Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Frustration and Cranial Bruising

I have been very discouraged in recent months, after seeing scripture so often being twisted and distorted to support beliefs that are clearly contrary to God’s revelation. Seeing this happening on every side makes me wonder why I should consider myself to be right and so many others wrong.

I do NOT consider myself immune to error – especially knowing that I’ve been VERY wrong in the past. The main difference now is that I’m learning to recognise the clarity and simplicity of scripture when it is taken in context. Those people who have concerned me have ALL taken parts of scripture and used them in ways that don’t fit clear context. An obvious example relates to Ezekiel 36 (see previous post) which has come up recently on different and unrelated blogs. In all cases the majority of Ezekiel’s prophecy is ignored and attention is given to two or three verses at the most – because to consider the WHOLE text as written would require an overhaul of attitudes to Israel.

I have also seen the same proof texting going on regarding other theologies. Most theological understanding seems to depend on chosen portions of scripture at the expense of others (i.e. those parts of scripture that cast questions upon a favoured doctrine are ignored or creatively re-interpreted).

There seems to be very few people who genuinely recognise the importance of scriptural context. It is far easier, more convenient, and less challenging to rely on pre-digested theology that requires little more than knowledge of a handful of proof texts.

How can anyone claim to have a desire for truth when they go to such lengths to ignore what scripture is plainly saying? How can they ignore so much as they look for verses here and there to support what they want to believe?
Not only is there a manipulation of scripture, there is the blatant misrepresentation of the beliefs of others. When justification of their own beliefs starts to get difficult, they distort the beliefs of others and then refute the distortion they have created.

The meaning of the term “banging one’s head against a wall” is totally clear when trying to discuss an issue with people who are so blinded by their own theological conditioning that they refuse to consider what others are actually saying – but instead project their own presuppositions into what has been said.
For example, in a discussion here, addressing Israel and replacement theology there is a refusal to recognise that NO ONE has been saying that Israel can be saved apart from the New Covenant. What HAS been said is that Israel WILL ONE DAY be saved by entering into the New Covenant. It is not a matter of present day reality, but a matter of prophetic certainty.

Returning to the earlier question of why I can consider myself to be right and so many others wrong…
It’s because I have come across enough people from diverse backgrounds who have NOT bowed their knee to theological systems that resort to distorting scripture to maintain a semblance of credibility. These people respect God’s revelation more than man’s theology and have been willing to change their direction, sometimes at great sacrifice, when their beliefs and practices have been exposed as false by the light of God’s word. These people encourage and challenge me. None would claim to have reached perfect understanding – but at least they are following the right path and are open to the Spirit’s direction if ever they start to deviate from that path.


An interested reader said...

I have not responded to your blog until now but would like to because you seem to encourage ordinary people like me. I once had a caller who wanted to castigate me for enjoying various versions of the Bible; he belived that only the KJ Bible was acceptable. Having taught in China a number of years I asked if he believed non-English speakers should learn English before they could read the Bible and be saved.
The Beijing International Fellowship had recently allowed a "hard-shell Baptish to speak. At the midweek fellowship of a small group I attended we asked everyone present what their position was regarding once saved always saved. About fifteen of us were from different nations and religious backgrounds but not one of us could agree with the Calvinist point of view. What a wonderful discovery among us that the Holy Spirit had lead us in our faith.
Thank you for your even handedness and patience in explaining over and over the simple truth of God's precious word.
An interested reader

Onesimus said...

Thanks for taking an interest in my blog and for your encouraging comments. I thank the Lord Jesus that anyone can find encouragement from what I write. Mostly I am sharing the things that the Lord has taken me through and the things He has taught me through His word and the experience of living and struggling with His teaching. A lot of my journey has been “unlearning” what I had taken for granted and discovering HIS truth as revealed throughout the whole of scripture instead of through a collection of favourite “texts” that fit a preconceived theology.

The human desire to cling to the comfort of tradition is almost as strong as the desire for food and drink. We like those things that make us comfortable, but God’s ways are not always comfortable or convenient.

The Holy Spirit’s teaching ministry is rarely valued but when a diverse group of people can come together with the same revelation about the things of God (as distinct from a group of like minded people coming to the same understanding through referring to the same man’s teaching), the importance of HIS teaching can really be appreciated. Unfortunately again, it is much easier to let another man spoon feed us garbage than it is to commit ourselves to relationship with God through His word by His Spirit.