Monday, February 19, 2018

Line upon line, precept upon precept: "Have we allowed a mistranslated text of scripture to become a catch-phrase of wisdom which was originally intended to be a mocking chide?" is painful to admit that a verse we have used 
as a badge of our "wisdom" and "depth" 
is in fact drunken chiding which triggers the judgment of God

One of the favorite scripture bombs that the church and church members loved to throw around in order to silence people was Isaiah 28:10, 13.
...precept upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little...
The church has always claimed that to understand the Bible it was necessary to glean a little here, a little there, some more over here, and less over there. Line upon line, just like in the ten commandments, wisdom was to be found in a linear fashion, that the word stands upon the foundations of previous verses or teachings.  It was always used as a weapon to denigrate anyone who disagreed with the church or some "understanding" that was supposed to be accepted by all.

So just how did a verse that was filled with mocking "chiding" become a verse used by the COG as a weapon to mock those people thought less biblically enlightened as they were?

Reprinted with permission: Dean & Laura VanDruff: Dialogues and Commentary

Have we allowed a mistranslated text of scripture to become a catch-phrase of wisdom which was originally intended to be a mocking chide?
Isa 28:10 (KJV) For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little.Isa 28:13 (KJV) ...precept upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little...
The phrase "precept upon precept" from the King James Version of the above two scriptures is often associated with "deep teaching" and biblical larks. Normally you hear about it when the going gets muddleheaded, hard to follow, or just plain confusing; in which case the handy old "precept upon precept" phrase will be trotted out to explain why. Understanding how "precepts" are built upon "precepts" ad-infinitum to absurd complexity is supposed to be a key to understanding, or so we are told.
2Co 11:3 (NKJ) But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.
We know from Scripture that God does not cotton much to mental conceit, human sophistry, or the lofty thoughts of men. These, in fact, are specifically warned against as the very scent of deception. But with the popular use of "precept upon precept" to justify such, God's prophetic irony is stark.
Isa 28:19 (NIV) ...The understanding of this message will bring sheer terror.
What does what the King James rendered as "precept upon precept" really mean, then? Well, in Hebrew the phrase in Isaiah 28 verses 10 and 13 is: "sav lasav sav lasav, kav lakav kav lakav" as can be seen in the footnotes of most modern Bibles. The phrase appears to be mere gobbledygook, a mockery of the prophet's words, which we will see in context momentarily. To have translated this gibberish was extremely daffy, but the KJV translators set an unfortunate precedent. 
As an example in English, imagine someone standing up in the audience at a Promise Keepers rally with a megaphone and shouting, "Lah De Dah, Lah De Dah; Blah Be Blah, Blah Be Blah". You would take it this person was not "with the program"; was making fun. Now suppose a naive person was translating this into French for French television, and missed the satirical point: "He's from Los Angeles, He's from Los Angeles... He is bored with insects, He is bored with insects," might be a honest attempt. But--really now! 
Now that a precedent has been set with "sav lasav" in English, most new translations dare not deviate. The NIV follows the KJV lead with "do and do, do and do", and the NAS "order on order, order on order", with footnotes alerting the reader of the problem. Beyond precedent, however, it is painful to admit that a verse we have used as a badge of our "wisdom" and "depth" is in fact drunken chiding which triggers the judgment of God. 
As we will see in context, this is not "wisdom" to be imitated, or a "key" of understanding to apprehend God's word, it is a mockery of the spirit of prophecy. 
Let's dive into the text.
Isa 28:1 (NIV) Woe to that wreath, the pride of Ephraim's drunkards, to the fading flower, his glorious beauty... the pride of those laid low by wine!Isa 28:7-8 (NIV) And these also stagger from wine and reel from beer: Priests and prophets stagger from beer and are befuddled with wine; they reel from beer, they stagger when seeing visions, they stumble when rendering decisions. All the tables are covered with vomit and there is not a spot without filth. 
Isa 28:9-12 (NIV) "Who is it he is trying to teach? To whom is he explaining his message? To children weaned from their milk, to those just taken from the breast? For it is: ["sav lasav sav lasav, kav lakav kav lakav"] "Do and do, do and do, rule on rule, rule on rule; a little here, a little there". Very well then, with foreign lips and strange tongues God will speak to this people, to whom he said, "This is the resting-place, let the weary rest"; and, "This is the place of repose"--but they would not listen.
So far, unless you have been paying close attention, you might have misunderstood that the "kav lakav" message comes from the drunken and stumbling prophets--aimed at those who are too spiritually dull or sodden to even know better. The idea of foreign lips and strange tongues carries with it a pagan and unclean aspect, perhaps even alluding to Balaam. But all this, so far, could be disputed. Some expositors, for example, suggest that this is an old testament harbinger of speaking in tongues; and link "kav kakav" to the glossolalia of 1Cr 14:22 as a means of explaining the "foreign" reference. But this is a bit of a stretch even if we stop where we are; and there is more. 
So that we can not miss the point that this chiding phrase is not God's wisdom, but a travesty of it that brings on God's judgment, the phrase is repeated in a context that cannot be missed and with a result that that is inescapable.
Isa 28:13 (NIV) So then, the word of the Lord to them will become: ["sav lasav sav lasav, kav lakav kav lakav"] Do and do, do and do, rule on rule, rule on rule; a little here, a little there--so that they will go and fall backwards, be injured and snared and captured.
Sound like a group you would like to be part of? 
Isaiah now will respond to this sing-songy taunt and ignorance paraded as wisdom.
Isa 28:14-15 (NIV) Therefore hear the word of the Lord, you scoffers who rule this people in Jerusalem. You boast, "We have entered into a covenant with death, with the grave we have made an agreement. When an overwhelming scourge sweeps by, it cannot touch us, for we have made a lie our refuge and falsehood our hiding-place." 
Isa 28:16-20 (NIV) So this is what the Sovereign Lord says: "See, I lay a stone in Zion, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone for a sure foundation; the one who trusts will never be dismayed. I will make justice the measuring line and righteousness the plumb-line; hail will sweep away your refuge, the lie, and water will overflow your hiding-place... When the overwhelming scourge sweeps by, you will be beaten down by it. As often as it comes it will carry you away; morning after morning, by day and by night, it will sweep through." The understanding of this message will bring sheer terror. The bed is too short to stretch out on, the blanket too narrow to wrap around you. 
Isa 28:21-22 (NIV) The Lord will rise up as he did at Mount Perazim, he will rouse himself as in the Valley of Gibeon--to do his work, his strange work, and perform his task, his alien task. Now stop your mocking, or your chains will become heavier; the Lord, the Lord Almighty, has told me of the destruction decreed against the whole land.

Here is another take on the verses written in regard to preachers and their preaching:
Isaiah 28:10-13 and our Preaching Practice
Do these verses provide a good explanation of how God wants His Scriptures to be taught? Not even close. The statement about “precept upon precept, line upon line” is first of all a mocking statement by drunkards about the teaching of Isaiah, and then becomes a mocking statement by God as He turns their words back upon them. God tells them that if they don’t like what Isaiah says, they really won’t like what they hear from the Assyrians.
There is almost nothing in this text about how to preach and teach the Word of God. If there is anything here at all, we might be able to glimpse Isaiah’s teaching method behind the mocking words of the leaders. It seems that Isaiah taught the same thing over and over and over in very simple words and ideas to the drunken leaders of Israel in hopes that through repetition and simplicity, they might understand his words and repent of their ways.  Is Line by Line Preaching Biblical?

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Would you lie to protect your particular Church of God?

A comment was made on another thread about Rod McNair's recent take on "lying."

LCG is rich with irony. While Doug Winnail is in Africa, Rod McNair is taking over his weekly comments, and he used this platform this week to share some statistics:

61% of Elders agreed lying is morally wrong
54% of Baby Boomers agreed that lying is morally wrong
50% of Generation Xers agreed that lying is morally wrong
42% of Millennials agreed that lying is morally wrong
But only 34% of Generation Z (born between 1999 and 2015) could agree that lying is morally wrong

Rod presents this as a problem, but those close to him know that he believes in the "Rahab principle" that if you lie for the Church you are not morally culpable. If you are married and Rod convinces your spouse to lie about you, that is lying for the Church and is justified. If you, however, dare to tell the truth about Rod's lies, you are going against the Church and must be eliminated. If you lie to donors about how your tithes are being used, that's morally OK, but if a critic points out the truth that many of LCG's media statistics represent purchased views and do not represent real viewer interest, your truth is considered morally wrong.

Gerald Weston has inherited a big problem. The Emperor is wearing no clothes, and those outside of LCG can see this clearly. It's only the frightened or ambitious LCG members who keep trying to pretend that their home office is something other than a nest of vipers. This is why LCG is not growing. If you are using the Holy Spirit to discern Godly character, you won't want to expose yourself or your loved ones to LCG's moral decrepitude.
We have all seen over the years the lies of Dave Pack and Gerald FLurry go down in flaming glory.  We also witness it today in the lies of Bob Thiel as he attempts to constantly justify the existence of his personality cult. But not only is lying an issue with the leadership of the various COG's, it involves the members too.  On a Facebook page, people have been talking about how their families lied to school administrators, church hall rental people and others.

I remember being told to say all kinds of things to school teachers that were not exactly true when it came the church belief idiosyncrasies.
Most of my experience of this was in childhood, filling out school forms. We had to list our doctor in the event of an emergency, and of course we had none – so sometimes my parents would write in the name of Dr. Clint C. Zimmerman (an evangelist who had earned a living as a chiropractor before entering the ministry), even though they knew they were being asked for a medical doctor, and we had never ever ever consulted Zimmerman professionally (if contacted by school officials, he would have had no idea who we were, though he might have remembered my grandparents).
Even though Clint Zimmerman was no physician, I kind of see my parents' reasoning – he had, indeed, at one time worked in a related field; still, that's one heck of a stretch.
But my first year or two of grade school they actually filled in the name of Dr. Hermann Hoeh as our family doctor – yes, a professor of twisted history who earned his degree from an unaccredited Bible college based on a dissertation unspoiled by facts or logic! No doubt if I'd had an accident on campus he could have mailed a prayer cloth to the school nurse ...
Many times parents in Pasadena would use the campus chiropractor or registered nurses names as "official" doctors for the family.  Not only were these men/women not real doctors, they were questionable chiropractors considering the quacky things they practiced and encouraged their patients to do. All of the engaged in peddling quack homoeopathic medicines, just as Bob Thiel does.

Then, if something did go wrong with a child due to the church stance on doctors and medicine, the church conveniently weaseled its way out of any responsibility whatsoever.  They blamed the parents for not doing what should have thought to be right.  Then when the child died from appendicitis are some other illness, the ministers would uphold the child or family as pillars of faith for not using medical treatment.

Lying to the "gentile" unconverted public was like casting "pearls before swine" in the eyes of the church.  Never share church doctrines or its darker secrets with the "gentiles."  We were warned that if we did that then persecution could come upon the church.

Lying also extended to hall rentals for church services or other evenings.
Sometimes the church would rent a local school field and/or multi-purpose room for a church social, which involved signing a statement acknowledging alcohol was prohibited (often my dad was the responsible party who reserved the facility and signed those papers – ministers didn't like to go on record and sign official documents). Even at my young age, I can recall two of our ministers in the sixties, ...while instructing the deacons and servers to keep the wine they served with the potluck on the down-low .... never occurred to school officials a church group would intentionally violate the law.
I remember going to "night to be Much Observed" dinners in restaurants that did not serve alcohol or in meeting halls.  We were to keep the booze hidden and poured into paper cups so that the "gentiles" would think it was grape soda.

Herbert Armstrong was well qualified to lie to the members since advertising is mostly one big lie after another.  Just look at the scores of letters he sent out begging the membership for money all the while he would be on spending sprees at Harrod's and Sotheby's.

And who can forget the "let's flee to Petra" lie we all endure in the late 60's and early 70's.  Could there have been a more monstrous lie forced on the membership?  Oh wait, there were other lies just as bad, or worse: HWA was an apostle.  Church members would become God as God is now. That we need to "qualify" for salvation. Hitler was still alive and ready to slaughter Americans...on and on it went.

The church always defensively claimed it never lied to anyone, but "sins of omission" seemed to be OK.  The less you told the gentiles of the world the better.  Half-truths were the doctrine of the day, and sadly still are in the COG's.