Truth is Truth

"You, O LORD, will not withhold Your compassion from me; Your lovingkindness and Your truth will continually preserve me." - Psalm 40:11 This is a sometimes monthly column concerning the truth of Christ Jesus and the issues that face our world as published in various newspapers and journals by Pastor Dave Seaford. You can return to the home page of the church by going to:

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Location: Redway, California, United States

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Crippling Christian - and other fun

When I was growing up there was something sacred about the Church and the Christian faith. Pastors were held in high esteem and their work was considered of great importance. A generation or two before that the Puritan thought still remained and the gentlemanly hobby of most people, whether a farmer or a professor, was the serious study of God’s Word, theology and righteous living. It was a time when faith dictated our culture, instead of the culture dictating our faith. …a time when technology brought about more thinking rather than less, and the passions of our faith were not compartmentalized for Sunday morning worship. It was a time that was so clear cut, that when you used the word “truth” everyone knew what you meant and there was no room for two or more truths that stood in diametric opposition to one another. It was a time when my grandfather, who only had a third grade education, knew the difference between a truth and a lie, and one definitive statement could not be sold by the best salesman, as both true for me and untrue for you. In fact, even the thought of such a thing would have just been considered silly and contrary to common sense and natural science.

Today, our culture, specifically guided by our educational system, has bought into the idea that a person’s preferences dictate their truth. It is with great sadness that I report to you that this philosophical quicksand has been successfully implanted in many of our churches as a form of progressive theology and cultural sensitivity. But no mater how you sell it, this gentler, more palatable form of social (if not socialized) religion, can in no way be found to resemble anything in the historical teachings or actions of Jesus Christ.

It has become a blood sport to cripple the best of Christians and to kill the wounded. …and this sport has not been restricted to being “played” outside the walls of our churches. Twisting truth to cripple the best of God’s children is not only politically correct in the world, but has become the warped work of preference inside the local church walls. Ripping scripture from its context is used to justify these local crucifixions as if to say that the price our Lord paid was not sufficient and that these that don’t meet up with the preferences of some, are not just to be admonished, but are to be nailed to their own crosses. Indeed we are killing the wounded and wounding first, in order to justify our killing.

In the end the love of Christ is lost in the preferential lust of the bloody flesh and needed sense of personal success on the religious battlefield. This has driven our Christian ministries inward as we seek to isolate and save the weak before the devastating and proven deadly blows of the “good church goer,” who would sacrifice all that is genuine ministry on the alter of his own self preservation (or the preservation of denominational traditions).

I would that I could insight every Christian to righteous living dictated by the Truth, who is Jesus Christ. His foundations are never found in the shifting sands of relativism, rationalism nor religion based on feeling good about ones self. It is time that we return to the One who changes human hearts, rather than seeking to change His word’s meaning to meet our likes or to protect our own reputations. Man’s attempts to change God, is nothing more than man’s attempts to be God. But herein lies the difference in today’s religion and yesterday’s faith – we have imported into the church, the new age, humanistic idea of our worthiness to be our own god. In the process we have found the truth cumbersome and ineffective at supporting our godliness. Certainly, the physiologist’s tell us, the healthiest thing to do is “diversify” the truth, thus invoking the psychological tactic of protecting our own self image at any cost.

The Bible plainly warns us of this time: “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn aside to myths.” (2 Timothy 4:3 – 4).

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Judging the Dog Show

To judge or not to judge that is the judgment we each must make.

Perhaps one of the most often quoted Scriptures in all the Bible is used by very different contingencies in order to “prove” totally opposite points. It is used (or should I say abused) by those seeking to justify a totally tolerant position, and at the same time equally abused by the legalists seeking to make Christianity about rules and regulations, and thus pharisaical. Of course the Scripture I am speaking of is from Matthew 7 and part of the greatest sermon ever preached known as the Sermon on the Mount.

“Judge not that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge you will be judged…. And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. Do not give what is holy to dogs nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet and turn and tear you to pieces” (Matt. 7:1 – 6).

Without a doubt the key to bringing correct interpretation to this passage of Jesus message is the word “judge” itself. The problem that we have in this country in understanding this passage is that we only have one meaning in mind when we read the word. In the Greek language in which it was originally written however there were at least a dozen different shades of meaning to the word that depended completely on the context of the message.

In the first part of this message Jesus is speaking of using human standards and preferences to bring judgment on others. The obvious result of this too often used tactic on the part of humanity is that we tear down others in the futile effort to lift ourselves and we do it at the expense of judging other people’s motives. The less understood result of that act is blasphemy! Blasphemy takes place in a number of ways. In this case it happens when men, usurping the authority of God, judge (what only God can and has the authority to judge), the “heart and motives” of a man. In essence when we do this we are playing God and assuming His exclusive right and place.

The next section Jesus charges hypocrisy and asks, “…why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye”? The word “look” here literally means to inspect and point out and bring to other’s attention with magnification. Note that this is NEVER the responsibility of any Christian (except with regard to heresy). But the continuation of Jesus question is what genuinely brings perspective to the issue. “… but (you) do not consider the plank in your own eye”? The Greek word “consider” is a word for self examination that must by definition be both intense and continual AND is required in order to even see properly the speck in the brother’s eye. Interestingly though, simply bringing attention to the speck is NOT the proper duty of any Christian toward any brother! Rather the Scripture says that the purpose is to help “remove” the speck. Here again a proper understanding of the language is critical. To “remove” in this case is the picture of one person cooperating with another and allowing that person to pour water in the eye, washing out any impurities that were causing irritation and impairment. This is NEVER the forceful act of one person over another but rather the result of the power of the Holy Spirit over each together.

Lastly the Scripture says, “do not give what is holy to dogs…”. Suddenly the scripture seems to require that you and I make judgments of who are “dogs” and “swine,” two of the most reviled animals to Jewish thought at the time! But here the standard is not the self righteousness of man, but rather the standard of God via His Word. In other words it is God’s righteousness and His standard that brings to bare, NOT our judgment on others, but rather simply whether we “receive” into our lives and “give” of our lives to a particular cause or person. The purpose is NEVER destruction (by human effort) and condemnation (by human standards) but rather whether we allow ourselves to be a part of something else. Unfortunately, in today’s society Christians seem to prefer the former to the later in spite of the command of Jesus’ message here to the contrary.

Lastly, it is interesting to me how often Christians seem to want to justify these humanly destructive actions by quoting Scripture ripped out of its context and contorted to a reversal of meaning. Again allow me to remind us all that this is blasphemy of the worst kind. It is only He that is holy and to abuse His Word for any reason is heinous. Note too what immediately follows in verse 12 is the golden rule with absolutely no attempt to hide its context!