Friday, January 27, 2012

Silence: Permissive or Restrictive?

The matter of how to establish authority has always been a difficult matter for most people, at least in their early development of faith in Jesus Christ. Please consider this carefully.

If silence (the fact that the Bible does not say anything on a matter) permits us to do whatever we want, then it permits everything. For example, those who make that argument must be prepared to admit that popes, cardinals, monks, nuns, infant baptism, burning incense, sprinkling babies and adults, instrumental music, auricular confession, district synods and associations, national, state, and district organizations are all permitted. Silence would not permit one of the above items and not permit the other items equally.

On the other hand, if silence on a matter restricts (does not permit), then it restricts everything that is not generally permitted. For example: the Law permitted Levitical priests. Saul was not from that tribe and thought he could offer the sacrifice, perhaps on the assumption that silence permits. He was wrong. Silence restricted the sacrifices to Levites of Aaron's family. If the law were still in place, then Jesus could not be a High Priest because He was of the tribe of Judah. Moses spoke nothing concerning priests from Judah (Heb.7:14). Paul is arguing that the Law had to be changed in order for Jesus to be a legitimate priest because the silence of the Law about priests from Judah did not PERMIT but restricted Jesus from being a priest under the law. When it came to the Law of Moses, did silence about Judean priests permit Jesus to be a priest? Or, did it restrict Jesus from being a priest while the law was still binding? We must conclude that the Law of Moses could not be in effect AND Jesus be a lawful priest. Jesus was not permitted by silence to be a priest under the Law of Moses. The Law of Moses was taken out of the way so that Jesus could be a lawful priest under a better covenant.

Implications of Paul's Argument on Silence from Hebrews 7:14

Specific authority restricts. Levi and Aaron's sons were specified. When a matter is specified there are no other options. It is a matter that is removed from the realm of general authority, and it takes on the nature of specific expectations. Silence about Judah or Simeon or Reuben does not permit priests to be taken from those tribes under the Law of Moses. In order for us to be priests as Peter says we are (1 Pet.2:5,9) the law would have to be taken out of the way and a new law that generally allows it must replace the old law. Now, the new covenant does not allow the specific restriction to Levi. It does not even demand circumcision as the Law did. To bind such things as circumcision or tribal priesthood would be to "pervert the gospel"(Gal.1:6-10). The gospel does not allow us to add circumcision or the other shadows of the law (Col.2:14-17). Now, Paul recognized that silence restricted. That principle of law is still a principle of correct application of law no matter if we are talking about an old law or a new law. In other words, Paul argues that silence about circumcision when they first preached the gospel, did not PERMIT people to add it. In fact, it restricted such an addition to the gospel. We are restricted by silence from adding things from the Law of Moses or from the laws and traditions of men. To add such things to the gospel is to pervert and corrupt the gospel. The gospel is perfect and sufficient. To add something to it is to open the door to all things that people desire to be permitted to do.

Modern Applications

Infant baptism is a modern example. Specific authority restricts baptism to penitent believers (Mark 16:15-16; Acts 2:38). Silence about infant baptism does not permit it. We would have to change the gospel and replace it as Jesus did the Law of Moses if we want to add infant baptism on the basis of silence. I have talked with Baptists who can easily see this point when it comes to the topic of infant baptism, but when the topic changes to instrumental music that reasoning they used against infant baptism flies out the window. I pointed out to one fellow that we are just using the same principle of common sense respect for authority that they use on infant baptism, only we are also applying the same logic to the issue of instrumental music, and I added that Baptists in the 1800's even argued like us on that issue as well. He simply could not respond and deny it. He saw that point though he decided to ignore it in application.

If silence restricts where at least general authority does not authorize, then popes, cardinals, and multi-congregational organization is not permitted by the new covenant. Silence about Popes and Cardinals do not permit them. To have them one must change the gospel much like Jesus changed the law by removing it and replacing it. Who has authority to replace the New Testament?

If specific authority restricts, and the church preached without a Missionary Society because the church is it's own missionary society, then the additional organization and church support of the Missionary Society is not permitted. To have such an organization in addition to the local churches one must change the New Testament and replace it. The same is so with other institutions and sponsoring church arrangements.

If we are in the time of reformation (Heb.9:10-15) in which the carnal things of the Old system are replaced with a spiritual counter-part, and the New Testament says to specifically "sing and make melody in your heart" and never authorizes under a general command to just "make music", then we are restricted to vocal singing and the melody is to be specifically made in the heart (Eph.5:19). 200 years ago most Baptists, Presbyterians, and Lutherans made these very points. To do other than this one would have to change the New Covenant. Silence does not permit. Silence about playing instruments does not permit them. We need some general authority. "Make music" would be general enough, but it is not to be found in the New Testament of this time of reformation. "Play a song" would be general enough, but it is not found in the New Testament in this time of reformation. We have specifics that restrict us from going to the types and shadows of the old system. We are restricted from the burning of incense, animal sacrifices, and instrumental music. This is precisely why that the early churches did not employ these things. We are not only restricted from adding back the shadows of the Law of Moses but we are also restricted from adding the doctrines and traditions of men. These also change and corrupt the gospel. We are restricted from Popes and Cardinals, district orders and associations. Silence did not permit Jesus to be a priest under the Law, and silence did not permit the Jewish Christians to start binding circumcision upon the church. Christians are restricted from being Baptists and Methodists and Presbyterians. Silence does not permit. We are to be Christians, nothing more, less, or else.

Now let me clarify something that confuses some people. The idea of "general" authority is confusing to some. Let me illustrate. When God told Noah to "build an ark", he had general authority to choose a saw and hammer. You do not say "God was silent about a saw and hammer, and therefore those are not authorized". General authority is not silence. When God said "Build an ark" without specifying any specific tools to use, then Noah has general authority to choose whatever tools would help him fulfill the general command to build an ark. Tools that aid in the carrying out of the command are authorized. Specification would restrict. For example, "build an ark using only a hammer" would restrict. "Gopher"wood is a specific restriction, but tools are generally authorized according to the best judgment of Noah. When someone asks for specific authority for song books or pews or lights, etc., claiming that the Bible is "silent" about those things, they show a misunderstanding of the argument on silence. General authority is not silence. It is only lack of specificity. God's authority to Noah was not "silent" about a saw or hammer. They are authorized under the general command to "build". However, God was silent about Pine or Oak. The matter of silence comes into play only when there is neither general or specific authority. For another example: If God had said "have a priesthood" to the Israelites and left it at that, then anyone could be a priest. You would not ask a Danite for his authority to be a priest in that case. You could not say "the Law is silent about Danites being priests". General authority ("have a priesthood" without any specifications) would have allowed Danites to be priests. However, since the Law did specify Levites and specifically those from the sons of Aaron, then Danites are excluded. The silence about Danites for priesthood restricts. Don't confuse lack of specificity with silence. Don't confuse unspecified tools and expedients with matters that God is actually silent about in either a general or specific way.

"Buried in baptism"(Rom.6:3-5; Col.2:12) restricts us to burial or immersion and does not permit sprinkling or pouring. The only way to lawfully do those things today is to change the New Testament law of Christ. Baptists recognize that as so, but now will throw out those solid principles of common sense when it comes to other matters. The only way to include gymnasiums, instrumental music, and the general Southern Baptist Association, would be to change the New Testament. The silence of the scriptures does not permit just select items. They cannot oppose Catholics for having Popes and Cardinals and burning incense (which they do on the basis of the idea that silence permits) and then select a few other items as being permissible. Silence either restricts in every way or it permits in every way. I believe that we can all see that silence restricts. General authority allows choice without specification. Specific authority restricts to the items of specification. Silence about something that is not authorized either generally or specifically only restricts us from proceeding. We have only one source of measuring an issue. We must use it carefully and handle it aright. We must be careful to prove all things and hold fast that which we can prove by scripture to be good. Jesus' authority is expressed for us in the New Testament. We must not go beyond the boundaries of that authority (Matt.28:18; 2John 9-10).

By Terry W. Benton

Thursday, January 26, 2012




INTRODUCTION:   Hold fast the pattern of sound words which you have heard from me, in faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. 14 That good thing which was committed to you, keep by the Holy Spirit who dwells in us”. (II Tim 1:13-14)


n  Hold Fast = hang on for dear life

n  Stay within the revealed pattern

n  Sound Words = scriptural words or revealed words of God

n  (Unsound words = words that change the message by adding foreign material or that tend to subtract God’s will and replace it with human will, philosophy,  or imagination)

Love for Christ urges upon us the desire to keep His commandments (John 15:10, 14), and wisdom would call upon us to acknowledge Him in all our ways (Prov.3:5, 6). Churches were invaded with false brethren in the first century, and it definitely took a strong commitment of love and loyalty to God to stand against the many “winds of doctrine” that were blowing upon the early church. The false teachers came in secretly (II Pet. 2:1f), often with attractive personalities, and slowly changed attitudes toward truth.

In the same way, “winds of doctrine” have been blowing upon the church in the twentieth and twenty first centuries.  Churches that we would call "liberal" in regard to church support of institutions, recreational facilities, etc., view themselves as "conservative" compared to many churches of Christ which they view as liberal in regard to fellowship with denominations  i.e. the Christian church. Over the years, the drift toward more liberal ideas and activities has been accepted by the younger generations who seem to be ready for even more subtle changes. Many of our young people have no idea how to handle these shifts in attitudes and practices.  Unless they believe deeply that every generation must insist on going "back to the Bible for authority", they, too, will be swept away by unsound thinking.

In all things that humans make or copy, there is a need to follow a pattern.  (Example: cutting out and making a dress; putting together a model airplane). Without a pattern we actually copy nothing and things are invented as we go along. What we would end up with is only something that pleases man.  If God gave a pattern and we ignore it, then we are only pleasing ourselves even as Nadab and Abihu (Lev.10) or as Cain (Gen.4).  But, this is not pleasing to God.

If one wanted to start a McDonald’s restaurant in another city, what pattern would have to be followed?  Could you learn from the Bible how to start a McDonald’s chain? Can one learn from the Bible how to start and operate a Masonic Lodge?  How about a Southern Baptist Church?  How about a Presbyterian Church?  The pattern for these organizations is not found in the Bible.  But, where is the pattern to be found for becoming a Christian?  Where is the pattern for a group of Christians to start a local church of Christ?

It is easily seen that we DO have a pattern for being a “Christian” only, and a pattern for starting and sustaining a local church of Christ, but there is no pattern for any denomination.  We must follow the same pattern given to the first century disciples. . .the Word may as well not been given to them either, for if it does not matter if WE keep it, then it never mattered anyway.  If it ever mattered, and it did, then it still matters and always will matter more than anything else in the world.

In the opinion of some, there was a time when the book of God became “out-of-date” with the times. During that time, the book of God was stored in the back of the temple . . . lost from view, lost from use, and lost from the memories and hearts of the priests and the leaders of the people. Read II Kings 22:8-13.  Read about them finding God’s book. Think about them analyzing. . . what point in time took them down the road so far from the Law of God? Did it happen quickly or was it a slow process? Think about what attitudes must have prevailed for God’s word to have become so distant to the heart of the leaders of the time.  Did God’s people spend less and less time reading it and dwelling upon the promises and righteousness found in God’s law?  Did people get tired of hearing it?  Did people prefer the ear-tickling motivational sermonettes they were hearing at the nearest pagan temple?  What set the stage for people to begin to desire the religious gimmicks of the religions and nations around them? At what point was “the pattern of sound words” found in God’s law no longer popular or even wanted?  Has something similar happened in our own times?  Is our own generation in the midst of just such a spirit of blindness and apathy?

We should think of our Bibles as our most prized possession, because it is the standard measure for truth concerning life, God, and service to Him.  God’s word is the compass that directs us in the way we should go in this life. . . to heaven.  The word of God is like a flashlight in a dark and dangerous world to guide our feet in a safe way.  It should, therefore, be the emphasis of a Christian’s time and interest. . . our daily “walk in life” and assembling with other Christians. . . desiring to hear what God has so lovingly given us.  A church that does not emphasize the Bible and the Bible ONLY is not a true church of Christ.  Demand Bible depth and commitment from the local church or find one that will emphasize it.  It is the ONLY source God has given us, and we had best not neglect it. It will guide us, build us up, and encourage us through the storms and threatening conditions of life.  With God and His word, we are individually “more than conquerors” in this world. Without the support and direction He gives us in His word, we are lost and headed for eternal misery.




A.  Yet, God and Jesus are the same as ever.   (Heb.13:8)

B.  SIN is still the reason Jesus came and died for all, and people in the first century did not automatically know and appreciate this either.

C.  A great many of the social ills of society could be resolved if people would believe the gospel and repent. Think of AIDS and Syphilis, abortion, drunkenness, drug abuse, homeless children, etc.  Repentance is the cure for many ills brought on by CHOICE.

D.   Humanism by definition is “a system of thought that rejects religious beliefs and centers on humans and their values, capacities, and worth” (The American Heritage Dictionary) and is a basic concern for the outward, social creature. Churches have turned away from solid preaching to meet the social "needs" of a “me first” society.  From the spiritual, to the carnal and physical, churches have been diverted from their GOD-ASSIGNED mission. The world is calling upon the church to change to meet social and recreational desires.

1.    The Lord is calling upon the church to give Him what He wants.

2.    Which voice will prevail upon our hearts to direct the church in this century?

E. Many brethren have dreamed up ways to accommodate the world's call to the church.

1.    The world is calling upon the church to entertain us and “give us physical advantages”. Many churches are now more willing to answer the world’s call than the Lord’s call.

2.    Today, we are hearing brethren set up a variety of  “ministries” before the world such as: "Kindergarten", "Mother's Day Out", "Gymnastics to the Glory of God",  "The Martial Arts Gospel Ministry", etc.

3.     We are seeing churches move from a spiritual emphasis to a more social emphasis. Jesus' death on the cross for SIN becomes the bad news for those who merely want to come use our gym. Churches become reluctant to tell people the truth because it might drive them away.  So, if we have to get them in by carnal appeals, then we will feel it necessary to KEEP them by carnal appeals as well.

4.    The church should make a distinct call to the world to repent and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. (Acts 2:38; 17:30, 31). Perhaps it is even time for the church to repent as they were called upon to do in Revelation 2-3.


There are many different areas in which a person or church may be either “liberal” or “conservative”.  The following areas will help us determine the area of thought or practice in which a certain person or church may be found to be “liberal” or “conservative”.


1.  The liberal view of the Bible is that it is either: 

a.    subject to error (fallible),

b.    insufficient to guide us completely,

c.     an inspiring document but not the authoritatively inspired revelation of God.                               

2. Notice how loose or liberal this view has to be with such passages as II Tim.3:16-17; II Jno.9; Matt.28:18‑20; II Pet.1:19f

The view that is most conservative with the issue of authority is the view that the Bible is complete, giving us God’s full will, and is authoritative for all issues of faith and practice.



1.    The liberal view is to view the cross of Christ as an insufficient appeal or incentive in reaching out to the lost and drawing him to God.  Entertainment, recreational       facilities and events are used to cover the painful gospel "hook" with a more appealing kind of bait. They will get the hook after they come for the bait.

2.    This view will often study a variety of marketing techniques to out‑do the denominational competitors. This attitude takes a liberal view of such passages as I Cor.1‑3. Follow this line of reasoning:

a.    If the eloquence of a speaker should not be the attraction, and

b.    If nothing should be the attraction but the message of the cross, then,

c.    Entertainment, facilities, music, gymnasiums, etc., should not be allowed to be the basis of appeal to people.  Nothing but the cross, the story of man’s deepest needs addressed in Jesus and Him crucified, should be the appeal of the church of Christ.



1.   The liberal view of the work of the church is that it should include in its scope of work: 1) secular education, 2) recreation, 3) social services such as Kindergarten, Mother’s Day Out, and 4) even medical services.

2.   It takes a liberal view of such passages as (ITim.3:15; 5:16; Eph.4:12; Acts 6:1‑4.)

3.   The conservative view looks at these passages and sees that the main work of the church is to hold up the gospel. The church is the pillar and ground of the truth.


1.   The liberal view is that the church may use rental, car washes, raffles, etc. to raise money for its work. They don’t feel a need to limit themselves to a particular pattern. ( I Cor.16:1‑3; I Cor.9:7‑9) They reason that the Bible doesn't say NOT to do these things.

2.   The conservative view is that the Bible tells how and when to raise funds and the pattern of sound words sets the limits within which to operate.


1.   The liberal view is that several congregations may team up in area‑wide, state‑wide, and national projects. Those holding this view think they see authority for it in uniting and giving toward the emergency situations described in the New Testament where several churches sent aid to a church in physical need. Therefore, it is concluded, churches can create a "need" of any kind and appeal to brethren everywhere for financial support. In doing this, the “united” churches take a liberal view of the local church as God's independent unit of action. (Phil.4:14‑18; Acts 20:28; I Pet.5:1f)

2.   The conservative view is that the local church is sufficient as God’s unit of action in evangelism and in benevolence. That sufficiency is always within its own ability until circumstances beyond their control puts them in emergency need of help.


1.   The liberal view is that organization between churches can be had by assigning boards, inter-congregational committees to control and direct certain aspects of church work bigger than a local church can handle. This view was seen in the Christian Missionary Society of the 19th century and later in the various evangelistic and benevolent organizations of the 20th century such as the Herald of Truth broadcast and benevolent institutions like Potter's Home and Childhaven, etc.  These organizations tied several churches into a supportive role for the human institution.

2.   The conservative view is to limit ourselves to the Bible pattern of churches organizing only on a local scale (Phil.1:1), each church working independently, but concurrently at the same kind of work with the same mission.

         G.  MORAL PURITY

1.   The liberal view allows for immoral behavior to go unmarked, unreproved, and tolerated under an umbrella of grace and love.  There is danger in accepting a liberal view of such things as adulterous marriages, because eventually, by the same rationale, homosexuality and many other vices will sooner or later be reasoned under that same umbrella of “grace”, etc. This view deals very loosely with such passages as I Cor.5; 2 Thess.3; Tit.3:10‑11; Rom.16:17f; Matt.5:32; 19:9; etc.

2.   The conservative view is to mourn over sin and seek to encourage repentance as such issues arise among the members.  Teaching on moral issues is to be encouraged, not discouraged.

H. WORSHIP: Designed by God?  Or,  by Man?             (Jno.4:24; I Cor.11, 14)

1.   The liberal view is that what we do in assembly to worship God can be designed by human wisdom and desire. 

2.   The conservative view of scripture is that worship has always been regulated by God from the worship of Cain and Abel (Gen.4) through the Mosaic Tabernacle period (Lev.10) and on into the New Testament.  Therefore, we must conduct our worship in the way that fits the pattern of sound words. Doctrines of men can corrupt and make our worship “in vain”. (Matt15:8-9; Col.2.)


A.  The Bible                                                                                         

1.   The revelation of God’s mind and will (1 Cor.2; Eph.3:1-4)

2.   The COMPLETE guide (Eph.3:1-4; 2 Tim.3:16-17; Jno.16:13)

3.   God’s religion abides within the boundaries of this revelation (II John 9-10).

B.   Human Desire

1.   There is a religion to support every human desire (thus hundreds of different denominations today)

2.   This serves MAN’s interests, but not God’s interests

3.   This creates conflict of interest (supporting and maintaining a human division is a sinful work of the flesh – Gal.5:19f).


Conclusion:  There is a religion to support every human desire. When everyone does what is right in his own eyes and believes that God accepts that, then SIN becomes pure imagination, and Jesus came and died in vain.  He died because man was "wrong" about something (thus committing “sin”) and we should not deceive ourselves into thinking we are right. (I Jno.1:7‑9) The gospel we preach must be distinguishable from the many fads and fashions of modern denominational gimmickry.  It must be the same pattern of sound words employed by the early Christians or it is not the same gospel. (Gal.1:6‑10)

This lesson demonstrates that churches have lost their sense of direction and need to get back to biblical authority for everything, learning how to properly use the Bible, and how to use it properly in establishing authority for what we do as a local church and the individuals of His greater universal body or church. Has this generation “lost the book”?  Or, will you do all within your power to make sure ours is the generation that will step up to the challenge of holding up the book of God as a light that every man, woman, and child so desperately needs? Will YOU “hold fast the pattern of sound words”?


1.    Is there a better source of authority than the Bible?

2.    Is the Bible out‑dated and irrelevant today?

3.    If the world is dark in its understanding of the purpose of life, how can the         Bible help us?

4.    If Jesus is the light of the world, where can we find out about Jesus?

5.    Have churches of Christ always remained true to the pattern of sound words?

6.    Is it wrong to think or say that a person is “liberal” or “conservative” in their thinking? Explain.

7.    Do you think we need to be more precise in describing the area or areas in which a person or church is liberal or conservative?

8.    If a person is described as "conservative" in certain areas of his thinking and life, does this mean he is right with God in every area of his life?

9.    Can we be pleasing to God if we participate with others in an activity we are not convinced is right?

10.  Do you think it is important how a person looks at Bible authority and how he applies it?

Friday, January 20, 2012

Loving His Church and Loving His Religion – Part 2

Why Loving Jesus Requires Loving His Church and Loving His Religion – Part 2

If you did not see Part 1 of this series, please take the time to read it now, and then you will be ready to understand that this is not a personal attack on the young man, Jefferson Bethke, who published the video “Why I hate Religion, But Love Jesus”, but is a review of some very important counter-points that is designed to help him and all people see what significant errors are spread when words are misused and the Bible has some opposite things to say.  Love demands that we correct people when they spread error, and love demands that we not help people spread error further.  That is the reason I think it is important to look at the poem point by point. People need to understand that there are some very serious and dangerous errors couched within this rap poem.  As someone else said:  For four minutes, Bethke rhymes his way around all kinds of false dichotomies and outright bad theology.”

I like the way the problem was identified by another in this quote:

When we as Christians decry hypocrisy by making the claim that we aren’t a part of a religion, we’re lying about our identity and are furthering the hypocrisy that fuels our frustration. The sentiment shouldn’t be “not a religion, a relationship”; it should be “not JUST a religion, also a relationship”.

I would qualify that a little further that ours must be a religion OF relationship.  Jesus should be head over all things to the church. He should be our preeminently adored, honored, and loved one Who is the reason for our religion.

We examined the earlier words of the poem down to this point and now pick up with the following statement in the poem:

“Religion preaches grace, but another thing they practice,

 Tend to ridicule Gods people, they did it to John the Baptist,”

Now,  some religious people do preach grace and practice something else, and Bethke might be guilty of the same thing right here.  Is he not “ridiculing” God’s people who sincerely believe that God requires them to be “religious” and practice religion?  Obviously, Bethke continues to misuse the word “religion”.  Religion also preaches grace and practices what grace demands.  You would not learn that from Bethke because he has misappropriated the word “religion” and is using it as if means only something BAD, when the Bible shows that religion is also GOOD.  James 1:27.

Religion is simply the practice of what you believe, whether done with misguided faith or enlightened faith, whether engaged hypocritically or sincerely and truly.  The word “religion” is not a bad word in the Bible and is never spoken of in the manner that Bethke has done in his poem.  So, when he says “religion preaches grace, but another thing they practice”, he is not telling the truth.  Jesus’ religion preaches grace and practices what grace demands.  Many religious people preach grace and live by it.  So, Bethke is misusing the word and thus misleads people by that erroneous usage.  He could have made a good point if he had said “Hypocrites preach grace, but another thing they practice”.  But “religion” is not the same thing as hypocrisy, so Bethke cannot be given a free ride to misuse terms and mislead people.

Hypocritical religion is one thing and “pure religion” (James 1:27) is another.  The word “religion” by itself does not tell us that it is hypocritical or pure.  Bethke  speaks as if “religion” is a sin, religion is a problem, religion is a force that blinds people, etc., which is just not true.   All the while he groups everybody under that word and “speaks evil of” them all like some people spoke evil of John the Baptist. Thus, without thinking through his own statements, Bethke shoots himself in the foot.  He is judging others and doing the same thing.

Bethke is ridiculing a lot of God’s people who have no problem thinking that their religion is what God requires.  Jesus was practicing religion. So, unwittingly Bethke is saying that Jesus’ practice of “religion” means that He preached grace and practiced another thing.  He cannot escape this.  Jesus lived and practiced religion.  Doesn’t Bethke realize that John the Baptist was practicing religion too?  He was baptizing people.  Isn’t that what religion required?  So, religion is not what ridiculed John the Baptist. It was false religion that was ridiculing pure religion. It was hypocritical religion that was ridiculing true religion.  Surely he can see his mistake now, if only he will publically withdraw his erroneous video and put the truth out there instead!

“Cant fix their problems, so they try to mask it,

 Not realizing that’s just like sprayin perfume on a casket

 Because the problem with religion is that it never gets to the core,

 It’s just behavior modification, like a long list of chores.

 Let’s dress up the outside, make things look nice and neat,

 Its funny that’s what they do to mummies, while the corpse rots underneath,”

Now, there is a lot of truth stated here, but we need to be clear that it is not “religion” that “can’t fix their problems”. Religion is about using the benefits and tools Jesus provides us to fix our problems, and it is about daily working on ourselves to be like Him, thus fixing our problems.  Now, religion WITHOUT Jesus is religion that can’t fix their problems, but religion built around Jesus is equipped to fix problems. 

The Pharisees were trying to practice religion WITHOUT Jesus. They were opposed to Jesus, and therefore did not have the provisions of Jesus.  That KIND of religion is like spraying perfume on a casket (Jesus used similar metaphors in Matthew 23 for them).  Keep in mind that Jesus’ pure religion is more than “chores” or “commands”, but it is religion nonetheless.  So, to make a valid point, Bethke needs to correct his terminology.  You can say a certain KIND of religion is just behavior modification and like a long list of chores, but JESUS’ religion is not “just behavior modification” or like a long list of chores.  So, there needs to be a distinction made between “Christ-centered religion” and “self-centered religion” and that distinction needs to be made clear in the poem or song. 

It is also true that not all that claims to be “Christ-centered” actually IS Christ-centered.  But, let me get back to the metaphors Bethke borrows from Jesus in Matthew 23 regarding the hypocritical religion of the scribes and Pharisees.  We should make the observation that Jesus was not even there trying to “destroy religion” but trying to cut out hypocrisy.  When they stood in Moses’ seat (proclaiming the things Moses actually commanded) then Jesus encouraged the people to go ahead and do what they say, even if those teachers said and did not (Matt.23:1-3).  Jesus certainly wasn’t trying to destroy the religion of Moses, just the hypocrisy that characterized many of the religious leaders of the time. 

Their “religion” was not pure because of hypocrisy. But the religion they professed when sitting in Moses’ seat was pure.  So, Jesus encouraged pure religion and sought to destroy hypocrisy.  Bethke tends to equate religion with hypocrisy.  Jesus did not.  He supported the law of Moses and the religion of practicing what Moses commanded, but He rebuked hypocrisy, play acting, or doing things to appear righteous while the heart was far from God.  Jesus and Bethke are not on the same page at all in this matter, and that causes us to know that Bethke does not have the right Jesus (2 Cor.11:3-4) in mind, for he is not representing the right Jesus correctly.

Now, there are some things that need to be said about the “Sunday morning” church attender.  There is a lot of weakness and spiritual emptiness and blindness that comes into the assembly on Sunday morning. They seem to come in to meet their “obligation” to God, and never seem to grow deeper and produce fruit.  They do not come because they love Jesus and want to be of service to Him and others.  They are there because they have always brought God that token of religious habit and they learned just enough to have a sense of obligation to keep that ritual going.  You can preach about knowing Jesus and becoming a servant like Him, but they have hardened their heart and cannot fix their hardened condition.  Their empty, ritualized religion can only be fixed by taking the time and interest to really get to know the real Jesus.  Their religion is not pure religion.  They are merely playing church, and as the Laodiceans, they sicken God and he will “spew them out of His mouth”.  The Bible teaches this without teaching error. The rapper should try making such points without muddying the water with erroneous things distracting from the point.  In fact, get rid of the rap music, hold the Bible open, read from it succinctly, and make the points Jesus made in the manner and with the words Jesus used.

Now I ain’t judging…

Let me change from speaking second person to first person.  Well, honestly, you are.  You have judged incorrectly and used words incorrectly, but, it is not good to then try to sanctimoniously take it all back and act like you have not been judging.  People need to know  that hypocritical judging or unfair judging is all that Jesus forbids.  He does not forbid all judging.  In fact, Jesus tells us to make a lot of judgments.  So, if you are not judging, I don’t know why you bothered setting up the cameras and sound equipment and recording equipment to record this poem and rap to it if you were not judging.  You don’t need to act like you are not judging.  People can see that that is exactly what this video is all about, and they sense a serious logical problem or problem with honesty if you throw out words like “Now I ain’t judging”.  It kind of weakens how seriously you should be taken on other points.

“…I’m just saying be careful of putting on a fake look,

 Because there’s a problem if people only know that you’re a Christian by that little section on your facebook”.

Well, that is a statement with value.  It needs to be said often.  But, that is not “just” what you were saying.  You said so much more than that, and that is why you caused people to take issue.  If this is all you were saying, then I would have been a leading encourager of your words.  Many others would too. In fact, I doubt anyone would have taken issue.  All the people hearing and reading your words should seriously think about whether people can tell if they are a Christian by their manner of life and behavior. It should be clear in our words, dress, known principles, daily behavior, friendships, and works of love and compassion and attendance at church.  It should not be an empty claim on facebook.  Nor, should it be just seen in attendance, but every facet of our lives.

“In every other aspect of life you know that logic’s unworthy”.

I think you mean that the logic of making a claim on facebook and not showing it anywhere else is unworthy logic that does not hold up for us in every other aspect of life.  I agree. You use a good analogy next when you say:

“Its like saying you play for the Lakers just because you bought a jersey”.

The comparison here is good.  Saying in a little section on facebook that you are a Christian is very much like wearing a Laker’s jersey and hoping it will be enough to identify you as a player.  You have to actually play with the Lakers to be a Laker, and you have to actually live like a Christian to be one.  But, that is very good, while it disturbs me that later you seem to make the claim that Jesus “did it for you”. That only religion says “do” and Jesus says “done”.  Why do we have to do anything differently if we are trying to avoid “religion” which, you say,  says “do”?  And, if Jesus says “done” then why should we worry about anything else? That will need some explanation and harmony because it looks like another contradiction in your words. 

Enough for now.  We will visit more things you said in a later installment.  -Terry W. Benton