Tag Archives: Gospel of John

Casting stones

As nearly every Bible translation points out in the footnotes, the passage in John 8 about the woman caught in adultery isn’t found in the earliest manuscripts.  Therefore, it may not have been in the original writings of the Bible.*

It is a memorable passage and doesn’t contradict other doctrines, but neither does it add anything that isn’t taught elsewhere.  The problems start when people twist the passage to say things that aren’t there.  Here’s the text:

The Woman Caught in Adultery — John 8:2 – 11

Early in the morning he came again to the temple. All the people came to him, and he sat down and taught them.  The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst  they said to him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery.  Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?”  This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground.  And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground.  But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him.  Jesus stood up and said to her,”Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”  She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.”

If someone drew the conclusion that Jesus was once again clever and outwitted the Pharisees who were trying to trap him, that would be fine. Or that He upheld the law on capital punishment (you must have two witnesses). Or that He outed their hypocrisy in not bringing the man. Those would all be good.

The main misuse of the passage is by those who exclaim, “He who is without sin can cast the first stone!,” when trying to shut up anyone making a judgment they disagree with.  But as you may have noticed, that objection is self-refuting and ironically hypocritical: They imply that all judging is wrong, but they are judging you for judging.  But there is more.

Jesus was referring to real stones that would kill the person. Real stones thrown at a real person until he or she was really dead.  Criticizing someone else hardly rises to the level of killing him by stoning. Flippantly equating death by stoning with mere criticism is beyond hyperbole.

And even if Jesus said the part about not casting the first stone, it wouldn’t have meant, “Never say adultery is wrong!”  Note that the passage also says, “Go and sin no more.”

Those advocating the “judging = casting stones” view typically make all sorts of judgments, including advocating hate speech / hate crime laws.  But shouldn’t they be consistent and not judge anyone for anything, ever?

The passage is also misused to oppose capital punishment in principle.  But again, Jesus upheld the law: If there had been two witnesses present, stoning would have been appropriate at that time.

Keep in mind that any criticisms of this post will be considered stone-casting on your part.  And you know how wrong that is!

* Skeptics like Bart Ehrman like to say that this passage and the “long ending” of the Gospel of Mark reduce our confidence that the original writings were the word of God, but they are really proof that the system works.  Based on the work of textual critics on literally thousands of ancient manuscripts, we can be very confident about what the original writings said.

Another false teacher profile

Here are some lowlights from false teacher Chuck Currie’s latest sermon: Immigrant Rights Sunday: A Sermon On John 20:19-31.  The shortcut to this link is http://wp.me/p1wGU-2TH .

The “sermon” is a train wreck of bad theology and bad thinking, but it is illuminating in highlighting a false teacher.  As a public service I listened to it all (the FDA considers it a substitute for Syrup of Ipecac, so listen to it at your own risk).  Seriously, I urge people to know just how rampant fakes are in the church today.  While Chuck only led one small failed church, the United Church of Christ puts him out there as a mouthpiece for their denomination.  That speaks volumes.

Sometimes I feel sorry for those misled by false teachers like Chuck, but other times I think they get what they deserve.  This wolf in sheep’s clothing has taken off the sheep’s clothing and is pure wolf.  If they were real Christians they should have gotten up and left, or at least made sure he never took the pulpit in their church again.

Note that he picks one passage, explains why he thinks it doesn’t belong in the Bible, then switches to politics.  Some of the more egregious errors and issues:

  • Your first question might be, “What does the passage about Thomas seeing the evidence of Jesus’ resurrection have to do with the rights of illegal immigrants?”  The answer, of course, is “Nothing.  It is just a random scripture read to help pretend that what follows is somehow associated with historic Christianity.”
  • He claims that the Gospel of John was written 100 years after the resurrection.  Conservative scholarship places it at 50-70 A.D. (partly because no destruction of the temple is mentioned), but even Liberal scholars will put it at 90-100 A.D.  Claiming it was written in 130 A.D. isn’t just Liberal, it is crazy-making-this-up-as-I-go-along-Liberal.  This Gospel was quoted by church fathers, some of whom were John’s disciples, many times before 130 A.D.  (what a great author to be quoted before you wrote something!).  Chuck offers no support for his fantasy date.  But a late dating is crucial to his underlying theme that the writers were forgers and liars.  Such is the desperate position of anti-Christians.  They hate the eye-witness claims of John, so they must position the whole book as lies.  Hey Chuck, just because you are a serial, unrepentant liar doesn’t mean the early Christians were.
  • If the early Christians didn’t think the physical resurrection was true they wouldn’t lie about it.  They’d stop being Christians!  Why endure the persecution if you “knew” your religion was false?  They had access to 1 Corinthians 15 from within a couple decades of the resurrection, so they knew essential that doctrine was.  In the same way, if a false teacher like Chuck really believed what he taught he’d have his church send out reverse missionaries. After all, if there are other ways to salvation besides Jesus, as Chuck claims, then the loving thing to do would be to encourage everyone to adhere to their local religion and avoid any conflict or persecution.
  • He brags about preaching for “marriage equality” (not in the Bible) and support for gun control (not in the Bible).  But even his prior Liberal (and failed) church didn’t like his illegal immigration views.  I suppose he thinks they were all racists.
  • If Chuck thinks the Gospel of John is inauthentic, why does he bother to preach from it?
  • He references global climate change as if it is a real issue for the church to deal with.
  • He claims that John was made up, but quotes it when it serves his purpose.  The passage is a classic one to demonstrate the reality of the physical resurrection, but Chuck thinks it is a lie.
  • Chuck thinks Jesus’ mission is to give unlimited rights to illegal aliens.  Of course Chuck just calls them “immigrants.”
  • He forgot to mention Romans 13 and the role of government and how Christians should obey laws.
  • It never occurs to him to share the real Gospel with illegal immigrants — or anyone else, for that matter.
  • He talks about loving our neighbors but is wildly pro-abortion, even advocating taxpayer-funded abortions.
  • He plays the race card about those questioning Obama’s birth certificate.  What a joke.  People don’t like Obama because he is a bad President with bad ideas.  He thinks it is racism because no other President was asked to provide a birth certificate, ignoring the fact that it has never been a question in the past.  Don’t you think Clinton would have loved to have been asked for his BC?  It would have drawn attention away from the serial adultery and credible rape allegations against him.  BTW, race-baiting is nothing new for Chuck (click the link for a funny episode).  And remember, he supports taxpayer-funded abortions, which will increase the ratio of abortions in the black community to beyond the current ratio of 3x to that of whites.  That’s real racism.
  • Another sermon with no cross and no Gospel — just droning on with politics disguised as religion.  He advocates for the “Dream Act.”

Warning: Be sure to save your comments if you post at Chuck’s site.  He has a history of deleting comments, only to then lie about what the comments really said.  Should we be surprised that a false teacher would do such a thing?

Some other considerations about this false teacher:

For starters, he never demonstrated why we should listen to him.  Let’s look at some facts about Chuck’s leadership and executive experience:

  • Very Liberal “reverend”
  • Very Liberal denomination
  • Very Liberal city and state
  • Failed church

Hmmmm . . . see anything wrong with that?  How can orthodox pastors like Mark Driscoll preach long, “boring” (in the traditional, secular sense) verse-by-verse sermons in Liberal places like Seattle and grow their church attendance dramatically, while people like Chuck have every demographic in their favor yet produce an epic FAIL?  Must be those UCC ejector seats!  What is it that qualifies Chuck as an expert here on religion or politics, especially when it is proven that Liberals fail at basic economics?

Some more of Chuck’s views:

  • Jesus is not the only way to salvation
  • Jesus is pro-abortion, including partial-birth abortion and taxpayer-funded abortion
  • the Holy Spirit told him and the other Liberals in the UCC that God has changed his stance on marriage, parenting and homosexual behavior (now that’s blasphemy!)
  • you should take first grade girls to gay pride parades (something about millstones comes to mind) .  You’d think that even his atheist wife (he’s apparently not much of an evangelist) would prevent that abuse of their children.
  • the book of John doesn’t belong in the Bible
  • gets more excited worshiping Charles Darwin more than he does Jesus
  • the Gospel of Thomas does belong in the Bible
  • it is acceptable to lie and libel people on blogs as long as you think you won’t get caught
  • Christians  have as much to learn from other religions as they do from us (really?  I don’t remember Jesus saying that . . . what does Islam have to teach about Jesus that the Bible doesn’t?)
  • and so much more!
You’ve been warned.  Run, don’t walk, from Chuck and the UCC.

Did false teacher change his mind on the Gospel of John?

False teacher Chuck “Jesus is not the only way” Currie is “preaching” on a passage from the Gospel of John this week — see Moving Through Holy Week.  No big deal, right?

Actually, it is .  You see, this false teacher said from the pulpit that the book of John was not written until 130 AD (which means, of course, that John nor any other apostle couldn’t have written it).

Is John 14:16 (sic) the literal word of God or is it a human reflection that speaks to how the early Christian community understood their faith?

Biblical scholars in mainline seminaries agree that Jesus never spoke the words attributed to him in our reading from this morning.

Looks like someone went scholar-shopping and found just what he was looking for.  And don’t you love the patronizing bit about those deluded early Christians who gave their lives for the faith but were just imagining that Jesus really said those things?

The Gospel of John was written some 100 years after the death of Jesus and in no other writing is Jesus said to have made such exclusive claims about the faith.  So why after 100 many years have passed since the his death would someone remember things so differently – so starkly differently.

The Jesus Seminar, the “scholars” that false teacher like Chuck flock to, insists that only a couple verses of John are valid.  So why would Chuck preach on anything from this book?

More nonsense from this wolf:

Let us resolve as members of the Christian faith to be open to hearing God speak through other voices, and as we preach the Gospel message let our hearts welcome new insights about God from other faithful traditions.

What do these other religions have to teach us about Jesus that the Bible doesn’t?  Do they have things that belong in the Bible instead of the Gospel of John?

Some false teachers are smooth.  Chuck is so clumsy and bad that I have stopped feeling sorry for those he misleads.  I think they want to be mislead.

Lost books of the Bible? Nope.

Some false teachers and skeptics claim that some books like the Gospel of Thomas were “lost” from the Bible (1).  This is still an important issue.  An agnostic employee of mine saw one of those “lost books” shows on TV and was captivated by it.  He asked me a lot of questions and seemed convinced by the DaVinci Code-type reasoning that Constantine and/or those misogynistic church fathers deliberately left out books they disagreed with.

But whether you think that the Bible is divinely inspired or not, it is bad reasoning to claim that any books of the Bible have been lost.  Greg Koukl has a great summary of this in No “lost” book:

Regardless of how you view the Scripture – as supernatural or as natural – there is no sense in which there could be lost books of the Bible.  If the Bible is supernatural – if God is responsible for its writing, it’s transmission and its survival – then God, being God, doesn’t fail.  He doesn’t make mistakes, He doesn’t forget things and He’s not constrained by man’s limitations.  God can’t lose his lessons.

However, if the Bible is not supernatural, as many will contend, especially those who claim to have found lost books – one faces a different problem.  By what standard do we claim that these are bona fide lost books of the canon of the early church?  If, from a human perspective, the Bible is that collection of writings reflecting the beliefs of early Christianity, then any writings discarded by the church fathers were not books of their Bible by very definition.

The good news is that my employee has an open mind and saw the wisdom in this reasoning.  He’s still exploring, but I’m encouraged.

Whether one believes that the Bible is divinely inspired or not, there is no rational basis to claim there are any lost books.  God doesn’t lose things, and if it was a purely man-made creation then by definition they put in what they wanted.

Anyone claiming the name of Christ who believes that books were lost is, at best, “saved and (very) confused,” and most likely a false teacher.

(1) See this example where false teacher Chuck Currie claims that the Gospel of John does not belong in the Bible but that the Gospel of Thomas does (So long, John 3:16 and more!).  Of course, that tips his hand as to not believing in any real God at all, because Chuck’s “god” isn’t powerful enough to preserve his teachings.

You’d think that such a transparent wolf in sheep’s clothing would be booted out of any church, yet Chuck is a spokesperson for the UCC.

The Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry has an excellent collection of articles on the supposed lost books.   You can read the Gospel of Thomas there, for example.  Note that the Bible critics and false teachers rarely quote passages like this one:

114 Simon Peter said to them: Let Mary go forth from among us, for women are not worthy of the life. Jesus said: Behold, I shall lead her, that I may make her male, in order that she also may become a living spirit like you males. For every woman who makes herself male shall enter into the kingdom of heaven.

They just use the existence of these books to cast doubt on the real Bible.  Just your basic Satan-inspired actions.

 

Heretics ‘R Us

 

I dropped by The Reverend Chuck Currie’s blog to see what The Reverend Chuck Currie had to say.  Because, after all, The Reverend Chuck Currie is a reverend.  You can tell, because it says so in his blog title.

He is a leader in the United Church of Christ denomination, a group that is apparently not too keen on sound doctrine.  This guy just got ordained and he is continuing to preach heresies.

Oddly, his sermon on John 14:6 (Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”) was on a single verse, and his key points were to claim that Jesus was not the only way to the Father, that other religions such as Islam should inform our view of the Gospel, and that the Bible is not accurate or reliable. I downloaded the sermon and quoted a few parts below.

Got that?  You are sitting in a United Church of Christ building ready to hear a lesson from the Word of God, only to have the “Reverend” tell you that the Bible is not the Word of God and that Jesus is not the only way to salvation.  You can trust what other religions teach you because God apparently revealed himself accurately in them, but He did not reveal himself properly in the Bible.  And this guy just graduated from a “Christian” seminary and now has a PhD in Theology from a Cracker Jack box or something.  Check.

Here are some excerpts from his message:

Is John 14:16 (sic) the literal word of God or is it a human reflection that speaks to how the early Christian community understood their faith?

Biblical scholars in mainline seminaries agree that Jesus never spoke the words attributed to him in our reading from this morning.

Looks like someone went scholar-shopping and found just what he was looking for.  And don’t you love the patronizing bit about those deluded early Christians who gave their lives for the faith but were just imagining that Jesus really said those things?

The Gospel of John was written some 100 years after the death of Jesus and in no other writing is Jesus said to have made such exclusive claims about the faith.  So why after 100 many years have passed since the his death would someone remember things so differently – so starkly differently.

First, the dating for the Gospel of John is much earlier than 100 years after the death of Jesus.  Chuck has been corrected on this point but he ignores it.

He also ignores that there are 100 passages stating that Jesus is the only way.  He pretends that John 14:6 is the only Bible verse making this claim.  He has also determined that the gnostic Gospel of Thomas is more authoritative than the Gospel of John – even though the early church did not even hint at holding that view.

It might be better to read this passage as a statement of faith from the early Christian community, who believed with conviction that Jesus was the way, the truth and the life.  I share that conviction today.

No, he doesn’t.  If he really thought Jesus was the way then he wouldn’t stand in a pulpit and spread these lies.

But I’m not so arrogant to think that my own understanding of God surprasses all other understandings of God . . . Is it possible that God speaks through Judaism, Islam, Hinduism and the world’s other great religions?

Ah, there’s the passive-aggresive tolerance trick.  The reverend dogmatically states that Jesus is not the only way, that the Gospel of John was written 100 years after Jesus’ death and contains falsehoods, the Gospel of Thomas is authoritative, the Bible is not, etc.  But he’s not going to be arrogant like those who don’t hold those views!  How humble.

And no, God does not speak through other world religions.  They may contain some truths but that doesn’t mean they are from God.  If you took even 10% of the Bible seriously you would never make that claim.  Religious pluralism is intellectually bankrupt.

Let us resolve as members of the Christian faith to be open to hearing God speak through other voices, and as we preach the Gospel message let our hearts welcome new insights about God from other faithful traditions.

What kind of nonsense is that?   He says we are supposed to preach the Gospel, but we’re supposed to let other faithful traditions inform our views.  Huh?  What Gospel is that?  What is the standard of truth now that he has tossed out the Bible?

I would encourage the reverend to meditate on this verse, except that he has probably eliminated from his slim-line Bible already:

Galatians 1:8-9 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned! As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned!

I say with complete confidence that the gospel (small “g”) that The Reverend Chuck Currie preaches is radically different than the one the Apostle Paul was referring to.

“Reverends” like this mock the cross and the blood of the martyrs.  I am glad we live in a country where people have the freedom to preach whatever they like.  We even have a name for people who hold these views: Non-Christians.

More here.

Christmas gift idea

pocket.jpgNo, no, not for me.  Although . . .

If you are looking for gift ideas for folks who perform services like newspaper delivery, lawn maintenance, cleaning, etc. consider a gift card to Wal-Mart (or whatever) along with a Gospel of John booklet (or a Gospel of Juan for Spanish speaking folks).  You can get free copies at the Pocket Testament League

Seriously, if you are going to give a present to celebrate the birth of Christ, what could be more relevant than an account of his life?

—–

More about the organization:

The Pocket Testament League has, for more than 110 years, motivated Christians to read, carry and share the Word of God. Begun in 1893 as the vision of a teenage girl named Helen Cadbury, the League provides free resources empowering people to develop a lifestyle of personal evangelism.

You can get free copies of the Gospel of John with various covers and translations.  You can order all you like (they do accept donations, but it is not required).  If you are able to strike up a conversation with someone on spiritual matters you can offer to give them a booklet.  It may be less intimidating to the other person than if you gave them a whole Bible to read (though that is good, too!). 

As noted in these 8 Witnessing Tips, it is helpful to leave them with something. The Gospel of John is considered one of the most beautiful works of literature ever written, and of course it was inspired by the Holy Spirit.  As John himself wrote,

John 20:30-31 Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

John 21

j21.jpgGreetings!

Jesus and the Miraculous Catch of Fish

21     Afterward Jesus appeared again to his disciples, by the Sea of Tiberias. It happened this way: 2 Simon Peter, Thomas (called Didymus), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples were together. 3 “I’m going out to fish,” Simon Peter told them, and they said, “We’ll go with you.” So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.

4 Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus.

5 He called out to them, “Friends, haven’t you any fish?”

“No,” they answered.

6 He said, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.” When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish.

7 Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, “It is the Lord,” he wrapped his outer garment around him (for he had taken it off) and jumped into the water. 8 The other disciples followed in the boat, towing the net full of fish, for they were not far from shore, about a hundred yards. 9 When they landed, they saw a fire of burning coals there with fish on it, and some bread.

10 Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish you have just caught.”

11 Simon Peter climbed aboard and dragged the net ashore. It was full of large fish, 153, but even with so many the net was not torn. 12 Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” None of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. 13 Jesus came, took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. 14 This was now the third time Jesus appeared to his disciples after he was raised from the dead.

These are very specific descriptions of Jesus with a physical risen body.  Some people try to say Jesus was just raised spritually, but that is in direct conflict to the Bible.

Jesus Reinstates Peter

15 When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you truly love me more than these?”

“Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.”

Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”

16 Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you truly love me?”

He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”

Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”

17 The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”

Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”

Was Jesus being hard on Peter, or was He proving to him that despite his denials he was being restored?

Jesus said, “Feed my sheep. 18 I tell you the truth, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” 19 Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, “Follow me!”

20 Peter turned and saw that the disciple whom Jesus loved was following them. (This was the one who had leaned back against Jesus at the supper and had said, “Lord, who is going to betray you?”) 21 When Peter saw him, he asked, “Lord, what about him?”

22 Jesus answered, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.” 23 Because of this, the rumor spread among the brothers that this disciple would not die. But Jesus did not say that he would not die; he only said, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you?”

V. 22 has a lesson we should all remember when we worry about the path of others.  Jesus said to Peter, ” . . . what is that to you?  You must follow me.”  That is our command: To follow him.

24 This is the disciple who testifies to these things and who wrote them down. We know that his testimony is true.

25 Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.

The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

Thus ends a magnificent work of literature, noting the claim that this is the truth and that Jesus did so many things that we couldn’t record them all.  I pray that people take the message of this book seriously and put their faith in Jesus.