Thursday, October 28, 2010

Eleven Biblical Reasons Evangelical Orthodoxy is in Error

The title of this post will eventually be the title of a book I am writing. Each one of the eleven reasons will be explored in detail with biblical references. Many of these have already been investigated on this blog.

List of the eleven reasons:
  1. Jesus taught a totally redemptive hermeneutic and orthodoxy adopted a grammatical historical hermeneutic which was similar to the hermeneutic of the first century rabbis.
  2. Jesus and his followers redefined the word of God to mean either Jesus or the gospel with an emphasis on the gospel. Orthodoxy adopted the rabbis’ definition Torah/scripture.
  3. The New Covenant has been in complete force since the resurrection. God allowed a transition period between the Old Covenant and New Covenant for forty-years from the cross event to the destruction of the temple. Orthodxy is awaiting the New Covenant
  4. Evangelical orthodoxy fails to recognize that the bulk of the gospels were written to Jews still under the Old Covenant before the cross event. (especially the sermon on the mount)
  5. Evangelical orthodoxy fails to realize that there is an obvious transition from John the Baptist (last Jewish prophet) to Jesus (the Jewish Messiah) to Pentecost (the Jewish Church) to Cornelius (inclusion of the Gentiles) to Paul’s messages to the New Creation. Evangelical orthodoxy sees essentially two divisions old and new testament.
  6. Evangelical orthodoxy ignores the vast amount of passages of the New Testament writings that show an expectation of imminent fulfillment of prophecy tied to the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple
  7. Evangelical orthodoxy does not see the book of Hebrews as the “rosetta stone” for the New Covenant opening an understanding of how the New Covenant will be the only covenant in force when the temple is destroyed. God allowed the old covenant to limp during the forty-year transition period in hopes of coverting the maximum amount of Jews.
  8. Evangelical orthodoxy misses the fact that the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple was the fulfillment of the prophesied day of the Lord in Joel and other prophets
  9. Evangelical orthodoxy does not provide the proper understanding and explanation of the catalyst of the spiritual transformation process in believers; how God transforms by love via the gospel and grace.
  10. Evangelical orthodoxy fails to see that the falling away and the strong delusion of 2Thess 2 happened in the first century.
  11. Evangelical orthodoxy misses the fact that Jesus reference to Gehenna was prophetic of the destruction of Jerusalem, the temple and the judgment of the Jews and, not a warning of eternal punishment.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Preach the word; what did Paul mean in 2Timothy 4:2-4?

I find it sadly interesting that the current evangelical view of scripture ends up perverting the very words meant to uphold the gospel of grace. One such passage is 2Tim 4:2-4. Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. What did Paul mean when he had a scribe pen the words preach the word? Well, he did not mean preach the bible or the scripture for sure. He meant preach the gospel. We have amply shown through out this blog that Jesus, Paul and the other writers of the New Testament defined the word... word of God as the gospel or Jesus and it was never truer in this instance.

Paul defines the word of truth as the gospel in Ephesians 1:13. We have shown how substituting the phrase word of God, word of truth and word only makes sense when it is substituted with Jesus or the gospel. This is easy to establish in Paul’s use of the term in both of the letters to Timothy. Look at what Paul says in 2Tim 2:8-9 “Remember that Jesus Christ, of the seed of David, was raised from the dead according to my gospel, (9) for which I suffer trouble as an evildoer, even to the point of chains; but the word of God is not chained.” Here just like in 2Tim 2:15 and Ephesians 1:13 Paul defines the word of God as the gospel. It is obvious that Paul does not mean the scripture.

So then, what about his admonition to convince, rebuke, exhort and teach? It is the very opposite of what most evangelical preachers lead one to believe about the passage. The conventional wisdom is to convince, rebuke, exhort and teach those whose doctrines do not line up with the bible. That is not correct however. What Paul is really saying is to convince, rebuke, exhort and teach those who do not insist on the gospel of grace. That is the sound doctrine. Sound doctrine is not what we think scripture plainly or subtly teaches. Sound doctrine is to proclaim unabashedly the gospel of God’s mercy, love and grace and to convince, rebuke, exhort and teach those who do not.

Turning away to fables; turning from the truth is to veer off the course of proclaiming the gospel. Paul suffered as an evil doer for preaching the gospel of grace. He did not suffer for teaching what the bible says about correct behavior. He suffered because he preached the gospel to the Gentiles and Jesus suffered because he taught the gospel to tax collectors and prostitutes. It saddens me how twisted sound doctrine has become.

Friday, October 22, 2010

The gospel but,

Paul said that where sin abounds grace abounds all the more. John tells us that the law was given by Moses but, grace and truth came from Jesus Christ. And Paul again says that you are not under law you are under grace. And still, the church as a whole and, especially its leaders and shepherds are hung up on this thought... I teach the gospel but.... Can I share this? When you teach the gospel but.... whatever the but may be, you cease to preach and teach the gospel. That quite frankly is why the church is in the state it is in today. What is that state you ask? Thirty-eight thousand denominations, battles over heterodoxy and orthodoxy, marginalized and scorned by most of society, failing to promote significant social change and, most importantly, impotent to produce real transformation in people or society. This is quite a serious indictment but ever so true. Get up, look in the mirror and tell me that this is not true. Thought so!

I read an interesting book a few years back; it was called The Nature of Revival, compiled, edited and abridged by Clare George Weakley Jr. It contains the diaries of John Wesley, Charles Wesley and George Whitfield that chronicle the great revival that took place in England in the 1700,s under the preaching of George Whitefield. What caused that great revival? ...The preaching of George Whitefield. What did he preach? ...The gospel of grace! With no buts!

It is the love of God, and only the love of God, that transforms us spiritually. The love of God is best understood in the gospel of grace and, the life and mission of Jesus of Nazareth the Christ. The gospel does not contain one but! For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son that whosoever shall believe on him..... that if you shall confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead you shall.... no buts at all.

 Furthermore, it is faith in the love of God.... apprehending this love by our steadfast trust in God and his mercy grace and love that ignites our transformation process. Unfortunately, all to often may I say almost always.... it is quenched by a big but. No I did not say by a big butt! The butt with the but can be a big butt or a little butt but the but that is always big.... overwhelmingly big is the gospel but.

What caused the revival to die out you ask? People asking the question .... how then shall we live? And, tying it to salvation with a but. God’s love is a radical love and it is projected and transmitted by a radical grace. We will never see a great sustainable encompassing revival until we rid ourselves of the gospel but mentality. Let God be God, us be us, and the gospel given without buts! Until we do we will not see transformation in ourselves or society.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

A fresh look at the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent

Genesis 3:15 is regarded as the first prophecy of Jesus in the Old Testament. Here is how it reads in the NKJV: Gen 3:15Gen 3:15 “And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, And you shall bruise His heel." So then, we know that the seed of the woman is Christ but, who is the seed of the Serpent? This is an interesting question with what I believe to be an equally interesting answer.

The first person to definitively answer the question was John the Baptist. He made this statement when the Sadducees and the Pharisees came out to see him. Mat 3:7 NKJV But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, "Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? What is a brood of vipers if not the seed of the serpent? Brood is offspring...seed and, a viper is a snake/serpent. So then, John the Baptizer identified the seed of the serpent in his forerunner vocation. It was the religious elite leadership.

John was not alone in this proclamation it was also echoed by Jesus himself. Mat 12:34 NKJV Brood of vipers! How can you, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. Jesus also used the same description in Matthew 23:33 and in that passage called them serpents... brood of vipers as he warned them of the coming hell that they would experience in the destruction of the temple and their city. The plain answer for the question regarding the seed of the serpent is plain and simply the religious. By religious I mean those that would try to find a righteousness of their own before God.

It started with the first parents in the garden right after the unlawful meal. They, realizing that they were naked before God gathered fig leaves to try to cover their shame and, began the first religious practice of trying to gain favor and acceptance before God with their own efforts. I would submit to you for your consideration that the sewing of fig leaves, to make a covering, was in fact the first religious act. They thought that somehow this would make up for their disobedience.

God then killed and skinned animals to give them a covering. The reason is that only God can give us relationship with him. He had to do it for them. If they were to be properly covered he had to do it and, he had to shed blood to do it. The skinned animals were indeed sacrifices for the covering they needed. Why? Because the fig leave would not have lasted at all? No; The skins, while not eternal were much more permenant and practical; especially in such a hostile environment but, they were not able to cleanse the conscience rather, they did allow relationship between God and them to continue.

No doubt, some reasoning philosopher is wondering why an animal had to be killed? Well, it wasn’t because God cared that they were naked. He made them that way. So then, the sacrifice was not to satisfy God... no.... it was to cleanse Adam and Eve’s conscience because it was done by God and not them! And, for any that think that this was cruel to animals... what about the fig leaves??? They had to die didn’t they? Aren't he leaves just as important as the animals? They died in Adam and Eve’s attempt to cleanse their conscience through religious ritual.

So here is the bottom line folks; Jesus died because of religion. Religion cannot ever cleanse the conscience. Only God showing that he has forgiven once for all... never to take it up again... can cleanse the conscience. I have often wondered why a sinner like me could have such confidence in Jesus? How can I have such a cleansed conscience? Well, today I have been given the answer. It is because Jesus has taken care of my religion problem once and for all... and yes, I am saying that religion and sin are synonymous. Relationship is the reason for the cleansed conscience. Religion will only frustrate.

Friday, October 8, 2010

The read and do mentality is antithetical to the gospel

Several Christian leaders are questioning the way that most evangelicals read the scripture. Brian McLaren calls it a constitutional reading and I have heard Darin Hufford refer to it as a policy manual reading. So to be clear, I would call it a constitutional, legislative, policy manual approach that can be most easily explained as a read and do mentality. Read and do is the foundational proposition undergirding a constitution, legal code or, policy manual. My point is that no matter what you call it, the concept is antithetical to the gospel message.

Still, a large portion of the words written in the scripture deals with constitutional, legislative and, policy manual type issues and, it is easy to see why so many evangelicals view it that way. Commandments are not suggestions; they are edicts... aren’t they? In fact, I think that it would be fair to say that the Old Covenant was indeed a constitutional, legislative, policy manual type covenant and the read, memorize and do edict was just that, a commandment.

The question becomes; how has the new covenant changed that if at all? It appears that the New Testament writings are full of instructions that answer a different question... a question that asks; how then shall we live? That after all is an important question and not one to be easily dismissed. One would hope that redeemed people would be different than those who do not believe that they have been redeemed. This however, does not answer my first question; has the new covenant changed the read and do aspect of the scripture? Has it changed from a constitutional, legislative, policy manual reading to an all together different reading method? I think that the answer is a definite yes.

So the question then is what type of reading method is taught? The short answer is a redemptive method. The gospel of the death burial and resurrection of Jesus is the focus of the scripture (John 5:39-40; Luke 24:27; 44-48 ). The redemptive reading is meant to spiritually transform the individual that believes the gospel. So then, it is the transformation of the person that should not and can not be accomplished by a constitutional, legislative, policy manual, read and do reading method.

Unfortunately, the above mentioned reading method is the one that is stressed by evangelicals the world around. Here is how it works: Believe the gospel and be born again.... then, begin immediately to apply the read and do method to change your behavior and answer the question how then shall we live with proper obedience. I have explained it as Nike Slogan Christians.... Just do it!

However, I think that the redemptive reading method emphasizes the spiritual reality of our situation. We must first believe and accept the spiritual reality of our situation and position. What is the spiritual reality of our situation and position when using a redemptive reading of scripture? The spiritual reality is the affirmation of the redemptive decrees. All are declared righteous by the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ. I like the way that the New Living Translation puts it: Col 1:19-22 For God in all His fullness was pleased to live in Christ, (20) and through Him God reconciled everything to Himself. He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth by means of Christ's blood on the cross. (21) This includes you who were once far away from God. You were His enemies, separated from Him by your evil thoughts and actions. (22) Yet now He has reconciled you to Himself through the death of Christ in His physical body. As a result, He has brought you into His own presence, and you are holy and blameless as you stand before Him without a single fault.

The positional declaration of righteousness is very important in the true transformation of the individual. If one believes the good news.... that is.... that we are holy and blameless as we stand because of Jesus... then and only then, will the Spirit of God in us begin to cajole us to have our behavior line up with our actual position... it is all generated out of love that is based upon the grace of God. Read and do is eliminated and yet, if we are resting in the redemptive decrees about us and our positional righteousness... we can attempt the read and do as long as we do not see it as evidence of our transformation and, instead see it as a natural response out flowing from God’s love and grace. This completely eliminates the constitutional, legislative, policy manual, read and do method of scripture reading.

The two overriding messages of the scripture

While this blog is dedicated to my paradigm shift it is also about the way in which evangelical Christianity is off the mark in doctrine and...