It has been over a year since I posted any articles on my blog and I figure it is about time to remedy that. I hope that you few subscribers to my blog find this post of interest.
Even before my final series of posts last year I was feeling a deep sense of burnout, I couldn’t think of anything I felt was worth writing about. Then when I did the series of posts on eternal conscious torment (ECT) versus conditional immortality most of the reaction I received was negative. Someone who had been a subscriber for quite a while, and who I had exchanged friendly emails with, was very unhappy with me and unsubscribed. I never started this blog to become popular but when friends get angry with me it is never fun.
I suppose that is neither here nor there and not of interest to anyone but myself. When I stopped blogging I was listening to recorded bible studies every day while commuting to work. This was in addition to being a member of a brick and mortar congregation in the town where I reside. I am still a member of the local congregation but I am not listening to any recorded sermons at the moment and there is a reason for that which I would like to share.
I am dispensational in theology but it is difficult to find solid dispensational sermons to listen to. I have spent a lot of time searching for sermons that are doctrinally solid and thought I had finally found what I was searching for. In the past five years I found two pastors who I have listed to regularly. Both are dispensational and involved with Chafer Theological Seminary (CTS) which is solid even if some of its leadership leans toward four point Calvinism.
In the past two years both of these pastors have begun to password protect their audio lessons. I contacted one of the staff of the pastor I listened to most regularly and got the password. I wondered what was going on but didn’t question it too deeply until my parents called me one day. They were listening to a different series preached by the same pastor and he made some comments that explained a lot.
Did you know that if you listen to doctrinal studies from home that you are a “lone ranger” Christian? Somehow it appears that your spiritual gifts just won’t function if you are not sitting in a church pew. Comments made seemed to imply that if you aren’t physically present when the pastor teaches then you somehow have cut yourself off from the body of Christ. I do not believe that it is an accident that both these pastors locked up their teaching within a short period of each other, someone with influence at CTS is convincing these men that they should cut people like me off from their teaching (apparently they do think of it as “their” teaching).
Looking back on it I realized that the church staff member who provided me with the bible study password had probably violated church policy. After reflecting on it for a while I decided that I didn’t want to ask someone to violate their church’s policy or to force a pastor to teach me against his will so I stopped listening!
In time I realized that this policy probably flows from what I believe to be a flawed rendering of Hebrews 13:17:
17 Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you.
I have heard more than one pastor say you have to do everything they tell you (submit) and use this verse as support. When you think about can you really “submit” to a pastor who is five hundred miles away? I really believe that in their minds we violate this verse when are not physically present so we can be monitored.
Let’s look at the words translated “obey” and “submit” while we’re at it. The word translated “obey” is the Koine Greek word “peithesthe” which is almost always translated to be convinced or persuaded. I have no doubt that the Church of Rome translated it as submit in this passage and the reformers saw no reason to change it. Who just gives away authority like this?
ὑπείκω; from Homer down; to resist no longer, but to give way, yield (properly, of combatants); metaphorically, to yield to authority and admonition, to submit.
Bases on this information I don’t see why this isn’t every bit as good of a translation:
17 [Be persuaded by] your leaders and [yield to their admonition], for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you.
Remember that the Hebrew members of the church in Jerusalem were under great pressure to return to Judaism even though they were believers. The author of Hebrews was telling them to listen to their pastors and stay in the church. This wasn’t a blanket command to do everything they were told!
So how am I studying the Word now that I have no source of verbal teaching? We live in a wonderful time because there is a lot of written material with great depth to it. I have begun reading for the second time the 2nd edition of Joseph Dillow’s Final Destiny: The Future Reign of the Servant Kings. If you are interested in learning how to rightly divide the word of truth when it comes to those difficult passages that Calvinists and Arminians fight over this book is for you. It runs around 1200 pages and is, in my opinion, a doctrinal tour de force.
I have also begun reading books regarding how believers handled persecution during the English Reformation. For 130 years believers were persecuted for their faith but there was always a minority, a remnant, which stayed the course even under great pressure. An excellent book on the topic is Loyal Dissenters: Reading Scripture and Talking Freedom with 17-century English Baptists by Lee Canipe. I personally believe that toleration for the “wrong kind” of Christian is quickly eroding in the United States. If you believe this also and would like to know how other Christians handled the situation, and how they justified their position scripturally, then I highly recommend this book!
Thank you all!