down from heaven to here on earth (absent from confessing Christ crucified for the sins of all mankind through repentance and faith in Him that is).

Wrong. Besides, having a "Mountain Top Experience" like Abraham had (or even like Peter, John, and James had) is not a normal occurrence that all Christians should expect to have in this life just because we read about them in the Bible.

You want a "Mountaintop Experience" of your own like the kind you've read about or heard about in church and at Sunday School? Guess what? You already had one when you were baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, and became a part of God's family that very moment. Isn't that enough?

Don't condemn Abraham for leaving the mountain. Abraham came down from the mountain even after his remarkable real-life "Mountain Top Experience" and so should we even if we are ever blessed to have another one.

In a Lutheran layman's terms, you're not likely to have a so-called "Mountain Top Experience" in this life, but even if you do, then make sure you make it about Him and not about yourself.

NOTE: I'm not a called and ordained minister of God's Word and Sacraments. I'm a layman or a Christian, Candy-Making, Husband, Father, Friend who lives in the "City of Good Neighbors" here on the East Coast. To be more specific, and relevant to the point I want to make with this note, I'm also a newly converted Confessional Lutheran who recently escaped American Evangelicalism a little over a year ago. That being said, please contact me ASAP if you believe that any of my "old beliefs" seem to have crept their way into any of the material you see published here, and especially if any of the content is inconsistent with our Confessions and Lutheran doctrine (in other words, if it's not consistent with God's Word, which our Confessions merely summarize and point us back to) so that I can correct those errors immediately and not lead any of His little ones astray (James 3:1). Finally, please be aware that you might also discover that some of the earlier pieces I wrote on this blog back in 2013 definitely fall into that category since I was a "Lutheran-In-Name-Only" at the time and was completely oblivious to the fact that a Christian "Book of Concord" even existed (Small/Large Catechism? What's that!?!). In addition, there are some entries that are a little "out there" so-to-speak since the subject matter was also heavy influenced by those old beliefs of mine. I know that now and I'm still learning. Anyway, I decided to leave those published posts up on this website and in cyberspace only because we now have this disclaimer, and only to demonstrate the continuing work of Christ and the Holy Spirit in my life (Hebrews 12:2; Philippians 1:6). Most importantly, please know that any time I engage in commenting on and/or interpreting a specific portion of the holy Scriptures, it will always closely follow the verse-by-verse notes from my Lutheran Study Bible and/or include references to the Book of Concord unless otherwise noted. Typically, I defer to what other Lutheran Pastors have already preached and taught about such passages since they are the called and ordained shepherds of our souls here on earth. Finally, I'm going to apologize ahead of time for the length of most entries. I'm well aware that blogs should be short, sweet, and to the point, but I've never been one to follow the rules when it comes to writing. Besides, this website is more like a dude's diary in the sense that everything I write about and share publicly isn't always what's "popular" or "#trending" at the time, but is instead all the things that I'm studying myself at the moment. For better or for worse, these posts tend to be much longer than most blog entries you'll find elsewhere only because I try to pack as much info as possible into a single piece so that I can refer to it again and again over time if I need to (and so that it can be a valuable resource for others -- if possible, a "One-Stop-Shop" of sorts). Thank you for stopping by and thank you in advance for your time, help, and understanding. Grace and peace to you and yours!


About JKR

Christian. Husband. Father. Friend.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thank you for visiting A Lutheran Layman! Please feel free to leave a comment or a question since we do not exercise censorship. We've seen a similar policy with other blogs and it's worth repeating: Please act as if you're a guest in my home, and we'll get along just fine. I think anyone would agree that the kind of back-and-forth that is characteristic of blogs/chat forums and social media is becoming tiresome for all of us. Still, we should confess, edify, and love (and contend and defend when needed). Bottom line? Search the Scriptures! Apply Acts 17:11 to anything and everything you find here and, if you do happen to disagree with something you find here (which is certainly ok), or think I'm "irresponsible" and "wrong" for writing it, then please refute my position by supporting yours with Scripture and/or the Confessions. I don't think that's an unreasonable request, especially for those who identify themselves as "Christians" here, right? Besides, Proverbs 27:17 tells us "Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another" and 2 Timothy 3:16 says, "all Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness." If you have an opinion that's great, I welcome it, but try to support it using God's Word. I mean, if the goal here is to help us all arrive at the truth of God's Word (myself included), then it should be easy to follow through on this one simple request (I'm talking to all you "Anonymous" visitors out there). Grace and peace to you and yours!

Start typing and press Enter to search