Sunday, April 30, 2017

Hardshell Uriah Heep Humility II

"Let no one keep defrauding you of your prize by delighting in self-abasement and the worship of the angels, taking his stand on visions he has seen, inflated without cause by his fleshly mind, and not holding fast to the head, from whom the entire body, being supplied and held together by the joints and ligaments, grows with a growth which is from God...These are matters which have, to be sure, the appearance of wisdom in self-made religion and self-abasement and severe treatment of the body, but are of no value against fleshly indulgence." (Colossians 2: 18-19, 23 NASB)

These verses have two instances where Paul speaks of "humility" or "lowliness of mind," yet not in a positive way, but in a negative way. In these words the apostle Paul alludes to an early Christian cult and one of the descriptions given of it is that it θέλων ἐν ταπεινοφροσύνῃ or is "delighting in humility." But, why would delighting in humility and lowliness of mind be viewed negatively, as a cult characteristic? Would not "delighting in humility" rather be characteristic of real Christians who are not cultic, aberrant, or heretical?

In order to convey the seeming negativity of "delighting in humility," translators have sought the need to add some additional word to "humility." So, the kjv translates verse 18 as "Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility" (vs. 18 kjv). However, the word "voluntary" is not in the Greek text. Further, the translation omits the word "thelon" meaning "delighting." To the kjv translators, "delighting in humility" connotes "voluntary humility." But, this is an interpretation, not a literal translation. It may indeed connote such a humility, but it does not denote it. A literal translation is "delighting in humility." Interesting is the fact that the kjv translators do not translate ταπεινοφροσύνῃ as "voluntary humility" in verse 23, but as "a shew of wisdom in will worship, and humility."

Other translators do the same as the kjv, adding adjectives to the word "humility" to convey the idea that the humility is not the good kind that the scriptures elsewhere promote. So Barclay's translation gives "walking in ostentatious humility" as the translation of "delighting in humility." In Lightfoot's translation - we have "an officious humility." In Wuest's translation we have "taking delight in a self-imposed humility." In this translation we at least still retain the Greek word "thelon" or "delight." Yet, it also adds the adjective "self-imposed" to the word "humility." In Young's translation, which seeks to keep to the literal and leave the interpreting to the Bible teacher, we have "delighting in humble-mindedness."

As noted, the word "humility" (kjv) or "self-abasement" (nasb) is from the Greek word tapeinophrosynē and is translated as follows in the kjv:

humility (3x), humbleness of mind (1x), humility of mind (1x), lowliness (1x), lowliness of mind (1x).

In the two passages in Colossians the word has a negative connotation and is unique in that respect. It is because "humility" in these verses is viewed negatively by the apostle, as a characteristic of a cult, that many translators translate the Greek word here as denoting "false humility." However, the word itself does not "denote" false humility, but humility, which is a positive thing. Here is an example where the denotation of a word is different from its connotation.

So, what is it, in the context of the Colossian verses, that makes us view the kind of humility promoted by the cult (that Paul is condemning) to be a false humility? Is it not in the fact that it is delighted in? If one stops and thinks about the matter, why would any one delight in humility and self abasement and self deprecation? Obviously, when one delights in humility it then ceases to be genuine humility and becomes pride instead. It is pride cloaked in humility.

As many Bible commentaries note, the Greek word for "humility" is literally, "lowliness of mind," and is set against the parallel words "puffed up by his fleshly mind."

Eadie says (emphasis mine):

We give thelo its common meaning. Let no man beguile you—wishing to do it by his humility...The preposition en ("in" self-abasement) denotes the means of deception, or the sphere in which the deceiver moves. The humility referred to, as may be seen from the last verse of the chapter, is a spurious humility (see Col 2:23-note). Fanatical pride is often associated with this humility, as when, for show, the beggar's feet are washed; and the friar in his coarse rags walks barefooted and begs. And men become proud of their humility—glory in the feeling of "self-annihilation". The spirit of the false teacher, with all its professed lowliness, would not bend to the Divine revelation, but nursed its fallacies with a haughty tenacity, and preached them with an impious daring, for he was “vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind.” (A Commentary on the Greek Text)

When one delights in humility it ceases to be genuine humility and becomes pride. "The idea in context seems to be that the individual in question loves to talk on and on about his spiritual experiences, but in reality they are only coming out of his own sinful flesh..." (ibid)

"Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it is thinking of yourself less" - C S Lewis

If you’re working hard at acting humble, you’re not actually humble. Putting humility on display is not true humility.

In the next concluding article I will show how the Hardshell cult, like the Colossian cult, possesses a false humility.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Hardshell Uriah Heep Humility I

This polemic is aimed at Hardshell "humility." It is the result of years of study and meditation upon the subject. It is also the result of recent months of literary and research work. I have gathered the material that relates to the subject over many years of reading Hardshell literature and from many years of personal experience as a former Hardshell elder and pastor. It has been a challenge to categorize the material into an organized and edifying whole. Even the choice of a title required much thought. What is the thesis of the writing? What arguments and evidence will be presented in support of it? What division should be made of the material? What chapters, if more than one? What will be the theme and title to these subsections? Who is my audience? What is the purpose of the polemical writing? To persuade and convict? To warn? To instruct? How shall the material be presented? Strictly forensic and logical? Appealing only to reason? Or, to the emotions as well?

Of all the things to study and write about, why choose such a topic? Especially when it concerns such a small unknown sect? Could your time not be better spent on some other topic? Does this polemic not manifest that you are simply writing out of anger and hatred towards the Hardshells?

In considering these questions my mind has made a diligent search and I feel a need to preface this polemic with some answers to them, especially knowing my audience, as I do.

First, I am not sure that I chose this topic, per se. I think it rather chose me. The subject has been on my mind many times over the years, often being provoked by examples of what I call "Uriah Heep" type Hardshell "humility." Recently, after encountering more examples of such, I finally decided to put on paper what was already in my inner thoughts.

Second, though a small sect, yet this has been where I have had the most experience, and believe that God wants me to use that experience in fighting the errors of the Hardshells, for their salvation, and for the glory of God. Also, there are still thousands and thousands of Hardshells still in existence today. Finally, the kind of "false humility" that is often seen in the Hardshell cult is the same that is found in other heretical sects and so the polemic on the topic will be applicable to other heretical groups.

As far as the writing being simply a "diatribe" produced out of anger towards the Hardshells, I feel no need to reply, other than to say that it makes me think that I should perhaps follow up this posting on the true meaning of humility with one on "anger." God and the reader will need have to judge whether this booklet is in accordance with his will and sentiment or not.

"The Humble" and "The Proud"

It is true that "the humble" are generally viewed as being in possession of the nature and life of God, or as being "the people of God." And, it is true that "the proud" are they who are not the people of God. Indeed, the terms have come to be identifying adjectives for the "two seeds," in historical "Primitive Baptist" jargon, the humble being the seed of Christ and the proud being the seed of the devil.

In Hardshell thinking, there is more genuine humility and lowliness of spirit among the Hardshell populace than anywhere else. To them, "the Arminian world," or "the religious world," are proud, and their system of "salvation by works" shows it. On the other hand, to them, Hardshell "grace" teaching alone produces humility. As we will show, this is all imaginary on their part, and actually is a "cloak" for their denominational pride. We will point to the irony of it all, and show how the Hardshells have a Uriah Heep type humility, a false humility, being proud of their humility.

Who was Uriah Heep? He was a fictional character in Charles Dicken's novel "David Copperfield" and who was known for his "sweet talk" but which was insincere. As one writer has said: "The character of Uriah Heep is known for his unduly overt humility who keeps referring to his “umbleness” through out the novel. In fact his name can be used synonymously to that of a yes man." (SEE HERE)

Another writer in an article titled "False humility and Christians" wrote:

"When Charles Dickens wrote the classic novel “David Copperfield”, he created an unattractive character called Uriah Heep – a greedy, insincere, ambitious manipulator who constantly proclaimed his “humbleness”. But Uriah Heep was not humble. He was proud, and self-absorbed and self-serving. The words that came out of his mouth were false. Someone who is really humble is not even aware of their humility. They aren’t absorbed with themselves at all." (SEE HERE)

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

A Hardshell Facebook Discussion on Faith

Just this morning I was scrolling down my Facebook page and saw where someone, an apparent Hardshell, shared a photo with an important Christian message stemming from Ephesians 2:8.  There was nothing unique about its content, but it was simply making a typical evangelical appeal to sinners who are lost and without God.

Not a problem.

Ah, but it is a problem to the Hardshells.  To make an appeal to sinners means that “salvation by grace” is being denied and the Christian is not “rightly dividing the word of truth” when he reads the evangelical appeals in the Bible.  In order to be set straight one must hear them butchered…I mean, “rightly divided”…using Hardshell hermeneutics.

The below conversation, with the parties’ last name removed, ensued in the comments section.  I could not let escape an opportunity to call attention to such brutal handling of the word of God.  Let the following serve as an example of how absolutely ingrained they are in their heretical doctrine of time salvation, and how practically everything in the scriptures revolves around this one “key” to its interpretation.

It really needs no comments.  It speaks for itself as to the lengths to which men will go when they refuse to submit to the plain teachings of scripture.  What is happening right now, to these my former church family and friends, is a systematic butchering of the word of God masquerading as “rightly dividing the word of truth”.

At first I laughed.  But then I sorrowed.

In response to the photo...

Ann: “Where did this come from?”

Keith: “Amen brother. Too many can not separate the two salvations. Pretty simple actually, if you earn it it's salvation during your life. If it was given to you before the world began it's salvation after your death. You don't even have to accept your after death salvation.”

Jacob: “It is very simple! There's no way you can accept anything if you are dead. The only way we can believe, accept, have faith, be baptized is if we are, passively, made alive by the Grace of God. I pray that God will open up the hearts of all of His children so that they may see that.”

Ann: “I'm going to go controversial and say I do not believe we are saved through our faith in God at all. I also believe that verse is only speaking of the eternal. The faith spoken of, in my opinion is Christ's faithfulness to the covenant of love in his willingness to be crucified and in his following through with suffering, bearing our sin burden, and death. Even though our faith in God is a gift from God, it is still a work. All righteousness is a gift from God. In my view, faith is no different. Only God's righteousness justifies us.”

Keith: “I agree with you. But I believe we can be "saved" to a closer walk with God while we are in this old world through our faith and works. But our faith and works has nothing to do with our eternal destination.”

Ann: “Keith, Yes, but my controversy is that I disagree with those who say that verse is instructing us about temporal as well as eternal salvation and I believe it is only about the latter. His grace saved us, by the mechanism of the death, burial and resurrection. So it is THROUGH faith that grace has saved us. Christ's faith; ergo the 'gift of God'.

So yes, we are saved to a closer walk with God through our faith but I don't believe that's what this verse is referring to.”

Jacob: “Sister Ann. You are right. I don't believe that the faith here in Ephesians 2 is talking about our faith. It took a perfect work for our salvation. You have to divide the word of truth here like Timothy said. It can't be our faith because our faith wavers everyday. So it must be God's faith, but He doesn't put his faith, here, in us because once again, we are not perfect. It was Him placing His faith in the Son.”

Keith: “I agree. I just brought that up to show how some people use the works salvation as eternal. I believe you are correct about these verses.”

Ann: “Thank you. Have you not heard people in our church say this verse is teaching about both types of salvation? I have heard it said but I just disagree.”

Keith: “My comments were directed more at the photo and not the verses Brother Jacob listed. Sorry about the confusion.”

Ann: “Keith, I wasn't really reacting to you, but to the verses because I have too often heard it interpreted the way I was bringing up.”

Jacob: “I have heard it preached both temporal and eternal. I'm not going to agree or disagree with that, but I do know that it is eternal. I've been trying to see for myself if this is talking about temporal as well, just haven't seen it. I do agree with Brother Keith's statement, but not sure if this verse in particular is referring to a temporal salvation. Scripture will interpret scripture. God reveals it unto us in His own time.”

Joseph: “Ephesians 2:4-9 KJVS But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, [5] Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) [6] And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: [7] That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. [8] For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: [9] Not of works, lest any man should boast.

Just my Interpretation but I believe verse 5 refers to eternal salvation by Christ alone. I believe verse 8 refers to our faith, given freely of God. The context of verse 8 is showing something through the ages to come. Faith shows us salvation. It also is a grace of the Lord.”

Ann: “Are we saved eternally through our faith? Every righteous act on our part is a gift of God, but none of them have any action toward our eternal salvation. I don't see how faith is any different no matter where we get it from.

I am a word maven. A result brought about "through" some action means that action is the mechanism by which it is accomplished. I don't believe any human work, no matter where it comes from is the mechanism of our salvation.

I am not answering in an argumentative spirit, only explaining why I believe what I believe. We don't know each other well and I want to be clear that I am not disagreeing just to be disagreeable.”

Ann: “Oh, I left out that the death, burial and resurrection is that mechanism of the grace by which we are saved.”

Jacob: “Thank you Brother Joe. This is good information and a great study. As I stated before, I will not agree or disagree. God reveals His word to each of His children in His own time. Either way, it IS by the unmerited favor of Christ that we are delivered FROM a dead state of sin TO a life of perfectness.”

Joseph: "The salvation referred to in verse 8, in my opinion, is not eternal redemption, but a temporal salvation that can only come to pass because of the eternal salvation referenced in v.5.

Jacob: Amen! I do see that Brother Joe. That is good. I can see that faith as an eternal sense. However one views that in an eternal sense, there is no way that can be the faith of man, for our faith is imperfect. That can only be God's faith in His Son. Our faith can be used here in a temporal sense, saving us from the trials of this life, and other situations that are not in an eternal sense. I see that from verse 7 mentioned. That you mentioned, "That in the ages to come He might shew the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us through Christ Jesus." The ages to come are now and He shows the riches of His grace through Jesus Christ whether it be in His word or other life situations.

Joseph: The faith of man is not at all instrumental in the eternal redemption of the elect. If in fact the 8th verse has an eternal application, it would have to be the faithfulness of God under consideration. However, this interpretation is awkward considering the context, IMHO. It just does not seem to be referring to God's faith in His Son (which is a very valid concept according to Rom ch 3)

Jacob: “I can see that. Thankful we agree of the faith of man is not instrumental in eternal salvation. But if verse 8 were eternal, wouldn't it have to be Gods faith in His Son? How else could it be?”

Joseph: "I agree."

These comments remind me very much of my own articles where I bring to light this mass confusion on “faith” in the Bible:
Consistent of Alternating Faith in Ephesians 1-2?
The Latest Invention on Ephesians 2:8

Were I to join this conversation (an idea very tempting), it would be about 10 against 1 so I abstain.  If I did, however, I would show how these new interpretations of Ephesians 2:8 are different, not only from their ministers of the distant past, but it is not even the position of the denomination 20 years ago! Many of the current big-name preachers among them utterly deny God's faith in His Son as that which is under consideration in this passage.  Rather, they defer to "seed faith" to get around their objections to gospel means.

In short, Hardshells started with the correct view of “evangelical, personal faith” in the 19th century. But due to a growing opposition towards “gospel means” the predominate view of the 20th century became a “subconscious, seed faith” planted within the sinner at regeneration.  And now in the 21st century, in order to even further distance themselves from the notion that a sinner must at least have “something” to be saved, a growing number are embracing the “faith of Christ” as a further alternative.  In the above conversation, however, I do wonder why none of them bring up the notion of “seed faith” as a possible interpretation of Ephesians 2:8.  Why, it served as a rebuttal to Calvinists and Arminians alike for almost the entirety of the 20th century!  What has changed that they choose to no longer use this erroneous teaching as their rebuttal to gospel means, but have adopted yet another novelty: the faith God has in His Son? The fact that none suggest this possibility in the above conversation proves that after dusk the night only gets darker.  In their continuing evolution of doctrine the Hardshells are plunging themselves further and further into error. 

But what do we say for those among them who continue to say that Eph. 2:8 is talking about "seed faith"?  Are they wrong? If so, should it brought before the church?  Carried to the association? Should they be osctracized?

If they would simply go back and look at the faith discussed in chapter one they would see what "kind" the Apostle Paul had under consideration. But the opposition to gospel means is so strong, this won't happen.  And so, Hardshell hermeneutics rule the day!

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Will All The Elect Hear The Gospel?

Do you know how the first Hardshell generation (1820's through 1860's) would have answered that question? Is there anyone among the Hardshells of today who can prove that they would have answered it like most of today's Hardshells? Most of today's Hardshells would say "no," and yet the first Hardshells would have said "yes." Anyone want to disprove it? I predict that there will not be one Hardshell who will come forward with proof that the first Hardshells generally denied that men must be converted by the gospel to be finally saved in heaven. Why? Because there is no such evidence! If they had it, they would produce it. This blog and my writings are filled with historical evidence to show that they affirmed that all the elect would hear and believe the gospel and persevere in that faith.