Scripture Isn’t A Wax Nose

Scripture Isn’t A Wax Nose
In 1511, Erasmus warned of scholars who treated Scripture as though it was made of wax, something to be shaped into a form appealing to them. Five hundred years later, people still do treat Scripture like a wax nose.

Facebook isn’t the place people ought to go for reliable information. Anyone can say just about anything. They may present themselves as an authority or support their position by quoting experts. Be careful, because not everyone IS an authority and today you can find so-called experts to support just about anything.

Recently on Facebook, I posted then deleted a comment-thread on another person’s original post. I had made a comment on this person’s link to an article that misinterpreted Hebrews 10:25. My comment corrected the error. The author of the article replied to my comment by reiterating what was in the article I refuted. He simply repeated his error, ignoring the refutation. I replied by reiterating my original remarks. Then a few minutes later, took down the entire thread. It was clear my attempt to correct the author’s misinterpretation of Hebrews 10:25 was pointless. So why post it? Comments by others on the original post found support for their position in the misinterpretation. My attempts at correcting the error were only going to elicit further hostility. Having just taught on the need to avoid such division earlier in the day, I yanked my comment and thread that ensued.

But …

The exchange pointed out something that needs to be affirmed. While we need to safeguard unity, we cannot do so at the expense of God’s Word. We may disagree on the application of a passage, but we MUST NOT disagree on its interpretation.

The original article was a response to those churches that have chosen to return to normal services and the use of Hebrews 10:25 as a support for that. The author of the response said that verse does not support a return to services. Let’s consider the passage. The thought begins a verse before …

     And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the
     assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and
     so much the more as you see the Day approaching. Hebrews 10:24–25

“Forsaking” is a verb that depends on an object. The text makes clear what is not to be forsaken is “the assembling of ourselves together.” Yet the author of the article said this was a warning against apostasy. He pointed out that “forsake” is connected to apostasy in other passages and that the overall theme of Hebrews is a warning against apostasy. All true. But hermeneutics requires the immediate context to be the prevailing influence in interpreting a passage. Hebrews 10:25 doesn’t say, “not forsaking the faith,” nor “not forsaking Christ.” It says, “not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together.” If the writer of Hebrews intended his readers to understand his exhortation as a warning about apostatizing, why state it so obliquely? The writer's larger concern was indeed to warn his readers not to apostatize, and understood the important way to ensure they didn’t was by calling them to not abandoned gathering. Apostasy is done in steps. One doesn’t go from being a spirit-filled believer on Tuesday to a hopeless apostate Wednesday. It’s a gradual slide from faith to unbelief, or as Hebrews itself says in Hebrews 2:1, they “drift away.” Abandoning assembling together was one of the steps on the path toward apostasy. Some had already taken it, as the verse says. Want to avoid falling away? Don’t give up on gathering.

The author of the article misinterpreting Hebrews 10:25 referred to some commentators as supporting his view. EVERY commentary I looked at, all thirteen of them, give the interpretation I just did above. I didn’t find a single commentary that supported the idea the verse is an exhortation to not apostatize. Not one. But, that misinterpretation removes a key support to the idea Christians ought to gather. So it’s latched onto by those who have an opinion, then find evidence to support it, rather than letting evidence shape their opinion.

I respect the right of people to have different views on churches re-opening. But please, don’t make stuff up to support your view.

Now, let’s turn things around and see why Hebrews 10:25 is indeed an important support to the idea that Christians need to meet. Precisely because Hebrews is written to Jewish believers under pressure to give up their faith in Christ, 10:25 points up the NEED for Christians to gather. The writer understood that gathering fostered faith and “vaccinated” believers against the wiles of the devil aiming to take them out. It was in the context of the assembly they could “consider one another to the end that they’d stir up love and good works.” And, knowing Jesus warned the end times would be marked by widespread deception, the writer said maintaining a commitment to assembling together needed to be renewed as the End drew near.

That yields a key perspective on government mandates prohibiting and limiting meeting. Satan knows the path to apostasy leads through abandoning fellowship. When churches stop meeting, it makes dropping out that much easier. We’re already seeing the effect of the lockdown as a recent poll by Barna makes clear. One-third of regular church attenders have dropped out of any participation in church since the crisis began.

The Church needs to meet. Christians need to gather.