Author: Christian Writer

Substitutionary atonement

The doctrine of substitutionary atonement is often taken by western churches (and most atheists) as being the only view of salvation. This is far from true – something I will explore as I attempt to define the topic.

Overview of substitutionary atonement

This form of atonement starts with the idea that God is both just and angry at us for our sin. Therefore he punishes Jesus to satisfy his anger and we get the benefits – if we believe. In many cases, if we forget to believe, fail to believe, or just don’t hear about it then we still get the punishment of his anger for all time.

Technically speaking, substitutionary atonement is the name given to a number of Christian models of the atonement that regard Jesus as dying as a substitute for others, ‘instead of’ them.

There are different theories that come under the umbrella term “substitutionary atonement”. Four of the more well known are:

  • Ransom theory.
  • Christus Victor.
  • Satisfaction theory.
  • Penal substitution.

Criticisms of substitutionary atonement

Where do I even start?

There are many competing views of the atonement and whole forms of Christianity (Universalism, for one) where this doctrine is seen as holding no water at all.

Any doctrine that took a look as hell as eternal conscious torment and concluded that it does not fit with concepts of God’s justice, love, and mercy tend to reject substitutionary atonement.

Emma Higgs makes the argument on Patheos far better than I ever could. But she is far from the only one to do so. Australian Anglican minister, David G. Peterson quotes John Goldingay saying:

For example, in 1995 John Goldingay edited a volume of essays entitled Atonement Today. Goldingay himself denies that there is any link between atonement and punishment in the Old Testament and argues that the improper linking of punishment with sacrifice in much Christian thought is particularly due to a misunderstanding of Isaiah 53.

Objections include:

  • Devine child-abuse
  • Murders mobs as the will of God
  • Punishing the innocent as an affront to true justice
  • Moral guilt is not transferable
  • Anti-trinitarian aspects (angry God vs innocent Son)

Substitutionary atonement and the Axioms of Faith.

As with most widely held doctrines, it can be reached via Axiom zero. However, no form of the atonement can be said to be axiomatic itself. I will not be assuming this form of the atonement to have been in any way proven or established as a given. Not least of all because I have many unanswered or unanswerable questions regarding it.

How I intend to use the phrase “substitutionary atonement”.

As substitutionary atonement is – for better or worse – pretty much a core doctrine of the church I am going to have to talk about it directly. When I discuss substitutionary atonement, I expect that I will focus on penal substitution. The range of objections to this doctrine deserves better investigation and will, therefore, be a topic I return to frequently.

It is time to remove pharisaical influence from our doctrine

We talk about “my church”, “my pastor”, and “my ministry”. These things are not yours.

Our church is our family. Our church is where we are pastored (nurtured) and where we minister to (nurture) each other. 

The difference is between a place where you take for yourself and a place where you care for others. One is a club for Bible geeks and the other is the Kingdom of Heaven.

This pharisaical toxin in our thinking is inherited from the trace amounts of pharisee presence in our church culture and wider doctrinal teachings. Pharisaical influence is like leaven (yeast) of Galatians 5:9 – any is too much. The church is suffering from a yeast infection.

I suggest that it is time to remove pharisaical influence and rethink the way we think about “church”.

Agnosis demands humility

Agnosis means “I don’t know everything” because I do not. It is the antithesis of the idea that “the Bible clearly says…”

Jesus (Iesou) seemed to understand that the great truths of God are hidden from the wise and learned. In Matthew 11:25 and Luke 10:21-22, He thanks the Father for doing this.

In a post titled “The lost art of humility: homosexuality and usury“, the writer of Undeception says:

…no human may legitimately claim or imply the unimpeachability of his opinion merely by adorning it with the words, “The Bible says…” in place of the more accurate statement, “I interpret certain passages of Scripture to mean…”; to grant that even knowing what the Bible says is no guarantor that one knows the meaning or value of what it says.

This, I would suggest to you, is exactly the principle of Agnosis that I wrote about before.

If we accept that man is flawed and that we are men, then we must conclude that we are flawed. Therefore, If it is true that we are flawed it follows that our reading of the Bible – no matter how seemingly accurate – must be flawed. If it is flawed, it is yet to be perfected. If yet to be perfected then all of the following must be true:

  • Our understanding of scripture must be examined periodically (John 5:39)
  • One or more parts of our doctrine will be errant (Matthew 7:3)
  • We may be unable to see where the flaws are (1 Corinthians 13:12)
  • We cannot rely on our understanding of scripture but on Christ alone (Proverbs 3:5-6)
  • In all things charity (love) and humility are vital (Proverbs 17:9)

Proverbs 16:18 teaches us that pride is always destructive. Therefore any doctrine proudly held up as perfect will crumble in time.

Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.

We would be fools to think we have gotten everything right. Our only recourse is towards humility. Maybe the Calvinists are right; perhaps the Orthodoxy is most correct, it could be the more liberal universalists are on to something, or perhaps the purest truth is known only to a madman preaching on a hillside. Whatever our doctrinal position let us embrace those who have a different understanding as brothers first and foremost as the scriptures direct.

A Biblical view on Brexit

I feel that the church has been lacking a sound biblical perspective on Brexit. While I doubt that I am the one to write a definitive study, here is what I have decerned from scripture.

Polling from Lord Ashcroft showed that nearly 60% of those that identified as Christian voted to leave. Why?

According to Christianity Today:

A host of blogs, websites and claims of ‘prophetic words’ have fuelled a fear of the European Union’s apparent spiritual side. A minefield of ‘prophetic’ websites, many of which border on the extreme end of conspiracy theories, warn of a supposed darkness in the EU project.

I want to take a clear-headed look at what the Bible really has to say.

Spiritual Darkness?

The focus of concern for evangelical writers claiming “prophetic insight” is a belief that the EU has an evil spiritual power.

They point to the EU symbol of a women riding a bull and say that it is idolatry or point fearfully towards the imagery of Revelation. Others point to the EU’s building in Strasbourg and claim it is based upon Pieter Bruegel’s painting of Tower of Babel in Genesis 11. Therefore, we are told, the EU is in open rebellion against God.

According to Christianity Today:

The central point of this wariness is around the European symbol of a woman riding a bull. The icon was chosen by the EU based on the Greek mythical story of Europa and adorns many EU official residences, buildings and documents.

But for some charismatic Christians the symbol is reminiscent of a biblical apocalyptic warning that spoke of a “woman sitting on a scarlet beast” in Revelation 17. According to Revelation, the woman on the beast is the mother “of the earth’s abominations” and will be destroyed by God.

Examining the prophetic

Let us take a quick refresher on how to examine the prophetic with Godly discernment.

Why prophecy must be carefully decerned

1 Timothy 4:1-2 warns us of deceptive spirits and demonic teachings:

Now the Spirit explicitly says that in the later times some will desert the faith and occupy themselves with deceiving spirits and demonic teachings, influenced by the hypocrisy of liars whose consciences are seared.

With such a stark warning, we would be fools to accept these claims of God-breathed truth without examination.

Is it encouraging?

1 Corinthians 14:3 tells us, “But the one who prophesies speaks to people for their strengthening, encouragement, and consolation.”

This is the first test of any claimed prophecy. Does it build up?

Christianity Today:

Despite the desperate efforts of evangelical Christian Tim Farron, a vague notion that the EU was anti-Christian persisted among Christian communities […]

Rather than feeling encouraged Christians have reacted to the EU with uninformed fear. A thing shall be known by its fruits and so far I have to say it does not look promising for these “prophetic” claims.

I have to conclude that these claims fail this test. Most of these prophecies fuel fear and distrust. They seak to pull down the EU and do not seek to build anything in its place.

Is it consistent with scripture?

Let me tell you this up front it is unbiblical for one of faith to fear the icons and myths of the past. 1 John 4:4 reminds us that He that dwells within you is greater than any that dwell in the world.

Titus 1:14 tells us to pay no heed to myths. 2 Peter 1:16 is likewise scathing of fables:

For we did not follow cleverly concocted fables when we made known to you the power and return of our Lord Jesus Christ; no, we were eyewitnesses of his grandeur.

1 Timothy 1:3-4:

As I urged you when I was leaving for Macedonia, stay on in Ephesus to instruct certain people not to spread false teachings, nor to occupy themselves with myths and interminable genealogies. Such things promote useless speculations rather than God’s redemptive plan that operates by faith.

Yet myths and speculations rather than God’s redemptive plan have been emphasised by Christians frightened like little children by a dusty old icon.

1 Timothy 4 advises us to “reject those myths fit only for the godless and gullible, and train yourself for godliness.”

Pointing to icons with fear is not becoming of those adopted into the faith.

Does it promote the fruit of the spirit?

The fruits of the spirit, such as peace, patience, and love should be multiplied by God breathed prophecy. Do these calls to Christian action lead to good spiritual fruits?

So then, let us pursue what makes for peace and for building up one another. (Romans 14:19)

John 3:20 tells us, “everyone who does evil deeds hates the light and does not come to the light, so that their deeds will not be exposed.” What has come to light is just how completely the Leave campaign lied. Ephesians 5:11 says to not associate with such deeds but expose them.

Again, I’d have to say no. Instead of peace, Brexit has given rise to racism, poverty, and uncertainty about the future. Brexit brought division to the country. How can we of the Faith be yoked with such deception? 2 Corinthians 6:14 says to do no such thing.

Examining the scriptures

Now we have examined claims of prophecy let us look at what the Bible has to say about our relationship with our neighbours.

Building up our neighbours

Romans 15:2-3 starts by saying, “Let each of us please his neighbour for his good to build him up.”

Does Brexit in any way build up the UK’s Europian neighbours? It is hard to see how it can. In fact, there are those among the leave camp hoping to see the total destruction of the Eurozone. That is the very opposite of building up. Don’t forget what Leviticus 24:19 says about he who harms his neighbour.

1 Corinthians 10:24 says “Do not seek your own good, but the good of the other person.” I wonder if, through Brexit, we have failed to do this.

God’s commands regarding foreigners

Central to the Holy Law of God is justice for all – both native and foreign.

Deuteronomy 10:17-18 says:

For the LORD your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great, mighty, and awesome God who is unbiased and takes no bribe, who justly treats the orphan and widow, and who loves resident foreigners, giving them food and clothing.

Central to Brexit is a closing of borders to refugees. These two things are not compatible. You cannot serve two masters.

Lies or truth?

It is the thief that comes to kill, steal, and destroy. The aims of Brexit are separation, division, and a destruction of the EU.

Proverbs 12:22 says this:

The Lord abhors a person who lies, but those who deal truthfully are his delight.

The Father of Brexit was lies and deception. John 8:44 is clear on the nature of such a father.

You people are from your father the devil, and you want to do what your father desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not uphold the truth, because there is no truth in him. Whenever he lies, he speaks according to his own nature, because he is a liar and the father of lies.

How can something driven by deception and lies be the will of God? If God desired the UK to depart the EU surely it would bring glory to the Father if this was done openly, honestly and in truth?

Love your neighbour and the Brexit divorce

James 2:8 says:

But if you fulfil the royal law as expressed in this scripture, “You shall love your neighbour as yourself,” you are doing well.

How can UK Christians claim to love their neighbour and be part of divorcing and rejecting them?

Was the EU unfaithful to us? No.

Why, then, are we seeking separation from our EU partner to whom we have committed? To trade with other nations. Would not Luke 16:18 show us to be adulterers if we do that?

Christ’s prayer for us

In John 17 you can read Christ’s prayer for His followers. Not that we are removed from the world but that we remain in it.

Even if you accept the highly doubtful claims of “spiritual evil” in the EU surely our Godly duty is to remain there and be salt and light? Salt that has lost its saltiness is not good for anything but to be trampled underfoot.

If the UK truly were a last bastion of Godliness (and I doubt that it is any better than anywhere else) then how can we be salt and light to an EU we have rejected?

Conclusions on Brexit and the Bible

When thousands of desperate souls came to France seeking hope and justice from the UK, Christians had a historic opportunity to put into practice our faith. Instead, we chose to close our borders.

We did not speak out for those that have no voice. A light was not shed for those in need.

If Christians are concerned about spiritual darkness, we should be galvanised into action by the injustices of people being driven to use food banks to feed themselves. Outraged at the racism and hate that followed the Brexit vote. We should be loudly vocal about the thousands that are driven to the brinks of suicide by a benefits system expensively persecuting the poor and disabled.

Our silence speaks volumes and it condemns us.

It seems to me that the move towards Brexit is an attempt to divide us from our neighbours and frustrate the will of God. If that is the case, Brexit will ultimately fail. How it fails will determine the price we must pay for our arrogance and fear.

We Christians that voted for Brexit sided with messengers of lies, oppression, and injustice. We were deceived by fearful words. Now we must repent and rebuilt our bridge to the world.

We have forgotten our God.

When we see refugees in need and do nothing, we have forsaken our faith. When we see Muslims and other minorities persecuted and do not cry out, we have forgotten our God.

Jesus himself taught us that if we fail to serve even the least of these, we fail to serve Him. Therefore, we forfeit all right to worship God as long as we continue to refuse aid to our neighbours. Is it not written that when we turn away our ears from hearing His laws of mercy and justice, even our prayers are an abomination? Likewise, do we not know that only those of clean hands and a pure heart may stand in His Holy Place?

He says to us through His profits, “I desire mercy, and not sacrifice” yet we have failed to show mercy. The Father is willing to show us mercy for this sin – Jesus himself taught us, “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy“. Do not forget that judgment is without mercy to him who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment. What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but does not have works? Can this kind of faith save him? Therefore, until we show mercy to the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, we have no claim to righteousness and no expectation of mercy.

The Lord our God hears only the prayers of those that do what is right. It is He that says, “Whoever shuts their ears to the cry of the poor will also cry out and not be answered.

When we turn a blind eye to the suffering around us, when we silently approve of the death at our doorstep, that blood is upon our hands. Our God said through His prophet, “When you spread out your hands in prayer, I look the other way; when you offer your many prayers, I do not listen, because your hands are covered with blood.

Is it not written that there is a curse upon those that withhold justice from foreigners? Remember His Holy Law which says:

For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great, mighty, and awesome God who is unbiased and takes no bribe, who justly treats the orphan and widow, and who loves resident foreigners, giving them food and clothing. So you must love the resident foreigner because you were foreigners in the land of Egypt.

His blessing upon us is by the same measure with which we bless others. It is written, “Give, and it will be given to you: A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be poured into your lap. For the measure you use will be the measure you receive.

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

How Christians could end poverty

church

The roadmap for the body of Christ to end poverty was set out in the Deuteronomy and Acts. Yet somehow we still miss it.

What is poverty?

Poverty is a trap. It means not having enough and what you do to cope with that need.

Poverty is a trap because it disadvantages the entire family. The children are less likely to do well at school. In fact, most children who grow up in poverty fail to attain any qualifications worth a damn. As adults, they are trapped in low paying jobs and their children will inherit the same trap.

Poverty is a trap that damages society. Children that experience poverty are more likely to engage in crime, antisocial behaviour and drug use.

We Christians should be doing something about that. Instead, we either are trapped ourselves or grow fat and offer to “pray for the poor”. James 2:16 points out just how worthless that is, for a poor person.

What can we do?

What does Deuteronomy 26:12 say to do with the tithe? It says to feed the Levit, the fatherless, and the widow. I bet your pastors have not been telling you about that.

Deuteronomy 26:11 says to include resident foreigners in your celebrations. Or as we know them today, immigrants and refugees.

You will celebrate all the good things that the Lord your God has given you and your family, along with the Levites and the resident foreigners among you.

The model of the three tithes

Almost all teaching about tithes seems to focus on the one that pays the wages of the preacher – the sacred tithe. That’s the one you give to the church if you practice tithing.

However, your tithing is not done until you have paid all three tithes. The fact that we do not is why poverty keeps our communities in bondage.

These are the three tithes:

  1. The Levitical, or sacred tithe (Numbers 18:21-24).
  2. The tithe of the feasts (Deuteronomy 14:22-27).
  3. The tithe for the poor (Deuteronomy 14:28-29).

The tithe for the poor

The law regarding tithes talks repeatedly about “Levites, the resident foreigners, the orphans, and the widows”. In those days that was pretty much everyone unable to earn an income and feed themselves. In other words, those trapped in poverty.

Did you know that the provisions of Leviticus and Deuteronomy say to treat those in debt like the resident foreigners? That does not mean hound them out of the country as we are prone to do in this day and age. It means to care for them and keep them safe.

What do you think Matthew 25:31-46 is talking about if not caring for those in poverty? The division into reward or fire is not based on belief, confession, church attendance or anything else. The eternal reward is based on how you helped the poor and needy.

As it says in James 2:14-26, Faith without works is dead.

If you have extra houses

If you are fortunate enough to have more than one house, consider selling your spare houses like they did in Acts 4:32-35.

Then you can do what Leviticus 25 says and buy the freedom of your spiritual brothers and sisters. If you do not know how to distribute it yourself, find someone that does.

Are there fellow Christians trapped by crippling debt or locked into a mortgage they can no longer afford? Did you know that it is your biblical duty to go and buy their freedom?

Imagine the blessing you could unlock if you rocked up to the bank and just paid off another family’s debts. You would be making true the promise of Isaiah 61:1 by living it.

If you have additional houses under heavy mortgages

Okay so selling your houses would not net you much income. That happens. However, you can still bless the body of Christ without selling them.

I imagine you pay the mortgage by renting out your houses. That’s a business – and you might want to consider reading the next section too.

Think about this. Is there a family that lives in substandard housing? Maybe they cannot afford rent, or deposit. Maybe race is an issue that holds them back. Perhaps they were recently made homeless.

When one of your properties becomes vacant, that is an opportunity to bless a needy family. If you can offer them a year rent free so they can get back on their feet. Or if that is too expensive for you, offer them a rent much below market rates with no deposit.

Before they move in, you and some fellow Christians could pack the cupboards with food and furnish the house with items they need. Items which you will gift to the family.

Are you a Christian business owner?

If you are a Christian that owns a business, God has blessed you. What are you going to do with that blessing?

You could, for example, use the business to put those trapped into poverty into self-sufficiency. Here’s how.

Every seven or so years, take a tenth part of the business and separate it into a business of its own. One way to do this would be to set up your business as a franchise.

Now you have a new business that you could give, not sell, to a poor person from your local church.

The neediest people might not be equipped to run the business themselves. So you may wish to prepare in advance by taking them on as your apprentice. I don’t mean run a modern apprenticeship that some middle manager takes care of. I mean make them your right-hand person and let them learn from you by working with you.

When the time comes to gift them a business of their own, they will have the skills to run that business and make it grow. Teach them to do the same and in seven years time, the two of you will be able to help two more people out of poverty.

Do you earn enough to increase your savings regularly?

So you have savings. Good for you. Now it is time to think about how to bless others. After all, Matthew 6:19-21 says that we should store up treasures in heaven and not on earth.

Is there a family that you could bless by doing their grocery shopping for? If you believe in prayer (and I am assuming that you do) why not seek God and ask Him who you should shop for this week?

Don’t look to the well-dressed people sat at the front of the church. Turn your attention to the ones sitting at the back. The people that get overlooked.

Think about the families that never seem to go on vacation. The families that never seem to come to retreats and events. Maybe they don’t like going away but maybe they cannot afford to do so.

Do you own two cars?

Do you own two cars? Maybe you own several TV sets. Whatever you have multiples of you could share.

When you have a wealth of material things and there are others who have nothing how is the name of God blessed?

Consider that there might be others close by that lack the things you have. Do you really need all those things so much that you cannot give a few things away?

You cannot take your things with you so how about you release the blessing locked up in those items by giving them to those whose need is greater?

What does Luke 6:38 say about giving? Try it.

Do you only have sufficient?

Maybe all of these ideas are too much for your means. However, could you not make a meal stretch to a few more people?

In any church, there are the lonely ones. The singles and the elderly. You would enrich your life and their’s by simply inviting them to eat with you.

Skip the popular people. the names and faces of the church that everyone recognises. They have all the meal invites they need. Look for the people that get overlooked and bless them instead.

Do you not even have sufficient?

If you lack even enough for yourself, keep your money. Stop putting “tithes” into the church offering for a while. Use the money to pay your debts and feed your family. God the Father will understand.

Instead of tithing money, bless the body with anything you do have available – your time, your skills, your love.

Share what you have with those that appreciate it. “Seed gifts” mean nothing to the already wealthy. A cup of tea with a lonely person means the world to them.

The church could end poverty

I strongly believe that the church today has the means to end poverty in one generation. Two, at most.

The reason we do not is that we have failed to teach two-thirds of the tithing message. We have failed to remember that it is not “salvific category” but actions that define our faith.

For too many of us, our faith lacks works and is dead. We have become no better than the Pharisees – all law, no mercy.

It is time for the true Christians to take a stand against the prison of poverty. It is time for the church to show the world how it is done. It is time for our light to shine. It is time to show love to our brothers and sisters in need.

Metrics for assessing doctrine

fruit

There are numerous methods (or metrics) for assessing doctrine. By this, I simply mean that we have a wealth of tools for evaluating the quality of our faith.

There are few, however, that are as simple or effective than the one I wish to share. This particular tool for assessing doctrine does not require years of study. It does not even require months of study. It is a tool that any Christian can apply right from the get-go.

The fruit of a doctrine

That is the metric of the character the doctrine inevitably leads to. A doctrine that is righteous should lead to righteousness. If a doctrine is loving then it should lead to love. While a doctrine that leads to pride, factions, conflict, aggression, condemnation, and all those other bad things must, self-evidently, be bad.

This stems, from Matthew 7:15-20 which tells us “by their fruits you will know them”. Given axiom zero (that all scripture is good for teaching), we can know that this has something to teach us. Specifically, that the fruit of a doctrine must be good for it to be considered a good doctrine.

What is good fruit?

Now Galatians 5:22-23 shows us what fruits we should be looking for when assessing doctrine:

  • love
  • joy
  • peace
  • patience
  • kindness
  • goodness
  • faithfulness
  • gentleness
  • self-control

A doctrine that leads to these sorts of characteristics must, at the very least, be good even if it is not perfect. Yet a doctrine that leads to the opposite is fatally flawed.

Why this matters?

Too frequently we Christians have been quick to insist that a doctrine is right because we say “the Bible says” and yet the very attitudes it leads to are anything but Biblical.

Such characteristics as found in Galatians 5:20 such as hostilities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish rivalries, dissensions, and factions. These are the symptoms of a doctrine or belief that are at odds with the character of Christ. They lead to the sort of behaviour I call “trolling for Christ” – which we need to stop doing.

If at any time we find our belief leading us towards hostilities, strife, and dissension then it is our belief and not those of others which needs to be assessed. I can assure you that if we are not readily assessing doctrine that we preach then others will do it for us and be far less kind when they do.

If you need a scripture for this act of self-assessment – 2 Corinthians 13:5 directs us to examine ourselves.

Let us examine our own doctrines to be sure that they produce good fruits and be ready to uproot any that have failed to yield good fruit.

Thoughts on translation

One of the many things that disturb me about practitioners of modern Christianity is a reliance on translated text without a mind towards the source material.

When Christians insist that “the bible is clear” on some topic and then point to the English language edition for support – that worries me. It worries me because any translation is difficult and something is always lost in the transition.

I have read Galatians 5:9 where it says that a little leaven makes the whole loaf leaven. What if the translators were pushing an agenda? My theology would have that agenda in it. What if some vital clue was lost? What if some bias was introduced? My theology would be off-kilter too. What if a subtle point was obscured? How would I know I had missed it?

As a complete amateur in the field of linguistics, I am wholly dependant on the translation notes of the likes of Thayer and Strong. I have my suspicions that Strong may have had an agenda with some of his translations. When Strong gives the possible meanings of a word, there is often one (the one that is used) that sticks out as being quite different to the other possibilities. That bothers me. The best I can do is trust but verify.

The Bible was not written in English

I hope it does not come as a surprise to you to learn that the Bible was not written in English. (It was not). The Bible was written in Hebrew and Greek and first translated into Latin. Anyone who reads any of those languages fluently is going to have insights that we, who only read English, lack.

I have learned that some parts of the ancient Hebrew are so obscure that without the Latin version for a comparison, translation into English is only so much guesswork. “I guess my theology is right” does not sound all that trustworthy.

How do I know that what I am reading is what the original author intended?

1 John 4:1 says to test every spirit. I take that to mean: Test every message that is preached. By test, I mean:

  • Look and check to see if it measures up.
  • Think about it logically.
  • Study and make sure.
  • Ask questions.
  • Be as certain as I can be.

I cannot do that with Hebrew and Greek. The best I can do is check multiple translations and the translation notes. Anything I come up with must be subject to the caveat that it is based on other people’s interpretation. It could be flawed.

Trolls for Christ

Today, we have (what I hope are) well-meaning Christians hounding all and sundry on the Internet bombarding them with the English language translated scripture. Some are doing it in a way that borders on trolling. If there is one thing we can agree on scripture does not teach us to “troll for Christ”.

When the recipient of this Christian trolling knows scripture – in the original Hebrew – better than the Christian, all they are doing is making us all look stupid. When these people also offer a humble and gentle rebuke we have a choice expressed in Proverbs 9:7-9 – learn and be wise or demonstrate our lack of Christ-like-ness.

Humility is the only refuge

When it comes to debating scripture, teaching it, preaching it, or in any way talking about it – our only refuge from looking like fools is to remain humble. Unless we are fluent in ancient Hebrew and Greek, we are dependent on the translation work of others. We see only through the darkened glass of others, to quote 1 Corinthians 13:12.

To pretend we do not suffer from agnosis – a lack of knowledge – is both proud and very, very stupid; not to mention, self-deluded. Have you not read Proverbs 16:18 which says what pride goes before?

For that matter what about Psalm 138:6 and James 4:6? God opposes the proud, but he gives grace to the humble. I will leave it to you to work out if “trolling for Christ” is humble or proud. (Hint: It is not humble at all).

I think it is the time that we Christians climbed down from our high horse and gave up the pretention that we are in any way experts. Proverbs 17:28 says that “Even a fool who remains silent is considered wise”. Let us be wise.