Musing for a Monday

Along the Way @ mlsgregg.com (2)

Gentle Reader,

A Contemplation in the Valley

“Just a closer walk with Thee,”
Is how the lyric goes
Yet I often wonder, Lord,
Why more ebbs than flows?

Mountain peaks and sun so bright
Last but a moment – then
Here comes another valley,
Racing ’round the bend

I do not understand
Why I must battle long
When others raise a toast, a harp,
And sing the joyous song

Could you not, Lord, teach me
In a field of ease?
Could I not be molded
Without this tug and tease?

Must my hair be knotted?
Must my face be stained?
Must I trudge through swamps
Made the worse with rain?

Must my hands be bloody?
Must my skin be bruised?
Must my clothes be tattered?
My aching joints abused?

The storm, it swirls around me,
The Enemy laughs with glee,
This war that I am waging –
I think You alone do see

And so if that be true, Lord,
Mind this beating that I take,
For if this is Your plan,
On this my life I stake:

I know not why the valley
Is my home down here
But I trust that You, O God,
Ever-hold me near

I trust that I don’t travel
This broken path alone
I trust that You are with me
No matter winds that moan

I trust that in this moment
With fight so fierce and pitched
You give me strength for every step
And all my wounds do stitch

I trust that somehow, God,
Made of one and three,
That this – You have ordained
For a closer walk with Thee

My journey to faith. (15)

Wolves in Shepherd’s Clothing: the Overthrow and the Two Adams

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

Gentle Reader,

This series has been difficult. I have reached a point in my life and in my walk with the Lord where false teaching just drives me absolutely batty. When I am exposed to something twisted and wrong taught in the name of God, my pulse pounds. I want to throw things. I want to shake people.

I’ve been tempted to quit. I’ve slammed my laptop closed.

Nevertheless, we march on.

As we discussed last week, all false belief systems contain some element of elitism. This can be expressed as racism, classism, sexism, etc. Shepherd’s Chapel is no exception. Their twisted teaching on Cain and the Kenites, their ideas of preexistence, the thought that only Arnold Murray ever really got it right puts them firmly in that camp. But it gets weirder.

Let’s descend into the crazy, shall we?

Genesis 1 and Genesis 2 are used by Shepherd’s Chapel in two main ways: making much out of the word katabole and wrongly understanding adam and eth ha adam. (Obviously those words look quite different in Hebrew; we’re going with phonetics).

First, katabole. This is a Greek word meaning “a throwing or laying down (the injection or depositing of the virile semen in the womb, of the seed of plants and animals); a founding (laying down a foundation).” Katabole appears in the New Testament 11 times; 10 times it is translated as “foundation,” once it is translated as “conceive.”

What does that have to do with the creation account of Genesis?

Shepherd’s Chapel assumes preexistence and, by extension, ascribes to the Gap Theory of Creation. There is some unidentified length of time between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2. God created the world, He destroyed it because of Satanic rebellion and then He “reformed” it. As Shepherd’s Chapel members already believe this, they must make the text conform to the belief. Using their pal Bullinger’s shoddy Companion Bible, they insist that the word should be translated as “disruption, ruin or destroy.”

Except

…when the word is used in connection with the birth of a child it carries the meaning of conceive. When used in the connection with the world it carries the meaning of founding or creating (conceiving the world). It does NOT carry the meaning of destruction, overthrow, destroyed, or ruin in any circumstance. The use of “laying down” or “throwing down” is only correct in the connotation of laying a foundation or creating not in the sense of destroying or judgment. – Colby Braden

And except…Genesis was not written in Greek. Nope. The Hebrew words used to describe God’s creative activity are bara (to shape or create) and asah (to do or make). Clearly nothing about destruction or ruin or overthrowing.

Shepherd’s Chapel students often argue that the word translated as “was” in the KJV and most English Translations of Genesis 1:2 should actually be translated “became” as in “the Earth became formless and void.” This, to them, proves the supposed katabole.

…it suffers from a number of hermeneutical problems:

Time cannot be inserted between Genesis 1:1 and Genesis 1:2 because verse 2 does not follow verse 1 in time. Verse 2 uses a Hebrew grammatical device that is called a waw-disjunctive. This is where a sentence begins with the Hebrew word for and (waw) followed by a noun such as the earth (erets). A waw-disjunctive indicates that the sentence is describing the previous one and does not follow in time. In other words, verse 2 is describing the conditions of the earth when it was first created. Hebrew grammar simply will not allow for the insertion of vast periods of time between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2 in which a supposed satanic fall took place. – Colby Braden

They think that the text should be translated this way because they already believe it. This is an example of circular reasoning, a logical fallacy in which the reasoner begins with what they are trying to end with.

So, God’s out there creating and destroying and reforming. There’s this battle and if you fight well you’ll be saved and if not you get the curse of free will. Bizarre goings-on about different cosmic ages. He then makes all the races on the sixth day. He makes Adam on the eighth.

Again I am compelled to say that I am not making this up.

Shepherd’s Chapel assumes pre-Adamic races. Using Genesis 1:24-31, they conclude that God created other people because the word adam in verse 26 is the generic term for man or mankind. In Genesis 2:7, the definite article and particle appear, eth ha adam, meaning that a specific adam is the focus. So, obviously (to them), God made a bunch of other people on the sixth day, took a nap break and came back on the eighth to make Adam.

Genesis 1 and 2 are so badly mishandled by this group. There is no understanding whatsoever that the first chapter provides a panoramic view of the totality of God’s work in creation and the second chapter zeros in on humanity. They assume that Genesis 2 is an eighth day. Have you noticed how often that word, assume, keeps popping up?

Please, I beg you to think about this for a second. All the text of the first two chapters of Genesis says is that God made man and named him Man.

There’s just nothing more you can get from it.

No different than naming a sock monkey, Monkey.

Naming a cat, Kitty.

I won’t insult your intelligence by going on. You get the point.

It frightens me how cavalierly people use Scripture. How they twist it and shape it without much thought to the consequences.

My journey to faith. (15)

 For all the posts in the Wolves in Shepherd’s Clothing series, go here.

This is Not How We Behave

Just keep spamming, just keep spamming (2)

Gentle Reader,

I’ve been hanging out amongst the residents of the interwebs for a long time now. This blog has existed, in one form or another, for seven years. Before that I enjoyed myself thoroughly on the Amazon Christianity discussion forum. Before that was MySpace. (Remember Tom?)

Online life can be fun, engaging and surprisingly deep.

It can also be disheartening. Even nasty.

On Sunday night I briefly wrote about the howling over Focus on the Family’s small article (actually a Q&A piece) regarding vaccination in their magazine, Thriving Family. The response of a certain intensely opinionated blogger* caught my attention. This blogger is out-and-out offended that nobody from Focus on the Family has picked up on or crafted a statement about the response. While avoiding telling anyone to engage in bad web etiquette, this blogger made sure to say that it was important for any followers who were equally offended to publicly explain on the Focus on the Family Facebook page why support is being withdrawn. The people have taken up the torch.

The flames leap high.

It’s shameless fit-throwing. While I do not think that anyone has to be a fan of Focus on the Family in order to be a Christian, what is happening on the organization’s page is sad. Negative, one-star reviews are popping up and right and left because this blogger has purposefully stirred the pot on an issue that should not be this heated or divisive. This is not a litmus test of salvation. Yet every time a new post comes up in the feed, no matter what it’s about, followers of this blogger comment with a link to the response. All because Focus on the Family maintains a position of supporting vaccination (and medicine in general; some comments are mixed) and because nobody in the organization has opened up a forum for debate.

Except Focus on the Family isn’t obligated to publish an in-depth, thesis-length piece on vaccinations. Or medicine. Or why the sky isn’t purple. They aren’t obligated to respond to every single person with access to a computer and a blog. Such a thing would be nigh unto impossible.

So the ranting? It’s distracting. It’s immature.

Again, you don’t have to be a fan of the organization to be a Christian. But you also don’t need to flame a group that has worked for decades to help families. If their stance on vaccination bothers you, fine. Great. Don’t listen to their programs, purchase their materials or send them money. Move on.

Spamming and trolling never win an argument. Never. Like I said, I’ve been around the internet for a long time. I’ve made connections with many bloggers and site operators. And we just lurv spam. We just adore trolls. Send me a link once and I’ll gladly look. Engage in honest, respectful dialogue with me and I’ll talk. I’ll listen. The second you start screaming is the second I think you’re a nutcase, an attention-seeker or just plain arrogant and want nothing to do with you. Shouting only makes me close my ears. Everyone else I know who operates online feels the same.

Christians, this is NOT how we behave. We do not throw fits. We do not engage in histrionics. We do not get so everlastingly full of ourselves that we work, however cunningly, to undercut a legitimate ministry. These are the attitudes and antics of toddlers, not Spirit-filled adults.

Worse, it’s what one non-believer called “Christian cannibalism” as she watched the fracas unfold.

It’s the Enemy cackling with glee.

My journey to faith. (15)

* I am choosing to not share the name of this person because I don’t want to drive traffic to the site or the blog’s Facebook page. Based on the information provided in this post, you can figure it out for yourself. Please do. Go and make your own decision. Feel absolutely free to disagree with everything I’ve written. Feel free to tell me what you think.

I realize that I walk a fine line here. I don’t want to tear this blogger or this blogger’s followers to pieces. I don’t question their salvation or the sincerity of their beliefs regarding vaccinations and medicine. I don’t deny them the right to voice their opinions in an appropriate manner. Nevertheless, what they are doing is wrong.

How do I know? I chose to interact with them. It was a highly discouraging experience.

And why is this so clearly under my skin and dear to my heart? Why have I written several posts in the last few months about illness and medicine? Because my body is torn apart every day. The bodies of many I love are torn apart every day. We struggle. We suffer. We simply don’t need the additional stress of the ever-growing health-and-wealth, just-eat-organic-and-you’ll-be-fine-no-matter-what, Jesus-doesn’t-want-you-to-go-to-the-doctor-ever-ever, vaccines-are-black-magic juggernaut. I can’t stand by and let it roll on unchecked.