Preaching Articles

The picture is one straight out of Americana and black-and-white movie nostalgia: the family, neatly dressed, walking on a crisp and refreshing morning to church, Bibles in hand.

I remember my Psalty's Kids Bible. I remember putting tabs on my Bible when I was in middle school. I remember liking the hardcover edition of John MacArthur’s Study Bible because it looked intelligent and his name sounded intelligent. I really thought that a guy with that kind of name knows what he is talking about. I got in on The Message. I was skeptical of the rocks, tar, and feathers thrown at the TNIV. I really enjoy the TNIV The Books of the Bible. I am a pushover for leather-bound books, especially Bibles (or The Book of Common Prayer I just got!). Yet somewhere along the line I stopped bringing my Bible to church.

I chose to stop bringing my Bible to church because I think the Bible became a distraction for me, and it defeated the purpose of preaching: to listen. When we depend so heavily on reading and looking instead of listening in church, we can disengage from the voice of the Spirit and our fellow brothers and sisters. Until the printing press no church members brought their Bibles to church—they listened.

I wanted to recapture the art of listening, so I stopped bringing my Bible to church.  When the pastor asks everyone to turn to so-and-so chapter and verse, I just sit contentedly and wait for the passage to be read aloud. If I had a Bible I would just read the passage and veg out; that’s our mentality when we read a passage (which is really bad!). Instead, when we come to a passage and read we should be able to let the words inform our souls, not just rush to the application.

Listening is a way to try to prevent that. When we listen we don’t have to rush to the application. We have to focus on the words. There is no time to go back and re-read the passage if you don’t listen the first time (and there have been times in church when I didn't listen to the passage and then had no idea what was going on), so it becomes important to focus on the Word with our ears and then let it inform our souls through focus and attention.

And so I don’t bring my Bible to church. I try to listen. And in listening I hope to have a focused mind on the sermon and the reading of the Word.

Editor's Note: This article has several implications for preachers today: Is it possible that having a Bible on your lap could prevent listening to the preached word? Have you ever asked your listeners to put down their Bibles and simply listen to the word of God as it is spoken? Have you ever taken note of how many people do not bring a Bible to church? Does your preaching take that into account?



Thom Turner is a Program Manager at International Justice Mission and the Senior Editor & Publisher of GENERATE Magazine. He writes frequently for The Curator, The Englewood Review of Books, The Master’s Artist and The Other Journal‘s Mediation blog. He's also a graduate of Rutgers University (MA in English) and Cairn University (BS English Ed., BS Bible).

Browse All

Related Preaching Articles

Talk about it...

J.d. Barnes

commented on Sep 19, 2012

Interesting perspective. There is a generation being raised up without any regard to the Bible because many churches don't teach on the purpose or how to use the Bible. I see the importance and need of having people use a Bible when they attend church. Many times as I read my Bible I look at some of the notes that I wrote down and am encouraged by the messages I heard.

Keith B

commented on Sep 19, 2012

I find that sad. I think we lose something if we don't actually look up the passage and see it for ourselves. How do you know your pastor isn't pulling a fast one with the text? I'm sure he's good-intentioned, but sometimes, pastors have been known to mess up the hermeneutics....how would you know if he was exegeting it correctly?

Jon Rood

commented on Sep 19, 2012

I think our socitety has changed from one that would read the bible and have it "hidden in our hearts" to one that searches a topic they are dealing with on their IPAD. I personally miss the know the the answer before the problem days!!

Francis O'rourke

commented on Sep 19, 2012

I hope none of my children read this article. How many students would not bring their textbook to class? The purpose of you having your Bible during a sermon or a Bible study is to "approve" what is being taught. Do you have your Bible memorized?

Jack Woodard

commented on Sep 19, 2012

ASININE

David Gee

commented on Sep 19, 2012

I intend to pray for this misguided young man.....

Doug Conley

commented on Sep 19, 2012

I tell the congregation I serve that we need to be more like the Bereans. I ask them to check me out on what I teach. Not just so they'll study it for themselves, but also, if they use the Bible to prove me wrong, I gain in understanding. I am working out my salvation, too.

Jeremiah Hembree

commented on Sep 19, 2012

While I do not accept the foundational premise of this article in the least, as a pastor this is very eye opening. How many of our members approach our weekly gatherings with the same, misguided logic? This article is a great reminder to me on the importance of teaching personal responsibility, accountability and discipline with God's Word. We must instruct as well as demonstrate the great value of having in your hand your own copy of God's Word, especially when it is being taught, and remind folks again of the great price that was paid by many to have that priviledge. As misguided as this logic is, this is a good reminder/wake up call to my ongoing responsibilities to an increasingly Biblically illiterate generation.

Jeremiah Hembree

commented on Sep 19, 2012

While I do not accept the foundational premise of this article in the least, as a pastor this is very eye opening. How many of our members approach our weekly gatherings with the same, misguided logic? This article is a great reminder to me on the importance of teaching personal responsibility, accountability and discipline with God's Word. We must instruct as well as demonstrate the great value of having in your hand your own copy of God's Word, especially when it is being taught, and remind folks again of the great price that was paid by many to have that priviledge. As misguided as this logic is, this is a good reminder/wake up call to my ongoing responsibilities to an increasingly Biblically illiterate generation.

Rev. Larry West

commented on Sep 19, 2012

I think this is a very misguided approach. While learning to listen is a great goal, and one much needed, the very REASON God gave us a printing press is so EVERY one could have access to the scriptures. Not just those who would err and see themselves as keepers of the sacred writings. Yes those in the past had to listen to the lollar or preacher, but they had NO idea if he was preaching the true word of God, since they had no access to the Bible. God has blessed us with this, and don't forget those who died trying to get the scriptures to everyone!

Mark Nielson

commented on Sep 19, 2012

I agree with the basic premise of active listening. Before you hang Thom out to dry he was not advocating getting rid of your Bible (s)...but rather giving attention to the preached word. This past Sunday one of my elders revealed in an after worship class that he totally missed an important point in my message. why? because he went on a rabbit trail in his Bible that was actually unrelated to the meat of the message. If you are concerned that your pastor is misrepresenting the passage or trying to "pull a fast one" you need to go home and check it out...or you need to get a new pastor!

Blake Weber

commented on Sep 19, 2012

I'm a little upset to read this article. First of all, the Bible tells us to devote ourselves to hearing the public READING. Why? Because many were illiterate and most couldn't afford a Bible at the time. Today, we all have access to Bibles. I wish, instead of you saying you need to work on your listening and focusing, you would say you worked on your reading and listening at the same time. What would the Bereans have said about this article? You are discouraging even more Christians (as we have a ton already) to not open their Bible. I hope no one reads this article... ever...

Roger Lewis

commented on Sep 19, 2012

Lighten up, people. He is using some literary license to make a point. You all are way to serious. He is not throwing the Bible out. Just saying that we need to listen to the message. I would assume the same God that inspired Scripture called the preacher so it probably intended that we listen. Give him a break.

Rev. Larry West

commented on Sep 19, 2012

I think this is a very misguided approach. While learning to listen is a great goal, and one much needed, the very REASON God gave us a printing press is so EVERY one could have access to the scriptures. Not just those who would err and see themselves as keepers of the sacred writings. Yes those in the past had to listen to the lollar or preacher, but they had NO idea if he was preaching the true word of God, since they had no access to the Bible. God has blessed us with this, and don't forget those who died trying to get the scriptures to everyone!

Nathan Pinnix

commented on Sep 19, 2012

The author said people listened before there were printing presses. As a result of the printing press we know that our intercessor is Jesus Christ, not the pope, we know the richness of salvation by faith, not the works oriented falsity that was taught by priests

Tony Moore

commented on Sep 19, 2012

Great article. I've had the same experience as a listener. Not one preacher who disagrees can say he hasn't at some time prepared his own sermon instead of listening to the preacher. And what if the preacher says something with which you disagree? Is it okay for you to disregard the rest of his sermon while you flip through your Bible for proof of his error? The idea that God gave us the printing press so people would have a Bible to carry to church is a bit of a stretch. Some of these comments reek of Bible idolatry.

Keith B

commented on Sep 19, 2012

Tony....if your pastor says something wrong...then yes--you should be there to prove him wrong. I'm not suggesting a minor issue needs to be argued...but if he teaches wrongly, he needs to be corrected. The Bereans were considered noble because they dared to question what the great Apostle Paul had to say. None of us are above that.

Nicholas Kangogo

commented on Sep 19, 2012

Brother, you ought to be serious. As you are armed with the Bible always it gives you power to speak as per what it says

R Warrender

commented on Sep 19, 2012

If you are in a church where you Bible is a "distraction" you have a very serious problem. Your Bible is YOUR sword. It is your responsibility to keep it ready for engagement. It is your responsibility to verify whether any sermon is scripturally sound and challenge it when you believe it is not. Any pastor that does not encourage his flock to read the Word is failing his flock. Which are you more likely to trust - what you see or what you hear? What's the name of this site again "SermonCentral"? That you would publish such garbage leads me to believe this is an untrustworty site that no Christian should take seriously.

Leslye Haller

commented on Sep 19, 2012

We have pew Bibles at one of the churches I serve. I encourage them to read along with me as I am reading the passages. Some of them read on, some of them don't. Some of them look up passages during my sermon, some of them don't. It's an individual learning style. They are also given the Scripture passages a month before the message is preached. Many of them have already read the passage before the service begins. Many of them study it further after the service is over. Thom isn't saying to burn the Bibles, he's simply stating what educators would call different learning styles. You can't put everyone in one box and say they all learn the same way.

Calvin J. Adolph

commented on Sep 19, 2012

While I feel that everyone is entitled to their own opinion, I am gravely distressed when I hear someone suggest that believers leave their bibles at home. In my observations I have found: Most people don't know how to use a bible and, therefore, if we discourage the use of it in services it would further hinder the opportunities to better understand how to apply it. I have also found that some people are illiterate. We have tried to remedy that by offering classes on literacy and obtaining at least a g.e.d. With the onslaught of bible versions, most people are confused. Maybe if a handout was provided, this would help with retention. There have been many reports that state that we grasp more when we write notes as well as listen. Also, I believe the use of CD's will help to have an accurate account of the message that was presented.

R O

commented on Sep 19, 2012

To 'k b', the pastor can "mess up the hermeneutics" whether I am reading or not, since hermeneutics refers to the way the passages are interpreted/meaning is derived.

Russ Stauffer

commented on Sep 19, 2012

Wow. I guess I'm way off track. I've been putting less Scripture on the over head so as to encourage people to look up the passage for themselves in their own Bible. I also invite everyone to make a declaration with me as we start the message, with our Bible lifted high: "THIS IS MY BIBLE. IT IS GOD'S HOLY WORD. I BELIEVE WHAT IT SAYS. I'LL DO WHAT IT SAYS. I'LL BE WHO GOD SAYS I AM. THROUGH JESUS CHRIST MY LORD, AMEN!". So let me get this straight, I'm supposed to ask them to leave God's WORD home? And the children who come to SS? They are to leave their Bibles home too? God help us.

Russ Stauffer

commented on Sep 19, 2012

Wow. I guess I'm way off track. I've been putting less Scripture on the over head so as to encourage people to look up the passage for themselves in their own Bible. I also invite everyone to make a declaration with me as we start the message, with our Bible lifted high: "THIS IS MY BIBLE. IT IS GOD'S HOLY WORD. I BELIEVE WHAT IT SAYS. I'LL DO WHAT IT SAYS. I'LL BE WHO GOD SAYS I AM. THROUGH JESUS CHRIST MY LORD, AMEN!". So let me get this straight, I'm supposed to ask them to leave God's WORD home? And the children who come to SS? They are to leave their Bibles home too? God help us.

Zachary Bartels

commented on Sep 19, 2012

I can't tell if Russ Stauffer is really emulating Joel Osteen or just trolling... Actually, I could say the same thing about this whole article.

Mike Aldaco

commented on Sep 19, 2012

Please, come on! this is really weird!

John Sears

commented on Sep 19, 2012

I used to put the Scripture's on the big screen and found that people didn't bring their Bible to church. They were depending on "ME" to bring it to them. And if felt like the focus of the message was wrong. People we depending on me to feed them the word rather than reading it themselves. It was leading to the idea that they didn't HAVE TO STUDY the word themselves and that it would all be provided to them in a handy little capsule called a sermon. It was destroying the idea of self study. I now put key phrases or key texts on the slides but have people underline in their own Bible for further study. This seems to work much better for our church.

Bill Williams

commented on Sep 19, 2012

The article is about why the AUTHOR doesn't take his Bible to church. The article doesn't say that NO ONE should take their Bible to church. This is just the author's personal conviction. Why are people so threatened by someone who decides to do something differently on their own?

Kevin Elswick

commented on Sep 19, 2012

When I started following the Lord, I did not take my Bible to church either. I thought the preacher has one. It is no need for me to take mine. But the Holy Spirit began to deal with me about some things. First, I was not remembering that men and woman have lost their life so that I could carry the Bible. That is the same reason I vote, because it is the freedom that we have in this country. There are millions of people in this world who do not have the precious Word of God like we have. It should be our duty to carry it at least to church whether you open it or not. Second the Bible is alive and it speaks differently to me than it might to you. If the pastor gets up and speaks from Malachi on will a man rob God and then talks about tithing. I all ready tithe and have my whole Christian life. He can preach an hour on this subject and I can amen him to death. But if I read those words to myself, God could talk to me about my time. Am I robbing God of his time? This is not disrespecting to the preacher, it is letting the Hoiy Spirit talk to my heart thru his Word. Third I make notes in my Bible. The word for the day might not be for TODAY but I might come back to this scripture next month and the answer to my problem might be right there. God ahead of time gave me the answer and I wrote it down in my Bible. Sure you can write it on a paper note book but when I need an answer I just go to the Word. I am not thinking about a note book, I am thinking about words from God in the Bible. Forth and it has all ready been said, know that what you are hearing is the truth from the Word of God. Many times, one word changes a passage. I have been in the ministry most of my life and I know what the devil can throw at you while you are preaching. There are many distractions before you as you preach. It is very easy to make a mistake in even reading the Bible. What about all of those names? I am a great reader but to be honest, I can?t say half of the names in the Bible. I study, go over them and over them but when it is time to say them, I mess up. Sometimes I do not say them at all because I draw a blank. I tell the congregation to read it for their self and I just go on. You can?t read it if you don?t have it! I know a preacher who will stop reading, say something about what he just read then when he goes back to the text, he skips the name. I am not that good yet. Brother, God has given me more reasons to take my Bible to church than to leave it behind. I have to answer for me and only me. I hope this will help you to take your Bible to church and not leave it behind.

Dennis Cocks

commented on Sep 19, 2012

@Bill "The article is about why the AUTHOR doesn't take his Bible to church. The article doesn't say that NO ONE should take their Bible to church. This is just the author's personal conviction. Why are people so threatened by someone who decides to do something differently on their own?" Maybe because the purpose of these articles are to persuade others to look at things the way the writers see them. If his intent was only a personal application then why post this article in the first place? He is trying to influence others plain and simple. This is a terrible article!

Dennis Cocks

commented on Sep 19, 2012

@R Warrender "What's the name of this site again "SermonCentral"? That you would publish such garbage leads me to believe this is an untrustworty site that no Christian should take seriously." Amen to that brother! There are many garbage articles on this site, but hey there are many who will go along with what is said because God forbid you question what others have to say.

C Reed

commented on Sep 19, 2012

I think Satan will go to whatever extreme he wants to keep us from handling the Sacred Word of God...including, but not limited to, putting the words on an overhead projector (people today miss the wonderful experience of paging through scriptures and learning where the various books and passages are located), and now we hear that the Bible has saddly become a distration. What will you do next, Satan?

Bill Williams

commented on Sep 19, 2012

@Dennis and R, why do you guys stick around, then, if this site isn't worth taking seriously? @Dennis, see, this is where I think you're missing the point. The purpose of these articles isn't to persuade you to do anything. Yes, there is persuasion involved, but it seems to me that the PRIMARY purpose of these articles is to present different points of view, so that the reader can make up their own minds as to the different issues that are discussed. But I think that's why so many on here get so defensive. Any view or perspective that differs from the way THEY think it should be done is interpreted as an ATTACK on their way. But it's not. The author isn't telling people not to bring their Bibles to church! He's simply making the case for why HE doesn't!

Bill Williams

commented on Sep 19, 2012

I think a lot of people are taking this idea out of context. If a person spends time during the week reading, studying, and memorizing Scripture, week after week, month after month, year after year, do you really think that not having the physical book with him for an hour a week while he just listens to the sermon is going to keep him from being able to detect false teaching? On the other hand, if the only time a person reads the Bible is once a week during the sermon, do you really think a superficial reading will be enough to help him detect false teaching?

Bill Williams

commented on Sep 19, 2012

@Dr. Morgan, the church is in the shape it's in today because Christian leaders are more concerned that people have their Bible in church once a week rather than that people have the Bible in their hearts and minds during the week.

Keith B

commented on Sep 19, 2012

I'm encouraged by the outcry of people against this nonsense. I have told my people on a number of occasions to check what I have to say to the word. It not only reinforces the idea that I'm teaching them the truth...but it tells them that it's important that they know it.

Zachary Bartels

commented on Sep 19, 2012

Bill Williams, you are making a ridiculous false dichotomy. To be concerned that Christians listen to preaching with an open Bible and discerning ear does NOT mean that we are not concerned that they be reading the Bible during the week. In fact, the two go hand-in-hand. To see them as opposing points of view is just ludicrous...

Anonymous

commented on Sep 19, 2012

Honestly, I think this article addresses a method vs. a principle. To blame our attention (or lack of) to a sermon on bringing a Bible to church reveals a far deeper issue. I think the burden (if it can be called a burden) of responsibility for our take away from a sermon lies with us. The preacher has put in time, hopefully to the best of his/her ability, and God's spirit is presence. I think there was a little sensationalism here to get some reads. I could easily post an article with the title "Why I Don't Turn The Heat on in Church" and follow that with a discussion on why, when it's warm in the church, people have a hard time focusing on anything other than their eyelids. However, these aren't really comparable because the church furnace is not the Word of God. The principle of the issue of takeaway needs to be an issue. I could write a positive article that addresses the topic "why I take notes in church" and discuss how note taking helps me stay focused. I'm not buying what this article has to say.

Dennis Cocks

commented on Sep 19, 2012

@ Bill "Dennis and R, why do you guys stick around, then, if this site isn't worth taking seriously?" To try to keep some from becoming "persuaded" by such nonsense. I have been a part of Sermon Central for many years and have a few of my sermons posted on this site. So I want to try to keep liberal theology from taking over completely. Jude tells us to "Contend for the faith."

Bill Williams

commented on Sep 19, 2012

@Zachary, let's look into this "supposed" false dichotomy a little deeper, because I suspect you're misunderstanding what I'm trying to say. If a person regularly spend significant amount of time reading and studying the Bible during the week, do you think that the act itself of not having the physical book with them during the sermon would necessarily inhibit them from being able to detect false teaching?

Bill Williams

commented on Sep 19, 2012

@Dennis, rough estimate, about how many people on this site do you think you have kept from becoming persuaded by what you call "nonsense?"

Bill Williams

commented on Sep 19, 2012

@Anonymous (#40), so, taking notes helps keep you focused. And simply listening without reading helps keep the author focused. And your approach is no more holy, and the author's approach is no less holy! As you yourself said, we are discussing methodology here, not Biblical principle.

Zachary Bartels

commented on Sep 19, 2012

Bill, couldn't hurt. Beth Moore recently preached a sermon in which she consistently skipped a verse, which if read undermined her entire message. Unless one has that particular passage memorized, one would need the book open in front of him to catch that kind of thing. Even well-meaning ministers often skip things (perhaps subconsciously) that don't match what they want the text to say, or gloss over them. Either way, the comment I responded to set up a false dichotomy of either emphasizing A or B when A and B are two sides of the same coin.

Bill Williams

commented on Sep 19, 2012

@Dr. Morgon, I'm not talking about remembering every single detail about the pastor's sermon. What I'm saying is that if you have the broad, general, clear narrative of Scripture in your mind, as you listen, you should be able to detect when the Pastor says something that doesn't quite fit into that narrative. The point of my comment to you is that, from my experience as "just a lay member," very few pastors that I have had have been very good at helping the church members learn how to get that narrative into our minds, for ourselves, during the week. Sad to say, most pastors that I've had in my life were satisfied with just me showing up to church with my Bible once a week so I could listen to them tell me what the Bible said. The current pastor we have is an exception, and I can tell you that after about four and a half years, you can really tell the difference between someone who considers themselves primarily as a preacher, and one who truly exercises the gift of Pastor/Teacher.

Bill Williams

commented on Sep 19, 2012

@Zachary, I really need a yes or no answer from you, otherwise I won't be able to explain to you why I'm not setting up a false dichotomy. If a person is regularly spending time in Scripture, does the ACT of not having the physical book present during a sermon NECESSARILY inhibit them from being able to detect false teaching?

R Warrender

commented on Sep 19, 2012

If you are in a church where you Bible is a "distraction" you have a very serious problem. Your Bible is YOUR sword. It is your responsibility to keep it ready for engagement. It is your responsibility to verify whether any sermon is scripturally sound and challenge it when you believe it is not. Any pastor that does not encourage his flock to read the Word is failing his flock. Which are you more likely to trust - what you see or what you hear? What's the name of this site again "SermonCentral"? That you would publish such garbage leads me to believe this is an untrustworty site that no Christian should take seriously.

Bill Williams

commented on Sep 19, 2012

@R, can you name me ONE PERSON on this thread who has said we shouldn't encourage people to read the Word?

Zachary Bartels

commented on Sep 19, 2012

HA! No, you don't get to demand a false dichotomy from me as well. I already answered your question by saying that in many cases it does make all the difference to have the Bible open in front of you while hearing the Word handled and I even gave a concrete example. I'm not sure if your insistance that I say "yes, it always does" or "no, it never does" reflects obstinance or just a lack of a basic grasp of logic.

Anonymous

commented on Sep 19, 2012

@Bill, #40 here I guess I'm criticizing methodology as an excuse for not bringing the Word to church. Farmer Fred sits there with his eyes closed, but hears every word, fine, but I won't see Farmer Fred writing an article about why it's better to close your eyes during a sermon. It goes the other way though, to take a Bible to church and not open it, but jumping down the throats of those who don't bring a Bible, all for legalism sake, is hypocritical. I'm not saying it's a mortal sin to not bring your Bible to Church, but I'm certainly not going to advocate the benefit of leaving it at home. I mentioned the other examples to be facetious. It would be ridiculous to not turn on the heat in the winter just because it puts Pete to sleep every single week. Pete's got an issue with the principle of what a sermon is and probably the principle of church itself. Is the bringing a Bible a guarantee to have keen focus throughout a sermon? No. Can you get distracted by a rabbit trail you found? If you let it happen (and I have). Can you benefit tremendously from having the Bible open in front of you? Absolutely, again, if you let it happen.

Bill Williams

commented on Sep 19, 2012

@Zachary, actually, I've had extensive training in logic, in both college and grad school. Just because something is not clear to you doesn't mean that I'M the one with the faulty logic, a point I remind my students of, often! By the way, I'm a friend! I mean you no harm! I'm not trying to play "gotcha" with you. I was simply trying to help you understand the point I was making by going through the logic step by step. But I suppose I'll have to give you the summary: You claim that I'm setting up a false dichotomy between listening to the sermon with an open Bible (A) and reading the Bible during the week (B). But my argument is NOT the A and B are opposing views. Doing both A and B can be profitable. However, I'm also NOT saying that A and B are two sides of the same coin, because that would imply that BOTH A and B are necessary. MY POINT is simply that B alone is NECESSARY. A is optional. A can be very helpful. But A is NOT NECESSARY. You can have your mind so immersed in the narrative of Scripture that when you hear something in a sermon, even if you don't have the text in front of you, you can discern if something does not fit into that narrative. On the flip side, if you only have A, and you don't have B, then A is not necessarily going to be enough to keep you from discerning false teaching. So, to make it clear: B is NECESSARY. A is OPTIONAL. Given that, then, the point I've been trying to make is that if a someone emphasizes A, that's fine. If someone doesn't emphasize A, that's fine. But the PRIMARY emphasis SHOULD GO towards B. And yet, if you read again through this thread, it seems that more people are concerned with A than with B.

R Warrender

commented on Sep 19, 2012

Mr. Williams, why would you raise such a question of me? The commentators here are irrelevant to what message this artcle conveys. That none have suggested this lunacy (not taking a Bible to church) does, however, serve to underscore how damgerous this article is. I monitor sites such as this to call out lies disguised as truth.

Bill Williams

commented on Sep 19, 2012

@Anonymous (#52), I get what you're saying. A couple of thoughts: the author is not saying that it's better not to bring a Bible to church. He is saying that HE doesn't, and then he gives his reasons why. Take it for what it's worth. This is not some grand, demonic conspiracy to get people to forsake the Bible. Second, you wrote that you weren't going to advocate the benefit of leaving your Bible at home. Well, great. No one is saying you have to! But just because a person takes that position, and that person writes an article advocating that position, and that's person's article gets published by this website--what's wrong with any of that?! You don't agree, that's fine. You think it's better if you have your Bible open, that's fine.

R Warrender

commented on Sep 19, 2012

The author is hiding because his "education" or rather indoctrination does not include honest debate where opposing views are entertained. This process necessarily cannot allow for independent thought but merely reflecting the opinions / theories presented as facts. They simply regurgitate that same nonsense and spew it never having gained the ability to examine what they have unwittingly swallowed as truth.

Bill Williams

commented on Sep 19, 2012

@Dr. Morgan, see, that is exactly the type of baseless assumption that is not necessary. The author is not "hiding." If you've been here for a while--I've been here for about a month, now--you will find that authors never interact on these thread. That is because SermonCentral.com takes content from blogs around the internet and gathers those they deem relevant into one site. The authors do not write specifically for this site.

Bill Williams

commented on Sep 19, 2012

@R, why would a raise that question of you? Because you wrote, "Any pastor that does not encourage his flock to read the Word is failing his flock." The implication would seem to be that that is what some are trying to communicate. If that is not what you meant to imply, I stand corrected. Also, you wrote, "I monitor sites such as this to call out lies disguised as truth." WOW. You have that much free time??

Zachary Bartels

commented on Sep 19, 2012

Certainly disagreeing with me does not in itself show a lack of logic. Posing a false dichotomy and then continually pretending you didn't, however, DOES. I too had many undergrad and graduate classes in logic and any college freshman could identify the fallacy in your statement. Had you actually said, "More concerned with A then B," that would not be a false dichotomy, although it would not really address the article in question. But it's not what you said. Here's what a false dichotomy looks like: "Bill Williams says... @Dr. Morgan, the church is in the shape it's in today because Christian leaders are more concerned that people have their Bible in church once a week rather than that people have the Bible in their hearts and minds during the week." You keep re-saying the same thing, while insisting I'm not "understanding you." I think I'm about done with this discussion. The circles you're running are making me dizzy.

Mark Baker

commented on Sep 19, 2012

Yes, listen to the Word is good. But does this approach encourage or discourage biblical discernment? We know the Bereans we over "more noble character" and the fruit was daily examining the Scriptures (not merely listening). Does the church today need more or less discernment? It is both embarrassing and grievous when we look at the state of the church and its handling of truth and false teachers. It seems the author is part of the so-called emergent church. This "movement" has a steadily declining view of God's Word--and it often undermines, diminishes, or casts doubt on the Word (many believe this is a good thing). It decreases because of many subtle compromises with the Word. This article is a perfect illustration of a well-meaning, but horrible teaching that results in further compromising the Word and lessening God's Word in the hearts of individuals.

Dennis Cocks

commented on Sep 19, 2012

@ Zachary "You keep re-saying the same thing, while insisting I'm not "understanding you."" Glad to see that I'm not the only one who has had this problem with Bill before.

Bill Williams

commented on Sep 19, 2012

@Zachary, you wrote that if I had actually said, "More concerned with A then B," that would not be a false dichotomy. And then you quoted me. And I don't know how you didn't see it, but that is in fact EXACTLY what I said: "Christian leaders are more concerned that people have their Bible in church once a week [A] rather than that people have the Bible in their hearts and minds during the week [B]." By YOUR OWN WORDS, what I said was not a false dichotomy. The rest of what I said, I tried to spell it out for you step by step, but you weren't interested. And the reason I keep saying the same thing is BECAUSE you aren't understanding me, as your latest post proved. So, if you're dizzy, the problem is not with me.

Bill Williams

commented on Sep 19, 2012

@Dennis, even though we've disagreed on various issues, do you think I've made a sincere effort to be respectful towards you?

Dennis Dillon

commented on Sep 19, 2012

Seriously? Absurd.

R Warrender

commented on Sep 19, 2012

The author is hiding because his "education" or rather indoctrination does not include honest debate where opposing views are entertained. This process necessarily cannot allow for independent thought but merely reflecting the opinions / theories presented as facts. They simply regurgitate that same nonsense and spew it never having gained the ability to examine what they have unwittingly swallowed as truth.

John E Miller

commented on Sep 19, 2012

This article is published under the pretence of being a "preaching article". In plain language it is written under the guise of being both advice and advantageous in its guidance to those who preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ. For "Bill Williams" to obfuscate in his customary manner by suggesting that this is merely the author's preferred custom but is not a suggestion for others to follow is plainly ridiculous. "Bill Williams" (a pseudonym) enjoys playing devil's advocate, an entertaining ruse in matters pertaining to the things of the world but entirely inappropriate when it comes to the truth of God's word and Christian theology. The Holy Bible is the most precious physical possession that any man or woman can own or handle. Ask our suffering brothers and sisters in Muslim or communist countries for example and they would be shocked at the foolishness of this article. To hold the Bible in our hands, read it along with the Christian preacher or teacher, refer to it as the word is preached and confirm the truth of the spoken word and its agreement with the written word is both a priviledge and a responsibility. The Roman Catholic church teaches that their appointed priests read the scriptures and that the people in the pews have no need to do so. In fact it is actively discouraged. The word of God teaches that every born-again believer is a priest and to handle the word of God Both spiritually and physically must be therefore his or her's greatest privledge and joy.

Bill Williams

commented on Sep 19, 2012

@R, funny, I haven't seen the author's view entertained by many. What I've seen more is a knee-jerk reaction against things that the author doesn't even say! I also haven't seen much allowance for independent thought.

R Warrender

commented on Sep 19, 2012

Mr. Williams, thanks for the clarification. My point was simply that is someone is sitting in a church and concludes their Bible is a distraction it may be that not enough emphasis came from the pulpit encouraging the reading. We know there will be "ear-tickling" churches that become places of gratuitous humor and entertainment as the message becomes watered down in the name of being "seeker-friendly." It may be in that environment that reading the Word may become a distraction. Many will be lead astray by messages that sound good but are in error. It may also serve as an encouragement to those sheopards holding true to their charge and press their flock to "read with me." How much free time? Very little actually, it a matter of priority and being obedient to the promptings on what to engage.

Bill Williams

commented on Sep 19, 2012

@John, I have never hidden the fact that "Bill Williams" is a pseudonym. There are a lot of crazy people out on the internet, and I prefer to keep as much of my personal information as possible just that--personal. Why do "kb" and "R" get a pass from you? Is it just because they agree with you? Second, it's obvious that you disagree with my point. Fine. THAT DOES NOT MAKE MY POINT RIDICULOUS!!! Seriously, people, I deal with 17 year olds that are less dense than some of you! Third, I'm not saying that having the physical Bible is unnecessary. And of course, Christians in Muslim and Communist countries would interpret this article differently, but this article wasn't written for them! Finally, do you really believe that if a person regularly reads the Bible an hour a day, seven days a week, over the course of their entire life, that NOT having the Bible open for a 30-45 minute sermon once a week and simply listening to the preacher would be such an egregious error as to warrant some of the contempt that has been demonstrated on some of these posts??

Bill Williams

commented on Sep 19, 2012

@R, all of your points are fine and valid. (that's more respect than anyone's granted ME today!). All I'm saying is that if you really try to understand what the author is (or I am) saying, you might discover he's got some valid points, too. Why is it so difficult to believe that even though he has his approach, and you have your approach, the purpose of both approaches is in fact the same--to engage with the Word of God and listen to what he has to say? Why can't there be room for BOTH points of view? Why does he necessarily have to be wrong in order for you to be right?

Joseph Ds

commented on Sep 19, 2012

This message is helpful to me. I have had this issue of getting away easily with what I read when I have to listen to something. Especially in a fellowship, if I am sitting on a back seat and I open the Bible to read a verse, my mind floods immediately with thoughts related to that verse and the more familiar the verse and the more number of people have quoted that verse in their messages, it gets all the more distracting. However, when I am sitting on a front row and I am involved with the message, and I am one of them reading out the verses aloud for the congregation, it's less distracting because I have to shut the Bible and return to the message being preached as soon as I stop reading out loud. However, having the Bible handy is always good to cross-refer when the Spirit leads you to verify something with His Word. Thanks to Thom Turner.

Dennis Cocks

commented on Sep 19, 2012

@ Bill, "@Dennis, even though we've disagreed on various issues, do you think I've made a sincere effort to be respectful towards you?" Yes, for the most part you have. But I have had the problem of not being understood by you even though I thought I expressed myself clearly. "What Bill are you talking to? Remeber saying that?" You have (altough rarely) made me dizzy with some of the things we tried to discuss. That was my point.

Mark Baker

commented on Sep 19, 2012

This article/idea just comes from the e-MERGING (with other religions) mindset: anything to subtly undermine the Word (Gen 3).

John Grayson

commented on Sep 19, 2012

This discussion is an exellent demonstration of the negative consequences that come from deifying the scriptures. When a book, a person or anything is given equivalency to the deity then confusion, discord and worse can develop and prevail.

R Warrender

commented on Sep 19, 2012

Mr. Williams, thanks for the clarification. My point was simply that is someone is sitting in a church and concludes their Bible is a distraction it may be that not enough emphasis came from the pulpit encouraging the reading. We know there will be "ear-tickling" churches that become places of gratuitous humor and entertainment as the message becomes watered down in the name of being "seeker-friendly." It may be in that environment that reading the Word may become a distraction. Many will be lead astray by messages that sound good but are in error. It may also serve as an encouragement to those sheopards holding true to their charge and press their flock to "read with me." How much free time? Very little actually, it a matter of priority and being obedient to the promptings on what to engage.

R Warrender

commented on Sep 19, 2012

Mr. Williams, thanks for the clarification. My point was simply that is someone is sitting in a church and concludes their Bible is a distraction it may be that not enough emphasis came from the pulpit encouraging the reading. We know there will be "ear-tickling" churches that become places of gratuitous humor and entertainment as the message becomes watered down in the name of being "seeker-friendly." It may be in that environment that reading the Word may become a distraction. Many will be lead astray by messages that sound good but are in error. It may also serve as an encouragement to those sheopards holding true to their charge and press their flock to "read with me." How much free time? Very little actually, it a matter of priority and being obedient to the promptings on what to engage.

Mark Baker

commented on Sep 19, 2012

@John G: Nice not-so-subtle attack, however ... what do you do with: "In the beginning was the WORD and the WORD was with GOD and the WORD WAS GOD." "For you have exalted ABOVE ALL THINGS YOUR NAME AND YOUR WORD." and "His name is the Word of God." Have you not condemned God Himself and Scripture for "deifying" the Word? If you choose to have a low view of Scripture, then so be it. But to undermine Scripture is another matter (Gen 3). To expect others with a high view to sit around and tolerate this is absurd. Of course, on the other hand, there is the obligatory attacks of those who preach "tolerance" and "acceptance." Confusion, etc are not the problems here. It is differing views of the Word and the potential parallel path of "Did God really say...."

R Warrender

commented on Sep 19, 2012

Mr. Williams, thanks for the clarification. My point was simply that is someone is sitting in a church and concludes their Bible is a distraction it may be that not enough emphasis came from the pulpit encouraging the reading. We know there will be "ear-tickling" churches that become places of gratuitous humor and entertainment as the message becomes watered down in the name of being "seeker-friendly." It may be in that environment that reading the Word may become a distraction. Many will be lead astray by messages that sound good but are in error. It may also serve as an encouragement to those sheopards holding true to their charge and press their flock to "read with me." How much free time? Very little actually, it a matter of priority and being obedient to the promptings on what to engage.

Mark Baker

commented on Sep 19, 2012

@ Bill: Really? "Dense"? I don't mind anyone expressing frustration, rebuke, etc, but your stated standard is "civil discourse." There is always grace though. I do see a pattern of you defending whoever attempts to bring in some dubious ideas, all while rarely, if ever, overly concerned about the truth/error aspect. "Just appreciate another point of view" only goes so far. Some people are offended by falsehoods and undermining the Word. I wish we all were. Like I said, how we treat each other is important, but few--including you, apparently--seem concerned at all about truth.

Bill Williams

commented on Sep 19, 2012

@Dennis, the reason I asked is because your comment directed at me at #63 came off as a cheap shot that contributed nothing to the conversation. And the difference between me and you is that when you say something and, according to you I misunderstand you, I will take you at your word, and apologize. But when I say something that you or Zachary misunderstand, you WON'T take me at my word. You will INSIST that you do understand me and that I am wrong! You won't consider the possibility that maybe you really AREN'T understanding what I'm trying to say. That's why I feel sometimes that you're talking to some other Bill Williams. I PROMISE you. BELIEVE me. Take me at my word. You AREN'T understanding what I'm saying. And at least on Zachary's part, he didn't even have any interest in trying to understand what I was saying, because he already made up his mind.

Bill Williams

commented on Sep 19, 2012

@R, why do you keep repeating the same comment over and over? We get it, already!

Cameron Buchanan

commented on Sep 19, 2012

As a pastor, I'm always happy to see people come with a Bible in hand to church. As a person with ADD, I also appreciate a person who tries to do one thing at a time mentally - listening to what is taught and not going down rabbit trails and missing the point. People absorb information differently, and some like to simple hear and oration, then research later and I don't begrudge that. We are also doing a lot of Visual things in our preaching that helps a listener engage as well. I just looked up the story of the noble Bereans, which I also refer to a lot when I teach to promote the same nobility in my church, and I see that they first absorbed what Paul had to say, THEN looked up the scriptures to see for themselves. I don't see them bringing a bunch of sacred scrolls with them ready for whatever was going to come up! It would have been a case of absorb now, research later, make their mind up for themselves, and because all the research adds up, their belief goes from nominal faith to deep conviction. I do not think the author is promoting illiteracy of scripture here, neither is he promoting a 'take everything the preacher says as truth' approach either. It looks like he has a line of trust between himself and his pastor that over time has been developed, and the sermon is more likely a gateway to his week of devotion as a result. I kinda like his approach, and in my church I'd happily preach, knowing that he was listening! If I knew that's how he operated, I'd also be on my game and see what he's reflecting on through the week as well. If his bible NEVER came out, I'd be asking questions, but if he's done his 'homework' as such, then I see no problem!

Bill Williams

commented on Sep 19, 2012

@Mark, of course, you are correct about my "dense" comment, and I sincerely apologize. I let my frustration get the better of me, and I shouldn't have. Also, you wrote that I don't seem to be concerned about the truth. The thing is, I don't see this article as an attack on truth! Why should I be judged for not defending YOUR convictions? I don't see this article as some subtle, insidious attack on the Bible. It was funny, for some reason I remembered earlier a conversation I had a few years ago with a gentleman who visited our church, who was CONVINCED that it was WRONG to bring Bibles to church. You know what I did? I argued against his position, and using many of the same arguments that have been mentioned on this thread. You might say that I "stood up for the truth." Now, if the premise of this article was that it is WRONG to bring a Bible to church, that people SHOULDN'T bring their Bibles to church, I would be right there with you and Dennis and Zachary and all the the others speaking against such a premise. But that WASN'T HIS premise. His premise is that he feels that he is best able to engage the Word during a sermon by LISTENING to it, rather than by READING it.

Bill Williams

commented on Sep 19, 2012

@Cameron, an excellent point about people absorbing information differently. Some people are more visual, and they need to have the text in front of them in order to learn. Some people are more auditory, and they need to listen and absorb, and like you said, they can later research more fully. Or even do research beforehand--our pastor and elders print the text for the following week's sermon in the bulletin each week. Some people are more kinesthetic, and they need to do something hands-on like taking notes in order to learn. And some are a combination! There should be plenty of room in the church for each type of learner. Let me share an example. I'm a visual learner. I need to see things, and I like to read. My late wife was an auditory learner. She couldn't focus very long when reading. But she was always listening to the Bible, sermons, and other books on CD. She could listen to a novel on CD and have a good grasp of what the novel was about. I can't do that. If I try to listen to a novel, I get distracted by whatever I'm looking at! I need to read it in order to understand it.

Edgardo S. Bigaran

commented on Sep 19, 2012

I believe listening to the message and reading a passage when as the pastor requires can be done without losing the focus on the message. This is what we do in our church. We listen to what the pastor preaches and when asked to open the bible in one of more verses we even read altogether aloud. Boredom is arrested by this activity. It is even easier to remember the verse when being read.

John E Miller

commented on Sep 20, 2012

"Bill Williams" the only reason that I may have appeared to single you out for criticism in the use of a pseudonym is that you appear to have adopted the task of a moderator in your recent participation on this forum. Perhaps I am dense, but at least I contribute honestly under my correct identity. Using the excuse of crazy people on the internet is just a smokescreen. As far as others who will not reveal their identities I think that it shows a distinct lack of transparency and raises the question of what they have to hide.

Michael Karpf

commented on Sep 20, 2012

I cannot answer for everyone who has written comments. I will not take the time to read all 90 comments. All as I can say, is that as a pastor, I have the responsibility to preach God's word (2 Tim 4:2). And just because I'm quoting a verse from the Bible, does not necessarily mean I am preaching the word. There is much emphasis on "feel good preaching" or prosperity gospel. Just because a pastor quotes a verse, has he taken the time to study it in it's context, derive the author's meaning etc? There are many warnings in the Bible about false teachers, and I think we need discernment when we listen to a message. Whenever I preach, I have to ask myself, "Is this what the text is saying"? With the spread of the prosperity gospel, which I believe is heretical, we have just as much responsibility to make sure the pastor is accurately feeding us God's word. If not, find a church that does.

John E Miller

commented on Sep 20, 2012

Michael Karpf, thank you for the thoughtful and well considered remarks. Post #78 is an example of the way the authority of the word of God is being undermined in certain sections of professing Christianity. If we speak on God's behalf we must be governed by His word. The Holy Spirit is within us to help, if our spritual and moral state gives Him liberty to do so. If we sit under the preaching of God's word it is our priviledge and responsibility to confirm that what we are listening to is according to God's word. The Bible is the finest tool that we have to do so.

Glenn Hawkins

commented on Sep 20, 2012

Quick! What was the very first question in the Bible? Answer? "Did God really say . . .?" Question: who was the one who asked the question? Answer: Satan, through the serpent. It's Satan's job to influence us to doubt God's word. If the author was living in another time, another place, his memory would be more honed, just like the rest of our memory power would be. First century Christians and Jews, for example, memorized and mediated on large portions of scripture, functionally out of "tragic necessity" precisely because they didn't have their own copy of God's precious word. Today, our attention span is minutes, let alone hours, and our memory is often worse (now, what did I have for breakfast?). The author is, in my opinion, spouting off silliness at best and foolishness at worst. Silliness by justifying why he can't just pick up a Bible and bring it. EVERY pastor knows that more goes on in a message than the congregant "paying attention" to the message. Again, how many of us, because of a lack of discipline can listen intently to message that sometimes last 45 minutes? EVERY pastor and, many congregants have had the experience of God speaking through the pages of Scripture in ways that have nothing to do with what the pastor is saying. The author is spouting foolishness because, in my opinion with the appalling lack of scriptural knowledge by even our church members, let alone those who just happen to walk through our doors, how can anybody call the pastor, who is himself fallible, to account? For example, I sat in church service which the "pastor" said the following: 1. what we do to God, God has done it to us first (1 John 4:19). 2. Worship means "worthship". 3. Therefore, we worship God, because He worshipped us first. I ask, what is wrong with that one? Only the FACT that worship goes only one way. The "pastor" wrenched this passage completely out of context to deceive and twist God's precious word. And so, now we are to believe the author when he says that it's a good thing, even for him, to neglect to bring His copy of God's word, to church so he can merely passively listen to the speaker give his opinions about God's word? One of the posts pointed out that the Bereans EXAMINED, not merely listened to, however, intently, the word of God.

R Warrender

commented on Sep 20, 2012

Sory all for the multiple posts. Not sure why this happened as I only sent once.

Thom Turner

commented on Sep 20, 2012

@ R. Warrender #67 I am not hiding. My day started at 5:30am yesterday and did not end until midnight last night. I did not have time to join the conversation, though it has been a lively one! There are a lot of divergent opinions here, so let me just say this: I am not advocating anyone to stop bringing their Bibles to church. I joyfully read my Bible every day at work, often going through the Book of Common Prayer. I do not want to discourage anyone to stop reading the Bible. That would be foolishness indeed. The big takeaway for me, after hearing thousands of sermons as someone who grew up in the church, was that I needed to actively listen to the sermon...if I opened up my Bible I would start reading whatever I wanted and tune the pastor out. The whole reason I started to actively and attentively listen to the sermon as opposed to opening my Bible and following along was because I was unable to focus. The whole point of my writing this is to raise awareness that there are scores of people like me in churches, those who God has made to respond to the preaching and teaching of the Word not through the typically taught approach of following along in their own Bibles. I know people who write poetry while listening to the sermon, who draw and color in journals, or who have even painted during a sermon! For those of us whom God has made to learn in different ways than the cultural norm, our souls yearn to respond to God's Word in many different creative ways. I hope to share more about how followers of Christ can be empowered to respond to the word through their different learning styles.

Sherm Nichols

commented on Sep 20, 2012

Haven't read the 90 posts - but I will add that an article on SermonCentral a couple years back stuck with me. Larry Osborne listed some of negative things we unwittingly encourage in our congregations. One was teaching people not to open their Bibles by putting all of our texts up on the screen. I think he was right. Since then, I have deliberately kept my main text off the screen and encouraged people to have God's word open and in front of them as we look into it together. Besides Sunday morning being a time to hear from the Word, it's also a time to teach how to do that well. It seems to me that anything we do to encourage people, believers or not, to open a Bible and read it is a smart move. It speaks volumes about our beliefs and our acceptance of God's authority when we encourage this. I also speak openly about "stealing your neighbor's Bible if you don't have one" or other lighthearted ways to make it OK to shuffle around or to share. It says a lot when a group of people are encouraged to look into the word ahead of anything I have to say.

R Warrender

commented on Sep 20, 2012

Sory all for the multiple posts. Not sure why this happened as I only sent once.

Mark Baker

commented on Sep 20, 2012

What maybe the bigger point missed in all of this is .... the Mormon church, as an example, has a different meaning for "Jesus" yet they often SEEM to be using the term in the same way as Christians. For them Jesus is a created being, not the Creator, he was the brother of Lucifer, etc--yet they will say something similar as Christians "Jesus our savior..." In the same way, those in the trendy emerging, emergent, progressive, liberal churches say "the word of God" but they have a different meaning than others. What they (perhaps not all of them) understand it to mean is ... it is a not necessarily a "divine product," it is more of a man-made book. Sure, they will say and believe it is "good," but it is one of many "good" books that are all relatively valid, if not equal in value. This description is a general one, and of course does not describe every last person in the e-merging movement, and yet many in the movement do not know what the leaders really mean by the "word of God." Did you see Brian McLaren's latest on NPR where he now openly admits he believes homosexuality is good? Read it and see for yourselves how he views Scripture. It is small compromises like in this article and many other similar ones that ultimately lead to heresy.

Thom Turner

commented on Sep 20, 2012

@ Mark #97 How is listening to a sermon so that one remains fully engaged in worship something that would lead to heresy?

Mark Baker

commented on Sep 20, 2012

Thom, wow, thanks for replying, I did not expect that, but thanks. Like I said, my "point" was the bigger "point" that is being missed, while what you are referring to is another, important, "point." What you are referring to has already been argued here, and that is all fine and good. My bigger concern is the truth, the truth of what people believe about the "Word of truth" and what they truly mean when they say "the Word" or Jesus or .... As I mentioned, many leaders who you seem to have an affinity for or allegiance with are subtly (and overtly) changing what they believe about Scripture AND attempting to make this change in the hearts of others. That is my biggest concern in this. I don't know what your view of the Word is right now, but I do know--from their own words, not my "judgment"--what the view of Scripture is when it comes to the more popular, hipster, emergent leaders. You do like at least some of them, right? So what say you about their view? (McLaren, Bell, Jones, Pagitt, and with politically liberal notions as "social justice," etc)

John Kunkle

commented on Sep 20, 2012

While I don't disagree with Mr Turner's viewpoint as it applies to his own personal life, I do disagree with the overall premise that simply listening to someone preach is more effective than also reading the Word while it is being expounded upon. We all can fail in our interpretation of the Word of God, and that is why the Apostles make it clear to us to study and review what is being said. We live in a culture now that is easily distracted, and all the more so when there are interestng gadgets like I pods and I phones, etc. to play with while the sermon is being preached. What I really feel is important here is that we return to the Word of God and not let it go by the wayside like the midevil church did in keeping the people under spiritual slavery when they refused to let the common man have his own copy of the Bible. James 1:22 says: "Do not merely listen to the Word, and so decieve yourselves. Do what it says." (NIV). So the big thing is here: don't just listen to it, but know what it says well enough to be able to put it into practice... Live it out! The best way for us to do that is to make sure we know what it says for us, and to apply it to our lives personally. I personally cannot remember half of what I hear, so I do need to be able to read it and study it for myself.

Thom Turner

commented on Sep 20, 2012

@ Mark #99 Thanks for the peaceable response. Full disclosure here, I did used to run in emergent church circles, though I often found I was the most conservative person at our coffeehouse discussion groups. That was several years ago. And for what it's worth I never read a Jones or Paggitt book. I have willingly stayed ignorant on most emergent matters for the past several years. I am tired of all the fighting. I just want to serve. Currently, I would have to say that the theologians or writers that most deeply shape/impact/challenge my views today are N.T. Wright, Wendell Berry and people like Walter Brueggemann. Probably more personal history than what you wanted. I wholeheartedly agree that the Word, Christ Jesus our Lord, must always be raised up as the way, truth and life. And to circle all the way back, I feel more alive and on the way when I actively listen to God moving during worship!

Keith B

commented on Sep 20, 2012

@Mischa 101....I sincerely hope you're joking about Mclaren. He's well-known as an emergent heretic.

Mark Baker

commented on Sep 20, 2012

@ Mischa: [part 1] "he can back up everything he says with credible documentation" Wow. I could not disagree more." If you read "The Secret Message of Jesus" it is a page-after-page "Did God really say..." book with ZERO "documentation." He merely repeats assertions like, "God didn't mean ____, but I recently discovered these 'secrets' of _______ that no one else has even seen." McLaren is a follower of the Hegelian Dialectic method of getting Christians to compromise their beliefs--all under the ?fine-sounding? (Col 2:4) cover of ?open-mindedness? and ?generous orthodoxy.? To McLaren, and others like him, compromising principles is a good thing. That is how we ?evolve? in our theology. Now, at least in their minds, partaking of ?the tree of the knowledge of good and evil? is a good and necessary thing to do!

Mark Baker

commented on Sep 20, 2012

@ Mischa: [part 2] Like I just pointed out in the NPR deal, he exalts experience over Scripture (fitting with the so-called postmodern, "evolving" approach to Scripture). This the new "open-mind" approach we are suppose to have, or else we are labeled as "narrow minded" etc. If you or anyone else thinks that the McLaren, emergent, feelings, culture-over-Scripture approach is good, then we are living in two different worlds. Also, by "credible documentation" you (or he) is not referring to Scripture, but to the authority of various religions, people, and theories (e.g."Man's wisdom"). He (or you) appeals to other competing sources--which inevitably conflict and undermine the truth and authority of the Word. The ultimate fruit is what we gradually see in the beliefs of those that follow this mindset, and is shown in his "new" beliefs and his SUBTLE (Gen 3:1) assaults on God's Word. If you agree with him, well, that is one issue, if you don't agree with his approach, and are not grieved, alarmed, sickened, then that may be worse.

R Warrender

commented on Sep 20, 2012

Mr. Turner. I made an assumption you were monitoring discussions. The hiding comment was inappropriate and I apologize for that. Your message here is revealing in that the issue would appear to be your inability to remain focused upon the message and perhaps lacking some discipline in not being able to stick to the text upon which the sermon is based. Please understand I mean no disrespect here but you state "those who God has made to respond to the preaching and teaching of the Word not through the typically taught approach of following along in their own Bibles." This then would suggest your failure to stay focused is due to God. So the conclusion to leave your Bible home on Sunday is the choice instead of staying focused and remaining on the pertinent text. I am particularly concerned about your statement "For those of us whom God has made to learn in different ways than the cultural norm, our souls yearn to respond to God's Word in many different creative ways." While God does speak to each of us in a unique way, the transmission of Biblical truth is done through preaching and teaching. That is God's design and allows for no substitute. The "creative ways" you reference must be considered as supplimental rather than substitutional as your comment would seem to suggest. I am grateful for your article as it helps reveal where many people and churches are going against scriptural indications.

Thom Turner

commented on Sep 20, 2012

@ 103 R Warrender Just to clarify on your point of concern, I am not suggesting "creative ways" to replace a sermon. I am suggesting that there are different ways to respond to preaching and teaching than to just follow along in your Bible. If it's helpful, the angle I am driving at is that our responses to preaching and teaching should be under an umbrella of "living sacrifices" that are a "spiritual act of worship." In hearing the Word, we then go do the Word. In going to church, we then go be the Church. And that, fortunately, is an umbrella of responses that has its impetus in preaching and teaching (though I would add music, singing, communion, baptism, Scripture reading, prayer and other forms of worship to that list).

Mark Baker

commented on Sep 20, 2012

@Thom: Thank you for your honesty. That is refreshing, and a blessing. I?m glad to hear you have some awareness and concern for these teachings, and did something about it (most people don?t). You said, ?I have willingly stayed ignorant on most emergent matters for the past several years.? Thom, may I suggest that this is a dangerous decision on your part? At the same time, I realize we cannot read every book that comes around. However, I think we have a serious responsibility to keep up on the latest (and past) trends in false teachings (i.e. those things that the people around us might be influence by). I believe something like this (i.e. willingly staying ignorant) is actually a failure of responsibility of a church leader (Ti 1:9, 10-13; Acts 20:28-32) and could even be considered unloving (Jas 5:19-20), but I?ll let you wrestle with that. I, too, hate the ?fighting,? but it is not realistic for us to be faithful to the truth and not ?contend for the faith.? (Phil 1:27-28; Jude 3).

Mark Baker

commented on Sep 20, 2012

@ Thom: [part 2]: BTW, I don?t think it has to be ?fighting? (not that you believe that either). I love your heart to serve, but I believe one of the ways we serve and love best is doing our part to protect the flock (Acts 20-28-32). I would just ask you to consider more carefully who you are learning from (I do that of myself). I?m not sure if you are aware of this, but Brueggemann has a very low view of Scripture. But if that is also your view, then so be it. Also, he is fully emergent, and is an open mystic (e.g. subjective feelings that God is speaking to you apart from the Bible--through some man-made ?technique? that is found no where in the Bible ...for example, Lectio Divina, which is NOT merely a ?sacred reading of Scripture? but waiting for some feelings-based subjective ?word? from God).

Mark Baker

commented on Sep 20, 2012

@ Thom [part3]: Furthermore, he goes on to praise someone, Marcus Borg, who aggressively attacks Scripture (i.e. he teaches in seminary and in books that the Bible is ?a human cultural product? not a divine one) and he, Borg, openly perverts the gospel (i.e. Jesus did not die for our sins, etc). I could go on about the others, but this W.B. is more than enough.

Andrew Prior

commented on Sep 20, 2012

The bible, the bible, the bible. These discussions are always interesting, and usually respectful, but perhaps we all have to attempt to be completely honest. Inevitably, many of these discussions come down to authority and infallibility of the scripture discussions. I humbly submit that after studying the bible, at university and as an important part of my life as a preacher and church leader, for decades and decades, it seems patently obvious to me that the bible contains many errors and contradictions of fact, theology, and morality. Just compare Kings and Chronicles, think about the teachings in scripture on slavery, or the treatment of rape victims. The list goes on and on. This is why I have much sympathy for the thinking of the writer of the article. What is crucial when looking at the bible is to have an intelligent, honest guide (hopefully the preacher), who can help his or her listeners to understand the complexity of life today, and the bible (where that is appropriate). It is not good enough for us to continue to use circular arguments. That the bible is true because the bible says it is true, or that the bible is true/accurate/authoritative/inerrant, because someone wrote in the bible that Jesus seems to have viewed the bible as authoritative (depending, of course, on which of the gospels one refers to.) And if we are to grow in our understanding of the scriptures, we have to be open to the possibility that we are wrong in some of our present understandings. This goes for both more liberal and more conservative church leaders. We are called to seek the truth, and I do not think we need be afraid about that search, although of course it could at times be humbling, when we have to go back to our congregations, and perhaps admit we have been wrong.

Mark Baker

commented on Sep 20, 2012

Andrew: At least you are being honest, and I appreciate that. Yet I am also saddened. It is amazing how our view of the Bible determines so much else.

Bill Williams

commented on Sep 20, 2012

@John, I have nothing to hide. And if you think that using the "excuse of crazy people on the internet" is a smokescreen, then it is obvious you have never been the victim of identity theft. I have. And the experience made me aware of how easy it is for people to steal your identity with a MINIMAL amount of personal information. Maybe you live in a fantasy world where everyone on the internet is well-intentioned, but I live in the real world. And I can tell you this from personal experience. There ARE crazy people out there. I'm not saying they're here on this site. But I don't know who they are or where they are. So, please forgive me if I'm cautious about giving out personal information.

Bill Williams

commented on Sep 20, 2012

I'm very glad Thom Turner took the time to engage in this conversation. I think both the article and his comments have been more than enough to understand what his intentions regarding this article were. If people want to continue to misunderstand and misrepresent his intentions, I guess there's nothing else anyone can do about that. So be it. Although I do find it quite fascinating just how defensive people can get when someone offers a perspective different from what they are used to!

Bill Williams

commented on Sep 20, 2012

@Mark, one final thought before I check out of this discussion: you claim that we have a serious responsibility to keep up on the latest trends in false teachings. There was a guy who used to go to our church several years ago who had worked with the federal government tracking counterfeit money. One time he told me that when he was doing his training, they did not talk about all of the different ways someone could counterfeit a bill. Rather, they trained him how to be so familiar with every single detail of a genuine bill, so that whenever they would come across something that did not "fit", they would know it was a counterfeit. It seems to me that if one is REALLY concerned about "contending for the faith" it would be a better use of time, rather than keeping up with the latest trends or worrying about the "emerging" church or any of those other guys that have been mentioned, to instead focus more on what the Bible as a whole and in context actually says. That's why I said earlier that whether or not one reads along in their Bible during a sermon is ultimately irrelevant, because if your mind is so immersed in the GENUINE Biblical narrative, anything that doesn't fit into that narrative will raise a red flag, and you will know it is false teaching. THAT'S where the primary focus and concern should be. Well, I suppose there's nothing left for me to say on this topic. As always, it has been thought-provoking!

Kat G

commented on Sep 20, 2012

Are you kidding me????? This is as bad as Pastors who no longer read out of their own bible while preaching but rather read off notes or powerpoint or their computer! Open your bible, set the example!

Mark Baker

commented on Sep 20, 2012

@ Bill: Yes, as pastors, ministers, Christians we have heard that exact illustration many times. But your point is not exactly Biblical. Yes, we should pour our efforts into studying Scripture, AND Scripture tells us "...in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes." Many people--even here--seem to be "unaware" or disinterested in the deceptive schemes of Satan. Yet you avoided all that I said, and focused on tweaking one little part. That "scheme" Jesus rebuked (in a different context) as straining at gnat while swallowing a camel. Bill, that is essentially what I see you doing on theses posts. As someone else said, you like to play devil's advocate here. Is that really wise or loving? Really, the only "contending" I see you doing is contending only with those who are contending for the faith. You are the classic "Person C" that we talked about elsewhere. Please spend your time more wisely to benefit the Body of Christ.

Anonymous

commented on Sep 21, 2012

contenting for the faith does not mean to seek out people to debate with. that is twisting scriptures and covering up the reality that there is a spirit of argument and strife. I would read these articles and always see the same peoples always arguing against the articles no matter how biblicly sounds the article it is. even after the writer of the article explains his point of view people still want to continue arguing. that is not godly at all, and to try to use the Bible to defend that action is a sin. look at what Paul said in second Timothy 14.keep reminding them of these things warn them before God against quarreling about words it is of no value and only ruins those who listen 16. avoid godless chatter because those who indulge in it will become more and more ungodly 22. Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursuit righteousness faith love and peace along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.23. don't have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments because you know they produce Quarrels. 24. and the Lords servant must not quarrel instead he must be kind to everyone able to teach not resentful. that is Paul's words. all you guys are doing is attacking other believers. And turner this article was perfect, understood in context and through the eyes of someone that is not trying to be judgemental or self righteous would see it the same way cameron did. in courage in and insightful. peace to you all

Anonymous

commented on Sep 21, 2012

contenting for the faith does not mean to seek out people to debate with. that is twisting scriptures and covering up the reality that there is a spirit of argument and strife. I would read these articles and always see the same peoples always arguing against the articles no matter how biblicly sounds the article it is. even after the writer of the article explains his point of view people still want to continue arguing. that is not godly at all, and to try to use the Bible to defend that action is a sin. look at what Paul said in second Timothy 14.keep reminding them of these things warn them before God against quarreling about words it is of no value and only ruins those who listen 16. avoid godless chatter because those who indulge in it will become more and more ungodly 22. Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursuit righteousness faith love and peace along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.23. don't have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments because you know they produce Quarrels. 24. and the Lords servant must not quarrel instead he must be kind to everyone able to teach not resentful. that is Paul's words. all you guys are doing is attacking other believers. And turner this article was perfect, understood in context and through the eyes of someone that is not trying to be judgemental or self righteous would see it the same way cameron did. in courage in and insightful. peace to you all

Pastor Sandy .

commented on Sep 21, 2012

@115 (and116!) Thank you for your thoughtful comments. And of interest, I see only one brief comment on Mr. Prior's statements in #108 where he states "the Bible contains many errors and contradictions of fact." I have made similar comments in the past, and have been accused of heresy, of not knowing God, and of hearing from Satan rather than God. We would all benefit from the reading of article posted on this site today "Escaping the Performance Trap." He states "God does not condone religion." He makes numerous references to the Jewish religious leaders of His day. "their method became a matter of making and conforming to rules, setting themselves up to determine what was and wasn't holy and pleasing to God, often based on their own prejudices and self-righteous judgments . . . feeling superior about keeping all the rules they made while condemning people who weren't doing the same." Chris Hodges, the author, states that God recognizes the difference between religion and relationship with God. Perhaps, as Rev Hodges suggests, we should all put away our checklists, and enjoy spending time together with God. You do not have to have a Bible in hand to do that! Listen to the sermon, open your heart, and "fall more in love with him!"

Bill Williams

commented on Sep 21, 2012

@Mark, let's try keeping things in context, shall we? Thom wrote that he had willingly stayed ignorant on emergent matters over the last several years, to which you responded that that was a dangerous decision. Now, read my response again carefully. I used relative terms intentionally. I never said we should be unaware of Satan's schemes. What I said was that a better use of our times would be to focus more on the Scriptural narrative. What you'll find there is that Satan's schemes are very well documented in Scripture. No need to go out looking for books written by authors we deem to be "heretics." Along with immersing your mind in the narrative of Scripture, you can supplement that with a good working knowledge of church history and discover that Satan's schemes pretty much just keep getting recycled over and over in each generation. So my point is quite simple: I don't have the foggiest idea who Paggit or Jones are. I'd never even heard of term "emergent" before until I read it from you, because you keep using it. I had to google it to find out what you were talking about. But I know Scripture very well, and I very familiar with church history. So I would say I'm quite aware of Satan's schemes as is. If you find it useful to keep up with the latest trends, that's great. Go for it. But it's NOT a dangerous idea for someone to choose not to do something YOU personally find useful.

Bill Williams

commented on Sep 21, 2012

@Mark, a second point. I'm not contending only with those who are contending for the faith. First, because I'm not contending at all. I'm just having a discussion with people. I don't see this as a fight or an argument, at all. If you see this as a fight or an argument, I'm sorry for you. Second, in our discussion our main point of disagreement, when all is said and done, has absolutely nothing to do with "the faith" or "the truth" or anything like that. Our main point of disagreement is one of personal preference. It's as simple as that. The author wrote that he is better able to focus on the Word during the sermon when he simply listens, rather than when he reads along in his Bible. And people treat that like's it's some horrible character defect!! They call him misguided!! They dismiss his perspective as garbage!! And yet, we're talking about a time period of about 30-45 minutes out of a 10,080 minute week. No one asks how much time he spends in the word the rest of the week. No one cares! All that matters to some here is that he doesn't have his Bible open during the sermon, so OBVIOUSLY this must be some subtle Satanic scheme to undermine God's word. But he's not saying that what he does is the ONLY way it should be done. He's not saying that people shouldn't bring their Bibles to church. And he's certainly not saying that people shouldn't read the Bible at all. Look, if you and others want to say that it's better to read along in the Bible during the sermon and give your reasons why, that's just fine and dandy. But at least be honest and recognize that that's just your personal preference, and there's nothing wrong if someone does it differently. And regarding the gnat and the camel, you're concerned that a person doesn't have his Bible open 30-45 minutes a week. I said that we should be MORE concerned about whether people have their Bibles open during the other 10,050 minutes during that week. The sermon is only about 3/10 of one percent of the week. Really, who do you think is actually straining gnats?

Bill Williams

commented on Sep 21, 2012

@Mark, final point. I'll say it again: you're "pattern" is flawed. I would suggest that you quit treating people like anonymous letters, and actually listen to what others are saying. Because you're not listening to what I'M saying. You're listening to what you THINK Person C is saying. I know that using a template is a much easier way to have a conversation, where everyone's roles are clearly identified, and it's easy to tell who are the good guys (everyone who agrees with you) and who are the bad guys (everyone with a different point of view). But that's not how the real world works. And you're going to miss out on so much learning, and so much living, if you let "patterns" become the way you interpret reality!

David Hallum

commented on Sep 21, 2012

Wow!! 120 posts for an article!! I wonder if that is some kind of record? I noticed that there are several attacks going both ways by different sets of individuals. My brothers, we have crossed the line. You are not "earnestly contending for the faith which was once delivered to the saints." You are embroiled in a battle about The Book!! Anyone with a small grasp of church history will know that the OT was kept by the priests and only read publicly during religious services. The common people had NO access. The NT was a loose collection of histories, letters and a wildly apocryphal book before being canonized. Even then it was 1600 years before people could affordably own a copy of the WORD of GOD. Countless thousands of gallons of blood has been split by both parties over the Bible, some to insure that we had it, some trying to insure that we didn't. We have certain guaranteed freedoms in America. One of the is freedom of religion. If Brother Turner wants to read his Bible at home and listen to the sermon at church, I applaud him. As the pastor of a congregation that encourages regular Bible study it is refreshing to read that someone actually reads his Bible. After all, isn't that the point?

Mark Baker

commented on Sep 21, 2012

Mr. ?Blank? (or Mr. #115): I hope that you will reexamine what you wrote and, on closer examination, you see how your response defeats your own point and confirms the concerns that others have. I agree, those are all great verses, and there may be a time, for brevity?s sake, to leave some verses out, but you somehow left out the HEART of that passage and the greater context. Therefore, can you see how you not only missed the point, but exposed your own ?twisting scriptures?? 2 Timothy 2:15 is the pivotal verse AND YOU SKIPPED IT! This is huge! This verse is about handling the Word correctly, and clearly you did not. And you falsely accused others of doing so. Furthermore, in the context, Paul later warns us of ?terrible times,? and one of the marks of this will be false teachers; and he gives us the responsibility to challenge falsehood with the Word. Yet it seems your point, if we go by this one response, is we cannot disagree or challenge teaching that is concerning to us. If we do, then we are condemned by people with your mindset. That is how error is enabled and falsehood gets into the church.

Mark Baker

commented on Sep 21, 2012

Mr. Blank: It is one thing to fall into the self-defeating notion of ?I judge and condemn you for judging,? but it is an entirely different matter, and there is no hope, when a person refuses to at least acknowledge this flagrant error. If you condemn judging, are you not making a judgment? If you judge and ?attack? others (e.g. judging and condemning their ?spirit?) for ?attacking? others then how can you expect any credibility to your arguments? If you argue your point but then condemn others for arguing, then can you expect any discerning individual to take you seriously? If you condemn others for judging, did you not just violate your own standard? Yet I cannot recall a single person admitting to their own folly in this issue. If any of you love Mr. Blank, or anyone else in error (including me), is it not loving to attempt to show him or her this danger? Yet, ironically, people like Mr. Blank discourage this vital reality of life and love .

Mark Baker

commented on Sep 21, 2012

Mr. Blank: Did Paul have a ?spirit of argument and strife? in the same section of verses you referred to AND LEFT THESE VERSES OUT when he publicly rebuked several people, including Hymenaeus and Philetus (and later Demas, Alexander, etc)? Was Paul (and others) quarreling about words in the book of Acts where we repeatedly see him ?debating,? ?reasoning,? and ?arguing? with others? Did John have that same ?spirit? when he praised the truth and warned against false teachers and publicly rebuked Diotrephes? Did Jesus have that ?spirit? when we consistently rebuked false teachings and teachers and exhorted us not to be deceived. Did Jesus have a similar ?spirit? of division when He proclaimed that He did not come to bring peace, but ?division?? Were Elija and Micaiah essentially blamed for having a ?spirit? of contention when they spoke the truth? [HINT: YES] Could it be, Mr. Blank, that you are in error? Could it be that you sat in judgment on proclaimed a ?spirit of argument and strife? on others? By what authority did you condemn the hearts of these people?

Mark Baker

commented on Sep 21, 2012

Mr. #115; I have no problem if people judge. I just ask that we do so accurately (2 Tim 2:15; Jn 7:24), with the right standard (Acts 17:11; Matt 7:2), that they also look at themselves first (Matt 7:1-5), and that they are motivated out of love for God, others, and the truth. If you agree with this article, and other articles, fine. [All my points here have little to do with THIS article.] But it seems you have decided that others who disagree cannot voice their concern or warn others about the problems they see. If they do, you judge and condemn them as wrong for disagreeing? Is that the Christianity you adhere to and read in the Scriptures? If/when we disagree, should we say nothing? What did Jesus do? Paul? Peter? John? The standard here from one group seems to be: just listen to other points of view in these articles, but if someone presents a differing point of view then that is not allowed. Furthermore, they are haters, a spirit of ____... Does anyone see a problem with that?

Anonymous

commented on Sep 21, 2012

AMEN, david AMEN. And thank u mischa for ur words. I will check out his preaching. And it is best that way. Oddly enough, if david would have posted his comment before mine, I would not have posted anything. I have been reading articles from this site for.... well I really don't remember, for a long time. and 115 was the first time I posted anything. Lol I use to be like Bill, coming to the defense of the writers although many times I would attack to witers.( of course in the name of holiness) at least I thought. but at the end of it all I found out that it was fruitless. the more I defended the writers the more I realize the ones that were attacking was not listening to what I was saying they simply was trying to find the weakest point in my argument. and at the end it was the never ending cycle. and in the case of me attacking other writers preachers etc... I realized I had some pride issues I have to deal with. so I stop.

Mark Baker

commented on Sep 21, 2012

BW, I'm not sure who believes they are more misunderstood or misrepresented by the other: me or you. It is like we are speaking different languages. But I will say, your responses do seem to fulfill what I wrote.

Anonymous

commented on Sep 21, 2012

AMEN, david AMEN. And thank u mischa for ur words. I will check out his preaching. And it is best that way. Oddly enough, if david would have posted his comment before mine, I would not have posted anything. I have been reading articles from this site for.... well I really don't remember, for a long time. and 115 was the first time I posted anything. Lol I use to be like Bill, coming to the defense of the writers although many times I would attack to witers.( of course in the name of holiness) at least I thought. but at the end of it all I found out that it was fruitless. the more I defended the writers the more I realize the ones that were attacking was not listening to what I was saying they simply was trying to find the weakest point in my argument. and at the end it was the never ending cycle. and in the case of me attacking other writers preachers etc... I realized I had some pride issues I have to deal with. so I stop.

Bill Williams

commented on Sep 21, 2012

@Mark, my responses seem to fulfill what you wrote because that is what you are looking for. You are so convinced in your own mind that your "pattern" is right, that you have me all figured out, that you cannot conceive the possibility that you might be wrong about me. That is quite sad, actually. I've been a teacher for many, many years, and the best students I've had were the one who were conscious of the reality that they might be wrong about something. It was what drove them always to be thinking and analyzing and examining their assumptions and their conclusions to make sure there wasn't something they had missed. I've kept in touch with many of these now former students over the years, and I can tell you that every one of them, without exception, has found much success and happiness in both their personal lives, as well as in their careers. Let me give you an example of what I see you doing: if you were to put on green-tinted sunglasses, everything you would see in the world around you would have a green tint, even if that tint was not there in real life! In your case, you have "put on" a simplistic, flawed "pattern" that you think is real. So of course my responses seem to fit your pattern. But take those glasses off, really listen to me, and you will see that reality looks quite different when you're not "wearing" your pattern.

Bill Williams

commented on Sep 21, 2012

@Mr. Anonymous (#126 and 128), you are a wiser man than I am! Of course, my experiences lines up with yours. After about a month on here it does seem that any attempt to defend a different perspective is quite fruitless. People are convinced that they are right, and true education does not begin until one is willing to acknowledge the possibility that one might be wrong! I don't know, I guess some on here feel they don't have anything else left to learn. I've seen at least two people whom I suppose were regulars who declared they were leaving because of the contentious nature displayed on occasion on these threads. I'm starting to understand why! I admire your honesty, and I admire your restraint in not getting too involved in these conversations. Deep inside I grudgingly admit that that is a good example for me to follow! Perhaps I should do a little soul searching myself. I don't know if you're the same Anonymous as earlier in this tread (#40 and 52), but I appreciate your comments. Have a great weekend!

Bill Williams

commented on Sep 21, 2012

@David, I'd like to add my AMEN to your comment, as well! You expressed more clearly in one post what it's taken me several posts to try to express, and apparently with no luck! Thank you for your contribution.

Mark Baker

commented on Sep 21, 2012

Sadly, we're still batting a thousand when it comes to the inability or unwillingness to answer certain questions... especially the simple "How is it logical or biblical to judge and condemn judging?" That, BW, is not directed at you (whether or not it applies). I saw that you responded but I did not read your posts. You and I have two completely different agendas and so whatever you or I write--despite our best efforts, apparently--neither of will convince each other or even merely clearly communicate to one another. I'm just stunned by how problematic this has been. I'm not surprised, however, by how others have responded and then fail to support their assertions.

Pastor Sandy .

commented on Sep 21, 2012

#130 Bill: I hope you don't leave the site - you're a much needed voice of reason in a sea of unreasonableness! Someone asked a question about why did Pastor Sandy stop commenting and why did she delete her comments. Duh-h-h-h- Just saying! There is only so much _ _ a person can take. Have a good weekend!

Bill Williams

commented on Sep 21, 2012

@Mark, yes, I agree, I think we have two different purposes (I like that word better than "agenda"!) in our writing. And it's very likely that that could explain some of the differences of opinions that you and I have. For the record, I do appreciate that you obviously have a passion for God's Word. And your point that those who disagree with the article are also entitled to a fair hearing is well taken. My purpose for writing is simple: one, that the author's premise may be debated on it's own terms, without reading into the article any type of agenda that does not actually exist. And two, that different perspectives may be welcome at the table when discussing matters that are not essential to the Christian faith.

Bill Williams

commented on Sep 21, 2012

@Mischa, don't worry, I don't have any intention of leaving. I've taught high school for a long time, and I've developed tough skin! I'll just try better to discern how involved to get into a discussion before it starts getting pointless. This one, I suspect I stayed in longer than I should've. I had to take some time off from work this week, first because one of my sons was sick, and then because whatever he had, he gave it to me! And I guess this is what happens when I have too much free time on my hands! Fortunately, I'm feeling better, so I should be back to having little free time by Monday.

Bill Williams

commented on Sep 21, 2012

@Mischa, I forgot to mention, I hadn't realized that Pastor Sandy had stopped commenting! It's a shame for us, but I know her time will be better utilized in her ministry.

Dennis Cocks

commented on Sep 25, 2012

@ Mischa "@115 (and116!) Thank you for your thoughtful comments. And of interest, I see only one brief comment on Mr. Prior's statements in #108 where he states "the Bible contains many errors and contradictions of fact." I have made similar comments in the past, and have been accused of heresy, of not knowing God, and of hearing from Satan rather than God." So what is your point? You are both wrong! There are a lot of heritics who will agree with you.

Dennis Cocks

commented on Sep 25, 2012

@ Mischa "Someone asked a question about why did Pastor Sandy stop commenting and why did she delete her comments. Duh-h-h-h- Just saying!" I agree whole heartedly! Many of your comments were just that "Duh-h-h-h. The sex of a baby isn't known for the first couple months, even though the Bible says otherwise. The Bible has contradictions. Then you give an example and when you see how foolish your example was you deleat it. You are a perfect example of how others on here need to point out the errors of false teaching.

Dennis Cocks

commented on Sep 25, 2012

@ Bill, "@Mischa, I forgot to mention, I hadn't realized that Pastor Sandy had stopped commenting!" Bill, who do you think "Mischa" is?

Mark Baker

commented on Sep 25, 2012

@ Dennis: I am going to judge and condemn you for judging (or argue that you have a contentious spirit of arguing and strife), and if you challenge me or expose the folly of my self-defeating mindsets, then I will ignore you because I cannot, apparently, acknowledge the obvious or admit that I am wrong. Yeah, Dennis, I remember in the folly of my youth how I was like you, but thank you God that I am not like these "contentious" people here, I've matured way beyond them.

Bill Williams

commented on Sep 25, 2012

Back to work and on my lunch break, so I'll make these brief. @Dennis, I think Mischa is who she says she is, and I have no reason to believe otherwise.

Bill Williams

commented on Sep 25, 2012

@Mark, I appreciate your passion for the truth, and I respect your desire to "contend for the faith" according to your conviction, even thought I don't always think that what you are doing is actually contending for the faith. Nevertheless, it's a free country and you are entitled to your views. But I ran across an article a couple of days ago that made me think of you and others, here. The author wrote that exhortation does not work in environments of anonymity. I would tend to agree. Like I said earlier, when Paul wrote instructions to contend for the faith and point out false teachings, he wrote those instructions to faith communities that were in relationship with each other. This forum resembles nothing like what Paul had in mind. We don't have the kind of relationships with each other that would make the "exhortations" edifying. Honestly, do you see much edifying going on here? Is anyone's mind actually being changed. Please, don't interpret this as "me judging and condemning you for judging and condemning others." That's not what this is. This is just my personal observation. I just don't think this forum is right for the kind of "contending" ministry that you and others like Dennis are so passionate about. I guess what I'm trying to say is, I'm glad you and other are passionate about contending for the faith. But the relationships, the community, the accountability--it's just not here. And you can't divorce "pointing out false teaching" from the context in which it is supposed to be done. Anyway, those are just my thoughts.

Dennis Cocks

commented on Sep 25, 2012

Amen Mark!

Dennis Cocks

commented on Sep 25, 2012

@ Bill, "@Dennis, I think Mischa is who she says she is, and I have no reason to believe otherwise." Ok, then go back to other articles where a certain person posted messages (the ones she hasn't deleated anyway) and see that the name is changed from the original post. "Mischa" is a name that she changed from another. No matter how many times she changes her name, you will always be able to know who she is by what she says.

Dennis Cocks

commented on Sep 26, 2012

@ Bill says, "Like I said earlier, when Paul wrote instructions to contend for the faith and point out false teachings, he wrote those instructions to faith communities that were in relationship with each other." Let me ask you Bill, what kind of loving relationship did Jesus have with the Pharisees and the Scribes, and the Saducees?

Bill Williams

commented on Sep 26, 2012

@Dennis, certainly Jesus' relationship with the religious leaders of his day was contentious at times. But it's important to keep in mind that the reason for that was because of the religious leaders, not because of Jesus. To those who were open, he met with them privately to answer their questions (John 3), he accepted meal invitations from them (Luke 7), and basically treated them with respect and dignity. I doesn't seem fair to the character of Jesus to take a few isolated instances, like Matthew 23 for example, and make them the norm. But there is another point I'd like to bring up, that I've mentioned before and I've never seen you comment on it. Jesus knew the hearts of all men, so that the rebukes he gave were accurate. You and I don't have the ability to read the hearts of all men, and therefore I personally feel that it would be wiser for me to be more careful with how strongly I rebuke someone, ESPECIALLY someone I don't have a strong relationship with. The bible says that with the measure we judge, we ourselves will be judged. Well, Jesus can stand up to a much higher measure than I can!

John E Miller

commented on Sep 26, 2012

Bill Williams (aka "who knows") you read an article that made you think of some of us (again "who knows"). The author wrote that exhortation did not work in environments of anonymity. You "tend to agree". I find that most contradictory to your personal insistence on maintaining your own anonymity. Where would we be today if Saul, who later became known as Paul had insisted on maintaining his anonymity? Where would the Christian church be today if all Christ's Apostles had decided that they wished to remain anonymous? If you are a born again believer in the Lord Jesus Christ what right have you to cloak yourself in a false identity and then presume to teach and correct others? These questions are sincere and without malice of any kind, but I struggle to find any justification for the position taken by a professing Christian in thinking that his own importance is greater than his indebtedeness to his redeemer.

Bill Williams

commented on Sep 26, 2012

@John, I will answer your questions if you answer me these: did you read what I wrote earlier about the fact that I was a victim of identity theft? Have YOU ever been a victim of identity theft? You say that your questions are sincere and without any malice, and I will take you at your word. But to be honest with you, your constant insistence on wanting to know my real identity is making me rather nervous. If you had been through what I'VE been through, you'd understand why I don't have any intentions of putting myself at risk just to satisfy your curiosity.

John E Miller

commented on Sep 27, 2012

"Bill Williams", yes I read what you wrote about being the victim of identity theft and no, as far as I am aware I've never been a victim. Apart from a few exceptions the majority of contributors to these discussions do not appear to have the fear of identity theft as a consequence of participating under their real names. I accept that you appear to be paranoid in this respect but I can only take seriously comments and contributions from those who are honest about their identities. Others may think differently and I have to respect that. If I was taking part in some secular discussion I might have reasons to conceal my identity but as far as a conversation about the Christian faith is concerned simple loyalty to Christ would tell me that I cannot confess His name under a false identity. Peter used a false identity and ended up denying Christ. Once again I can say that I write without any personal antipathy and am expressing my own simple belief. Using a false identity gives license to express opinions without fear of the consequences for good or evil.

Anonymous

commented on Sep 27, 2012

god bless you all. as I said before although I have been receiving the articles for a long time, #115 was the first time I posted anything on this site. so I do not know how to put my name in place of the number. but since my intent was not to post anything I guess it really didn't matter. however my name is Emmanuel. thank you Bill but I'm really not that wise I wish I was but I'm not. Dennis my agreeing with mishcha, had nothing to do with the Bible having errors. I don't believe that, I was agreeing with her viewpoint about arguing. however that is neither here or there. mr mark I reread my post 115 and realize that it was a tad too sharp. that was not my intent. I should have given more details. and for that I do apologize to everyone. however that being said I have 3 childrens. 2 boys 1 girl. the boys for the most part stay to themselves, however my daughter which is now 12 is very social. when she in my daughter gets into an argument or disagreement, she would take my daughters words and repeat them in a mocking and condescending tone. On #140 you did the same. that is childish behavior and I know your better than that. also if you disagree with my point of view that is fine but there is no need to try to build a bandwagon. I'm referring to your other post. do anyone else love mr anonymous..... Etc.. that too is not need it. anyway I'll address my position a little more clearly. hopefully after this post you will understand what I'm trying to say. first of all I did judge you are right about that. and I do not apologize for that. there are 4 words used for judge in the New Testament, 2 of them refer to someone that does it for a living. such as a judge of the court. and the other to refer to the act itself. and both produce different results 1 positive 1 negative. and many believers get these 2 actions mixed up. 1 is the verb, krites. it means a judge. it denotes to separate, in the New Testament it is used to refer to to condemn, to execute judgement, to give a sentence, to govern. the other is diakrino

Bill Williams

commented on Sep 27, 2012

@John, very well, then, let me ask you about kb. Do you take his comments and contributions seriously? Or is he also not being loyal to Christ? Does he also appear to be paranoid?

Bill Williams

commented on Sep 27, 2012

@John, how about the affirming comment I left for you yesterday under the article about Aircraft Carriers--did you take THAT one seriously? You and I disagree on some issues, and yet I affirm your ministry, while you call me paranoid. Do you really not see a problem with that?

Mark Baker

commented on Sep 27, 2012

Fifth, if you are trying to (subtly) accuse me of immature or childish behavior by comparing me to a 12 year old girl, then I hope you see the irony in that. Was Elijah acting like a 12 year old when dealing with the prophets of Baal? Was Micaiah? Sixth, that response was not specifically about you, it was a carry over of other extended discussions on--and yes, Bill, a ?pattern? of--the way people tend to respond on this site (or, not respond) toward discernment challenges. Seventh, speaking of not responding, I wrote several points and asked several questions of you, yet you did not address those (not that it matters now). Eighth, I have no idea of what you mean by ?build(ing) a bandwagon.? But something tells me that this is another inaccurate judgment. Again, I don?t mind that you judge. That is one of my main points, please judge/discern ... but... ?Stop judging by mere appearances, and MAKE A RIGHT JUDGMENT.? (Jn 7:24) Ninth, I give you a lot of credit for responding. Thank you.

Mark Baker

commented on Sep 27, 2012

Forth, I appreciate your bringing up the words for judge, but I?m not exactly sure what your point was. I do believe we should make judgments. But I think we should be careful when judging another person?s heart, intent, ?spirit,? motives, etc. Diakrino is my favorite word for judge, and it is often translated ?discernment? (or ?judge between?). There are many here who seem to be ?discouragers of discernment.? When someone attempts to exercise discernment then they often get attacked, misjudged, dismissed, and shouted down by others (they are judged as being haters, judgmental, etc). The original concerns are not addressed, rather, those who have concerns are seen as the problems. As a result, falsehood reigns and we spend our time distracted by these conversations, rather than discussing potential error and refining our beliefs and warning others about heresy and false teachers.

Mark Baker

commented on Sep 27, 2012

First, Emmanuel, thanks for responding, and for sharing your name (please, next time, share your name in your response). Second, I must say upfront, that I cannot clearly understand all that you wrote, so if I miss something, it may be due to that. Feel free to help me in that area. Third, to be clear, I?m not overly concerned that you, or others, are too sharp in your responses. That is the least of the problems here. Like I have said before, I just want people to al least use their OWN standards and to make judgments based on God?s standard, but to do so accurately and, ideally, with a motive of love and seeking the truth. My goal with you (and others) is that I wanted you to reconsider your response and to see where it might be inaccurate, unbiblical, and self-defeating. No matter what your intent was, I hope that you can see the errors in your response.

John E Miller

commented on Sep 28, 2012

"Bill Williams" in answer to #151, kb has never had occasion to address any comments to me so I have no concern about his anonymity other than I cannot understand it. Nothing could be more simple on a forum such as this to identify oneself under even a Christian name. Say your name was Joe, how many men are there called Joe? There must be at least a couple of dozen! As regards #152, yes I did take note of your agreement. I tend to just make a comment about an article if I feel so led and leave it at that. I am happy that in this instance you can agree with me but because you do I cannot change my judgement of your cloak of anonymity. I will not quote the first meaning given for paranoia in Collins English Dictionary as it might be somewhat extreme but the second one is "an intense fear or suspicion especially when unfounded".

John E Miller

commented on Sep 28, 2012

Brother Emmanuel if you want to identify yourself properly each time you post it is very simple. Click on "CONTRIBUTOR" at the top right hand corner. Then "My Dashboard" and finally "edit About Me info". You can then insert your name(s) and anything else you care. Every blessing!

Keith B

commented on Sep 28, 2012

John...I'm sorry....my name is Keith. I have no problem with that. I don't like putting my full first and last name on an internet message board. If I could go and change it to add my name "Keith" to it, I would. But it won't let me. Having said that, it's been probably 100 posts since I've responded to it....why is my name being mentioned?

Bill Williams

commented on Sep 28, 2012

@John, you want to know my name so bad? Fine, it's Michael. That's all you're getting out of me. I will continue to post under "Bill Williams," but you're welcome to call me Michael if you want. I don't know how that makes me any less anonymous to you, but whatever. Second, according to the definition you offered, paranoia applies "especially when unfounded." If you believe that identity theft is an "unfounded fear," then let me give you some advice: you're probably not being careful enough. I didn't use to think about it either, until it happened to me. Third, you've made some comments that just aren't true. For example, you claim that you don't take seriously comments from anonymous people. That is not true. If you REALLY didn't take my comments seriously, you wouldn't have responded to me at all. The fact that you continued to respond to me means that you DID take what I said seriously. Also, you claim that you tend to comment only on the article and leave it at that. But the issue of my "anonymity" has nothing to do with the article. So you CHOOSE to call me out for wishing to be anonymous. More significantly, you CHOOSE to ignore my affirmation of your ministry. Those two choices you made say a lot about your character, and I'm sorry to say it does not speak well of it.

Bill Williams

commented on Sep 28, 2012

@John, two more points. To respond to what you wrote in #147, you seem to believe that I teach and correct others under a cloak of anonymity. The issue of anonymity we've dealt with, but as far as presuming to teach and correct others, you are mistaken about me. I offer my own personal observations, with the understanding that I may be wrong, and with the knowledge that people are free to agree or disagree with me, and it doesn't make a difference to me either way. The only people I'm concerned about teaching and correcting are my students and my sons. They know my real name, by the way. I have a relationship with them. I have credibility with them. Which actually is another reason why a forum such as this is not the best for "contending for the faith" or for "pointing out false teachers." Without a relationship with each other, which I maintain is vital while others dismiss as not important, there can be no credibility. You may know everyone's name here. That doesn't make them less anonymous. I don't have any reason to doubt that Mark or Dennis or you or others on here are who they say they are. But quite frankly, none of you really has any credibility with anyone else here. That's not to say anything bad about any of these people I've mentioned, it's just the nature of the internet. I have a pastor whom I know, and who knows me, and we have a relationship with each other, and HE has credibility. So I gladly receive teaching and correction from him. He's earned that right. None of us here have earned that right on this forum. And I'm aware that I haven't earned that right here as either. That's why I always say, what I write is simply my personal observation. Take it if it's accurate and helpful, ignore it if it isn't.

Bill Williams

commented on Sep 28, 2012

@John, final point. You continue to hold to your judgment of my cloak of anonymity. Fine, that's up to you. But that right there is a perfect example of what is wrong with many who comment on this site, including the opening comments on this article: you take an issue which is nothing more than a matter of personal preference, and you "spiritualize" it so that anyone who has a different preference is not only wrong, but SPIRITUALLY WRONG, and must be condemned. The author says that he focuses better on the Word during the sermon when he listens, rather than when he reads along. That's all he said. Yet he is treated as if he was arguing that people shouldn't read the Bible at all! I wrote that I preferred to remain anonymous because I had been a victim of identity theft, and I preferred not to risk that happening again. And you compare me to Peter denying Christ!! Do you people ever actually READ what you're writing? Unbelievable!! If you want to contend for the faith, fine. But many of you aren't contending for the faith, you are contending for how YOU think things should be done. And in doing that, you are actually trampling the faith by equating the TRUTH of God's Word with your own preferences and opinions.

Mark Baker

commented on Sep 28, 2012

My real name is "Dewey Oxberger." Just kidding. I'm not overly concerned about the matter of exposing names or protecting the privacy of our names. I use my real name, but, at least to some extent, I can appreciate some anonymity (provided the motivation to do so is right). I just hope there would be FAR more concern and passion about protecting the the body from false teachings and false teachers and exposing them (Eph 5:11; Ti 1:9). Sadly, this forum often turns into a "protect the author and his/her ideas at all costs" as we re-direct the focus off of the main concern (if the ideas presented are good, helpful, faithful, harmful, dubious, errant, ...) and onto HOW some respond (which has some importance). As a result, we miss our opportunity and perhaps we fail in our responsibilities. If ever there was a time for more discernment and "refuting" false teachers, it is now. This forum has more than their fair share of them mixed in with some good ones.

Mark Baker

commented on Sep 28, 2012

...by the way, in the meantime, since this article came out and this particular discussion/re-direction began, Brian McLaren (in an NPR interview about his latest book attacking the Bible and Christianity) made a mockery of Scripture and overtly and subtly mocked and attacked adherents of Scripture. Furthermore, more light was shed on his mindsets when, this past weekend, he performed a "marriage ceremony" "without a bride"... Why? Because BM's own son was "married" to another man. BM does not have a fringe following. He is exceedingly popular. His leaven is spreading! His name was brought up here (perhaps by me, I can't remember) and then he was immediately defended and praised. This, brothers and sisters, is the greater problem here, by far. Yet the agenda, for many, not all, is more about straining at a gnat while swallowing a camel. And everyone suffers as result.

Michael Karpf

commented on Sep 28, 2012

I thought this was supposed to be a discussion on the topic, "Why I Don't Take My Bible to Church."

Bill Williams

commented on Sep 28, 2012

@Michael, yes, these discussions tend to gain a life of their own after a while! @Mark, I get where you're coming from. For the record, I don't support gay marriage, but I don't see what good it would do me to rail against it on this kind of forum, for the reason I discussed--the anonymity, the lack of relationships with each other, the lack of any real credibility among each other. I have spoken to that issue on occasions, but those occasions have been such where I had influence. Now, if you feel the conviction to do otherwise, by all means, go ahead. But let's not kid ourselves, none of us has any real influence over anyone else on this forum. That's why the thrust of my comments is normally less on the ideas presented, and more on the type of environment in which those types of ideas are discussed. (An aside, HOW we respond is NOT just of SOME importance--it is of EQUAL importance to what we say.) If you knew me personally, you would realize that in settings where I can actually make a difference, I can "contend for the faith" with the best of them! Having said all this, perhaps we can get back on topic. So let me ask you, taking into consideration the clarification written by the author himself in the comments section, what ideas are presented in the article itself that you consider to be false teaching?

Mark Baker

commented on Sep 28, 2012

Emmanuel? I'm a little confused by your "re-post"

Mark Baker

commented on Sep 28, 2012

Thom Turner, this is all your fault! (kidding) Seriously, I'm sorry all this has happened on your article. This extended conversation has very, very little, if anything, to do with your article; although the concerns others have still stand ... and I am thankful you responded, and responded in the way you did.

Bill Williams

commented on Sep 28, 2012

@Mark, in your first comment, you claimed that this article contained horrible teaching that resulted in further compromising the Word and lessening God's Word in the hearts of individuals. In the comments, the author clarified his intentions by stating: one, that he wasn't advocating that anyone stop bringing their Bibles to church; two, that he himself reads the Bible every day; and three, that he didn't want to discourage anyone from reading the Bible. In light of that, do you still claim that this article lessens God's word in the hearts of individuals? And if so, on what evidence, given that the authors STATED INTENTIONS do not support such a claim?

Anonymous

commented on Sep 28, 2012

the point is Messiah neither the disciples or Paul ever went to find people to contend the faith with. messiah said I send you like sheeps among wolves. otherwise the wolf will find us. otherwise there is no need for us to go and find them just to expose them. contending for the faith, is like being in a river and trying to go upstream, we struggle push and strife in order for the waters not to out power us. and in that way we will make it till the end. also is like running a race our goal is to make it to the finish line, against the terrain weather and elements, that is to contend. so if a person has the custom of going into sites, blogs or Facebook, or read books of people you disagree with to prove them wrong or expose them. that is not contending for the faith. anyway thank you for your time, and sorry for the mis understandings. I'm rustyer than I thought in sending posts. god bless

Mark Baker

commented on Sep 28, 2012

Emmanuel, thanks for writing back and for your feedback. I would say, however, that I disagree with your assessment in at least a couple of different ways, but I'll leave it at that. @Bill: I'm terribly sorry, I went back and re-read a post of mine, and I did not make it sufficiently clear in what I wrote about not reading your posts. I appreciate your enthusiasm in writing to everyone, including me, but I came to the point where I finally understood that your agenda and my agenda here are irreconcilable (among many other problems). Therefore, I stopped reading your posts, to me or others. Occasionally I see that you write to me, but I'm not really interested. Perhaps you and/or I need to seriously re-evaluate our own agendas, I try to do this from time to time. Maybe I lack the self-awareness, but I would suggest you take a look at your own self, and your own agenda.

Bill Williams

commented on Sep 28, 2012

@Mark, fair enough. I'm sure you won't mind, then, whenever I see you misrepresenting an author's point of view, if I point that out. Just want to make sure EVERYONE has a fair hearing!

Dennis Cocks

commented on Sep 28, 2012

@ Bill says, "Like I said earlier, when Paul wrote instructions to contend for the faith and point out false teachings, he wrote those instructions to faith communities that were in relationship with each other. This forum resembles nothing like what Paul had in mind. We don't have the kind of relationships with each other that would make the "exhortations" edifying." Then why should we even read these articles in the first place? I don't know most of these authors from Adam, and the ones I know of by name I have no relationship with whatsoever. According to your line of thinking, they can have no influence on this forum (for good or bad) because they don't have a relationship with those they are writing to.

Dennis Cocks

commented on Sep 29, 2012

@ Bill Also when someone gets on here and claims that the Bible has over a hundred contradictions in it, then gives a supposed example and I give a biblical answer to prove her wrong using the Word of God, you don't believe that can have an effect on someone who might be having doubts about the Bible themselves all because I don't have a "relationship" with them? It is the Word of God that corrects false teaching, not me. Hebrews 4:12 "For the Word of God is quick and powerful and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart." To say that someone on here can't make a difference in influencing people by using the Word of God because they don't have a relationship with them is saying the Word of God isn't powerful enough to change people's minds.

Dennis Cocks

commented on Sep 29, 2012

Oh and BTW, Dennis Cocks is my real name...I mean, who in their right mind would make up a name like that? : )

Bill Williams

commented on Sep 30, 2012

@Dennis, you make some very valid points, and I appreciate them because it helps me to clarify my thinking. By the way, that's the reason for why I read the articles and the comments: hearing another person's point of view can stimulate me to go back and rethink things for myself. I guess I should modify my position to say that what goes on here has more of an INDIRECT influence on people--as opposed to DIRECT influence--rather than NO influence at all. But my larger point is that this site is not a self-contained universe. There is so much more in the lives of the author and of those of us commenting. Let's take the example you proposed of a person who has doubts concerning the Bible. Well, there's a REASON why the person has doubts. If a person already has doubts concerning the Bible, chances are they are already aware of apparent contradictions. Now, if you provide an answer to show how an apparent contradiction can be reconciled, that can be a good thing because it will open up the possibility to the concerned person that they might be wrong concerning their doubts, and it may encourage the person to go back and rethink their doubts, and with further affirmation from other sources, the concerned person may final reach a point of being sure of the Bible's trustworthiness. So I'm willing to concede that providing a Biblical response to a false teaching on this site can be edifying, although, as a said, it would be in a more indirect way. BUT there is another issue here that needs to be considered, and I'll address that in a second post...

Bill Williams

commented on Sep 30, 2012

@Dennis, the other issue is not just WHAT we say when responding to false teaching. It deals with HOW we respond to false teaching, and here is where the relational aspect comes in. I do agree that the Word of God is sufficiently powerful to change people's lives. But that power is contingent on the Word of God actually being HEARD. And here is my concern: if your response is Biblical, yet harsh, then ABSENT THE RELATIONSHIP, the harshness of your response could have the unintentional consequence of becoming a stumbling block for the concerned person. The harshness of your response may cause the concerned person not to hear the Word of God you are presenting. The harshness of your response may in fact unintentionally further the stereotype of Christians who believe in the trustworthiness of Scripture as close-minded, rude people who care more about being right than they care about others. Now, if you're really sincere about having a positive influence and about correcting false teaching, surely it would be well at least to consider the possibility of whether the harshness of your responses may be having these unintentional consequences, don't you think? Why is it not possible to give the same Biblical content in your response, and yet present that response in a respectful way? And wouldn't it be worth it, if it means a greater chance that people will actually hear and consider the response?

Bill Williams

commented on Sep 30, 2012

@Dennis, one more point I want to make about relationships, and I'll preface this by asking you a question: As a pastor, do you believe it is important for you to have a relationship with the members of your church?

Dennis Cocks

commented on Sep 30, 2012

@ Bill, Of course I have a relationship with my people. And yes, I understand that in the context of this forum that isn't going to happen on this site. But I still believe we can make a difference by pointing out error or giving affirmation to others on this site. Maybe not as great as the context of the local church, but a difference can be made none the less. And isn't the possibility of changing just one person's mind about errors or affirming just one person's view about God or the Bible worth it? Jesus told a parable about the shepherd who left the 99 sheep to go looking for the one that was lost. While this is in the context of evangelism, it still points to the fact that one person has great worth in the eyes of God. And if I or you or someone else can reach them on a site like this, I say that's great! Now as far as my supposed harshness I will say this once again. I really don't believe the majority of my post are as harsh as some seem to suggest. If you go back to all the responses I have given on here in the past you will find that most of them are nothing but biblical expostion on a certain subject. And just as Mark has been saying, I have been attacked for nothing more than expressing myself. So I have at times responded in like manner. And I really don't have a problem with that even on the receiving end. There are certain people I have been in discussions with on this site for a lot longer than you have been coming here, so some of what you might be reading from me is in that context. Now whether you think that is good or bad, that is up to you. When I preach I do at times make my point by pounding the pulpit and raising my voice, and I believe that can be effective here also. You may not, but that is you opinion. Let me go back to making a difference in just one life on this site. In the article about things you will never learn in seminary, I shared my heart about not losing your family while building a church. Feel free to read what I wrote. There is nothing harsh at all, and if just ONE young pastor can be encouraged by what I wrote and not make the mistake of putting ministry before his family, then I believe I have made a HUGE contribution to the kingdom of God even in the context of this site.

Bill Williams

commented on Oct 2, 2012

@Dennis, I feel I have adequately explained my point, and I think you've done a good job of adequately explaining your point as well, so at this stage I think it best to leave it at that. I think we're not disagreeing as much as it may appear. I think it has more to do with different aspects of emphasis. Just so you know, I've never considered you mean-spirited, and I think most of your comments are generally respectful. It's just those few harsh ones, directed at people who disagree with you, that might have the potential to undermine your credibility; and so I simply encourage you to watch out for that.

Join the discussion