Literally: Sad, Frustrated, Distracted. But Love. Church Heresies Then and Now.

So, the latest intra-Christian controversy to blow up is popular Christian worship act Gungor’s denial of the ‘literal’ reading of scripture, particularly Genesis, the creation account, Adam and Eve, and the Flood. This of course triggering the day before our traditional day of worship when Christians come together to worship God their saviour in spirit and truth. This, of course, all comes on the heels of the Tim Lambesis story who allegedly attempted to hire a hitman to murder his wife. It’s hard to try to move one’s heart towards God when we’re distracted by emotional issues like these. Here’s a few of the articles circulating:

It’s saddening, frustrating, and distracting…

Sad

It’s sad to see yet another pop-culture icon reveal their wishy-washy understanding of God, our faith, and scripture. It’s sad to hear their reasons. It’s sad to hear people comment on it with the same old bottom-rung, internet-level knowledge and wisdom we’ve all come to know and abhor from Youtube comments. And if I added a comment to one of these stories, I’d drag myself through the mud and come out dirty on the other side, too. There’s got to be a sensible way to talk about these things. That’s why I chose to write a blog about it. Discussions really can’t be had in 140 characters anyway.

Frustrated

It’s frustrating to read Michael Gungor’s response to the controversy, which originally sprang from a 2012 interview, with his tedious arrogance (intended or not) and, particularly for me, his clear misunderstanding or misrepresentation of biblical hermeneutics (how we interpret or understand the bible). His continued insistence that ‘fundamentalists’ use a ‘literal’ interpretation of the bible is tired, out of date, and uninformed. It appears clear that he hasn’t really engaged with modern, biblical apologetics. The way we understand the bible, to put a term to it, is a ‘plain’ understanding not a literal one. More technically, it’s sometimes called a historical-grammatical approach to understanding the bible:

The key to understanding the biblical text is to apply a hermeneutic which takes into account the historical and literary context. This can be done by employing historical-grammatical exegesis. This method presupposes that human beings are rational creatures capable of linguistic communication, and that linguistic communication is meaningful and objective. Historical-grammatical exegesis involves a systematic approach to analyzing in detail the historical situation, events and circumstances surrounding the text, and the semantics and syntactical relationships of the words which comprise the text. In essence, it attempts to formalize what language speakers do automatically and unconsciously whenever they read a book, watch television or engage in conversation.

For example, Genesis is written as a historical form, while Psalms is written largely in poetic form, while Daniel or Revelation might be considered prophetic form. These considerations aren’t just as the book level, it goes right down to the chapter, verse and words.

A simple way to phrase this approach is to ask how would the original readers, at the time it was written, have understood it? Christians believe in the ‘perspicuity of scripture‘ for both the original audience and those to follow. That’s a good starting point and gets you most of the way to interpreting any part of scripture.

Gungor also brings up very frustrating, old, tired, uninformed arguments against the historicity and actuality of the Genesis creation and flood accounts. You can count on Answers in Genesis to be all over this. I get it, if you’re not used to AIG or Creation.com, you won’t realize how bad these arguments are and how easy it is to find answers but, trust me, just do a search on Creation.com for any topic you might have questions about and you’ll get great, biblical, apologetic reading that supports the authenticity, accuracy, inerrancy, and trustworthiness of the bible.

Further, the comments that people write about these things also include really old arguments or very weak, even damaging, ideas. Some people are surprised that others actually believe in a six-day creation. Others suggest there’s nothing wrong with things like theistic evolution.

Distracted

On a weekend? Really? Why didn’t this happen on a weekday? So that it’s died down a little bit, and we have a bit of time for our hearts to recover, before we head to church in a huff while telling ourselves we’re giving our undivided worship and adoration to God?

“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20

This whole thing feels like a work of the devil. I’m not joking. Satan works against Christians just as much as anyone else. This feels like something rotten from within the Christian community distracting us all from fellowship with each other, from worshiping together in joy, from showing love to the world because I’m busy writing this blog…

But Love

In all of this, Christian, do not forget love. Do not let your emotions well up within you negative thoughts against people but only against arguments and pretensions setup against God.

We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
each of us has turned to our own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all. Isaiah 53:6

I heard a subtly different take on John 13:34-35 recently that I hadn’t realized before, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” Jesus is speaking to his disciples at the Last Supper. He is telling them to love one another, themselves, the Christians. They, non-Christians, will know you are following Christ if you, Christians, can love each other. If you can’t even do that then they, non-Christians, won’t see any value in what we have.

Michael Gungor, you are loved. Because we love you, we lovingly admonish and encourage you to reconsider your beliefs, not only for yourself, but because you are a teacher, people learn from your music, and so others may be lead astray.

Love, delivered like this, may not seem like love, but that’s because, in part, our definition of love has become synonymous/inclusive of tolerance. But God is love. Jesus is love. Jesus loved you. All the way to the cross. And He is still the one seated on the white throne of judgement. Real love will be identified in the end, by those who seek truth, because they’ll realize it was intended for ultimate good and not simply temporal good.

Heresies

This is a heresy. All heresies have been met with dramatic Christian response. You may be surprised that we would call this a heresy, it seems a bit – dramatic. But that’s what it is, and the response is akin to scientific peer review which helps bring good, logical, well thought out, well supported interpretation from the scripture, and helps eliminate false teachings which lead many astray and to possible damnation.

The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:4-5

Soli Deo gloria

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