The bible '4 men'

I saw this on a coffee table at a church. It set me off a little. Allow me to explain why

Sex, money and power. Can you see it?

‘Sexcess’, ‘learn to prosper’, ‘lists for getting ahead’

Maybe you might see these phrases on Rolling Stone or FHM. But on a Bible?

Perhaps you don’t really see what is wrong with this picture. Surly God wants me to be in a happy relationship? Surly he wants me to have enough money and be a leader in my business?

The issue for me is this: The lifestyle portrayed on the front of this magazine/new testament is a far cry from the lifestyle portrayed in it’s pages. I mean, if you were looking to pick up this book for tips on how to get a woman to sleep with you, you’d be sorely disappointed when you read the words of Jesus which say:

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’  But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Matthew 5:27-28)

Or maybe you want to be rich? Of course the bible can help! Tragically, again, our reader is going to be dissapointed:

“I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” (Matthew 19:24)

As for ‘getting ahead’? Pretty sure the bible isn’t going to be much help there. Paul writes a wonderful passage about what the Christian’s attitude should me, modeled after Jesus:

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
(Philippians 2:5-11)

The problem with this example of propaganda evangelistic literature is that it is not an accurate portrayal of the life, work and message of Jesus. The cover promises things which supposedly appeal to your average non-christian male, as if to say that God is fine with womanising, greed and power-hoarding. The Jesus-way contained in the New Testament challenges every part of what masculinity has come to mean in our culture. Men are called to take the role of a servant, like Jesus. To willingly give up their power and status. Men are to live generously. Men are to honour and respect women.

This cover tells men they can be winners! But Jesus was a loser. And his followers were, too. They lost. They lost their families, their livelihoods and their lives. I find it offensive, even a cheapening of the Gospel to make these false promises about what the Bible teaches.

What do you think? Did you ever own one of these types of New Testaments? What promises did yours make?

Advertisements

20 Comments

Add yours →

  1. This cover tells men they can be winners! But Jesus was a loser. And his followers were, too. They lost. They lost their families, their livelihoods and their lives. I find it offensive, even a cheapening of the Gospel to make these false promises about what the Bible teaches ……..

    Do you really believe this – or is it me misinterpreting what you say – please explain to me how Jesus and his followers were losers?

    In my new testament (which actually bears a remarkable resemblance to the coffee table book above because it contains a miriad of amazing promises – if you want the best sex ever – find out God’s way, if you want to prosper in all you do – find out God’s way, if you want to be healthy – find out God’s way – if you want to be truly whole – to experience wholeness in all of your life in the here and now – find out God’s way.

    Does your new testament not contain any of these promises? Would you like texts?

    I am actually offended that you can write that Jesus was a loser – even if you are trying to be clever. Jesus is a winner ALL THE WAY – there is nothing he “lost” that he didn’t actually willingly knowingly and of his own free will and volition voluntarily give up – the same goes for his disciples – being a living sacrifice means chosing to give up – nothing was “taken away” from Jesus – he gave it up – nothing is taken away from us disciples (except hallelujah our sin nature) we choose to give it up – BIG difference.

    I struggle with your downgrading of the gospel – where is the Good News? What you quote may be sometimes scriptural “truths” but this isn’t the good news of the gospel Paul preached and claimed as his. If the message you preach doesn’t cause someone to say Wow whats the catch (as in Romans 6 v 1) then I suggest you haven’t preached the gospel?

    Like

  2. I have to agree with Beverly that Jesus way is the Winning way and that God’s ways for fulfilment in him and in life, whatever aspect are the best ways, that living God’s way is the good news preached in the new testament but…

    I also totally agree that the cover of that particular new testament is ostensibly miss-selling what’s inside.

    Maybe the publishers are just trying to be clever to get more readers or contentious?? But I think that Beverley’s points are not necessarily always going to be the initial response to reading the new testament. Without any guidance, quite a few people reading the bible will see it as a set of restrictive rules, it’s only with a much more mature understanding and a bit more faith that we get to the ‘choosing to give up the immediate gratification for eternal satisfaction’ and ‘the relationship with God being the thing we crave most’ kind of attitudes. It takes a while to get there and I don’t think that ‘marketing’ a bible like they have on this front cover is going to help. I think it appeals to the ‘prosperity gospel’ types and possibly obfuscates the message in the pages.

    Like

  3. Well said Alex. My only other comment would be that I might be prepared to take the risk that marketing a bible like this may indeed appeal to the “prosperity gospel” types – but if it appeals to anyone who has not already engaged in the bible then it can only be a good thing. The bible tells us the Holy Spirit will bring to remembrance ……. well He can’t bring to remembrance if we haven’t read it in the first place!! (a good message for all of us come to that!!)

    Like

  4. Unfortunately this just seems to be another way of marketing God’s Word, disgraceful. It does not surprise me that the Glory of God is not what attracts people but what God can do for us, eh? I think it is obvious what you are suggesting, in human terms Christ and His disciples were losers! But we know that’s not the end of it! Beverly I know it may seem foolish to you but people can and do suffer for Christ. You may have a nice cosy western life (I do too) and credit it to yourself as righteousness, but there are people in this world, genuine Christian people who are suffering for His name sake. If you cannot see this then quite frankly you are deceived. God has allowed the world to fall, he allows us to suffer in order to refine us. The end is His glory not our satisfaction, and the latter is a gracious gift not a reward. Purporting a health and wealth Gospel does nothing to ‘win’ converts except to the false idol of our own imaginings. Please keep reading Romans, maybe it will become clear… You seriously need to address what you believe, we all as Christians are plucked from the fire but you are forfeiting a true understanding of the Grace that is Christ.
    I know it is only God the Spirit who will renew your mind and also convince you of your weakness (we are all weak) but I will keep you in my prayers.

    Like

  5. The point I was trying to make was that Jesus, and the Christian way written within the pages of scripture is not a means to gain power, money and success in this life. I was referring to Jesus and the disciples as losers because, in a pragmatic sense, they are. Philippians 2 tells us that Jesus became a slave and gave his life up. That’s not exactly victorious, is it?

    The mystery of the Gospel is that this defeat, this weakness is counted as strength in God’s economy.

    I would contest the idea that I was downgrading the Gospel. My concern is to show Christ to be magnificent. Not as giver of gifts, or remover of obstacles but as the Risen Son of God.

    Like

  6. Nathan – please show me exactly in the bible where it tells us that …… God has allowed the world to fall, he allows us to suffer in order to refine us. I understood Romans (chapter 8) to say NO CONDEMNATION ….. – please define “he allows us to suffer” in the light of NO CONDEMNATION.

    I look forward to reading the passage you feel shows that he is allowing us to suffer ……. (please don’t bother quoting the old red herring that calvinists love in Romans 9 – this passage is so often used and abused and quoted out of context.

    For your information I have read, learned, understood, and delivered bible studies on the book of Romans so I have made it to the end and it is the most fantastic wonderful glorious book about Grace – and what grace means! Sadly do I detect from your writings that you are of a calvinistic persuasion?

    I am well aware of the suffering of Christians throughtout the world – and I am also well aware of the daily (if not hourly) miracles that are happening to Christians in these very same parts of the world. And I question your definition of suffering – I believe that anyone seeking to do God’s will will find themselves in tribulation – regardless whether they are in the west or elsewhere in the world.

    Please instruct me as to what the Grace that is Christ is according to you. And while you are there can you please let me know whether you believe that it contains exactly the same blessings God promised to the Israelites (in deuteronomy 28) or whether those blessing were just for the Israelites and there is a separate list of blessing for Christians. Or indeed – if I read your writings – it sounds like you don’t consider there to be any blessing for Christians beyond forgiveness of sin and probably resurrection from the dead.

    Ian I would ask you the same question as I asked Nathan – given your quote about the Christian way – amd I to assume that you too believe that the blessings in the old testament are no longer relevant and no longer exist as a promise to God’s people? If this is your point of view – biblical justification to support this view woudl be appreciated.

    I think you are missing the point – yes Jesus became a slave – yes he gave his life up but of course it was victorious – a) because he was victorious in choosing to do so out of his own free will and b) because he won the victory for us by doing this. Remember the bond slaves – they were officially free men who chose to remain a slave – that is what Paul describes himself as in Romans – a willing slave – a voluntary slave – that’s what Jesus was. No one made Jesus become a slave – he chose to do it.

    Please explain how calling Jesus a loser shows Christ to be magnificent. How on earth would any non-christian reading your blog get that Jesus is magnificent by you calling him a loser?

    Anyway thank you for keeping me in your prayers – for your information the glory of God is my only reason for being – I attempt to be a living sacrifice (Romans 12 v 1 & 2 – see I did get to the end of Romans!!) – I love God more than life itself – I seek to worship Him and serve Him and glorify Him in all I do (I don’t always get it right – but I know from His word that He loves me anyway). However I also understand and see very very clearly from scripture that God wants to bless me – and actually it’s quite an insult to God to say yes please I’ll take the forgiveness of sins and the resurrection body but no thanks to the blessings you want to give me in this life. Grace is a free gift freely given – bit churlish of one to say no thanks to parts of it don’t you think?

    Like

  7. Beverly, this is why you have to start thinking about what you write. Ben has already highlighted your shocking use of logic, enough to make Aristotle turn in his grave, so I shouldn’t assume you would follow what I am about to write either. No doubt it is sinful of me to invoke such a name because we all know God hates syllogisms, right? (Ben I know you’re itching to comment!) Anyway, let’s give it a go…
    I’m going to start with a presumption that you would agree probably agree with – ‘God is the author of all things.’
    A few verses for you to mull over because we all know how you like to ignore axiomatic references.

    1 Chronicles 29:11 11 Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours. Yours is the kingdom, O Lord, and you are exalted as head above all. Psalm 115:3 3 Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases. Daniel 4:35 35 all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, and he does according to his will among the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand or say to him, “What have you done?” 1 Timothy 6:15 15 which he will display at the proper time—he who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, Revelation 4:11 11 “Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.” Proverbs 16:4 4 The Lord has made everything for its purpose, even the wicked for the day of trouble. Deuteronomy 32:39 39 “ ‘See now that I, even I, am he, and there is no god beside me; I kill and I make alive; I wound and I heal; and there is none that can deliver out of my hand. Exodus 4:11 11 Then the Lord said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, 2 Kings 17:25 25 And at the beginning of their dwelling there, they did not fear the Lord. Therefore the Lord sent lions among them, which killed some of them.the Lord? 2 Samuel 10:12 12 Be of good courage, and let us be courageous for our people, and for the cities of our God, and may the Lord do what seems good to him.” Psalm 33:9 9 For he spoke, and it came to be; he commanded, and it stood firm. Psalm 103:19 19 The Lord has established his throne in the heavens, and his kingdom rules over all. Isaiah 14:27 27 For the Lord of hosts has purposed, and who will annul it? His hand is stretched out, and who will turn it back? Isaiah 46:9 9 remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, 1 Samuel 2:6 6 The Lord kills and brings to life; he brings down to Sheol and raises up. Amos 3:6 6 Is a trumpet blown in a city, and the people are not afraid? Does disaster come to a city, unless the Lord has done it? Isaiah 45:5-10 I am the LORD, and there is no other, besides me there is no God; I equip you, though you do not know me, 6 that people may know, from the rising of the sun and from the west, that there is none besides me; I am the LORD, and there is no other. 7 I form light and create darkness, I make well-being and create calamity, I am the LORD, who does all these things. 8 “Shower, O heavens, from above, and let the clouds rain down righteousness; let the earth open, that salvation and righteousness may bear fruit; let the earth cause them both to sprout; I the LORD have created it. 9 “Woe to him who strives with him who formed him, a pot among earthen pots! Does the clay say to him who forms it, ‘What are you making?’ or ‘Your work has no handles’? 10 Woe to him who says to a father, ‘What are you begetting?’ or to a woman, ‘With what are you in labor?'”

    Sorry I got carried away, but I really struggled to find verses. How can something happen without God, the burden is on you? Please don’t insult your own intelligence and stop trying to get God off the hook. In case you haven’t noticed, he doesn’t need defending! I may not be able to tell you the reason for why God allowed the world fall, but the very fact that is has, insists that God must have allowed it. It is inescapable unless the god you believe in lacks a few intrinsic characteristics…

    With regard to being allowed to suffer, It beggars belief how you overlooked the passages below! I am not quite sure what your reference to the beginning of Romans 8 has to bear on what is being said. I will say it again, continue reading Romans in context and the message will become clear. You seem to be hearing what I’m not saying. Yes, Ian does say that time and time again and that is because you misunderstand and misrepresent time and time again! You question my definition of suffering? I hope anyone reading this is as puzzled as I am. Pick up a dictionary, Beverly, and please construct a coherent argument!

    2 Timothy 2:8-10 8Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David,as preached in my gospel, 9(for which I am suffering, bound with chains as a criminal. But the word of God is not bound! 10Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory. 1 Peter 3:13-17 13Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good? 1 But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, 15but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, 16 having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. 17For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil. 2 Corinthians 4:8-12 8We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; 9persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; 10 always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. 11For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. 12So death is at work in us, but life in you. 2 Corinthians 1:3-5 3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 5For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.2 Corinthians 12:7 7So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited.
    Hebrews 12:5 5And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons?

 “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord,
 nor be weary when reproved by him. 1 Peter 1:6-7
”Now for a little while you may have to suffer various trials, so that the genuineness of your faith, more precious than gold, which though perishable is tested by fire, may redound to praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. James 1:2-4 2 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, 3for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. Psalm 32:3-5 3For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away
 through my groaning all day long.
4For day and night your hand was heavy upon me;
 my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer.
    5I acknowledged my sin to you,
 and I did not cover my iniquity;
I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD,”
 and you forgave the iniquity of my sin. Psalm 119:67 67 Before I was afflicted I went astray,
 but now I keep your word.
    Hebrews 5:5-11 5 So also Christ did not exalt himself to be made a high priest, but was appointed by him who said to him,

 “You are my Son,
 today I have begotten you”;
    6as he says also in another place,

 “You are a priest forever,
 after the order of Melchizedek.”
    7In the days of his flesh, Jesus] offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence. 8Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered. 9And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him, 10being designated by God a high priest after the order of Melchizedek.

    I’m not even close to exhausting the sheer amount of passages that make my point abundantly clear, but this has been your problem from the outset. You only see what you want to see and thereby offer an inaccurate portrayal of how God fully reveals Himself in the Bible.
    Please see Ian for an acceptable understanding of Grace, I simply cannot be bothered to engage on this matter again. It has been explained perfectly clear.

    ‘if I read your writings – it sounds like you don’t consider there to be any blessing for Christians beyond forgiveness of sin and probably resurrection from the dead.’

    From your writing you seem to revere as holy the understanding that the Bible needs to be understood as a WHOLE, so please don’t transgress your own criteria and take a balanced approach. Your point on Deut 28 is moot. I would ask you why God can only translate how He blesses in the OT into the NT without the way in which he judges. You pick ‘n’ mix like you’re in Woolworths!

    * Insert strangely pious ending*

    Like

  8. I was a camp counselor for four summers. When I saw this New Testament in magazine form for teen girls for 50 cents, I couldn’t resist buying it.
    http://www.amazon.com/Revolve-Complete-Testament-Holy-Bible/dp/0718003586

    Pros: It has some study bible elements, and places for notes, encouraging interaction with scripture, and actual study. It gives some background on basic Bible terms, and concepts, which even girls who grew up in Sunday School don’t get. Also it is the New Century Version (which as far as I can tell is legit) this version is an easier reading level for teens. Too many of my girls came to camp with a Bible above their reading level, so they just didn’t read it.

    Cons: Lots of little “advice” sections. I disagree with some of the advice, and it seems sketchy to include human advice in the Bible. Another problem is one of the blurbs on the the cover which says “What Scripture Really Means” In many places the editors added an explanation of the text’s meaning. Teens are already spoon fed too much, their Bible shouldn’t do it too.

    I don’t think this will encourage teen girls to read the Bible, they will read all of the colorful extras instead, and while some of them contain scripture, they could get the same effect from a Christian teen magazine or website. It does appeal to some mainstream ideals, “beauty secrets” “relationship notes”. However not to the extant of the NT for Men. When I saw the cover my jaw literally dropped. It’s awful!

    Like

    • You have a good point about the reading age – it IS important for young people to have an age-appropriate bible. The inclusion of real-life testimony is also faith building. It that respect it reminds me of the ‘youth bible’ which contains tho whole of scripture along with study notes and questions in a very readable format. I’m not it’s biggest fan because – like you said, it spoonfeeds too much but it’s a good step towards reading that *actual* bible.

      My real issue with the mens one is that it is not a faithful portrayal of the Gospel. It doesn’t reflect the Christian life, in my view.

      Like

  9. Bless you Nathan for blessing me with all these amazing verses on our fantastic Heavenly Father – I shall enjoy meditating on them today. I am aware of all of them of course – having been a follower of Jesus for almost 53 years now. For the last three years I have read the bible in a year each year – so you can be sure I have covered all these verses in context.

    And I think that’s the point – in context. God is NOT the author of all things – God is NOT the author of evil – the Devil is the author of Evil Jesus tells us that the devil is the father of ……. (John 8 v 44) . God IS sovereign – but please define the word Sovereign. God is NOT capable of doing all things – God cannot go against his nature – he cannot lie, he cannot be unloving, unjust, unmerciful etc etc etc. Also God has chosen NOT to exercise his sovereign Will in some things – he has chosen to work with humans beings – he gave us free will (how awesome is that) and consistently throughout his word we are shown that he covenants with his people. His word tells us in Peter that it is not God’s Will that any should perish, and yet Jesus tells us that many will – surely this is an example of God’s will NOT coming to fruition?
    And if you consider God is sovereign can I assume that you never pray for healing? presumably if you believe God has made you sick because of his sovereign will – then why would you want to pray against his sovereign will or is God inconsistent in that he wants to make you ill just so that you beg him for healing?

    You seem to have got a little carried away with your quotes and seem to be insinuating that God causes our trials and tribulations which of course James clearly tells us he doesn’t but I will over look this as there is no disputing your zeal.

    I do not consider raising Deut 28 a mute point. I am not dismissing the way God judges – I know perfectly well the way God judges – but doesn’t Galations tell us that Jesus because the curse of the law for us – doesn’t this mean that in Deut 28 Jesus experienced all the curses – so that only leaves the blessings? God is a wrathful vengeful God – but correct me if I am wrong – didn’t God place ALL his wrath on Jesus at the cross? If ALL his wrath was put on Jesus what wrath is there left to place on you and me in this age of Grace we live in? Am I missing something?

    All I can say from my personal experience Nathan is if I am wrong then don’t wake me up – My Heavenly Father is an amazing wonderful awesome fantastic God and my walk with Him over all these years has never left me frustrated, depressed, worried, anxious, in need, in doubt, in fear, in sorrow – a state sadly from Ian’s writings I don’t feel he can claim – forgive me if I am wrong Ian this is just how it appears from your writings). He has taken away my sins and healed me – spiritually and physically (and my friends). I have faced many trials and tribulations – not one of them attributed to God, but through His power and strength and grace and love – He has provided me with the wherewithall to come through them all.

    His praise is truly on my lips as I wake up (amazing don’t you find when you wake and realise your mind is already singing his praises) and praying and talking with him is the last thing my husband and I do jointly when we go to sleep. He walks with me and talks with me (to quote an old chorus) along life’s narrow way. He provides general and personal guidance, He shows me the way He wants me to go and gently corrects me when I don’t! When I run to him in repentence he reminds me He has already forgiven me – Jesus has already taken my sin. His Word excites me – I can’t get enough of it – I would gladly spend every hour of every day studying it – I feel starved when the demands of the world haven’t allowed me time to be in his word. Every single one of the promises I have found in it – that I have believed in – have come true for me.

    So you will appreciate Nathan that I feel no urge to follow your way but I pray a blessing for you as you walk in it. God bless you as you continue to be transformed by the renewing of your mind. He’s certainly blessing me as I seek to be obedient to His teachings and His Will.

    Like

  10. If God brings down a government with war and poverty, has he done evil? What if that government was utilising child soldiers? What if they were not serving the poor? What if that government was neglecting the rights of the weak and marginalised? Has God done evil, or has he worked justice? Has he acted out of anger or out of mercy?

    God, in judgement, drove the Caananites from the land before Israel and we are told this is a judgement against them:

    As the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell on Abram. And behold, dreadful and great darkness fell upon him. Then the LORD said to Abram, “Know for certain that your offspring will be sojourners in a land that is not theirs and will be servants there, and they will be afflicted for four hundred years. But I will bring judgment on the nation that they serve, and afterward they shall come out with great possessions. As for yourself, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you shall be buried in a good old age. And they shall come back here in the fourth generation, for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete.”
    (Genesis 15:12-16)

    (Note: Amorites and Canaanites seems to be an interchangeable term)

    My point is this: Evil is at least some extent a subjective assessment. I certainly count it as love, as mercy that those who have done great evil will not get away with it. Indeed it seems to be love and mercy which causes God to act in judgement. If God did not love, then he would not act.

    Did Job not declare ‘Shall we receive good from the Lord and shall we not receive evil’ (Job 2:10)?

    True, non-action might be God’s decision – but it was still HIS decision. Satan seems to be permitted by God to act, but only inasmuch as God will allow. Evil has not got a free reign.

    God is in control of all things. He causes all things to happen for the ….? (Romans 8:28). Yet there is still many things which happen and are a mystery to us. I don’t know why God let massive floods sweep through Pakistan. But I do know that his Body, the Church, has an opportunity to magnify the glory of God by serving and giving to that cause.

    To address your direct question: I wouldn’t treat the list of blessings as a checklist for being a Christian. Job was in covenant with God and thus was righteous before him. Still, all the blessings were taken from him. Walking with God, we learn from the Wisdom literature, sometimes means things don’t go well for us. Look at Jeremiah who was despised by his countrymen.

    Of course we can read Deuteronomy 28 as the punchline to a bad joke – because we read the story of Israel and we see these blessings and these curses all fall upon Israel.

    In the Old Testament it is certainly true that God promises amazing blessings to the people for their obedience. Yet, we also see the suffering of the saints in the Old Testament. What use are riches and children when you’re being stoned by the city gates?

    Like

  11. “True, non-action might be God’s decision – but it was still HIS decision. Satan seems to be permitted by God to act, but only inasmuch as God will allow. Evil has not got a free reign. ”
    I would also say, that from that logic, it appears that for Lucifer to be effective in any palpable sense, he could not be completely evil. If the devil wanted to encourage some particular sin, he would have to make a truce with some particular virtue. To suppose him formidible, would be to consider him strong, intelligent, determined; and that is surely ‘better’ than to be weak, foolish, and inconstant? What is better is relatively ”good’, and without the assistance of ‘relative’ good, Lucifer would be powerless. The commendable qualities of the devil would surely remain commendable, for if he had none, he is not to be feared. Perhaps that’s too Miltonian an interpretation, though… I think Beverly would consider Satan powerless (correct me if I’m wrong, there, in my estimation of your opinion), which is reminiscent of the middle ages’ idea of the devil as a sort of trollish exemplar of a wide range of vices, evil but impotent, if you will.
    Hmmm…

    Like

  12. Don’t mention it Pope Beverly the First, you can keep them! If I’d have known you been a follower for 53 years and read the Bible three times, I would never have questioned you…! Although, if you stopped stalking Ian’s blog you’d probably have read even more by now! Sorry, I‘ve been told off my passive aggressive tone before but I figure I’m in good company; the Apostle Paul has always amused me on that point! I put it in the same league as your condescending and conceited tone.
    Anyway, I thought you weren’t too keen on context as a tool, given that you disagree with another post of Ian’s in that respect: “Ian and I disagree fundamentally on how the Bible should be read. I do not believe we need to read it in the light of history.” Yes, I took you out of context, frustrating isn’t it? Maybe not for you because as you’ve probably rebuked that demon, yeh?

    My point on ALLOWING still stands, however, Ian has briefly addressed your repose. Please remember also that the Devil, Satan, Lucifer, Lord of the Flies, Mr. Meanie is a created being.
    Ben, very interesting point you raise about the degree to which Lucifer is evil. I would ascent to your logic to the extent that he probably was created VERY good before it all went pear shaped in the heavenly realm, which, incidentally, was created too. Ian said I would like your brain! But enough brown nosing from me and just believe the Bible will you! You don’t need sensible well thought out anything to be a Christian, just an intellect ‘Self Destruct’ button. (Ian, just let me know when your blog goes Maddox and I will stop embarrassing myself.)

    I got blessed by a sweet little old lady once for sneezing in a supermarket, is that what you mean? Probably not, but I did get ‘shala-lala- labed’ for the spirit of poverty when I didn’t have enough change for my ice cream. It didn’t work but then again my faith was weak  You can probably glean how I feel about your Jesu’witch-doctor faith that injects poison into the lives of hurting people. A girl might have put her crutch in the boot but does she know the true Gospel? The last time I checked, the warm burning sensation was on the Road to Emmaus not in the deception of money making charlatans.
    We pray in very different ways I ‘m sure of it. Remember Hannah, all the way back in 1 Samuel? She had her womb closed by the Lord, suffering to the nth degree. What did this bring about? It led her to pray earnestly before the Lord and vowed to give Him back her son! First, Beverly, you must learn that your life and your health for that matter, are not your own. I hope you can someday realise this? Maybe then you will glorify God and not exalt your own faith! Maybe then you will pray accordingly that His will be done. If that means suffering, so be it, I count it as nothing when compared to eternity. Are you not dying? Will your body not see decay? Is the menopause not headed your way? Maybe you escaped the curse of pain in child labour but my wife certainly didn’t!

    Wake up o’ sleeper!

    As for Ian’s blogging, he loathes himself for the sins he has committed (Ezekiel 36: 31-32), as do I, but we too can come boldly to our Father, we haven’t forgotten what Christ has done as you may well suggest. When you break bread, recall that Jesus told us to do it in remembrance of His suffering. And why did he suffer? Because of the very people He came to save. When you sin Beverly, don’t just run back to Him, weep bitterly, because you just forgot the price He paid.

    Like

  13. Sorry Ian – am I not speaking English – why does it not seem to connect that in the old testament Jesus hadn’t yet died so everyone was judged under the law and punishment and blessing followed. After the death and resurrection of Jesus – he was judged under the law – found righteous – and chose to accept the punishment for us so we don’t have to? punishment taken by him – blessing left for us?

    Please can someone explain to me where all this supposed WRATH God is pouring out today on governments etc is coming from when the Bible tells me that ALL his wrath was placed on Jesus – I may not be good at maths but I do not that ALL = NOTHING left.

    I see you are still choosing to misquote Job – God didn’t ALLOW evil as we have already discussed. The statement made by Job in 2 v 10 isn’t biblical truth – Job was wrong – if he wasn’t wrong God would not have had to take him to task in the last few chapters of Job. Not everything said in the bible by man is God’s truth – there are plenty of occasions when men of God got it wrong. JOb did not have the RIGHTEOUSNESS of God – he had SELF righteousness – if he was a man of faith counted to him for righteousness he would have been held up as a prime example in Hebrews (the most righteous – above Abraham!!) however – we have had this discussion before.

    God didn’t LET floods go through pakistan – people/bad husbandry/bad protection/bad preparation let floods devistate pakistan?

    And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God ….. sorry am I missing something – where does this text say God is in CONTROL of all things? Read in context 26 and 27 show that infirmities will happen (not good) and the Holy Spirit will make intercession (intercession implies that God’s will ISN’T happening in the first instance) so that good can be brought out of bad – bad comes from devil- tribulations for the Word – Good through the bad comes from God. This doesn’t say God causes the bad only that if we submit to him he can work Good from the bad?

    Ben – define evil? Evil is the absence of Good not the opposite of Good – if Good is not present there is evil – quite simple really isn’t it.

    Please let me correct you Ben – I consider the devil FAR from powerless – although (and this will probably be new to you) the devil is only as powerful as man has allowed him to be. Man was given dominion over the earth by God – man has handed over that dominion to the devil. The devil was able to offer Jesus (Matt 4 v 8 & 9) all the kingdoms of the world and their glory – he couldn’t have done this unless it was really his to offer. Jesus didn’t say “don’t be so stupid you can’t give me this cause it’s not’s yours to give” he said Worship only God. (the implication is Jesus knew if he had have worshipped the devil the reward was there available from the devil.

    Like

  14. One more thing Ian – ” those who have done great evil will not get away with it! – oh yes they will if they give their life to Jesus. And define great evil – there is no degree of evil ALL have sinned and come short …… – a little white lie I tell is as big a sin to God as the most evil despot – and ALL can be forgiven because Jesus took ALL sin on him – …… there is no scale – it’s ALL or Nothing you either obey ALL the law in all things or your fail – Romans is very very clear on this point.

    Like

  15. Ben: I feel Nathan has addressed your question pretty well, so see his response.

    Nathan: Must confess ignorance to the ‘Maddox’ phrase! hah! I consider it a compliment that you direct people to what I have to say about grace. Makes me feel a bit of a warm fuzzy.

    Beverly: As I read scripture my tendency is to try and see the truths in it as consistent. The truth of Christ must be true throughout scripture. Indeed, Christ’s message is in my view totally consistent with the testimony proclaimed by the law and prophets. Anyway, moving on:

    My view on the cross and the Christian’s interaction with it tends not to view Christ’s death so much as a cosmic transaction, but a way of life and the fullest revelation of God to behold. No, I am not denying that Jesus died for my sins. I am, however suggesting that it is only in ones participation with Christ in his obedience and death that forgiving grace is bestowed. The cross, then, is God’s command to all who would listen to crucify the flesh and join Christ in resurrection and new life.

    I find the language of transaction – Jesus takes the curse and we take the blessing – to be a perversion of what Christ was, and is, about. Jesus offers us a way of life, a life to be lived with God.

    Job was righteous inasmuch as one could be at that time. The convenant with Israel constructed an ideal of righteousness, that is faith in God and obedience to him. That does not mean Job did not sin – it means that he obeyed the Law and offered sacrifices for his sins. And besides this, God declares Job righteous:

    And the LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil?”
    (Job 1:8)

    There were many others who are not written in Hebrews, and the writer even points this out!

    And what more shall I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets—
    (Hebrews 11:32)

    And Romans: How can one not see Paul’s belief in God’s sovereignty in that verse? The belief that God is on the throne and is working in the here and now for our good and his glory?

    No, some of the things God causes to happen are not good from our perspective, but to borrow an illustration used by Corrie Ten Boom, we see the back of the tapestry with all the ends and bare threads. One day we shall see the magnificent work God has been doing all this time.

    Like

  16. Nathan: Delighted to meet you. Your loquacious sarcasm has been inspired and entertaining in the extreme… I feel we shall be fast friends. There – now both of our noses are brown. The allusion you make to Lucifer’s prior nature (pre pear-shaped rebellion) is one I have heard before… and I recall one version which spoke of envy being the seed of his rebellion; that he imagined himself enthroned in god’s place, and from that… well… mind you, this was a version told to during my time at the Rudolf Steiner school, so very Milton-esque again.

    Beverly: Here is something I must point out – “God didn’t LET floods go through pakistan – people/bad husbandry/bad protection/bad preparation let floods devistate pakistan?”
    I just find it amusing that you’re quite prepared to invoke your deity in a positive supernatural context to explain what you refer to as ‘healing’ and other miracles yet areskittish when it comes to allowing a negative supernatural occurance. You read your Bible, so you must know these things lie within god’s armoury. If you allow one, you must allow the other, I think.
    Ah evil… ‘define your terms!’, as Crowley would’ve said. Yourdefinition appears to be identical to that of Augustine, who also thought ‘evil’ was not a thing in itself, but an absence of a thing, a privation of ‘good’. He thought that evil could only be referred to as a negative form of good (e.g. liberty vs. imprisonment, discord vs. order, etc). The ‘contrast theodicy’… this takes me back…
    However, from what I can tell, it is not a very popular theodicy, among theologians, at least (not that you take their ‘findings’ seriously – the one point on which we agree) since it seems to imply that good and evil are not moral judgements. Is that your view? There is one thing you say:
    (“a little white lie I tell is as big a sin to God as the most evil despot – and ALL can be forgiven because Jesus took ALL sin on him –”) which reminds me of Augustine a little, but I’ll get to that in a moment.

    Have you ever heard of the Epicurean Paradox? Its a simple enough construct, which goes something like this: Either God wants to abolish evil, and cannot; or he can, but does not want to. If he wants to, but cannot, he is impotent. If he can, but does not want to, he is wicked. If God really wants to get rid of evil, why is there evil?
    I say this not to attempt to shatter your faith, but to illustrate a particular thing about the contrast theodicy I loath, said fittingly enough by the piss-artist (Augustine) himself; he essentially said that Epicurus had ignored the possible benefits of suffering (natural evil) in the world. Augustine did at least concede that an omnipotent god could provide all the benefits of suffering without actually having to suffer if, you know, he wanted to.

    The devil only as powerful as humans allow him to be? That’s an old one, and very conveniant. Thanks for bringing it out.

    It occurs to me that not once have I said what I believe i.e. evil. Hmmm… I suppose I think it as powerful and contextual a concept as love, but as for its metaphysical presence in the fabric of the universe? I can’t see it extending any further than human interaction with and observation of each other. In short, unlike the wind and the flooding waters, evil is tangible only as long as humans are there to categorise it. That’s my opinion, anyway. Yeah, a bit relativistic at first glance, but I’d need an essay to explain satisfactorily. Alas, it is nearly 2:00am.

    Like

    • I rather enjoy the Epicurean paradox, but for me it doesn’t prove to be an issue, because the categories of the paradox place God as the subject of human judgement. He says of himself: ‘I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy.’ Exodus 33:19.

      From a human perspective God can and often does seem either wicked or impotent, or both. I know I have felt that way towards God. Yet the Bible does stress the holiness of God, that he is not like humans and is not bound by us. This of course should rightly make humans feel extremely small!

      Maybe we could say there are two kinds of evil: That which we don’t like and that which is detestable to God.

      Like

  17. “Maybe we could say there are two kinds of evil: That which we don’t like and that which is detestable to God.”
    …which limits good and evil to merely being the compliance (or not) with edicts from the superbeing. I can see why you flirt with maltheism. 😉

    Like

  18. Ok boys (men) time to withdraw gracefully and allow you to continue your deeply intelligent and philosophical theological discussions on the merits of a holy book and the perceived nature of a holy being described therein.

    I have just been trying to explain the reality of my personal walk with and experience of my amazing wonderful Heavenly Father – Jesus Christ my saviour and my Lord and the wonderful powerful blessed Holy Spirit who lives on the inside of me 24/7. In my walk with and service to the Lord – I have found far more people attracted to the Lord and handing over their lives to him through practical application and personal experience rather than through deep theological debate – but maybe you have had a different experience.

    I truly wish you all the blessings contained in Deuteronomy 28 and Ben I pray that you will one day discover the God you are so keen to debate on and experience for yourself the beauty of a changed life serving the Lord.

    Amen boys Amen

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: