… because of the way the Bible is written anybody can prove anything from it. ~ [redacted]
I have stated before that when my parents began attending the Worldwide Church of God (WCG) in the 1970s, when I at first I would hear references to “Mr Armstrong” then I thought they meant Garner Ted Armstrong (GTA). At that time, he was the face of “The World Tomorrow” program, which came on right before we had to catch the school bus. Years later, I would watch him again while trying to figure out what happened to WCG, but it somehow wasn’t the same. Perhaps it was because I just knew too much from the 70s. Perhaps it was because I knew he got himself kicked out of yet another church after that. Regardless, he did say one thing that stayed with me. I’ll try my best to reconstruct it from memory, since I cannot find the exact quote on the net:
Some people claim you can prove almost anything from the Bible. That’s simply not true. There is only one real way to put it all together, and God intended for it to be read one way.
I believe he then went on to ask something along the lines whether or not God was capable of having His word impart knowledge to us. You know, I am simply amazed at the lengths that people will go in order to do whatever it is that they want to do. I have often talked about the Book of Judges, as it fits so much what we see today. The period of the Judges was an indictment against the entire society. All of it failed: The masses failed, the government failed and even the religious authorities failed. Why?
6 In those days there was no king in Israel, but every man did that which was right in his own eyes. ~ Jdg 17:6
Internal and external controls all failed. So, you would think the answer would be a king. Israel certainly did, didn’t they? In fact, they demanded one. So, they got their king and lived happily ever after. Right? Well, I think you know better.
14 Moreover all the chief of the priests, and the people, transgressed very much after all the abominations of the heathen; and polluted the house of the Lord which he had hallowed in Jerusalem. 15 And the Lord God of their fathers sent to them by his messengers, rising up betimes, and sending; because he had compassion on his people, and on his dwelling place: 16 But they mocked the messengers of God, and despised his words, and misused his prophets, until the wrath of the Lord arose against his people, till there was no remedy. 17 Therefore he brought upon them the king of the Chaldees, who slew their young men with the sword in the house of their sanctuary, and had no compassion upon young man or maiden, old man, or him that stooped for age: he gave them all into his hand. 18 And all the vessels of the house of God, great and small, and the treasures of the house of the Lord, and the treasures of the king, and of his princes; all these he brought to Babylon. 19 And they burnt the house of God, and brake down the wall of Jerusalem, and burnt all the palaces thereof with fire, and destroyed all the goodly vessels thereof. ~ 2Ch 36:14-19
How could this all be? After all, didn’t they have the Law provided through Moses? The Ark of the Covenant? The Temple? Twisting God’s words and justifying one’s own bad behavior is nothing new. Adam justified his transgression by blaming Eve (and indirectly God). Eve blamed the serpent. It was anyone’s fault but their own.
Unfortunately, it is also nothing new in the Church of God, or at least to those who profess to be in its membership. Paul certainly had to meet various heresies head-on. And, some would say he wasn’t very “Christian” about it, thus proving they know nothing of real Christianity!
14 Of these things put them in remembrance, charging them before the Lord that they strive not about words to no profit, but to the subverting of the hearers. ~ 2Ti 2:14
You can say one thing about the splits from WCG: It has been revealing! I suspect that is why God allowed it. There are enough itching ears that practically any heretic can find an audience. It seems these days that anyone can write up something and send it to The Journal News of the Churches of God and gain an audience.
I no longer get the publication, and I didn’t even send them a forwarding address when I moved. The editions came less and less on time, the expense did not seem worth it, and it kept recycling the same heresies over and over again. In particular, it seems the editor there has a fondness for the “One God” heresy, which dishonest charlatans put forward as some “new understanding”. Nothing new there. Protestants have redefined words and phrases in the Bible for centuries. For a shorter time, so have the Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Mormons.
The tactic is easy: First, you find a way to discredit portions of the Bible while carefully avoiding language that sounds disrespectful towards it. If you cannot point to a corrupt and unreliable parchment that is missing the section you do not like, then simply redefine words to make it mean what you want it to mean.
This is how death becomes living forever in a different state, grace becomes a license to steal (or any other sin you want to commit), and “the Word became flesh” means literally nothing became something. Amazing, isn’t it?
And now, what is coming out of GCI? It wanted to become evangelical (not sure it exactly did, but that seemed to be the goal), and so it now is under attack by the same culture wars that face other evangelicals.
That means that the same battles are also creeping up on our doorstep. It is only a matter of time. We need to be prepared for it all.
A couple of months or so ago, I was listening to Janet Parshall’s “In the Market”, and she was playing several clips from Matthew Vine’s presentation on homosexuality in the Bible. He is pushing the agenda that “being gay is not a sin”. Interestingly, people who call themselves “Christian” are applauding it!
So, I decided to run an article, but on a much broader subject. After all, in spite of how some people might feel about it, one sexual sin is not considered worse than another. When you read through Leviticus, for example, you come upon an entire list of sins that are to be avoided at all costs.
Focusing on one sexual sin is normally not very productive. However, the gay agenda is working its way through the churches of the world right now, demanding, not asking for, more than simple tolerance but outright tolerance.
Society overall has already allowed marriage to erode to the point where 40.7% of all births are to unmarried women, according to 2011 data, and the gap has narrowed since then so that “Almost half of first babies in U.S. born to unwed mothers“.
Here’s the thing: When the pill was introduced, it was perceived that consequences were divorced from behavior. As morals loosened, people wanted no-fault divorce. People then gave the slippery slope argument, but some decried it as a fallacy. Well, no-fault divorce was made the law anyhow, and what happened? The slippery slope got a lot steeper. Between that and the riding of “gay rights” on the coattails of the civil rights movement, homosexuality now is much more acceptable now than it ever was.
The slippery slope is not a fallacy, unfortunately. It has occurred in past great societies as well, and they fell under the weight of their own selfishness and greed.
And, yes, the entire sexual revolution is selfish. It is focusing on the self. It examines how one can satisfy their own desires. Pleasure is viewed as a “right”. Sodom believed it had a “right” to have sexual relations with the men who visited Lot, and they were determined to take them by force if necessary.
So, when I got an email that now The Journal is running an opinion piece that is right out of the pro-gay Christian agenda, it was pretty disheartening. No matter that the author claims to attend at GCI, who for all intents and purposes is no longer a COG. It means the culture wars are already at our doorstep.
Using the same “I’m going to redefine the Bible as I **** well wish” mentality that “One God” heretics use, it puts forward the same old “arguments” recycled once again that Matthew Vines seems very fond of. Basically, take a passage, massage it to mean something else, and then throw it out there.
Having said that, Matthew Vines has a particular focus that I want to explore. It isn’t so much that it is anything new, but there is one singular idea that he comes back to time and time again. I want to challenge that narrow point of view first.
Then, I want to look at a couple of the main arguments that are stressed by Lonnie C Hendrix in The Journal article. It actually shouldn’t be that difficult in one sense, as he also packages up stale and disproven arguments and presents them as fact, along with a couple of other weird items of his own. However, it is quite a long article, and not every false idea he throws out there is worthy of attention.
Finally, I want to give a pointer to another resource that would benefit anyone seeking more information on the topic. I only just finished it today, due to some interruptions. It is well-documented and worth a look, seeing as sooner or later the topic will confront the Church.
However, some things still need to be said first:
- Dixon Cartwright has every right to publish what he wants in his paper. I do not think he believes everything published in it. That would be impossible, since one issue will run one side followed by another issue on the opposite extreme. I’m not interested in attacking him for publishing differing opinions in his paper.
- I will state, though, that many of the opinions run in his paper are a redefining or rewriting of Scripture. You cannot divorce Christianity from the Bible, although major heresies always involve this to one degree or the other. The problem is when it is intentionally twisted and the Bible’s authority is lowered to human standards, then at that point you can only be one of three things: Christian, pro-gay or a hypocrite.
- While not expressed as loud as the gay agenda, there are various sexual sins that people justify in their everyday lives all the time. I have heard people try to claim they really are married because of common law. However, when you peer beneath that veneer, it normally is not the same thing at all. Marriage is a public commitment, and either hiding it from some party for various reasons or not making it formal from a lack of commitment is not really a marriage.
- These same types of traps can occur in any area of life where we have a blind spot. By examining these things, I hope we not only are better able to address concerns, objections and more, but also that we examine ourselves to ensure we are not deceiving ourselves with the same tactics.
- Finally, I want people to reflect upon their own attitudes and reactions. I think some have a problem in implying that homosexuality is the worst sin ever. That is hardly the case. Not only is it not the most destructive ever, but in the end all sexual sins sully what HWA called a “God plan relationship”. Furthermore, in a million years, the worst sin will be the ones that were not repented of, for those who do not repent will no longer exist.
In short, I’ll write what needs to be written and say what needs to be said, but like countering militant atheism, the topic is mostly on the radar because the gay movement has become rather brash and militant. I do not intend to beat this drum more than necessary.
In the end, this is for the COG. It is a counterbalance to an obviously flawed argument being presented to the COG community. If someone wants to be agnostic and gay, this series will not change their mind.
However, if one claims that Christianity and being actively gay are compatible, then it is time to drop the hypocrisy and come to terms with what the Bible really says. Exegesis demands we mine the Bible for its meaning rather than reading our own postmodern ideas into it, whatever they may be.