A Cry For Justice

Awakening the Evangelical Church to Domestic Violence and Abuse in its Midst

Scripture Can be Hard to Understand: Beware of those Who Claim it is Easy

And count the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures. You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.
(2 Peter 3:15-18)

When we are doing battle with evil, we must be certain to have a firm footing.  The stability of faith in God’s promises and revealed truth is vital, else we will lose our balance and be shaken. Peter warns and encourages us here in this regard. He acknowledges, even though he is an apostle, that some of the things his brother Paul writes are hard to understand. Think about that. An apostle acknowledges that some Scriptures can be difficult for even him to grasp. This is the mark of a true servant of Christ. The wisdom and humility to admit things like this.

False teachers on the other hand, puffed up by their pride and evil intent, claim to have all the answers and to be able to comprehend every depth of God’s Word with ease. They make no room for other opinions or interpretations. They never simply admit, “that is a tough verse to understand. I’m not positive what it means.” In their thinking, they have advanced far beyond Peter in the knowledge of the mysteries of God!

Now, notice something here carefully which I think will be a good encouragement to you. Peter says that “ignorant and unstable” men twist the Scriptures. They do this to their own destruction. They will pay for their evil one Day when Christ calls them to final account. They are false shepherds, false sheep, and their end will be destruction. That’s pretty final. And more, Peter tells us that it is the difficult, hard-to-understand texts of God’s Word that these kind particularly love to “carry us away” into their own errors, such errors being characterized as lawlessness. Their teachings, supposedly based upon these Scripture twistings which they so love to do, are actually against God’s law, the very antithesis of Christ’s truth which sets us free. So our part is to walk carefully, evaluate every teaching thoroughly, lest we be lured onto Broadway and put into the bondage of these wicked ones.

Now, our experience with the evil of abuse bears this out, does it not? What more difficult passages of Scripture are there than some of those on marriage, divorce, and remarriage? We should not be surprised, therefore, that these are some of the Scriptures that today’s unstable, lawless teachers run to, twist and pervert, and use them to draw us away from the grace and knowledge of the truth of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Think of how many “Christian” leaders, pastors, authors, and theologians (generally of the celebrity genre) confidently declare with God’s own supposed authority, that their interpretation of every detail of these passages is the plain and obvious truth and anyone who holds to a different take on a verse is without doubt wrong and in some cases under God’s curse! No divorce for any reason at all! Anyone not obeying what I say is God’s Word will be ex-communicated from this church, if not consigned to hell for all eternity. That is no exaggeration, right? We hear if from these kind.

Now, I can hear these types protesting.  “Why then, you are opening the door for all kinds of errors if you say that we cannot be certain of the precise meaning of every passage of Scripture. You are allowing for anyone to make any interpretation of Scripture they want and opening the floodgates for wickedness to come in.” No. What we are saying is that we must be wise and reject the perversions of especially difficult passages of Scripture which are laid upon us by ignorant and unstable people who make a habit of twisting Scripture so that their teaches oppose the truth and character of God and promote lawlessness. In fact, it is these false teachers who, often through their confident interpretations and applications of Scripture, who are the ones promoting lawlessness. They are the ones opening the floodgates for evil.

True godliness is characterized by humility. A humility that evidences itself especially when those verses that Peter says are hard to understand, are handled. Our God is incomprehensible. He has not revealed in equal clarity everything about Himself. In fact, what do you suppose we will be doing in the New Heavens and New Earth for eternity? We will be growing in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Think of that. How infinite is the nature and glory of God? Infinite! That means He will forever and ever be showing us new facets of His being. Truths about Him that we have not even imagined. Do not let arrogant, Scripture-twisting people draw you into their error and shake the stability we enjoy in God’s clear and revealed truths.

 

 

12 Comments

  1. Still Reforming

    “You are allowing for anyone to make any interpretation of Scripture they want and opening the floodgates for wickedness to come in.”

    That reminds me of the very reasoning behind the Roman Catholic’s church protesting translation of the Scriptures into language that ordinary people could understand.

    I confess that I find some parables difficult to understand (among other passages, mostly in the Old Testament, but also many in the New – and yet the more I read, the more I glean AND the more questions are raised at the same time).

    That makes me shudder a bit because Christ said that He speaks in parables to hide the secrets of the kingdom from some and reveal them to others. It troubles me when I don’t understand something – particularly in parables for the reason cited, but I then remind myself that He knows all and I don’t. Only He reveals true wisdom, and He does as we ask, He tells us. And to His own good pleasure.

    I must fall back on what I know to be true that He has done for me in my own life and rest in the assurance that I won’t know or understand all of it. “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.” (1 Cor. 13:12)

  2. One of the ways that so many people over simplify interpretation is that they look only at the surface meaning of the words. As Jeff pointed out, they also do not look at context, not only immediate context but the context that the entirety of Scripture brings.

    Part of that context is that Scripture also needs to be interpreted in light of the character of God, and one aspect of the character of God is that his priority has always been people.This is why Christ lambasted the pharisees so much. He saw that they had turned the law into an end unto itself and failed to recognize that the law was intended to show us our need for God on the one hand and to help and protect people on the other. God didn’t make rules, just to make rules, but the pharisees did not recognize that.

    When those who deny divorce for abuse or extol the virtues of hyper headship, while overlooking the abuse heaped on the victims, and then using Scripture to justify it, they are forgetting that the victims are real people. They are souls who are hurting and in many cases in mortal danger. Their view and use of Scripture harms those very people that God loves so dearly, and His name is being used to justify it!

    Scripture is more than just written rules, as it is impossible to write rules for everything over the space of several thousand years. Embedded within those words and rules are principles that can guide us and when you look at the entirety of Scripture, the nature and character of God, then some of the harder passages become a bit easier. When we look at how our favorite interpretation impacts people, sometimes we have to change that interpration because we find that it violates God’s very nature. It hurts the innocent.

    And, as Jeff said, we need to be humble enough to simply say we don’t understand.

    • Remedy

      Exactly Wendell! This post is very insightful. Usually when we Christians think of lawlessness, we think of license to do any old thing our lustful hearts desire. But, when spoken in context of violating God’s laws about love, relationships, marriage and principles of how to love our neighbors as ourselves, it really spotlights a whole new group of lawless people. And they are often the ones who seem so pious and dedicated to Christ…..yet in a twisted way declare things to be truth and God’s will that violate countless Scripture verses and principles of living.

      Thank you for this very enlightening post!!

  3. I enjoyed this article. I will also point out though, that I have also seen deceivers use the opposite angle, that you will never understand scriptures studying for yourself and you need an “expert” to interpret them for you, to gain control, either intentionally or subconsciously. My ex-fiancee was for years involved with Berachah Church in Houston, and more specifically very consumed by the teachings of its long-time pastor “Colonel” R.B. Thieme. Do a google search on those names for more info. That guy had a lot of very bizarre doctrines that he claimed were biblical, such as each Christian has one “right pastor.” He billed himself as an expert in Greek and in theology, and his books were full of bizarre algebraic formulas that he claimed shed light on the nature of God. It’s like if you study his teachings you are somehow spiritually superior to us “ordinary” Christians. Whenever I would challenge my ex-fiancee regarding biblical doctrine, if what I suggested disagreed with or was not validated by “the colonel” as she affectionately called him, we would hit a wall. I think it’s self-explanatory that that was one contribution to my ending that relationship one year ago yesterday.

    • Jeff Crippen

      Clarke – Oh yeah, the Colonel! R.B. Thieme. That guy’s teachings have been around a long time. I don’t remember if he is still alive or not but you are right – these are types to steer way clear of. We had one in Portland, OR years back – “Brother Vern” if I recall. In dealing with his devotees, I hit that very same wall.

      • No, he died in 2009, I think. His son Bobby took over as pastor of that church, and he pretty much teaches the same stuff.

    • A modern form of gnosticism for sure!

      • Kay Jay

        Ha! That’s a name I haven’t thought of in a while! I attended Berachah for a year or two as a child and came to a saving knowledge of Christ there; but thankfully, the Lord moved our family far away shortly thereafter. Even then, whaddya know, there were “Thieme-ites” in the vicinity and my parents were involved in tape classes, Greek studies, etc. In the early 70’s the fallout from this “ministry” was becoming widespread and profound (Right-Man-Right-Woman teaching, etc.), and I’m sure it had an affect on our family as well. Praise God that He is Who He Is!! He never lets go of us if we truly belong to Him. My condolences to Clarke…there are some people who seem to need to follow a man rather than the living God, which in my mind is a form of unbelief.

    • Thank you, Clarke. I’d never heard of R B Thieme, maybe because I’m in Australia. But he sure sounds awful. I’m glad you didn’t yoke yourself in marriage to that woman who was so caught up in his false teaching. Congratulations on your one-year-free anniversary!

  4. Karen

    Excellent post Jeff. Thank-you for the warning.

  5. Shane J

    Barbara, his influence is out there in Aust also.
    You just have to know the group-language, to identify an adherent.

    • Thanks Shane J. 🙂
      If you have time, would you kindly share with me and our readers some of the ‘code’ — the group language that would help me recognise R B Thieme adherents?

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