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Cultures That Abandon God’s Light Lose that Light, Then Hebrews 1:3 Textual Critical Discussion

Mainly discussed the move toward embracing transgenderism as a proper Christian viewpoint by the Church of England in the first half hour, and then moved to a discussion of a textual variant in Hebrews 1:3 as an illustration of a number of things in the second half hour.  Both live from Evergreen, Colorado via Skype.  Hope it is helpful!

Here is the YouTube link:

2 John 9-11 Examined

Let’s talk a bit about 2 John 9, as it has been thrown about a lot lately.

First, you always look at a text in its context, and in this case, that is determinative. Look at what John is talking about (translations mine):

“For many deceivers have gone out into the world, the ones not confessing Jesus Christ having come in the flesh. This one is the deceiver and the anti-Christ. Watch yourselves, so that you do not lose what we have accomplished but instead receive a full reward.”

Clearly John is continuing the theme that appears throughout his first epistle with reference to the “deceivers” (πλάνοι) who have gone out into the world (compare 1 John 2:23, 4:2-3, 15). They are described as those “not confessing Jesus Christ having come in the flesh,” that is, there seems to have been some form of what we might call proto-gnosticism in the church in John’s day, a form of docetism that denied the reality of Jesus’ physical body. It is important to note the phrase ἐξῆλθον εἰς τὸν κόσμον, “went out into the world.” They went out of the church, specifically (compare 1 John 2:19 for “went out”). These are the deceivers, the anti-Christs, the false teachers. They have left the church for the world. John warns believers to “look to themselves,” be watchful, for apostates can be some of the most beguiling of false teachers. They know our language, our modes of speech, and hence can disarm us and sneak up on us. We are to be watchful.

Importantly, this is the context that immediately precedes our text, that of apostates who were once a part of the church but do not teach that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh, i.e., the early docetics. So now to the main passage:

Every one going too far and not abiding in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. The one abiding in the doctrine, this one has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bear this doctrine, do not receive him into your home and do not pronounce greetings, for the one pronouncing a greeting participates in his evil works.

The first substantive participle, “the one going too far,” seems to indicate the idea of going outside the bounds, in this case, outside the teaching, the truth that has been given to the church concerning Jesus and His incarnation. He does not abide, remain in, the teaching, the doctrine. Given that this is a definitional doctrine, de fide one might say, the one who violates this truth has neither the Father nor the Son. These are strong words which, we must confess, few today ponder deeply.

The first “you” in verse 10 is plural, comes to anyone in the church. Now let’s remember, there were no church buildings at this point in church history. The church met in homes or, I suppose in rural settings (as noted by history), out in the countryside. But in these days showing hospitality was vital. You took people into your homes, provided food for them and shelter. There wasn’t a Motel6 on every corner. Especially in the Christian context, traveling preachers and teachers would come into an area and seek a place from which to do their teaching in someone’s home. So here we have a test provided by the Apostle: if someone comes and does not “bear” or carry with them this doctrine, that is, the doctrine that Jesus has come in the flesh, then they are not to be received “into your home.” Clearly, the Apostle is addressing people who claim to be Christians here, as the context of verse 7 shows. One would not expect a pagan to come “bearing” the proper doctrine of Christ’s incarnation. This is specifically about false teachers in the church (compare Gal. 2:4-5). This is further indicated by the giving of the greeting. In our culture saying “hi” means very little, but in the ancient culture, and amongst Christians, greetings were far more important. The “holy kiss” and the “maranatha” were part of the greeting and parting. To give the intimate sign of Christian fellowship to such a person would signal your acceptance of their teaching, and hence would signal to others the orthodoxy of the person to whom you are giving the greeting, making you complicit in their activities.

So with these things in mind we see that this passage teaches us to examine the doctrine of Christian teachers and to not give a basis for operation in our communities for those who are not orthodox in their teaching. Likewise, we can see the text has nothing at all to do with doing debates, outreaches, or even dialogues with those of other religious faiths. Even if we greet them, we are not doing so in the context of 2 John, for the greeting there had a particular content and meaning generally absent from our greetings today (surely I do my best to avoid a holy kiss, or in my case, even the holy side hug!). Surely we are not taking them into our homes in the sense of giving them a platform from which they can teach Christian heresies, or anything of the like. Attempting to apply this text to non-compromising outreaches, interactions, debates, etc., is clearly a misuse of the passage in its original context.

A Response to Dr. Gregory Williams on the Memphis Dialogue

I would like to lay to rest a meme that has been repeated over the past few weeks. It is not that I have not already pointed out the foundational error in the reasoning that is utilized here, for I have. But falsehood mutates over time, and once it takes on a different form, it can still bring confusion, even if it has already been refuted. So let’s take care of this one, shall we?

Dr. Gregory Williams of has alleged sin on my part in participating in the dialogue with Dr. Yasir Qadhi, focusing upon the fact that part of the dialogue took place in a Christian church. Of course, it was a week night, it was not a service of the church, and it was a ticketed event, which means everyone who came knew exactly what they were going to see and desired to see and hear just that, but that kind of context is normally ignored by the critics. It fits the “meme” better for people to assume it was a Sunday morning service and an Imam was invited to preach the sermon. In any case, Dr. Williams has been insisting that his view has the support of Dr. John MacArthur. He has provided a graphic of Dr. MacArthur’s commentary on 2 Corinthians 6:14ff. The assertion is that by engaging in a discussion of the agreements and differences between Christianity and Islam, I am becoming ἑτεροζυγέω with an unbeliever. Before looking at MacArthur’s commentary, let’s consider this perspective for a moment. Given that Dr. Qadhi and I did not view ourselves as being “joined” in any fashion, did not proclaim ourselves fellow servants of the same God, say that we were cooperating together in trying to accomplish a spiritual goal or mission, etc., wouldn’t the application of this text end up prohibiting almost all activities within the human sphere for Christians? If discussing differences in beliefs means we are “unequally yoked,” then all witnessing encounters would fall under this condemnation, would they not? Was Paul unequally yoked with the philosophers and religious men on Mars Hill? With his unbelieving opponents in the synagogue? How about in business? If Paul had to buy animal hides from unbelievers to make his tents, was he “unequally yoked”? Clearly, the only way to interpret Paul’s words has to do with specifically religious and spiritual activities where there is a need for *commonality of faith* to accomplish the ends, such as, for example, evangelism, church planting, etc. So with this in mind please read the graphic containing Dr. MacArthur’s comments (as provided by Dr. Williams I note).

Now let’s note Dr. MacArthur’s specific words: “He called for separation in matters OF THE WORK OF GOD….” I.e., in the church. Dr. Qadhi has not, to my knowledge, applied for membership in any Christian churches, let alone leadership positions therein. He had no intention of working in Christian work, pretending to promote Christianity, proclaim the gospel, etc. We continue, “…since such cooperation for spiritual benefit is impossible. The false teachers…” Please note that in context these are false teachers *who claim to be Christians and are in the church at Corinth.* These are not members of other religions outside the church who are the objects of the church’s evangelistic efforts. We continue, “were eager to blend the people of God with the pagan worshipers, because that hinders the gospel. That is what this text forbids.” This seems to be in the context of the meat offered in sacrifice to idols and the pagan idolatry rampant in Corinth. Again, this is in reference to *false teachers* within the church that were opponents of Paul’s and who were seeking to undermine his authority there in Corinth.

“To infiltrate churches under the guise of tolerance and cooperation is one of Satan’s most cunning ploys. He does not want to fight the church as much as join it. When he comes against the church, it grows stronger; when he joins with the church, it grows weaker.” Please note again: this is all in the context of joining with the church, infiltrating the church (and, I hope I do not need to point out that the church at this time did not have “buildings” per se, so the church is the assembly of believers wherever they meet for prayer and worship and proclamation and discipline) etc. Continuing, “Undiscerning believers who join in a common spiritual cause with unbiblical forms of Christianity or other false religions open the door wide to satanic infiltration and forfeit the blessing of God.” The phrase “common spiritual cause” is defined by the Greek term ἑτεροζυγέω—the beasts are supposed to be pulling the same direction for the same result, but cannot do so because they are of different breeds. “Further, embracing those heretical systems….” Please note “embracing.” “…falsely reassures their followers that all is well between them and God, when actually they are headed for eternal damnation.”

The thinking reader has already seen numerous problems with the application of these words to the dialogue in Memphis, or any future dialogues (as we certainly hope to have them). Phrase after phrase jumps out. These comments are about engaging in the work of God in the church, not evangelistic efforts or discussing each other’s faiths so as to foster good will and an atmosphere where the gospel can be given a fair hearing with understanding. The context is about false teachers who claim to be Christians, not those representing other faiths. Reference is made to joining the church, not joining a dialogue *at* a building where the church meets on the Lord’s Day. Common spiritual cause would assume a common goal, worship, faith, etc., which the dialogue with Dr. Qadhi specifically recognized does not exist, nor was any effort being made to cause it to exist (i.e., through ecumenical compromise). What it envisions involves “embracing heretical systems” which I surely did not do or suggest. Finally, this activity “falsely reassures” the followers of these false faiths that all is well between them and God: Dr. Qadhi and I said the exact opposite, actually, which is what makes the false application of these words to our discussion so ironic.

I think these considerations are more than sufficient to lay to rest the inappropriate application of these comments to the Memphis dialogues.

Inerrancy and Harmonization: What’s the Problem?

After a bit of discussion of current developments concerning the ravaging hordes running about the internet burning and looting, we played a portion of the comments made on the recent episode of Unbelievable on the subject of the gospels, inerrancy, and harmonization. Important stuff!  Note sure about the schedule for the next two weeks as I will be up in glorious Colorado, but we will make something happen as we have in the past.

Here is the YouTube link:

Yusuf Ismail and Deuteronomy, and Further Response to Abu Zakariya

Started off the program today with a little bit on the ongoing attacks upon A&O by the odd coalition of Christians and political types, and then reviewed some comments by Yusuf Ismail in a recent ABN debate with Usama Dakdok, specifically looking at portions of Deuteronomy—tough, difficult portions.  No ducking, no saying “Oh, that’s the Old Testament, we don’t have to worry about that.”  Then I moved back to a careful and hopefully useful interaction with Abu Zakariya’s work on Jesus.  A 90 minute program today!

Here is the YouTube link: