July 23, 2014

Hellfire or humour? Watch for the glint in the pastor’s eye!

Helena (that’s what I will call her here) was a mature lady with a strong Pentecostal background. She had been with our church for several years when she enrolled for a series of teachings on deliverance run by another church.

I had been close friends with the pastor of that particular church for a long time and met with him regularly for lunch. On one of those occasions he said to me; “Chris, you need to know that one of your church members is telling people that you are demon possessed.” I didn’t know if he was serious or just teasing me as he liked to do, but he went on; “She says she knows you are because of the evil glint in your eye.”

I couldn’t think of who it could possibly be but I did know that Helena was attending the teachings and I thought that she might know. So I phoned her. “Helena, please help me with something. Who else from our church is attending the teaching series at XYZ ? You see…”, and I told her what my pastor friend had reported to me. There was a long silence on the line and then in a little voice Helena said…” it was me pastor Chris.”

What had happened was that the course lecturer had listed symptoms that purportedly indicated that a person was demonised. One of them was ‘a glint in the eye’. I have a good sense of humour and I am told that my eyes often twinkle when I hear something amusing or am telling a funny story.

Helena had latched onto this and blurted out to the group that her pastor had a ‘glinty’ eye and so must be demonised. I am glad to say that my sense of humour did not desert me on that occasion and my eyes undoubtedly twinkled as I explained to the dear lady the difference between humour and hellfire. We remained on good terms and enjoyed fellowship for many years after that.

You would think that the main lesson to be learned from this incident was, ‘don’t go bad-mouthing someone else and certainly don’t accuse your pastor of being possessed.’ Perhaps it is, but my take away was different – don’t pay too much attention to lists that are derived from experience rather than from scripture.

Far too many ‘teachers’ develop doctrine and practice from their own experiences and the accounts of others. This is an unreliable source; it is far better to take what we teach directly from the Bible and what Jesus modelled through his teachings, actions and character.

Hellfire or humour? Watch for the glint in the pastor’s eye! Read More »

To carol sing or to save a life? No question.

In the early days of our church in Lonehill we used to go carol singing through the suburb. One year someone lent us a huge open truck and that Christmas Eve we all jumped on and drove around in style. Members of the congregation who lived in town house complexes signed us in and we were able to go where we would not have been able to go on foot. The plan was to end our tour at the local shopping complex, where we would jump off and walk through the mall singing and witnessing.
As we pulled into the parking area a terrible sight confronted us. Two very drunk men were fighting to the death. One had the other pinned down and was repeatedly stabbing him in the face with the jagged end of a broken beer bottle. A woman, equally drunk, stood by egging them on and two security guards just watched from a distance. Without thinking properly about the dangers of the situation I, and two other men, leaped off the truck and rushed over to the bloody scene. The other two grabbed the man with the bottle and pulled him off while I quickly took off my jacket and used it to stem the flow of blood from the victims face and neck. Others from the truck joined us and persuaded the security guards to call an ambulance and the police.
By the time it was all over we had little appetite for more carol singing and so we drove back to the church building. Only then did I start to think about what I had done. My hands were covered in blood and there was a high probability that a man like that had AIDS. Also, what if the aggressive bloke with the broken bottle had attacked us?! So we prayed for our wellbeing, and for the injured man, and for his assailant. Then we all went home.
Looking back on that incident, I wonder what the better witness was – singing carols or saving a life? I suspect that Jesus would have sacrificed the singing but not the man – the Gospels are full of accounts of how He healed but none of Him singing carols.

To carol sing or to save a life? No question. Read More »

A text without its context

This article was published in Joy! Magazine

We have all heard the quote, ‘God helps those who help themselves.’ Some of us facetiously add the reference, Hezekiah 4:13, because anyone who thinks the quote is from the Bible will probably also not know that there is no book of Hezekiah in the Old Testament. But my theme for this article is not the spurious use of the Bible to authenticate a folk saying, but the misquoting of what is actually in the scriptures.

Many misquotes result from poor translations or a lack of understanding of the biblical languages. One example is the often quoted Psalm 121:1-2. The problem started with the King James Version translation, ‘I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth’. This could give the impression that our help comes from the hills, or the god of the hills. However, this is not the intent of these verses. In Old Testament times the pagan priests erected shrines and altars on top of hill, and other high places, and the devotees worshipped their false gods there. The Living Bible captures the real intended idea when it translates the text as; ‘ Shall I look to the mountain gods for help? No! My help is from Jehovah who made the mountains! And the heavens too!’

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A consideration of Frank Viola’s ‘Beyond Evangelical’

This is an article published in Joy! Magazine

I have written several book reviews, but this not one of them. In this article I am considering ‘Beyond Evangelical’, not reviewing it. My purpose is to reflect on some of the things written in this book from a positive perspective and leave the evaluation and critique to others.

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Systematic Theology

An introduction to Systematic Theology, Published in ‘A Student’s A-Z of Theology’ Ed. B. Domeris and K.Smith by South African Theological Seminary Press.

Theology is, in essence, ‘faith seeking understanding’, and SystematicTheology is the discipline that seeks to bring together scriptural and church Faith in an organised and life-relevant way. God did not design the Bible as a comprehensive theological dictionary and so Systematic Theology plays an important role in making biblical truth accessible in a holistic and comprehensive fashion. As a discipline, it links with Biblical and Practical Theology to form a theological educational trinity. However, Systematic Theologies are written from historic, cultural, and dogmatic perspectives and so should be carefully evaluated against biblical truth. Good evangelical Systematic Theology is an indispensable part of any serious study of the nature, purposes, and ways of Almighty God.

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About Me

My name is Christopher Peppler and I was born in Cape Town, South Africa in 1947. While working in the financial sector I achieved a number of business qualifications from the Institute of Bankers, Damelin Management School, and The University of the Witwatersrand Business School. After over 20 years as a banker, I followed God’s calling and joined the ministry full time. After becoming a pastor of what is now a quite considerable church, I  earned an undergraduate theological qualification from the Baptist Theological College of Southern Africa and post-graduate degrees from two United States institutions. I was also awarded the Doctor of Theology in Systematic Theology from the University of Zululand in 2000.

Four years before that I established the South African Theological Seminary (SATS), which today is represented in over 70 countries and has more than 2 500 active students enrolled with it. I presently play an role supervising Masters and Doctoral students.

I am a passionate champion of the Christocentric or Christ-centred Principle, an approach to biblical interpretation and theological construction that emphasises the centrality of Jesus

I have been happily married to Patricia since the age of 20, have two children, Lance and Karen, a daughter-in-law Tracey, and granddaughters Jessica and Kirsten. I have now retired from both church and seminary leadership and devote my time to writing, discipling, and the classical guitar.

If you would like to read my testimony to Jesus then click HERE.