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Gamaliel's Desk
Friday, July 07, 2006
Some Things to Some Men
All this talk of Christian liberty has started quite a bit of controversy in otherwise dependable Pharisee churches. I found it necessary to correct some serious errors in our denomination while speaking at a recent conference on the topic. The purpose of the conference was “Communicating Christianity to the 21st Century: Cultural Outreach without Compromise.” I was disturbed by the unhealthy focus on whatever-it-takes evangelistic efforts based on misinterpretations of 1 Corinthians 9:22 where Paul says, “I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.” In order to correct their misapprehension about this verse, my message concentrated on the following points:

While the message may not have received a warm reception at the time I preached it, I am sure that overall the sentiment was appreciated. All of the other messages at the conference were lacking in passion , fire, zeal and steadfast dedication to proclaiming the unvarnished, uncompromising Message of God. Instead, they were all concerned about reaching out to people with a soft, lovey-dovey tepid gospel message emphasizing all the squishy, syrupy sweet aspects of God. They were all talking about grace and love and mercy with no mention of sin, wickedness, depravity and repentance from dead works. So for the benefit of all those who need and appreciate a good solid message, I am posting my outline here for all to read.

The inspiration for this post can be found here.

Pastor Gamaliel,

You made some comments in your sermon last week that have given me some concern. You said, in effect, that Paul never did anything that was contrary to the established religious order of his day. You indicated that appropriate ministerial dress and conduct are an important part of deeply spiriual practice. I would like to point out that Paul frequently broke with the religious practices and traditions of his day. One key example was that he ate with Gentiles, a practice forbidden by the religious traditions of his day. Since Paul violated the institutionally accepted taboos of his religious tradition, I am sure wh would do the same with our taboos if he were alive today.

From what I can tell of your sermon and what I read in the books of Acts and the Epistles on Paul's ministry, if he were alive today, you would never allow him to preach in your church. Certainly you would not allow him in if he dressed as he did when he was alive.
If Paul were alive today, Bro. Demetrius, he would be in full agreement with me. I know this for a fact because I preach almost exclusively from his writings.
Yo, G!

bro. are you stuck on stupid?

i couldn't believe the boneheaded comment you made in your sermon at the conference. you said Paul would never wear long hair cuz it was contrary to scripture and then quote 1 cor. 11:14 to prove it.

Helllllooooo! McFly! dude, Paul WROTE I Cor. 11:14 so he could not have been "contrary to scripture" since it WASN'T EVEN SCRIPTURE YET! Duh. Get a clue.

and just in case no one's told you, Paul's point when he wrote that was to prove that NATURE teaches men to wear long hair. so even when YOU argue from SCRIPTURE, the SCRIPTURE ITSELF is arguing from NATURE! its kinda pointless for you to "argue from scripture" when the scripture doesn't even argue from scripture.

have you ever looked up the word HERMENEUTICS in the dictionary dude? maybe you wanna take a class in how to, like READ the Bible, for cryin' out loud.

whatta dweeb
Even if Paul's argument is from nature, he was still writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, thus making it scripture the intant it was penned. Even so, just because the scripture contains an argument from nature doesn't mean that for us it is an argument from scripture.

So you should know that it is a violation of both nature and scripture for you to play those godless guitars in the House of God with that effeminate ponytail dangling on your collar. I do not have to judge you. You are already under the condemnation of God through scripture.
Dear Bro. Gamaliel,

I appreciate your enthusiasm at the conference and wish you well in your efforts to keep your congregation pure. However, I found your message long on rhetoric and short on practicalities. As a result, I believe there are some inherent dilemmas that arise which I wish you had mentioned.

For instance, you said, "Paul's liberty was not used to serve the flesh." May I ask in what sense is this true? When Paul used his liberty to eat with the Gentiles, was this not to satisfy his hunger? How is satisfying one's hunger NOT meeting the needs of the flesh? Or are you asserting that eating dinner feeds only the spirit?

And what of Paul's tentmaking? Did he do that to feed the needs of his spirit or the needs of his body?

The reason I ask is because I have seen individuals use rhetorical statements without due consideration of all the implications of what they say. As a result, innocent people in the pews make unjudicious decicisions not to do things that they are free to do in good conscience. Many people are very sensitive to spiritual leaders who use guilt to bend unsuspecting people to their will.

I hope this is not your intent and as this is the first time I have ever heard you speak, I will give you the benefit of the doubt. I look forward to hearing your reply.
Bro. Aquila,

So good to hear from you. I can assure you that I am not interested in burdening weak Christians with unnecessary guilt. I am only interested in burdening them with necessary guilt.

Sometimes the goads of a guilty conscience are the best motivators for keeping saints on the straight and narrow. Anyone who is seeking to serve their flesh needs to have the scourge of guilt applied. I hope that my sermon amply illustrated the point that guilt and godliness go hand in hand.

Loved your message. I never laughed so hard at church since I went to that Mark Lowry concert. You need to go on the road, guy. Best of all, you didn't crack a smile the whole time! Ben Stein has got nothing on you for king of dead-pan.

The most hysterical thing you said in the whole sermon was where you said in one sentence that Paul would never dress like the heathen and then turned around and said if he were preaching in the conference today he would wear a suit and tie just like us. I nearly busted a gut on that one.

Sorry the audience was so tough though. They must not get your brand of humor. It probably flew right over their head that "heathen" means "gentiles" and since we're gentiles, that makes us heathen. I guess they weren't ready for your brand of irony.

Keep up the good work. You should take that show to Vegas it's so funny.
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