Are you hungry today? The following words, from Hyper-Grace: The Dangerous Doctrine of a Happy God by D. R. Silva, are some tantalizing morsels to help satiate your longing. I offer only a sample, but encourage you to read the whole book if your spirit bears witness with what is contained here.
Never let anyone convince you that God considers it “doubt,” “disloyalty” or “dishonor” if you question Him, or the leaders He has put into leadership positions. Jesus welcomed and encouraged questions of all kinds (that’s how people learn!).
Never let anyone convince you that faith means to quit asking questions in favor of silent obedience to your leaders. Not only is that a lie, but it’s blatant manipulation and behavior control. The only ones who have done that kind of thing throughout history are cult leaders and tyrants who were afraid their followers would learn to think for themselves, because a single question can be the most powerful weapon against fear and tyranny, and one question has the power to topple an entire empire.
Don’t ever underestimate the power of a question.
Your questions are the greatest weapon you have against deception, manipulation and tyranny; never let anyone disarm you.
If your leaders are trying to teach you to fear them, it’s time to find new leaders. The only reason they would want you to fear them is so you will do whatever they say without asking questions. That’s not the church or Christianity that Jesus founded; that’s something else entirely.
Don’t let your leaders disguise fear as “respect” or “honor.” There is a huge difference. Respect and honor is something you give naturally, not something you have to be coerced and guilt-tripped into giving reluctantly.
Always line everything up with the person of Jesus. You didn’t become a Christian to follow me or any other church leader; you became a Christian to follow Christ. If something doesn’t line up with Him and what His life demonstrated for us (that is, those in the new covenant), you can safely conclude that it’s no good. And if it’s tested and found no good, you will know not to hold on to it. (I’ve written an entire book about this subject called It’s All About Jesus.)
. . . Being loyal to me as a person doesn’t mean you have to be loyal to all of my ideas; that goes for every other church leader as well. If they mistake disagreement with disloyalty, then they have an ego problem. Don’t let them try to bully you into thinking you’re the problem for not agreeing with them.
8 thoughts on “Questioning God, Questioning Leaders”
OK. You said, QUOTE:
“I don’t hold him [Paul] as equal to Jesus.”
I understand your current perspective very well. I’ve been following Jesus for 21 years, and I am a graduate of Dallas Theological Seminary.
Specifically where is Paul not equal to Jesus? Below are a number of the verses I think you are likely to want to quote, so I’ll save us both some time and quote them for you. Beyond this, can you come up with anything else – specific?
You have not used Scripture to refute anything I’ve written, but rather you are indirectly questioning my motives for daring to questioning Paul, writing “you obviously have a problem with Paul. ” It is not my intention to be argumentative.
I have a problem with David committing adultery and murder, and with Peter lying 3 times, denying that he knew Jesus. Are you saying that you DON’T have a problem with those things? Are you saying that you don’t have a problem with anything that Paul ever said, did, or wrote? Let’s move beyond theory. What, specifically?
The Evangelical “Mexican Hat Dance”
Sin is always specific, not general.
The “Hat” is, “What were Paul’s sins?”
The music starts, with a cheery blast of trumpets in a melody that is familiar to most North Americans- the “Mexican Hat Dance.” (The national dance of Mexico, taught in Mexican public schools since 1921, and officially named “El Jarabe Tapatio.”)
A couple in rather elaborate traditional costumes begins the dance. The man throws his huge sombrero hat on the floor, and the couple dances around it, but never steps on the hat. (The “Hat” is, “what were Paul’s sins?”) Here are the basic steps- (there may be one or two other basic steps, but they are very similar to these.)
What were Paul’s sins?
STEP 1) Paul said; “I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man.” [1 Timothy 1:13]
(Response- Those were Saul’s sins, before Jesus called him. What were Paul’s sins as a Christian? )
STEP 2) Paul said; “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners- of whom I am the worst.” [1 Timothy 1:15]
(Response- Sin is always specific. What were Paul’s specific sins as a Christian? )
STEP 3) Paul said; “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” [Romans 3:23]
(Response- Again the same question; What were Paul’s specific sins as a Christian? )
STEP 4) Paul said; “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it.” [Philippians 3:12-13]
(Response- They say third time’s a charm. Same question; What were Paul’s specific sins as a Christian? )
STEP 5) Paul said; “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do- this I keep on doing.” [Romans 7:15-19]
(Response- One more time! This is getting boring. Same question; Specifically, what were Paul’s specific sins as a Christian based on specific verses of the Bible? )
STEP 6) LOOP- REPEAT steps 1 through 5, until your dance partner gives up, the audience gets bored, or the music stops. The rule is- never step on the “Hat,” just keep dancing around it.
“You have not used Scripture to refute anything I’ve written, but rather you are indirectly questioning my motives for daring to questioning Paul, writing “you obviously have a problem with Paul. ” It is not my intention to be argumentative.”
I will not get into a Bible verse volley, which is what you seem to want, for there is really no gain for either of us or anyone else who might read an argument between brother and sister in Christ. If you were not being argumentative, you wouldn’t feel the need for longer and longer responses to my replies.
I’m sincerely sorry if it appears I don’t really know Jesus because I don’t quote the Bible so freely. My heart’s desire is for Jesus to be seen and known – not just to unbelievers, but to believers as well. He so loves us, and that’s His heartbeat in me, in us, the one that overrides all else. It permeates His Word, and shines gloriously through the Bible.
May we all know His love more fully each day and in each interaction!
You seem to be saying here that Paul can’t be questioned.
Paul didn’t write 2/3 of the NT. I counted by chapters, and it’s 33.4% by chapter count – so 1/3. Perhaps the reason you give Paul twice as much credit as he deserves is that you spend the majority of your time listening to the voice of Paul, like many Evangelicals. Therefore, you are so used to Paul’s voice that you can’t discern or distinguish the voice of Jesus. We have both been trained that way- never to question Paul, or compare or contrast his teachings or behavior with Jesus. I believe this is the subject of your post.
Paul wrote, “All Scripture is God-breathed” once, in the middle of a personal letter to his friend Timothy. Jesus never said that. And no other author of Scripture besides Paul ever said that either. (The Apostle Peter wrote about “PROPHECY of Scripture” not ALL Scripture, and no it isn’t the same thing.) If you believe I’m mistaken, please quote me chapter and verse to show me where.
Paul DID contradict Jesus regarding what is the Most Important Commandment, as I quoted here. It’s 2 Commandments, not 1, and the Love of God is clearly and distinctly on top. We love God and love people in different ways. Loving people is ONE of the ways we demonstrate our love for God, but it isn’t the only way, and it isn’t synonymous. We don’t need Paul, or any other man (or woman) to further refine the clear teachings of Jesus. We can listen to Jesus directly, understand, and obey Jesus – not obey Paul.
In the pages of the New Testament, no one besides Jesus and Paul ever held himself up as a singular example and said, “follow me” or “imitate me” or “follow my example” or even “Follow Me as I Follow Christ.” Jesus is right, Paul was wrong. No one else ever said to follow Paul except Paul talking about himself. We cannot serve two masters.
Of course, we are all trained to admit, theologically, theoretically, intellectually, that Paul was not flawless- but when it comes to specifics? What were some of Paul’s specific sins, mistakes, flaws, etc.? Our minds go blank, and we get that sinking feeling… It’s a spiritual blindness. But now is the time to wake up, open our Bibles, and listen ot the voice of Jesus!
Like I said in my first response, you obviously have a problem with Paul. I don’t hold him as equal to Jesus, any more than I hold anyone else in that place. I don’t think we can have a non-argumentative discourse about this, unfortunately, so that’s all I will say.
But now the big test- are you willing to apply this to everyone equally and question PAUL the Pharisee? Or are you going to silently play “don’t ask don’t tell” when it comes to Paul, because you subconsciously think Paul is “the exception”?
One huge hidden problem in “Bible-believing” Evangelical churches is that people think they are “following Jesus” when in reality, subconsciously, they are following Paul. There is a contrast between Jesus vs. Paul regarding the Most Important Commandment.
Which is the greatest commandment in the Law?
Jesus replied: “’Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these TWO commandments.” [Matthew 22:36-40, Deuteronomy 6:5, Leviticus 19:18]
Of all the commandments, which is the most important?
“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “ is this: ‘Hear, of Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than THESE.” [Mark 12:28-31, Deuteronomy 6:4-5, Leviticus 19:18]
But, in contrast, Paul didn’t know the greatest, most important, first commandment according to Jesus. Paul made up his own rule. Paul wrote:
“The entire law is summed up in a SINGLE command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” [Galatians 5:14, Leviticus 19:18]
And again, Paul wrote:
“He how loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “Do not commit adultery, Do not murder, Do not steal, Do not covet, and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this ONE RULE: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.” [Romans 13:8-10, Leviticus 19:18]
Jesus said it’s TWO commandments, with the greatest, most important, first command to
.1) first, love God with everything you’ve got, and
.2) second, love people.
Paul said no, it ONE commandment- to love people.
Paul, and the Beatles, were wrong. Not it doesn’t “harmonize.”
Jesus is right. I’m following Jesus.
Are you willing to question Paul’s teachings, comparing them with Jesus?
Thanks for reading and weighing in, Matthew. I don’t understand what your response has to do with the blog post. It seems more to be a continuation of your comment to Follow Me as I Follow Christ (https://tomakechristknown.wordpress.com/2009/11/14/follow-me-as-i-follow-christ/). I am so glad you are following Jesus, and I pray that you may continue to know Him more and more fully, receiving all the fullness of His love for you.
You seem to have quite a problem with Paul. He was a man, for certain. But God allowed 2/3 of the New Testament to contain his letters. What do you do with his words, inspired by Holy Spirit (or God-breathed)? Paul understood the indwelling life of Christ, and living by His life, not by Paul’s own mind, will, and emotions. Did he do it flawlessly? Certainly not. Neither do we. Yet, we are able, as was Paul, by the Spirit living in us in Christ, to see Christ in him, to hear Christ in his words . . . if we look and listen in Christ. Just like we can in each other, each of us being part of Christ’s body when we have received Him.
Jesus Christ, the risen Christ, was the fulfillment of the Law and the Prophets. When He spoke the two commandments, He was speaking to the religious people of that day – prior to fulfilling His purpose on earth, knowing man is incapable of doing these things without His indwelling Spirit. Jesus Christ, Himself, is love – the fulfillment of the law and the prophets. What Paul said was not a contradiction, but what happens when God writes His laws on our hearts. It is no longer a “thou shalt” or a “thou shalt not”. It is simply His love, and it translates into actions in the life of the believer.
Blessings of grace and peace to you in Christ!
What a tantalizing morsel! I agree completely. Is the book available from Amazon?
Yes, Sharon, it is. It was actually free a couple of weeks ago (one of those one-day things, of course), and someone told me about it in time to take advantage of it. Having read it, I feel it is worth the cost, and I intend to buy more of his books.