The Synagogue at CapernaumIf you’ve spent any appreciable amount of time reading comments in Christian blogs, you’re most likely familiar with this 1-2 punch scenario:

Person A states a position and cites sources friendly to that position.

Person B comes back with Luke 6:26

Woe to you when all* men speak well of you, for that is how their fathers treated the false prophets

Then, just to make sure their point is driven home, Person B will quote John 15:20

Remember the words I spoke to you: ‘No servant is greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. 

And thus, the implication is that people agree with Person A, and therefore he is a false prophet.  Additionally, since Person A is not being persecuted, he is therefore not a servant of the Master.  Game, set and match – no need for further discussion.  Person B can declare victory and assume any further conversation on the topic is divisiveness, and that Person A is to be avoided (often citing Titus 3:10, just to complete the scriptural abuse trifecta).

What’s Wrong With This?

In the case of Luke 6:26, it is first important to read the entire passage, rather than just the prooftexted one:

Looking at his disciples, he said:
“Blessed are you who are poor,for yours is the kingdom of God.

Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied.

Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh.

Blessed are you when men hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven. For that is how their fathers treated the prophets. 

But woe to you who are rich, for you have already received your comfort.

Woe to you who are well fed now, for you will go hungry.

Woe to you who laugh now, for you will mourn and weep.

Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for that is how their fathers treated the false prophets. (Luke 6:20-26)

Jesus is giving parallel woes and blessings – demonstrating the need to temper our attitudes, and to maintain perspective.  Notice also, that the woes are not curses, but warnings.  This passage is not a call to asceticism, but a comfort to those in need and a warning to those currently without want (in one or more areas). 

In the case of Lk 6:26, it is a warning to the person to be on guard when everyone is speaking well or agreeing with him or her, to be sure that they are not under false conceptions – it is not stating that if people agree with you and like you, therefore you must be wrong.  And, just to add to the irony, people in the shoes of Person B are exactly the ones who should not give this warning, since in doing so, they invalidate it.

In the case of John 15:20, it is only necessary to include the entire verse:

Remember the words I spoke to you: ‘No servant is greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also.

In the entire passage (John 15:18-27), Jesus is warning his disciples about what they will face out in the world (after all, ten would die as martyrs, one would die in exile, and one would betray him).  In this particular passage, he is letting them know that the people they bear witness to who would have persecuted Jesus will persecute them and that those who would have obeyed his teaching, would obey them, too.  To put it differently, from the perspective of the disciples, Jesus is telling them that he is confident enough in them that they can be just like him.  The ultimate goal of a disciple is to be just like their rabbi. (Note to literalists – this is not saying the disciples thought they could be divine, but that they could be enough like Jesus that people could know what He is like through knowing them.)

One additional note to make – we, as westerners, often individualize the scripture far more than those who wrote it and who first witnessed it did.  In Hebrew context, scripture is a community experience, not an individual one.  Because of our difference in perspective, we may sometimes feel guilt when we are not individually persecuted, but we miss the greater point.  The church is still being persecuted in many parts of the world, and it is important that we, as a body, should support those who are in the state of persecution, with support requiring action on our part.  Even if I am not currently being persecuted, the church is, and it is my responsibility to take action on the part of my persecuted brothers & sisters.

Grace & peace,



*If they are pulling it from memory or being dishonest, Person B will often leave out the important word “all”, so that you end up with “Woe to you when men speak well of you, for that is how their fathers treated the false prophets”.  This makes it much easier to avoid the obvious logical fallacy.


This entry was posted on Thursday, October 12th, 2006 at 6:47 am and is filed under Misuse of Scripture, Religion/Philosophy. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

45 Comments so far

  1. Henry Frueh on October 12, 2006 4:15 pm

    In the midst of the most hedonistic, child abusing, pornographic producing, abortion filled, violence exalting, homosexual condoning, money loving, and religiously secular society, we as Christians are not only not persecuted, we are embraced by that same society that we ourselves so often mirror. But I guess we shouldn’t feel like something is wrong. I’m OK, you’re OK.

  2. Chris L. on October 12, 2006 4:49 pm

    I guess I don’t see Christianity as a whole being embraced, and when I look at the world as a whole, I definitely don’t see Christianity embraced. I see many attempts to stifle and corrupt the church. In western society, under the rule of law, we have little to fear – no matter what we say – in terms of physical persecution. That just means that Satan has had to go underground and elsewhere.

    My point is that it is disingenuous to say that anyone who is not INDIVIDUALLY (or even as a specific local body of believers) being persecuted must be wrong is backward thinking and NOT what Jesus was teaching.

  3. robbymac on October 13, 2006 12:54 pm

    Re: the John 15 passage

    In context, Jesus is talking about persecution from the Pharisees. He warns that the “world” (greek cosmos) will hate the disciples because they hated Him first, but his warnings of what the “world” will do to them are things that only the Pharisees and other religious leaders could/would do. For example, “the world” as we generally understand it, couldn’t put the disciples out of syagogues — only the religious leaders of Judaism could. And even Jesus’ warning that people will kill the disciples and think they’re doing God a favour is most likely anticipating Saul (later Paul) at the stoning of Stephen and the early persecution of the church by the Sanhedrin.

    I did a whole blogpost on this one, if you’re interested.

  4. robbymac on October 13, 2006 1:14 pm

    Hmm. My earlier post seems to have evaporated into the ether…

    Here’s a link to a blog post I did on John 15; “the world” in context of this passage refers to Pharisees, not unbelievers. I won’t try to recreate my original comment again, just in case it suddenly appears and it looks like I’m repeating myself… :)

  5. Chris L. on October 13, 2006 3:48 pm

    robbymac – I’ve set up the site to automatically approve comments after your first one is approved. Sorry about the misunderstanding…

  6. robbymac on October 13, 2006 5:45 pm

    Ah… I see. Thanks for the clarification! :)

  7. Ken Silva on October 13, 2006 10:07 pm

    Now who are the “literalists?” You gentlemen do realize there is a spiritual principle being taught here as well as the grammatical-historical context don’t you?

  8. Chris L. on October 14, 2006 3:12 am


    I outlined both the historical-grammatical context and the spiritual principle of each of the two passages in question. In the case of the Lukan passage, the spiritual principle was described thus:

    Jesus is giving parallel woes and blessings – demonstrating the need to temper our attitudes, and to maintain perspective. Notice also, that the woes are not curses, but warnings. This passage is not a call to asceticism, but a comfort to those in need and a warning to those currently without want (in one or more areas).

    In the case of Lk 6:26 [specifically], it is a warning to the person to be on guard when everyone is speaking well or agreeing with him or her, to be sure that they are not under false conceptions

    In the case of John 15:20, the spiritual message was that if we are alike to Christ enough, people will be able to see Him and accept or reject His message as if they were accepting/rejecting Him directly.

    In both cases, both the historical-grammatical context and the spiritual principle are contrary to those who try to misuse them for the purpose of smearing a fellow believer who “isn’t being persecuted enough” or “is spoken well of” (or both) and, therefore, must be on the wide path to destruction.

    In neither case would this qualify as “literalism”, as it does not seek to narrow the message for the sake of prooftexted exclusion. It actually takes the entire passage into context, widening the meaning by viewing the whole and not the part, which, like light in the darkness, exposes the fallacious thinking as poorly thought out logic. (i.e. if A is equal to B, and B is sometimes equal to C, therefore A must be equal to C).

    As for discussion on historical-grammatical context, are you really sure you know what that means? If so, it is rather odd that in two sentences you would suggest I was being both literalist and grammatical-historical, since they are nearly opposite of each other. Perhaps this is like ’straw men’, ‘ad homenim’, ‘pontificating’ and other terms you tend to use, without understanding the full import. At least that would be my guess, since I’ve not seen you use historical-grammatical context yet (though, in all fairness, I may have missed it).

  9. Ken Silva on October 14, 2006 12:50 pm


    I sincerely do pray that one day the Lord will help you to be able to see yourself more clearly that you might recognize what you are actually doing. :-)

  10. Zan on October 14, 2006 2:31 pm


    Which one of your blindspots have you projected onto Chris? Do you not see you what you, yourself, are doing to some of our brothers in Christ? But, really, the big picture is found, as usual, in scripture: Hebrews 4 says, “For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.” This is repeated in Romans 14:11-12, and Galatians 6:4 states, “Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else, for each one should carry his own load.”
    Obviously, we have the word of God in the form of our Bible, but remember also that Jesus was, himself, the word of God incarnate. So we must look at Jesus’ life, as well as the words of the Bible, in order to apply the scriptures above. It is possible to study Jesus’ life from just the Bible. Absolutely, as men and women of the past have had to do. But, do we dare put limits on God by saying that He cannot also help us know Jesus through some newer research and archaeological discoveries? Can He not choose, if He so wills, to give us a glimpse of the “life and times” of Jesus as few in recent history have had? Or maybe He is merely revealing ideas and knowledge long since forgotten through the passing of time and changing of cultures in this world. I do NOT serve a God confined by what “I” believe He will/should/could do. He is SO much bigger than anything I could dream or imagine, and that includes His ways of doing/not doing things. I agree that we have the mind of Christ, as we have the gift of the Holy Spirit (I Cor 2), but that doesn’t mean that we know what everything that God desires of others and what paths He wants others on(unless, of course, it goes directly against what the Bible says). The beauty of God’s creation of mankind is the wealth of differences that He designed in us – some ascribed by Him, some allowed by Him by our upbringing. But we are ALL different, and we all have VERY different gifts and callings for our lives. I don’t always agree with the decisions that someof my friends make, but they haven’t asked me to be in charge of their lives. They HAVE, however, asked God to be in charge, and He knows them ever so much better than I do. Therefore, I have the responsibility to continue to love them, support them, help carry their burdens, and be there to help them pick up the pieces when they fail. It is called “Loving people exactly where they are in their life”. It is the way Jesus ministered. Here is a serious question: Did Jesus ever turn His back on someone who wanted to be with him? Did he ever send anyone like that away? I know he was harsh with the religious rulers, and he gave tough lessons and words to many who listened to His teachings, but did He EVER send anyone away? No, I don’t believe He did (if you find I am mistaken, please show me where), many left Him, but He didn’t send anyone away from him that truly wanted to be there. So how can we? How can we presume to send people away from Jesus’ church? How can we presume to tell people, who are truly trying to grow and live according to Jesus’ example, that they are “not saved” or “unregenerate”? These are terms that judge the heart, and NO MAN truly knows the heart of any other man. Therefore we take on a role that only belongs to God when we judge a person’s heart. So unless you can point to ACTIONS that directly disobey God’s word or the examples give to us by Jesus’ life, then you are not given the authority to say anything to Chris, Rob Bell, or any other person. You need to trust that Chris will answer to God for the words and actions he chooses, that God is the only one capable of talking to Chris about what direction God wants Chris to go in his life/study, and that that direction may not be one you like/agree with, but that is not really your concern/business. It is between God and Chris! And one thing I know is that God will use a person that Chris respects and listens to to guide him if he is on the wrong path, not a narrow-minded, legalist that doesn’t even know Chris’ life, struggles, or heart.

  11. Chris L. on October 14, 2006 3:58 pm

    Thanks, Zan.


    I am sure the Lord will convict me if I have acted out of line here. It would not be the first time I have had to accept correction, nor probably the last. Reading back through, though, I’m not going to even try to assume what you’re trying to obliquely refer to here, as I’ve given you far too much credit to this point.

    As I’ve pointed out to you before, we are called to love what is good, hate what is evil, to bind up the wounded, and care for the sheep under our care. When we see a brother under unjust attack, we are complicit in his persecution if we stand by and do nothing. You and your compatriots at Slice (and folks at some of the other ‘heretic hunter’ blogs) have made a ‘ministry’ out of trying to do God’d job for Him, and, as a result, you end up modern-day pharisees (in the bad sense of the word) persecuting the body of Christ and, in the process, driving some of His sheep out of the fold.

    I have no claims to perfection whatsoever, and the sins I have committed grieve Christ, and it is only through HIs grace that I am saved. It is out of deepest gratitude that I try not just to follow the belief in Jesus, but the belief of Jesus, as well.

    Who knows what ‘offense’ you seem to take now, but if you aren’t going to be specific, your sanctimonious pity is of no value or virtue.

  12. Henry Frueh on October 14, 2006 5:06 pm

    Zan – I can understand your observations about the life of Jesus as revealed in the gospels. But there is only one person who was taught face to face with Jesus after His earthly life, and that person was The Apostle Paul. Do you not believe that Jesus, who taught Paul directly for maybe three years, would not have told Paul what he wanted to tell His church about Himself?

    Therefore I believe you are sincere but misguided in the way you approach Scripture. The Pauline epistles shed light on the gospels, not the reverse. Below is a short article about the Person Driven Life, a title which even an emergent would agree with! Rick

  13. Chris L. on October 14, 2006 5:35 pm


    You said (to Zan):

    I believe you are sincere but misguided in the way you approach Scripture. The Pauline epistles shed light on the gospels, not the reverse.

    You also noted that it was Jesus who taught Paul. As Jesus noted, “A student is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master” (a common rabbinical proverb Jesus wove into a greater saying). Your continual elevation of Pauline writing above direct teaching of Jesus is what appears to be ‘misguided’, in the same way that your delegation of the Hebrew Scriptures to merely support material could also be termed the same way. What have you based this on?

    Do you not believe that Jesus, who taught Paul directly for maybe three years, would not have told Paul what he wanted to tell His church about Himself?

    While this is an interesting question, it supposes a specific answer that is not necessarily true (since it could be very logically argued that no, if Jesus knew that his words and actions would be recorded and spread by his disciples in the form of the gospels, He would not necessarily need to explain everything to Paul).

    You also seem to completely miss her point, as well, which had nothing to do with pauline vs. gospel treatment – as Paul noted to Timothy, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” She was using scripture for its purpose, and (unlike Ken) using it in its context and with proper application.

  14. Henry Frueh on October 14, 2006 6:08 pm

    Although the church has Hebrew roots from which we can learn more clearly the revelation of Christ and His church, the church is a Gentile Bride and I believe that you sometimes overemphasize Hebrew customs. They can help us understand, but they have no place in the church.

    Most if not all of the cults have used the Old Testament and the Gospels to formulate their doctrine while marginalizing the epistles, which in context were the only Biblical books written to the church. Of course all Scripture is inspired, but that is a general straw man. Leviticus is not for the church, simply an inspired shadow and schoolmaster to bring us to Christ. So, Chris, one must rightly divide the Word.

    As for the gospels, they reveal the Person of Christ and His redemptive mission. If we are supposed to examine His earthly life and emulate it entirely, well then we should worship on Saturday, we should go into false churches and turn over the chairs, and most painfully of all we should own nothing. Washing feet should be a church doctrine, circumcision should be a church teaching, you see my point? There are many things that our Lord did and even taught that are not for us but he would later give to Paul the message to the church, His body.

    And I do not elevate Paul’s words above, as you put it, the direct teachings of Jesus. Paul’s Words ARE the direct teachings of Jesus, and if you do not believe that then it is you who are subordinating sections of the New Testament. The entire Bible is the Words of Jesus, but they must be received in proper context or anyone can piece together any puzzle they want and say, “See this teaching, that is what God gave me and He wants everyone to fall in line behind it”.

    For a good research paper, do a study of Seventh Day Adventism and see how they have made their own collage of different Scriptures pasted together on the sick bed of Mary Baker Eddy, and then called it God’s teaching for the church.

  15. Ken Silva on October 14, 2006 6:38 pm


    Chris would almost appear to be under “the spell of Bell” and Rob is very big on the Hebraic thing – particularly the musings of Ray Vander Laan. Bell literally began Mars Hill Bible Church with a sermon series from Leviticus. The problem is that these “ancient” rabbis Bell is so fond of are unregenerate and cannot understand the Scriptures correctly. The Bible says:

    “Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God, which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words. But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised. (1 Corinthians 2:12-14)

    You probably know that liberal theology, picked up by Robert Schuller in his book “Self Esteem: The New Reformation”, is drive a wedge between the teachings of Jesus and those of Paul. You have correctly point out that in His Incarnation Jesus was much more then a first century Rabbi but the Master also speaks as a Man moved by God the Holy Spirit. And then the inspired Apostle Paul’s writings in Holy Scripture are once again a man teaching as he is moved by the same God the Holy Spirit. Same God different vessels unchanging Truth.

    In my mind I am sad to say Chris gives the impression of someone in love with his own intellect. I see him in 1 Timothy 1:6-7 – “For some men, straying from these things, have turned aside to fruitless discussion, wanting to be teachers of the Law, even though they do not understand either what they are saying or the matters about which they make confident assertions.”

  16. Chris L. on October 14, 2006 6:41 pm


    I do not marginalize the epistles, but (as Peter noted) they are not always easy to understand, and they are easy to distort. At least one of the gospels, as well, was written to a Gentile audience, and not a Jewish one – is this inferior to the writings of Paul?

    True, most of Leviticus is not for the church, as it is part of the Mosaic covenant, and not the Noaic one, whose moral guidelines we are still instructed to follow – based on the ruling of the Jerusalem Council, recorded in Acts 15. We (as Gentiles) are never encouraged to break the portions of Torah which were directed at people apart from the Jews.

    We are to examine His earthly life and emulate what He taught we should do. He did not encourage Gentiles to keep Sabbath, because Gentiles were not to keep Jewish festivals. He turned over tables in the temple, not because they were ‘false’, but because they had taken up the Gentile courts for buying and selling – keeping people away from the worship of God. While He was poor, he did not teach that all of his followers had to be so (like Joseph of Aramathea. etc. etc. – these, themselves, are all straw men.

    Zan was pointing out that we were to emulate what Jesus taught, not to be practicing Jews.

    You said that you

    do not elevate Paul’s words above, as you put it, the direct teachings of Jesus. Paul’s Words ARE the direct teachings of Jesus, and if you do not believe that then it is you who are subordinating sections of the New Testament.

    You’re playing semantics now. Paul’s words are inspired, just as the entire scripture is inspired, but they ARE his words and writings, not dictation directly from Christ. You are correct that, when taken out of context, one can make the Bible say most anything. How else did we get the Crusades, the Inquisition, Catholocism, Calvinism, and Seventh Day Adventism? Systematic theology, for good or ill, is faillible.

    Historical-critical contextual interpretation has its limitations, but it is far harder to abuse that literalism and other methodologies. I don’t know that I’ve emphasized that we need to FOLLOW any of the Hebrew customs – but I have emphasized that we need to UNDERSTAND them and their context in order to understand idiomatic and the actual historical context in which the scripture was written.

  17. Chris L. on October 14, 2006 6:59 pm


    You have become such a sad cartoon of modern anti-intellectual phariseeism, it is no wonder you so often demonstrate such arrogant ignorance.

    It’s funny that you’re now attacking Ray Vander Laan, a highly respected scholar across the evangelical spectrum, since it suits your purposes. He has served as an excellent collection point for current scholarship and study of the First Century, not for the purposes of creating a new Judiazed church, but to help everyone see who Jesus was and is, so that the world may know He is the Messiah.

    Ken, you wield scripture the way I wield a golf club (the only time I golfed in my life, I scored 100+, and that was only on the front nine). In choosing to quote I Corinthians 2, you have once again decided to 1) place yourself in the place of Paul and 2) committed blasphemy by taking a passage that was OBVIOUSLY referring to those apart from the Torah (natural man) and suggesting that those who were in service to Torah are in error, which would make God, Himself, in error.

    You seem to have a real problem placing yourself in the place of Paul and Christ as a position of misguided authority. The scripture isn’t your literalist playground from which to cast your opinion as if it were divine. Your arrogance is far above what anyone could term “pastorly”.

    Ken, my own intellect is suspect, and I would not assume such. At the same time, I treat his word FAR more respectfully than you abuse it for your own misguided ends. I’m sure Torquemada thought he was doing right 500 years ago, and it is sad that you have cast yourself in his modern, (praise be to God) toothless image.

    It is interesting, also, that you chose to quote 1 Timothy 1:6-7, once again assuming that examining Jewish practice is to teach that we must follow it. You are not Paul, accept it and get over it.

  18. Henry Frueh on October 14, 2006 7:36 pm

    Chris, Your obvious familiarity with the Jewish customs has yoked you to the Old Testament to the detriment of the New. And your interpretation of I Cor.2 is actually wierd. The Old Testament is now called the “beggarly elements” by someone who was probably more leaned than any of us in the Old Testament.

    All these rules and Jewish customs and Torah and rabbi references only serve to remove people from the simplicity that is in Christ Jesus. And with all that clutter going on it tends to be an obstacle for fresh and free worship in the Spirit. The Hebrew etymology of words can illuminate, but it can easily become an obsession, like the “messianic churches” which, however well meaning, were never meant to be structured to shadow the law.

    The same goes for liturgical services. The gowns, the candles, the altar, are all shadows of the OT law and have no place in a New Testament gathering of believers. The gospels lift up the Jesus narrative and show Him as King of the Jews and Savior of the world. The Pauline epistles were just as dictated as the “Torah” and they are the teachings of a new body that was hidden in Christ until Pentecost. But mixing the Old with the New leads to error, the Old testament was made by God with an inherant weakness that was timed to crumble at Calvary when the veil was rent. It is now a historical teaching tool that primarily forshadows Christ Himself.

    So ,let us not be consumed with the old, let us come bodly into the Testament of the Spirit, which is crowned with greater glory. For we are ministers of the New Testament, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills but the spirit gives life. And though the Hebrew residue can be found in the first century believers, when the gospel turned to the Gentiles the church rightly abandoned Jewish customs and fables, and God’s exhortation to us is to avoid foolish questions, and genealogies, and contentions, and strivings about the law (Torah), for they are unprofitable and vain.

    I really do admire your obvious research of the Old Testament and Jewish customs, start from the New Testament revelation of Jesus and use your scholarship to further illuminate our Lord and Savior, the Lord jesus Christ. Amen.

  19. Chris L. on October 14, 2006 8:44 pm


    I only have a minute, but will be back later. Here is a question for you:

    If I have a friend, Moshe, who is an orthodox Jew, and he accepts Yeshua as his Messiah, should Moshe continue to follow Mosaic Law?

  20. Henry Frueh on October 14, 2006 8:53 pm

    Absolutely not, that is major heresy.

  21. Zan on October 14, 2006 9:14 pm


    If Paul is only speaking to gentiles, then why does he quote the OT 29 times in
    Romans and over 35 in Hebrews? It is true that we study the OT to “learn more clearly the revelation of Christ and His church”. But we can also learn so much more from them. We learn almost exclusively of God’s righteousness, justice, faithfulness, holiness, and so much more from the OT. We don’t have anywhere close to a big picture of God if we only look at the NT. And if it is as you say it is: “They can help us understand, but they have no place in the church.”, then why did Paul continue to refer to them? Do you REALLY believe that the book we call the Bible was brought together under God’s divine hand, to teach and lead us as an earthly record of God’s own words? If you do, then how in the world can you say that that Hebrew/Jewish history has no place in the church? You, as a highly educated man, surely must understand the importance of learning from history, and using history to give us a proper view of the context and reality of life at other times.

    one more thing: where is the scripture that speaks of “dividing the word”?

  22. Zan on October 14, 2006 9:25 pm

    Heresy from a Greek word signifying (1) a choice, (2) the opinion chosen, and (3) the sect holding the opinion. In the Acts of the Apostles (5:17; 15:5; 24:5, 14; 26:5) it denotes a sect, without reference to its character. Elsewhere, however, in the New Testament it has a different meaning attached to it. Paul ranks “heresies” with crimes and seditions (Gal. 5:20). This word also denotes divisions or schisms in the church (1 Cor. 11:19). In Titus 3:10 a “heretical person” is one who follows his own self-willed “questions,” and who is to be avoided. Heresies thus came to signify self-chosen doctrines not emanating from God (2 Pet. 2:1). Source: Easton’s 1897 Bible Dictionary.

    If Moshe professes his faith in Jesus Christ as the risen Lord and Messiah prophesied in the OT, then and follows all the NT instructions on becoming a follower of Jesus, then how is that heretical? The NT doesn’t say that it is wrong for the jews to continue to follow the mosaic laws after they accept Christ. Where are you getting this idea????

  23. Chris L. on October 14, 2006 9:45 pm


    First, I didn’t have time to better define my question, so if you want to revise your answer after this further definition, I will completely understand. By “Mosaic Law”, I am not including the sacrificial and temple duty laws, which obviously cannot be followed today. By “Mosaic Law”, I am referring to the moral laws, festival laws (including shabbat) and dietary laws. I would also revise “should” to be “is it acceptable for”. So, the question would be “Would it be acceptable for Moshe to continue to follow Mosaic Law, as an observant Jew?”

    Next, thank you for your frank answer. I would completely disagree, based specifically on the words and practice of Paul and the early church.

    In Acts 15, the church leadership in Jerusalem – with Paul and Barnabas present – decided that Gentiles only had to follow Noaic Law, but did not remove Torah from the Jews – “For Moses has been preached in every city from the earliest times and is read in the synagogues on every Sabbath.”

    Until the early fourth century, Jews (Messianic and non-Messianic) and Christians worshipped together in many synagogues in areas with large percentages of Jews from the diaspora – primarily the areas of the churches of Revelation and eastern Greece. I’ve got pictures of some carvings from such a synagogue, blending the menorah and the cross, taken this spring in Laodicea. It was not until Constantine made Christianity the official religion of Rome that Gentile Christians decided to force Jewish Christian repudiation of Judaic practices.

    Jews are still unique in God’s scheme, as Paul attests throughout Romans, culminating in his usage of the olive tree, in which Gentiles are only a grafted-in branch – not a replacement for the tree. Jesus said that ‘heaven and earth would pass away’ before even the smallest letter in the Torah could be replaced. As I’ve mentioned before, teaching that the Torah is dead and has no place in the church is part of replacement theology, which is abhorrent and has led to the anti-semetic mass crimes of Christendom. Here is a good overview.

    I would also reference David Stern’s Restoring the Jewishness of the Gospel, which is written for non-Jewish believers, taken from a larger work, the Messianic Jewish Manifesto.

    In Hebrews, Paul prepares his Jewish audience for the ending of the temple and sacrificial teachings, because these have been replaced in the person of Christ. The covenant ‘payment’ is completed in Christ. The ‘Way’ given by God in Torah (the moral, festival and dietary laws) is never done away with in Pauline or gospel writings.

    When Paul writes to Timothy, “All Scripture is God-breathed…”, at that time the ONLY scripture was the Old Testament. The gospels, Pauline Epistles and other NT writings had not yet been completed or codified. We have taken this and (properly, I believe) applied it to the entire Bible. However, to take out the Old Testament as being useful for “teaching, rebuking, correcting and training” (or to say it has “no place in the church”) is grevious sin.

    When you say that

    though the Hebrew residue can be found in the first century believers, when the gospel turned to the Gentiles the church rightly abandoned Jewish customs and fables, and God’s exhortation to us is to avoid foolish questions, and genealogies, and contentions, and strivings about the law (Torah), for they are unprofitable and vain.

    you are saying arrogantly that the branch has become the tree, and doing EXACTLY what Peter warned against in reading Paul

    His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction. (II Peter 3:16)

    When writing about the olive tree to which we’ve been grafted in Romans 11, Paul warns that because we aren’t part of the original tree, we may be removed easily, and that branches from the tree that have broken off can easily be re-grafted.

    You said

    I really do admire your obvious research of the Old Testament and Jewish customs, start from the New Testament revelation of Jesus and use your scholarship to further illuminate our Lord and Savior, the Lord jesus Christ.

    This cannot be done, because you cannot just “start” from Jesus’ revelation in absence of Torah, because He lived it, breathed it and loved it. This is exactly what I am talking about when I say that our faith IN Jesus has obliterated the faith OF Jesus, and this is why so much of the church today is dead – it has no root.

  24. Ken Silva on October 14, 2006 11:00 pm

    so much of the church today is dead

    This is true but not because of all the legalistic mumbo jumbo you stated above, it is because they have not actually been born again/regenerated and are attempting to do a Supernatural job in their flesh. I say it again because your interpretation of 1 Corinthians 2 is frankly ridiculous. You have some nerve ridiculing my exegesis. This text clearly speaking of God the Holy Spirit and not the Law.

    “Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit [pneuma] who [Person] is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God, which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words. But a natural man [one who has not been born again] does not accept the things of the Spirit of God [all of Holy Scripture - Old and New Testament], for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them [the text of the Bible - it's real and spiritual meaning], because they are spiritually appraised.” (1 Corinthians 2:12-14)

    As Dr. Walter Martin always, and correctly, taught concerning proper hermeneutics: “The Old Testament is always to be interpreted in the light of the New, and never the reverse.” You folks have reversed this, however well-meaning, and have lost sight of the fact that the Christian grew out of the Jewish faith and completes it. It transcends it because while Jesus in His Incarnation was a Jewish Rabbi in a sense, He is also the LORD God Almighty Himself and is the Author and Finisher of the true faith which is God recreating the believer inside so He can live within them.

    2 Corinthians 5:17 – “Therefore if any man [this is not the "natural" man above] be in Christ [one must be saved for this to apply] he is a new creature [ktisis-"thing, creation"] old things [that "natural" man] are passed away, behold, all things are become new.” The Imago Dei shattered in the fall begins to be restored when the believer is spiritually recreated inside by God the Holy Spirit. Until this happens one is dead in sin, spiritually dead, and simply cannot understand Scripture from God’s perspective unless the Lord enables him spiritually no matter how Jewish they try and be.

    At that very time He rejoiced greatly in the Holy Spirit, and said, “I praise You, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and intelligent and have revealed them to infants. Yes, Father, for this way was well-pleasing in Your sight. All things have been handed over to Me by My Father, and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, and who the Father is except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal Him.” Turning to the disciples, He said privately, “Blessed are the eyes which see the things you see.” (Luke 10:21-23)

  25. Chris L. on October 15, 2006 12:09 am


    Ah – I see what you’re trying to suggest with 1 Corinthians 2, which is still bogus, as I misunderstood your initial usage (because of your choice of bold/emphasis). Still, though, ‘natural man’ would not apply to the prophets and hasidim prior to the coming of Christ (you’re trying to retroactively apply this ‘natural man’ interpretation and a way never intended.)

    I don’t know Dr. Martin, and if you’ve accurately portrayed his teaching (which is definitely questionable, based on your track record), then he’s wrong on this count. It is apparent that you’ve incorrectly interpreted Jesus’ “fulfilling” the law as meaning that he “completed” it – or somehow rendered it no longer valid. By no means. To fulfil means to interpret correctly, and to “destroy” or “abolish” means to interpret the Torah incorrectly.

    Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill the. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven. (Matt 5:17-20)

    Too often, when modern scholars have seen apparent discrepency between Old and New, the assumption has been that the New superceded the Old. As has been shown in many cases, a more careful study of the historical context of both the Old and New has shown agreement between the two – often because the New Testament writers were applying techniques (like Remez or D’rash) which were not well understood in Christian circles until the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered and Christian and Jewish scholars started working side by side to interpret them.

    You said

    2 Corinthians 5:17 – “Therefore if any man [this is not the “natural” man above] be in Christ [one must be saved for this to apply] he is a new creature [ktisis-”thing, creation”] old things [that “natural” man] are passed away, behold, all things are become new.” The Imago Dei shattered in the fall begins to be restored when the believer is spiritually recreated inside by God the Holy Spirit. Until this happens one is dead in sin, spiritually dead, and simply cannot understand Scripture from God’s perspective unless the Lord enables him spiritually no matter how Jewish they try and be.

    I would agree with all of this (with one minor difference – though it may just be our interpretation of “Imago Dei”, so I’ll let it pass). “Trying to be Jewish” accomplishes nothing, I will wholeheartedly agree. However, when men who are part of the new creation (for example, Christian scholars who are honestly seeking God and to understand His Word) seek to understand the culture in which Christ lived and the faith he believed in, they may be rewarded with insight into the meaning of Scripture.

    That said, I believe that practicing Jews who accept Christ are still blessed with the aliyah promised by God when they continue to practice the parts of the Torah directed specifically at Jews. It is not out of works this is received, but out of their faith and love for God and the Word He has given.

    The Luke passage you should have continued (related to the earlier discussion with Chris P on “seeing and seeing” and “hearing and hearing”, as it relates to this:

    Then he turned to his disciples and said privately, “Blessed are the eyes that see what you see. 24For I tell you that many prophets and kings wanted to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.” Luke 10:23-24

    In other words, “blessed are you for hearing and understanding and accepting what the prophets and kings heard and understood, but did not wish to apply.” (Which is a perfect example where the Isaiah passage from which this is taken is the basis of the Jewish idiom applied by Jesus 600 years later).

  26. Chris L. on October 15, 2006 12:52 am


    I missed your reference to “beggardly elements” – Not recognizing the KJV of Galatians 4:9 (none of my churches have ever used the KJV, so don’t always recognize the archaic turns of phrase as Biblical references). If you read this in context with 4:8, you will see that returning to “beggardly elements” is returning to the ways of the world, not the way of the Way.

  27. Henry Frueh on October 15, 2006 7:45 am

    Chris – Your interpretation of Gal.4:9 is so wrong I cannot respond. Read the whole chapter and if you can’t see Paul is contrasting the law, well then I just don’t know. As for you dividing the moral, ceremonial, sacrificial, and other sections of what was given to Moses, that is man’s division, who gave you authority to break up the law like AT&T and take what you want and leave the rest. Paul clearly teaches that if you desire to be under the law you are a debtor to do ALL of it.

    In fact Paul teaches if you go back to the law “Christ has profited you nothing”. I’d say that’s pretty serious. Your believer friend who has Jewish ethnicity is not a Jew in Christ. Where did you get the Scriptural authority to ignore the teaching about no Jew or Gentile in Christ and assert that it is acceptable for him to follow parts of the law, the parts you say are alright? Paul commands us to cast out the bondwoman and her son for she shall not be heir with with Isaac.

    Chris, of all the things you have asserted over the months this teaching is the most serious of all. And reading the comments of others you seem to have drawn away others to your “witchcraft” as Paul calls in in Gal.3:1. I ask you to repent of this false law mixing teaching and encourage others to to the same. You have brought a dead corpse called the law and placed in bed with the Son of God. We are free from observing the law, it has accomplished its purpose and it now serves as a dead shadow and not the body which is Christ.

    And we do not get our life from the olive branch, it was broken off. We get our life from the olive tree which is Christ. You have exalted the whole Hebrew system and in doing so you have diminished Christ Himself. So with all your obvious knowledge you have left the simplicity that is in Christ. Very sad and dangerous. And I will finally say with Paul:

    “And that because of false brethren unawares brought in, who came to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage. To whom we gave place by subjection, no, not for an hour; that the truth of the gospel might continue with you. But those that seemed to be somewhat (whatsoever they where, it maketh no matter to me, God accepteth no man’s person), for they who seemed to be somewhat in conference added nothing to me.”

    Keep seeking Him alone!

  28. Chris L. on October 15, 2006 9:21 am


    The problem Paul is trying to address in all of Galatians is twofold – dealing with the practices of the Judiazers (requiring “the law” of Gentile Christians) and the pull of pagan Roman practices (”the world”). The Judiazers were trying to require elements of the Law for gentile believers – circumcision, in particular.

    In Galatians 4, Paul first deals with Jewish Christians in v. 1-7. He switches gears in v.8 to deal with the Gentiles, by saying

    Formerly, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those who by nature are not gods.

    Paul never refers to Jews prior to knowing Christ as ones who “did not know God” – and he even goes further to make this point clear by stating that they (the Gentile christians) were slaves to those who by nature are not gods. (once again, something he would NEVER say about the law, which is both ‘perfect’ and ‘of God’).

    Verse 9 – the one in question – uses the term “beggardly elements” (”weak and miserable principles” in the NIV) to describe the Gentile’s pre-Christian worship of “those who by nature are not gods” from the previous sentence (not a description of Torah).

    Paul is dealing with two problems in Galatians – the easy one (the Gentiles) is to prevent them from falling back into old pagan practices. With Jews, it is more difficult, because it is making sure that they do not fall back into trusting that God will impute righteousness on them for their faith in God, demonstrated by observance of Torah – not by faith in Christ.

    I agree that we (Gentile Christians) are not to go back to the Law – because we were never required to do so in the first place! Jewish Christians, though, may continue to follow the Law – not for any purposes of Salvation, but for the promises of aliyah, which are separate from salvation, but it identification with the Jews as a people, whether in community or in physical immigration to Israel. Aliyah, as explained to me by several messianic Jews, is to be Messianic and part of the natural tree (from which many, but not all, branches were broken) and not just the ingrafted branch of the olive tree. On the other hand, if Jewish Christians do NOT wish to continue to follow the Mosaic laws, they are free to do so and accept a place in the ingrafted branch.

    I know many who do not choose to stop following the Mosaic Torah, because this enables them to be a witness to other Jews, so that they, too, might accept Jesus as messiah. (following the example of Paul in the synagogues).

    In Hebrews, Paul is foreshadowing the destruction of the Temple. Without the Temple, the ceremonial parts of Torah (Temple rites, sacrificial rites) cannot be followed, which would create great stress in non-Christian Jews. Paul lets the Jewish Christians know that this is not a problem, because theses rites (which could only be followed in Jerusalem at the temple, but which were for the purpose to remind God to forgive the sins of the Jewish people) were no longer needed, because Christ had taken the place of High Priest and had become the perfect sacrifice – so no more would be needed.

    This division of “the law” is not mine (some sort of AT&T thing), but of Jewish practice, which for Orthodox Jews today in still followed – Temple and sacrificial practices cannot be done ANYWHERE but on the temple mount in Jerusalem, and so it is interesting that even though Israel has been returned to God’s Chosen people, they still cannot institute these items because of the Dome of the Rock and Al Asqua mosques on the temple mount.

    I am not REQUIRING the law of anyone – nor teaching that it should be required. What I am encouraging is that we understand the Hebrew Scriptures – which every writer in the New Testament knew by memory. The torah is NOT called “witchcraft” in Galatians 3. The Judiazers are referred to as “bewitching” people – requiring that Gentiles first become Jews before they can become Christians. I do nothing of the sort. KNOWING Judiasm is completely different than REQUIRING Judiasm.

    As for Noaic Law (which you may be referring to), this IS required of Christians, and is reaffirmed in Acts 15. There is no ceremonial or dietary law in Noaic Law. It is the following (all of which I think you would agree we, as Christians, would be sinning if we broke them):
    1. Do not worship false gods.
    2. Do not murder.
    3. Do not steal (or kidnap).
    4. Do not be sexually immoral (forbidden sexual acts are traditionally interpreted to include incest, bestiality, male homosexual sex acts, i.e. sodomy, and adultery.)
    5. Do not commit blasphemy.
    6. Do not eat any flesh that was torn from the body of a living animal (given to Noah and traditionally interpreted as a prohibition of cruelty towards animals)
    7. Set up a system of honest, effective courts, police and laws.

    You are correct to say that we do not get our life from the olive branch, we get our life from the Root of the Olive Tree. If by “olive branch” you are referring to all of Judiasm, you are sorely mistaken. Not all of the branches were broken off of the tree. It is God who grafts or removes branches from the tree, and the root from which the tree sprang is the history and heritage from the patriarchs (see John 4:22), as given by God. Christianity is a sect of Judiasm, part of a process that began in Genesis 1:1, not AD 33, and Jesus is the perfect payment of the blood covenant made between God and Abraham in Genesis 15 (which is why it was not Abraham, but Jesus who walked through the blood, as a “smoking firepot”).

    In rejecting the teaching from the Hebrew Scriptures, you arfe rejecting what Paul taught. That was my point – not that we are to be subject to Mosaic Law.

  29. Chris L. on October 15, 2006 9:51 am


    Just to pre-empt any more attempts to suggest that any of this type of study is taking away from the ’simplicity of the gospel’, what we are discussing is meat, not milk, and not the basic tenets of salvation…

    Is such (spiritual meat), it is important that we understand the Hebrew Scriptures and the Second Temple cultural context, because in doing so, we can better understand who Jesus was and what He believed and taught, and the significance of his words and actions to the people that heard and witnessed them.

    Also, the comments in #17 about 1 Corinthians 2 were not an exegesis of that verse, but commentary on Ken’s application of this verse to First Century BC rabbis, and his odd choice of bolding (seemeing to give himself Pauline authority).

  30. Ken Silva on October 15, 2006 1:34 pm

    seemeing to give himself Pauline authority

    Chris, please know that I say this as gently and humbly as possible but the statement above is the kind of statement you repeatedly make about me. My local church and everyone who knows me literally laughs right out loud when they hear it. Anyone who knows me will tell you how ludicrous these insinuations concerning me are on your part.

    I’m nort sure that you could have possibly more seriously misjudged me than you have. Everything I have taught I have openly taught in many forums and my theology is right in line with men like Dr. John MacArthur and Dr. Walter Martin and A.W. Tozer.

    Now, if you don’t agree with me, those who do know me will be the first to tell you that I never take this stuff personally nor would I ever try and make someone believe anything. It will be a good idea for you to quit with the character assassination attempts because whether you like it or not I am a pastor-teacher in the Body of Christ. Chris, you are not and perhaps you should be more open to what the Spirit has been trying to tell you in my work.

  31. Chris L. on October 15, 2006 3:12 pm


    I am totally willing to grant that those who know you would not understand this statement, as I am totally willing to agree that when you only know people by their words and not their personality, actions, mannerisms, and day-to-day interaction, you get a totally different impression of them.

    In your writing, you choose to make literalist statements where Jesus (and sometimes Paul) is making a declaration to a particular group of people with no parallel to the situation at hand, and make that statement your own – “You do not know the power of God” and “make a right judgement” both, in particular, come to mind. Both of these are highly contextual statements made (in this case) by Christ, and to claim them as your own IS to claim Christ’s authority or Pauline authority.

    As for your pastorship, as you have described it, I 100% accept that you are a fully capable pastor for the people in your church, whether is it 5 or 500. However, you do not know me (or John, or Scott, or the hundreds of thousands to you often attempt to judge across the spectrum of Christendom (whether EC, PD, Reformed, Catholic, etc.). When you actually cite concrete information (which is different than the ad nauseum far-too-broad labels from “Hollow Men” to “Ecumenical Church of Deceit”), I do try to take it into account, and examine it.

    For instance, I do really wish Rob Bell would have chosen a different example than the virgin birth for his example in Velvet Elvis, because it was at the far extreme end of application. Those familiar with the scholarship and study around Matthew’s application of OT prophecy would understand why he used this example – which scholarship affirms the traditional view, whether from D’rash or type/archetype analysis – but those people are an incredibly small percentage, I would wager, of the casual readers of VE. As such, he gave an example that someone without the appropriate level of scholarship might run with to a wrong conclusion.

    On the other hand, I also understood his writing about peoples’ ‘interpretations’ of scripture which can be toxic not to deny sola Scriptura, but as an observation that the average Christian has so little study of the scripture and its context, that they often come up with justifications for things that have no justification, and lead to actions that are anti-christian (like the inquisition, the Crusades, anti-semetic teachin, racial bigotry, mysogeny (not that there are not male and female roles, but unChristlike treatment of women), among other things. In this case, you took this statement, assumed the worst and ran with it.

    You have been pretty critical of both Spencer Burke and Brian McClaren, and I agree with your criticisms (the conclusions, though not necessarily always the tone). However, I think that there are a growing number of voices within the EC movement, as a whole, like Mark Driscoll, Scot McKnight and Bob Hyatt (who got gang-tackled last week on Slice) who have been much more effective with their criticisms, both in influencing others in the EC to be wary of these guys’ teachings, and (hopefully) in influencing these two gentlemen, specifically.

    That said, I have prayed a great deal about how to best work with you and understand you. You have a ’sanctioned’ pastorship from a denomination, which is an extra-biblical convention adopted by that group. Fine. My particular denomination/non-denomination does not have such a formal system, taking the ministry of elders and of all believers to a lower level. In this particular case, I am not in your pastoral care, nor are the faceless people who read your writing. I do teach, and have taught (and probably pastored, in the definition of the word) a number of people – some much more closely than others – and I understand, as do you, the higher burden placed on people in such a position. This is why I tried, now several months ago, to give a gentle correction to the tenor, tone and unChristlike behavior being addressed to fellow brothers, only to have you immediately come at me with scriptures like those above (and worse), questioning my salvation for the mere fact of disagreeing. As I read more of Slice, its comments, your writing, and some of the linked content, it was alarming at how harshly critical and downright nasty the writers were, and that they were being so as a result of many particularly inconsequential issues (like music style).

    If you read my current post on Balance, I do not think the EC has it “all together”, nor to I think any of the major movements do – each has its weaknesses, and these need to be balanced. What I have taken issue with in you and your writing, specifically, is that you have made yourself into the wrong person for that job. Your unwillingness to even engage myself and the guys over at VS, aside from wiseacre nitpicking and holier-than-thou finger-pointing, is just a small example of a large problem, with the root of that problem being pride, and an inability to admit even the slightest possibility of being wrong.

    Your theology may be in line with MacArthur, but your attitude is not. Your theology may be in line with Martin, but your scholarship is not. Your theology may be inline with Tozer, but your writing is not on par with his. My theology may be in line with Campbell and Stone, but my oratory skills and persuasive writing style are not. My theology may be in line with Vander Laan, but his level of scholarship is miles deeper than mine. I can only be Chris Lyons, and you can only be Ken Silva.

    Your inspirational work is decent as inspirational work goes (like your Muddy Boots post), and I appreciate that you try to write music – that is not an easy thing to do (I have had a passion for music and writing for 30+ years, fueled partially by my friend Rich Mullins, who I sorely and longingly miss – a man who helped me first truly find Christ, one-on-one) and I am thankful that I am allowed to use the musical talents God gave me both at home and in my church. The part of your ministry which is so saddening is the Heretic-hunting, which seems to look for and expect the worst from people who truly are brothers in Christ. I cannot stomach this, and it hurts to see Christians acting in such a truly unChristian manner – in a manner that is truly befitting of the title of Pharisee.

    So, not knowing you personally, it is just as likely that I have misjudged you as it is that you have misjudged me. All we have to go on out here on the ‘net is words, and it is important that our words reflect our character. I know mine often do not, particular in tone, and I would hope that you – in the example you’ve given – might come to realize that your choice/method of using scripture to disagree with others gives the impression that you are claiming authority that is not yours to claim.

  32. Chris L. on October 15, 2006 3:41 pm


    I’ve been praying this morning and afternoon that I might be given both enlightenment and correction, if needed, based on our discussion, and that if I am being unclear or giving unBiblical answers/statements that I might make them aright.

    Last night, you said:

    I really do admire your obvious research of the Old Testament and Jewish customs, start from the New Testament revelation of Jesus and use your scholarship to further illuminate our Lord and Savior, the Lord jesus Christ.

    As I was coming home from lunch with other musicians in my church, I thought of a word picture/example (or possibly, this was brought to my mind – I do not want the credit if it was from the Holy Spirit) that might help me to better explain a way in which the Hebrew Scriptures are needed in our churches.

    Imagine that you were my student and I asked you to prepare for me a presentation on the current state of civil rights in the United States and the Civil Rights Movement, particularly the life and teaching of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. However, I don’t want you to dwell on or probably even mention that he was an African American. I also don’t want you to mention Jim Crow Laws, Rosa Parks, Civil War reconstruction, the Emancipation Proclamation, US slavery, the Three-Fifths Compromise or Colonial slave trade. Just start with Dr. King’s public ministry.

    Could you do so? If so, how effective could you be, and how much of a full picture would your listeners have?

    I realize that I’m asking a lot from a large number of churches whose members have thimble-deep knowledge of scripture and little life-application, but I think that without this grounding, they very well will remain thimble-deep. When we teach (notice I didn’t say preach), we have to get beyond the gospel as an eternal fire insurance policy, and help our students understand how to make it part of themselves so that they, through the power in Christ, change the worlds they live in each day.

    In the Old Testament, the actual “law” scriptures are a very small percentage, particularly outside of Leviticus and Deuteronomy. However, it is in Deuteronomy that we learn the basis and coming of the greatest commandment, the Shema – that we are to love the Lord our God (who is One) with all of our heart, soul and strength. The rest of the Old Testament, though, shows us how the people of God have lived, and how they we part of God’s reign. It also, at its core, points to the coming of the Messiah, Christ Jesus, who is the culmination of God’s original plan which began in the garden.

    When we examine the people Christ interacted with, we can get so much more of who they were and what they believed from archaeology and study of the OT.

    For instance, the woman with the issue of bleeding. Why did Jesus tell her that her faith healed her? Why did she touch the hem/corner/tzit-tzit of his robe?

    In Malachi 4:2, the prophet writes: “But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings.” In this verse, the word “wings” is kanaf (or kanafim, the plural). This word is also translated “corners”. The hasidim, two to three centuries before Jesus’ coming, taught that when the Messiah came, the corners (kanafim) of the his robe (prayer shawl), would be able to heal the sick.

    In the gospel account, the woman with the issue of blood (which made her unclean and unable to worship in the temple – even in the Gentile Court) was stating her belief that Jesus was the Messiah just by her action of touching the tzit-tzit (tassels) on kanaf (corner)of his robe. This is why he told her that her faith (chutzpah) had healed her. This is just a single, minor example of what we completely miss if we do not know the context and the Old Testament and the historical context of the Second Temple period.

  33. Chris L. on October 18, 2006 7:36 pm


    After today’s article on Rob Bell, you might want to re-read the definition of ’straw man’. You created enough of them to defend a small third world country, if only they could fight (but I guess that defeats the purpose, doesn’t it? – or perhaps you were trying to demonstrate ’speaking, but saying nothing?)

  34. Ken Silva on October 20, 2006 4:47 pm

    Well Chris, at least so says you.

  35. TheBigFish on October 20, 2006 6:19 pm

    Ken, I am blown away by your response. The only word that comes to mind is tacky. Really tacky.

  36. Ken Silva on October 20, 2006 6:55 pm

    Tacky? What’s tacky? Chris says I use straw man arguments and I say I don’t. So the only thing that is tacky besides his making ungrounded accusations by simply stating this.

  37. TheBigFish on October 20, 2006 8:56 pm

    What’s tacky? What’s tacky is you behaving like a four year old. You call yourself a pastor-teacher, and honestly, I expect more from you. And don’t even say that it’s because I’m “on his side,” because you know that’s not true either.

  38. Ken Silva on October 20, 2006 9:44 pm

    Yikes, I’m acting like a four year old? And your evidence is? For the record I don’t “call” myself a pastor-teacher this is a literal fact. Perhaps you should expect more from Chris who repeatedly accuses me of using straw man arguments without proving this. I don’t think you are on his side, I think you are simply looking for an excuse to criticize me and you missed totally here.

  39. TheBigFish on October 21, 2006 12:42 am

    Alright, Ken, I’ll give you that. You are a pastor-teacher. Start acting like it. So says you? What kind of a response is that? It’s a jazzed-up version of what I could get in any kindergarten class in the country. You’re minimizing Chris’ arguement simply because you don’t agree with it. We know you disagree; tell us WHY. Give us FACTS, not “Well, that’s what YOU think!” And, while we’re on the record, we’re discussing your response and your post, not my expectations of Chris or his accusations against you, which I haven’t commented on up until now. Don’t change the subject.

  40. Chris L. on October 21, 2006 1:09 am


    At first blush, I counted 5 ’straw men’ before I got all that far into the article. So, you want data? Let’s just go to one of the first ones. You said:

    Let me also say that Rob Bell does state he affirms “the historic Christian faith,” which he then defines vaguely. Bell postulates, “But if the whole faith falls apart when we reexamine and rethink one spring, then it wasn’t that strong in the first place, was it?” The problem we immediately confront is that in the postmodern mindset nothing can be stated absolutely which then rules out a priori something being strong in the first place.

    Funny thing, you just put words in Bell’s mouth that were NEVER there, and then you proceeded to tear the words he never said apart. Classic logical ’straw man’ fallicy. I could go on, but your articles are so easy to deconstruct and show false that I don’t have to put any words in your mouth, since you do it yourself…

    And Ken, you do “call” yourself a pastor-teacher, and perhaps you act in that capacity in the real world, but nobody made you the pastor-teacher of the internet. If that’s all it takes, then I could call myself one, as well, and I don’t even need a piece of paper on my wall… As your discussion this evening has shown, though, you’re just not able to answer anyone’s questions/criticisms with any level of aplom that one would expect from a ‘pastor-teacher’ – even one wet behind the ears and fresh out of school.

  41. Sliced Laodicea » Misused Scripture of the Day - Absence of Persecution on December 22, 2006 2:54 am

    [...] Source: Fishing the Abyss Comments: Another oft-misused set of scriptures by the Slice crowd is that of Jesus’ warnings of persecution. Using these, a number of Slice commenters sniff at any Christian figure (besides Johnny Mac) with all that much of a following of obviously ’selling out’, because they’re not being persecuted. In this post, Christ shreds this notion. [...]

  42. Bob Jones on July 2, 2007 2:41 am

    I am amazed at the lack of respect for the Old Testament.

    From the Genesis account we learn that garments represent works, earth represent the natural.

    We see that a donkey represents the prophets, and this is reflected in the parallel as John the Baptist confronts the compromising Herod in the same manor that compromising Balaam was confronted by his donkey.

    We learn that The people of Israel are the branches to the tree.

    So that on “Palm Sunday” a very clear testimony is made as to what was happening.

    The adult donkey (the prophets) were followed by the newest donkey (the colt – John the Baptist). The tree:Jesus sat upon the garments::works of his disciples proclaiming his fruit. Meanwhile the people were throwing their own garments on the earth proclaiming that they desired earthly works, and they cut their own branches off of the tree and threw them in the dirt as well.

    The people proclaimed that they wanted an earthly king. No wonder the next day they could shout “Crucify him!”.

    Ge 27:40 And by thy sword shalt thou live, and shalt serve thy brother; and it shall come to pass when thou shalt have the dominion, that thou shalt break his yoke from off thy neck.

    Since Esau is the earthly first son::man he represents the law. The yoke of Isaac the second son::second man then is grace.

    Esau’s blessing says that law will serve grace and when law has dominion, grace is no more. From the mouth of the old testament is the proclamation that we have always been under grace, should we believe as Abraham did. I’m so glad that wasn’t a new message proclaimed by the Christian “cult” but was in fact the same message proclaimed from the beginning.

    Don’t throw out the Old Testament yet. Keep up the good work Chris.

  43. Chris L. on July 2, 2007 11:17 am


    If you want to mail any of these to me, my email address is lyons8804 at earthlink d0t net (spelled out to thwart spam-bots).

  44. Bob Jones on July 2, 2007 5:22 pm

    I sent you six chapters from my xmission dot com account.

  45. Chris L. on July 2, 2007 6:04 pm

    Thank you – I will check them out tonight…

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