Recently I was sent a link to a site that apparently claims to speak God’s Word particularly to women. The link brought me to a post on that site which had the following story about a woman and the evangelist Charles Finney. I quote the account below and I do so to caution everyone about reading things like this and assuming that they are true and that they contain Godly advice. Stories like this are dangerous because they encourage abuse victims to place themselves in great danger, thinking that it is God’s will for them to do so. Here is the story and then I will make a couple of additional comments below:
Mat 23:23-24 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. (24) You blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel!
I have seen a very common pattern of how the wicked disguise themselves as fine saints, eminent examples of holiness, shepherds who we must go to in order to be fed, etc. It is so common in fact that I can issue this warning:
When a professing Christian, a supposed pastor, a church leader or theologian type writes lengthy articles filled with detail, evidences an academic air focusing on debate to prove their own theological point, beware. The devil himself is quite a theologian. He is quite capable, as are his servants, of writing intricate and convincing theological tomes that will receive praise and recognition from those who admire a form of godliness without the power.
Luk 6:27 “But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,
We saw an example in last Friday’s post of how “christian” fiction and fantasy does great harm, especially to victims of abuse as it hides in the church. That example, published at Our Daily Bread (odb.org) referenced a fictional book that portrayed a suffering Christian man touching his persecutor and thereby healing the wicked man’s physical ailment. Wow! How incredible! Yes, it is IN-credible. UN-believable. Because it is fiction. Yet, how often are victims of evil given these kinds of fiction to make them stay in the abuse, supposedly so that they can heal the evil heart of their abuser?
What did Jesus mean? When He tells us to love our enemies and do good to those who hate us?
Our Daily Bread, a daily devotional publication, posted the following at odb.org for August 20, 2019. It was entitled Touched by Grace and written by Sheridan Voysey. Here it is:
Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you. (Luke 6:27)
In Leif Enger’s novel Peace Like a River, Jeremiah Land is a single father of three working as a janitor at a local school. He’s also a man of deep, sometimes miraculous, faith. Throughout the book, his faith is often tested.
Jeremiah’s school is run by Chester Holden, a mean-spirited superintendent with a skin condition. Despite Jeremiah’s excellent work ethic—mopping up a sewage spill without complaint, picking up broken bottles the superintendent smashed—Holden wants him gone. One day, in front of all the students, he accuses Jeremiah of drunkenness and fires him. It’s a humiliating scene.
How does Jeremiah respond? He could threaten legal action for unfair dismissal or make accusations of his own. He could slink away, accepting the injustice. Think for a moment what you might do.
“Love your enemies,” Jesus says, “do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you” (Luke 6:27–28). These challenging words aren’t meant to excuse evil or stop justice from being pursued. Instead, they call us to imitate God (v. 36) by asking a profound question: How can I help my enemy become all God wants him or her to be?
Jeremiah looks at Holden for a moment, then reaches up and touches his face. Holden steps back defensively, then feels his chin and cheeks in wonder. His scarred skin has been healed.
An enemy touched by grace.
Heart-warming. Touching. And total fiction. Let me clue you in – you cannot touch someone and heal them. You cannot touch someone and regenerate their evil heart. This is a false application of Jesus’ words about loving our enemies and doing good to those who persecute us. And yet this is just the kind of thing that professing Christians want to believe, so they choose to do so and then they lay these fictions on victims of abuse, insisting that the Lord requires them to endure and remain in it.
We do not interpret the Scriptures properly by writing fantasy stories about them. That stuff may sell like hotcakes and make publishers rich, but it is a rank misuse of God’s Word. And it does harm. Real, serious, harm.
Notice again this statement by Voysey:
These challenging words aren’t meant to excuse evil or stop justice from being pursued. Instead, they call us to imitate God (v. 36) by asking a profound question: How can I help my enemy become all God wants him or her to be?
Yes, let’s imitate God. Does God always deal with His enemies in such a way as to help them become all He wants them to be? Of course not. The implication here by Voysey is that WE can heal them. That WE can change that abuser’s evil heart by “touching them.” Well, we can’t. God can. But He doesn’t. God does not change the heart of an unrepentant, wolf in sheep’s clothing who is hiding in the pews disguised as the finest saint in the church, all the while behind the scenes wickedly abusing his wife or molesting children. In fact, the Lord tells us (see 1 Cor 5) to cast out such a person from His church.
In other cases, as we see in the imprecatory Psalms, the Lord authorizes us to pray for His wrath to come upon the wicked. Particularly upon the wicked who cruelly mistreat God’s people. What, we can ask ourselves, did God want Pharaoh to be? (See Romans 9 – “for this very purpose I raised him up”). What of the apostate who has tasted the good gift of God (Hebrews 6:4-6) but then returned to his own vomit? The Apostle John (see 1 John 5) tells us there is a sin (and I think he means apostasy) that we are not to pray for.
So, instead of writing some damaging story line that is only fit for a comic book, how do we handle Jesus’ words? –
Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you. (Luke 6:27)
We will turn to that answer in the next post this coming Monday.
1Co 13:7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
I suspect that most of you have had this verse quoted by people who are at work to keep you in an abusive relationship. We must love our abuser, you know. After all – love endures all things. And we must believe our abuser when he claims repentance because love believes all things. Yada, yada, yada.
Nonsense. Don’t fall for it. First of all think about the Lord Jesus. He is obviously the essence of love in a man. Now did Jesus believe all things? Did He believe the Pharisees? As He, by His Spirit, inspired the Apostles to write Scripture, did He guide them into writing that we are to literally believe all things? Of course not. Much of the New Testament consists of warnings against false doctrine and false teachers.
A friend emailed me and brought the following book to my attention. Ed Welch (who wrote the forward) is of course a bigwig in CCEF which I never recommend to anyone. I haven’t read the book. Apparently there is also a video series of it that is being used by churches.
Resisting Gossip: Winning the War of the Wagging Tongue by Matthew C. Mitchell – Fwd by Ed Welch
But I just use this reminder to caution everyone regarding the typical teachings on gossip that we see in churches and in “christian” publications. Many times, if not most of the time, these teachings are actually used to hush up abuse victims. How many of you were told by your pastor, for example, that you were guilty of gossiping about your abuser when you reported his/her abuse?
I have seen this very thing exercised over and over by “the most holy saints” running churches. I remember for instance telling a wolf in wool one time (I didn’t yet understand what he really was) about the wickedness of a person in our church at that time. His response was accusatory. “Now, pastor, should you really be telling me this?” He comes off looking all saintly and I wear the guilt.
So, I issue this caution about books and teachings like this one on “resisting gossip.” Beware. Christ publishes the sins of the wicked from the rooftops. And I don’t think He is guilty of gossip.
Brent Detwiler is a good man. He has fought the battle fearlessly in exposing the sexual abuse and the coverups of it in the Sovereign Grace, CJ Mahaney circles. We are very thankful for his tireless work.
But Brent blew it when he recently made the following comment on facebook. I am quoting it here to reiterate to all of you that these teachings are unbiblical and harmful. I am not going to go into a long point by point refutation – what Brent says here has been refuted in other blog posts I have done already. This is, you might say, a practical exercise for all of us in identifying unbiblical notions that enable abusers and enslave victims. Here is what Brent said. I am sure that many if not most of you have heard this stuff before. Let me say again – this is false teaching. It is wrong. We must absolutely reject it.