The awful lie of the Jesus Hermeneutic

6 minute read

Over the past few weeks I’ve been figuratively cleaning off the bottoms of my shoes after stepping into multiple controversies with people who seem to be following different gospels than my own. One of these systems is held by many of the twenty- and thirty-somethings I come in contact with. These younger Christians try to take the moral high ground. They’ve been deceived.

The Jesus Hermeneutic is a learned heresy. Two of the wolves behind it are the false teachers Jim Wallis and Tony Compolo.

Red Letter Christians

Red Letter Christians is a radical movement aimed at the political and social overthrow of evangelical Christianity. Here’s how Tony Compolo describes it:

We are evangelicals who are troubled by what is happening to poor people in America; who are disturbed over environmental policies that are contributing to global warming; who are dismayed over the increasing arrogance of power shown in our country’s militarism; who are outraged because government funding is being reduced for schools where students, often from impoverished and dysfunctional homes, are testing poorly; who are upset with the fact that of the 22 industrialized nations America is next to last in the proportion of its national budget (less than two-tenths of 1 percent) that is designated to help the poor of third-world countries; and who are broken-hearted over discrimination against women, people of color, and those who suffer because of their sexual orientation.[^31dd29c6]

The social issues Compolo raises are real and significant. But the true gospel is not political. Jesus said clearly, My kingdom is not of this world (John 18.36).

Compolo admits his movement is actually cloaked progressive liberalism:

Because being evangelical is usually synonymous with being Republican in the popular mind, and calling ourselves “progressive” might be taken as a value judgment by those who do share our views, we decided not to call ourselves “progressive evangelicals.” We came up with a new name: Red-Letter Christians.[^24ed5d7d]

Gandhian non-violence

My latest run-in with a proponent of this pseudo-Christian political radicalism occurred in the comment section of Winging it. Josh correctly and succinctly defines the Jesus Hermeneutic with these words:

"Jesus teaching carries more weight than other teachings in the Bible." (Josh - op cit)

If you take a moment to think about this, you will start to see how this method of Biblical interpretation does violence to what Christians and the Christian church have understood about God and ethics for two millenia. First of all it denies the hermeneutic principle of Scripture interprets Scripture. Secondly (as LPC has pointed out), all the words of the 66 books of the Bible are Jesus’ words.

Josh’s moral umbrage against Christians who believe it’s just to defend the weak and powerless aligns perfectly with Campolo’s Gandhian agenda:

In those red letters...He calls us to be merciful, which has strong implications for how we think about capital punishment. When Jesus tells us to love our enemies, he probably means we shouldn’t kill them...Figuring out just how to relate those radical red letters in the Bible to the complex issues in the modern world will be difficult, but that’s what we’ll try to do. Gandhi once said that everybody in the world knows what Jesus was teaching in those verses - except Christians! We will try to prove him wrong.[^e87461e2]

Notice how Campolo cleverly misleads his audience by confusing the governmental responsibility to uphold justice and punish crime with the behaviors of individual Christians. He also creates a false dichotomy between love and all the other virtues commended by our Lord.

As an aside we should ask ourselves how much the devoted Hindu and anti-Christian Gandhi really has to teach us. Just because the world upholds him as a hero does not mean that he should be a moral light to you and I. This man who rejected the salvation offered by Jesus Christ slept naked with 13 year old girls to practice his ability to resist sexual temptation. Gandhi has no part in defining how the Bible should be interpreted.

The social gospel is no gospel at all

A hundred years ago the social gospel ran roughshod over the American Protestant churches. Christians from many streams left their denominations in rejection of this false gospel. And here it is returned to suck in a whole new generation of the deceived. I bet you’ve heard one or more of these ideas in the so-called neo-evangelical church:

  • The government is violating God’s will when it puts murderers to death.

  • Jesus was a radical.

  • Christians are called to reform the world.

  • Non-violence is the supreme morality.

  • God’s nature is only love.

  • If you’re not feeding the poor, clothing the homeless, etc, you are no real Christian.

Etcetera. Do you notice the biggest social evils specifically called out in the Bible - sodomy, religious apostasy (you are a little god) and child sacrifice (abortion) - are conspicuously missing? Nowhere is the true nature of this false gospel more apparent. These three evils are explicitly defended or at the very least ignored by the red-letter followers of the Jesus Hermeneutic. This is no coincidence.

Jim Wallis’s reasoning for the Jesus Hermeneutic

Jim Wallis may be right that large portions of the visible church don’t agree with Biblical teachings. But his solution is not to bring people back to the Scriptures, but to sever the parts he doesn’t like. Which includes the Old Testament and the writings of the Apostle Paul.

We have a problem. Most people have the idea, as crazy as it may seem, that Christians and the church are supposed to stand for the same things that Jesus did...The truth is that there are many people who like the “red letter stuff,” and many of them are not even Christians...[^3daa5cef]

You shouldn’t be surprised to learn that the creators of the Jesus Hermeneutic and Red Letter Christians are ecstatic in their love for the Emergent Church:

This issue includes a section of Brian McLaren’s new book, The Secret Message of Jesus—a message often kept secret even by the churches themselves and utterly disguised by many of our television evangelists who seem to preach a different gospel. Brian is the spiritual leader of a new movement called the “emergent church,” which is drawing a generation raised in the churches back to Jesus and attracting many outside the religious community to a Jesus they never heard about from the churches. He knows that people intuitively recognize that Jesus’ message of God’s kingdom—a new world of compassion, justice, integrity, and peace—is the good news they’ve been searching and waiting for.[^a2e48a7f]

Wallis is indirectly speaking the truth. His is another gospel at war not only with other false versions of Christianity like those of the televangelists, but most importantly at war with the true gospel of Jesus Christ. Our Lord’s warning and curse of Revelation 22.18-19 applies, no matter how glibly Josh and those caught up in this movement deny it. Don’t take my word for it. Read it for yourself. It’s a red-letter passage. And it’s a fearful curse from our Lord.

Apostate teachers rarely admit their hatred of the real Jesus as Jim Wallis has here. I encourage you to read his whole sorry statement: Red letter Christians: Somehow Jesus has survived even the church.

Conclusion

If only this were the only apostate movement striking hammers at the foundations of the beleaguered church of Jesus Christ. Fortunately God has comforted us with his promise which can never be broken:

…upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. (Matthew 16:18)

Where have you come across this Jesus Hermeneutic/ Red-Letter Christians? Please share your personal experiences. They are very helpful to others.

Let’s pray that all of those who have unknowingly been caught up in this false gospel will see the error, renounce it and separate themselves.

Reference

Stan approaches the Jesus Hermeneutic from a different perspective. You can read his post here: The Jesus Hermeneutic

Originally published at: Comfort for Christians

Comments

Comments

Excellent post! wow. I could probably do an entire series of posts based on a proper response to your work here. Allow me to hit a few points that popped to mind; Tony Compolo, Brian McLaren, Jim Wallace, of course theyre wild about the Emergent Church - they built it using the horrible The Message perVersion of the bible as their main tool. Watch “Wide Is The Gate” volume 1 to get a good perspective on the post modern nightmare thats attempting to take over the church. And to get a good perspective on The Message just read Psalm 1 in a real bible and compare it side by side with The Mess…age. Of course sodomy, apostasy, and child sacrifice are not mentioned as evils in the social gospel, those are the sacraments of the social gospel. Using any quote from from any pagan, including Gandhi, is an utterly ridiculous way to base a “Christian” theology. Whats wrong with quoting God? And dont forget, Gandhi said “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians.” How would you like it if someone told you “I like you, but your wife is a hag” Would you base anything in your life on what that man just said? Personally I feel sorry for Red Letter “Christians”, they follow Christ because theyre told to, and for no other reason. Without ALL the letters they have no idea of why Christ came to us, they know nothing of the fall, of the suffering, of the promises made, they know nothing of the prophesies fulfilled by Jesus Christ. My personal guess as to why so many member of the “Christian” left are anti-semitic is because theyve never prayerfully read Ephesians (and lets face it, if they actually read Romans 1 would they hold the same views they now have?) Poor Josh, I maintain my opinion of him: hes confused. I feel sorry for him; Being a Red Letter “Christian” he will never know the joy and wonder of identifying a Christophany, by turning his back on the God breath explanative epistles he will never know the depth of love God has for us. How can Josh love someone he refuses to learn about? As for dealing with Red Letter “Christians”, I wrote about it here: http://wideawakechristian.blogspot.com/2015/06/red-letter-christians-denial-in-new-age.html

What a great article! I read the nonsense Josh was spouting at Stans, and figured he was too deeply entrenched to even consider that he might be in error. We met some of these types during the 12 years we had a street ministry in Iowa City. Most of these types were college students who had already been fed staunch liberalism from their professors, and the “red letter” teaching just supported their accepted (brainwashed) world view. These people are really difficult to reach with the truth.

Hi Susan and thanks for your comment. There but for the grace of God go I. The deception around us is almost strong enough to deceive the very elect. Its terrifying to me to see it. Im comforted only by Gods promise: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no manis able to pluck them out of my Fathers hand. (John 10:28-29) Praise be to him. Alec

Great post! Those wolves are the worst. My standard reply to them:”Red letter Christians” tip their hands at their foundational error. Jesus is God and is in agreement with all of scripture. He quoted the Old Testament extensively, and referred to its most controversial elements without apology: Sodom & Gomorrah, Adam and Eve, Noah, Jonah, etc. And Jesus didnt hand-write the Gospels. They names had some eyewitness accounts and some reliable second-hand accounts, just like the epistles. And all were inspired by God. The “red letter” Christians are nearly always false teachers who pretend that the only words of the Bible that really matter are direct quotes of Jesus (i.e., the words that are printed in red in some Bibles). Their logic fails on many levels, and they cant even get their own pet verses right. If they were the least bit consistent theyd agree with Jesus “red letters” that say you should live on all the letters. Matthew 4:4 But he answered, “It is written, “ ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’ ” Got that, wolves? The red letters say to live on all the letters. Why dont you obey that simple teaching? The “red letters” crowd is full of nonsensical hypocrites. Black Letters Matter!

Good post Alec. I didnt know that much details of Ghandi that was mentioned here. Im always weary of people putting up on a pedal stool some non-Christian on par with Jesus. Always a sign that things are going to go on a wrong direction…

Hi Doug, Learned a lot from what youve said. Thank you. Ive never cracked open “The Message” or any of the loosey-goosey (dynamic) translations. It scares me that translators have so little fear of God that they would play fast and loose with his words. Just because this has been going on since 1870 or so doesnt mean it is any less horrifying to watch. This is a brilliant insight youve made: Of course sodomy, apostasy, and child sacrifice are not mentioned as evils in the social gospel, those are the sacraments of the social gospel. Sacraments. How terrible, yet quite right. Just what the enemy might be expected to place at the heart of his imitation faith. And this is quite something: , Gandhi said “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians.” Thank you for your firm stance. Its a comfort. Alec

Hi Glenn, Knowing your strength in working with many different types of people, that is particularly sad to hear that you consider this one of the more difficult falsehoods to cut through. Perhaps the best we can do is to just quote the word and let the Holy Spirit work as he will (Isaiah 55.11). Alec

EM, Black Letters Matter! Quite :) Your use of Matthew 4.4 neatly and precisely cuts through what youve called correctly their “failing logic”. Have you ever asked a “red letter” person to comment on it? I can imagine them throwing it out with their blanket denial that, “only Jesus words actually proceed out of the mouth of God” or something of that sort. Yet, Jesus did say this as well as confirming the historicity and truth of Sodom & Gomorrah, Adam and Eve, Noah, Jonah, etc. as youve said. Going over these things may not convince any of them, but it sure is helpful to me and those of us who are left speechless at the boldness of these wrongheaded who nonetheless claim the name of Christ. Always appreciate your insights. Thank you. Alec

Youve got that right, Jim. I had always heard so much recommending the “high ethics” of Gandhi. Thats a lesson to question everything the non-believing world holds forth as morally right and good. Alec

People today who feel that Christians are obligated to go out and take over the world for Christ and build a “Christianized” society may be sincere and oh so politically correct, but they need to be reminded of one thing: the next kingdom on the horizon is the kingdom of the Antichrist…not the kingdom of Christ. Go read the book of Daniel. Our job is to tell people that Christ died to save lost sinners, not to reform a liberal society. Oh, and these Red Letter folks would do well to direct their attention to 2 Timothy 3:16 that says: “<ALL!!!> scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” Emphasis added.

Hi Greg, Good points. Thanks for your comment. Just took a look at your website - look forward to perusing more tomorrow. Alec

Where do I start? “In the volume of the book it is written of me” “…and beginning with Moses and all the prophets…” on the Emmaus Road Isaiah 53 explained by Philip to the Ethiopian eunuch Psalm 22 Genesis 3:16 And so, so much more. The entire Bible is about Jesus and His gospel. Thats what people need to know.

The straw-man I see a lot of people arguing against (at least in my case), is that I dont believe the “Black letters matter”. Let me set the record straight. I do. I also agree that sodomy, abortion (this is not child sacrifice), and religious apostasy (apparently I am guilty of this) are wrong. Maybe that doesnt make me a “Red letter Christian” in the sense you mean in this post. The death penalty does cause me to pause, but I believe that Governments are free to do what best keeps their people safe and free. This is by no means Christian though. Jesus was pretty radical to the Jews of his time. He changed a lot of their practices. He didnt contradict the Bible, but he did call the Pharisees to re-examine their faith. He also upset the power system they were a part of. I believe that God wants to use Christians to reach the world.(See Great Commission) So yeah I guess I believe, Christians are called to reform the world. I would not say that non-violence is the supreme morality, but I do believe that it is hard to love your enemy while you are killing them. All of Gods attributes can only be known out of a correct understanding of Gods love. God IS Love. This is the only attribute that is attributed to define God. God is just, but we can only understand Gods justice as an aspect of his Love. If you’re not feeding the poor, clothing the homeless, etc, you are no real Christian. Finally, serving the poor, orphan, and widow does not make you a Christian. Christ empowers us to serve these people, and it is a part of true Christian charity. Isnt it possible to value the moral truths against sodomy, abortion, and apostasy while also opposing violence in the name of Christ, emphasizing the service of the least of these, and seeing God as love? After all the black letters state that God is love too… 1 John 4:8

Hi Robin, The Jesus Hermeneutic says something different. What you are saying is exactly correct. Alec

Hi Josh, Perhaps you really are not a “Red Letter Christian”. Good! Then you are just unclear in some of the things you have said. You also seem to ignore the “Scripture interprets Scripture” rule. Therefore your conception of God and his attributes differs from mine. We will not be able to come to an agreement. Abortion is child sacrifice. It is getting rid of inconvenient births for the economic benefit or the convenience of the parents. But you have stated your disagreement with this. Let it go at that. As I said before, it matters little what I or anyone else thinks of your relationship to God. If you do not believe you are apostate, then you shouldnt be concerned with what I or anyone else thinks. But, if you or anyone else states publicly in a comment or elsewhere things which go contrary to an orthodox understanding of theology or doctrine, then it is perfectly correct to call out the error. Finally, sodomy, abortion and apostasy have nothing to do with your arguments against violence. The first three are explicitly condemned throughout the Bible. But this particular subject is concluded. You keep repeating certain statements that you have written in comments here and on other blogs. If they come up again, I will be forced to edit them in accordance to the new commenting rules. Please read them. Alec

Just saying that abortion isnt child sacrifice doesnt make it so, the facts dont back you up. Abortion IS considered child sacrifice to many Wiccans and Satanists. I find your statement “its hard to love your enemy while you are killing them” flippant. I pray you never have or never will be in a position to have to defend your loved ones from someone that you may be good friends with under different circumstances. I trained for 20 years to do just that, and yes, I did speak with my targets (on amateur radio) enjoying our conversations immensely and the pain and sadness that caused was only healed by Jesus. You need to take this quote to heart next time you feel the urge to flippancy “The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.” - G.K. Chesterton I would love to see your biblical verse that says Christians are called to reform the world, because the bible tells us to set an example and to spread the Gospel. We are the light of the world, not the benign dictators. Mostly Im not sure where you get the misconception that all of God’s attributes can only be known out of a correct understanding of God’s love. It is true that He is love but the only attribute that is attributed to define God is Holiness. If you cant understand that, then theres no way you can understand anything about the myriad of His other attributes including love. When something is repeated in the bible its repeated so you will pay attention. The more its repeated the more important it is. When something is repeated three times, that is when God is shouting at us. Revelation 4:8 - Holy Holy Holy is THE LORD GOD. Isaiah 6:3 Holy, Holy, Holy, is the LORD of hosts. These repetitions of Holy Holy Holy is called the trihagion expressing with force and passion the truth of the supreme holiness of God, that essential characteristic which expresses His awesome and majestic nature. God’s holiness is more than just His perfection or sinless purity; it is the essence of His “other-ness,” His transcendence. God’s holiness embodies the mystery of His awesomeness and causes us to gaze in wonder at Him as we begin to comprehend just a little of His majesty. Over and over in the bible it says He is Holy: 1 Peter 1:16 YOU SHALL BE HOLY, FOR I AM HOLY. Psalm 22:3 You are holy, Isaiah 57:15 For thus says the high and exalted One Who lives forever, whose name is Holy Job 6:10 I have not denied the words of the Holy One Psalm 71:22 O Holy One of Israel. Isaiah 43:15 I am the LORD, your Holy One John 17:11 I come to You Holy Father 1 Samuel 2:2 There is no one holy like the LORD Exodus 15:11 Who is like You, majestic in holiness Psalm 77:13 Your way, O God, is holy; What god is great like our God? Isaiah 40:25 To whom then will you liken Me That I would be his equal?” says the Holy One Revelation 15:4 You alone are holy 1 Chronicles 16:35 To give thanks to Your holy name Psalm 33:21 Because we trust in His holy name Psalm 97:12 And give thanks to His holy name Luke 1:49 And holy is His name Isaiah 5:16 And the holy God will show Himself holy in righteousness Psalm 99:5 Exalt the LORD our God And worship at His footstool; Holy is He Leviticus 19:2 You shall be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy In the bible “God is love” appears only twice, both times in 1 John, nowhere else in the bible. Why? Because His glorious attribute of Holiness far exceeds all other attributes including righteousness which is the most often repeated attribute but is never repeated three times. As I said before Josh, I dont think youre heretical or apostate, just confused. I truly do pray that you will fall under the tutelage of an elder that can untangle some of your conceptions

So much to reply to. But Ill just hit one. GOD instituted Capital Punishment for murder when Noah stepped off the boat. That law was for all people for all time. IF you think executing murderers is wrong, take it up with God. Oh, and how much can I love my neighbor if I stand by and watch her assaulted and raped when I have a gun and could blow the guy away before the assault goes to far. Evil is people who demand 100% non-violence, regardless of what God has said.

Like I said above, America can institute the death penalty and that is fine. That is the role of government. There is nothing Christian about the death penalty, just like there is nothing Christian about America. I never said to stand by and watch while your neighbor is raped. Seeking non-violence does not mean non-resistance.

Josh, God commanded the death penalty, ergo it IS as much Christian as any other command of God. Resistance in such situations is always going to include violence. By the way, people in the military defend YOUR right to such inane ideas all the while you condemn their violence against the people who would do YOU harm.

You are probably right, my comment was more flippant than it should have been. I apologize if this offended you or anyone else. It was not a personal attack on anyone that has made the protection of others their lifes work. I understand the sincere quote by Chesterton too, but I still see it as misguided. Can the military do the work of God? Sure. Is there anything Christian about the military? I dont think so. It is a function of government, and governments can be good and bad. In fact every government is good and bad to differing degrees. In America, in my opinion, we have typically been more good than bad, but we have done some atrocious things too. Countries are never the Kingdom of God, and thus we cant pledge allegiance to both. God is Love may only be exactly stated twice, but the passages about Gods love are far more numerous than two. Like the point I made about justice, Holiness must be understood as looking like Gods love. Not only that, Gods Love must also reflect his holiness. Gods love is mysterious and “other”, compared to our love. Gods love can be understood in relationship to his holiness.

Josh, God is also JUST, which people like you tend to forget. He has used militaries throughout history. Youll notice Jesus never condemned soldiers for performing their duties. It is not un-Christian to be in the military.

“He calls us to be merciful, which has strong implications for how we think about capital punishment.” Indeed it does. God, full of mercy and grace, so valued human life that He did not permit even an animal who had killed a man to live. Great, great post and comments. Sorry Im late to the party. Ive only heard of red letter Christians, but did not realize it had such a specific meaning.

Still going through some posts of yours. This wasnt one on which I had intended to leave a comment, but one thing stood out with which I find a conflict. Ill copy and paste an example here: “I would love to see your biblical verse that says Christians are called to reform the world, because the bible tells us to set an example and to spread the Gospel.” The above appeared in a comment from Doug Evans, and it has been echoed by others many times. Heres the problem, however: logically, should everyone set an example and spread the Gospel, and should all who see that example, hear that Gospel then be changed, has the world not been reformed? Particularly if those who have been changed also go forth setting good examples and spreading the Gospel? I would think so. Thus, the Bible does indeed tell us to reform the world by encouraging the spreading of the Gospel. I dont think that encouragement is given with no expectation that at least some will be properly affected. Do you?

Hi Art, So appreciate your weighing in on this topic. As youd probably agree, definitions are key. It seems that there are two broad ways that “reform the world” is understood. Definition A - held by some evangelicals and many Emergents: “Reform the world” means to use the government, business, media, and other forms of marketing and public relations (literally propaganda) to change society for “the better”. Partnerships (unionism) with people of other branches of Christianity and even other religious or non-religious streams are perfectly fine when done for the purpose of “advancing Christs kingdom”. Definition B Human beings and all human societies are corrupted by original sin. The only real “reforming of the world” takes place one person at a time through the means of grace - the Holy Spirit working through the Word of God. Proclaiming the gospel of salvation from sin through faith in the all-sufficient one-time sacrifice of Jesus Christ always changes the world through the irresistable power of God. Those who hear and believe through faith become sons and daughters of God. Those who refuse to hear and believe are hardened even more. God is sovereign. He raises us governments and rulers, corporate and megachurch leaders, and brings them down according to his purposes (Daniel 2.21, Romans 13.1). Ultimately this world will be destroyed by fire for the wicked unbelief of its people. To your points Jesus said clearly that his kingdom was not of this world (John 18.36). Even with the best of intentions, joining with people who reject Gods Word will not result in reforming the world for the better (2 Cor 6.14). Art said: Here’s the problem, however: logically, should everyone set an example and spread the Gospel, and should all who see that example, hear that Gospel then be changed, has the world not been reformed? First, everyone who hears the gospel preached or spoken, is changed. This is the power of Gods Word. A person either believes it - feeding their faith - or disbelieves it - feeding their unbelief. Gods word is always efficacious. No matter whether we see change or not, it is taking place at the deepest levels of every person, every time (Isaiah 55.11). Next, every true Christian is already an example, a living stone in the New Jerusalem, a temple of the Living God. In time, Christians do tend to spread the gospel in one way or another in obedience to the command of Christ. So a persons definition of “reform the world” will shape the Biblical answer. At least thats how I see it. Perhaps others will weigh in with other perspectives.

Yes, youre right, everyone should set an example and spread the Gospel, but youre a bit off base when you said …should everyone set an example and spread the Gospel, and should all who see that example, hear that Gospel then be changed… The problem with your statement is that you are assuming that everyone that hears the Gospel will be changed. This, sadly, is totally, biblically false. Only those that embrace the Holy Spirit will be changed, everyone else will reject the Good News 12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God, 13 which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words. 14 But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised. 1 Corinthians 2:12-14 In other words, we understand the Gospel not because of anything in this sin filled world, but with the tutelage of the Holy Spirit. To those who are not guided by the Holy Spirit the Gospel is utter nonsense. And sadly thats going to be the majority of the population, how do we know? “For many are called, but few are chosen.” (Matthew 22:14) This rejection of God and His word and the embracing of sin is called the “noetic effect of the fall” which I wrote about here: http://wideawakechristian.blogspot.com/2014/02/noetic-effects-of-fall-beginners-guide.html So, we know that the majority of the people we share the Gospel with are not going to be changed, many are going to be hostile to the Gospel, we are strangers in a strange world and the world hates us because we love Jesus. We have surrendered ourselves to God, while the world has surrendered itself to sin. But a few, a precious few, will listen and let the Holy Spirit convict them of Christs love. Those are the few we are looking for. Were not here to reform the world, were here to spread the Gospel and open a few doors for the Holy Spirit. God will reform the world in His own time, and its going to be spectacular.

“The problem with your statement is that you are assuming that everyone that hears the Gospel will be changed.” Actually, Im making no assumption at all. Im merely responding to the assertion that theres no Biblical support for the notion of trying to reform the world. That encouragement exists without regard to the success of it. But we are instruments of God if we are truly trying to live a Christian life. By purposely trying to spread the Gospel, we can be the means by which God calls others to Him, and that leads to reform to any extent that reformation of the world might happen. That were also taught that many will reject God, that teaching is irrelevant to our response regarding the encouragement to spread the Gospel.

Art, Im going to suggest that you are taking Dougs comment out of context. When he pointed out that we are not here to reform the world, the context, as I have understood him because I say the same thing, is that we are not called to promote a social gospel, we are not called to “Christianize” the world as with the NARs ideology. We are not called to make everyones morality conform to our morality. We are not called to reform the world into a Christian culture. All that is what the false teachers promote. But we are called to preach the gospel and for those who accept it, it will be THEM individually who will be reformed. So we care called to reform individuals, not the world. The world could be reformed as a whole only if the majority of the world were reformed as individuals.

Glenn - Thats exactly what Im saying. We are here to help save those capable of being saved, to point them in the right direction. Maybe Martial Art means that by reforming the world we love and aid everyone, including those that reject the word of God, which is the exact right thing to do. However I can find no biblical reference that we are to Reform the world as the NAR dominionists describe. The “Christian” Left actually has the right idea at their core, but theyve allowed their political ideology to become an idol and in the end are merely re-arranging deck chairs on the Titanic. As I see it, our job is to set an example and open up the opportunity of Salvation for everyone until the last person who can be saved is saved. Thats when God takes complete control and does it His way. The idea that we are to Reform the world, to convert everyone, is biblically impossible. Thats what the Book of Revelations says loud and clear.

Doug

I dont dispute any of what either of you are saying. I merely speak to the assertion that theres nothing in Scripture that suggests we reform the world. For that matter, I dont believe it actually says anything about reforming a single person. It tells us to spread the Gospel. My point is telling us to spread the Gospel is an implicit command to reform the world for acceptance of the Gospel will do just that. Whether every accepts the Gospel or not is another thing, as were taught not everyone will. So this, too, is not in dispute. Only what the Bible teaches with regard to reforming anyone or everyone is where I differ, because Im thinking in terms of what spreading the Gospel is likely to accomplish should everyone who hears it come to the Lord. It will reform the world, and therefore, the encouragement to spread the Gospel is one of reforming the world. Said another way, the command to spread the Gospel is an expectation of the result of doing so, which is a reformation.

Do any of us (Art, Doug, Glenn) believe that we can reform individuals or society? It seems like were in agreement that God saves those who believe the gospel. Hes doing the reforming, not us. We are only the messengers. Were also agreeing that we are commanded to spread the good news. The question seems to be if Art is right when he says: telling us to spread the Gospel is an implicit command to reform the world I would offer three possible cases where the gospel was delivered but the societies were not reformed. This makes it hard for me to see an implicit (or explicit) command to reform the world in the NT Scriptures.

  1. Noah, building the ark for 55 or more years before the flood in obedience to the Word of God, yet only 7 people other than Noah went on the ark with him out of all the other people who witnessed what he was doing. That society was not reformed.
  2. Lot, living in the midst of Sodom, recognized as "other" and saved by Gods direct intervention. That society was not reformed either.
  3. Jerusalem after the resurrection. Many Jewish people believed, but the society was destroyed in 70 ad.

As quoted earlier, Jesus himself denied that the Kingdom of God is of this world: Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence. (John 18:36) and even more strongly in Acts: When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? (7) And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power. (8) But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. (Acts 1:6-8) They asked if Jesus was going to change the political order. Jesus said it was not their business. Instead, they should just preach the gospel. Or am I misreading these things?

Well, when I say we are to reform individuals, I fully mean we are to preach the gospel, which itself will reform those who accept it. In this way society may be reformed if enough Christians are living in it. However, this will only happen in a minor way because non-Christians outnumber Christians exponentially, and always have. The world in the past at least had a fairly decent Judeo-Christian worldview, as can be seen in the various laws over the centuries, including laws about sexual morality. But the culture has long since left that worldview overall and it is not recoverable and will only get worse. SO, thinking that we can reform the world in any sense is silly. No, there is no “implicit” command to reform the world. It is impossible to do so.

Alec, With regard to the last passage: of what purpose is spreading the Gospel? Glenn and all, There is, it seems to me, a vast difference between “thinking” we can reform the world versus spreading the Gospel in the hope that we “might” reform the world. It is a similar expectation to working to increase ones wealth. We have dreams of the stars, but may only get as far as the moon, or even just the upper atmosphere. The extent to which we succeed isnt important. Its a destination/journey kinda thing. I dont believe Jesus encouraged them to spread the Gospel with no expectations. I dont think he was thinking, “Go do this. Nothing will come of it, but do it anyway.” You guys are focusing on the results. Im only dealing with the command and what it means when carried out. Spreading the Gospel is an act of trying to reform the world.