Faith musings from the seat of a forklift.
We don’t always like the things we hear at work. Sometimes we really hate what we hear, and we can become indignant. Even worse, we might even become offended. What is it that is problem? Is it the dress code? Personally, as long as the company pays for the required attire, I don’t care. Is it something about the use of personal listening devices? I’m of the opinion that they are unsafe while operating a forklift, but that is not a call I am allowed to make. The fact is, there is something that will offend somebody.
Believe it or not, there are things in the church that offend people. Actually, this is not much of a surprise. Just look at the current shift of what is and is not socially acceptable. People get upset because as society decides that something is “acceptable”, the church continues to call it sin. However, the church is not called to be conformed to this world. However, that offends people. Good. The cross is an offense.
Wait! The cross is an offense? How?
In Galatians 5:11 it reads “But if I, brothers, still preach circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been removed.” In like manner it reads in 1 Corinthians 1:18 “For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God”. Both of these epistles were written by Paul. In the Galatians verse, Paul is responding to claims he has been preaching circumcision, and thus making annul the work of Christ upon the cross. In the 1 Corinthians verse, Paul is discussing the wisdom of man versus the folly of God. In both cases, the cross stands forth as being offensive and foolish. In fact, there is a verse (Deuteronomy 21:23 and Galatians 3:13) which states clearly “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”, and the Galatians verse speaks of Christ becoming that curse (an offense) for us, thus also fulfilling Deuteronomy 21:23.
However, the Bible can also be offensive to the church.
Wait. You didn’t just say that. Actually, I did.
Let us not fool ourselves. Not everything taught in the church is necessarily Biblical. Go ahead, say it, heresy. Doesn’t matter. It is the truth. There are several things that are taught in one church that would be heresy in another. In fact, that is a large part of what we have so many denominations, people became offended by a practice of the church that was scriptural and twisted scripture to deny or otherwise marginalize the practice to suit them.
Here are some examples, some of which I have blogged about before:
The Lord’s Supper/Holy Communion:
Most modern churches, especially Baptist/Pentecostal leaning churches, have reduced this to mere memorial symbolism. They marginalize this by pointing to Luke 22:19 where it says “Do this in remembrance of me.” In doing so, they ignore the, in that same verse, where Christ tells them to “take and eat, this is my body”. Parallel verses are Matthew 26:26 and Mark 14:22. Also ignored is 1 Corinthians 11:27~29 where Paul admonished the church at Corinth for failing to discern the Lord’s body during communion. Additionally, they ignore the sixth chapter of the Gospel of John, particularly verse 56 which reads “Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him.” Why? Because this offensive, and they can not accept that through the bread and wine, Christ does give us his body and blood.
The modernist churches also practice full immersion baptism. They cite, primarily, Acts 2:38 where it reads “And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” First off, all it says it “repent and be baptized”. It does NOT specify how. Additionally, the rest of what Peter says is completely ignored. Specifically, verse 39, where it reads “For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” Yes. You read that right. Children. Additionally, in reference to Lydia, we read in Acts 16:15 “And after she was baptized, and her household as well, she urged us, saying, “If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay.” And she prevailed upon us.” Yes. You are reading that right. It says very plainly that her household was baptized, which usually includes children. Yet, baptizing children is offensive because they are not at the “age of accountability”, which is not even spoken of in scripture. Additionally, there are two other references to whole households being baptized in the New Testament.
Forgiveness of Sin:
This is one that modernist churches outright reject. They are offended that a man can stand before a congregation and declare unto the congregation that their sins are forgiven. They argue that only God can forgive sin. Again, they ignore scripture. In John 20:23 it reads ” If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.” Christ gave his immediate disciples, and by extension, us and our pastors, the ability to forgive people of their sins, and not merely those sins that have been committed against us. In the Lutheran church, we refer to this as the “Office of the Power of the Keys”.
These are but a few examples of teachings which have been twisted because they are offensive. Does this offend you? Good. Ignorance of scripture tends to cause offense. Sadly, modernist churches thrive on ignorance of scripture. Such was the case with the church of Luther’s day, when the common laity did not know scripture and the church taught wantonly what it pleased, exhorting money via indulgences from the masses. Offensive? Yes. So offensive, that a monk sought to reform it. His actions offended the church. Good.
So, what’s the point? Some things aren’t worth being offended over. If something is deemed a safety violation, no use getting upset. If the company wants a certain dress code, and they are willing to provide the appropriate gear, may as well use it. However, if your church refuses to acknowledge what the Bible plainly teaches, it might be worth it to be offended. It may even be worth it to consult with your pastor and ask why. If he should seek to dodge the question (this happened to me), it may be time to find another church, one that doesn’t deny God’s revealed word, and the salvation won on the cross for us by Christ Jesus.