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Recipe For Disaster


What “recipe” do we use to find the truth of God.  For Christians, we say, “The Scriptures, of course.”  And that’s certainly the way to go.  But what happens when we say, “The Scriptures plus . . .”  I recently came across this quote from Eugene Robinson, bishop in the Epicopal Church, USA.

“First, let’s look at Scripture; but then let’s take a look at how the Church has understood Scripture; and then, let’s put that together with our own experience.  Then ask the question, ‘Is God now revealing something new to us?’  It could be that God is actually teaching us something in this moment that God hasn’t had the opportunity to teach us before.  We have Jesus saying on the night before he was betrayed, ‘There is more that I  would teach you, but you cannot bear it right now; so I will send the holy spirit, who will lead you into all truth.’  God had led us to a new place about people of color, about women, and now, I think, about gay and lesbian people.”

I call this a recipe for disaster.  To me, it is apparent that Robinson has NOT reached the right conclusion about the truth of God in this matter.  This is a fairly obvious example.  I find it terribly sad that someone who says he represents God would put forward these ideas, but his comments also make me pause to think about my own approach to knowing God and can serve as a warning that I (or any of us) do not go the way of “The Scriptures PLUS . . .” whatever extra we want to add to the Scriptures.  2 Timothy should be a constant exhortation to any of us wo are endeavoring to know the truth of God: “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.” while at the same time remembering: “So then each one of us will give an account of himself to God.” [Romans 14:12]

“He humbled you and let you be hungry, and fed you with manna which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that He might make you understand that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the LORD. Deuteronomy 8:3 [NAS]

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 2 Timothy 3:16 [TNIV]

15 Responses to “Recipe For Disaster”

  1. on 15 Mar 2009 at 10:26 amFrank D

    2 Timothy 17 continues your thought a little more, Brian.

    16All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 17That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.

    If the whole scriptures are given so that we may be perfect, thoroughly furnished, why would we need any external sources? An analogy is a ship, dressed out for its voyage. With the scriptures we are lacking nothing for that journey. I avoid, as well, when other sources are given prominence next to (and even over) God’s word.

    Psalm 138: 2 I will worship toward thy holy temple, and praise thy name for thy lovingkindness and for thy truth: for thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name.

  2. on 15 Mar 2009 at 11:53 amWolfgang


    while indeed the mentioned “recipe” for understanding the Scriptures may be leading to disastrous results, we should not forget that for most of us living today, we are very dependent on “secular sources” to even be able to just read the Scriptures (for example, we need at times to rely on what authors of language dictionaries provide, or translations which a translator provides. It is clear that some secular sources are needed and we could not do anything much without them …

    As for interpreting and understanding the Scriptures, I would think that one of the most detrimental recipes is the one which says that we must read the Scriptures with a view of “what do they say to us today”. In other words, readers are encouraged to read their subjective current situation into the Scriptures (all of a sudden a “we” means a certain group of people living today of which the reader is a part, “now” means “right now” (as “on Sunday, March 15, 2009”, the time of writing of this note), etc …

    I would think that the correct meaning of a passage is that which the author / writer had in mind for the original recepients of the writing …. and any reader of any time (whether only a few years later or centuries later) must first correctly understand what he/she is reading by understanding what the writer had in mind …. only after that step can further considerations be made whether or not and to what degree the truth which one has read and understood might be applicable to someone or some situation of today


  3. on 15 Mar 2009 at 12:45 pmVictor

    Great article Brian. Thank you.

    I think that to go “beyond” the Scripture to look at Church history, what others think etc is not an error – but if those things contradict what the original source for truth (The Scriptures) – they they, not the Scripture must be discarded.

    Certainly not everything in life is spelled out word for word in Scripture – what about marijuana? Abortion? Etc. Is there a verse on this in the Bible? We we must rely on the Spirit – in light of the Scripture and God’s will – to sort out what God wants to be done in many instances.

    But again, we can look at history,our experience, etc – but the Scriptures must be first and last our standard for truth.

  4. on 15 Mar 2009 at 2:30 pmBrian

    I think that looking to Scripture alone includes many things in terms of historical context, structure of the Hebrew and Greek languages, overall scope (metastory) of the Bible, etc. Where things can get off-track is when we decide that the Scriptures don’t speak to OUR historical context and therefore do not hold authority for our faith. Robinson has not reached the conclusions he has because the Scriptures do not speak about homosexuality, but rather he believes that God has something “new” to say regarding homosexuality because of the times in which we live. Our answers for marijuana and abortion can be derived from Scripture without God revealing something new to us. At the same time I do recognize that we need God’s spirit working within to live out the Christian life. By the way, if you are interested in some Biblical info on homosexuality, Dr. Robert Gagnon out of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary has written some good stuff on this subject.

  5. on 15 Mar 2009 at 3:39 pmSean


    I know you only used abortion as an example, but in light of your church history comment, look up abortion in Bercot’s Dictionary of Early Christian Beliefs, and you will find the early Christian writings condemned it without hesitation. Here below is a quotation from a late first century Christian writing called the Didache:

    Didache 2.2
    Thou shalt not commit murder, thou shalt not commit adultery, thou shalt not commit paederasty, thou shalt not commit fornication, thou shalt not steal, thou shalt not practice magic, thou shalt not practice witchcraft, thou shalt not murder a child by abortion nor kill that which is begotten. Thou shalt not covet the things of thy neighbor,

    full text here

  6. on 15 Mar 2009 at 3:40 pmJohnB

    Some things that we don’t think are spelled out in scripture really are there; just hard to find. Marijuana is one of them. In Genesis God said some thing like “all green plants are to be used for food”. And then in Exodus (chapter 30, I think) there is a recipe for an oil (anointing oil I think) that includes marijuana. This is not a lot of evidence but it does lean more towards it being acceptable rather than unacceptable. I am not a pot smoker but I would not condemn someone who uses it to relax (reduce stress), relieve pain or help with a medical condition.

  7. on 15 Mar 2009 at 4:35 pmTim

    It seems to me that once one has perfectly and consistently applied all the clear and unambiguous commandments and teachings of Jesus and the apostles (and the OT where appropriate) to their own lives, then one can start to “take a look at how the Church has understood Scripture; and then, let’s put that together with our own experience.”

    I don’t know of anyone for which that is true …

  8. on 15 Mar 2009 at 5:32 pmrobert

    the NT is worthless without everything in the OT, as is the OT is worthless without the NT.
    you are right about the clear truths and if you accept them and use them to guide you then all of the confusing truths will be revealed to you as you need them.
    man has no right to apply his life to the Word, the Word should be applied to his life.
    why would God reveal the confusing things when we cant even follow the clear things.
    there is nothing man can tell you that will profit you in the Kingdom of God.
    The Word of God is the only thing that can profit you in the Kingdom of God.

  9. on 15 Mar 2009 at 8:09 pmSean


    marijuana is sinful because it prohibits sobriety:

    13 Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. (1Pe 1:13 NAU)

    7 The end of all things is near; therefore, be of sound judgment and sober spirit for the purpose of prayer. (1Pe 4:7 NAU)

    8 Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. (1Pe 5:8 NAU)

  10. on 15 Mar 2009 at 11:40 pmJohnB

    I don’t know lot about it but when I was around a guy who was smoking it we were playing very difficult board games and it did not seem to affect his sobriety. I’m sure if someone did a lot it would though.
    Also, why would their be an oil recipe which included marajuana in the Bible if God is against it. Oil is absorbed into the body so the marajuana would affect the recipient of the oil.
    More on topic, people interpreting the Bible however they want to is the reason there are thousands of Christian demoninations. I grew up Catholic and then went to various Protestant churches and now I am a unitarian. Each time I think I am correct in my doctrine. Hopefully this time I am. Reading books and listening to audio files from Anthony, Sean, Victor, and Dustin have really made the Bible make a lot more sense. There are still some things I am unsure about which has become more evident recently since I started reading “Across the Spectrum” which is a book that discusses differing sides of various elements of Christian doctrine. But the book does show how people can develop all sorts of ideas and defend them using the Bible (some more convincing than others).

  11. on 16 Mar 2009 at 3:27 amMark C.


    There are 3 or 4 names of ingredients in Exodus 30, none of which, obviously is marijuana in English. Which word are you suggesting is marijuana, and how do you know?

    As for whether it prohibits sobriety, I also have heard of people who aren’t affected by it when used in moderation, just like alcohol. And since the Bible doesn’t prohibit all use of alcohol, but only being drunk with it, I have to wonder about whether it is sinful in and of itself, although I’ve never used it.

    Of course there is the fact that it is illegal and we are commanded to obey the law unless it contradicts God’s direct commandments. (But that brings up the question I’ve wondered for years – why is marijuana illegal but alcohol isn’t?) A lot to think about.

  12. on 16 Mar 2009 at 7:11 amSean

    When someone smokes marijuana they are not sober. The Bible tells us to be sober.

  13. on 16 Mar 2009 at 10:14 amVictor

    Plus we are to obey the laws of the land – and it is against the law.

    As Sean noted above, my point in mentioning marijuana – it was in light of the blog entry that the word “marijuana” isn’t in the Bible – but we use the Bible for our source of truth in light of issues that are outside of the Bible specifically by name.

  14. on 16 Mar 2009 at 11:16 pmJohnB

    From a web-search (marijuana exodus 30):
    The original Hebrew for calamus, is Kaneh-bosem or Qaneh (Kaw-naw) Bosem. Some translations have this as “fragrant cane” or “aromatic cane.” Kaneh-Bos sounds remarkably close to the modern day word Cannabis.

    I do not know any Hebrew so I am just going on what I have read. Also, it seems that not everyone agrees that the ingredient is marijuana. There is not much in the Bible that everyone agrees on though.

    I also wonder why marijuana is illegal but alcohol, tobacco, coffee, sugar (and sugar substitutes) are all legal even though they are all more addictive and more harmful than marijuana. Of all these substances sugar is the one I use most and even that is very limited. I try to be as healthy as possible and treat my body as the temple of God. A lot of people seem to forget that was a command of God in the New Testament. We should limit or eliminate consuming anything that is harmful to our bodies.

  15. on 19 Mar 2009 at 11:25 amstacey

    To elaborate on this marajuana issue, Genesis 1:30 I (GOD) have given every green plant for food, and it was so. The key word here is (Food) GOD did not say to smoke! Also marajuana is considered a drug that has altering effects on your “normal” behaviors, not to mention it is illigal in this country and God does say to obey the laws of the land. There is also another issue in the times now marajuana is almost always mixed with another chemical substance that is usually dangerous and completely unnatural (man made). A reason why it is illegal it is addictive people become addicted to this “drug” to make them feel better than if they were sober. As far as alcohol God didnt say dont drink it period just do not drink in access to become drunk. Being drunk is similar to being ‘high” its altering your normal behavior. And if marajuanna was used as an aroma or fragrance in the bible it still doesnt say to smoke it! You can be in the same room as someone that is smoking it and it wouldnt have any affect on you.


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