Sunday, March 21, 2010

"I hope you've got your bibles with you..."

The church seems to go through seasons of repeating this refrain, but I have noticed it as a recurring theme in recent weeks, not just in church services that I've been at, but also in podcasts I've listened to: "I hope you've got your bibles with you..." (or words to that effect).

Generally, the stated purpose of this is along the lines of: "If you don't have your own copies of the bible with you and read along, you have no idea if I'm deceiving you or not..."

Eh, what? You know, in all my years of attending church I don't think I have ever heard anyone deliberately misquote the bible in order to teach a non-biblical message.

So why should the congregation members have to bring their bibles along and read along? For most of history this would have been impossible for people to do - before the invention of the printing press bibles were only for the very rich, and beside that the majority of people were illiterate. Back then, the ordinary believers had to trust the reader and preacher, so why not nowadays?

But I've just realised that this refrain can actually be used for a slight deception if the people do bring their own bibles along and read along. For you see, the preacher will generally be preaching an interpretation of a bible passage or a message resting on the foundations of several biblical passages. And if the congregation member sees that the bible passages referred to are genuine, then that lends support to the interpretation or message presented. Even if the interpretation is not good or the message is flawed in some way. If the congregation member sees that it has its roots in the bible, they're more likely to believe it.

Now I'm not saying that everyone who encourages their congregation to bring their bibles along is doing this, but it might be happening somewhere...

Think I'll leave my bible at home this morning.

4 comments:

Jason said...

I personally always take mine along. I don't usually trust what I hear without being able read the context and compare what is being taught to other passages. That, and if the message gets to boring or preposterous I have something worth reading in my hands. :)

Ryan McKenzie said...

Why so cynical?! I don't think it's anything to do with deception, it's just good practice, isn't it?

bk said...

You wrote: "this refrain can actually be used for a slight deception... the preacher will generally be preaching an interpretation of a bible passage or a message resting on the foundations of several biblical passages. And if the congregation member sees that the bible passages referred to are genuine, then that lends support to the interpretation or message presented. Even if the interpretation is not good or the message is flawed"

Nice catch! But I would NOT advise one to leave their Bible at home. You are right in noting that the kind of bait-and-switch that you described goes on all the time. But the fact that some buy false teachings that have been falsely sold as if they were bibilical does not take away from the fact that those who actually hear/read and rely on the words of scripture will be able to notice the difference between what scripture actually says and the false ideas of men that a teacher adds to that word when they tack on their 'interpertation'.

As you know from the case of the false tradition that says that John was "the disciple whom Jesus loved", men routinely add John's name to passages that NEVER mention John's name. Teachers/preachers will just add that name to their reading of passages about the unnamed "other disciple, whom Jesus loved" (or even substitute that name for the terms that the God-inspired author used to refer to himself). But those who actually READ the verse will see that John's name does NOT appear in ANY of the passages that refer to the one whom "Jesus loved" and, when they note the difference between what scripture acutally says and what the preacher is saying it say, then they will be forewarned against just blindly accepting the preachers 'interpretation'.

PS A revised forth edition of the free eBook "The Disciple Whom Jesus Loved" has just gone live online, with additional bibilical evidence that had been overlooked in the earlier editions of the book. You have gracioulsy shared your comments on the previous edition of the book, so I wanted to invite you to take a look at the new evidence and lines of reasoning that are presented in the new edition of the book.
(at TheDiscipleWhomJesusLoved.com)

Ricky Carvel said...

Sorry Ryan, cynical (or skeptical) is my nature. I'm certainly not accusing anyone in particular of deception, intentional or otherwise.

And hello again BK. I quite liked your previous version of the book, so I'll add your new edition to my 'to read, sometime' list.