February 19, 2008

Swinging the Sword without proper training

"Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, since you know that we will be judged more severely."
-James 3:1-

Anyone attempting to teach the Bible is basically trying to help people draw closer to the God of the universe through study of His Revealed message as contained in Holy Scripture.
This isn't something to be taken lightly. Nor is it something we can afford to be ill-equipped for.

This was what I thought about today as I watched a video a friend sent me from Youtube of someone attempting to preach God's word with passion, conviction, authority and zeal.

At first I laughed because of how ridiculous the teaching was and how unbelievably wrong my fellow teacher's facts were (both Biblical and modern!). But it got me thinking about how important it is when we're taking up the Sword of the Spirit, to not end up cutting our own heads off.

While he was totally passionate and no doubt loves the Lord and wants to serve Him with all his heart, this brother in Christ indeed had "a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge (Romans 10:2)." The resulting sermon (at least the four and a half minutes which made up the video clip), instead of being a sharp, double-edged, piercing word from the Lord, was instead the ranting of an angry child swinging his dad's antique sword around in front of his friends to show off.

The teacher's job is to make clear and illuminate the words of the original Inspired text to those we are teaching--not to take a word out of context and use it as a soapbox to promote their own idea of gender roles while simultaneously attacking the credibility of Godly men and women who have labored for decades in order to provide accurate and understandable translations of Scripture. God's words are not ours to bend to our own agendas. Rather, they are to be held in the highest regard and studied with the utmost care and precision.

Ben Witherington said it best at a lecture last week for Gordon-Conwell alumni: we wouldn't go to a dentist who didn't put in the years and years of study in Dental school and let him start drilling away in your mouth would we? So why then do we think it is somehow acceptable to stand up and attempt to teach God's People when we haven't put in the years and years of study required to understand and then relay the words of a text written over 1,900 years ago in a completely different language and culture??

When we irresponsibly swing the Sword without having taken the time to train, we end up cutting at those who are standing next to us rather than at the enemy. The result is often an audience of the spiritually-maimed.

May we continue training every day with the utmost effort and humility.


ps: For the record, the Hebrew "mashtiyn beqiyr" which our friend above makes such a big fuss over literally means "the ones urinating upon a wall" and is an idiomatic way of referring specifically to males (for obvious logistical reasons!). It is found in 1 Samuel 25:22, 34; 1 Kings 14:10; 16:11; 21:21 and 2 Kings 9:8. It does not refer to the manner in which one uses the bathroom anymoreso than a basketball player who is "on fire from behind the three" refers to their state of combustion! This is why NEARLY EVERY OTHER English translation translates the idiom as simply referring to males/men and puts the literal wording in a footnote.

pps: Our Worship Pastor, Chris Macedo, who was stationed in Germany during his time in the military assures me that it is not, in fact, illegal in Germany to use the bathroom standing up.

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