Archive for the ‘baptist battles’ Tag

The Weeds in the Wheat   1 comment

InMatthew 13:24 – 30 gives the parable of a landowner who has his servant plant a field with wheat. An evil man comes at night and sows tares among the wheat. Tares look like wheat when they are young, but they produce poisonous seed heads. The servant offered to remove them from the field, but the landowner recognized that the crop would be damaged by the weeding effort and told the servant to wait until both were mature and then remove the weeds from the wheat.

I love the parables when rightly interpreted. In this parable, God is the landowner and the field is the church. The wheat represemts true Christians and the tares are hypocrites and apostates within the church. The servant might be church leaders or observers from various denominations who see heresy and apostasy in the pews and feel they must DO something right NOW to purge it from the ranks.

The Southern Baptist Convention tore itself apart for almost 20:years. What were they fighting about? Heck, I’m a Southern Baptist affiliated church member and I’m hard pressed to explain it adequately to any reasonable person. There were some legitimate concerns in the 1980s with moderate theology slipping intointo SBC educational institutes. There were professors, particularly at Southern and Golden Gate semaries who were teaching that the Bible was not trustworthy and others who were passing students who were far-wide of the Bible. Something needed to be done about the false teachers … and it was. And then things went crazy. The problem with dealing with heresy and apostasy in the church is that you can become so focused on side issues that you form a circular firing squad to shoot your allies.

A friend of mine with doctorates in New Testament history and textual criticism was asked in a job interview if he believed the Bible was inerrant. He answered “I believe that the original writers faithfully communicated what God guided them to write and that the large body of New Testament manuscripts show that the modern translations of the Bible are mostly correct. However, there are some questionable sections due to translation drift and some translators, particurly prior to the discovery of eastern manuscripts, translated with a heavy bias toward personal agendas.” That was an honest statement meant to be entirely accurate. He was then asked if he “favored” the King James Version or the New International Version? He answered “neither, because the KJV is a result of a translation by ill trained translators with access to a limited number of manuscripts while the NIV is a product of belief that anything even slightly variant should be removed.” He was not hired by Southwestern SeminarySeminary in the 1990s, the school he graduated from, because of those answers. Ten years later, after working on the New English Translation (NET), he applied again and was hired. Why? Because the hiring committee had come to realize that a translation is a representation of the word of God filtered through handwritten copies and translator’s interpretations. The original manuscript was infallible and inerrant and the better translations today are trustworthy for determining theology and doctrine, but not wholly accurate because of small errors in punctuation and occasional uncertainties about word transmission. What Alan said 20 years ago.

So was that worth nearly 20 years of argument?

The fact is that the Bible is trustworthy and we can know what God has said to us, even if some commas are not in the right place. To argue over that was ridiculous. Now, can we move onto a discussion about something of true theological importance – like how many angels can dance onmthenjead of a pin?

Or how about this ….

Does God exist and can we know Him through the Bible?

Is Jesus Christ God stepped down into human flesh or just themson of God?

Are human beings sinners in need of a savior or are we essentially good people undermined by society?

Is salvation through faith by God’s grace or by our works?

If salvation is by faith, why can’t Christians live as if there is no God?

Now there are some truly me a fun theological questions.

Not to strain the analogy too far, but arguments over the KJV versus the NIV we’re chick-weed while we ignored the tares being down among the wheat. Now we want to dig up the weeds while ignoring that kudzu is overtaking parts of the field. What if we took Jesus’ advice and left the tarès? Stop freaking out over arguments with little bearing on salvation and actually strive to obey God? Stop judging other denominations harshly on side issues and focus on what is truly important – Christ crucified for ourmsins and rsen on the third day for our salvation as amgirft of God, not of ourselves lest we think we’ve earned it by our own efforts.

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