Thursday, October 3, 2013

Dennis Muses...I'm just sayin....

How NOT to Study The Bible
(Or at least which scriptures not to use explaining how)

Peer Review Sucks
Isa 28:10 (KJV) For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little.

Isa 28:13 (KJV) ...precept upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little...
The above scriptures, very familiar to all COG ministers and members alike, have been misquoted , misused and misunderstood for decades.  Ministers of every denomination quote them when asked "just how should we study the Bible?"   It is taken to mean that one studies the Bible line by line, topic by topic, skipping over here and then over there to find similar ideas and phrases that one can simply stitch together and come up with God's eternal truths on all things.  The modern term might be called "Proof Texting".  I sat through most of an intolerable "Refresher" once where the evangelist type took his Nave's Topical Bible and starting in Genesis and taking us on an agonizing trip through the Bible to Revelation on the topic of marriage, simply drove all in attendance to near mental illness.  That is not how to study the Bible which is, in fact, one of the most over studied and over analyzed books on the planet.

In our common COG experience we have the Dave Packs, Gerald Flurrys, Ron Weinland types along with the bit players in the form of James Malm, E.W.King and Bob Thiel who employ this tip toeing through the Bible , "here a little, there a little, line upon line, precept upon precept " and coming up with pure trash and self righteous drivel instructing good men everywhere how they must live and how they must think on these amazingly studied topics.

 Dave Pack can wander all over the Bible, Old Testament and New and come up with his weird and strange ideas about himself as spoken of by the Prophet Haggai, like anyone ever heard of Haggai, and get members gyrating in their seats.  E.W.King and James Malm can just make shit up as they go and find picky answers to ridiculous questions with the hunt and peck method of study.  Bob Thiel can spend all day making Bronze Age weather explanations the modern day ones and tell us it is how God "tries" to get our attention.  They all do by looking here a little and there a little, putting line upon line together and coming up with weird and strange explanations galore.

...and they are wrong.

Let's set the record straight.
To begin with, Isaiah is written to the drunken priests of Ephraim.  I know "context" is not a word most COG ministers are familiar with, but context is important.   In verse 7 we see the priests and prophets are being chided, to say the least, for being drunk with beer and wine, befuddled and stumbling while they are seeing visions and making rather important decisions.  Not exactly the way to go but with the Assyrians beating on the door, understandable. 

Drunk Homer Wallpaper 1920x1200
And these also stagger from wine
    and reel from beer:
Priests and prophets stagger from beer
    and are befuddled with wine;
they reel from beer,
    they stagger when seeing visions,
    they stumble when rendering decisions.
All the tables are covered with vomit
    and there is not a spot without filth.

Agavephobia" | East Side Patch
Not a very pleasant sight but I suppose we can credit the Priests and Prophets of Isaiah with the discovery of "Reel Beer."
In reality, it is Isaiah mocking these fools with the following which has been taken as "here a little, there a little, line up line, precept upon precept" and how to study the Bible.  Unbelievable ignorance really...
“Who is it he is trying to teach?
    To whom is he explaining his message?    to those just taken from the breast?
To children weaned from their milk,

10 For it is:
    Do this, do that,
    a rule for this, a rule for that[a];
    a little here, a little there.

Transitions | SpecialNeeds.

Who are you talking to?  Children?  You sound like children.
blah, blah, blah,  nah nah-nah nah nah,  do this, do that, rules here, rules there.  Hunt and peck all over the place for your rules.
Who do you think you are?  James Malm?  Dave Pack,  E. W. King, Gerald Flurry, Ron Weinland???
(OK, I added that part)

In  the original Hebrew the phrase in Isaiah 28 verses 10 and 13 is: "sav lasav sav lasav, kav lakav kav lakav"   It is pure gibberish and akin to our "la la la la" and "blah blah blah."  It is a mocking tone immitating the drunken gibberish of the priests and prophets of Ephraim and Judah as Assyria knocks at the door to scrape them off the earth.  It is NOT a scripture one should use to teach how to study the Bible that's for SURE!

13 So then, the word of the Lord to them will become:
    Do this, do that,
    a rule for this, a rule for that;
    a little here, a little there
so that as they go they will fall backward;
    they will be injured and snared and captured.

14 Therefore hear the word of the Lord, you scoffers
    who rule this people in Jerusalem.
 So then mister priest and prophet, if that's the way you want to teach then that's the way the Lord will teach you.  Blah...blah...blah...nah nah nah nah this, do that. You like rules?  I got rules!  You will be over run by your enemies, you who rule Jerusalem.  Assyria and the Babylonians are going to kick your ass if you aren't careful.  But it all works out eventually so have at it.  

Peer Review Sucks
So, there we have it.  Short and simple.  The next time you hear a Church of God Minister, Member or any devotee tell you that you study the Bible, "line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little, there a little,"  just slap your head and explain it to them.


Anonymous said...

I remember Arnold Murry from Shepherd's Chapel teaching this same thing some 20+ years ago....and he was right.

I have been unable to convice my friends in the COG of that though....

Byker Bob said...

The interesting aspect to this, is that even if you do study some topics topically, like circumcision, covenants, and the Holy Spirit, you will force the Armstrongist teacher to squirm, and to need to explain away the ways in which Armstrongist doctrine differs embarrassingly from what the Bible plainly states.

When our non-ACOG church took on the project of individually reading the entire Bible from cover to cover through programmed daily reading a couple of years ago, it was a real eye opener to me. I was indeed able to see everything in context, and to become aware of scriptures which somehow didn't make the cut into Armstrong theology. Of course the footnotes in my study Bibles were also of great help.

I believe in a multi-faceted approach to Bible study, not only restricted to the topical "machine-gunning" of scriptures approach as was practiced in old school WCG, and prevalent in all of the sabbath sermons. The reason I can't totally throw the topical method completely away is that when Jesus walked and talked with the disciples following the rez, he is said to have gone over all of the Old Testament scriptures which foretold or applied to Him. The biggest problem with WCG is/was their gross misapplication of and manipulation of the methodology. Somebody was apparently enthralled by their high school geometry class, with its postulates, theorems, and proofs, and applied this to their doctrinal proof texting activity. Unfortunately, unlike geometry, once assembled, they did not leave a "proof" subject to further testing or review. Also, the postulates and theorems in their case largely derived from Adventism as opposed to the prevailing Protestant precepts which were an outgrowth of the Reformation. Difference from, as in "special inside knowledge" was HWA's marketing hook.

Most of the precepts of Armstrongism do not withstand the scrutinies of better research, and this better research is all too readily available here in our contemporary information age. There really isn't any excuse for Armstrongism.


Anonymous said...

COGs keep saying God is getting our attention. Really? So why is almost nobody listening to them!

If God wanted to get our attention he would have got it by now. Either that or he is powerless and stupid.


Anonymous said...

"There really isn't any excuse for Armstrongism."

No excuse for following the bible either.

Corky said...

I discovered from Bible study that there is no useful reason for Bible other than discussion and debate.

It has no secret meanings hidden in a mystery that only the apostle Paul can understand. Nope, it's just a compilation of Jewish mythology and fables.

Take the worldwide flood of 4300 years ago at the zenith of the Egyptian empire for example. We know that didn't literally happen, so, it must be an allegory, right?


It's a story told by an elite priesthood to scare the hell out of the Hebrew people and make them toe the line...or else. God will get you if you don't fall in line and obey the masters - that's the message. The Deity talks to them, you know. He doesn't talk to you because you aren't sanctified like his priests are blah blah blah... Besides that, you are unworthy, filthy rags etc and can never be worthy of being anything other than an obedient slave to the "ordained".

James said...

" Anonymous said...

I remember Arnold Murry from Shepherd's Chapel teaching this same thing some 20+ years ago....and he was right."

There is to be a video on YouTube that showed Murray pulling a gun on someone who approached him.

I wonder if it was a disgruntled blue ribbon tithe payer?

Anonymous said...

yeah I've seen that vid...seems that he keeps a 9mm in his briefcase....

once a Marine, always a Marine..

Semper Fi!