Arrogance and humility

This basic divide must either be embraced or reversed. So in the brave new world, arrogance preaches Christ and humility talks about self.
–Doug Wilson

In this evil age we have much to learn about humility (which we call arrogance), kindness (which we call condemnation), obedience (which we call legalism), and the faithful proclamation of the Word of God (which we reject even the possibility of because we believe it’s all a matter of each man’s individual interpretation).

Pastor Doug Wilson helps us see it…

A number of years ago, the first book I wrote came out. This was an exciting moment for me, and one in which I discovered how typos, cleverly hidden before publication, become immediately and glaringly obvious upon publication. But I have digressed–typos are not the central point. Someone in our church gave a copy of this book to a relative who was from another theological tradition entirely. Some time later, this person told me that the relative had thought the book “arrogant.” This distressed me, and I went back to the book and opened it up. There in the foreword, just like the typos, was a small forest of the first person personal pronoun I. Big as life–I, I, I. Of course I was humiliated and told my friend to tell the relative that he had a point, and that I was sorry. But she said something like, “Oh, no. That’s not why he thought it was arrogant. It was the rest of the book, where you quoted from the Bible all the time.”

In other words, he had no problem with me talking about me. That was humble enough. But when I presumed to say what God had revealed–that was arrogant. But notice how different definitions of arrogance are at work here. There is no neutrality anywhere, especially in the realm of defining what constitutes arrogance and what does not.

We see the same thing in the conflict betweeen biblical and modern theories of preaching. The biblical preacher is a herald, a steward. He has been entrusted to declare something that would have been true if he had never been born. He is to preach it with a strong view of his own ultimate irrelevance. He is to get into the pulpit and say, “Thus says the Lord…” And to the modern world, this is insufferable arrogance.

In stark contrast, a modern pretty boy preacher–excuse me, a pretty boy communicator–gets up front and can talk about himself the entire time he is there. He is open, transparent, honest, and emotionally approachable. He is humble, or so it is thought. The evidence? He is humble because he talked about himself a lot. And the other one, the insufferable one, he must think he has a personal pipeline to God. He must think that God wrote a book or something…wait.

The apostle Paul says, “For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake” (2 Cor. 4:5). In the biblical pattern, arrogance preaches self while humility preaches Christ. In the modern world, we see how the reality of our inescapable concept [DSM: Wilson explains this in a part I have not quoted] takes over. In order to revolt against the biblical pattern, it is necessary to reverse the values. It is not possible to go off to a neutral zone where these categories do not apply. This basic divide must either be embraced or reversed. So in the brave new world, arrogance preaches Christ and humility talks about self.

Arrogance, defined biblically, is the practice of challenging the will of the triune God. Every aspiring idol, precisely because it is aspiring to replace the triune God, must seek (however unsuccessfully) to take on the same attributes. This means that idols try to define arrogance in the same way. Arrogance is that which challenges the god who seeks to reign.

This means that when modern evangelicalism has compromised fatally with the idols of the age (which it most certainly has), and when someone points it out in a way that cannot be ignored, the basic defense of the idolatry is to attack the critic as one who is arrogant.

Now of course, as already noted, it is possible for an orthodox Trinitarian to attack unbelief in a way that really is arrogant. But it is arrogant because the Trinitarian is being inconsistent with what the Scriptures require of him. He is orthodox in one way, but disobedient in another. Suppose he attacks some form of unbelief, but he does so filled with a spirit of malice and selfish hatred. This is arrogant, because he is setting himself up as a defender of God who is not bound to conduct himself the way that God commands.

But an attack on unbelief is never arrogant simply because unbelievers claim that it is arrogant. Nor is it arrogant because compromised believers think that such an attack is arrogant. In short, arrogance is never determined by examining the results of a survey or poll. The issue, always, is the authority of the Word of God.

And this is why the basic question about arrogance is the same in every discussion of every issue–Who is God? And if He has spoken, dare we challenge that Word?

–from A Serrated Edge: A Brief Defense of Biblical Satire and Trinitarian Skylarking, Chapter 2: “The Meaning of Arrogance”, pp. 22-24, 27-28.

I would encourage everyone to read the whole chapter.

This entry was posted in authority, honoring God's Word, humility, preach the word. Bookmark the permalink.

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