Using and Abusing Scripture

Did you know that the word “politics” is a combination of two terms with great significance? It’s true… “poly” means “many” and “ticks” are blood sucking parasites. (ba-dum…CHA!)

The garbage and mudslinging that I simply can’t stand about American politics comes from both sides. From 2000-2008 George Bush was called a lot of dirty names by liberals, and since the election Barack Obama has been the target of conservatives for vitriol. I get just as frustrated when it comes from those who agree with me politically as when it comes from those I disagree with—wait, that’s not true. I get way more frustrated when it comes from those who lean the same way I do, because it brings me guilt by association.

When politicking intersects with people trying to bolster their disagreements with a political ideology by means of making shady biblical arguments, then my blood really gets boiling. See, God made me to be a shepherd and when someone is hacking the biblical text for a political agenda it REALLY chaps my hide.

Today’s case in point, a ridiculous video purporting to show that Jesus told us the name of the Antichrist in Luke 10:18. Want to guess what name that is? You got it, Barack Obama! This was sent to me by a friend for verification of the use of the biblical text. A few thoughts:

  1. There is plenty of evidence that Jesus spoke in Greek (look here on page 188 for some introductory discussion), so saying that Jesus spoke Aramaic in Luke 10:18 is speculation. We know Jesus spoke some Aramaic, but it is likely that He spoke Greek in significant ways and I think likely that what we have recorded of Jesus’ words are original Greek statements He made.
  2. Speaking of Aramaic, it was not “the most ancient Hebrew.” It was a modern language in the first century, while Hebrew was an ancient one. The two might be compared to modern English and Shakespearean English, alike in a lot of ways and not in others.
  3. Even granting that Jesus might have spoke Aramaic, He wasn’t speaking Hebrew for this quote. No one spoke Hebrew in everyday life in Jesus’ culture, not even the Pharisees. So using translations of Hebrew words would be wrong on multiple levels.
  4. Word order is different in Hebrew than in English, so it would not sound like this video purports it would.

This type of argument is ridiculous, and normally I would not even think about interacting with it. This is the realm of conspiracy theorists and whack jobs. However, the frustrating thing for me is that this type of argument is pretty clearly politically motivated.

This person does not like President Obama and that is okay. As historian Howard Zinn (not Thomas Jefferson, as has been misattributed) has said, “Dissent is the highest form of patriotism.” Anyone who knows me knows that the President and I see differently on a lot of issues. However, taking a biblical text and translating it back into Hebrew, which Jesus wouldn’t be speaking, and choosing which Hebrew words He would have spoken and in what order without any evidence, is poisoning the well plain and simple.

Let me state plainly that ANY biblical Christian should be obedient to what the Bible says about how to relate to government:

1 First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, 2 for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. (1 Timothy 2:1-2)

Whatever the dislike, whatever the disagreement, please do not throw rocks. Pray for your elected leaders whether you like them or not. Pray for God to show them His face, to give them wisdom in honoring Him with their decisions and the courage to choose to do so. Don’t snipe at them from the bushes; dialog and understand and consider, then respectfully disagree. Vote your conscience and take Christ with you into the voting booth.

But please, don’t fall for this type of mudslinging. Be more thoughtful and careful than that. I am pretty sure that when the Antichrist actually appears there will not be any discussion within the Christian community about his identity, whether Tim LaHaye likes it or not. He will be evident to everyone, not just some guy with his Hebrew concordance. And I don’t think that Jesus hid his name in a Greek translation about Satan from a Hebrew original saying.

Never forget what Jesus tells His disciples in Matthew 5:43-48:

43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48 Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

I’m pretty sure calling someone the Antichrist is breaking this command…just sayin’.

3 thoughts on “Using and Abusing Scripture

  1. Amen and amen John. I like the phrase, “If you torture the Scripture long enough it will confess to anything.” Scott Simon

  2. I know this is something that I REALLY struggle with; in fact I try to ignore much of what goes on in Washington because of what it does to me internally and in my dealings with other people. I think the principle that Paul taught in 1 Thess 4:11 and 1 Tim 2:2 is instructive: live a quiet life.

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