WHAT IF this past 2,000 years of the church was merely the foundation to set up what God REALLY wants to do? That thought pumps me up!
The more I think about it, the more I think this warrants a more substantial response.
- It contravenes Scripture. This was the essence of my first post. Jesus laid the foundation of the church in Matthew 16:18. All the church needed was provided by Jesus and the apostles and can be found in Scripture. There can only be one foundation for the church, and it was created two thousand years ago.
- It contradicts special revelation. The most galling aspect of Noble’s thought is one of the words he emphasized: REALLY. Think about that idea and let it roll around in your mind. What is Noble saying? God has been hiding his real intentions from us. When we read Paul’s instructions to the church in Corinthians, for example, we can ignore that because it’s not really what God was meaning for the church. Appalling.
- It condescends to the saints. According to Noble, the last two millennia were merely a foundation for today. Merely–another word to linger on. There’s an awful lot of amazing history dismissed by that arrogant word. Augustine. Aquinas. Luther. Calvin. Spurgeon. Graham. Persecutions. Reformation and revivals. Never mind them. There are merely mere.
- It contains secret knowledge. This is the dangerous bit. If we believe what Noble says, and if he really believes it himself, what that means is that God has a new blueprint for the church that has been hidden until now. We will learn what it is from special leaders who receive special visions from God that they expect their followers to commit to.
- It creates space for error. If Noble can establish that the church is about to change is form and function, he can make whatever rules and set whatever standards he likes. Because it need not be based on Scripture, it will necessarily be wrong. It will also be impossible to criticize his beliefs because it will be impossible to tie him down to the standard of Scripture. Noble is notoriously slippery when it comes to defending himself.
People will question our motives and our ministry. But our goal in all of this should not be to try to explain ourselves but to simply keep our eyes on the Lord and strive to become more like Him. If we spend too much time explaining ourselves we won’t have time to actually do what it is God has commanded of us in the first place!
If you can simply show that how you do church conforms to the established Scriptural standard, there’s no need for your defense to take very long. If the Bible compels listeners to test teachers, I think you might also say that a true Biblical teacher will be happy to show that he can pass those tests. They didn’t bother Paul. If Noble spent as much time defending his beliefs and behaviors as he does complaining about being questioned, we’d all be much better off.
If, on the other hand, he is doing church a new way and on the basis of special personal revelation, he’d better find every excuse he can to not submit to those tests and to keep doing what his vision compels him do to.
To be clear, I am not making a case here that Noble is doing church in violation of Scripture. I am pointing out that he is clearing space for himself that makes that not only possible, but difficult for his followers to detect and impossible for his critics to correct.