And count the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures. -- 2Peter 3: 15-16 (ESV)
The business of churchianity has grown into a multi-million dollar industry over the past 20 years. While many view this positively the truth is that it provides a veneer of kingdom growth while actually diminishing the body of Christ. That is because the purpose driven focus has shifted the church from the Gospel to the seeker. From the Savior to the one that needs to be saved. How do we meet the needs of the unchurched? How do we seem relevant to the lost? The answers have not changed throughout history -- preach the Gospel. Why? Because according to Romans it alone has the power to save them! Ahh, therein lies the rub because the purpose driven church teaches up and coming pastors to build their church building, not the kingdom. The object is not to save them but to church them. That means convince them to come back, get baptized, join the church, serve in a ministry and of course -- tithe. Salvation? It is PRESUMED to occur somewhere in this process. A funny thing happened along this path to destruction though. It turns out that what seekers really do not want is Jesus. The cross offends them so pastors remove all crosses from their church buildings. The Gospel is too negative or as Joel Osteen says, people already know what they do wrong. While that might contain a sliver of truth they do not realize that what they do wrong is considered sin that will send them to hell without Christ or as we like to call it -- the Gospel. In order to accomplish these purpose driven dreams, the Seeker-Friendly Industrial Complex need two essential elements. They are scriptural ignorance and carnal leadership paradigms. When those two elements come together the arrogant lack of fear of God is so palpable as we see in this latest article from churchleaders.com:
Brian Jones is a mega church pastor who like all of them apparently grew a small home group into a 2000 person thriving enterprise. These cut off cult of personality cul de sacs look great on paper but are built on the unconverted souls of goats who have been told they can be saved without repentance. Just look at the hubris in this article title! Appearing on a website supposedly designed for leaders in the church is a headlined article by a mega church pastor mocking the fact that some crazy Christians place a ridiculous emphasis on the Bible! Yes Pastor Brian, ridiculous. You hit the nail on the head there. You know why we place such a ridiculous emphasis on the Bible? Because while YOU wrote this ridiculous article, God wrote the Bible. While you and all men are fallible and change depending on the way the wind blows, the Bible is never wrong and never changes. But let us reason together beloved and see the depths of a purpose driven mind that has no fear of the Lord and thus no wisdom
"Most Christians assume that immediately after Jesus died, rose from the dead and went back to heaven, that a leather-bound copy of the Bible descended from the sky." -- Brian Jones
Sigh. Not a good sign that there will be much redeemable when your opening salvo is to mock bible believing Christians. We must understand though that this reveals the blackness of the heart of Brian Jones and purpose driven pastors who have not been raised on biblical principles but rather leadership principles offered by the greatest carnal minds this unsaved world has to offer. The Willow Creek Church Leadership Summit is revered as the best of its kind and routinely 75% of the speakers are not even Christian. Great corporate minds can teach me a great many things about leadership in this world but absolutely nothing about leading God's church. Why? Because they do not even know God! The Bible says the things of God are utter foolishness to them and I am going to seek their advice on how to lead God's church? Why? So I can come out and mock people who have faith in the Word of God as we are commanded to? Unreal.
"Complete with the 27 finalized books of the New Testament and Jesus' words etched in red, this Bible was delivered to the church and has been studied in perpetuity by Christians around the world. The reality is we didn't have the New Testament in its complete form until 367 A.D., when Bishop Athanasius of Alexandria listed all 27 books of the New Testament for the first time. That's three centuries. 334 years to be exact. Comparatively, that's like Jesus showing up in the Jamestown colony when it had only 75 people in it, teaching, dying, raising from the dead, and then the Bible coming together in its final form this Thursday right before we head out to Applebee's for lunch." -- Brian Jones
Except Israel was not like Jamestown Brian. You know that right? You understand that Israel played a certain role in both Testaments? You may want to actually read the Bible instead of mocking it and you might actually learn something. The cleverness of the comparison is not lost however. In modern times it would seem like a long time to develop the Bible. I mean 300 years while we are having lunch at Applebees? Except there were no Applebees in the early church age. There were also no printing presses. Thus all copies had to be literally copied word for word. Jones is going somewhere with this set up by trying to sound reasonable but he is comparing apples and oranges.
"It's hard to imagine what it must have been like to be a Christian without a Bible: 100 years after Jesus left it appears that some churches had copies of the collected letters of Paul and a gospel or two, but that's it." -- Brian Jones
I understand that man who clearly does not believe in the sufficiency of Scripture to begin with would simply not understand that the collected letters of Paul are still Scripture. It is still God-breathed and useful for all matters of teaching, living, and correction. I also am unsure where he gets his facts. The early believers also had copies of the Gospels themselves and as many were former Jews, the Old Testament was still relevant. Jones is painting an inaccurate portrayal of a church sitting around without Scripture. He is setting this up as the foundation of an absurd argument as we will soon see.
"Many had collections with books of debated authenticity that were later ferreted out. No-one had a final New Testament like we have today. Whatever copies existed remained in the possession of the local church leadership. No-one, it appears, owned their own copy of the Bible for personal "Bible study" unless they were wealthy enough to pay the substantial cost to have it transcribed (see Luke 1:3-4)." -- Brian Jones
While it is true that only the wealthy might be able to afford their own transcribed copies, Jones casually passes over the fact that leaders in the church did possess the Word of God! This false foundation is the same flawed argument Andy Stanley tried last year when he too was trying to undermine Scripture. That the early church got along just fine without the Bible and so should we. Not. As the key verses teach us clearly, Peter referred to Paul's letters as Scripture! At the end of the Apostolic Age in 100 AD there were already the four Gospels, and the majority of the New Testament, if not all, that we have today. Were they bound in leather and sold for 50 bucks by Zondervan? Of course not! There were no printing presses yet! The egregious error that Jones makes here is that because there were no Christian book stores yet, that the church did not use Scripture and that is historically ignorant and absurd on its face. The key verses were written before the end of the Apostolic Age and Peter already recognized the Pauline letters as holy writ. Jones finishes his foundation of shifting sand:
"Besides, with the high rate of illiteracy among the social groups represented among the rank and file of second- and third-century churches, having a personal copy of the Bible would have been useless anyway. Most Christians wouldn't have been able to read it." -- Brian Jones