Personal Jesus -relevant- cliche teaching

By way of background, about a year ago I met with a pastor of a church we had tried. He and I discussed sphere or red pill issues. We focused on marriage and pre-marriage counseling, with a brief discussion about teaching women directly from the pulpit. His take was one I hadn’t heard from any of the other pastors I’d met with. He said he doesn’t like the idea of an individual man teaching another man’s wife, individually. The thing is, that’s not what preaching is, and that doesn’t afford cover for not talking at and to women in preaching. It would also suggest that he would teach men, then, that they need to teach their wives certain things. If that were to be done it would be even more toxic to the attending females than if just the pastor were to say them.

Yesterday, on one of the social media sites, I saw where he has some related interaction with people who are members of his church, or just follow him for other reasons. It is standard evangelical fare.

One female follower wrote:

God has a plan for us all and we need to get out of his way!!! Gods will not mine always!!!!

The pastor followed that with this claim:

That combination of the two comments gave me mild heartburn. I cannot find a biblical basis for his response to the woman. I can find a churchian basis steeped in personal Jesus teaching.

How can people read things like that and not see it as powerful food for the hamster? The women who frivorce their husbands almost always invoke God’s will. Then later, the church, not God, protects their reputations. The combination of these two statements is an outline for the overarching thoughts that lead to family destruction.

So simple, so innocuous sounding, so encouraging even. The gospel as taught by the evangelical church is at root a gospel that encourages women and corrects men. Both aspects are necessary for the teaching to be complete. To those sitting under it while stuck in the matrix it sounds perfect. It has answers for everything, yet nothing to snag big girl pants on pews because it may make a woman squirm. There are cliche’s to address any choices. These cliches, collectively, are the churchian gospel.

It is no wonder men are slacking off of the task list approach to being the so called spiritual leader. There are no lessons. Period. There is no teaching and there is no correction under that so called leadership. So, if the pastor says he cannot teach a woman what a husband should teach, and the husband cannot challenge the cliche based teaching of the church, what can a man do? He can embrace it all and regurgitate it.

Most evangelical pastors, including the one above, like to say they try and make scripture “relevant” for today. Therein is the problem. Scripture needn’t be made relevant. What starts out as teaching that takes a historical biblical circumstance and applies it to a modern scenario becomes teaching that takes a historical biblical scenario, then adapts it to a modern circumstance. That adaptation is really accommodation.

Or worse, the teaching asserts that something in the bible is so complicated that it needs to be simplified and boiled down to a cliche. First, the only reason it seemed complicated is because they know the audience will reject the plain spoken truth. So they twist grammar and definitions, substitute word forms from one scripture to another, and end up with a happy little ditty that is so nebulous that the only thing that can be taken away is something nice and encouraging….especially nice and encouraging for the 70 years or so we travel the earth.

I am not sure, therefore, that the idea of making scripture relevant is a good idea. Our small group has been studying Judges. Great stories, awesome events chronicled, but the study guide, and the members of the group are trying so hard to make every syllable into something we can “apply to our daily lives” that they are missing the point. I say the point is, most of the time, to take in the context of the story of how God created the world and has guided it/us along and ultimately how He will do His wrap up. Certainly in Jesus’ teachings are found” relevant” prescriptions and proscriptions. Clearly in the epistles are found God given nuggets of how-to wisdom. But these are plainly stated, and are roundly feared as such by the evangelical church.

Having said all that, I, therefore, personally like religion based teachings. I like that by making the teaching in the bible not have to fit, necessarily, the relationship paradigm, it is so much easier. Imagine an instruction manual on how to rebuild an engine. The instructions are exact. Add then that there must be a relational aspect between the engine and the person rebuilding it, therefore, none of the arm contorting things can be taught without apology, some heavy parts that require lift assistance cannot be spelled out as such, etc.

My heartburn is gone. That pastor didn’t cause the crap storm of 2013 that his my office yesterday, only heartburn for me.

 

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16 thoughts on “Personal Jesus -relevant- cliche teaching

  1. Scripture needn’t be made relevant.

    This. I think that trips up most people. We live in a very disposable and temporary-minded time, the notion of timelessness is lost. It doesn’t register to most people, many of them professing Christians, that the Bible is the truth, not just a fad or something from the olden days or whatever. My husband calls it the IKEA factor – you can get things cheaply, and when you’re tired of them you throw them away, and buy more things cheaply, rather than saving for and buying one very good thing that you keep for a lifetime. It’s amazing how many people view life through that lens, and how it manifests in every area of their lives.

    I think the idea of manipulating scripture in order to make it easier to live by or identify with actually scares converts away, and converts are going to be the only hope for The Church. We can’t make enough babies in a short enough period of time with the existing fold to replace ourselves, so evangelism is crucial. Thing is, if you make the Christian life look like just a parallel existence to what they already live, with a few hymns and mission trips thrown in for a good show, how is that appealing to someone who might just be ripe for something truly different? Dumbing down good things is always a mistake.

  2. We live in a very disposable and temporary-minded time, the notion of timelessness is lost. It doesn’t register to most people, many of them professing Christians, that the Bible is the truth, not just a fad or something from the olden days or whatever. My husband calls it the IKEA factor – you can get things cheaply, and when you’re tired of them you throw them away, and buy more things cheaply, rather than saving for and buying one very good thing that you keep for a lifetime. It’s amazing how many people view life through that lens, and how it manifests in every area of their lives.

    Sadly, I know that I had many aspects of that mindset when I was younger. The notion that God’s Truth is eternal and always applicable is something that is outside the range of understanding for most people these days. They lack a frame of reference to understand it, and so automatically reject it in most instances as alien.

  3. So often we feel the need to defend ourselves but we forget God is faithful and always able to protect our reputations.

    If he means the reputations of men among men, that is not in the Bible. In fact, we are told we will be slandered for His sake.

  4. Velvet:
    That’s a very good point. The Elusive Wapiti has been writing up some good articles about it on his blog:

    http://www.elusivewapiti.blogspot.com/2013/11/when-did-white-trash-become-new normal.html

    I’ve noticed this same trend: in the past, there has been an element of envy from the Underclass towards the Respectable. But today it seems as though Trash Culture is actually celebrated: it’s not so much envy as it is resentment. The Underclass seems proud of its degeneracy and doesn’t even want to aspire to better things. No sees any inherent value in anything, from material goods to morals. Society seems to be geared towards the lowest common denominator in everything.

  5. Empath:
    It’s always puzzled me why so many Churches seem to have an obsession with the Old Testament writings in general. I don’t remember the verse, but somewhere St. Paul says that the stories of the OT were types and examples; and most of the New Testament makes it clear that Christ fulfilled the laws and the prophecies. Historically, it doesn’t seem like the Early Christians made much use of the OT at all, and many seem to have discouraged its use among the churches because they felt it detracted from the Christian message.

    There are a lot of good things to be gotten from the OT, but it seems to me that studying the Book of Judges is little different that studying the Histories of Tacitus. Can you shed any light on why this trend has happened in the churches?

  6. Can you shed any light on why this trend has happened in the churches?

    We’ve given this a fair amount of thought Eric, as a family we are intimately acquainted with joined a fellowship a few years ago where the OT is held as equal to the NT in terms of the covenant. The adhere to dietary laws, teach that polygamy is desirable (if and only if the man can support the wives), keep strict sundown Friday to sundown Saturday Sabbath with no commerce during those hours. Etc, etc. I could go on.

    Worth noting is that they did this in the wake of leaving a church in the local area where the pastor (nationally known) was embroiled in a sex scandal. Basically they came to the conclusion that without the OT, you basically have all grace, no law, and the attendant bad behavior of people professing to be Christians with no one held accountable for their sin.

    I think the OT speaks to people’s desire for strict behavioral standards and swift justice.

    The other side of the coin is those who cling to the idea that God does miraculous things in the lives of ordinary believers today in the the same way as he did then. This is why you so often see attempts to strain and make the stories applicable to the saints of today.

    It happens sometimes at our church as well, and we cringe.

  7. “Basically they came to the conclusion that without the OT, you basically have all grace, no law, and the attendant bad behavior of people professing to be Christians with no one held accountable for their sin.”

    Perhaps it may appear that way at a glance, but both the Old and New Testaments shows God’s grace and justice. Yesterday, today, forever, Lord Jesus is the same.

    “I think the OT speaks to people’s desire for strict behavioral standards and swift justice.”

    Yes, I actually prefer swift justice. Today God’s judgement is letting people do as they please. Very quickly, we create a society that is miserable and not worth living in. The United States is a good example of this. Only within two centuries, what was once a great and blessed nation has fallen to degeneracy. Each generation will suffer more than the last, even worse – suffer in ignorance, without the knowledge to turn back. Had swift intervention been applied, maybe we would not be where we are today, maybe we would have repented and learned to fear the Lord. God gives people choices – and if we are aware of our nature – therein lies our problem. Receiving lashes is better than rotting in prison til death, and having your children perpetually born as prisoners.

    Feminism is God’s slow and painful judgement on us:

    See now, the Lord,
    the Lord Almighty,
    is about to take from Jerusalem and Judah
    both supply and support:
    all supplies of food and all supplies of water,
    the hero and the warrior,
    the judge and the prophet,
    the diviner and the elder…
    …Youths oppress my people,
    women rule over them.
    My people, your guides lead you astray;
    they turn you from the path…
    …The Lord says,
    “The women of Zion are haughty,
    walking along with outstretched necks,
    flirting with their eyes,
    strutting along with swaying hips,
    with ornaments jingling on their ankles.

  8. “Historically, it doesn’t seem like the Early Christians made much use of the OT at all, and many seem to have discouraged its use among the churches because they felt it detracted from the Christian message.”

    This is absolutely untrue. Go read Matthew or most of Paul’s epistles and count the references to the OT. Jesus himself quoted the OT extensively as authoritative.

    If anything, the trend I see in most of American evangelicalism is a dismissal of the Old Testament, while Paul wrote that ALL Scripture is God-breathed and useful in the life of the Christian.

  9. @LLF:

    As one who finds comfort in rules and the constriction they bring, I can understand why some believers gravitate towards the OT. I was well on my way to a more works based approach to the faith about a decade ago until my husband (who tends to bend toward a very strict, black and white interpretation of many things) saw where I was headed and stopped me in my tracks.

    I always thought that Paul was so strident about freedom from the law because as a Pharisee, he understood all too well how easy it is for us to take comfort in our own goodness and forget that Christ and Christ alone saves.

    Grace is supposed to make us more righteous, not less. So many people look around and it appears that the preaching of grace is having the opposite effect. People doing whatever the heck they feel like and claiming they are “free in Christ”.

    It just occurred to me that this wasn’t exactly what Empath was getting at when he mentioned the way contemporary believers misuse the OT.

  10. Right. Mine was about taking the purely historical things in the OT, and trying too hard to force extrapolation on them. Lots of folks would disagree with me on this, even some strident Christian manosphere guys. I would err to the side of it being history and context, and not used as it is when churchians say “do this, just like the GTYRGFDON-onians did when they YTHRED-ed across the GYTRFGKJ desert dunes finding that they should treat everyone this way and blah blah. Sure there is some of that. But there is not wisdom for life buried in each and every sentence written that records certain mundane things.

  11. Elspeth:
    I think you make a good point. Although Empath mentioned Judges, I’ve noticed that a lot of modern Christians have especial fondness for the OT prophets. It could very well be largely a reactionary trend against Churchian permissiveness—the prophets spoke out against the kind of degeneration and permissiveness that was prevalent in Ancient Israel. I have heard that type of reaction is also a large motivation in the growing numbers of recent converts to Islam. It’s interesting to note that as the Catholic Church has moved away from its old disciplinarian, authoritative priesthood, its numbers have declined, along with much of its power.

    There seems to be some sort of inherent need for a measure of authority among religious doctrines; much like overly ‘progressive’ and permissive parents and governments aren’t respected by their children or citizens, it seems religions follow in that same dynamic.

  12. LLF:
    Most references I’ve seen in the NT to the Old refer to ways in which the OT were fulfilled at Christ’s advent. However, what you say about the Early Christians is totally wrong. Here’s an example from St. Ignatius, a disciple and contemporary of the Apostle John writing about the year 100 AD:

    “Never allow yourselves to be led astray by the teaching and time-worn fables of another people. Nothing of use can be got from them. If we are still living in the practices of Judaism, it is admission that we have failed to receive the gift of grace.”

    “To confess Jesus Christ while continuing in Jewish customs is an absurdity. The Christian faith does not look to Judaism, but Judaism looks to Christianity.”

    There are many other such examples from contemporary writers, but Ignatius was one of the most explicit. As side note, Ignatius was the first known writer to use the term ‘Christianity’.

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