Our Church of Christ TV Friends – Taking Verses Out of Context?

Randy made a suggestion that we examine some Scriptures that our friends Johnny Robertson, Norm Fields and James Oldfield regularly take out of context to help support the things they are teaching.

Here are two Randy gave, with added thoughts.

Gal. 1:6-9“I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any [man] preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.”

Church of Christ preachers often use these verses against denominational folk, stating they are preaching another Gospel because they are ignorant of some things in the apostolic letters, or misunderstand some things as they (the CofC ) do.

One must ask “What is the Gospel?”  Simply put, it’s the good news about Jesus and his finished work. (Cor. 15:1-4)

Those whom Paul was addressing were people who wanted to be justified by law, and teaching people to reject justification by faith through the finished work of Christ.  Sadly, our friends at the Church of Christ yank this verse from its context and use it quite often to say that denominational churches are guilty of preaching another Gospel.

Anyone see the irony there?

2 John 1: 10,11:“If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into [your] house, neither bid him God speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds.”

This verse is one of the favorites to again turn people away from denominational folk.  This time its not the gospel but the word “doctrine” that has been pulled from its context and used at will to divide people in the church.  The verse states “if any come to you and not bring this doctrine, receive him not, neither bid him God speed”. Our church of Christ friends love this verse, here they say, “You aren’t teaching the right doctrine!” and they might point how you believe various things that they don’t.

But is this the doctrine that John was referring to?  If our friends in the church of Christ would keep reading it would become very clear to what John was referring: he was writing to counteract the effects of Gnosticism. The Gnostics taught many heretical things, but in this context they were denying Jesus came in the flesh, and John was telling his readers to not receive people that bring this doctrine, nor bid them Godspeed.

Sadly, our boys in the Church of Christ pull this verse apart and toss it upon the denominational folk and their doctrine, with which they disagree.

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If you have others, please feel free to add them.  Or, if you think these verses are incorrectly represented in Church of Christ doctrine, feel free to defend the use of them, or explain your use of them.

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4 thoughts on “Our Church of Christ TV Friends – Taking Verses Out of Context?

  1. This is one they use alot when they ( CofC-TV guys ) disagree with a doctrinal view from other people and judge them to hell:

    We read in John 7:24: “Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.”

    Here Jesus rejects and repudiates this popular notion that one may judge based upon perception. In the context of John 7:24, Jesus was teaching in the temple during the Feast of Tabernacles (v.2). Many were speaking about Jesus at the feast, but quietly (v.11-13). Part of this gossip included the rumor that he had a demon (v.20). Jesus reads their hearts and repudiates this by showing that the same critics formed hypocritical judgments regarding healing on the Sabbath (22, 23). They had quickly come to wrong judgment regarding Jesus based upon gossip that they heard. The “evidence” upon which they had drawn their conclusions regarding him was all perception. So Jesus rebukes them, “Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.”

    Unlike Jesus, we cannot read the hearts of individuals who act this way, so the Bible gives us several principles upon which to ensure that our Christian relationships remain in tact. These principles are love, patience, longsuffering, and brotherly kindness. Applying these principles in our life will go a long way toward not judging according to appearance.

    I find it quite sad that Norm and others yank scriptures from their context and judge peoples hearts, and even go as far as telling them they are headed to hell. I understand fully that they do so, because they consider being in a denomination sinful, but notice how Paul acted when faced with the same issue…Paul did have to correct the Corinthian church for becoming man-followers, calling themselves of Appolo, of Paul, and others, but note that Paul addressed them as Saints, not as someone outside of the body of Christ.

    James 4:11, 12 states, “Speak not evil one of another, brethren. He that speaketh evil of his brother, and judgeth his brother, speaketh evil of the law, and judgeth the law: but if thou judge the law, thou art not a doer of the law, but a judge. There is one lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy: who art thou that judgest another?”

    The Bible teaches that there is a sense in which the Christian must judge. Let’s look at a few passages.

    First, in 1 Corinthians 5:12 Paul says, “Do you not judge them that are within?” Here, Paul is talking about judging Christians who are not living according to the standards that Christ sets for them. In particular, he was talking about the fornicator that was among them. However, Paul does not limit this process to just fornication. He says in verse 11, “But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat.” We are, in fact, obligated to judge Christians who are engaged in these sinful situations.

    In the very next chapter, we also notice 1 Corinthians 6:1-3. This passage teaches that instead of going to a court of law to settle differences between Christians, we are to judge such matters among ourselves. Here is another form of judging that the Christian is to do.

    Finally, notice also Matthew 7:16-20. This passage teaches that we are to judge men according to their fruits. As we mentioned earlier in John 7:24, Jesus said, “Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.” Jesus also said in Matthew 7:6 “Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.” Who are the “dogs” in this passage? Who are the “swine” in this passage? How do we determine that?

    We must make judgments. We, as Christians, have obligations to judge certain situations. Jesus taught us to do this in regard to false teachers, people who are not living morally, and those who have proven themselves unworthy of the gospel. Jesus also taught us not to judge inappropriately. We should not judge hypocritically. We should not judge unrighteously, and we should not judge in a condemnatory fashion.

    Note that there is a big difference in the judging from our TV Church of Christ guys and the judging spoken in the bible. There is righteous judgment, which is clearly stated in the above verses, but there are also unrighteous judgment which is condemned…

  2. The way our guys on TV use the bible is to ignore the context of each scripture.
    For instance when a sermon on the inspiration of the scriptures is preached, there is usually a progression from Jesus’ commissioning of the apostles and imbuing them with power from the Holy Spirit, to the Day of Pentecost, then statements by the apostle Paul to the church at Ephesus (2:20–“the church is built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets”). The clincher is from Paul’s letter to Timothy (II Tim. 3:16–“All Scripture is Godbreathed”). Then Peter’s comments about Paul’s writings (II Peter 3:15). Wrap it up with Jude 3: “The faith that was once for all delivered to the saints”. That about does it. If you read this blog, you might have already noticed some of these used this way already.
    I probably have heard II Timothy 3:16 quoted at least one thousand times on TV and from others in the Church of Christ. I do not ever remember the context being given. I do not ever remember being mentioned the fact that Paul is speaking about the Old Testament Scriptures in this passage. The hard-line Churches of Christ see the Old Testament ending at the cross and the New Testament beginning with the Day of Pentecost. They see a sharp dispensational change between the Old Testament and the New. To have the one favorite verse on the inspiration of the scriptures refer to the Old Testament scriptures (the New Testament had not yet been written) would seriously rankle, if the context were known. Watch out for context killers !

  3. Here is another verse that is taken from its context quite a bit by some in the church of Christ and thrown at denominational folk:

    Beloved, when I give all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered to the saints (Jude 3).
    It is argued by TV CofC guys and others that “the faith” here spoken of is the entire body of new covenant scriptures. In addition, they include in “the faith” the particular and peculiar traditional interpretation and deductions which separate and segregate it from all other believers, sects and parties.
    Jude was not even speaking of the apostolic letters, much less of the fanciful farfetched and fitful interpretations placed upon them. The faith once for all delivered had been received before he wrote his letter so it is evident the epistle of Jude was not part of it.
    Jude was addressing ungodly men that had secretly infiltrated the camp of the saints. They perverted the grace of God into licentiousness. They DENIED the only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ. Against such characters, long ago designated for condemnation, “the sanctified, preserved and called ones” (verse 1) were to battle intensely for preservation of “the faith which was once delivered.” It is obvious that the faith was related to the proper concept of grace and its function, and the acknowledgment of the Lordship of Jesus Christ. These were the things being perverted and denied which made the earnest contention so essential.
    The faith delivered once for all is that which produces our common salvation. It is that which initiates us all into the majestic covenantal relationship with the Father and Son. It is that which inaugurates fellowship with Deity and adopts us into the heavenly family. It is this faith based upon grace which severs us from the old life of sin and gives us access to eternal life–“the eternal life which was with the Father and manifested unto us.”

  4. Romans 16:17 is another one quoted out of context quite a bit and again thrown at denominational folk as well as church of Christ bothers/sisters:

    Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which you have learned, and avoid them.
    By the way, most of the time this part of the verse isn’t read… For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.

    Of all the scriptures which have suffered from wresting, twisting and distortion, perhaps this one has suffered more maltreatment than most others. Written for the very purpose of protecting and preserving the church from division, it has become one of the chief instruments of such division. Ignoring the context in which it is set as a frame of reference.
    A careful analysis of this passage in purely objective research does not indicate that the apostle is advocating public or corporate action at all. He is not telling a congregation that they should excommunicate certain ones. Those who take such a position have to read into the verse their own ideas.
    “Mark them which cause division.” The word “mark” is from skopeo. This is the form of the word which appears in telescope, microscope, etc. It has to do with vision. It means, “to observe, watch, to keep an eye on.” There is not one thing in this word which indicates any action whatsoever upon or against an offender. The action is all upon the part of the observer. It consists simply of keeping another under surveillance.
    Divisions is from dichostasia. This is a combined form composed of a word for “apart” and one for “standing.” It literally means “standing apart” and here it refers to “alienating one from another.” It can be used to designate “divided loyalties” or to describe the condition that occurs when one segment of those who should be together allows a breach to occur which holds them aloof from others. Such a condition is a result and it proceeds from a cause. It is contrary to the will and purpose of God and one who produces the condition disobeys God.
    “Offences” is from skandalon, from which we get our English words “scandal” and “scandalized.” The original has an interesting history. At first it referred to the trigger of a trap, the part to which the bait is fastened, and which tripped or sprung the snare when the intended victim took the bait. Later it came to apply to the contrivance or instrument as a whole. It is essential to the efficient working or functioning of a snare that it not be recognized for what it is and its real nature be concealed. W. A. Vine said the word is always used metaphorically in the New Testament of that which arouses prejudice, becomes a hindrance to others, or causes them to fall by the way.
    “Avoid” is from ekklino which means “to turn away from, to hold aloof from, to stay out of the way.” There is nothing in the word which implies any organized action, or formal discipline of the congregation. Indeed, Vine says, “In exhorting them to turn away from false teachers, the Apostle is not speaking of excommunication, but of personal dissociation from the offenders.” Albert Barnes puts it this way:
    That is, avoid them as teachers; do not follow them. It does not mean that they were to be treated harshly; but that they were to be avoided in their instructions. They were to disregard all that they could say tending to produce alienation and strife; and resolve to cultivate the spirit of peace and union.
    The brethren were urged to avoid involvement with the person under consideration by keeping aloof from him or staying out of his way. If there is no congregational action implied in the terms “mark” and “avoid” there is none to be found in this verse at all. Those who abuse and misuse this passage to separate themselves from another congregation of saints over some point of difference are the perpetrators of division. There is a great deal of difference between keeping an eye on a brother who would make a partisan out of you and staying out of his way, and refusing to have anything to do with another congregation whose members sincerely disagree with some partisan interpretation. That is, there is a difference in keeping an eye on an infected member and taking a meat cleaver to the body.

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