A pastor in Baltimore tore up a cease and desist letter the church received for holding in-person services as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The church was threatened with a $5,000 fine. The pastor cited Hebrews 10:25 as his reasoning for defying the order.
“Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.”
Now I don’t care that he wants to defy a government order. That’s fine with me and I think he’s likely on good legal ground, although it may not sit as well with the community there regarding the church’s testimony. That’s for him and the church to decide. But I do object to misinterpreting and misapplying biblical passages. Here’s my beef with using that verse the way he does.
The context of that passage is not a formal church service. It’s provoking one another to love and good works and exhorting (coming alongside) each other in support. This does not require a church service. I would argue that this, very often, is best done outside of a formal service.
The “assembling” simply means a gathering together in one place. It does not refer to a specific number or percentage of people. It’s just Christians getting together in any context which supports provoking to love and good works which should prevent God’s punishment for those who otherwise could fall into sin. (Heb. 10:29)
If he really believes that “so much the more” refers to church services, then I would ask him when he is adding more regular church services to the weekly church schedule. The fact that he doesn’t proves my point.
My interpretation and application of that verse is that Christians should gravitate towards one another for support as our world approaches the end. There are a few other details involved, but that’s the basic idea. It has nothing to do with a church service. As a matter of fact, the Bible does not specify what day or time that a local church should meet (contrary to popular opinion).
In my reading of this passage, if Christians gather informally in a home, workplace, or at a restaurant for mutual exhortation, they likely are fulfilling Hebrews 10:25.
In March, he claimed to heal people of COVID-19 while he prayed for them as they laid their hand on their TVs. (One wonders why he doesn’t visit hospitals.) Then he told those who lost their jobs due to the pandemic to continue paying tithes. (Since 10% of 0 is 0, I guess that wouldn’t be a problem for them.) Then he said he would continue to have church services even if he had to pass out thermometers to everyone, and if someone had a fever, that he would “get it healed right there.” (Hard to argue with that.)
Why do people listen to this guy??
The true Christian does not call down the “wind of God” upon the coronavirus and pronounce it “destroyed”. Kenneth Copeland is a charlatan who is just interested in money which he extracts from people by acting like he has special powers imbued upon him by God. Suffice it to say, he does not.
I am sensitive to politicians who misuse Scripture. (Please note that a lot of politicians do this, regardless of political affiliation. I fault any who do this, regardless of what letter they have after their name.) Today I read a news article where a presidential candidate used a verse inappropriately. I’m going to call this particular error “Smoke and Mirrors Exposition” which I define as taking a verse out of context to support an issue in which the verse has no bearing on the issue at hand. With this particular error, oftentimes the same issue supported by the politician is clearly condemned by other passages of Scripture. Continue reading →
The Pope has approved changing the Lord’s Prayer from “lead us not into temptation” to “do not let us fall into temptation”. This was not done on textual grounds, but from a “theological, pastoral, and stylistic viewpoint”. Excuse me, but since when does that trump the biblical text?
I looked at several English translations going back to Tyndale (1534) and they all have the traditional reading. The reason is that the Greek text is clear and there are not even any textual variants for that verse. All Greek textual traditions read the same. The only other possible translation I can see is “may You not lead us into temptation” which emphasizes the subjective mood of the verb, but that doesn’t address the Pope’s concern. Continue reading →
One of my pet peeves is politicians misusing Scripture. I don’t care what letter they have after their name or what their political persuasion is. Here the topic is usury in the Bible as it relates to U.S. interest rates. (Relating these two things is a stretch anyway, since the biblical text’s statements about usury were between individuals, but here we go.)