"Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?"
Ah, there is nothing like Matthew 23:33 in the original King James. If you are unfamiliar with the passage quoted above, the scriptures has a particular potency for those of the Christian Faith, because this extremely strongly worded phrase was said by our Lord Jesus Christ.
The classical Christian belief system portrays that Jesus Christ was none less than an incarnation of God in the flesh. Jesus is the perfect embodiment of what God is like. We often forget this in our modern culture that has never read the Bible, and doesn't have an understanding of the man.
The problem with our society is that they are often guided by mavens of textural criticism that believe they can see an evolution in God's character throughout the Bible. They sift through the text and try to call out that there are two different Gods in the Bible. As they go through the Bible, they will say that the writers of the Bible were inconstant in their views of God.
This is trite and self-serving hypothesis, and is not born out by the reading of the Scriptures. I have read through the Bible completely six to seven times, and I simply don't see this changing viewpoint of God. There is no evolution of God. There is only separate views of the same item (God) by different men. The Bible clearly has an expanding revelation of God, but it is much as counterpoint. A simple melody is introduced, and this melody goes on to build on the initial theme. So is the word of God.
So, in the entire canon of scripture, we see the melody of anger. God in the Old Testament got mad. God (as per Jesus Christ) got mad in the New Testament. They are the same God. Face it, if you are a Christian, you need to realize that God, in our common vernacular, "pops a cork." He gets fed up, and he lets people have it. However, we need to be clear about who he gets mad at.
In this quote that started this post, the God/Human was angry at those that teach or proclaim God's word in a manner unworthy of God. Idea that man can misrepresent God is something that is one of the key touch points in all of scripture.
"And if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a large millstone tied around his neck," we are told in Mark 9:42.
You would think with such strong words, we would be hard pressed to find teachers of children willing to teach. To be a teacher and teach young people about the word of God has all the attraction of becoming a profession bomb defuser. The scripture tells us that the job of teaching can be harmful to you unless you are on your toes all the time. As a child that grew up in the Christian school system, I have found many teachers who taught despite the fear of the previous verse. They understood full well the risk of teaching, but felt called to be a teacher. To these teachers, I am indebted. And if the Krells, Joanie, Joel Ulrich, Fanny Gates, or a host of other teachers ever stumble across my blog, I can only hold out the deepest love and respect for what they did.
What amazes me is when the opposite happens, and the teachers that have read the warnings and disregard the consequences. I shudder to think what judgment day will look like for them.
An example of this was when I was in college for my first degree. I was at Seattle Pacific University, and many of the teachers were there out of a conviction to do what was right. Yet, I have never seen a more corrupt group of religion professors in my life. They were self satisfied in their intellectual hubris, and they ended up doing great amount of harm to the Christian body. Now Seattle Pacific University was built on the foundations of John Wesley and his philosophy. After reading the works of Wesley, and meeting these professors, I am convinced that if Wesley would have been alive, he would have camped outside of the offices of the religion department, and prayed until God rained fire and brimstone down on the building. If God did not answer his prayer, I'm sure he would have shaken the dust off his feet, and moved on.
One egregious professor, who later in life I simply called son-of-the-devil took great joy in breaking down the historic faith during his freshman introduction to the old testament course. At the end of the course, he would leave the students with nothing but questions. His main attack to undercut the faith was by canonical criticism. Rather than pointing out inconsistencies in the biblical text, he would attack the canon of scripture.
"The Catholics have their Bible, really, who is to say that we have the right canon," would be his stereotypical way of introducing his class. He also forbade tape recorders because evidently previous students had tried to capture his heresy on tape.
"Really, what is truth? Does the Bible need to be factually accurate to be true? Even in the myth of the Bible, Truth can exist," he would go on. He believed that the Bible was not truth, but it contained stories that pointed to truth. Since he studied Hebrew, he would remind us of that.
A rather brutal trick of his was his Hebrew authority. As I've state before, I believe the evidence is clear that the universe is very old. Without repeating my posts, the idea that the university is billions of years old is very obvious. As long as you can accept that the days talked about in Genesis aren't literal 24 hour days, science and the scriptures are easy to reconcile.
Son-of-the-devil would have none of this, and he emphatically informed every class that the Hebrew for "day" could only be translated as "24 hours." He knew that he was immediately creating an uncrossable divide between the scriptures and science when he said this. He enjoyed making everybody doubt their faith.
At the time, a lot of what he said got into my head. Even though my head was filled with some pretty good stuff.
In high school, I got the bug on apologetics. I had read Geisler, Sproul, and other fundamental scholars of conservative Christian thought. Unfortunately, since I assume that I was at a Christian University, and being young and inexperienced, I was not using the data that I had learned. However, one day spoke up I in class. It is etched indelibly in my memory.
"Well, the contemporary writers of the New Testament had no idea that they were writing scripture, they just were communicating," son-of-the-devil said.
I held up my hand, remembering a bit from an apologetics book that I had read. He nodded to me.
"What about when Peter called out in his books that Paul's writing was equivalent to the Old Testament Scriptures?" I asked.
Now, this was supposed to be a Biblical Scholar. This was supposed to be a man that knew what the Bible was about. Certainly, with all of this learnedness and knowledge, he would know the famous 2 Peter 3:16 Scripture, where Peter places the writings of Paul on the same level as the Old Testament. Looking straight at me, he had an air of confidence.
"I don't know about that," immediately dismissing me.
It was years later that I realized that the son-of-the-devil didn't read the New Testament. He was looking at the Old Testament as a piece of literature and not as the word of God.
Unfortunately, some of my nephews and nieces have gone to this university, and the power of tenure has kept the son-of-the-devil in business and dragging generation down. We've had some debate about whether or not the son-of-the-devil is really demonic or simply grossly misled.
I lean toward misled, but I am sure if CS Lewis was around, he would believe he was demonic, and he would insist that "the son of the devil" could be a dead ringer for an extra character out of "That Hideous Strength."
The point in this story, and why it is on my serious blog, is to discuss what to do when you are faced with somebody that claims to be a Christian and yet displays completely non-Christian behavior. I could have argued with this professor, but I didn't. His criticism of the Bible nearly led me to abandon my Christian Faith, and I can truly say that the journey back to a non-blind Faith has allowed me to become much stronger.
However, I would wish this "faith strengthening" road on no one, and if I am saved today it is because of the providence of God in directing my intellectual curiosity to some well placed books in Seattle book stores and libraries. However, have a snare inside of any Christian organization is a problem.
So now that you've heard my tale, what of the ramifications? The first is to make sure that you carefully consider any teaching job. To teach is to play with dynamite. If you are called, it will be the grace of God that saves you. Secondly, and similar to this, if we know somebody that is teaching scripture, we need to watch and make sure that they are saying the right things. The potential blessings are great. The potential downfalls are the same.
Lastly, we will all have our children fall into circumstances where they are being damaged. The Bible is clear on how the good is corrupted by the bad. If you end up in a circumstance where your child is being influenced negatively, sell the house, sell the car, and do whatever you need to do to pull your child out of that bad circumstance.
We would not allow our children to play with a brood of vipers. We cannot let them hang out with those that would take them down the wrong path.