Thursday, 27 August 2009

The Way of the Master?

There are a whole load of reasons why I can't stand this video, 3 of them being:
1. Their understanding of who God is
2. Their theological blunder of making 'the law' more powerful than God and thus 'the law' becoming 'god' in their sight (and this is a common problem in evangelical Christianity which is one of the reasons why Penal Substitution is so flawed).
3. Their approach to evangelism

I was trying to figure out what else concerned me about this video, and then I realised it was their understanding of the 10 Commandments.

They understand them in a very 'black and white' manner. So you break one of the commandments and are therefore guilty in God's sight and so need to be punished because of that guilt. But this understanding of the 10 Commandments (aside from all the problems of the above theology) is so flawed and limited. Let's look at what the 10 Commandments are:

And God spoke all these words:

"I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.

"You shall have no other gods before me.

"You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand {generations} of those who love me and keep my commandments.

"You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.

"Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labour and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates. For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

"Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you.

"You shall not murder.

"You shall not commit adultery.

"You shall not steal.

"You shall not give false testimony against your neighbour.

"You shall not covet your neighbor's house. You shall not covet your neighbor's wife, or his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbour." Exodus 20:1-17

I'm not going to go through each one but they are not as black and white as we would like them to be. Think about 'You shall not murder'. What about ectopic pregnancy? If you do not remove the embryo growing in the fallopian tube then the mother could well die of bleeding. Removing the embryo is basically abortion. But if you don't do it, are you not killing the mother? So this commandment is not so black and white.

Think about 'You shall not steal'. Who's actually guilty of stealing when a young orphan starving child steals a loaf of bread to feed his baby brother or sister? Is not the West for putting him in this situation? He is not guilty. How do you think God sees him?

Now with the commandments 'Do not commit adultery' and 'you shall have no other gods before me' I believe they are 'black and white' (unless people have another take on them?).

So often I hear people talking in such black and white language, like this video, but it really isn't that easy and clear. And it frustrates me because I sometimes think people don't live in the real world and don't consider the complexity of human life and graciousness of God.


Robert said...

Some people will break the second commandment without even realizing. They may utilize the Bible, but in essence they create a god that doesn't exist. They exchange the truth of God for a lie. Once that happens liberal theology will follow.

God's commands are very specific. We must be careful to except God as he reveals himself in his Word.

Sinners need to be confronted with the law. When they are they like Paul learn to recognize it, making it exceedingly sinful to them. And Ray Comfort is right, only then will they appreciate and appropriate the cure.

While I think the WoM plays a little lose and free with the scripture, the basic premise is correct. The Word of god will not return void, and I think that is what we see.

Stick close to the Word, and quit looking for loopholes.

God Bless,


Mat 7:21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father who is in heaven.

Robert said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Joe said...

Hi Robert - When I've got a bit more time I'll respond properly, but I think you make some interesting points.

God Bless you

Joe said...

Hi Robert

I agree completely that we must seek to worship and (as far as possible) understand who God is as he has revealed himself through the Scriptures.
What I am seeking to do is share with all who will listen who this God is.
And this God reveals himself fully through Jesus.

The problem I have with WoM is that I don't believe they are being faithful in their understanding of the Scriptures and thus their understanding of who God is. I do not question their love and worship of Jesus, I question their understanding of who Jesus is.

You quote to me Matthew 7:21. What is the will of the Father? To believe in Jesus and to do the work that he has commissioned us to do. And I see this Jesus to be one who is full of grace and truth, who cares for the poor and the oppressed. This Jesus rages at injustice. This Jesus does not condemn. This Jesus drinks and eats at the table of sinners. This Jesus came to reveal love, not hate or wrath. And it is this Jesus who calls us all to himself.

Jesus does not do what WoM does.

Scripture is there to transform us, and through the hearing of Scripture, God by his Spirit brings about transformation. This is what I believe it means when it will not return void.

We are not saved through the recognition of our sin, we are saved by the grace of God. I'm sure many have heard the illustration:
Salvation is like me being in a deep pit with both my arms and legs broken. There is nothing I can do to get out. God then reaches in and pulls me out. I have been able to do nothing to save myself, it is all because of the grace of God. Yet once I am pulled out of the pit I must now, with legs and arms healing, worship God and worship him with my whole being which includes going and feeding the poor and helping the oppressed and bringing heaven to earth, not by bringing condemnation, but by bring grace and love in real and practical ways.

I'm not looking for loopholes in the Scriptures, I'm looking to be faithful to God as he reveals himself through them. We must remember, the Bible is not God and I suspect many break the second commandment because the worship the Bible instead of God.

Bless you.

Robert said...


Your engaging in moral relativity. The commandments are black and white.You can make humanistic arguments to break every command, nevertheless they are written in stone. Such excuses will not serve the lost well on the day of judgment when they stand before a righteous and holy God.

Jud 1:4 For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.

In your description of Christ you left out one important point.

Joh 10:30 I and my Father are one.

On another note:

I think you have some wrong understanding of Ray Comfort and his beliefs. You should probably listen to what he teaches a little more before you write him off.

I think God is using the WoM ministry to bring many to himself.

God Bless,


Joe said...

'I an my Father are one' is exactly my point! When we see Jesus we fully see who God is. So God is full of grace and truth, full of love that has been lavished upon us. He is not full of condemnation.

The thing is Robert, some decisions in the complexity of life are not black and white. Sometimes life leaves us with two evils and we have to make a choice between them. And I believe God is gracious enough to understand that.

God Bless you too

Robert said...

Joh 3:18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.