Faith musings from the seat of a forklift.
Wait! What? Huh? There is a problem with this picture? Its upside down? Nope. It is right side up. Then the e-rail is upside down. Wrong. Huh? The other end, which is not in this picture, is right side up. The problem, and such a problem does exist, is that one end of the e-rail is wrong. Not the first time I’ve had this problem, and likely not the last time either. Luckily, this e-rail isn’t actually holding any weight, its between two that are holding weight. I should know, its a trailer that I loaded. Sadly, without knowing the full story of what is happening with this e-rail, one could easily assume that I put it in wrong, rather than realizing that the e-rail itself is the problem.
Yes, there is a problem with this e-rail, and it likely should be disposed of for safety reasons. Oddly, we have problems in our modern churches, particularly in terms of what we believe about the church and the Bible. Just like the e-rail in the picture, we assume certain things about the church and what the Bible teaches, especially when we have incomplete or inaccurate information. What makes this worse is that often we don’t take the time to “dig deeper” and uncover the truth.
In Lutheran circles, it is hard to go far without hearing a reference to Jack Chick and his line of Bible tracts. I confess, some of them are spot on. However, many more of them are little more than hate literature. Sadly, one of them is written as a deflection of this issue. However, rather than attacking Mr. Chick, I am going to address a couple of issues in which he is sorely lacking in understanding.
Let me start out with the back of his tracts. Every one of them has the “sinners prayer” in it. I have discussed this at length before, in the post marked “Zap“. Suffice to say, there is very little more that I need to say about this. None of us can be saved by our actions, and the “sinner’s prayer” is a decision based works righteousness theology that is not supported by scripture.
Now then, let us also consider, carefully, the “Lord’s Supper” (AKA Holy Communion or Eucharist). In one of his tracts, he makes the assertion that this was never taught by scripture, nor does it forgive us our sins. Sorry, but that is a lie. The simple truth is that this assertion plainly ignores Matthew 26:26~29 where we read “Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you I will not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.” Scripture clearly supports the Lord’s Supper has valid.
Now then, in most liturgical churches, we have corporate confession and absolution of sin. Mr. Chick would assert, as would many others outside the liturgical church, that a priest or pastor can not forgive you of your sins. This assertion ignores Matthew 18:18 where it reads “Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” Note that the context of this verse is that of forgiveness. Thus, it is scriptural that whatever sins are forgiven you here on earth are also forgiven by Christ Jesus.
Now, I could not continue without stating that Mr. Chick is NOT alone in his misconceptions. The internet is full of misconceptions. I see all sorts of confusion about the Bible almost daily on facebook. One of my favorites relates to Baptism. There is a picture that sometimes appears on facebook, and it is a scene of an immersion. Wait! What do you mean by “an immersion”? Hold it! I will get to that. This picture, due to its caption, is known as a “meme”. The capture reads “Acts 2:38 The only proper way to be baptized”. Problem! Acts 2:38 only says to be baptized, it never prescribes the method. It also completely ignores Acts 2:39, which makes it clear that children have a part in this promise, thus making it Biblical to baptize them, as well. This is without giving consideration to the related verse of 1 Peter 3:21, which says that baptism does save you.
Other famous misconceptions include ideas about the various “heroes” of the Bible. Too often, we set up men like Lot, Sampson, Peter, and David upon pedestals. We completely ignore the details of their lives that are actually presented in the Bible. Here is a breakdown of the four men I listed:
Lot: Greedy of gain. Foolishly returned to Sodom after being rescued by Abram the first time. Was not righteous, only spared the fate of the rest of Sodom because of Abram.
Sampson: Violent temper. Set a bunch of foxes on fire. Also a womanizer and a liar. Nor was he very good at keeping his promises of a Nazarite.
David: Womanizer, adulterer, liar, murderer. These sins are why David lost his firstborn son and was prevented from building the temple. The prophet Nathan made the clear.
Peter: Hypocrite, liar, and assailant. Peter cut off a man’s ear with a sword, lied about his knowing Christ Jesus (denied him three times), and treated the Gentile believers differently than the Hebrew believers (was called out by Paul for it, whom also has a laundry bag of issues).
One more misconception I want to look at is the “Lord’s Prayer”. I have encountered people who claim this is not scriptural. Serious? Give me a break. It is found in both the Gospel of Matthew (6:9~13) and Luke (11:2~4). Now, it could be argued that it is a model for prayer, but it is also a good general prayer for when you are struggling and do not know any other way to pray. It is also a good way to acknowledge the sovereignty of God and his ability to provide according to our needs without making specific mention of those needs. A good study of this is the Small Catechism.
Yep. There a many misconceptions about the Bible and the church. Yet, we can be certain of one thing. Christ Jesus did die upon the cross for our sins. There is nothing that can change or refute that fact. Additionally, he did rise from the grave, conquering death. If it were not so, it would have been proven as soon as it was first claimed.
We may not have all the answers. Sometimes we don’t even know the question. Often, we don’t know the full story. When this happens, we invent ideas that don’t always match up with the truth. Mr. Chick is guilty of this, and so are we. Truthfully, we all need to slow down from time to time and attempt to get a better idea of the truth.
Yes, that e-rail is messed up. However, the problem is with the e-rail itself, not my use of it. To assume that I put it in wrong is a misconception and gives the appearance that I don’t know my job. However, to try to talk about what is in the Bible and not really know what the Bible says only creates lies and half truths. Same thing with making presumptions about what churches teach.
A bad e-rail is unsafe, but not necessarily dangerous. Bad theology and false presumptions about the Bible and the church are not only unsafe, but can even prove themselves a sure path to Hell. Thus, the smart thing to do is to find out what the church really does teach and to compare that to the Bible. Anything else is a lie. Thankfully, in the Lutheran church, we have all of our teachings recorded in the Book of Concord, and it gives abundant reference to the scripture supporting those teachings.
Don’t let a picture or a tract sway you regarding the truth. Dig deeper and ask questions. Like an iceberg, what we see on the surface may not be the full picture, and it may even be a false picture.
One last note, please do not leave any of Mr. Chick’s tracts just lying around. I know full well that he encourages people to leave them on buses and at various public venues. Please don’t. You may not realize it, but he is encouraging you litter, and that is illegal. If you really want to share the gospel message, speak it. Those tracts are only going to cause confusion and hatred.