Lady Gaga now identifies as a Christian with deep theological concerns. At a concert a few days ago, she said, “I am a Christian woman, what I do know about Christianity is that we bear no prejudice, and everybody is welcome.” Consequently she deemed Vice President Mike Pence to be “the worst representation of what it means to be a Christian,” referring to Mrs. Pence’s decision to teach art at a Christian school that affirms the historic Christian faith once delivered for all. Gaga claimed that those who agree with the Bible’s condemnation lesbianism and sex outside of marriage (among other things) should no longer be able to claim the title ‘Christian.’ She concluded, ““To Mike Pence, who thinks it’s acceptable that his wife work at a school that bans LGBTQ, you are wrong,”
Lady’s Gaga’s identification with Christendom was shocking and completely unexpected. To make sense of what all this story means, we have to discern our authority. Simply put, we have to ask ourselves “Is the Bible the authoritative Word of God?” “Or have men used the book to twist and limit God’s majestic message of love?” As Paul Young, the author of The Shack, said, “Nobody wanted God in a box just in a book.”
Does true Christendom, true spirituality, and true communion with Jesus exists outside the pages of the Bible?
Lady Gaga condemnation of the Pence’s clearly flows from the presumption that Jesus is more than hero of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. In 2011 she began defining her view of the Scriptures when she sang, “In the most Biblical sense, I am beyond repentance.” Those whose life exist outside the bounds of Scripture and refuse to repent can only claim Christianity as their own if they move Christianity beyond the Bible. Such self-proclaimed Christians have to have an authority that surpasses and completely trumps the authority of the Bible.
Professor emeritus Luke Timothy Johnson happily made such an argument back in 2007 when seeking to justify the sexual ethic that Lady Gaga champions. He wrote:
I think it important to state clearly that we do, in fact, reject the straightforward commands of Scripture, and appeal instead to another authority when we declare that same-sex unions can be holy and good. And what exactly is that authority? We appeal explicitly to the weight of our own experience and the experience thousands of others have witnessed to, which tells us that to claim our own sexual orientation is in fact to accept the way in which God has created us.
I believe Lady Gaga would applaud Johnson’s appeal to the weight of human experience. She has sung, “Don’t hide yourself in regret…Just love yourself and you’re set.” After all “Maybe it’s time to let the old ways die.” Only a Christianity that has replaced the Bible with personal experience could affirm Lady Gaga as Christian and condemn the Pences as sinners for affirming the teachings of the Bible.
Can we accept this new version of Christendom? Do we need to unhitch Jesus from the bonds of Scripture to discover God? Do the Old ways need to die?
I believe the answer is no. Christ did not believe the Scriptures reduced or confined him. He based his view of marriage and sexuality on Genesis (Matt. 19:4-5). Jesus said “Scripture cannot be broken.” Jesus also uttered the words that “whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven (Matt 5:19).” While walking on the road to Emmaus, Jesus appealed to “Moses and all the prophets, He interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself (Lk 24:27)” And most famously of all Jesus said, “For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.” Jesus affirmed the Bible and used the Bible to condemn the very things that Lady Gaga has championed from the concert stage.
When we leave the Jesus of the Bible, we do not find a better Jesus, we simply found ourselves dressed up in a Jesus costume thinking our desires are the voice of God. And when confuse our voice for God’s voice we do not find love and acceptance. We find cruelty and hate.
In 1940, Nazi theologians declared that Jesus was a Jew hating Aryan. They said, “it is impossible that he himself could have been of Jewish blood and spirit.” (156 Twisted Cross). The Nazi theologians were able to make their arguments because they had previously moved beyond the bounds of Scripture. In 1937, the clergy sympathetic to the Nazi cause approved a resolution that stated: “A demon always resides in the written word…The devil values the printed page and stretches it out to demand signatures…Jesus never did so.” The Nazi’s appealed to their own experiences when searching for God and found a Jesus who supported the murder of millions of Jews.
Once Jesus ceases to be historic Son of God, he can be made into the poster boy of any and every social movement. He can be said to be the first transgender man; but he can also be said to be an advocate of hate, violence, racism, slavery, and death. He becomes the pawn of pop-starts, dictators, and everyone in-between.
Lady Gaga is by no means a Nazi. But she shares that church’s flawed theological commitment to extra-biblical authority.
The Reformer and 16th century pastor, John Calvin summed the situation well when he wrote,
In one respect we are indeed unalike, because each one of us privately forges his own particular error; yet we are all very much alike, in that, one and all forsake the one true God for prodigious trifles.
We don’t need to rescue Jesus from the Bible, we need Jesus to rescue us from the prodigious trifles of our hearts.
What will be the major trifle of our age? Who will have to suffer because of it?