Half Truth and Full Circle, or Time Tripping With Pastor Y.

            The lively announcer often quoted two titles for Bullwinkle episodes.  It’s been done on other programs, too.  I thought I’d try it out here..

            One evening a couple of years ago I went to church with my family and heard a special speaker, a preacher from the East coast.  Ever wonder why they call them “special”?  But I digress.  To summarize Pastor Y.’s message, his main text was Heb. 4:2: “For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it.”  He preached an hour about how hearing the Word of God can save, sanctify, and separate us, and how we must mix hearing the Word with faith and not be like “them”. He clearly said the verse refers to “us” and “them”.  My mind flashed back to my days as a baby Christian attending a Baptist church, where I heard the same rhetoric.  After all, we, the “us”, are better than unbelievers and backsliders, right?  Doesn’t it say so right there in the Bible?  That’s the impression one gets.  That kind of thinking only leads to arrogance.

            But who really are “them”  in Heb. 4:2 anyway?  Didn’t Pastor Y. make it plain?  He absolutely did not!  The verse in its proper context, written to Jewish believers, warns them not to be like their unbelieving forefathers in the Wilderness after their exodus from Egypt.  Pastor Y. conveniently left that out altogether.  Having heard him before, I wasn’t surprised, just dismayed.  He only told half the truth.  Why didn’t he take all of five seconds to say who the “them” actually refers to.  Was that so hard to do?  Was he afraid of being seen as anti-Jewish?  He could have briefly explained the meaning of the verse in context, then gone on from there and preached the rest of his message, such as it was.  Why not put the verse in its proper context?  I’m convinced it’s misleading not to do so.  The bottom line is that Pastor Y. had his own agenda.

            I discussed my grievance over Pastor Y.’s preaching with my family after church.  My 16-year-old son approached me later to argue.  What did it matter about “Them”?  Weren’t the principles taught just as applicable?  I said Pastor Y. should have gone through a simple three step process—Observation, Interpretation, and Application.  What does the text say?  What does it mean?  Are there truths that apply to us today?  As I asked my son, if it doesn’t make any difference one way or another who “them” refers to, why not say who they are and be done with the matter?  Otherwise the whole counsel of God isn’t taught as it relates to the text at hand. 

            I went on to say that not explaining a simple point about Heb. 4:2 in that evening’s preaching is like telling a little white lie—it’s a half truth that can mislead.  Unlike 99% of the hearers who don’t know or care, I hate being lied to, misguided, or flat out deceived.  I said I had had my fill of that sort of preaching when I attended our hometown Presbyterian church as a boy.  I vocalized my contempt for such preaching many times in arguments with my own dad when I was my son’s age.  Then it hit me.  In a strange sort of way, I had come full circle.  There I was, disgusted with preachers for not giving the simple truths of Scriptures and disgusted with people for settling for Twinkies when they could have steak.  First it was with my dad; now, it was with my son.  An old Carpenter’s song came to mind, which I’ll take liberties to slightly reword:  “I know I ask perfection of a quite imperfect world, and I’m fool enough to think that’s what I’ll find.”

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Explore posts in the same categories: Bible Study, Christian Life, Thoughts from John

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