The Elephant in the Room

by Jefferson David Tant

People use many devices to mitigate or cancel out plain Bible teaching. This ancient practice can be traced to the Old Testament. Seven hundred years before Christ, Isaiah was dealing with a rebellious people. God told him: “Now go, write it on a tablet before them And inscribe it on a scroll, That it may serve in the time to come As a witness forever. For this is a rebellious people, false sons, Sons who refuse to listen To the instruction of Jehovah; Who say to the seers, “You must not see visions”; And to the prophets, “You must not prophesy to us what is right, Speak to us pleasant words, Prophesy illusions. "Get out of the way, turn aside from the path, Let us hear no more about the Holy One of Israel” ” (Isaiah 30:8-11).

It is hard to imagine a more blatant rejection of God — people who believed in God. But this attitude is not confined to ancient times. We see it in different ways in our generation.

“I don't go there.”

A Lutheran Church (ELCA) controversy concerns ordaining practicing homosexuals. An Atlanta trial (January 2007) dealt with Pastor Bradley Schmeling and his “marriage” to another man. A church supporter, James Mayer, was interviewed by a reporter who asked “about biblical verses that condemned homosexuality … Mayer's posture stiffens. He says: “I don't go there.” ” Problem solved! Just don”t open the pages that deal with this sin.

“I don't see it that way.”

After a sermon, Yater Tant spoke to a visitor who questioned his use of Mark 16:16. With no comment on the verse, my father turned to it and read, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that disbelieveth shall be condemned.” The lady responded with “I don't see it that way.” She what?! She obviously “saw” what it said, but rather than say “I don't believe it,” she softened her unbelief by saying she didn't “see” it that way.

“That was just Paul”s opinion.”

When I have asked people about the practice of women preachers, which is condemned in I Timothy 2:12, the response I often get is, “Paul was a woman-hater,” or “That's just Paul's opinion.” In other words, their opinion is just as good as Paul's.

“I don't preach against sin.”

This fits well with the people in Isaiah's day. A popular mega-church preacher in our time is Joel O'Steen, who has a 40,000-member church in Houston. When interviewed by an Atlanta newspaper reporter about his popularity, he explained that he just wanted to make people feel good, so he didn't preach against sin. There may have been a huge elephant in the middle of his church building, but his advice would be just to ignore it.

“That's not what it means.”

A favorite ploy, when faced with a very clear but disliked verse, is to dismiss it by claiming it doesn't mean what it says. This is a favorite with homosexuals who have to deal with numerous scriptures that flatly condemn homosexuality.

“That's not the kind of God I serve.”

Those were the words of a young Baptist preacher I talked with, in New Mexico, many years ago. I had asked him if he believed in “salvation by faith only.” When he agreed, I asked him to read James 2:24 and explain it. “Ye see that by works a man is justified, and not only by faith.” He read it, closed the Bible, and admitted he had never read that verse, but that made no difference. Case closed — Bible closed — mind closed.

“It's not in my Bible.”

One lady argued with Yater Tant that Mark 16:16 was not in her Bible. My father insisted it was and called for her Bible. She was right! She had taken scissors and cut the offending passage out. I guess that's one way to deal with offending scripture.

Hear, O earth: behold, I will bring evil upon this people, even the fruit of their thoughts, because they have not hearkened unto my words; and as for my law, they have rejected it” (Jeremiah. 6:19).

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