Choose your own scripture …

… with apologies to Lawrence Leung (a comedian on the Australian TV channel ABC who wrote the show “Choose Your Own Adventure”).

As a people we Christians have so many sects – so many reasons to write each other off. Too weird, too emotional, too strange. Too different. So we try and pick the people who have it right and club together with them.

Jesus said we were all going to get together one day and be sorted into sheep and goats. He said that we would be surprised at who turned out to be a sheep and who turned out to be a goat from his perspective. That one day he would say to some of us “depart from me because …”

I suspect we tend to look out of our club at the other clubs and think “oh yeah, you are going to be so surprised”. But on what basis do we make this judgment call about each other. What comes after Jesus’ “because” for us?

How do we end this scripture in our minds? We might as well just change the scripture to what we really believe. Here is my attempt to set the record straight below. I have been on the end of some of these judgments myself (I won’t say which end 🙂 )

  • Sydney Anglican: depart from me because you speak in tongues.
  • Pentecostal: depart from me because you don’t speak in tongues.
  • Mega-church: depart from me because you don’t give to the building fund.
  • Calvinist: depart from me because you never really understood predestination.
  • Lutheran: depart from me because you were not baptised at birth.
  • Driscolite: depart from me because you weren’t man enough.
  • Catholic: depart from me because you used a condom.
  • Porpoise driven: depart from me because you do not have a vision statement.
  • NAR: depart from me because your leader has not been to the third heaven.
  • Five fold ministries: depart from me you don’t have apostolic covering.
  • Hillswrong: depart from me because you don’t tithe.
  • Steve Penny: depart from me because you have a mind of your own.
  • Orthodox: depart from me because you did not join the one true church.
  • All of the above: depart from me because you did not join the one true church.

Have you been on the pointy end of any of these? Have you been pointed yourself?

BTW if I have offended you in any way with this post then feel to make a few up about me. It will not be the first time 🙂 … or the last time.

(disclaimer: any references that bear a resemblance to any actual church institutions, living or dead, are completely coincidental)

34 thoughts on “Choose your own scripture …

  1. I love your ‘depart from me’ list. Very clever, but not very good exegesis.

    I fully am in support of uniting differences in the church, but that unfortunately HAS to include rejection of certain sects and denominations that peddle damaging doctrines. The Dominion, Prosperity, Word Of Faith, Tithing and 3rd doctrines that divide the church up, need to be rejected.

    Those against these types of doctrines and choose to be separate from such teachings, aren’t the divisive ones. Rather those that promote these doctrines and then cry out for ‘unity’, need to be approached with a radioactive suit on.

    My motto is now ‘good doctrine is good health’. I do not believe God would say to anyone in his church who had a genuine conversion through His Spirit, say to them ‘depart from me’.

    ‘What church is saved’ or ‘what church is right’, is not the issue for me. It’s ‘what church doctrines promote good spiritual, mental, emotional and communal health that enrich their relationship with God and others’. To ministries that acknowledge that they aren’t perfect is good enough for me to see ministries unite together.

    BTW. You can thank the Latter Rain movement for twisting that scripture to have that applied to His church, (and the lovable heretic, John Bevere).

  2. Don’t speak in tongues so according to some Potter’s House types I hadn’t quite made it yet.

    Other stuff as well.

    Thankful for the unmerited favour to a miserable sinner, who still can’t work out why God has watched over me.

  3. Spoke in “tongues” – don’t any more because I no longer believe it to be the true gift i.e tongues and interpretation. Our Anglican minister says if any wish to speak in a tongue can do so, but if there is no interpretation “sit down”. Love it!

  4. My ex-Anglican church twenty years ago used to throw people out for speaking in tongues or visiting C3. We were taught that tongues were ‘of the devil’.

    Teddy, I would expect nothing less from your Anglican minister.

    I’ve been in a church where for many years it was used in meetings very scripturally though; two or three would speak, from the congregation, and if tongues were used, always with interpretation. So maybe not all churches are comfortable with this, but there are also those who do try to exercise the gifts in a straightforward Biblical fashion. I’ll bet there are still others out there who do this.


    That ‘… because you don’t support the vision’ rings a bell!


    S&P – Heretic can speak for himself, but I think he agrees re the rejection of many of those doctrines. Doesn’t mean we need to reject the people though – which of us has perfect doctrine? I’m sure Jesus wouldn’t say, “Depart from me, your doctrine is stuffed” – he died so that all these things can be forgiven for those who really trust in Him.

    But indeed, good doctrine is good for the health, and bad doctrine can really destroy your health.

  5. s&p: not very good exegesis

    Hmm. I think we will find that Jesus did not reject anyone who came to him in the flesh – regardless of doctrine. So I have to agree with RP on this one 🙂

    The post is not about who is correct (no one is completely correct (except Jesus of course) because we see “in part”. This post is about who we reject as being not “like us” in our faith.

    Religion is about feeling right by being in the company of people reaffirm us because they are like us. They do what we do so we must be right – like them. A circular argument.

    Often we make ourselves feel right be judging someone else as wrong. The wronger 🙂 we judge them them the better we must be in comparison.

    Again I think this is the essence of religion and why so many teachers want to rant at people. They want to put people down because that puts them up. And when we say our “amen” we associate ourselves with the teacher and judge (put ourselves above) the rejected too.

    Jesus was not like that so I don’t see that we can be. We are not called to religion but to know Jesus. And to know him is to become like him.

    We can reject doctrine without judging the people who hold to that doctrine as being damned or not saved or not “like us”.

    If we judge them we start to walk the walk of the Pharisee. Having been on the pointy end of some of these judgments I want to be pretty sure I am not on the end that pushes the point in.

    Surely someone with a moniker like “specks and planks” can see that 🙂

  6. Just reread what I wrote:

    When I said:

    “Teddy, I would expect nothing less from your Anglican minister. ”

    … I didn’t mean I expected that he’d throw people out over the tongues issue, like my one used to. I meant, I wouldn’t expect him to encourage the practice; I also wouldn’t be surprised if he _implied_ it was ‘of the devil’. I don’t think he’d actually say that outright though. Implication was how Phil Jensen used to get that message over. My ex minister used to actually say it. Of course there are also some Anglican churches and Anglican people comfortable with charismatic gifts in their midst.

    Years ago, an Anglican friend of mine asked me to pray for her because she desperately needed to recover from being sick in time for an exam. I asked her permission to pray in tongues (privately, just the two of us), and prayed for her healing in English as well. She told me afterwards that she was confident she was healed, and physically was clearly better that night. You could always say it was a coincidence, but she did have a lot of faith.

    Having someone that she knew believed in and practiced charismatic gifts pray for her was helpful for her faith. I’m not saying it was necessary, but it helped. I think it was like some people were happy for Jesus to heal without being there, but others wanted to touch his robe or for Him to touch them. So these things don’t need to divide us and can even be part of our friendships across denominations.

  7. PS: I’m not comparing myself to Jesus in this in any way!! Just commenting on what it takes for faith at different times.

  8. RP, we sat down with our minister and discussed this issue. His view is, he is not a cessationist and if God gives that gift, with its biblical integrity, to the church, then he will welcome it.

  9. Christian Blogging Churches: Depart from me because you have not had a bad church experience… yet.

  10. Revival Centre: Depart from me because your not mean and intolerant enough and I simply don’t like the look of you! Besides, you don’t speak in tongues and if you did they’d be of the devil!

    It’s probably one of the most contentious issues in Christendom though. The problem of unity.

    RP – “PS: I’m not comparing myself to Jesus in this in any way!!”

    Antichrist!! 🙂

    But seriously, that was a nice story of praying for the Anglican woman. Kind of touching.

    Teddy – I think you’re fortunate to have such a wise minister. I bet he’s a solid preacher too.

  11. – depart from me for not being buff enough.

    Seriously though, what next! Have we become so immune to the rest of the world and its tragedies that we need a bolthole to escape to, jump on that piece of exercise equipment, put on our Ipod and listen to some “Its All About Me” music.

    As an outreach, I don’t think there would be room enough for the unsaved with the vain preoccupation with self going on in churches these days.

    Hal, we have a fantastic minister (and student minister as well).

  12. I’ll have a go :

    Extreme Calvanist : Depart from me because you arent one of the pre-destined

    Extreme Liberal : What does ‘depart’ mean anyway in a first-century context?

    Lutheran : Depart from me because you havent made enough cucumber sandwiches

  13. C3 fitness – “Ready to live your best life?”

    Well I’m not really sure if I want to live my “best” life. I was thinking maybe my third best life would be more appropriate. You know, don’t want to get carried away! Maybe I could save my best life till later while I try to get a little more traction out of my less-than-best life. It wouldn’t seem right to have my best life now when I’m content with my current, and evidently second best life!

  14. hal: “It’s probably one of the most contentious issues in Christendom though. The problem of unity. ”

    Contentious and vexed.

    But I think it is just smoke and mirrors really.

    We choose to align ourselves with an abstract concept – for example Hillsong. And then we want that concept to go off and arrange some kind of unity with another abstract concept – say CCC. And they will get together and we say that is great. Then they fall out and we say that it bad. But really it makes no difference to my relationship with the Hillsong guy who lives across the road.

    What the “churches” do is irrelevant if my source is Jesus. Of course if my source is CCC or Hillsong or some other abstract concept then I am in deep doodoo because I am not in unity with anything other than my abstract concept. But then if my source is Hillsong or CCC rather than Jesus I am in deep doodoo anyway.

    I think that if you treat these organisations simply as a way to meet other Christians and regard their visions and “leadership” as irrelevant distractions and rather prefer to abide in Jesus and listen to him, then you have unity with the body of Christ anyway. If you rely on them for unity then you are, as you have in fact implied, stuffed. After all their cash-flows require market differentiation and that works against unity. There is nothing in unity for the “churches”.

  15. Interesting thoughts Heretic1. The Hillsong guy across the road is a brother like any and to use an old cleche´ there’s more that binds us than divides us. That becomes increasingly obvious under persecution.

    I think that church institutions themselves are man made structures that hopefully were intended to preserve, study and spread the faith handed down to us. But apart from them, true unity at it’s finest point is as you mention, the brotherly love and fellowship between believers, regardless of their institutions.

    But even that is plagued with difficulty depending on how far afield you’re willing to go from your own staple Christian beliefs. But that we can argue and debate the differences without bitterness and hatred, to go our way as brothers till next time is a good sign of God’s ability to unify and cause us to overcome our natural inclinations.

    It’s true that we can’t rely on the institution for anything really. We need the Holy Spirit to lead us. Maybe He’ll start us off here, then send us over there, then remove us for a time, then establish us in something new, then send us to seminary, then send us to The Congo, back into some other… or maybe He keeps us in one church, in one place into old age…

  16. Hey, who let you out of your box FL? 🙂 Security!

    Does being banned from groupsects upset you? You seem a little obsessed with it.

  17. Observe these dates carefully FaceLift: 21/7/09, 17/4/09, 15/4/09, 08/4/09, 07/4/09, 19/3/09, 17/3/09, 14/309, 13/3/09, 13/3/09 . Focus on what you have to do else where.

    You do not respect the wishes of the Signposts02 community. You harass others via e-mail and deceitfully find annoying ways to get through our settings to only post more of your pathetic nonsense. My grace with you has run out. Move on! Get out and get help.

    Do not e-mail me and RP again (even if it is a goodbye!).

  18. I love you as a brother too. Try not to take things too personally. It’s good to work on areas of agreement. This forum gathers around issues they agree on like spiritual abuse, church fallout, and issues involving corrupt leadership etc because they share a common view on these things regardless of their background. That’s good, healthy, possibly healing if there’s an environment where those injured can vent their feelings or say without fear for the first time that they were hurt and abused by a system. There are those like that who read this forum and who might not dare to comment but draw comfort from the fact that others have been through similar things to them and have kept their faith intact and are going strong, even outside of traditional church structures. That encourages people to hang in.

    I know you like to argue with people of an opposing view and challenge these things so maybe this isn’t the right forum for you. Anyway, specks is running the show and he’s banned you so there’s not much else to say about it.

  19. don’t know where this can go …


    Everything Must Change by Brian McLaren
    Written by Gary Gilley

    Everything Must Change is a large diverse work in which McLaren dabbles in everything from economics to politics to the eco-system to Jesus. The author believes our planet is facing a perfect storm (his words) involving crises of four kinds. He calls them:

    • Prosperity crisis—an unsustainable global economy that is overwhelming the environmental resources.

    • Equity crisis—caused by the growing gap between the rich and the poor with respective fear and resentment.

    • Security crisis—War and violence is the inevitable outcome of the equity crisis.

    • Spiritual crisis—World religions, including and especially Christianity, have failed to address these issues with Jesus’ “framing story,” i.e. worldview.

    It is these four crises that McLaren believes desperately need to be addressed, but Christianity has misunderstood what Jesus wants us to say about these issues. We need to rescue Jesus from our false understanding about Him and what He taught (pp. 72-73). Jesus true “framing story” must be discovered and proclaimed. And what is this framing story? “The Bible is the story of the partnership between God and humanity to save and transform all of human society and avert global self-destruction”… “Jesus came to launch an insurgency to overthrow that occupying regime. Its goal is to resist the occupation, liberate the planet, and retrain and restore humanity to its original vocation and potential” (pp. 94, 129). These, and other similar descriptions, are what McLaren, here and elsewhere, calls the gospel of the kingdom of God which he believes Jesus initiated when He was on earth.

    In order to promote his new emerging agenda it is necessary for McLaren to reject many, if not most, of the major doctrines held dear by the historic evangelical church, for it is these very doctrine, in his opinion, that have caused the global mess in which we find ourselves. McLaren claims:

    • Christ’s cross work was not for the purpose of propitiating divine wrath or redemption from sin; it was a nonviolent example for us to follow (pp. 158-159).

    • The second coming of Christ is without biblical warrant “for it leads us to believe that in the end, even God finds it impossible to fix the world apart from violence and coercion [therefore] no one should be surprised when those shaped by this theology behave accordingly” (p. 144). A new heaven and earth are unnecessary because “good will prevail by peace, love, truth, faithfulness, and courageous endurance of suffering” (p. 146).

    • Original sin is not our problem; McLaren fully believes that unregenerate mankind will be able to change society to conform to God’s kingdom (pp. 223, 262, 265).

    • The need for forgiveness and salvation from sin are not on the agenda because most, if not all, are already citizens of the kingdom by virtue of having been created in the image of God (p. 223). The greatest problems facing mankind have to do with physical concerns of the planet, not spiritual issues (p. 46).

    • Hell is not a literal place of judgment for rebels against God but starts on earth now when we don’t live for the kingdom of God, as described by McLaren (p. 146).

    When the author turns to Scripture in an attempt to support his views it is an exercise in distortion. McLaren resorts to several methods: changing the meaning of words to suit his preference (pp. 96, 99, 113), ignoring Scripture he does not like (e.g. concerning the second coming, pp. 144-146), or simply twisting the meaning beyond all recognition (pp. 97, 107, 111, 135, 137, 144-145, 177, 238-241). All of this would be laughable if it was not so serious. Without question, McLaren cannot reconstruct Jesus, the gospel and Christianity if he faithfully interprets the Scriptures with any sane method of hermeneutics. But if his readers are willing to ignore this fact then some will be taken in by the message of Everything Must Change.

    From a social/political angle McLaren might be described as the Michael Moore (ultra-liberal film producer) of Christianity. Capitalism is “legalized greed,” Moore says and it would seem McLaren would agree. McLaren uses the same poor interpretive skills which he applied to Scripture to analyze the evils of society. His understanding of what is wrong with the planet is as pathetic as his solution. Here is his prescription for societal ills:

    • First, we will seek to help the poor through generosity.

    • Second, we will call the rich to generosity.

    • Third, we will work to improve the system (p. 246).

    If you are disappointed with this “revolutionary” solution to our global crisis you should be. Like many, McLaren is long on identifying problems but short on answers. What McLaren consistently misses is that the gospel of Christ (the true gospel as derived from proper interpretation of the Word) addresses man’s real need of alienation from God and sinful corruption through redemption and regeneration found through the blood of Christ. Regenerated lives will have true impact on societal problems, but the final solution awaits the return of Christ and the new heaven and earth. This is the good news that Christ came to offer and McLaren has rejected.

  20. Gary Gilley (whose ministry I enjoy)is an excellent author of at least two books I’ve read – “This Little Church Went To Market”,”This Little Church Stayed Home’ and there’s a new one I’ve not read – “This Little Church Had None;A Church In Search Of The Truth”.

    I passed the first two books onto an Anglican minister because of his interest in growing his church God’s way.

    Hour 2 of the attached is an interview he did with Jan Markell of Olive Tree Views.

  21. Hi Bull

    if Gillies analysis is correct then McLaren appears to be reinventing the Gospel in his own image.

    Anyway I certainly disagree with the positions put by Gillies as being advocated.

  22. Funny.
    Healing ministries: depart from me for you did not receive your healing
    depart for you did not recite the right scriptures often enough or loudly enough to manifest the healing.

  23. Purpose Driven: Depart from me because you hurt my feelings!


    Purpose Driven: Depart from me because you do not like Allah…

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