Not According to Man

My high school-aged children attend a secular prep school. The process of deciding to educate them there was long and difficult. They spent their lower and middle school years in Christian schools and home school. But in the end, all factors considered, the prep school seemed to us the best choice. Among the many challenges that have come our way as a result have been regular contact with people of other religious persuasions, Christian and non-Christian. Evangelicals are few and far between.

For the most part our children have stood tall, rising above the moral and spiritual milieu that pervades the place and have received a begrudged admiration from adults and peers alike. But among the recurring points of tension for the Johnson family is one we might call (as it has been labeled) “the scandal of particularity.” Why are you conservative Protestants so dogmatic? we are asked incredulously. Why do you think it’s your way or no way? Do you think you’re the only ones who are right? That you’re the only ones who will go to heaven? Do you think everyone who doesn’t believe like you do will go to hell?

No doubt about it, it is difficult to be a John 14:6 Christian in a culture awash in moral and religious relativism. When the chief virtue of a civilization is “acceptance” of others; when “diversity” is its goal and pluralism its public philosophy, a religion that preaches “Jesus only” and “one way” is a misfit. Who but rednecks and bigots could make such claims? Talk about politically incorrect. Arrests for hate speech may be in order before long.
I’m fairly confident that if I were creating a religion today it would be “open,” “tolerant,” and “accepting” of all other points of view. We Bible-thumpers want to fit in like everybody else. Who doesn’t want to swim with the easy, downstream currents of relativism and avoid conflict?

However, we have trouble convincing others of the fact that we didn’t create Christianity. It was given. God made it what it is. As the apostle Paul puts it, our gospel is “not man’s gospel,” or as one scholar puts it, not “man devised, of human origin.” This means that Paul did not receive it from others, nor did he make it up (see Gal. 1:11).

In defending himself Paul makes a crucial point for us today. Where did he get his gospel? He did not invent it. He did not receive it by human tradition. He received it by revelation, not from a human source. He received it “by means of” a direct “revelation” from Jesus Christ. And so it was for all of the apostles. Christianity is a revealed, supernatural religion.
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