My Thoughts. . .

Monday, January 27, 2020

In 1974 our church bulletin announced a future debate that I would be engaged in with Gene Reynolds of the Alabama City Church of God.  When my dad read that report, he wrote citing Romans 1:29.

Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, DEBATE, deceit, malignity; whisperers,” (Romans 1:29 KJV).

He informed me that I would be guilty of blaspheming the Holy Ghost by engaging in that DEBATE.  As far as he was concerned, debating was equal to fornication, murder, and such.  He warned me that if I took part in that debate, I would no longer be his son.  He kept his promise.  He passed away in 1995 with Alzheimer and I was never able to reconcile with him.

The Greek word translated by the King James as “debate” I in Romans 1:29 is the only translation that does so.  Even that version renders the word as “strife” four times, “contention” twice, and “variance” once.  “Debate” in 1611 may have meant strife, but that is not always the case today.  From the ASV to the NIV, Romans 1:29 is rendered as “strife,” not “debate.”  A conversation may develop into strife, but that does not render all conversations as strife.  Two men may disagree, but that disagreement does not mean they are engaged in strife.  Peter disagreed with Jesus, but neither of them were guilty of strife.  Two people may discuss their biblical differences without it degenerating into strife.  Debate may develop into strife, like conversation or disagreements, but none of them engage in strife.  In fact, my father differed with me and yet he nor I were guilty of blaspheming the Holy Spirit, nor being guilty of strife.  He thought I was but didn’t think he was.  Yet, we were debating (discussing) our differences.  By condemning me, he was also condemning himself.

My dad entertained some interesting religious beliefs.  He believed it was blasphemy against the Holy Spirit to question another person’s religious claims.  Yet, it never occurred to him that he was preaching to himself by questioning my faith.  The apostle Paul warned Timothy, “For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear” (2 Timothy 4:3).  You can’t test another’s belief unless you ask him questions to reveal the origin of his teaching.  Does your teaching or mine harmonize with God’s word?  How would we know unless we compare both with what scripture actually says?

My dad was questioning my belief and telling me I was wrong for questioning Gene’s belief.  During that discussion, Gene was questioning my belief.  Yet, in dad’ mind I was the blasphemer.  In doing so, he was practicing the very thing that he accused me of doing.  Inconsistency is seldom admitted by the one introducing it.  What is interesting is that Gene never accuse me of blaspheming the Holy Spirit because I questioned his beliefs.  Notice what the apostle John told his readers to do,

 “Dearly loved friends don’t always believe everything you hear just because someone says it is a message from God: test it first to see if it really is. For there are many false teachers around, and the way to find out if their message is from the Holy Spirit is to ask” (1 John 4:1-2).

The problem among believers is that some never question the claims of those who announce that they speak for God.  Does anyone remember Jim Jones and the spiked drink he offered his followers?  He claimed God was moving him, but no one survived that drink.  They would still be alive if they had questioned Jim Jones’ faith!  They would not have been guilty of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit for that questioning.  A few questions and he would not have had followers unless they were blind to truth.

Some do not want you to question their faith or to show their doctrine is inconsistent with the Bible.  Some are so convinced that they follow the truth, that they refuse to investigate their own arguments.  There were some like that even in the church of God in Corinth.

Paul admonished prophets, tongue speakers, and others who were inspired by the Holy Spirit to:

Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves” (2 Corinthians 13:5).

Peter exhorted the body of Christ to:

Be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear” (1 Peter 3:15).

It’s safer to examine, be ready, and always be vigilant than to remain uninformed.  To refuse to study, one may not be actually walking by faith, his hope may be in question, and the devil may find it extremely easy to make him his next meal.

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8).

Don’t be meat on the devil’s table!