Have you ever met someone who was a walking-talking Bible encyclopedia, yet unlike Christ in very pronounced ways, lacking the aroma of Christ? Many erroneously believe (based on 2 Tim 2:15) that by studying the Bible we are somehow, “approved unto God.”
In today’s climate of heightened political rancor, some believers use the cleansing of the temple gospel narrative to justify all manner of egregious and even violent behavior toward others–“After all, Jesus whipped people.”—sic. The cleansing of the temple account is one of the favorite proof texts of those who want to try to deflect the potency of Christ’s clear ethical commands to overcome evil with good and to love one’s enemies. Those who proof text this passage to justify their behavior are betraying the scriptures and the Lord they profess to serve.
Within Charismatic circles, there is a widely influential subset group called the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR). One of their strongly held beliefs is the necessity of submitting to an alleged “apostolic covering” or maintaining what is called “governmental alignment” to a “covering apostle.” It is alleged that failure to do so, cuts off heavenly blessing and opens the individual to spiritual dangers and demonic attacks. The Protestant forefathers must be rolling over in their graves. They gave their life’s blood to do away with the belief system that required a class of religious professionals to broker or mediate the blessings of heaven to the believer. It is beyond painful to see the resurrected form of this doctrine being espoused in so-called apostolic churches and foisted under the banner of “new revelation,” “restoring apostolic covering,” and “restoring apostolic authority.” It is not new revelation. It is old heresy in a new dress.
Spiritual covering is a biblically illegitimate, bad idea, that just won’t go away.
I am pleased to announce the release of our new book, How New is the New Covenant? – Discovering the Implications of Jesus is Lord.
And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence and the violent take it by force. – Matt. 11:12, KJV.
All my Christian life I have found the idea that Jesus somehow endorses violent human effort for His cause as very odd. It contradicts the rest of His teaching, the life He lived, the example He set, and the rest of the New Testament. What does this passage about the kingdom of heaven and violence mean?
Last week I presented a broad overview of how I believe the church has evolved in America during my lifetime. I now believe that there should be little doubt that the church is not only in rapid numerical decline but intellectually and spiritually we are almost powerless. A major reason for this condition lies in the loss of what I referred to as “the romance of orthodoxy.” When good orthodoxy is joined with a deep sense of mystery shaped by paradox I believe we see a better way to enter the next era of church history. I want to explore this idea today.
Many believers have been taught that the love of God toward them is conditional upon their behavior. Mix in psychological issues of shame, guilt, and unworthiness, the combination becomes a debilitating paralysis that can lead to despair, depression, and even suicide. Jesus’s words in John 15:10 are often used as a proof text by preachers to propagate this point of view. Let’s look at John 15:10 closely, paying attention to three important considerations: context, grammar, and culture. I will be covering some basic Greek, but I will try to keep it non-technical.
Recently I have been blessed with the expansion of relationship with brothers and sisters outside my direct church family. Like the gospel will do, and like Jesus will do, those lines become blurred and the family just becomes, well, more family: still the church–still the body–just more connected. However, it didn’t take long for me to realize that doctrine can be a relational stumbling block in the “extended” family.
The following is a true story that clearly demonstrates the essence of the gospel in nonviolence. I wept in thankfulness the first time I read this. It is an incident cited by Kenneth Bailey[i] involving King Hussein of Jordan, and confirmed through high-ranking American intelligence officers stationed in Jordan at the time this event took place: