Twisted Scriptures (Part 1 of 6)

Let us think out loud about how gentile Christians have twisted scripture to suit their own agenda.

A "Twisted Scripture" is a biblical passage taken out of context and portrayed to mean something that neither its author intended nor it's original audience understood. In politics this is called "unintended consequences" and in the military it is called "collateral damage."

This is such an involved topic with many twists and turns that it cannot be contained within a simple one page essay, nor even in a multi-part essay but we will offer an introduction to Twisting Scripture.

Leaders of the Christian religion have had over 20 centuries to completely muck up and twist the faith of Jesus and his apostles. Don't think so? In every century, there have been cries of error and abuse with reformers attempting to return the church to a more apostolic version. However, each reformer focused on only a single or just a very few issues. Martin Luther was concerned with abuses and obvious doctrinal error over salvation by grace versus works. And his was not the single voice but one among a chorus of reformation voices all calling for a reformation of one sort or another. So what has gone so terribly wrong to inspire reformers? Most notably, every one has accused the religious leaders of Christian institutions of twisting scripture. What are the twists that have led to so many reformation voices? How is scripture twisted to reflect an opinion and fail to represent the apostolic faith?

The first is ignorant and unstable Christian commentators, theologians and teachers trying to teach that which they do not understand themselves and thus "get it wrong." Typically this group is only following their tradition, habits or repeating others. This group's errors are fixable with correct teaching. They are sincere but sincerely in error.

ESV: II Peter Chapter 3
[16] as he [Paul] 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.

The word "twist" in this passage is unique in the New Testament, Strong's #4761, it occurs nowhere else, but it is closely related to another word, Strong's #4762, used 19 times in the New Testament. The first word literally means to "torture." The second word means to "turn." Thus twisting scripture is a torturous turning away from the original meaning. Twisting scripture does violence to the intent of the author and the writer. The latter word, #4762, is also used of conversion, where one turns in a new direction such as believing on Jesus Christ, a complete turnaround from unbelief. Twisting scripture then means a torturous conversion of truth into error.

The second way scripture is twisted is the religious masses needing an "itch" to be scratched. Without exception, they find so called "evangelists" to scratch their itch. What is the itch? Christianity has failed to deliver the Christian masses to the point of delivering them from sin consciousness by teaching sound doctrine. Consequently the masses feel an itch to feel good about themselves. Their need is sound doctrine to deliver them from their sin consciousness. However failing to recognize their true need, they seek out religious motivational speakers who deliver a fuzzy feel good messages rather than the sound doctrine which delivers. These so called "evangelists" rise up to meet the need of the masses and scratch the itch but do not deliver God's people with sound doctrine. Many supply this "itch need" to the tune of considerable monetary benefit for themselves personally.

The itch in the passage below, is the Strong's #2833, and is only used once in the New Testament. In secular literature of the day, it always meant "scratching the itch." It is the "itching followers" who sponsor the rise of the "religious scratchers." For these religious scratchers, their "success" is measured in number of followers and the size of their treasury. But to fix the leaders of these misinformed masses, you would have to fix human pride and greed … not very fixable. As long as people are desirous of hearing religious motivational speakers and feel good stories to scratch their itch, these "evangelists" will continue to have great followings.

ESV: II Timothy Chapter 4
[3] For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions,

Next post: the methods used to Twist Scripture.

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2 Responses to Twisted Scriptures (Part 1 of 6)

  1. Frank says:

    Here's a twisted thought. I often ask someone to read from the first verse of the New Testament. As expected, they will read Matthew1v1. I then tell them to read Matthew26v28 "for this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins"
    The New Testament did not start till the blood was poured out at the cross. Therefore ALL that Jesus taught prior to death was taught to Old Testament people during the Old Testament time period. 
    All of what is generally taught as New Testament was actually still OT. What Jesus taught was applicable and true for OT people NOT something special and new for us NT believers.
    Typically this includes the infilling of the Holy Spirit being available to any OT believer who asked God for it!
    "How much more will your Heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask." This was NOT something that could only happen after Pentecost!

  2. John John says:

    Frank,

    Your insight is absolutely true! I often refer people to Acts, chapter 2, as the beginning of the New Covenant or the new testimony about Jesus. The new testimony of Jesus is a testament to his completed atoning work, not his restoration mission to Israel (lost sheep). That work was not fully complete until the spirit was poured out on mankind on the day of Pentecost. Pentecost was an answer to Jesus' prayer (John 14:16). Only then was the old covenant fully ratified, signed off and sealed with the coming of the holy spirit which empowered men to carry out the great commission.

    However, it was years before the apostles really understood what had happened that day. Most Judean followers of Jesus never really embraced the full truth of it all. Even though Peter witnessed the baptism of holy spirit being poured out on the gentiles (Samaria), the concept of the demise of the custodian to bring us to Christ was not fully embraced in Judea.

    This was a conflict of major proportions in the first century. It was only the influx of so many gentiles, due to the apostle Paul's preaching, that the necessity to become followers of the Hebrew faith in addition to becoming Christian was eventually abandoned. Unfortunately with that was also an abandonment of the Hebrew world view which opened up the door for a gentile substitution for it. That twisted even more scripture as gentiles struggled with their systems of philosophical theologies to explain anew what the ancient Hebrew prophets had already explained and defined.

    Humans are so predictable. They hang on to the old, even in the face of facts telling them otherwise. Worse, people are even willing to excommunicate one another in deference to their own personal world view, even when the facts contradict it. Jesus said,

    John Chapter 13  [35] By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. [ESV]

    I'm reading a book, 'Twisted Scriptures,'  by W. Carl Ketcherside (1908-1989), a Restoration Movement reformer. He makes this observation about how scripture gets twisted in practice:

    "If we walk in the light as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another." 1 John 1:7
           
            Actually the revised factional version should read:
           
            "If they will walk in our light as we are in that light, we will have fellowship with them."

    We may be few who desire the ancient first century comprehension of the faith but volume never was a progenitor or guarantee of truth.

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