Ask Your Preacher
I have a very interesting question, and I'm hoping you can help. I know the Bible says you shouldn't mess with spirits, and fortune telling is sinful. However, what if someone didn't ask for this gift? I know it says no one knows the future but God, but what if He gave a gift to someone, and they were using it for good? And what about Ouija boards? I've always been taught they are of the devil. One last thing, I'm from the south, and I've heard a lot about conjurers. In fact, as a child, my grandfather visited one to get a growth removed, and it worked. This woman was a christian and claimed it was a gift from God and not sinful. Is this sinful and of the devil? I am, by the way, very superstitious; however, I do believe the Bible is clear on the boundaries that should not be crossed. Sorry for being so lengthy, but I believe there's a lot of people asking the same things.
Dear Magically Minded,
The dictionary defines ‘superstition’ as ‘a widely held but unjustified belief in supernatural causation leading to certain consequences of an action or event, or a practice based on such a belief’. Superstition means that you are placing trust in the supernatural power of a rabbit’s foot, not walking under ladders, four-leaf clovers, Ouija boards, etc. This is always wrong. We are supposed to place our trust in God (Ps 56:11), and God has clearly said that He doesn’t give people the gifts of fortune telling; all these things are of the devil. Even if a conjurer removed your grandfather’s growth, being a conjurer is still sinful. There are lots of sinful things that have short-term benefits… but long-term consequences.
Superstition is a mild and socially acceptable form of witchcraft or divining. There is no difference between trusting in a lucky coin and trusting in the astrological tables. Astrology and horoscopes are wrong (Deut 4:19, 2 Kgs 23:5); witchcraft and magical arts are wrong (Acts 19:19). Superstition falls into the same category as those practices.
I have been attending a United Methodist church for about two years now and really enjoyed the teaching of the Bible from my clergy; recently, he told me the Bishop was transferring him to another church, one that in distance would prevent me from attending. I feel I have lost a good teacher, one that had and could capture all my attention and others’ when we would hear his words on the teachings of the Bible. Why would a church replace a man that meant so much to the people he ministered to? I have tried to listen to the new appointed minister, but somehow, it’s just not giving the blessings of the Word of God that were there for me with my last clergy. I am a bit disappointed, and we are now looking for new church… again.
Dear Left Behind,
The reason the United Methodist church did this was because they haven’t been following the Bible – they’ve been following their own traditions. Your frustrating situation is a great example of what has gone wrong with the religious world. God never intended for congregations to take orders from some regional archbishop or governing council. The Bible pattern for local churches is much simpler – and it avoids the sort of congregational disruption you experienced.
Every congregation of the New Testament had independence. Only local elders were over them (1 Pet 5:1-2, Acts 14:23). They were bound to follow Christ as their only head (Eph 5:23)… no boards or committees, no headquarters in some other state, no popes or potentates. If a congregation was happy with their preacher, he stayed. If they were unhappy, they stopped supporting him. Simple as that.
What you are looking for is a local body of believers who are accountable to Christ and His Word, not some district office or United Methodist jurisdiction. Congregations like this exist all over America and the world. If you’d like, we’d be happy to get you in touch with a congregation that plays by God’s rules, not their own. E-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org if we can be of service.
In your response to a question about calling clergy “father”, you once again led the reader to accept your personal, fallible interpretation of Scripture. Unless you are claiming your interpretations are infallible? Why not give your reader a more complete picture of what Scripture has to say on this subject? Why not point out that Jesus Himself used the term “father” in a spiritual sense? Unless you are saying that the rich man was Abraham’s physical (biological) son (Lk 16:24-25)?
Why does Paul refer to christians in Corinth as his children? Are they all his biological children (1 Cor 4:14-15)?
What about the apostle John? Are they all his biological children (1 Jn 2:1)? What about the Old Testament? Joseph tells his brothers, “So it was not you who sent me here, but God, and He has made me a father to Pharaoh and lord of all his house and ruler over all the land of Egypt” in Genesis 45:8. Job has a similar statement, “I was a father to the poor, and I searched out the cause of him whom I did not know” (Job 29:16).
I think you guys know better than that. I think you know Jesus, John, and even Paul all used the term “father” in a spiritual sense. Again, I find it interesting that you leave these verses out in order to “hit a home run” against a faith system you disagree with. The Catholic Church is not, nor ever has been “wrong” concerning this issue. How could they be? If every christian is meant to search the Scriptures and determine doctrine based on the Scriptures, why are your interpretations correct and my interpretations incorrect? I see the term “father” used in a spiritual sense all throughout the Bible. Thus, if I am interpreting Scripture the same as you are, who are you to tell me I am wrong? You even admit in a previous response to a question ("Trust No Man"): “We aren’t infallible here at AYP; we are just men.” You might want to consider your previous statements before going and making an “infallible” proclamation concerning the practices of others.
Dear Swiss Guard,
Oh, Swiss Guard, how we have missed you and your anonymous rants. It is too bad that you never provide your e-mail address, so we could personally search the Scriptures together… it seems like all you want is to use our website to publicly voice your frustrations – but we digress.
First off, we have dealt with the way that Peter, Jesus, and John used the term ‘father’ – feel free to read the post from January 13th, 2011 entitled “Parental Paradox” for an explanation of all those verses that you say we leave out. We’ve handled this concern before. We don’t avoid verses – we just keep them in context… unlike the Catholic church.
As far as Lk 16:24-25, the rich man was a Jew, and he would have considered Abraham his biological ancestor – just like all the Jews did (Jhn 8:39). And Job 29:16 is literally saying that Job treated the poor like they were his children.
Now lastly, let’s deal with the idea of interpretation. The Bible tells us that it isn’t a matter of private interpretation (2 Pet 1:20). What you think and what we think doesn’t matter at all – what matters is what God said. That is why we always give lots of verses to back up our answers, so readers can check the Scriptures for themselves. People are fallible, but the Bible never changes and we encourage people to double-check for themselves. But that doesn’t mean that we can each believe whatever we want and all be okay – if that were the case, there would be no such thing as right and wrong at all! Instead, God’s Word is right though every man be found a liar (Rom 3:4). Just like a roadmap or an instruction manual – it says what it says... not what you want it to say.
In the end, Catholicism is a false religion because it isn’t built upon the Bible. Any religion that doesn’t use the Bible as its standard of measure is false (Gal 1:8). The Catholic church tells people that they can’t eat certain foods, and it tells their priests that they can’t marry – which is wrong (1 Tim 4:3). The Catholic church teaches that the Pope is directly in contact with God and that people should follow him… once again, wrong. Christ is our direct connection to God (Heb 1:1-4), and the Bible is what we should follow (2 Tim 3:16-17). Everything about the Catholic church’s organization is in direct opposition to the Scriptures. The question isn’t how old a church is; the question is whether or not Christ is its head (Eph 5:23). There is only one pattern for the church (Eph 4:4-6), and the Catholic church is not it. But, don’t take our word for it – take His.
Jesus says in Matt 23:9 not to call anyone “father”. A buddy tells me that since Catholics call their priests “father”, they’re disregarding this verse (not that I care about this because, for me, they can call their clergy any name they want). But I hate to be the one to ask this because this may seem idiotic, but does this also mean that we cannot call our dads “father”?
Honoring My Father
Dear Honoring My Father,
Calling a priest ‘father’ is wrong because it is referring to ‘father’ in a spiritual sense. That is what Christ is condemning in Matt 23:8-10. Christ is rebuking people who elevate themselves above others within the church. Catholic priests place themselves in a position of spiritual superiority and authority above others. That is wrong and exactly what Christ told His disciples never to do.
On the other hand, the term ‘father’ is perfectly fine when used to refer to a physical parent. The Bible itself uses the word ‘father’ almost 1,000 times, and the vast majority of those times refer to fleshly parents. Gen 2:24, Gen 9:22, Lev 20:9, Pr 17:25, Mk 10:29, Lk 11:11 are just a few examples. Our fathers are a blessing from God given to us for a time to guide and discipline us (Heb 12:9-10). They are worthy of honor and the title ‘father’ (Eph 6:2).
I was reading in Rev 22:19, and I firmly believe that once saved, always saved, but I’m having a tough time figuring this verse out. What are your thoughts on it?
We wouldn’t be so quick to hold firm to the teaching “once saved, always saved”. The idea that you can’t ever lose your salvation is a warping of Christ’s message in Jhn 10:27-29. “Once saved, always saved” is a basic doctrine of Calvinism (read “Calvin And Sobs” for more details on the errors of Calvinism).
The Bible clearly says that you can lose your salvation. Heb 3:12 says that we must be wary and protect our hearts because an evil, unbelieving heart can fall away. 2 Pet 3:17 says that we can lose our salvation if we get caught up in false teaching (1 Tim 4:1 also states this). If we return to a life of ungodliness, then we crucify Christ again (Heb 6:4-6). Rev 22:19 is another great example of how our lives must be faithful unto death if we wish to receive the heavenly prize (Rev 2:10).