Enough with the Eisegesis

Eisegesis- the process of interpreting (1)

Gentle Reader,

I couldn’t sleep on Saturday night. Chris was snoring. Like a freight train. I kicked him. Nudged him. Smacked him.

Nothing.

I finally got out of bed at 1:30 a.m. and moved to the guest room, but by then I was just awake. I knew there was no way that I’d be drifting off soon. So I did some perusing. Checked out a few sites I hit from time to time. Sites whose authors I don’t agree with. I like to see what they’re talking about. There’s value in examining other perspectives.

I found a few places quite covered in dust from a recent controversy stirred by this piece at Focus on the Family. Many are “upset” because Dr. Hinton’s answer wasn’t “balanced.” He hasn’t “researched” the issue. He doesn’t “know” what he’s talking about. Apparently FoF is not allowing comments on the entry, and that’s really got people fired up. More than a few negative reviews have appeared on FoF’s Facebook page due to this.

I don’t know why FoF isn’t allowing comments, but I’m guessing it’s because they want to avoid a senseless internet battle. Some of those who are angry are calling for FoF to make their position on vaccines clear. They did. You can read it here.

None of this surprised or bothered me. I’ve read more than enough articles, posts and comments in recent months to know that there’s a significant minority out there who believe you obviously can’t be a true Christian or a good doctor if you are on the side of vaccine effectiveness and safety. That I can shrug off.

What did bother me was a comment I saw in which the author attempted to use Mark 2:17 as evidence for Jesus being against vaccines. It was quoted without context and the author failed to use the whole verse. The part that was used:

“Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.”

One can’t actually derive some stance on vaccines through those words alone. It gets worse when the entire verse is considered:

When Jesus heard it, He said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.”

Worse yet when the context is considered:

Then He went out again by the sea; and all the multitude came to Him, and He taught them. As He passed by, He saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax office. And He said to him, “Follow Me.” So he arose and followed Him.

Now it happened, as He was dining in Levi’s house, that many tax collectors and sinners also sat together with Jesus and His disciples; for there were many, and they followed Him. And when the scribes and Pharisees saw Him eating with the tax collectors and sinners, they said to His disciples, “How is it that He eats and drinks with tax collectors and sinners?”

When Jesus heard it, He said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.” – Mark 2:13-17 (NKJV)

Nothing, nothing, nothing, NOTHING  to do with vaccines. Or medicine, for that matter.

This is just one example. People are using Scripture right and left to prop up what they already think and believe.

I’m so tired of eisegesis. I’m sick of people reading into the text. I’m ready to tear my hair out over the rampant misuse of Scripture. I want to scream as I watch people bludgeon others with incorrect interpretations, faulty applications and cherry-picking.

We are to let the words of God as activated by the Spirit of God shape us. We do not shape them. We do not bend them to our wills.

It’s wrong.

Enough already.

Grace and peace along the way.

Wolves in Shepherd’s Clothing: Serpent Seed

-...inwardly they are ravenous wolves.- (1)

Gentle Reader,

The topic of this post is disgusting. It’s abhorrent. We’ll spend as little time on it as possible.

Shepherd’s Chapel teaches “Serpent seed.” The sin in Eden that led to the Fall and Curse was not just cut-and-dried disobedience. It was not just eating the fruit. Eve had sex with Satan and the result was Cain. (Adam may also have had sex with Satan; some statements seem to affirm this).

Thus the descendants of Cain are literally the offspring of Satan.

Bizarrely, it is taught that Abel was Cain’s twin, but Abel’s father was Adam. This means that they were somehow maternal non-identical twins. Try as I might, I can find no evidence of such a pregnancy happening anywhere ever. I can’t find a single thing that states a woman got pregnant by one man and then got pregnant by another man and had two babies at the same time. Even if such a case does exist, however, this DID NOT happen in Eden. There is nothing in the text that could lead to such a conclusion.

Consider this: Genesis 3:6 makes it clear that Adam was with Eve when the poop hit the fan. Sooooo….Adam watched his wife have sex with Satan? Then he (might have) had sex with Satan? Then Adam and Eve had sex? All within minutes? Further, if “eating the fruit” actually means having sex, and Adam and Eve were allowed to eat the fruit of all the other trees in Eden, then who else were they having sex with? (Probably the other people that God made on day 6 since Adam and Eve were made on day 8, according to Shepherd’s Chapel. But we’ll get to that later). What about the Tree of Life in Revelation 22, from which Jesus grants His people permission to eat (Revelation 2:7)? Is Jesus really saying that we’re all going to have sex with Him?

How utterly vile.

It is IMPOSSIBLE to exegete “Serpent seed” from Scripture. It’s not there. One has to already believe the teaching and then twist passages to make it work. Not only that, but the logical conclusions of the teaching are just flat evil.

Indeed, Shepherd’s Chapel does some intense and convoluted manipulation of the Bible. The Kenites (descendants of Cain) somehow survived the Flood, magically became the 10 tribes of the Northern Kingdom of Israel and were the ones who crucified Jesus. I’m not even going to attempt to explain that because it’s so patently false.

Here’s the big, fat, waving, red, neon racism card: These “obvious” offspring of Satan, these descendants of Cain down to today, are Jewish people. Or, according to Shepherd’s Chapel, those who claim to be Jewish, because real Jewish people are British and American. (I’m not making this up). Those who live in Israel today are actually Kenites. They must be “exposed.”

But you don’t have to be Jewish to be a Kenite! The beautiful thing about the “Serpent seed” doctrine for Shepherd’s Chapel is that it’s flexible. Anyone who doesn’t agree with them is, obviously, a child of Satan.

Read Genesis 3. Just read it. Adam and Eve ate fruit they were told not eat. That is their sin. That is why their relationship with God was changed, why they were cast out of Eden, why Jesus came.

Read Genesis 4. Just read it. Adam and Eve had sex, with each other, within the legitimate bounds of the marital relationship, and had a baby. Cain. They repeated the process and had another baby. Abel.

End of story.

Again I wonder if I should close this series out right here. How anyone could believe that Shepherd’s Chapel has the corner on the truth-market is baffling. This cult does not teach the Gospel. You are not going to find salvation among them.

Grace and peace along the way.

Wolves in Shepherd’s Clothing: Arnold Murray

-...inwardly they are ravenous wolves.- (1)

Gentle Reader,

I get that this developing series isn’t cool. It’s not “acceptable” to point out the difference between lies and truth. It’s not “tolerant” to think that there is even such a thing as lies or falseness. “What’s true for you is true for you and what’s true for me is true for me.”

Gag. Eye roll.

Especially gag and eye roll because nobody actually believes that line of garbage. Seriously, nobody does. The second anyone talks about “rights” or appeals to a higher authority, the whole “everything is valid” thing is dead and buried. It’s basic logic. But we don’t live in a logical world.

Neither do we live in a world that can ignore Jesus. Have you noticed that? Every single major religion incorporates Him somehow. Even the most militant of atheists can’t ignore Jesus. He is, without doubt, the single-most confrontational person in all of history. Nobody can push Him aside.

And so, cults.

Shepherd’s Chapel was founded by Arnold Murray (1929-1914). I am currently unable to find a precise founding or start date of the group, but Murray began broadcasting his teaching in 1985. The reason for this secrecy is noted by cult-watch group, Watchman Fellowship:

One possible reason for Murray’s reticence to release biographical or historical information is the apparent misinformation circulated by the Shepherd’s Chapel concerning Murray’s alleged doctorate. Evangelical apologist William Alnor asserts that Murray “falsely claims to have a doctorate degree from a properly accredited university or seminary.” This accusation is well substantiated by the research of B.J. Oropeza in 1991.

Oropeza notes that Murray claimed to receive a doctorate from an individual named Roy Gillespie, after writing a dissertation on the book of Daniel. No evidence of such a dissertation was found in The National Union Catalog or through UMI Microfilms (the primary source for copies of theses and dissertations). The claim of a receptionist for Shepherd’s Chapel (an admittedly dubious source for official statements) that Murray’s dissertation was unavailable because it was being “revised” is additionally problematic: dissertations are not revised after being accepted by the author’s dissertation committee and the office of graduate studies at the conferring institution.

Another receptionist [it is important to note that higher-level officials at Shepherd’s Chapel will not reveal any information about the organization; office workers are thus frequently the only source of information concerning Shepherd’s Chapel] told countercult researcher Tony Pierce that Murray had attended Biola University, a Christian institution in Los Angeles. Biola officials note, however, that there is no record of anyone named Arnold Murray having attended the school. – Shepherd’s Chapel Profile

Any time a group or group leader refuses to communicate honestly is a time for concern. This is, at the very least, a sign of a domineering, controlling atmosphere, and most likely a domineering, controlling leader.

The impossiblity of verifying Murray’s clam brings me up short. I do not understand why anyone would want to listen to someone who has such difficulties with transparency. This seems like classic “don’t trust people who aren’t honest.” Yet he managed to develop a following.

Murray was among those fantastic folks who manage to predict Armageddon/the return of Christ. (You know, those who are always, always, without fail, wrong). He taught that Armageddon would happen in a valley on an Alaskan peninsula (incidentally, my husband grew up on the Kenai Peninsula) on June 8-9, 1985.

Cue crickets chirping.

So guess what? That makes him a false prophet. Sandra Turner, in her work on Mormonism, reminds us that that a prophet must teach correctly about God (Deuteronomy 13) and that whatever the prophet predicts must come to pass (Deuteronomy 18). All prophecy should be absolutely and minutely consistent with Scripture and it should absolutely center on God’s glory. You can’t just, you know, get the math or the setting or the people involved wrong. You can’t shrug your shoulders and be like, “Ooops, my bad.”

Again, why anyone would pay attention to Murray (or others who falsely predict future events) isn’t something I understand.

There really isn’t much else to say about Arnold Murray the person. I tried to listen to a “sermon” of Murray’s, thinking that perhaps he was especially charismatic. While I couldn’t stomach a large portion, the nibble I did ingest left me with an, “Oh.” (And a need for spiritual Pepto). Murray was “plainspoken.” This is, I think, a large part of the draw. For all his flaunting of an alleged advanced degree, Murray presents himself as the “everyman.”

I live in a state where people object to politicians being “too smart” or “too educated.” (Idaho, what is wrong with you?) Many fear or are intimidated by those with greater levels of understanding or experience. (As a woman with a theology degree, I live this out on a daily basis). This is exactly what Murray picked up on and exploited (again, at odds with his claiming a doctorate). He struck a chord that runs deep in the United States; the chord of individualism, rejection of authority and the equality of each person before God. Yet the striking is massively deceptive, as we shall see when we begin to examine some of his teaching. For now, know that this “everyman” enticed other “everypeople” to join him in the realm of “better than.”

False teaching, false prophecy, false humility.

Arnold Murray.

Grace and peace along the way.

Note: Murray’s son, Dennis, has taken over leadership of Shepherd’s Chapel. I am unable to find anything about him online. Anyone who reads this and does know about Dennis Murray, please feel free to contact me.