Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The God of Legalism

In his book, The Ragamuffin Gospel, Brennan Manning describes legalism this way:

"The God of the legalistic Christian...is often unpredictable, erratic, and capable of all manner of prejudices. When we view God this way, we feel compelled to engage in some sort of magic to appease Him. Sunday morning worship becomes a superstitous insurance policy against His whims. This God expects people to be perfect and to be in perpetual control of their feelings and thoughts.

When broken people with this concept fail - as inevitably they must - they usually expect punishment. So they persevere in religious practices as they struggle to maintain a hollow image of a perfect self. This struggle is exhausting. The legalist can never live up to the expectations they project on God."

Amen, and amen

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Thanks Bino!

I'd like to thank Bino for putting the book "Messy Spirituality" by (the late) Michael Yaconelli on his reading list and for Father for giving me the desire to read it.

I'll post more later, but I really love his definition of spirituality.

"Spirituality looks like whatever you and I look like when we're thinking about Jesus, when we are trying to find Jesus, when we are trying to figure out what real Christianiy looks like in the real world".

I have a feeling that this will be a special book for me.

From Disney World

BTW, Bino, I have read Pagan Christianity and have given it to Gary who is reading it now. It answered the questions that I had about the traditions of man that have taken the place of authentic Christianity just as surely as the traditions of the Pharisees did with theirs. The modern movement is not very authentic in my opinion.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Blind Acceptance

I have been working on this post in my mind for some time.

What really sparked it was something that happened in my small-group (really just another word for Sunday School) last Sunday. We came into the class in the middle of a series by Charles Stanley called, Developing a Servants Heart or something like that.

After someone read this week’s passage and the study question was asked, I was the first one to speak up. I simply asked if everyone agreed with what was posited. I certainly didn’t. There were a couple of others who spoke up and that really started the discussion.

Therein, I think, is the issue I want to address. Until I asked the question, it was assumed that we all agreed on what was read and we would build on that. I, for one, am over simply hearing something taught in church, be it a sermon or small-group (i.e. “official” teaching) and taking what was said as true purely because it was taught in church or written by a so-called Man of God.

Just because Charles Stanley wrote it, doesn’t make it true. I am done with blind loyalty to any man.

(The lesson had something to do with preserving your reputation in order to be an effective servant, or some such nonsense. It said NOTHING about Christ as the sole source of our service. As a matter of fact, it never even mentioned the One from which all life flows).

I believe that is one of the main problems with the modern Church – no one questions teaching. If it is said from the authority of the Pulpit (does ANYONE stop and think about that phrase? Where does it mention the pulpit in the Bible and what give it its authority?), then in the eyes of most evangelicals, it has the same authority as ex cathedra does for Catholics (no offense meant here to my Catholic brothers and sisters).

The Pastor/Preacher has too much authority in the modern church. If you will notice in Paul’s letters, when he went to Jerusalem after the church had been around for almost 20 years, he met with people who “appeared” to be leaders. We are talking about Peter, James, and John! “Appeared” to be leaders? That means that there was no clear Bishop/Pastor/Preacher – AND, apparently, no jealousy.

And this brings me to something that Bino was kind enough to share with me. It has to do with my post about Biblicism and the fact that the Bible has become the “god” that the fundamental/evangelical church worships today. Bino provided a link to this site (christinyou) that has some great quotes about this subject.

Here is a sampling of some:

"The Bible is not an end in itself, but a means to bring men to an intimate and satisfying knowledge of God, that they may enter into Him, that they may delight in His Presence, may taste and know the inner sweetness of the very God Himself in the core and center of their hearts." (A. W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God. Christian Publications. 1948. pg. 10).

"One of the dangers from which the Church should pray to be delivered is idolatry of the letter of Scripture. The letter exists for the spirit, not the spirit for the letter. Literalism is the grave in which spiritual religion is buried. The New Testament is a book which is to be spiritually interpreted. It has no greater enemy than the thorough-going literalist who would fetter its free thought by confining it within obsolete forms. It has no greater friend than the teacher who can give to its time-worn metaphors freshness and power by translating them into the language of the present." (James M. Campbell - The Heart of the Gospel: A Popular Exposition of the Doctrine of the Atonement. Fleming H. Revell Co. 1907. pg. 19)

This one will rattle the cage:

"The purpose of all Scripture is to bear witness to Christ (John 5:39; 20:31). The Bible in itself is not the Word of God. The Word of God is a person (John 1:1). Neither does the Bible have life, power or light in itself any more than did the Jewish Torah. These attributes may be ascribed to the Bible only by virtue of its relationship to Him who is Word, Life, Power and Light. Life is not in the book, as the Pharisees supposed, but only in the Man of the book (John 5:39) (Brinsmead, Robert D., "A Freedom from Biblicism" in The Christian Verdict, Essay 14, 1984. Fallbrook: Verdict Publications. Pg. 12).

Grace and Peace to all

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Opening a Can of Worms

I am sorry this is so long.

I am printing Gary’s comment to a previous post http://johnsgracewalk.blogspot.com/2008/12/what-must-i-do-to-be-saved.html in its entirety here, and I am starting a new post for clarity.

Not to be too long (or boring) on this subject but my conviction is based on the manuscripts used (Masoretic Text for the Old Testament and Textus Receptus for the New Testament). Also the form of translation, formal equivalency as opposed to dynamic equivalency used in the newer translations.

I'm not trying to change anybodies mind, the version of the Bible you use is between you and God, that is just my conviction. There are differences in the versions however and it makes for an interesting study.

As far as the languages go the KJV is for English speaking people. There are many ministries that are translating Bibles into other languages using the KJV and some that are going back to the 2 manuscripts I mentioned to translate into other languages.

I have seen Bible version discussions get contentious but that really just makes Christians look bad and I don't think it changes anybodies mind. Just something we all have to decide for ourselves.

Yes Gary, sadly, this debate can get contentious. It won’t here.

A few counter points.

- Not ALL modern translations use dynamic equivalency.

- MY mind WAS changed about this. I used to believe that the KJV was the best translation.

I’ve read books on both sides of the argument – Gary Zeolla’s Difference Between Bible Versions and Philip Comfort’s Essential Guide to Bible Versions.

I believe Comfort has the best and most reasoned argument for using the newer (older!) texts.

Here is an excerpt from Comfort’s book:

“The New Testament of the King James Version is slightly bigger than most modern translations of the Bible. I am not speaking of the trim size or a larger black leather cover. I am speaking of the content. The New Testament of the King James Version has fifty more verses than do most modern versions. This is because the King James Version is based on an edition of the Greek New Testament known as the Textus Receptus, which has about fifty more verses than do other modern critical editions of the Greek New Testament, such as the text of Westcott and Hort, or the Nestle-Aland text.

The way it stands today is that there are two distinctly different texts of the Greek New Testament – that printed in the Textus Receptus (followed by the KJV and the NKJV) and that printed in modern versions such as Westcott and Hort’s or the Nestle-Aland. The text of the TR has about one thousand more words than that of the Westcott and Hort, and about fifty more verses. Several of these verses have become so much a part of the biblical tradition and church liturgy that is has been excruciatingly painful for modern translators to wrench them from the text and place them in the marginal note, even when scholars have known that they were not originally in the text. The pain comes from knowing that most people expect to see these words in the Bible.

…Most contemporary scholars contend that a minority of manuscripts – primarily the earliest ones – preserve the earliest, most authentic wording of the text. Those who defend the TR and the KJV would have to prove that earlier manuscripts or the originals themselves must have had these words and that the earlier manuscripts are textually corrupt.

…The Nestle-Aland edition is a far better representation of the original text than is the TR or the Majority Text. This does not mean, however, that those who read the TR and/or the KJV are receiving a “different Gospel” or a different theology than what is found in the Nestle-Aland text. What it does mean is that they are reading a text that – for the most part – was not read in the first three centuries of the church. They are reading a text that is heavily edited with interpolations and harmonizations, and they are reading a text that is somewhat misrepresentative in Christology.

Most of the significant theological differences between the TR and modern critical editions of the Greek text pertain to issues of Christology, especially as reflected in titles or descriptions of Christ. (See Matt. 24:36, Luke 9:35, John 1:18, John 6:69, Acts 3:20, Acts 16:7, Colossians 2:2, 1 Timothy 3:16, 1 Peter 3:15, Jude 4).

Readers of the TR and KJV miss out on some significant statements about Christ: He is “the Chosen One”; “the only begotten, God”; “the Holy One of God”; the One “preordained for us”; “the mystery of God”; “the mystery of godliness”; the One whom we sanctify our hearts; and “our only Master and Lord”. There are far more examples than these, but these are enough to show that the difference between the two texts is theologically significant. I must emphasize, however, this does not mean that the TR and KJV are “wrong.” This text presents the same basic truth about the Trinity as do modern versions, which are based on better Greek texts. What is problematic about the TR and KJV is that they obscure some significant titles of Christ. “

Remember, we can disagree without getting personal.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

What Must I Do to Be Saved?

I’m probably going to be considered heretical by some with this post.

I went to a funeral for the relative of a friend yesterday. It was held at a large, fundamental Independent Baptist Church - one where the women are not allowed to wear pants.

There was something the preacher said that reinforced what I have been thinking lately. He said that (paraphrasing) one cannot be saved unless one is shown from the Bible HOW to be saved. (my mother said she knew people who taught that one had to have a salvation VERSE in order to be saved). He gave the testimony of the woman being eulogized that she believed she was saved as a young child, but since no one had taken her through the Word of God, she was never sure she was saved. She later got it “settled” from the Bible.

My former pastor has said recently that the Bible is the only Jesus we now have.

He used tell the story (to illustrate how wrongheaded people can be (!)) about how a visiting Korean pastor was told by the hosting pastor that since he didn’t get saved out of the King James Bible that He couldn’t be saved!

After reading Bruchko, it struck me how the Moltilone didn’t HAVE a Bible to get saved from – much less the KJV!

What arrogance of some people!

Here is the heresy….I believe that some are worshipping the Book more than the Person – Jesus Christ! Where is the belief formulated that the Bible is the only Jesus that we now have? Hasn’t He told us that He is in us and us in Him? That we are hidden with Christ in God?

Don’t get me wrong, I believe the Bible IS the Word of God, but maybe that’s why we think that God is far away – because we believe the only part we have of Him is a book….

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

God Speaks How He Chooses, Part II

Excerpt from Bruchko

"In 1967, about a year after the first Motilones had become Christians, Arabadoyca and a small group of other men came to talk to me. They had decided that they wanted to tell the Yuko Indians about Jesus. I had had the same desire earlier and had made a trip back to the Yuko village where I had spent nearly a year.

I hadn't been there for more than an hour before I saw that something had changed. I soon discovered what it was. One of the women whom I had tried to tell about Jesus when I was there the first time had had a vision. As a result, most of the village had accepted Jesus."

I dare say that most Fundamentalists would say that this was demonic - that God doesn't work that way.