Seven Mistakes Christians Often make when Reading and Teaching the Bible
Here are seven common mistakes that Christians make when reading and teaching the Bible that can lead them, and the people they teach, to misunderstand its message. While there are many more mistakes that Christians make when reading the Bible, these five will help a Christian begin to understand the problem. Then the average reader can begin to be a better student of G-d’s Word.
Anachronism is the idea that we read into a text something that was, in time, not there. For example, while saying that Jesus called Peter on His cell phone, we would laugh, however, saying that Jesus told Peter, upon this rock I will build my Church, is just as ridiculous.
Why is that? The reason is because all of Jesus’ Disciples were Jewish and not Christian. Even using the word Jewish is somewhat Anachronistic, however, the Church, as we define it today, was not in existence then. People were known as the congregation not the Church. Congregation is a commonly used Jewish term for believers of a particular ilk.
2. Assuming that Paul and the Apostles converted to Christianity-
We take for granted that the Apostle Paul converted from Judaism to Christianity. This is also ridiculous. Aside from the obvious anachronism of the idea of Christianity, Paul states himself that he is a Torah believing and an upright Jew. He sees himself as a missionary from Judaism, with a call to bring Gentiles into the Jewish community, not the other way around. The Christian religion was founded on principles far removed from Jesus, Paul and the other NT writers. Christians are ignorant of Judaism because of what the “church” has done, not because Paul gave it up. There was a deliberate move by the Gentile congregations to distance themselves from Jews, specifically Jewish believers. This was result of socio-political pressure and infighting.
3. Thinking that Christian Doctrines and Christian Symbols were held by Jesus and The NT Writers.
Christians often assume that ideas such as the Trinity, and the Deity of Christ, are concepts always held by believers. Because of the ignorance of Christian History by a large group of Gentile believers today, we think that there was this automatic assumption that our doctrines have always been the same as the Apostles. Actually, they are in some cases the opposite. There is a distinct Hebraic view of the world that was held by all of the NT writers, as well as Jesus. The doctrines that we know as Christian today began to develop as the Church became more Gentile and the leaders of the Gentile congregation were ignorant of or opposed to the Hebraic Worldview. Their view of Scripture, reinterpreted with Greek Philosophy, rather than G-d’s history with Israel, is the view that developed the doctrines we often hold dear today. These views, developed after the death of the Apostles, were not held by them or Yeshua the real name of Jesus.
4. Thinking that Greeks wrote the New Testament-
While the New Testament writers may have lived in Greek speaking areas, it doesn’t mean that they were also Greek thinking. For those of you who are bilingual, you should be aware that even if you speak a different language, you think in your own native culture. The native culture of Jesus and the Apostles, was Hebrew; a culture that was often in opposition to the Greek culture. The Hebrew worldview was strange to the Greeks and often these worldviews clashed violently. Many of the Church doctrines were established well after the removal of Jewish influence in the body of believers and also in reaction to and opposition of a Jewish influence by Anti-Semitic Gentile Church Fathers.
5. Paul’s meaning of Law vs. Grace is misunderstood; however, ignorance of the Law is no excuse.
One of the biggest problems for Christians is a fundamental and potentially devastating misunderstanding of the book of Romans that leads Christians into believing that they are “the new Israel” or that they have no obligations to that community. This is far from the truth. The lack of understanding of the Hebraic Worldview that permeates all of the writings of Paul the Apostle has led the Church to misunderstand Paul’s total dedication to Torah, his nuanced views of who should follow what, and how Gentiles are to accommodate Jewish believers and not the other way around. Anti-Semitism is at the root of what many Christians believe, even IF, they say they love Israel. The Law is not in opposition to Grace. Grace is in opposition to Legalism. Paul upholds the Law and even fulfills it in his own life. He encourages Jewish believers to follow the Torah, and invites Gentiles to observe as well.
6. Evangelism is not what you think it is.
Christians often think that Jesus was sending Christians out to save the world. We are to go into all the world and teach everyone that Jesus died for our personal sins; well not exactly.
In Matthew 28: 19-20, Jesus was not setting a mandate for Gentiles to go convert everyone to Christianity. He was giving authority to His Jewish Talmidim, in the same Rabbinic Style of that time, to go and to teach Gentiles how to follow Torah. He was acting exactly in the style of teachers who had disciples in his time. There was nothing unusual about His message to his Talmidim.
Today, many Christians, ignorant of Torah, Judaism, history and the violent Anti-Semitic history of the Gentile “Christian Church”, ignorantly say things to Jewish people thinking that they will just hear and convert. The question is converting to what? If believing in Yeshua, because Jesus wasn’t his name, means Gentiles converting to Judaism into a congregation that interprets Torah differently as the Apostle Paul clearly said, what are we doing trying to “convert” Jews to a system that rejected and reinvented the message of the Gospel? No wonder they don’t listen!
When we read the Bible, often we see the message of Jesus as telling Christians that we need to bring His message to the Jews, as if they are just one of “the nations”. While it is important for Jewish people to know what G-d is doing, often the last people to tell them should be Christians. Just understanding that the words, “the nations” means Gentiles, should give us pause. Jesus was telling Jews to bring the Jewish message of Yeshua, a new way of interpreting Torah, to Gentiles. We, folks, are the Gentiles, the Jewish believers in Messiah are the ones called to teach all the He commanded. This, by the way is the Law.
7. We think the Cross is a symbol of Peace-
While Christians proudly talk about the Cross, they are unaware that the symbol of the Cross that we know was invented by Constantine, a pagan emperor in the fourth century, who used the idea after he supposedly had a vision of a cross and hearing the voice of G-d saying to him, “with this, conquer in my name”. That symbol then became a tool to kill and to force people to accept Constantine’s terms. In addition, after he did conquer, he set up a giant statue of himself. We think that it was this symbol of the peace of Christ, however, that is not how it came about. From early in the second century, the Gentiles began to take over the believing communities. As they did, they slowly incorporated ideas that deliberately removed them from the Judaism that Jesus told His Jewish Apostles to teach.
While these ideas are just the tip of the iceberg in understanding the huge problem we encounter by being ignorant of the history of the believing community of Jews and some Gentiles, Anti-Semitism of the primarily Gentile church, Jesus’ message and even Paul’s that lead us to a reading of Scripture that is fraught with error, just seeking information will help us begin to move in a direction toward rather than away from the message of the Bible.
<font style=”font-size:13px” color=”#000000″ face=”Arial”>Dr. Cheryl Durham, is a Biblical Counselor, Author, and staff member at Master’s International School of Divinity. You can learn more at her website. www.livingtruth.us/aboveandbeyond.html</font>
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