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Tyre, the Proud

To the church at Tyre —

You were once humble but you have grown proud. Not satisfied with being a little duck in a big pond, you have moved to a dinky pond so you can be the king duck. You are obsessed with cool. You are committed to attractiveness. You have lost your mission. You would rather be acceptable and politcally correct.

Your pastors have not been allowed to be prophetic because they are on the payroll. Your members refuse to be called account. Because you will not be judged now, you will be judged when kingdom comes.

You have grown fat. Your landholdings are great. You have plenty. You have not sold all that you have to give to the poor. Your help for the poor has been but a secondary token effort. You have not gone away sorrowfully because of your failure; indeed, you revel in it.

A great fall is coming. You have been warned, but you do not have ears to hear or eyes to see because you have paid them to not hear and not see. It is too late for you. There is no relief from the coming fall.

Your enemies will exult over your fall and you will still fail to see your own foolishness.

May God have mercy.

What It Is

The Bible as we have it is what it is. It probably isn’t what you wish it were. It isn’t a handbook for life or the missing manual. It doesn’t have an answer to every question. It isn’t always a happy book with blessings and sunshine for your daily devotions.

Instead, it is a very messy book full of very messy people and very messy situations. It is full of teachings to we pay no attention to if we don’t want to. We like the things we like and pound on about those things, ignoring other things that we don’t like.

Your interpretation of the Bible will take a turn for the better if you are practically realistic about your view of scripture.

  • Not every propositional statement is the truth.
  • Most of the truth is not in propositional statements.
  • You can’t trust every speaker. People lie and people are mistaken.
  • Not every character is a good example. In fact, good examples are hard to find.
  • Not every prophecy comes to fruition. God sometimes changes his mind.
  • There are lots of seeming contradictions, making it hard to know what God is saying.
  • People get orders to do things our modern sensibilities tell us are wrong.
  • There are punishments and requirements (death penalty, ethnic cleansing, Jubilee, etc.) that are never seen to be carried out in real life.
  • Even if we could assume verbal inerrancy (and we cannot), there are still lots of things verbal inerrantists disagree on: Free will vs. Predestination; Baptism; Church government; You Name It.
  • You can’t live in a canon-within-the-canon (such as Paul’s letters), nor in a canon-within-the-canon-within-the-canon (such as Romans, like most neo-reformed Piper Cubs). There is a whole Bible out there. Explore it.

Interpreting the Bible is really, really hard. The ability to do it well takes lots of time and effort. Also, it takes an open mind — which few of us have.

Read your Bible and read it hard.

False Shepherds

I offer the following passage, without comment, as an indictment against the modern ideas and ideals, and especially the practices, of “leadership”.

The word of the LORD came to me: Mortal, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel: prophesy, and say to them—to the shepherds: Thus says the Lord GOD: Ah, you shepherds of Israel who have been feeding yourselves! Should not shepherds feed the sheep? You eat the fat, you clothe yourselves with the wool, you slaughter the fatlings; but you do not feed the sheep. You have not strengthened the weak, you have not healed the sick, you have not bound up the injured, you have not brought back the strayed, you have not sought the lost, but with force and harshness you have ruled them. So they were scattered, because there was no shepherd; and scattered, they became food for all the wild animals. My sheep were scattered, they wandered over all the mountains and on every high hill; my sheep were scattered over all the face of the earth, with no one to search or seek for them.

Therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the LORD: As I live, says the Lord GOD, because my sheep have become a prey, and my sheep have become food for all the wild animals, since there was no shepherd; and because my shepherds have not searched for my sheep, but the shepherds have fed themselves, and have not fed my sheep; therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the LORD:  Thus says the Lord GOD, I am against the shepherds; and I will demand my sheep at their hand, and put a stop to their feeding the sheep; no longer shall the shepherds feed themselves. I will rescue my sheep from their mouths, so that they may not be food for them.

The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1989), Eze 34:1–10.

Don’t Tell Me

I am interested in what the Bible has to say. I am far less interested in philosophical, and even theological, constructs. It’s fair to say that if you present me with a theological or philosphical idea, you’d better back it up with some scripture, and I don’t mean a prooftext or two.

For example …

  • don’t tell me that God can’t change his mind, because God does it all the time in the Bible.
  •  don’t tell me that people can’t change the mind of God, because they do it all the time in the Bible.
  • don’t tell me God always knows the future, because God tests people to see what they will do.
  • on the other hand, don’t tell me God never knows the future, because sometimes God is said to know the future in the Bible.
  • don’t tell me there is only law in the OT and only grace in the NT, because there is plenty of each in both.
  • don’t tell me the God of the OT contrasts with the Jesus of the NT, because they are the same.
  • don’t tell me that all I have to do is say a simple prayer and I’m eternally secure, because the Bible talks about a lot of things I need to do if I am to be a faithful follower of Jesus.
  • don’t tell me I’m going to heaven when I die, because you can’t find that in the Bible. We will await resurrection and then live on the new earth.

I could go on, but you get the picture. Read your Bible.