“…the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.” Jesus as quoted by John, his disciple
Sissy had asked me to attend a Bible study after our first date. I really did not want to attend a Bible Study. Heck, as you know by now I had read the entire Bible through three times and could vomit scripture out at will.
In fact thought of going to a Bible study actually made me want to vomit.
But I would have walked on hot coals to spend another couple of hours with Sissy during the week so I went for that reason only.
My mind was as open as a wall with regards to anything of the Bible.
But God will have His way, won’t He?
Despite my admonitions to God to, “Stay the hell out of my life,” I would soon see His hand on my life again.
Now a MCM study or sermon always started with a premise (not that MCM would ever have used that term). This premise always supported whatever MCM had decided to do or decided to make the sheep do.
That pretty much sums up the purposes of MCM’s studies, sermons and theology.
Before we delve into MCM’s method of indoctrination it might be helpful to look at common methods of preaching and teaching. One method, topical teaching or preaching, expounds on what the Bible says about a specific topic. It involves, or should involve, looking at multiple scriptures throughout the Bible to see what multiple scriptures say about the premise (again I don’t like this approach but that is one reason Baskin Robbin’s ice cream has more than one flavor).
What MCM employed (and what I believe EN employs) is the topical method with a subtle variation which using what Mary Alice Chrnalogar calls, “Twisting and Bending” [Mary Alice Chrnalogar author of a great read on this subject called “Twisted Scriptures” I use her descriptions and conclusion extensively in this post].
“Twisting and Bending” is a subtle and dangerous use of the Topical Preaching method. Dangerous because it involves looking only at passages and scriptures that support the premise, regardless of the context, or what other scriptural texts on the subject might seem to say. It scours the Bible for any and all texts that support the premise and ignores any that do not, however numerous.
I have given a couple of examples of this Twisting and Bending to teaching approach earlier in this Blog.
For example MCM’s teaching of total commitment to Christ started with the premise that since Jesus calling his followers to live a totally committed life everyone should “give it all up for MCM” including the requirements of being shepherded and of bearing fruit (bringing others to Christ).
The MCM teacher/preacher would scour the Bible looking for any, and all, passages that might possibly support this predetermined premise. Any scriptures that might run counter to the premise or caution against it pwere ignored.
Well there ARE plenty of scriptures that could be interpreted to support this view (the need for complete and total commitment to be a Christian, being shepherded, and bearing fruit). However, if I could show you ONE passage that did NOT support this view, one example of someone believing in Jesus and going directly to heaven without doing a THING for Jesus, then this might give you, the adherent, pause before going crazy and driving a complete theological framework and a Church (or cult) around this teaching.
One might only point out that the thief on the cross, an admitted sinner, who died soon after his conversation with Christ, and went to paradise. No confession of sin on his part, no hootah sessions, no converting anybody, no lengthy all night prayer sessions, no Bible studies, no baptism no nothing but stating, “Truly You are the Son of God,” and asking Jesus to “Remember me in paradise”.
The thief was a sinner one minute, asking Christ to take him the next, in paradise the next. One could, as I pointed out earlier, also look to the parable of the late worker who received the same of pay those that had worked all day for the master.
Sure there is room for argument here, of course,…my point is not that anyone accept the COUNTERVIEW view I just proposed to the radical commitment to Jesus premise. My point is simply that ALL scripture should be weighed and considered before a theological position is taken.
But of course MCM used this Twisting and Bending method with all its teachings …and to compound this fundamental teaching error …anyone who did bring up a countervailing scripture(s) would quickly find themselves in a hootah session or worse.
Well, it soon clear to me that this Bible study of Sissy’s was radically different from the MCM studies/sermons and the fill in the blank MCM gobble-ti-gook nonsense of the Red, Green,Brown, Blue, and Pink Books (yes Pink!) Book Studies that I had poisoned my mind with for five years.
For Bible study I went to with Sissy started with no premise.
It was not about “Believing in Miracles”, or “The Laws of God’s Prosperity”, or “Spiritual Warfare”, or “Claiming the Healing Power of Jesus’, or “Discipleship, God’s Way”, or “Converting Souls for Jesus”, or “Why You Should Give to a Special Offering”, or “Gods Annointing on the Leadership and Why You Should Obey Them Always No Matter What”.
It was a premise free, topic free, study.
Let me correct that. It was a study whose topic was simply, “The Book of Romans”.
Now when I started attending the study, the group was going word by word, line by line and verse by verse through Romans; they were just starting on the 2nd Chapter after sixteen weekly one and a half hour studies.
When Sissy told me all of this I could not have imagined anything more BORING. Nothing to get excited about, at all, from my perspective.
I was merely hoping to keep conscious during the hour and a half study.
I mean how many times had I heard, or [cringe] did I say, “Tonight God has an earth shattering important word on…well…Faith or Healing or Saving Souls or Giving or Demons or Ruling and Reigning or Give God (me) All Your Money?”
But a study on Romans????…just Romans…well it sounded as appetizing as a bowl of day old oatmeal with no sugar in it to me.
Sissy brought an oversized parallel Bible with her (the kind that tracks KJV, NIV, NAS and RSV side by side) and something I had never seen before; something called Young’s Literal Translation which was a word for word Greek to English translation of the NT.
Now what did I bring?
Well I brought one of those little green Gideon’s New Testament since my other Bible was moldering in the woods; highlights, notes and all. (I wonder if it is still there…in my parent’s back yard…?)
So we started in on the second chapter of Romans and spent one and half hour on the following:
“You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things.”
We looked up the Greek word for therefore and excuse, we looked up all potential English translations for them. We did the same for the words judgment and someone. We looked at probably twenty other scriptures around these words and concepts. We went back to Chapter 1 to see what the there was there for (ha ha ha). We spent time discussing why Paul was writing the church in Rome and where he probably was when he wrote the letter.
About 45 minutes into this thing I suddenly found that I was enjoying it.
I mean we were parsing the Word of God, examining it up and down, sideways and backwards…no premise…no huge points…we were letting the Bible Speak to us… just speak…no hushed tones then loud screams by the teacher, no hand gestures, no leaning forward when a huge point was made, no accusations, no condemnation, no band playing some emotionally laden song at the end of the study, no hootahing, no tears… no one telling us we were not trying hard enough, or our souls were in jeopardy… it was just a pure and simple study of the Bible.
Later we spent four weeks studying the greetings to and from the early Christians at the end of Romans, tracing Rufus and learning about his mother…it was one of the most exciting studies I had ever been through.
You see I this was my first exposure to expository teaching, exegesis, and Biblical hermeneutics for the first time.
Exegesis involves determining the literal meaning of each word of scripture and the relationship to other words, and the context of the scripture (those verses and words immediately before and after).
The other principles being used in this study was that of hermeneutics and weight of the scripture. This is simply trying to understand the proper interpretation of scripture using the exegesis, context and weight of all the scriptures to develop a view or interpretation rather than gathering disparate texts.
Our teacher, a seminarian, used a very simple explanation for the way he was teaching:
“Suppose you walk into a room and two people are conversing and you hear one say, ‘I hate it when you say that.’ Now, you might, based on that one statement, come to a conclusion…being that the speaker hates the other person or what they are saying.”
“But if you investigate the context of the conversation, look into the entire conversation, explore the relationship between the two people, look at how the words are used in relationship to each other. You might actually find out that the person who said ‘I hate it’ actually liked what was being said, and was getting ready to laugh at a very, very funny joke.”
Well at that time I did not understand all of this, that is for certain.
And I did not realize it during that first study I attended, nor the fifth, nor the tenth, but sometime during the next 12 months real faith began taking root in my heart.
Not a faith that I grasped or or conjured up through an effort of will… but a faith that was growing without my effort, or perhaps, in SPITE of my efforts.
For as I later learned faith comes… by… Hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.
And for the first time in my life, I was simply sitting and studying the Word, not to learn how to get more souls for Jesus, or to become a, “Mighty man of God,” and or a, “CHAMP,” not to prove a point I already had in mind, or someone else had in mind, nor to impress my shepherd, nor to impress God, nor to get deliverance…but simply to study and hear the Bible “speak”.
It truly was like drinking out of a clear and cool fountain on a hot and dusty day.
And day by day, little by little, with the help of this simple weekly study along with the advice and counsel of my special brown-eyed friend, I begin unlocking the rusty shackles and chains that I, with help from MCM, had wound tightly around both my mind and spirit.