Missing the point on Matthew 25

I find several common themes of those who reflexively quote Matthew 25 (“Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.”).  It is a great passage that many sound teachers use properly, but false teachers abuse it regularly.  It is the pet verse of the Leftist writers and commenters at the Sojourners’ blog but they never get it right.

1. They don’t speak up for the 3,000+ of “least of these” who get killed in the womb every day because they are unwanted by their parents. They support the party whose platform calls for more abortions via taxpayer-funding. Who could be more vulnerable than those being killed for being unwanted?  If they applied this properly then they are killing Jesus in effigy by supporting abortions.

2. They don’t understand the context of Matthew 25: It is written to brothers and sisters — i.e., fellow believers — those in the church, not everyone else.

3. They think that lobbying Caesar to take from neighbor A by force to “give” to neighbor B qualifies as obeying Matthew 25. But take that to its logical conclusion: Would it qualify as obeying to lobby the government to make other people visit those in prison on your behalf, as also mentioned in that passage? Of course not. Jesus told you to do those things yourself.

4. They don’t read to the end of the chapter, because they typically deny this part:

41 “Then he will say to those on his left,‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.  . . .45 Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ 46 And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

Do all those quoting Matthew 25 to justify forced wealth redistribution as a Christian act also affirm the truth of eternal punishment?

Do they think He will really return and glory and make a final judgment of people?

If you want to argue it is good public policy to do certain things, then feel free. But that is not what Matthew 25 means.

Matthew 25:31–46 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’ “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

Tony Campolo still teaching falsehoods

Via Campolo Praises United Methodist Political Lobby – Institute on Religion & Democracy (IRD).

Commenting on homosexuality, Campolo said: “’Love the sinner and hate the sin.’ Kind of makes you puke, doesn’t it?…Love the sinner and hate your own sin.”

That’s a typical false argument.  The question being debated is whether it is a sin.  It is no more judgmental to say it is a sin than to say it isn’t.  We do hate our own sins.  We just aren’t going around saying that our sins aren’t sins, and that the church must change their definition of our sins or we’ll protest their conventions and split  denominations.

Keep in mind that it wasn’t like oxymoronic “same-sex marriage” was the norm in churches, other religions and atheistic countries for the past couple thousand years and then the mean old Bible-believers came along to spoil things.  The false teachers brought this up, not us.

He warned: “Just to discuss it drives people out of your churches into fundamental independent churches—perhaps independent of God.”

That’s ironic!  They are making a god in their own image and then judging independent churches of being without God?  Indeed.

Anyone claiming to be a “Red letter Christian” needs milk, not meat.  The original writings were all red letters in the sense that they turned out the way Jesus wanted them to.  Matthew’s account of Jesus is no more authoritative than Paul’s.

Read the entire link if you have the stomach for it.

Where do they get these things?

A theological liberal made the following comment on this massive thread:

As to the documents, I prefer the oldest and assumed to be the most authentic of the 4 gospels, Mark, from which the others drew a lot of material. It was placed second in order behind Matthew, however, by the patriarchs, in hopes that it would be less often read, and it has worked out that way. Because as you know, it ends with the execution of Jesus for threatening the state with his teachings–there is no resurrection. That part was added at a later time.

I responded with the following points.

1. Christians know that all the Gospels are authentic.

2. If the early church was trying to hide the Gospel of Mark, they would have left it out, not “hidden” it behind Matthew.

3. The resurrection is in the earliest manuscripts of Mark. The potentially late additions are verses 9-20 (just check your footnotes).

And He didn’t threaten the Roman state with his teachings.  He was brought to the Romans by the Jewish leaders.

Regarding Paul, she said:

To his credit, he never even claimed to have known Jesus, only to have had visions about him during his mysterious spasms.

Where does she get her biblical information?  Does she have documentation for her claim that the patriarchs were trying to hide Mark, or is that just groundless speculation?

It is sad that she has been so wildly misinformed. I encourage her and others to actually read what the Bible says instead of just repeating sound bites from their “pastors.”

Thoughts on tithing: Something to offend everyone!

money2.jpg

It is stewardship campaign season so I wanted to rerun this post from 2008, which had an interesting comment thread.  I’m also adding this link describing a plan for giving generously.  The four suggestions were simple and excellent.  One that has worked well for us is the Lifestyle Cap:

Lifestyle cap.  As we earn more, we should give more. If you are wealthier than you used to be, have you done more to increase your standard of living or your standard of giving? 

Living below your means — not just within them — is a great place to be.  As you cap your lifestyle in terms of cars, housing, clothes, vacations, etc. you’ll be amazed how much more you have to give and save.

—–

I have mixed views on the Biblical concept of tithing.  On the one hand, I think 10% is a nice, round number and a great amount for people to give.

But I don’t see New Testament support to make it a requirement for Christians, and I see many preachers take Old Testament verses that were just for the Israelites and project them onto the New Testament.  The only NT passage that I am aware of that mentions tithing is Matthew 23:23, and that was to point out the hypocrisy of the listeners (“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices-mint, dill and cummin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law-justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former”).

Also, 10% was not the upper limit for the Israelites.  My guess is that many of the people reading this could give more than that.  We’re in the richest 2% of people who ever lived, and I think that as a country we’re wasting a huge opportunity to put our wealth towards advancing the Gospel and his kingdom around the world.

Some think they can’t afford to tithe, though God expected the poorest Israelite to give 10%.  If you really want to give 10%, you can find a way.  Think of it this way: If your boss cut your pay 10%, what would you do - die?

And the hypothetical wage cut figure really isn’t 10%, since your contributions are tax deductible.  Roughly speaking, going from 0% giving to 10% would reduce your spending by roughly 8% or less.  And if you are already giving, say, 5%, then it would only impact you by 4% of your income.

Most importantly, I really don’t like to over-emphasize anything that might turn giving into a legalistic enterprise, because that can take the fun out of it.  Giving should be joyful!

2 Corinthians 9:6-7 Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

Yet if we really believe what Jesus said and don’t consider this next passage just a sound bite, our giving habits will reach into eternity.  Right after we die I think we’ll have some serious regrets about how we handled our money much of the time, and some serious joy over the good decisions we made.

Matthew 6:19-20 Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.

Is that enough of a contradiction for everyone?  How do you help turn people on to the joys of giving without making it legalistic and burdensome?

Don’t be slaves to the 10% target, but don’t assume you are limited by it, either.  You may be able to give much more.  Are you taking advantage of the opportunity you have in this life to help advance God’s kingdom?

And when you give, give intentionally and give to God first.  Don’t give him what is left over.

P.S. Here’s a good article on why the often-used example of Abraham is not a good justification for requiring tithing.

Are you sure about that?

I enjoyed this post at Pyromaniacs: (Less) tersely put: omniscience and certainty revisited, where the subject of certainty was discussed.  I hope you read it all.  Many theological liberal / “emergent” types are ironically certain that we can’t be certain about things.  But there are core things about God that a professed believer could only miss by trying very hard.  And oh, how they do try to miss them!

To profess certainty, non-Christians must feign omniscience.

Christians begin with the confession that they (1) do not possess omniscience, but (2) are by grace confidants of the only one who does possess it.

Thus Christians alone not only can be, but are obliged to be, humbly certain.

. . .

“Thus Christians alone not only can be, but are obliged to be, humbly certain.” The Christian, insofar as he actually practices the faith he professes, necessarily affirms the inerrancy of Scripture as the very word of God. In so doing, he claims to possess a revelation from the only one who actually does know and understand absolutely everything that exists, since He is the Creator of absolutely everything that  exists.

Ironically, however, there are those who (A) claim to be Christian, but (B) choose to feign uncertainty on unpopular issues where the Bible is pretty clear.

Return to the subject of homosexuality. The Bible really is univocal on that particular behavior (e.g. Rom. 1:26-28; 1 Cor. 6:9-11). As it is on wifely submission (e.g. Eph. 5:22, 24). Or the exclusivity of Christ and His Gospel (Jn. 14:6; Acts 4:12). Or the reality of eternal conscious torment of the lost in Hell (Matt. 25:41, 46).

These are not murky penumbras, but clear doctrines. Not that a devoted opponent cannot fabricate some murk; it is axiomatic that great distance from the Word necessarily creates greater murkiness (Isa. 8:20). Any clear statement can be smudged… including this one. But the professed believer who adopts a pose of tentativeness on such issues is in the precise-reverse position of the unbeliever who adopts the pose of certitude.

If you come across “leaders” whose message is that you shouldn’t be certain, then you can be certain about one thing: You shouldn’t follow them.

Somewhere Greg Koukl is smiling . . .

Never read a Bible verse is one of the simplest and most important Bible study lessons you’ll ever get.  Always read what surrounds the text to ensure you understand the context of it.  I expanded on that theme in a class I taught to high school students a couple months ago.  One challenge with that age group they are hard to read.  They sit there politely, but often it is hard to tell if they are really engaged.

But I got some nice news today: One of the students loved the lesson and shared it with her mom.  Her mom got a lot out of it and shared it with someone at Care Net Pregnancy Center, who may use it there.  So the benefits of this lesson spread out quickly and effectively without me knowing about it until today.  Sometimes you just have to trust the process.  Sow the seed generously and let God make it grow where He likes.

I also picked up a new thought on the importance of reading in context.  I had already noted in the lesson below how often Jeremiah 29:11 is misused.  But in talking to the Care Net volunteer today I realized another problem with it that I added:

Also, deep down people know that is a false promise.  Try telling that to someone who has seen nothing but misery in the lives of those around her.  How can she believe in a God like that?

If you haven’t checked out the web site, blog or Podcast of Stand to Reason I highly encourage it.  It is the best organization I know for clear thinking Christianity.

Here is my outline from the class.

——

How to read in context: Don’t just read a Bible verse (a great slogan and lesson from Stand to Reason – http://www.str.org).  Always read at least a paragraph, and preferably a section or a chapter.  Looking at what came before and after will help ensure you are getting the right meaning.

A simple and effective way to read the Bible
  • Read it – 1-3 chapters (less for doctrine, more for history)
  • Question it
    • What portion stands out to me?  Why?
    • Is there an example for me to follow?
    • Is there an error for me to avoid?
    • Is there a duty for me to perform?
    • Is there a promise for me to claim?
    • Is there a sin for me to confess?
    • What does it not mean?  (If a difficult passage says the opposite of other more clear teachings, you know what it can’t mean)
    • Plan it – make a plan for how you will use it
    • Pray it – pray scripture back to God
    • Share it – helps others, and helps us to remember it

We should read it in the way the authors intended it, depending on the context and type of writing.

  • When was it written?
  • Who was it written by / to?
  • Type of writing
    • History
    • Metaphor / illustrations / parables
    • Doctrine
    • Poetry
    • Figures of speech – i.e., exaggerations

Important points about reading in context

  • We don’t like to admit we’ve made mistakes, so we hold onto bad interpretations
    • Solution: Swallow your pride, get it right and remember to read in context next time.  For the record, I have misused every verse in this lesson.  Some mistakes are more serious than others.
    • We have all been guilty of reading out of context.  Our choice is to dig in our heels and continue to use it incorrectly or humbly accept and use the correct teaching.  2 Timothy 2:15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.
    • God can forgive this error just like He delights to forgive everything else done by those who trust in Jesus.
    • Fear of getting it wrong
      • Reading in context isn’t that hard to do!  Don’t be afraid of misinterpreting – just read surrounding passages and study notes.
      • We have an important point we want to make and we can’t use that verse for it any more
        • Find another passage to prove the point you wanted to make.
        • If you can’t find another verse to support it, maybe your point isn’t valid or particularly important.
        • Once you get it right, don’t be smug about it.  You’ll need to bite your tongue a lot and only correct people inappropriate settings and ways (e.g., Bible studies, one-on-one, etc.).
        • Great news: Even though you may have misunderstood the meaning, it still has a meaning – and it may be better than the one you thought it had!

Sample passages – the part in bold is what is frequently used out of context.  Note how just reading a couple surrounding verses shows the real meaning.

 Even one of the most famous verses ever gets misused.  Not everyone goes to Heaven – only those who trust in Jesus.

John 3:16-18 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.

Philippians 4:13 is one of the most commonly misused passages.  It isn’t about achieving great sporting victories or leaping tall buildings.

 Philippians 4:12-13 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.

 You only have to go back ½ of one verse to get the context.  Paul has a secret!  A secret about what?  A secret about how to be content in every situation.  It is a great message – actually, much better than the typical application.

And another very commonly misused verse is Jeremiah 29:11.  I see this abused on a regular basis in sermons, on t-shirts, signs, etc.

Jeremiah 29:1, 4, 10-11 This is the text of the letter that the prophet Jeremiah sent from Jerusalem to the surviving elders among the exiles and to the priests, the prophets and all the other people Nebuchadnezzar had carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon . . .
This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon . . .  This is what the Lord says: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my gracious promise to bring you back to this place. For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

 There is actually a great message in Jeremiah 29:11: God makes huge promises and keeps them.  The Israelites had been taken into captivity because of their rebellion and worship of false gods, but God promised to bring them back.  And He did.  But He did not make a generic promise to all people and at all times to prosper them.

People even throw that verse at non-believers, but that would give them a false sense of security.  God’s message to them is the opposite.  If they don’t repent and believe, his plans for them are horrible!

Also, deep down people know that is a false promise.  Try telling that to someone who has seen nothing but misery in the lives of those around her.  How can she believe in a God like that?

If you want to encourage people, try Matthew 11:28-30 instead (Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”)  That points them to the Jesus.

Both Christians and non-Christians abuse Matthew 7:1.  Jesus isn’t saying to never judge, He is saying not to judge hypocritically.

Matthew 7:1-5 Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

People have used Matthew 5:39 to oppose capital punishment.  But it is hard to turn the other cheek when you are dead, and it is unjust for the government to “turn the other cheek.”  It would mean that we’d never punish anyone for anything.

Matthew 5:39  But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.

Christians often use Matthew 18:20 reflexively when talking about praying together, but is Jesus not there with you when you are by yourself?

Matthew 18:15–20 (ESV) If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. . . . And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.

The part in bold makes people squirm.  Reading the whole passage helps put it in perspective.   I doubt many wives will complain about husbands who love them as Christ loves the church.

Ephesians 5:22–33 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior . . . Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her . . . In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself . . . “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” . . . However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.

Malachi 3:8 gets misused a lot in stewardship campaigns.  Robbing God?!  That can’t be good.  But it is not a New Testament concept (see 2 Corinthians 9:6-7 Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.).

Malachi 3:6–10 “For I the LORD do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed. From the days of your fathers you have turned aside from my statutes and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you, says the LORD of hosts. But you say, ‘How shall we return?’ Will man rob God? Yet you are robbing me. But you say, ‘How have we robbed you?’ In your tithes and contributions. You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing me, the whole nation of you. Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the LORD of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need.

False teacher profile

I realize it is a risk to feed a narcissistic, attention-loving personality, but I am posting this as a public service.  While Dan Trabue is a small-time false teacher, he uses my blog to go to other sites to share his false beliefs.  He is predictably disingenuous, but it is very time consuming to replay the same conversations over and over.  Comment threads can literally go into the hundreds when refuting him.  He uses the same basic script, posing as an otherwise-orthodox Bible-believing Christian who was dragged kicking and screaming to his current pro-gay theological positions.  But the truth is something quite different.  He delivers a deceptive fallacy-fest on many topics.

Not surprisingly, he bears false witness about me by claiming I bear false witness about him.  Here’s what I mean: He knows he continued to comment at my site after being told to stop, that he continued to email me after being told to stop and continued to follow me to blogs and reply to me after being told to stop — and he even wrote my pastor!  These are all facts of history that he lies about in trying to claim slander, gossip and false witness — but of course he’s the one slandering, gossiping and bearing false witness.

Now before you act surprised, remember that he is a wolf in sheep’s clothing doing the work of Satan.  Of course he won’t doesn’t mind lying about these things.

What is amusing is that when I post a link to this page after Dan denies my simple request and replies to me on blogs he has followed me to, he tries to claim I’m bearing false witness.  But his replies prove my point.  I made one more attempt to get Dan to stop bothering me by posting this at another site.  It only took an hour for him to ignore my simple request and prove my point about him.

Dan: “Where is the love? Where is the grace?
I sadly rebuke you in the name of Christ our Lord.”

Neil: Thoroughly documented blog-stalking false teacher Dan Trabue claims that he views me as a brother in Christ and loves me. When one considers how love manifests itself, it usually involves some sort of sacrifice — giving of time, giving of money, or sacrificing health, safety or even life itself. At least that’s how Christians throughout the century showed love.

Now carefully consider what I have asked Dan Trabue to do to show his “love”: Nothing. Literally nothing. I don’t mean I didn’t ask him anything. I did ask make a request of him: Do nothing. Do not comment on my blog, do not email me, do not reply to me on other blogs.

So has Dan the “loving, tolerant brother-in-Christ” demonstrated his love by adhering to my simple request to do nothing? Nope. He continually responds to my comments even though I never address him.

So here we are once again, wasting valuable time because Dan cannot perform what is literally the easiest request ever made in the history of the universe: Don’t reply to my blog comments.

So prove me wrong, Dan. Don’t respond to this comment or to any other comment I ever make, and I’ll do the same for you. What could be easier? Just do nothing and you will have exhibited the tiniest amount of evidence that you can accommodate the simplest and easier request for love ever.

If you type so much as an “OK” in response or if you ever reply to me again then I’ll update the post on my blog and re-post it, noting how “loving” Dan Trabue literally couldn’t bring himself to do nothing in response to a request from someone he insists is a brother-in-Christ to him. (If you want to complain about me on your blog, then by all means do that. I don’t read it so I don’t care. I just don’t want to interact with you, ever.)

Will you comply with the easiest request in the history of man to give the slighest bit of evidence of your alleged love, or will you prove yourself a hypocrite for all time? Your call! I’m good either way.

Most authentic Christian blogs ban Dan once they figure him out, though some perform a great public service and keep him engaged and limit the damage he does elsewhere (sort of like how engaging Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons keeps them from sharing their false teachings with your neighbors).

People like him can be confusing to seekers and he and his kind are the ones causing great divisions in the church.  Therefore, it is important to demonstrate his errors in the most concise way possible.  Otherwise, he wastes an inordinate amount of your time and gets his (im)moral victory of leaving the impression that these topics are toss-ups for the real church.

Dan is the guy who contacted my pastor because I took away Dan’s commenting privileges here and asked him not to email me.  Yes, the Internet can be a creepy place.  My pastor and I had a good laugh over it, as he is a true man of God and quite comfortable with my theology.   Dan tried to say it was part of a Matthew 18 church discipline issue, but he begged the question by assuming that he is a brother-in-Christ.  My point was that someone with his views and approach is no brother-in-Christ of mine.

The false teachers highlighted in the Bible probably referred to themselves as “brothers,” but that meant as much as it does when false teacher Dan says it.

2 Corinthians 11:13-15  For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ.  And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.  So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds.

So this will be a one-stop shopping post, complete with a shortcut link – http://wp.me/p1wGU-2SV . When Dan plays his game you can just link here to give an overview of his views and his mode of operation.  I’m glad to see people whale on false teachers who are more honest (in a perverse sort of way) about their heresies, but it is best not to feed one like Dan who poses as a Bible-believer.

“Prebuttal” to Dan: This isn’t slander, as you typically claim when I recount these facts, because slander is verbal and libel is written.  And it is all true, so it isn’t libel.  And it isn’t gossip because you open yourself to criticism when you post your heresies publicly.  I know you read this blog religiously (heh) even though I ignore yours.

Bubba is one of my all-time favorite commenters and has been remarkably thorough and patient in exposing Dan’s false teachings and style at other blogs.  He graciously let me borrow one of his comments to post here.  They include links to Dan’s and other sites as evidence.  There is so much more that could be added, such as his un-biblical views on the atonement and communion, but this should be sufficient.

Again, I normally have a “don’t feed the trolls” policy, but I think many of you will be glad to have a link like this handy as a shortcut in addressing Dan.  Many thanks to Bubba for his excellent work.

I’d like to make clear that my intent wasn’t to offer some exhaustive list of Dan’s character defects or most controversial statements, or even to document what I think are his worst traits.  It’s just that I believe that, in isolation, Dan Trabue’s comments sometimes gives the false impression that he’s a poltical and theological moderate who so thoroughly respects all of the Bible’s teachings that he wouldn’t make claims about the Bible that the text doesn’t make for itself.  Even if everything he writes only implies all this and the explicit claims are strictly accurate, the total effect can be misleading because there are substantial material omissions.  My goal is to provide the context that provides some of the more noteworthy details of his beliefs, in order to correct that false impression his writing may create.

I hope your readers notice that I do a lot of explicit quoting, linking to the original discussions so people can judge for themselves.  Even when I describe his position in my own words, I merely describe and try to do so without judgment.   I do not think it can be reasonably argued that it’s an ad hominem attack simply to provide neutral descriptions and sourced quotes of a person’s beliefs regarding the Bible.

So far as I know, Dan has never substantially changed his position on anything I quoted.  He has routinely claimed that I grossly misunderstand him, but he’s never explained how.  I’d love to hear an unambiguous clarification that, of course, Dan believes that God actually did command everything the Bible attributes to Him, that Christ’s death caused our salvation, and that His bodily Resurrection is a truly essential doctrine.  I’m not optimistic on that front.

Here’s Bubba’s original quote posted at this site.

Deriving from Lev 18 and 29 (and Gen 19) a universal prohibition of homosexual behavior may be like stumbling onto the right answer for a math problem despite some arithmetic errors. The destination’s right, but the route was wrong.

As a general rule, it’s not the case the Old Testament regulations for the nation of ancient Israel (the only true theocracy, governed by God through His prophets and judges) apply to the church under the new covenant.

Dan Trabue goes too far. Even if certain passages prohibit homosexual behavior only in certain contexts, it’s still true that the Bible condemns the behavior EVERY time it’s explicitly mentioned. That those times are few isn’t determinative, nor is the context of Canaanite behavior. AFTER ALL, Leviticus 18 and 20 also prohibit adultery, incest, and bestiality. The latter is mentioned even less frequently than homosexuality, so should we start examining whether our condemnation of sheep-bothering is merely cultural and not really biblical, on the pretense that it was forbidden only in the pagan temple but not in the bedroom or barn, as the case may be?

Dan concludes that the Bible doesn’t explicitly condemn every possible configuration of homosexual behavior, but Bible study alone simply does not explain the leap from that conclusion to the conclusion that God blesses ANY configuration.

He notes that fidelity, mercy, etc., are good for everyone, but it doesn’t follow that God condones all possible familial arrangements in which these qualities aren’t excluded — prudence is good, but God doesn’t bless bank robberies if they’re well planned — and it’s possible that God made us male and female for a reason, and that reason is lifelong heterosexual monogamy.

It’s true that the Bible permits deviations from that arrangement, celibacy being perfectly moral, divorce being an explicit concession to our hard hearts, and polygamy being perhaps an implicit concession to a fallen. But, just because the Bible permits SOME exceptions, it doesn’t follow that it permits ALL exceptions — or this PARTICULAR exception of so-called “gay marriage.”

Anyway, we shouldn’t look primarily to the Old Testament when the New Testament is clear enough about which rules are carried forward. In its concluding chapter, Hebrews tells us not to worry about dietary regulations (13:9), but we should keep the wedding bed undefiled (13:4). Paul wrote that we shouldn’t be judged by what we eat but should refrain from “porneia,” sexual immorality (Col 2:16, 3:5).

Paul is also quite clear in Romans 1: because of man’s idolatry, God gave up the unrighteous to impurity (1:24), to dishonorable passions (1:26), and to a debased mind (1:28), leading to all manner of evil, including envy, murder, and slander. Even if one were to put a heavy emphasis on the fact that this consequence of homosexual behavior was in the context of idolatry, it’s still impossible to conclude that homosexual behavior is biblically permissible.

AFTER ALL, God wouldn’t “hand over” an idolator to behavior that is good or even morally neutral. “They were idolators, and so God gave them over to prayer and almsgiving” DOES NOT WORK as a logical progression, nor does the idea that they were idolators, and so God would give them over to morally neutral behavior like square dancing and poetry readings.

If that weren’t enough, Jesus Christ Himself made clear, in Matthew 19, that God made us male and female so that a man (male) would become one flesh with his wife (female). He immediately included celibacy as a righteous alternative, but nothing else: divorce was permitted only as a concession. The fact that this passage occurs in the context of divorce isn’t determinative: the principle, rooted in man’s very creation, is obviously universal and has wide-reaching consequences. It’s completely incoherent to tell a man that God made him male to become one flesh with a woman, only to turn around and say that God blesses a “marriage” with another man.

I’ve never met a Christian who had a plausible argument that the Bible permits such an arrangement, and I believe I know the Bible well enough to know that I never will.

I certainly don’t expect such an argument from Dan Trabue. It’s been a while since we’ve cross swords, but he and I have spent literal years and thousands of words in verbal combat.

My opinion of him is not very high at all, to understate things drastically, and Dan insists that I constantly misunderstand him. It may help those who don’t know him to have a little context about his beliefs, from his own hand.

Here, Dan laments when word games and biblical exegesis are used “for political ends,” but it’s not as if he’s a political moderate or an agnostic, and it’s not as if he has a problem invoking Christ’s name on the subject of politics. On his own blog he has written, “in my experience, the vast majority of US/western type of socialism/communism supporters are supporting a more egalitarian, just, equitable system that looks to take seriously the teachings of Christ.”

On the other hand, he wrote a poem for “W and his spawn” accusing free-market conservatives of deicide and the idolatrous worship of a bloodthirsty god. The poem must be read to be believed, and Dan is proud enough of the work that he published it twice in two years.

Here, Dan writes that he loves the Bible. Elsewhere he has written, “I DO love the Bible, but I DON’T accept that every line is a perfect representation of God’s Will.”

What lines are questionable? Well, the Old Testament passages where God commands wars of annihilation, Dan speculates that they could be essentially revenge fantasies: “Sometimes in the Bible, you have a powerless people who have been oppressed and it is completely natural for them to want to see a God that would take revenge for them, or allow them to take revenge. It’s a natural human response to oppression and we ought not judge it too harshly, especially we who have never known oppression.”

He entertains the possibility because he believes that the Old Testament attributes to God commands to commit literal atrocities:

“When we read that ‘God says’ to kill disrespectful children or that when we invade a country, we are to kill everyone – including the children and babes, BUT to save the virgin girls so we can make them our wives – when we read passages like that, we don’t need a Bible verse to straighten that out for us. CLEARLY, our God-given sense of logic and morality shouts out that such behavior is atrocious and wrong.”

(He does this on the way to arguing against the OT prohibition of homosexuality. Here he writes, “Sometimes, rules in the bible are time/people-specific.” Apparently, sometimes, the rules are altogether immoral for all people, or so Dan believes.)

The New Testament has its own problems, as Dan believes that it is “doubtless” that some of Paul’s letters betray some combination of sexism and homophobia.

Here, Dan writes that he esteems the Bible as a “book of truths.” Elsewhere he has elaborated on that position, writing, “that is not to say that I consider all the stories therein to be likely strictly fact-based.”

He even stated it more bluntly: “I think the Bible is a book of Truths. Not facts.”

What facts does he doubt? On the Passover — the central event of Judaism, commemorated annually for literally millennia, and the event through which Christians understand Christ’s death — he writes, “I find it hard to believe as a literal historic event.”

Dan affirms the “Big Truths” of the Bible, but not necessarily the “little details.”

Little things, like the story of Jonah, the Tower of Babel, and — ahem — THE VIRGIN BIRTH…

“For myself, if I were to find out that Mary was not actually a virgin or that Jonah was not actually swallowed by a great fish or that the tower of Babel story is just a mythological explanation of how people learned different languages, not a factual explanation, if I learned any of that to be factual, my faith in God would be intact because, well, my faith is in God, not these details.”

…and THE BODILY RESURRECTION OF CHRIST.

“Why can the resurrection spoken of in 1 Corinthians not be metaphorical? …if he were raised spiritually, not bodily, is that not a resurrection, too?

“Why can’t we be wrong on details as long as we get the big Truths right?”

Dan will be clear to state that he believes in the bodily Resurrection, but then again, he’s written, “I and my company are not of the sort that insist upon a literal interpretation of the Creation or even the Resurrection story.”

So far as I know, Dan has never written that the Crucifixion is one of those dispensible little details — but he hasn’t written otherwise, either, and he denies the direct causal connection between Christ’s death and our justification, forgiveness, and salvation from sin. He believes that we are saved by God’s grace but not Christ’s death, and that the latter is only an expression of the former.

“I believe we are saved by grace AND because of that grace, Jesus died for us. In THAT sense, one might say that our salvation is caused by Jesus’ death (as it is a representation of God’s grace). As I have said, it is not a scriptural phrasing of how we are saved (ie, the Bible does not SAY our salvation is caused by Jesus’ death) so I don’t think it’s the most biblical way of expressing it.”

I think one should keep all of this in mind when evaluating Dan Trabue’s positions on the teachings of the Bible.

False teachers worship government instead of Jesus

False teachers* continue to whine and fast** over the U.S. budget, ignoring that their plans involve taking from others — most of whom can’t vote and who may not even have been born yet (and won’t be, if these pro-aborts have their way).  It is illuminating how the Democrats gave up billions of dollars in spending rather than lose a few hundred million that goes to Planned Parenthood.

Their “churches” aren’t giving themselves because they are too busy with their #1 priority of advancing the anti-biblical gay agenda.  Therefore, they must ask the government to take from neighbor A to “give” to neighbor B.  How generous of them!  And how un-biblical!

There is no greater concern among the churches of Christ than for those in this nation who live in poverty. This could hardly be otherwise because Jesus himself lived among the poor: loving them, eating and drinking with them, healing them, and speaking words of justice and assurance that God’s own love for the poor is unsurpassed.

via GOP Sets Fire To Matthew 25; Will President Obama Put Out The Flames?

Note the hyperbole: If you don’t force future generations to pay for your wish list now, then you are burning the Bible.  What hyperbole. And as usual, the ones pretending to care about the least of these also want your tax dollars to pay for the destruction of the true least of these, the unborn.

More importantly, notice the non sequitur: Jesus spent time with the poor and loved them, therefore the government needs to redistribute money from producers to non-producers.  These false teachers parrot these sound bites so much they don’t even realize there is no logical connection — or they know and don’t care, and the media lets them get away with it.

And even though these false teachers don’t even understand Matthew 25, shouldn’t the ACLU be alarmed about that whole separation thingy?  After all, why would anyone expect Obama to advance that passage?

The motto of the United Church of Christ and other apostate denominations should be: “Caring for the least of these — or destroying them — with your money.”

*False teachers include people like Jim “the Gospel is all about wealth redistributionWallis and race-baiting Chuck “Jesus is not the only way” Currie

** Normally I’d never comment on anyone’s weight, but unless the camera adds 90 lbs. I’d say that false teachers like Chuck and Jim are pretty fast-resistant.

The perfect record is intact

I know this sounds like hyperbole, but it is true: I have yet to see Chuck “Jesus is not the only way” Currie or the United Church of Christ get a single Bible verse right.  And I’ve endured reading countless blog posts of his and actually forced myself to listen to some of his sermons.  The insincere droning I can overlook, but the false teachings I cannot.  Here’s the latest, emphasis added:

In a “Resolution for the Common Good,” General Synod 25 reminds us: “Our Christian faith speaks directly to public morality and the ways a nation should bring justice and compassion into its civic life.  In the story of the last judgment, Jesus tells us that nations will be judged by how they care for their most vulnerable citizens, those Jesus describes as, ‘the least of these who are members of my family.’  This story in Matthew (Matthew 25: 34-35) is not about personal salvation; rather it is presented as a story of the judgment of nations.”

via JPANet: The Federal Budget and the Common Good

Really?  So if you trust in Jesus for your salvation but live in a “goat” nation then you “will go away into eternal punishment” but if you reject Jesus but live in a “sheep” nation you will have eternal life? (verse 46)  Wow, that is some interesting theology!  It isn’t Christian, but it is interesting.  Apparently in Chuck’s world you could be a greedy, gay-bashing, drug-dealing, misogynist non-believer but you get eternal salvation as long as your nation borrows from future generations to fund his preferred social programs.

These false teachers can’t get the simplest passage correct, but the larger tragedy is that people read the Bible so little that they can’t recognize it.

Aside from the bad Bible analysis, he uses the typical bad reasoning that his fellow false teacher Jim “the Gospel is all about wealth redistributionWallis does, namely that even if the Bible said countries must help in this way that it is a blank check.  No, more than a blank check: It is a duty to borrow from future generations to support poorly performing and even counterproductive programs.

And as always, these false teachers who reflexively refer to the “least of these” are not only pro-legalized abortion but pro-taxpayer funded abortion.  That means these wolves in sheep’s clothing aren’t just pro-choice, they are pro-abortion — and they claim Jesus is on their side.  Crushing and dismembering innocent but unwanted human beings is the opposite of caring for the least of these.

Run, don’t walk, from denominations and false teachers like this.

P.S. Chuck also broke the hypocrisy meter with his support of President Obama’s Random Foreign Policy Generator war in Libya.

Reading the Bible in Context

This is a handout from a lesson I’ll be using with the high school kids at church.  I thought I’d share it here.  Tips welcomed!

The purpose is to give an overview of how to read the Bible, then focus on reading it in context.  I’ll address barriers to reading in context then give examples of commonly misused verses.  Finally, we’ll pick a chapter at random and show how well these techniques work.

——

A simple and effective way to read the Bible – from James MacDonald’s “Walk in the Word” Podcasts

  • Read it – 1-3 chapters (less for doctrine, more for history)
  • Question it
    • What stands out to me? Why?
    • Is there an example for me to follow?
    • Is there an error for me to avoid?
    • Is there a duty for me to perform?
    • Is there a promise for me to claim?
    • Is there a sin for me to confess?
  • Plan it – make a plan for how you will use it
  • Pray it – pray scripture back to God
  • Share it – helps others, and helps us to remember it

How to read in context: Don’t just read a Bible verse (a great slogan and lesson from Stand to Reason). Always read at least a paragraph, and preferably a section or a chapter. Looking at what came before and after will help ensure you are getting the right meaning.

We should read it in the way the authors intended it, depending on the context and type of writing.  Examples:

  • When was it written?
  • Who was it written by / to?
  • Type of writing
    • History
    • Metaphor / illustrations / parables
    • Doctrine
    • Poetry
    • Figures of speech – i.e., exaggerations

Barriers to reading in context

We don’t like to admit we’ve made mistakes, so we hold onto bad interpretations.

  • Solution: Swallow your pride, get it right and remember to read in context next time. For the record, I have misused every verse in this lesson.
  • We have all been guilty of reading out of context. Some mistakes are more serious than others. Our choice is to dig in our heels and continue to use it incorrectly or humbly accept and use the correct teaching. As 2 Timothy 2:15 says, “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.“

Fear of getting it wrong.

  • Reading in context isn’t that hard to do! Don’t be afraid of misinterpreting – just read surrounding passages and study notes.

We have an important point we want to make and we can’t use that verse for it any more.

  • Find another passage to prove the point you wanted to make.
  • If you can’t find another verse to support it, maybe your point isn’t valid or particularly important.

—–

Sample passages – the part in bold is what is frequently used out of context. Note how just reading a couple surrounding verses shows the real meaning.

 

Even one of the most famous verses ever gets misused. Not everyone goes to Heaven – only those who trust in Jesus.

John 3:16-18 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.

Philippians 4:13 is one of the most commonly misused passages. It isn’t about achieving great sporting victories or leaping tall buildings.

 

Philippians 4:12-13 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.

 

You only have to go back ½ of one verse to get the context. Paul has a secret! A secret about what? A secret about how to be content in every situation. It is a great message – actually, much better than the typical application.

And another very commonly misused verse is Jeremiah 29:11. I see this abused on a regular basis in sermons, on t-shirts, signs, etc.

Jeremiah 29:1, 4, 10-11 This is the text of the letter that the prophet Jeremiah sent from Jerusalem to the surviving elders among the exiles and to the priests, the prophets and all the other people Nebuchadnezzar had carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon. . . . This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon . . . This is what the Lord says: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my gracious promise to bring you back to this place. For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

There is actually a great message in Jeremiah 29:11: God makes huge promises and keeps them. The Israelites had been taken into captivity because of their rebellion and worship of false gods, but God promised to bring them back. And He did. But He did not make a generic promise to all people and at all times to prosper them.

People even throw that verse at non-believers, but that would give them a false sense of security. God’s message to them is the opposite. If they don’t repent and believe, his plans for them are horrible!

If you want to encourage people, try Matthew 11:28-30 instead (Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.) That points them to Jesus.

Both Christians and non-Christians abuse Matthew 7:1. Jesus isn’t saying to never judge, He is saying not to judge hypocritically.

Matthew 7:1-5 Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

People have used Matthew 5:39 to oppose capital punishment. But it is hard to turn the other cheek when you are dead, and it is unjust for the government to “turn the other cheek.” It would mean that we’d never punish anyone for anything.

Matthew 5:39 But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.

Christians often use Matthew 18:20 reflexively when talking about praying together, but is Jesus not there with you when you are by yourself?

Matthew 18:15–20 (ESV) If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. . . . And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.

The part in bold makes people squirm. Reading the whole passage helps put it in perspective. I doubt many wives will complain about husbands who love them as Christ loves the church.

Ephesians 5:22–33 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior . . . Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her . . . In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself . . . “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” . . . However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.

Malachi 3:8 gets misused a lot in stewardship campaigns. Robbing God?! That can’t be good. But it is not a New Testament concept (see 2 Corinthians 9:6-7 Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.).

Malachi 3:6–10 “For I the LORD do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed. From the days of your fathers you have turned aside from my statutes and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you, says the LORD of hosts. But you say, ‘How shall we return?’ Will man rob God? Yet you are robbing me. But you say, ‘How have we robbed you?’ In your tithes and contributions. You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing me, the whole nation of you. Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the LORD of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need.

Do they really care what Jesus would do?

False teacher Chuck “Jesus is not the only way” Currie asked, “What would Jesus cut?” in an attempt to influence the reductions required for the U.S. budget.  Aside from the major issues with not only the ineffectiveness but the counterproductive nature of so many U.S. welfare programs, I think it is fair to ask if Chuck and other false teachers like Jim “the Gospel is all about wealth redistributionWallis really care what Jesus thinks.

Perhaps they could share their church budgets with us and show us how much they give out of their own pockets to the poor, even as their denominations keep shrinking (the UCC loses people year after year – must be the ejector seats!).  Do they just spend the donations on their own buildings and such, or do they help the needy in a significant way?  If they aren’t setting a good example with their own funds,  why should we take their advice on how to spend other people’s money?

Jesus said many things that these false teachers don’t take seriously.

Jesus taught that not only was murder wrong, but even the hatred that leads to murder.  He taught to protect the weak and the “least of these.  Yet the false teachers are pro-legalized abortion and even pro-taxpayer-funded abortion.  If they think Jesus supports either of those they are worshiping a fake Jesus.

And they support groups like Planned Parenthood, which in addition to killing the unborn systematically hide statutory rape and underage sex slavery.  That is the opposite of love and caring for the least of these.

Jesus taught not to even look at others lustfully and that marriage was designed for one man and one woman.  Yet these false teachers support all manner of perversions, oppose censorship of destructive materials, support “same-sex marriage,” and more.

Jesus said that Hell is real, but the false teachers don’t believe that.

Jesus said He is the only way to salvation, but the false teachers don’t believe that.

Jesus said He was God, but the false teachers don’t believe that.

Jesus taught to give your own money to help your neighbors, not to ask Caesar to take from neighbor A to give to neighbor B.  But the false teachers believe the opposite.

You get the idea.  So why should we think they really care about what Jesus says now?

Don’t let them get away with stealing the name of Jesus while teaching the opposite of what He did on nearly every important topic.  Run, don’t walk, from theologically Liberal churches.  They are just providing shortcuts to Hell.

Roundup

When worldviews collide: Nanny state Government Agencies Want to Reshape the “Obesogenic Environment” – but wait!! — Atheism as a major cause of obesity? So is the cure for government to encourage religion?

Sex & sociology — New study finds that feminism does not empower women in relationships

If he can get to the “business” with just one or two dinners with Martha, why would he commit to 20 dates and “maybe” Mary?

Regnerus told The Daily Caller that in the sexual economy women act almost like a cartel. At one time the price of sex was extremely high, but with the demise of the shotgun wedding, the invention of “the pill” and a population of willing women, the “price” of sex has plummeted.

Video: The most shocking 4-minute abortion debate you will ever see – Oh my.  I have a strong stomach and I could only watch a few seconds.  It has a chilling mix of an abortion clinic advertisement (telling you to bring only “love” – ack!) with video of abortions.  Hey all you pro-legalized abortionists: Your homework assignment is to watch all of it. These procedures are legal because of you.

Biggest Out of Context Pet Peeve: Matthew 18:20 – my biggest peeve is the misuse of Jeremiah 29:11, but I see the point here.

Out of all my pet peeves when it comes to verses taken out of context, Matthew 18:20 ranks at the top.  The verse says, “For where two or three are gathered in my name, there I am among them.”

Let me tell you what it does not mean.  It does not mean that Jesus is more present or more gracious when a group gathers for prayer. If you believe that, you 1) have never read the passage, and 2) are wrong.

. . .

Jesus is teaching his disciples about church discipline. In the context, verse 20 means that when Jesus’ disciples agree on a matter of church discipline concerning an unrepentant church member, Jesus will be divinely present among them as they seek Christ-like unity and wisdom in making  their decision.

Christopher Hitchens and the Edge of Boredom – interesting analysis of a guy who should have been one of the last people on the planet to ever get bored.  Yet he turned to alcohol because things just weren’t interesting enough.  Too bad he is still rebelling against God.

Think carefully about the situation in Egypt, then ask yourself if you want your government to have more power to regulate or even shut down the Internet.

I couldn’t figure out why the Left wasn’t out in full force blaming the Dearnborn Mosque attack on Sarah Palin and blathering on about civility.  Then I read this and realized why: Would-be Dearborn Mosque attacker anti-Bush felon.

Something tells me that the Left will be oh-so-silent on this one and that they are very sad that he wasn’t a TEA Partier.

 

Number of things Jesus said about giving away your money: A lot.

Number of things He said about petitioning Caesar (i.e., the government) to take from neighbor A to “give” to neighbor B and considering it charity on your part: None.

Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite is a professor and former President at Chicago Theological Seminary and she wrote the piece below.  As I think you’ll see, it is more evidence that a seminary designation means nothing until you peel back the layers to see what people believe.  She is a prime example of a false teacher.

Her premise is that in the passage in Luke 18 about the rich young ruler Jesus was telling us to redistribute wealth via the government.  Here’s the passage in question.

Luke 18:18–30 (ESV) 18 And a ruler asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 19 And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. 20 You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery, Do not murder, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honor your father and mother.’ ” 21 And he said, “All these I have kept from my youth.” 22 When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “One thing you still lack. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” 23 But when he heard these things, he became very sad, for he was extremely rich. 24 Jesus, seeing that he had become sad, said, “How difficult it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God! 25 For it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” 26 Those who heard it said, “Then who can be saved?” 27 But he said, “What is impossible with men is possible with God.” 28 And Peter said, “See, we have left our homes and followed you.” 29 And he said to them, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or wife or brothers or parents or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, 30 who will not receive many times more in this time, and in the age to come eternal life.”

This was timely considering that at lunch today a non-believing friend asked me about the basics of giving from a Christian worldview.  Now on to her analysis, which is basically the opposite of what the Bible teaches.

Jesus to the rich young ruler: “distribute the money”

She fails from the title onward.  Jesus said for the young man to distribute his money, not someone else’s.

A deal President Obama struck with Republican leaders last week will extend tax cuts across the board including, controversially, to the richest Americans.

While it may indeed be “controversial,” is it that illogical that if tax cuts are extended then all who pay taxes would receive the same extension?

Some politicians argue that religious values should be reflected in the public square. Should this faith-based view of politics be applied to the economy? Jesus said, “Whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.”

Right.  He said, “Whatever you did to the least of these . . .”  He didn’t say, “Whatever you asked Caesar to do by taking from others . . .”

Also, as we’ll soon see, Ms. Thistlethwaite is pro-abortion.  I wonder how she reconciles that with her “least of these” theology?

. . .

Once a rich young ruler came to Jesus, wanting to know what it took to be “good.” ‘I’ve kept all the commandments since my youth,’ the young man said, bragging a little.

A little?! How about, “That was a spectacularly wild lie on his part.”

Well, Jesus replied, “there is still one thing lacking. Sell all that you own and distribute the money.” But the young man, “who was very rich,” turned away. Jesus’ comment? “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” (Luke 18: 21-25)

Note how she stops at verse 25.  If she would read the rest of the passage she would get a better idea of Jesus’ point: “What is impossible with men is possible with God.”  He also answers the “Who can be saved?” question, which I assume that Thistlethwaite and similar false teachers ignore.  After all, if Jesus answered who can be saved then that means some are unsaved.

All too true. It’s also easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than it is for a bill with the rich paying their fair share of taxes to get through Congress. Not gonna happen.

Was that Jesus’ point?

But that’s the moral thing to do. Our tax policies in this country are a way to help our neighbors who are the “least of these,” as Jesus also notes.

How outrageous of her.  That isn’t what Jesus noted.  He did say one thing about taxes in a separate passage, which was basically, “Stop whining and pay them.”  Matthew 25 had nothing to do with taxes.

We “distribute the money” so that we can help those who are the most vulnerable like children, the sick, those with handicapping conditions, and the elderly. It’s a way to “distribute the money” to those of our citizens who want to work and can’t find it. We give unemployment benefits to people thrown out of work while they struggle in hard economic times to find another job. We pay taxes to educate our young, keep our bridges from falling down, and support our troops.

But that isn’t what Jesus addressed in the passage.  If it was, why didn’t He force the rich young ruler to give?  The young man walked away and Jesus let him.  And Jesus didn’t go forward with a fundraising campaign or any lobbying of Caesar to get to the young man’s money.  The passage wasn’t about taxes and “giving” the money of others.

Politicians love to pontificate on how we need to restore “Christian values” in the public square, but that’s mostly limited to denying equal civil rights for gay Americans, or controlling women’s bodies. When it comes to what the bible says about wealth and poverty, however, you’ll never hear that touted as morality in the public square. No, no. That’s “private.”

Note the multiple fallacies and her true religion: Liberalism.  No one is denying civil rights for gay Americans.  They are welcome to marry someone of the opposite sex.  Whether they want to or not is their problem.  Skin color is morally neutral; sexual behavior is not.  She mocks black Americans with her civil rights blather.

And the “controlling women’s bodies” bit makes for a good bumper sticker, I suppose, but is easily disproven.  Pro-lifers want to protect the bodies of females and males in the womb.  Thistlethwaite thinks the mother should be able to have them crushed and dismembered.  Got any Bible verses for that?  It is a scientific fact that they are human beings and a theological fact that they were created by God.   This isn’t science versus religion.  Theological liberals oppose science and religion when it comes to life.

Baloney. The bible is filled with references to the religious imperative to “remember the poor” (Galatians 2:10) and “the worker deserves his pay.” (Luke 10:7)

Yep.  What workers have not been paid?  And yes, there are imperatives for believers to remember the poor with our money. It doesn’t say, “Remember the poor with your neighbor’s money.”

When Jesus went to Jerusalem, he “sat down opposite the treasury, and watched the crowd putting money into the treasury.” (Mark 12:41) Jesus watched what people did with their money. He sees the money-changers in the temple charging pilgrims an exorbitant rate of exchange and he turns over the tables in anger, saying, “‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you have made it a den of thieves.” (Matthew 21:13)

So?  If this is going on in her church then the church should do something about it.  What a non sequitur.

For those who have eyes to see, the real moral values in scripture are about loving God with our whole heart and our neighbor as ourselves, and that includes what you do with your money.

That includes what you do with your money.  Is this so hard to understand?  Your money, not your neighbors’.

Even though it’s harder for Congress to pass through the eye of a needle than to pass legislation that will “distribute the money” in a fair way, I hope and pray they will. That’s real Christian values in the public square.

No, that’s her politics disguised as religion.

And one more thing: I don’t want my grandchildren saddled with paying off a huge deficit caused by giving more tax breaks to the very wealthy.

Boo-hoo.  I don’t want mine saddled with paying off Obama’s stimulus bill (mainly paybacks to his cronies) and his un-Constitutional health care bill, among other things.

If she wants to take the passage literally, why hasn’t she sold all her possessions and given the money to the poor?

And as Stan noted in his post, why do people like her ignore passages like this one:

I prefer to do nothing without your consent in order that your goodness might not be by compulsion but of your own accord (Philemon 14).

(Not surprisingly, I found the link to this at the site of false teacher Chuck “Jesus is not the only way” Currie.)

Worse than Pharisees.

In one of the “seven woes” Jesus blasts the Pharisees for being so precise with their giving that they even tithe their garden spices while simultaneously neglecting much more important issues.

Matthew 23:23 (ESV) Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others.

Theologically liberal Christians (picture Jim “the Gospel is all about wealth redistribution” Wallis and race-baiting Chuck “Jesus is not the only way” Currie) are worse than Pharisees.  For one, their giving patterns are less than conservatives (perhaps Jim and Chuck are big givers, but as a group they are not).  The hypocritically low giving of Liberal politicians is well documented.

But that doesn’t stop them from calling on Caesar (i.e., the Federal government) to take from neighbor A by threat of force or imprisonment to “give” to neighbor B.  Their endless divisiveness and class warfare are un-biblical and unproductive.  Didn’t coveting used to be a sin?

The theological Left wants to take from your garden and call it charity on their part, and they do it while ignoring weightier matters of justice such as abortion.  And they’ll defend the destruction of innocent-but-“unwanted” human beings while they prattle on about “social justice.”

They don’t give enough themselves, they do take from others and consider it charity on their parts and they do ignore weightier matters of justice.

Hypocrites!

Worse. Than. Pharisees.

Some quick Christian Q&A

Some youth at church submitted these questions to be discussed at youth group and I was asked to weigh in.  Each could result in a lengthy blog post so I tried to provide just a few bullets.  You are welcome to offer what your pithy responses would be!

1. How am I supposed to spread the word to my friends? Most of them are very smart Atheists.

· That is great that he/she wants to spread the word.  Atheists can be a big challenge.

· Use diagnostic questions to see if they are really interested in a conversation or are just wanting to spout one objection after another from the “Big Book O’ Atheist Sound Bites” (not a real book, just an illustration I use to describe the behavior of people who have no interest in pursuing the truth).  If they don’t want to learn more, heed Matthew 7:6 (ESV) “Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you.”  You are under no obligation to share the Good News with people who are continually hostile to it.  Just pray for them and perhaps try again another time.

· If they are interested in real discussions, then answer what you can but never fake it.  If you get stumped, admit it and tell them you’ll get back to them.  Seven important words: “I don’t know, but I’ll find out.”  Then go ask one of us or look it up online and get back with them.  You’ll learn and strengthen your faith in the process.

· Just because they are smart doesn’t mean they are wise.  J. Budziszewski, former atheist and UT Philosophy professor says it well: “Though it always comes as a surprise to intellectuals, there are some forms of stupidity that you must be highly intelligent and educated to commit. God keeps them in His arsenal to pull down mulish pride, and I discovered them all.”

· At its core the atheist worldview is ridiculous (though I wouldn’t put it that way to them right away): They have zero evidence for how the universe came into existence.  They have zero evidence for how life came from non-life.  They have distorted one part (Darwinian evolution) out of one branch (biology) out of the dozens of branches of science and they pretend that we are anti-science.

· All people, including atheists, rely on all kinds of non-scientific evidence everyday – historical, eye witness, etc.  We have lots of evidence for our views.  For example, consider these “minimal facts” agreed to by virtually all historians (Christian or not) of the biblical time period.

Summary of the “minimal facts” approach: Nearly 100% of historical scholars from 1975 – present agree with the following statements (more here — http://tinyurl.com/ykzpu42).  I submit that the physical resurrection of Jesus best accounts for these facts.

o Jesus really lived and was killed on a Roman cross.

o Jesus’ disciples believed He appeared to them.

o Jesus’ brother, James, went from being a pre-crucifixion skeptic to a post-crucifixion church leader.

o The Apostle Paul believed Jesus appeared to him and he wrote most of the books attributed to him, including Romans, I & II Corinthians, Philemon and others.

o 75% of the same scholars agree that the tomb was empty.

2. Why do we have bible study?

· What else would we do?  Entertainment, fellowship and service are important, but the word of God is our foundation.

· Parents have the primary responsibility for their children’s Christian education, but the church now has a role.  Check out the recent articles on religious surveys. It is embarrassing how little professing Christians know about the Bible.  We make lousy witnesses when atheists know more about the Bible than we do.

· More importantly, the Bible is the primary way God speaks to us.  It contains every important spiritual truth.  If you aren’t reading it you aren’t growing.

3. How do you go about bringing up religion to other people? No one really ever wants to listen to people talk about it at school.

· Try using “faith flags,” such as comments about church or church activities.  If people show any interest it might lead to further discussions.

· Be a good listener.  Ask about their religious views.  You may hear all sorts of bizarre things.  Don’t pretend that false views are true, but make it a conversation and not a bludgeoning.

· Pray that God will show you where He is working in the lives of others and where you can fit in.

4. Is it wrong to evangelize if you believe in the things that make your faith, but are having rough times in your life?

· Great question.  If we wait to evangelize until we have everything working perfectly then we’ll never evangelize.  Being authentic about your struggles and how your faith impacts them can be a good witness.

· At the other end of the spectrum, you can’t live a careless lifestyle and expect people to take you seriously as a Christian.

5. If people are “going with the crowd” towards a bad thing, how do you lead them on the right path?

· Try to find others who agree with you (safety in numbers).

· Set a good example by not going along with the bad thing.

· Ask questions.  Why are they doing it?

6. How do you handle Christians who don’t act so ‘Christ-like” towards you?

· Most of the time, shrug it off and give the person the benefit of the doubt.  Maybe they are having a bad day.

· If it is a little more serious, pray about it and them.

· If it is somewhat or very serious, get other Christians involved (see Matthew 18 – Jesus anticipated this problem and gave guidance).

7. Why do bad things happen for no reason? i understand that obstacles are put in front of us to see if we can get through and to test our strength but sometimes i feel it’s just too much too handle, and it wont end. How is it that God will forgive us all for our sins, but some ppl will choose to do wrong and God will forgive them of everything in the end, while other that do right get nothing but the same in the end. Pretty much how is it that bad ppl and good ppl are both given forgiveness when the bad ppl have done so much more wrong.

· Jesus promised problems for believers: John 16:33 (ESV)I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

· We’re all “bad people” in the sense that we sin against God.  Some people are better fakes than others.

· God only forgives those who repent and believe, so not everyone is ultimately forgiven.

· Don’t begrudge God for offering more grace to others — See Matthew 20:1-16.  We should rejoice that He offers us grace at all.