Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Common distortions of Scripture; Points preachers make that are not really in the text I

This will begin a series on scripture passages that preachers distort to make points that the text does not make. Many of these are self serving. Many help the preacher keep control of the flock. Many are just well accepted interpretations that are not born out by the text in grammatical and historical context. I think that it would be much better if the average church going Christian was more knowledgeable of what the scripture really says, and far more critical and discerning of what they hear. But for now, I guess that will be my job to point these things out.

Rom 10:14-15  "How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?  (15)  And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!"

There is more than one distortion in this passage of Romans, that is, from 10:9-17, but we will deal with them individually and have already written in past articles about Romans 10:17. It is related to the distortion of 10:17 but needs to be dealt with on its own. My question is how did preaching as it is now commonly practiced ever come into being? The truth is that Paul is only speaking of preaching the gospel and the only job for a preacher, under the new covenant is to preach the gospel of Christ.

The distortion comes about by only using Romans 10:14. So often, I have heard preachers defend their preaching of just anything in the bible by isolating Romans 10:14 from verse 15. Verse 15 explains very clearly that the thing to be preached is the gospel. Therefore, preachers have no biblical edict to preach what they preach most Sundays as it seldom is the gospel. They usually preach about how to be a better person, or how to be blessed by God, or how to make sure that they are receiving the blessings of Abraham. The truth is that all of the above is best answered by preaching the gospel of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. It is only in the preaching of the gospel that anything of value happens at a church service.

Even the seasoned saint needs the gospel regularly. The gospel is the spiritual catalyst that brings about the transformation, and stands the saint in the stead of the blessings of the Abrahamic Covenant. Romans 10:9-17 expresses unquestionably that it is the gospel alone that the preacher must preach. So one has to wonder why so many preachers preach sermons that have little if anything to do with the gospel? The answer to this question has to be that there is a disconnect between preaching and its new covenant biblical function. It can only be from removing the obvious context of this passage.

It should be understood that the meaning of preach (kerusso in the Greek) is herald, publish, or proclaim. That is what it means to preach. One is not instructed to proclaim the bible per se, but rather to proclaim the gospel of Christ. One should herald or publish the gospel and should NOT be condemning behavior or presenting ways to be a better person. The gospel alone performs that function.





Monday, March 7, 2016

One reason so many churches are like cults; Twisting or misunderstanding Hebrews 13:17

 Heb 13:17  "Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you."

One characteristic of all cults is having leaders that simply must be followed and never questioned. If you look for the top 10 characteristics of cults on line, you will always see authoritarian leadership as number one. Autonomous and authoritarian leadership is something that one should steer clear of and yet, it is a prime characteristic of most churches, especially those that are non-denominational in which the leaders do not have a hierarchy to answer to. They often use phrases like you have a rebellious spirit, or so and so simply cannot submit to authority.

As I have stated so many times, Jesus and his followers changed the interpretation of scripture from a legal constitutional reading to a solely redemptive reading and the same is true here. One cannot take the scripture as a hard fast rule book and properly follow Jesus Christ. But in this case, in Hebrews 13:17, the actual grammar coupled with the occasion of the letter also demands a different understanding of the scripture than the one so commonly used by authoritarian leaders to demand that they be followed unquestionably.

Two things to consider in interpreting what was meant to the Hebrew believers. First is the occasion of the letter. They had waited and waited for the judgment of the temple system and it had not come as prophesied. They were being persecuted by the non-believing Jews, and many were ready to renounce Christ, and go back to temple Judaism without their Messiah. This was to avoid the persecution from the Jews and the Romans. Second, given the circumstances of the occasion of the letter, the way it reads in the NIV is more likely the actual meaning of the verse.

"Have confidence in your leaders and submit to their authority, because they keep watch over you as those who must give an account. Do this so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no benefit to you." Hebrews 13:17 NIV. The verb PEITHESTHE, with the first meaning of confidence or "have confidence" goes well with the above occasion of the letter. The writer of Hebrews is telling them to *have confidence* in the message of Christ that their leaders had given them. It was not giving them direction to just willy-nilly obey whatever their leaders said. Their leaders were given responsibility to promote the gospel and make sure that it sunk in and progressed. This follows the redemptive directive of Jesus and his first century followers. It is not a rule or regulation that some preacher can quote on any occasion to prove that one must obey all of his or her commands.

When you find leaders that demand that they are the authority set in place by God and that the rest of the congregation must follow and obey them, you have leaders that are twisting and misusing this passage of scripture. It is revolting when I hear pastors and leaders boast about how obedient their flock is. This is just another indication of how far evangelical Christianity is off the mark and how much the so-called leaders need to humble themselves and seek true understanding instead of just continuing to follow the dogma line. This is a time for examination and questioning. It is not a time of following lock step no matter what! This is not the only reason that evangelical Christianity is so cult like, but it is one of the main ones, and it is the perfect tool for power hungry leaders to dish out spiritual abuse.

Love letter to the brokenhearted: Part 2

Matthew 11:28-30 HCSB "Come to Me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. (29) All of you, take up My yoke an...