Face to Face with Death

An exquisite Roman torture was to tie a corpse to a condemned man. The rotting flesh of the dead man would begin to eat away at the living flesh of the condemned man, and he would die a horrific death. Here’s a description provided by Jacques Brunschwig describing the elaborate details of the punishment as used by the Etruscans (predecessors of the Romans).

A living man or woman was tied to a rotting corpse, face to face, mouth to mouth, limb to limb, with an obsessive exactitude in which each part of the body corresponded with its matching putrefying counterpart. Shackled to their rotting double, the man or woman was left to decay. To avoid starvation, the Etruscans continued to feed the victim appropriately. Only once the superficial difference between the corpse and the living body started to rot away through the agency of worms, which bridged the two bodies, establishing a differential continuity between them, did the Etruscans stop feeding the living. Once both the living and the dead had turned black through putrefaction, the Etruscans deemed it appropriate to unshackle the bodies.

I know – INSANE! Yet, what an apt description of what is happening to those churches and believers who unshackle themselves from the authority of the Scripture and bind themselves to the philosophies of man. There has been a wholesale departure from Scriptural authority by the culture for well over a hundred years, and many churches and believers who are convinced or intimidated by the culture are following suit.

There has been a massive assault on the Bible’s authority in the last 140 years. Many now conclude that the Bible is not the word of God to man. It is the word of man about God. It is inspired in some places and fallible in others. Pastor Adrian Rogers called this ‘leopard theology.’ Some tell you that the Bible is inspired in spots, and they are qualified to spot those spots! The result is that you can not trust the Bible. Once someone accepts this premise, they are ripe for the rotting corpse of culture.

“The rotting corpse of culture – that’s harsh, Pastor! That sounds really judgmental!” Let me ask you this: Do you think that the dominant culture in America is the same as the culture of the Kingdom of God? Do you think that the values of most Americans are the values of God as revealed in the Scriptures? Decidedly not. If you align with culture more than the Word of God, where culture departs from God, you will depart from God. Departing from the truth of God results in the decay of the soul.

Our culture has departed from God’s Word in the area of sexuality, i.e., homosexuality, transgenderism, et al. To embrace these evil practices is to tie yourself to the rotting corpse of culture. To give hearty approval to those who are shredding Biblical morality is to tie yourself to the rotting corpse of a Christ-rejecting culture.

Some Presbyterian, Methodist, and Episcopal denominations are being ripped apart by the affirmation of homosexuality and the hearty approval given to all manner of sexual deviancy being advanced today. Those conservative churches that are separating from the heretical, progressive churches say to them, “We are not leaving you because you affirm homosexuality. We are separating from you because you have departed from the authority of Scripture. You are apostate.”

I am not advocating Christians isolate themselves from the dominant culture as Fundamentalists did a century ago. I am advocating for an engagement with culture by followers of Jesus who are passionate about truth. In 2 Kings 4, there is a twelve-year-old boy who has died, and Elisha the prophet goes into his room and stretches himself out on the boy – mouth on mouth, eyes on eyes, hands on hands. He does this twice, and the boy is restored to life. Note that the death of the boy did not enter Elisha, but the life of Elisha entered the boy. What a beautiful picture of Jesus Christ who became like we are in every way, except for sin. Jesus stretched Himself out on humanity who was dead in sins and trespasses and made us alive together with Him.

If you engage with culture, having given up the truth of God’s Word and given in to culture’s rejection of absolute truth, culture’s death will enter you – it won’t be pretty. If you engage with culture burning with the truth of God’s Word and the love of God’s Son – beautiful things will happen.

1 thought on “Face to Face with Death”

  1. Very descriptive and confronting. Encourages me to actively call out obvious behaviours and attitudes both in society and where applicable the church.

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