Worship – a fresh look?
What glasses do you wear when you read the Word of God?
If you are swayed by the negative propaganda on Israel and its dealings with its problems, or you are offended by any intimation of Jews as chosen people, then the chances are you do not subscribe to any form of Christian Zionism and are most likely convinced of the arguments of the replacement theologians. If this is so then you are following a doctrine borne out of misplaced hatred and justified through the ideas of Plato, rather than the plain narrative of the Old Testament story and the tight arguments of Paul in the central section of the Book of Romans. The root of anti-Semitism is hatred and the root of replacement theology is error. Take your pick.
If you allow secular scientific rationalism to colour your views of Creation then you have allowed others to tell you how to cherry-pick truth from fiction or symbolism, in your reading of the words of the first chapter of Genesis. Every time you read Holy Scripture with a part of your brain saying, this can't be true, there must be another way of explaining this, then a little bit of doubt has set in. If you read plain teachings of Jesus, such as "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me" but your experience, tolerance or advisors have told you, of course he didn't really mean this ... literally, then a little bit of doubt has set in.
Views on Hell were more or less the same for 90% of the Church's existence. It has only changed in modern times, since the Enlightenment, when rationalism was on the rise and Biblical certainties in retreat. Any belief in Hell, even for the best of reasons, that is not an eternal situation of conscious torment, is not compatible with the actual words of Jesus. Again I say that, if you read plain teachings of Jesus, but your experience, tolerance or advisors have told you, of course he didn't really mean this ... literally, then a little bit of doubt has set in.
It is understandable why many Christians flinch from any discussions on End Times, because of the extreme baggage it carries and the unseemly passions it provokes. But it's a doctrine that becomes more and more relevant the closer one gets to it. Examine yourself. If you are disinclined to delve into the Book of Revelation, is it through apathy or fear? If you hold to a set of beliefs, then where did they come from? The amillennialism of Augustine, the extreme and pedantic premillenialism of the "Left Behind" books, or the hopeful masked postmillennialism of the self-proclaimed "prophets" and "apostles"? Dare you read the Scriptures yourself and pray for illumination? Granted, it's not the easiest book to unravel and many have tried, but few have succeeded. Again, consider the roots that can inform these attitudes: error and doubt ... again.
Now there may be some of you who disagree with some, or even all, of what I have written in the last few articles. That is fine, I don't claim a monopoly on the truth, but I do claim that I've done my homework, in the historical analysis provided, to show you where my ideas and beliefs have come from. If I have provoked you in any way then I make no apologies, but simply ask you to consider seriously where your ideas and beliefs have come from. What glasses do you wear when you read the Word of God?
(This is an abridged extract from Steve's book How the Church Lost the Truth: And How it Can Find it Again)