Etymology As Gnosticismby Ray Patrick (other posts)
God’s Word is Challenging
Jesus Christ famously did not shrink from challenging all who heard him. Violent men thought him a weakling when he preached forgiveness; they couldn’t stand to hear “Love your enemies” (Matthew 5:44). Yet, he also scandalized the “loving and tolerant” crowd by chasing the moneychangers out of the temple (Matthew 21:12) and demanding to hear how men expected to escape the damnation of hell (Matthew 23:33).
Christ was challenging in person, and God’s word is the same whenever it is preached and heard. It calls servants to submit to their masters, whether just or unjust (1 Peter 2:18-24). It calls wives to submit to their husbands as unto the LORD, even if they’re unbelievers (1 Peter 3:1-6), and for husbands to love their wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself up (read: died horrifically) for her (1 Peter 3:7). It prohibits women from teaching and preaching based on the roles established in the creation order and women’s propensity by nature to be more vulnerable to deception by false teachers (1 Timothy 2:11-14). It clearly identifies homosexuality as unnatural and sinful behavior (Romans 1:26-27, Leviticus 18:22, 20:13). It says that all people, regardless of their opinion of themselves, are not good, but evil (Romans 3:9-12).
These are all challenging to our human nature. If you weren’t shocked by at least one of the above, you weren’t paying attention!
The New Gnostics
Yea, hath God said, … ?
Faced with the challenges of scripture, especially when they offend the modern religion of self-worship and all its denominations (feminism, moral relativism, one-way reactionary racial hatred, etc.) many attempt to wrestle away from the clear meaning of the text. It all begins with the age-old whisper of the Serpent: “Yea, hath God said …?” (Gen 3:1). They encounter a challenging doctrine such as those listed above, feeling that God couldn’t possibly have really meant that. So, they embark on a quest to review the text in the original language and pluck out some hidden meaning that is inaccessible to the rest of us. This is nothing more than repackaged Gnosticism and should be condemned entirely.
“You can always tell a rebellious [Christian]. They do word studies. They try to go to the Greek and figure out if it perhaps means something else.”
Mark Driscoll, though wrong about nearly everything else of importance, got it right in the quote above. Note that there’s nothing wrong with doing word studies; the problem comes when it’s motivated by the part I emphasized: seeing if the scripture “perhaps means something else.” This is rebellion, pure and simple. It isn’t really a good-faith theological debate. It isn’t really a quest for understanding. It is an endless grasping for a secret way around the rules. They know what scripture really says - they’re just trying to find a loophole.
Two Examples (Involving some of America’s golden calves)
“Yea, hath God said … that the husband is the head of the wife?”
Usually, people who want to invert the Biblical roles for husbands and wives (i.e. instruct men to follow their wives’ every whim like obsequious sitcom husbands) simply ignore Scripture. However, one of their most creative arguments involves some truly impressive mental gymnastics about the word κεφαλή (kephale), meaning “head.” They argue that it doesn’t mean “in charge,” but “source.” They say the word “head” is used here in the same sense that we refer to the “head” of a river. Rather than being head of the wife as Christ is head of the church (Ephesians 5:23), they say the husband should really be her servant.
Dr. Wayne Grudem, in typical conservative fashion, spent over a decade trying to point out the error in this, mistakenly expecting these snakes to be operating in good faith. He gradually came to realize that this is not (usually) a benign misunderstanding, but a brasen challenge against the very authority of Scripture.
“Yea, hath God said … that women shouldn’t teach and preach?”
12 But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.
13 For Adam was first formed, then Eve.
14 And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression.
15 Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety.
Many “progressive Christians” want to have women in the clergy. This is desirable to them because the dominant religion in the West is feminism, and any musty old passage from that most problematic of books is bound to cause acolytes of this religion severe discomfort. So, when faced with the very clear instruction in 1 Timothy about the way church ought to be ordered, they must invent a way to weasel out of it. They usually trot out two common arguments:
ARGUMENT 1: “God didn’t say that, Paul did!” Picture Wile E. Coyote sawing off the branch he’s sitting on when you hear this. If you accept this as a valid reason to ignore Scripture, then you’ll end up ignoring the biggest chunk of the entire New Testament. (Since, you know, it was written by Paul and all.) It betrays a lack of understanding of Scripture. It’s not something you can pick and choose from, but rather “all scripture is given by inspiration of God” (2 Tim 3:16). It’s true that this command in 1 Timothy 2 is from Paul, but he was writing under inspiration from the Holy Spirit.
ARGUMENT 2: “This was just some kind of local custom in the first century. We’re more enlightened now!” This argument is ignorant of the timelessness of God’s word. People can usually get away with this ignorance because they only quote 1 Timothy 2:12, but don’t keep going. If they read the rest of the passage in context, they would see that Paul appeals not to any first-century custom, but to the Creation order and to female nature. The most risible part of this argument is the assumption that somehow, Christians have been getting this wrong for the better part of 2,000 years, and only when radical feminism hit the scene a few decades ago did they discover what the Bible really meant all this time!
They say that the best salesmen don’t cause people to want to buy something. Instead, they silently figure out what it is people already want, then go to work on them by shooting down all their reasons to hold off buying it. There are sneaky eisegetes out there who will do the same thing to you by perverting Scripture to serve your itching ears (2 Timothy 4:3). Only you know the besetting sins that affect you most. Don’t be deceived.