Peter’s Two Swords

Right before Jesus Christ is betrayed and crucified, He tells His disciples that things are about to change.

During Christ’s ministry, the disciples did not need provision or protection; they had the Son of God.

But when the Son of God leaves, they are told to carry a purse and money and swords.

The disciples pipe up that they already have two swords with them.

Apparently, the Catholic Church has taken this episode as proof that Peter, representative of the Pope, has the authority over the two swords, which represent Church and State power.

Yes, this is ridiculous, but alas, that is the sort of application you’ll derive from the Bible if you read it allegorically.

In reading Ellicott’s Commentary, an excellent briefish commentary on the whole Bible, he had this to say about this Catholic interpretation. I think it is awesome.

The mystical interpretation which sees in the two swords the symbol of the spiritual and temporal authority committed to St. Peter, and to the Pope as his successor, stands on a level with that which finds the relations of the Church and the State foreshadowed in the “two great lights” of Genesis 1:16. Both are simply the dreams of a diseased fancy, and find their fit home at last in the limbo of vanities.

“The limbo of vanities” is sheer wordplay awesomeness.

Bravo, Mr. Ellicott, Bravo.

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A Botched Sunday School Lesson on Gideon

At our church’s Wednesday night group I have been going over Bible stories, and talking about Sunday School treatments of these stories in comparison to the Bible.

Most Sunday School tellings are not consistent with the Bible. Many details are left out and applications appear to be from left field.

This past week I came across the worst one so far. It boggles my mind.

The story was about Gideon. To refresh your memory: Gideon, who was afraid of the enemy Midianites, was hiding in a winepress threshing his wheat, was called by the angel of the Lord to deliver Israel from the Midianites. He wanted a sign. God gave him a sign. He was also told to destroy an altar to Baal, which he did at night, for fear of the townsfolk.

Gideon was then to go fight the Midianites. But first he asked for two more signs. Eventually he went with his shrunken army and defeated the Midianites.

The Sunday School lesson gave this application. Are you ready for this? Please sit down first. I assure you I am not making this up. This is real. Ready? Here goes:

Gideon felt very unsure most of the time about how God was going to follow through but God didn’t give up on him and reassured him that with His help he could do it.  We might feel small, young, weak, insignificant but with God we can become something special, powerful, a mighty warrior!  God can give us special powers if we trust him and do His will.

Apparently God granted me the super power of not having my head explode upon reading stupidity. I find no other reason why my head is intact.

Unbelievable. This is so wrong on so many levels. Telling kids they will have super powers will create all manner of weird ideas in their head. I’m Batman with Jesus! You know that’s how kids will hear that.

The thing I don’t get is what super power did Gideon have? He was a chicken throughout the whole thing. He never did anything super powerfully. That was, in fact, pretty much the point of the story. God did the delivering; there was no human super power visible at any point.

The real problem with such applications is that they disillusion kids. They will go home, try to obey God, and ask for a super power. No super power will come.

Will they doubt what their teacher told them? Will they rationally consider whether their teacher told them the truth?

Or will they doubt God? The Bible? The Church?

We bemoan the fact that so many kids walk away from the church as they get older. Is it any wonder? We’ve told them so many falsehoods, I’d walk away too.

Be careful what ideas you put in the minds of kids. They are listening, more than most adults. They will try it. If you promise super powers, they will get bummed when they don’t get one.

All this disillusionment will grow over the years, until they hit a point where their brain works, and they’ll rebel. They’ll call you on the lies. Unfortunately, most of them will leave God, the faith, and the church. The damage is done.

Be careful not to put words in God’s mouth. Be careful not to promise things that God will do that God never promised to do. Be careful that you understand a passage before attempting to teach it.

Be careful.

Matt Walsh on the West’s Indifference to Church Persecution in the East

Christian persecution and genocide is worse now than it has ever been in history. Christians in Afghanistan, Somalia, Sudan, Pakistan, North Korea, Libya, Iraq, Yemen, Iran, Egypt, and many other countries, are regularly imprisoned, tortured, beaten, raped, and martyred. Their churches are destroyed. Their houses burned. They meet and worship in secret, risking their lives in the process. They live every moment in constant danger.

About 215 million Christians face what is called “extreme persecution” for their faith. It’s estimated that around a million have been slaughtered since 2005. There is no way to know exactly how many. What we do know is that Christianity has been dramatically reduced in parts of the world where it had existed for nearly 2,000 years.

But what do we care?

There are other things to worry about here. Hollywood sex scandals. Twitter disputes. Whatever controversial thing Trump said this week. So on and so on. We — myself included — spend far more time, and spill far more ink, on these issues than we ever have on the coordinated genocide of our fellow believers in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia. Why?

I have come to believe that our disinterest stems not only from the general apathy that defines western society and the western church, but from moral cowardice. To face the plight of our brothers and sisters is to face ourselves. To see these Christians who would rather be shot dead in the desert than renounce their faith is to see our own faith as a shabby, pitiful, hollow imitation. To see Christians who would risk their very lives to go to church and preach the Gospel is to question why we will do neither of those things, even though we are perfectly free and able. We cannot confront these truths of ourselves, so we will not confront the truth of Christian persecution.

We have submitted to the forces of darkness. We have bent our knees in homage to Satan, and the enemies of the faith haven’t even fired a shot to induce our surrender. Satan does not beat us with a stick; he dangles a carrot. He lulls us to sleep. He distracts us. He tempts us. Kill us? Why would he do that? We are no threat to him. A Christian in Afghanistan is a threat. He must be destroyed. It’s the only way. But a lazy, soft, equivocating Christian in the West? There is no need to persecute him. He is not worthy of it. Just give him a television and the internet and let him damn himself.

And Satan laughs.

He does not want us to be jolted out of this stupor, and he has no doubt instructed his legions accordingly. The persecutors of the church in America have quite an easy job. For them, the strategy is clear: Put down the gun. Drop the machete. Don’t scare these people. Don’t make martyrs of them. Don’t give them any hint that there is a war going on and the fate of their souls lies in the balance. Let them be arrogant and self-assured. Let them push out any thought of their own mortality. Let them dismiss everything I’m saying right now as “pessimistic” and “negative.” Let them enjoy themselves. Let them have their spiritual indifference and let them dress it up as “positivity” and “hopefulness.” Let them have it all. Fluff their pillow for them, even. Turn on the TV and hand them the remote. Feed them. Pamper them. Pleasure them. Give them everything their hearts desire. Don’t appeal to their fear; appeal to their lust, their laziness, their gluttony, their vanity, their pride, their boredom.

And watch them drop like flies.

 

Read the whole article by clicking here.

The World’s Ignorance of Christian Beliefs

“It is not well to be always understood. Our ways and habits should be those of strangers, citizens of a foreign country, whose language and laws, and customs are but poorly known here. Flesh and blood cannot appreciate them, and therefore it is not well with the saints of God when the world understands them.”
–J. G. Bellett

It does not bother me that the world does not understand or like Christian beliefs. It’s actually a point in Christianity’s favor!

I am more troubled by Christians being bothered that the world doesn’t like or understand their beliefs.

I can only imagine how ridiculous the world would think our beliefs were if they actually understood what it is we believe!

I’m more troubled by how many Christians have no idea what Christians believe. It stuns me how many Christians, who claim to be “saved by faith,” have not read the Bible, when the Bible says “faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God.”

In what sense do you have faith if you have not heard the Word of God?

I am very little troubled by the world’s misunderstandings and non-liking of Christian belief. Let em howl.

But I am very concerned for many warm bodies in churches who have no idea why they are there or what is being talked about.

Worry less about the world’s ignorance and take care of your own.

Definitions of Sola Scriptura Undermine Sola Scriptura

Sola Scriptura, the idea that the Bible is our sole source for spiritual truth, is a fine idea, not actually applied by anyone ever.

We should uphold Sola Scriptura as our aim, yet honestly admit that much of our doctrine is based on other stuff.

In fact, many who hold to Sola Scriptura have never reada the whola thinga. How, pray tell, do you claim to base all your doctrine on a book you’ve never read, let alone endeavored to understand?

“My doctrine is based on the Bible,” say all manner of people who disagree with each other on basic doctrines.

How can this be true? Is the Bible this open for interpretation? Is it that confusing? Or are people using other things to decide what they believe?

Peter does say the scriptures contain many things hard to be understood. Above that, people twist them all out of proportion. (You can read Peter’s take on that here.)

The Bible does need to be interpreted, but the authors had one intent in mind and it would serve us well to discover that.

But that’s hard. So we fall back on other authorities while still maintaining the veneer that we hold Sola Scriptura.

Check out these definitions of Sola Scriptura that come right out and say Sola Scriptura isn’t actually a thing other than in word.

By Sola Scriptura Protestants mean that Scripture alone is the primary and absolute source for all doctrine and practice (faith and morals).

There is one word in there that shoots this whole definition to pieces. Did you catch it? The word is “primary.” Primary implies secondary. Primary means there are other sources. It just does. Words mean things. Something cannot be primary and absolute at the same time. They cancel each other out. So, this is either an incredibly accurate definition of Sola Scriptura based on practice, or it’s bad writing.

Get a load of this definition I saw. This one cracked me up

For the Reformers, “Scripture alone” did not mean “Scripture all by itself.” Rather, Scripture was “alone” as the only unquestionable religious authority, not the only religious authority.

Oh, that’s too much, you guys are killing me. Sola doesn’t mean Sola. Again this is either a really honest definition recognizing reality, or it’s bad writing. I think it’s actually being honest. They know Sola Scriptura is just words without meaning, because they just denied the meaning with their words.

Again, Sola Scriptura is a nice idea, but no one does it. There are some who at least admit as much.

We don’t like Sola Scriptura because it puts the Bible in the hands of the reader, which is out of our control, and who knows what they will come up with.

If you let people find out what the Bible says, they’ll probably disagree with you and cause problems. So it’s best to leave the door open for other authorities so you can smash those who veer out of the way. Welcome to Church History.

Sola Scriptura: it’s a nice idea that no one does. Feel free to be the first.

John Wesley on John Calvin’s Interpretation of Salvation

Our blessed Lord does indisputably command and invite “all men everywhere to repent” [Acts 17:30]. He calleth all. He sends his ambassadors, in his name, “to preach the gospel to every creature” [Mk. 16:15]. He himself “preached deliverance to the captives” [Lk. 4:18], without any hint of restriction or limitation.

But now, in what manner do you represent him while he is employed in this work? You suppose him to be standing at the prison doors, having the keys thereof in his hands, and to be continually inviting the prisoners to come forth, commanding them to accept of that invitation, urging every motive which can possible induce them to comply with that command; adding the most precious promises, if they obey; the most dreadful threatenings, if they obey not.

And all this time you suppose him to be unalterably determined in himself never to open the doors for them, even while he is crying, “Come ye, come ye, from that evil place. For why will ye die, O house of Israel” [cf. Ezek. 18:31]? “Why” (might one of them reply), “Because we cannot help it. We cannot help ourselves, and thou wilt not help us. It is not in our power to break the gates of brass [cf. Ps. 107:16], and it is not thy pleasure to open them. Why will we die? We must die, because it is not thy will to save us.” Alas, my brethren, what kind of sincerity is this which you ascribe to God our Saviour?
–John Wesley
In
Predestination Calmly Considered

The Apostle Paul’s Use of “Faith”

The Apostle uses the word “faith” in his own peculiar and pregnant sense. But this is naturally led up to by the way in which it was used by Habakkuk. The intense personal trust and reliance which the Jew felt in the God of his fathers is directed by the Christian to Christ, and is further developed into an active energy of devotion.

“Faith,” as understood by St. Paul, is not merely head-belief, a purely intellectual process such as that of which St. James spoke when he said “the devils also believe and tremble”;

neither is it merely “trust,” a passive dependence upon an Unseen Power; but it is a further stage of feeling developed out of these, a current of emotion setting strongly in the direction of its object, an ardent and vital apprehension of that object, and a firm and loyal attachment to it.

Ellicott’s Commentary on Romans 1:17