Monday, December 07, 2009

A Respected Intolerance

I had two posts in mind stemming from today - one is about fathers. I find it difficult - to be frank - relating to God as my Father. I don't quite know why that is. Maybe it's partly because I found it difficult to get on with my earthly dad. We are very different people emotionally. He is a man's man. I am an emotionally unstable soul - up or down but never in-between. I thank God that I have a measure of friendship with him now but childhood and teenage years were not easy. So does that disqualify me from ever enjoying God as heavenly perfect Father? Of course not - no earthly father is perfect. The key is to realise that any poor or bad relationships don't set the model for God - we have to be prepared to learn again and learn from new.

So I turned to the Song of Solomon today! I did so deliberately and without really much thought. It just seemed natural to me that if I wanted to learn what God is like as a heavenly Father. I'm in good company - C H Spurgeon's solid gold sermons on the Song of Solomon (gathered together masterfully in; "The Most Holy Place"). Who better than Spurgeon to teach about this book?!

However I was distracted by C H Spurgeon's rather "un-P.C" discussion of those who would hold views of the Song of Solomon that he would not agree with. I like that fresh approach! In this day and age I notice that the Christian church has become affected by the community. Disagreeing with someone isn't acceptable and it doesn't go down well. One of the things I liked about Spurgeon and the Puritans was that they were not afraid to state boldly their views and disagree carefully and thoughtfully where they felt someone was wrong.

So here is C H Spurgeon's statements on the Song of Solomon and those he would not agree with. He starts the sermon by discussing the view that men such as Mark Driscoll and C J Mahaney would hold - namely that the book discusses Solomon's marriage to Pharoh's daughter (as is thought). Spurgeon states;

"Now as I am sure as I am of my own existance, that this is one of the grossest mistakes (the Driscoll/Mahaney view) that was ever committed ... If you look all through the song you will find that this is so; in the very beginning she is compared to a shepherdess. Now all shepherds are abominations to the Egyptians; do you think therefore that Solomon would compare an Egyptian princess to the very thing which she abominated? In one place Solomon compares her to a company of horses in Pharoh's chariot. Now horses were among the Israelites, common things; and what would Pharoh's daughter have said if Solomon compared her to a company of horses?".

So there are a couple of excellent Spurgeon rebuttals to obvious glaring problems in "humanising" the Song of Solomon. It just doesn't quite make sense. Spurgeon then goes on;

"The fact is that this book is a puzzle to many men for the simple reason it was not written for them at all. Learned men and wise men find this a stone which they are broken to powder just because it was not written for them. Men who are disposed to laugh at Scripture find here an opportunity to exercise their profane wit, just because the book is not written for them".

One cannot help but think of Mark Driscoll's "jokes" about the Song of Solomon.

"The true believer who has lived near to his Master will find this book to be a mass, not of gold merely, for all God's Word is this, but a mass of diamonds sparkling with brightness ... If I must prefer one book above another, I would prefer some books of the Bible for doctrine, some for experience, some for example, but let me prefer this book above all others for fellowship and communion. When the Christian is nearest to heaven, this is the book he takes with him.

There are times when he would leave even the Psalms behind, when standing on the borders of Canaan, when he is in the land of Beulah and he is just crossing the stream, and can almost see his Beloved through the rifts of the storm-cloud, then it is he can begin to sing Solomon's song. This is about the only book he can sing in heaven".

I state all this again not to take one jot away from Driscoll or Mahaney's ministries. I know many people receive much from them. But for me - I feel more comfortable taking a hallowed approach to the Song of Solomon - it isn't funny. And it shouldn't have jokes made about it. I come to this book as a hungry learner - desperate to learn how a son should relate to his Father.

1 comment:

Sheila said...

HAPPY Birthday, Dan. Hope your day has been blessed...