Gateways that go nowhere

Top Image GatewaysGateways usualy open into something, but every so often I come accross gateways that go nowhere.

When something interesting, troubling, enlightening or important comes my way, I like to write a short article about it. Just the other day, someone sent me a booklet titled, ‘Gateways of the Threefold Nature of Man’. A quick scan revealed that the author had built a fanciful ‘spiritual’ teaching based largely on two texts from the book of Revelation. Here they are:

Revelation 3:20, “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me”. This verse is part of a letter the Lord Jesus dictated to the church of Laodicea. The author of the ‘Gateways’ booklet claimed that Jesus discussed this verse with him and revealed that He, Jesus, was actually referring to the door to a believer’s spirit.

The second key verse for this author was where Jesus wrote to the Ephesian church and told them that, “You have forsaken your first love” (Revelation 2:4). He identified this as meaning the ‘Gateway of First Love’ leading to the Tree of Life located right in the centre of the human spirit. Good grief! If you don’t understand this, then don’t worry becuase I don’t get it either.

Now how can a responsible reader of scripture extract this sort of thing from the texts mentioned? I think that the answer to this question is, ‘because of a flawed understanding of biblical inspiration’. Some folk, most probably like the author in question, believe that the Bible is a form of holy magic book where texts contain mystical information quite unrelated to the intended meaning of the passage. This is a form of the irresponsible allergisation, which I address in my book Truth is The Word.  It is a way of interpreting the Bible where any text can mean anything the reader fancies it to mean.

So, what do those verses mean?

Take the two examples I have cited here. In Revelation 3:14-22 the Lord Jesus reprimands the church of Laodicea for being lukewarm and worldly. Yet despite their pathetic spiritual condition, He offers to come into the church to commune with them if anyone is prepared to open the door to his presence. And no, this is not a text to use as part of an altar call inviting individuals to respond to Jesus – this is also faulty interpretation.

The Revelation 2:4 quote is where Jesus commends the church for its healthy condition, but then writes that He had just one thing against them in that they have forsaken their first love. The biblical text does not explain just what He meant by that statement, but in the context of the letter and the whole book of Revelation it is much more likely to mean that they had lost the love they used to have for him when first they believed.

My two main take-away points from this recent re-exposure to faulty interpretation are:

  1. We get into a terrible doctrinal mess when we play fast and loose with interpreting the Bible. The foundational elements of sound biblical understanding remain as Context, Christocentricity, and Exhaustive Reference. (See HERE for an explanation of what I mean).
  2. We should be sceptical and critical of any theory, system, or understanding of a Bible verse based on flawed interpretation. At best, it will be an expression of an individual’s own philosophy or imagination.

Bear in mind that it is one thing to believe that the Bible is inspired and quite another thing to interpret it responsibly.

If you have any particular biblical passage that you still can’t understand even after applying the three principles I have mentioned, then post your problem as a comment to this article and I will try to help you with it.

 

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Christopher Peppler

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3 thoughts on “Gateways that go nowhere”

  1. Thanks for going through this book! We are going through chapter by chapter. My group are delving deep into the “spirit”, and result, all going for deliverance! Uncovering their passed experiences, demons coming through sisters or mothers, all working against their biblical understandings, particularly at funerals. Some have been delivered and going back for more.
    I get involved only as I have experienced. To disagree they accept because we are human.
    The bible…..written by humans and there it is. Not God breathed. So even pastors and theologians are human! ?‍♀️Here I don’t know what to answer. I have to accept we are all at different levels in our walk with Jesus, this sets me free from trying to disagree.
    ? dottie

    1. Thanks Dot. I am not sure that I understand you fully. You seem to be saying that the members of your group are going through the book and accepting what the author says is as authoritative to them as the Bible because they believe that both the book and the Bible are equally human productions and that neither are divinely inspired. If they do not accept the inspiration and authority of the Bible, then (a) how do they know the Jesus of the Bible? and (b) How do they test anything ‘spiritual’ presented by anyone? Dear O dear!

  2. Pingback: TruthTalks: Gateways That go Nowhere | Truth Is The Word

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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.