Light

A Nugget for Your Noggin.

I’ve excavated some old Biblical logic in hopes that you will bury it in your brain:

I was reading my Bible Study Fellowship notes while savoring a hot cup of my good friend joe (with cream). The topic was John’s vision of the throne room and everything was clipping along just fine.

“The Bible speaks of other believers who received visions of God’s transcendent nature and character,” a new paragraph began, and it mentioned Moses, Isaiah, Ezekiel and Daniel.

Good, good, good and good.

And then:

“The apostle Paul was ‘caught up to paradise and heard inexpressible things, things that no one is permitted to tell.’”

Whoa! What?

When was Paul “caught up to paradise”? I checked the footnote to see what Scripture they based that statement upon.

I must go on boasting. Although there is nothing to be gained, I will go on to visions and revelations from the Lord.  I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know—God knows. And I know that this man—whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knows— was caught up to paradise and heard inexpressible things, things that no one is permitted to tell.  I will boast about a man like that, but I will not boast about myself, except about my weaknesses.  Even if I should choose to boast, I would not be a fool, because I would be speaking the truth. But I refrain, so no one will think more of me than is warranted by what I do or say,  or because of these surpassingly great revelations. Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me.  2 Corinthians 12:1-7

How does Paul saying he knew a man who was caught up to the third heaven translate to HIM being caught up to paradise?

I was too comfy and too lazy to get out from under the cozy afghan on my cozy sofa to brave the 22 chilly steps (44 round trip) to my library to grab The Bible Knowledge Commentary, so I stayed put and checked an online commentary.

Matthew Henry: “for doubtless [Paul] himself is the man in Christ of whom he speaks.”

Doubtless? I’m in doubt.

Mr. Henry proceeded to commend Paul for his humility in not referring to himself directly. Paul’s humility? Since when? In that very same chapter of 2 Corinthians, Paul wrote:

I have made a fool of myself, but you drove me to it. I ought to have been commended by you, for I am not in the least inferior to the “super-apostles,” even though I am nothing.  I persevered in demonstrating among you the marks of a true apostle, including signs, wonders and miracles.  How were you inferior to the other churches, except that I was never a burden to you? Forgive me this wrong!   2 Corinthians 12:11-13

Paul’s defensive and accusatory remarks don’t sound like the model of humility to me.

Even his self-deprecating remarks come off as humble brags. Take this one, for example:

For it is we who are the circumcision, we who serve God by his Spirit, who boast in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh— though I myself have reasons for such confidence.

If someone else thinks they have reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for righteousness based on the law, faultless. Philippians 3:3-6

And then there are all the I, I, I’s of 1 Timothy 2: I urge, I was appointed, I am telling the truth, I am not lying, I want, I also want, I do not permit.

John often referred to himself indirectly as “the disciple whom Jesus loved,” and it was well within his personality to do so, he did so consistently and there are verifiable incidents that tie that descriptor to him.

But indirectly and humbly referring to himself in the third person was NOT within Paul’s personality and no where else was it his m.o.

So let’s get logical: In the context of 2 Corinthians 12:1-7 – where Paul is arguing that he is equal to the apostles who actually walked with Jesus – a humble, indirect statement just doesn’t make sense.  If ever there is a time to speak boldly and directly it is when arguing a case or asserting one’s credentials.

Perhaps it was due to Matthew Henry’s impressive and exhaustive work that this doubtful interpretation has been promulgated in commentaries ever since. Even by my beloved BSF – who taught me to read the Scriptures for myself under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

When I read, “I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven,” for myself under the guidance of the Holy Spirit,  I hear Paul saying that he knew someone who had been given a vision. And that person may have shared it with him. Or that person may have told him he couldn’t share it with him.

And I wonder whether that person was John, because John and Paul may have very likely crossed paths in Ephesus.

Or perhaps it was someone else altogether.

All I know for sure is that Paul DID NOT say that HE was “caught up to paradise.”

So why does the church twist Scripture and logic and temporarily change Paul’s personality in order to say he did?

Perhaps, when it comes to the church’s love affair with Paul, the lover is blind to its beloved’s blemishes.

#buryitinyourbrain

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Light, Revelation

Identity Theft

I was reading my Bible Study Fellowship notes while savoring a hot cup of black gold (with cream). The topic was John’s vision of the throne room. Everything was clipping along just fine.

“The Bible speaks of other believers who received visions of God’s transcendent nature and character,” a new paragraph began, and it mentioned Moses, Isaiah, Ezekiel and Daniel. Good, good, good and good.

And then:

“The apostle Paul was ‘caught up to paradise and heard inexpressible things, things that no one is permitted to tell.’”

Whoa! What?

When was Paul “caught up to paradise”? I checked the footnote to see what Scripture they based that statement upon.

I must go on boasting. Although there is nothing to be gained, I will go on to visions and revelations from the Lord.  I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know—God knows. And I know that this man—whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knows— was caught up to paradise and heard inexpressible things, things that no one is permitted to tell.  I will boast about a man like that, but I will not boast about myself, except about my weaknesses.  Even if I should choose to boast, I would not be a fool, because I would be speaking the truth. But I refrain, so no one will think more of me than is warranted by what I do or say,  or because of these surpassingly great revelations. Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me.  2 Corinthians 12:1-7

How does Paul saying he knew a man who was caught up to the third heaven translate to HIM being caught up to paradise?

I was too comfy and too lazy to get out from under the cozy afghan on my cozy sofa to brave the 22 chilly steps (44 round trip) to my library to grab The Bible Knowledge Commentary, so I stayed put and checked an online commentary.

Matthew Henry: “for doubtless [Paul] himself is the man in Christ of whom he speaks.”

Doubtless? I’m in doubt.

Mr. Henry proceeded to commend Paul for his humility in not referring to himself directly. Paul’s humility? Since when? In that very same chapter of 2 Corinthians, Paul wrote:

I have made a fool of myself, but you drove me to it. I ought to have been commended by you, for I am not in the least inferior to the “super-apostles,” even though I am nothing.  I persevered in demonstrating among you the marks of a true apostle, including signs, wonders and miracles.  How were you inferior to the other churches, except that I was never a burden to you? Forgive me this wrong!   2 Corinthians 12:11-13

Those defensive and accusatory remarks don’t sound like the model of humility to me.

Even his self-deprecating remarks come off as humble brags. Take this one, for example:

For it is we who are the circumcision, we who serve God by his Spirit, who boast in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh— though I myself have reasons for such confidence.

If someone else thinks they have reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for righteousness based on the law, faultless. Philippians 3:3-6

And then there are all the I, I, I’s of 1 Timothy 2: I urge, I was appointed, I am telling the truth, I am not lying, I want, I also want, I do not permit.

John often referred to himself indirectly as “the disciple whom Jesus loved,” and it was well within his personality to do so, he did so consistently and there are verifiable incidents that tie that descriptor to him.

But indirectly and humbly referring to himself in the third person was NOT within Paul’s personality and no where else was it his m.o.

So let’s get logical: In the context of 2 Corinthians 12:1-7 – where Paul is arguing that he is equal to the apostles who actually walked with Jesus – a humble, indirect statement just doesn’t make sense.  If ever there is a time to speak boldly and directly it is when arguing a case or asserting one’s credentials.

Perhaps it was due to Matthew Henry’s impressive and exhaustive work that this doubtful interpretation has been promulgated in commentaries ever since. Even by my beloved BSF – who taught me to read the Scriptures for myself under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

When I read, “I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven,” for myself under the guidance of the Holy Spirit,  I hear Paul saying that he knew someone who had been given a vision. And that person may have shared it with him. Or that person may have told him he couldn’t share it with him.

And I wonder whether that person was John, because John and Paul may have very likely crossed paths in Ephesus.

Or perhaps it was someone else altogether.

All I know for sure is that Paul DID NOT say that HE was “caught up to paradise.”

So why does the church twist Scripture and logic and temporarily change Paul’s personality in order to say he did?

Perhaps, when it comes to the church’s love affair with Paul, the lover is blind to its beloved’s blemishes.

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Light

The Inerrancy of God

My blogging friend, Wally (I love Wally), reposted something today and all I could think was, Wally, Wally, Wally, I hate to be a thorn in your side, but I must. Even though I am weak with the flu, I must.

So I started to beat my familiar drum in the comment space of the original post, but it was getting rather long so I moved it here. I tirelessly (well, not entirely tirelessly) continue to beat this drum because the church hinges way too much on this one-half of a sentence that Paul wrote to Timothy.

So here we go. The text of the original post is in black, my comments are in crimson:

“Time and time again the question of inerrancy comes up. This is surprising given the fact that 2 Timothy 3:16 is clear that all Scripture is God-Breathed.”

First of all, I don’t think God-breathed means what you, the author, thinks it means, but we’ll get to that in a minute.

Second, when Paul wrote the words, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness…”  he was referring to the Law and the Prophets; to the Old Testament.  The books that make up the New Testament had not all been written and none of them had yet been canonized as Scripture.

“God is the author of Scripture.”

According to the verse upon which you built your argument, God is not the author of Scripture, He is the inspirer of Scripture. There’s a difference. If I say that your post inspired my post, then I would be correct. If I say that you authored my post, then I would be incorrect. By definition, the inspirer is not the author.

“So to question inerrancy is to question God.”

Your logic is flawed. I can easily believe that Scripture might be flawed AND that God is absolutely perfect.

I believe that God’s inspiration of Scripture is perfect; man’s recording, recopying, translation, interpretation and teaching of it, not so much. 

If you believe that EVERYTHING on earth has been corrupted by sin, and that NOTHING is perfect this side of heaven, then why would Scripture be exempt? Scripture is an earthly book. I doubt there is a single copy of it in heaven. Why would anyone there need it when they have the Living Word right in front of them? The Living Word is perfect, but our copy has man’s imperfect fingerprints all over it.

“Do we believe in a God that errs? Or do we believe in a God that is perfect in every way? This is a huge question with massive implications.”

Those are huge questions with massive implications, but they have nothing to do with the inerrancy of Scripture because Scripture is not equal to God.

God is three in One – Father, Son and Holy Spirit, not four in One – Father, Son, Holy Spirit and Scripture.

“If we have a God that [should be who] errs, we cannot rely on Him for anything. If that be the case, what is our hope of salvation?”

Our hope of salvation is in the sacrificial death of Jesus on our behalf. It is the victory His blood, sweat and tears won for us. 

Scripture merely tells His story.

News reports get details of true events wrong all the time, but that doesn’t mean the event didn’t happen and it doesn’t change the truth of what happened.

“There are some who say that parts of the Bible are inerrant while others are not. The problem with this theory is, how do you decide which is which?”

Here’s how I decide: If Jesus said it (as recorded in the gospels) or dictated it (as in Revelation), then I have 100% confidence in it.  If Jesus quoted it our referenced it or directed questions back to it (the Law and the Prophets) then I have 100% confidence in it.  The rest I ask God to explain to me.

“The answer is simple, the Bible is all or nothing. We do not get to pick and choose which parts are true or correct. They all are. That is not to say that people do not abuse that fact, they do. People on both sides of the aisle abuse this by taking certain laws and saying we must still follow them today or be a hypocrite, or worse, in danger of eternal damnation. However, these stances are horrible examples of good interpretive work.”

I dare say the church’s extrapolation and fast-and-loose teaching of 2 Timothy 3:16 is also a poor example of good interpretive work.

“In the final analysis, we must affirm inerrancy as believers. If we do not, we have no basis for our faith and no reason to believe the message within the pages of the Bible.”

I disagree. Man can be wrong and God can still be right. My faith is in God.

Feel free to weigh in, even if your comments grow long.

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church nonsense, Light

Hated, Hounded & Human

“The Jewish leaders hated Paul.  They followed him from town to town and made trouble for him wherever he went.  He would spend weeks, months, or even years in a place teaching about Jesus and then his enemies would show up, get him run out of town, and then stay and attempt to undo what he had taught.

The Christians in the “circumcision group” continued to actively oppose him, too, insisting on adherence to their traditions.  Paul warned Titus about them when he wrote, “For there are many rebellious people, mere talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision group. They must be silenced, because they are ruining whole households by teaching things they ought not to teach—and that for the sake of dishonest gain… Therefore, rebuke them sharply, so that they will be sound in the faith and will pay no attention to Jewish myths or to the commands of those who reject the truth.”  (Titus 1:10-11, 13-14)  I like the way the KJV words verse 14: “Not giving heed to Jewish fables, and commandments of men, that turn from the truth.”

Paul would go into a city and teach, the unbelieving Jewish leaders would soon follow to discredit him and the believing “circumcision group” would further confuse things by insisting on putting new wine into old wineskins.  (Matthew 9:17)

He was opposed from within and without.

Have you ever been opposed from within and without?

When I first started speaking about abstinence I expected to face some opposition from without, but I wasn’t prepared for the vicious opposition I would soon face from within.  I was asked to speak to a certain youth group one evening.  God had given me a message for them that was different from any I had given before or since.  As I was taking it down I asked, “Are you sure, Lord?”  Even though the message was intense, I had never had such a clear sense that I was taking His dictation.  As I gave the message one of the youth leaders (an adult male) began raising objections.  It would have been appropriate for him to pull me aside afterward to share his views but instead he repeatedly interrupted the presentation.  In spite of the interruptions a few of the students seemed to be taking the message to heart.  A few quickly aligned themselves with their leader.    The rest just looked confused.  I handled the objections cordially and then stayed for punch and cookies before hauling my equipment from the basement of the church.

As I wrestled to get my load through the heavy outer doors, none of the youth standing nearby offered to help.  They just stood in a huddle glaring at me.  I drove home grieved that those youth would exude such hate toward a guest in their church – a guest who had come to minister to them.  What grieved me the most was the realization that their attitudes reflected their leadership.  It had been a long day of presentations and I was exhausted when I arrived home but, since I had been away from my computer all day, I decided to quickly check my e-mail before going to bed.  Waiting in my inbox, just itching to pounce, was the worst vitriol – actually the only vitriol – that had ever been leveled against me.  In the time it had taken me to drive home that youth leader’s objections turned from rude to punch-me-in-the-gut ugly.  It sent me reeling for days.  A Christian is capable of writing that?  Or was he one of those guys about whom Jude warned?

For the first and only time I was tempted to quit.  I wondered whether I had been mistaken about my calling.  A few days later I received a beautiful note in the mail.  It was from a seasoned saint who encouraged me with Jesus’ words:  “If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet. Truly I tell you, it will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town.”  (Matthew 10:14-15 )

Her timely note reminded me what God had told me the moment of my call to this ministry, “It is not going to be easy.”  Instead of quitting, I resolved to speak all the more.  Shamefully, the man launched a whisper campaign against me, the ripples of which I still occasionally feel today.  The campaign against Paul was on a much larger scale.   The aversion some women have toward him even today are ages old ripples.  You’ll see what I mean.  For now, just keep in mind that those who hated and hounded him were not going to let his words go untwisted.

We’ll start some untwisting tomorrow.”

The above is an excerpt from a Bible study I wrote five years ago.  I am currently converting it to a book for publication.  Thought I’d share a bit of it with you, see if you have anything to say…

Update:  Years later I heard disturbing news about that youth leader, and about the pastor who backed his ugly words.  No wonder the hounds of hell were barking and snarling so viciously.  No wonder God gave me that particular message.

© 2015, The Reluctant Baptist

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faith, Jesus, Light

Quote Me Some Jesus

Patrick Feller, Creative Commons

Patrick Feller, Creative Commons

There is a guy on a forum who wrote:

“Revelations was written to confuse believers… it appears to be written by a demonic possessed man – definitely not John the beloved.  It should have been left out of the Bible.”

A discussion ensued.  In the end he wrote, “I am sorry you all seem too weak to question your own faith.  Religion, the bible and Christianity are not perfect.  Only Christ Jesus, the Holy Spirit and God the Father are perfect.”

His last bit made me chuckle because I have written similar words, something along the lines of “If your faith is too fragile to stand up to questioning, then it is just a house of cards, not anchored in anything solid.”

So what’s the difference between me questioning whether Paul’s letters should be given the weight of Scripture and Forum Guy questioning the inclusion of Revelation?

Jesus.  Jesus is the difference.

Jesus is my litmus test:

Question/dismiss/delete any red letters?  Nope.  They are the words of Jesus.  Nothing to do with those except salute and yield.

Question writings that are corroborated by Jesus, the Law, the Prophets?  Nope.  Jesus referred those with questions to the Law and the Prophets.  So I yield to them, too.

Question writings and teachings that are not corroborated by Jesus, the Law or the Prophets?  You betcha’.

Forum guy doesn’t like Revelation because it is scary to him.  So he has devised a nice, manageable Jesus of his liking, one that is all rainbows, bunnies and peace.

The problem is, Jesus said, “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.”  Matthew 10.

And Whoa Nellie!, look what He said in Matthew 24, Mark 13 and Luke 21.

How can Forum guy say that Jesus is perfect if he wants to delete some of His words?  If he believes the future is nothing but sunshine and love, then he is calling Jesus a liar when He said things like this:

 “Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.

And this:

“If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened.  At that time if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Messiah!’ or, ‘There he is!’ do not believe it. For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.  See, I have told you ahead of time.”

1 Thessalonians 5:3 says, “While people are saying, “Peace and safety,” destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.”

Perhaps that is why Jesus told us to look at the signs of the times.  Perhaps He revealed to John what must soon take place in order to give us confidence.  Confidence in Him, not in a pleasant fiction.

So, Forum Guy, quote me some Jesus if you want to persuade me.  And do it with love and respect.  Otherwise you are just noise.  Obnoxious, accusing noise.  That, and/or a false prophet.

There, I feel better.

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church nonsense, life, war on women

Going There Again

Just a quick observation, because it’s time:

Have you noticed that whenever a Mark Driscoll wannabe promulgates misogynistic nonsense he quotes only Paul?

And when a (presumably) well-intentioned pastor preaches on the leadership of men, he too exclusively quotes Paul.

Blogging pastors who warn Christian men against marrying 10 types of women also quote Paul.

And none of them quote Jesus.

Because Jesus didn’t say the stuff Paul said.

Some hard core Pharisees will say that Paul saying it is as good as Jesus saying it.  I know because hard core Pharisees have argued that to me.  But as of yet none of them have told me in a clear, non-convoluted way when Jesus gave Paul that kind of infallible authority.  When He put Paul on par with the Holy Spirit, the Counselor whom He sent to guide us into all truth.

I can show them exactly when He warned us to beware the yeast of the Pharisees.

Paul was well-steeped in the teachings of the Pharisees.  Well-steeped stains are tough to remove, in fact they never come entirely clean.  Old habits die hard.  And so it was with Paul.

Alas, some of the teachings of the Talmud – even the Babylonian Talmud – seeped, steeped and brewed into Paul’s teachings to the church.  And the Talmud, as I hope you know, is not Scripture.

Yep, there I went again.

Someone had to say it.

If you’re new to this blog and you want the full gripefest, you can read Picking Your Paul, Chasing Kings, Passionate About Paul?, Winning the War on Women, Trickle Down JesusGo Anne, Uh oh!You Have Got to Be Kidding Me.

Those ought to hold you for awhile…

© 2015, The Reluctant Baptist

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church nonsense, Light, war on women

You Have Got to Be Kidding Me

And now for the conclusion of Anne on women in ministry:

And from that day to this I have been very confident of my call.  And I’ve seen that He has made me like a strong pillar on that platform.  Because I know that He’s called me, in humility, to share His word.

You know I met a pastor one time who had a problem with the fact that I was speaking at his convention but he was brave enough to come sit on the back row and he came up to me afterward and he said, “Anne, I didn’t think you should be here today but you know what?  He said, “I was sitting back there listening to you and you know what you’ve done?  You’re just like a waitress and you’ve gone into the kitchen and you’ve prepared the food and you’ve served it to us and I want to thank you for not messing it up.”

All I can say is, “You have got to be kidding me.”

Anne recounted this with a smile and a laugh and her audience laughed, too.  But I wonder how many hearts sank.

I cannot tell you how many times I have had to sit and listen to a man “mess it up”.  This whole misogynistic bent on the Scriptures is a massive mess up.

And I thought, “You know what, when we go out to a restaurant we don’t have a problem that we’re served by a female waitress.  And so when I give out God’s word, I want to give it out faithful to the text.  I want to prepare it so that it is tasty and attractive and meaningful and relevant and then I want to serve it – to whoever God puts at my table – without messing it up.

My daughter and I interpreted the pastor’s comment differently.  I took his comment as him trying to frame her speaking in a way that was doctrinally acceptable.  As long as he could see her as a waitress serving the men a plateful of words, he was okay with it.

My daughter took it as him saying, “You, a mere waitress, went into the kitchen – where only (male) chefs belong – and prepared the meal.  I’m just glad you didn’t mess it up.

Either way the guy’s a jerk.

So, beware, if I had listened to the body language of those dear men – who I know meant well – and actually, I thank God for them because it drove me to my knees so I could settle that issue – but if I had listened to them, for over twenty years I would be stripped of probably 75% of the ministry God has given me.  And I can’t tell you the changed lives and the fruit….fade out.

Dear men who meant well?  That’s generous.  And enabling.  The men might be dear to someone, sometimes.  And they might have been sincere in their objection.  But rude behavior is rude behavior.  And there is nothing well-meaning in knocking someone down as they step up to the podium.  I wonder if they would dare behave so badly if a man with whom they disagreed was stepping up to the podium.

“Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, and that he may send the Messiah, who has been appointed for you—even Jesus.  Heaven must receive him until the time comes for God to restore everything, as he promised long ago through his holy prophets.”  Acts 3:19-21 NIV

God is going to restore everything back to the way He intended it to be.  Restoration is hard on the thing being restored.  For a piece of furniture to be restored, it must first be stripped down.  For a relationship to be restored, it too must be stripped down.  Restoration is also hard on the restorer.  For us to be restored, Jesus had to be stripped down and nailed to a cross.  I believe God is beginning to strip down and restore some of the erroneous teachings of the church with regard to women.

“For it is time for judgment to begin with God’s household; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God?”  1 Peter 4:17

Restoration will be hard on the church, but we have to get it right before there is any hope for anyone else.  Let’s be part of the solution dear reader.

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