We who preach the gospel must not think of ourselves as public relations agents sent to establish good will between Christ and the world. We must not imagine ourselves commissioned to make Christ acceptable to big business, the press, the world of sports or modern education. We are not diplomats but prophets, and our message is not a compromise but an ultimatum. A.W. Tozer

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Misuse of Scripture is Nothing New!

One of the books on my shelves is a very interesting collection of teachings from the early church, A Dictionary of Early Christian Beliefs, edited by David W. Bercot. I have found it to be a very useful reference on many matters, and I highly recommend it to all believers. Today I was looking for information on something and came across this highlighted quote (I can’t read without a highlighter) from Clement of Alexandria (c.195 AD):

Those who give themselves up to pleasures, twist Scripture in accordance with their lusts. … Such people, in consequence of falling away from the right path, err in most individual points. As you might expect, they do not have the faculty for judging what is true and false…. For if they had, they would have obeyed the Scriptures…. We also give a complete explanation of the Scriptures from the Scriptures themselves. From faith, we are persuaded by demonstration. However, when those who follow heresies venture to avail themselves of the prophetic Scriptures, [they do the following]: In the first place, they do not use all the Scriptures. Secondly, they do not quote them entirely. Finally, they do not quote them as the body and context of prophecy prescribes. Rather, selecting ambiguous expressions, they twist them to suit their own opinions, gathering a few expressions here and there. Instead of looking to the sense, they make use of the mere words.

It just goes to show you that the “cult cocktail” (Scripture with a twist) is something the Church has been dealing with for a very long time. In fact, let’s all remember what Peter said:

[Paul] speaks about these things in all his letters, in which there are some matters that are hard to understand. The untaught and unstable twist them to their own destruction, as they also do with the rest of the Scriptures. (2 Peter 3:16 , HCSB)

The thought that false teachers twist the Scriptures “to their own destruction” should make them reflect on what they are doing.

4 comments:

Paul Pavao said...

I've never heard the "cult cocktail" comment before. Tucking that away ...

Making note of Clement's comment ... need to add that to my quote pages ...

Useful blog you have here. I just found it today from a Google alert I get on the early church fathers.

I like the bagpipes, and you write like we're sitting down over coffee. This is a good blog.

Thanks!

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

"Cult cocktail" is something I learned from pastor G. Richard Fisher, who is one of the staff of Personal Freedom Outreach. He is one EXCELLENT teacher.

Thanks for your kind words. And thanks for visiting my blog!

drewjustice said...

Clement of Alexandria said a lot of pretty good stuff. I read a good bit of his writings, and the only thing I really disagreed with was when he came right out near the end of "How Can the Rich Man Be Saved" and endorsed conditional security. I always wondered at what point he wrote that one, like maybe he learned better in his later writings, or perhaps knew better earlier but eventually became confused.

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

I haven't read much from Clement, but I hope to remedy that in the near future because I recently bought the 10-volume set of the writings of the ante-Nicene fathers.