Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The error of Textualism in the Fundamental Church

I came across this excerpt from A.W. Tozer which was footnoted in a book I have been reading.  I thought it profound, and all too true.  Here are some definitions of the word "Textualism" from thefreedictionary.com

1. A theory of legal interpretation emphasizing the importance of the everyday meanings of the words used in statutes.
2. Strict adherence to a text, especially of the Scriptures.
3. Textual criticism, especially of the Scriptures.
What is generally overlooked is that fundamentalism, as it spread throughout the various denominations and non-denominational groups, fell victim to its own virtues. The Word died in the hands of its friends. Verbal inspiration, for instance (a doctrine which I have always held), soon became afflicted with rigor mortis. The voice of the prophet was silenced and the scribe captured the minds of the faithful. In large areas the religious imagination withered. An unofficial hierarchy decided what Christians were to believe. Not the Scriptures, but what the scribe thought the Scriptures meant became the Christian creed. Christian colleges, seminaries, Bible institutes, Bible conferences, popular Bible expositors all joined to promote the cult of textualism. The system of extreme dispensationalism which was devised, relieved the Christian of repentance, obedience and cross-carrying in any other than the most formal sense. Whole sections of the New Testament were taken from the Church and disposed of after a rigid system of “dividing the word of truth.”

All this resulted in a religious mentality inimical to the true faith of Christ.  A  kind  of  cold  mist  settled  over  Fundamentalism…the  basic doctrines were there, but the climate was just not favorable to the sweet fruits of the Spirit…the doctrines were sound but something vital was missing. The tree of correct doctrine was never allowed to blossom. The voice of the turtle [dove] was rarely heard in the land; instead, the parrot sat on his artificial perch and dutifully repeated what he had been taught and the whole emotional tone was somber and dull…. As the letter triumphed, the Spirit withdrew and textualism ruled supreme. It was the time of the believer’s Babylonian captivity…. The error of textualism is not doctrinal. It is far more subtle than that and much more difficult to discover, but its effects are just as deadly. Not its theological beliefs are at fault, but its assumptions.

It assumes for instance, that if we have the word for a thing we have the thing itself. If it is in the Bible, it is in us. If we have the doctrine, we have the experience. If something was true of Paul it is of necessity true of us because we accept Paul’s epistles as divinely inspired. The Bible tells us how to be saved, but textualism goes on to make it something which in the very nature of things it cannot do. Assurance of individual salvation is thus no more than a logical conclusion drawn from doctrinal premises, and the resultant experience wholly mental.
Then came the revolt. The human mind can endure textualism just so long before it seeks a way of escape. So, quietly and quite unaware that any revolt was taking place, the masses of Fundamentalism reacted, not from the teaching of the Bible but from the mental tyranny of the scribes.

Excerpted from: Keys to the Deeper Life by A. W. Tozer.
Copyright © 1957 by Sunday Magazine 1987 by Zondervan Publishing Corporation.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Radiant thoughts about the Love of God

     God’s love is more constant and sure than the rising of the sun in the east and the setting of the sun in the west.  God’s love is more sure than the laws of gravity.  We do not worry or wonder if the sun is going to rise tomorrow or if the laws of gravity will still be in effect.  We don’t lie awake at night contemplating, “I wonder if I will still be able to walk on the ground in the morning.  When I wake up, will I float away into the sky?”  We fret unnecessarily when we believe that God’s love toward us might change depending upon how poorly or how well we might be performing at a given moment in time. 
         God already knows all our successes, failures, and sins past, present, and future.  Yet, he still loves us right now.  His love is timeless, firmly rooted in who HE is.  It is God’s nature to love.  Since God is love, he can’t help but love.  He has to love, he is driven to love, compelled by love.  He couldn’t help but love, even if He wanted to behave differently (which he couldn’t)!  There is nothing in God’s nature contrary to love or that diminishes love in any way.  Everything in God’s actions, will, and nature revolves around an internal sun called Love.  Even when his actions or lack of action are perceived by humans to be unloving, His love remains.  God’s love is unchanged by our faulty perceptions of Him.  Whether we like it or not, whether we believe it or not, God has never thought an unloving thought, had an unloving intention, or acted in an unloving way. 
     Closely tied to and inseparable from God’s Love is His goodness.  God is entirely and completely good.  Think of the worst possible evil action, or the most vile, despicable person or creature.  God is the exact opposite.  There is nothing evil or bad in God’s nature, He is completely and thoroughly good.
Evil                                                                         Good (God’s nature)
Tyrannical, controlling, oppressive            Freeing, uncontrolling
Power Hungry                                                Power releasing, decentralizing
Greedy                                                             Giving
Self-centered, self-preserving                     Sacrificial to the point of death
Unforgiving, bitter                                         Forgiving, understanding
Unclean, impure                                            Holy, spotless, unblemished, perfect
Hard, rigid                                                       Full of grace and mercy
Uncaring                                                          Compassionate, caring, desires to relieve pain
Unfeeling                                                         Emotional, Identifies with and feels our pain
Unkind, Harsh                                                 Gentle, kind
Unpredictable, capricious                             Unchanging, steady, keeps promises
Unjust, allows evil to continue                     Just, punishes evil rightly and perfectly

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

New book - Rethinking the Unthinkable released!

We are excited to announce that we are finally done writing and self-publishing our book, Rethinking the Unthinkable.  It has been a wonderful journey, and we thank all those who helped out by proofreading and offering encouragement.  We are excited to move into the next season, anticipating whatever God has for us.

The book cover has an interesting story.  It comes from a dream Ondrea wrote about in the Conclusion:
"In the dream I saw a giant art canvas.  A painter began to paint a large picture of a sun; the artist continued, and the painting then became a large lion face. He continued painting, and I began to see light as bright as the sun coming from the lion’s face.  Then, I began to see that the picture of the lion’s face was made up of a multitude of people.  I heard the words, "the revealing of the sons of God."

If you look closely at the cover, you will see many faces embedded into the face of the Lion.

links to the ebook and paperback on Amazon.

Kindle Ebook

Paperback on Amazon

If you have read the book, please take a moment to leave a review on the Amazon site.  This will help the book reach a wider audience.