A Power or Problem With Teaching ‘Principles’ In Church?

I think what Heretic said, is very insightful about ‘principles’.

You live in Jesus not through so-called principles. So-called biblical principles that the bible does not teach. Additions to scripture that are used to manipulate. So-called biblical principles are the modern fraudsters’ attempts to reinterpret Jesus words as a new form of law to control people.

Tithing is a perfect example. People such as yourself twist the scripture in knots to come up with “principles” that will get people to give you their money (although you probably just use someone else’s convenient pre-twisted doctrine to be fair). It can’t be done from scripture so you make it “tithing by faith” (I remember the discussion – how can I forget the logic). Just one example of many so-called biblical principles but oh so prevalent. I can see why you step up to the plate to support the fraudsters. It is called “moral hazard”. Completely human and appropriate moral hazard.

The passage you reference is a good one but does not talk about principles – but it does show how we should live and so answers your own question which is good.

What it does talk about is for the following purpose: “in regard to the acknowledging of our Lord Jesus Christ”. Living in acknowledgment of Father is how we live. Another verse says it again: “in all your ways acknowledge him”.

Knowing Father is eternal life. Living by man-made principles is not.

Even if the man-made principles were derived from Truth that does not make them true. Even if they were true (and the ones I have heard from the pulpit are generally not) they are still not life.

There is no law that gives life – a relationship with Father through Jesus gives life. Nothing else does.

A bunch of principles to live by is a way to remove someones life from him. That is why Paul railed against the concept so passionately.

But truly I don’t expect you to get it. It is a stumbling block and an offense.

– – – – – – –

I believe if you put the gospel first, the Spirit will allow those ‘principles’ to flow out of you. To always focus on principles more then the gospel is gnat straining. However, this deserves another thread to be discussed about. Not here. And since it has occured to me Outcast, that you are Facelift (I’ll have to check up on that), I’ll have to get the flyspray out again.

If you feel this is not true, feel free to air your views as to why.

51 thoughts on “A Power or Problem With Teaching ‘Principles’ In Church?

  1. I think the discussion re principles is a good one to have.

    I think the intent of S&P’s post here is to talk about the issue of principles, not Outcast. He has replied on this and the other thread to voice his denial, and I think that’s enough for now, as tempting as it is to go down that track at times. I’ve never come across anyone who is as good at baiting as he is. (Now its me digressing.) Anyway… back to principles.

  2. I often discuss principles/ethics with an atheist friend and his argument to mine is that other philosophers before Jesus taught similiar principles and we have agreed that Jesus had good sayings/teachings, as did others. Its no point I push my beliefs onto his and my friend is living a very moral life, very family oriented. But we both agree that our parents taught us and gave us a good ethical moral compass to start with. Great topic btw

  3. “the diagram looks like typical “death by powerpoint” corporate training trash.”

    That’s kinda the point…

    To me the gospel message is what we live, breathe and operate in. It is power and continually points us to the cross, intimacy with God and keeps wary of what the Spirit is doing.

    However, Paul seems to have ‘principles’ in his letters that go back to Proverbs. Jesus himself teaches principles. In what way do they have a relationship with the gospel, if at all?

    My understanding is that Christ is Wisdom manifest. Now that Christ is in us, principles or instruction come from Him not to focus on, but to direct us (for the season that we are in). The gospel MUST be first, but practical and spiritual principles must be measured by the gospel, otherwise we must reject them, like tithe.

    If the gospel is the fountain of life, then godly principles would flow from it, right?

  4. I think its about how you were brought up too, laws are good but hard to follow and in my experience everyone’s walk is different. What annoyed me about megachurch preaching was their “one size fits all” they would say something like “expand your tent, do more etc etc” when some people may need to do less. I believe God gives us the general rules, yes, but we all have our own lessons to learn, and God shows us through our lives, through other people, movies, books, music, experiences, its wonderous

  5. My understanding is that principles are very useful, when they are correct, but that we oughtn’t apply them as law.

    The only ‘law’ we have is the ‘law of love’, which means that there are times when to apply a principle would be a travesty of love. There may be situations where 90% of the time, we would apply a principle, but 10% of the time, we choose not to due to some other circumstance we take into account – applying the principle might not be helpful in that situation.

    So we don’t live by principle, we live by abiding in Christ, whose love manifest within us helps us discern how to react most helpfully in any given situation.

    It is still helpful to have principles which we understand are supported by scripture, as long as we are guided by Christ’s love in implementing them.

    We should test all our principles as we do everything, as sometimes the ones we are taught are bound to be wrong. Being guided by Jesus love will help us not to do too much damage in those instances where we have a wrongly understood principle guiding us.

  6. S&P: “My understanding is that Christ is Wisdom manifest.”

    This is the core of the debate for me. We are to seek to be wise. This means having understanding and applying that understanding.

    Is being wise the same as living by principles? I don’t think so.

    A principle is a rule or cause/effect relationship that is always true. It is black & white. An absolute if you like. “If I drop an apple it will be acted on by gravity and fall to the ground”, Newtons equations and all that.

    Wisdom sees the complexity of things because things are complex. Einstein showed that Newtons equations are just special cases of a more complex reality (and quantum physics more so).

    Wisdom finds a way through where there did not appear to be a way through. Like Solomon dividing the baby in two. This is the opposite of a principle – a principle says “always do it like this”.

    We love principles because they simplify complex issues into simple things that are convenient to process. For example:
    “just obey the pastor and God will work it out” or
    “just give your tenth and you will lack for nothing”, “my “church” (or chosen guru) says it so it must be true” are obvious ones from my experience of church.

    Principles are easy:
    “always do (insert nature of principle here) ”
    “never do (insert nature of principle here) ”
    “God always wants you to(inset rash generalisation here) ”
    “God will never (insert an insane assumption here)”.

    Maybe an example is the way to go. What is an example of a biblical principle we could discuss?

  7. S&P: “Paul seems to have ‘principles’ in his letters that go back to Proverbs. Jesus himself teaches principles.”

    What principles first come to mind S&P?

  8. This was the first came to mind and this was from Paul.

    1 Cor. 9: 9 For it is written in the Law of Moses: “Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain.” Is it about oxen that God is concerned?

    Then a good ‘principal’ we should live by is the golden rule teaches.

    But to me, these would be pointless unless we live the gospel message by the power of the Spirit.

    I had thought of a few other ‘principles’ of Paul, which I have now forgotton. Hopefully I can post them up tomorrow.

  9. 1 Corinthians 11:1 And you should imitate me, just as I imitate Christ.

    2 Corinthians 9:7 So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.

    Philippians 3:17 Dear brothers and sisters, pattern your lives after mine.

  10. I just find it easier to follow Jesus’s teachings, His words over-ride everything before and make it simple. Be loving and live in peace (as much as possible) He summed it up as “Love Thy Neighbour” but if you read on He meant as much as is possible. He doesn’t want us to be doormats either.

  11. These all sound like instructions rather than principles to me. Like when you get a model you get instructions on how to put it together. You can complete the model without them but there might be some gotchas on the way.

    S&P’s 1Cor and Phil are essentially wisdom – “If you want to be successful at something find someone who is and do what they do”. MJs is in a similar vein – “if you want to know someone (Father/Jesus) then be like them and experience what they are like”. I think the 2Cor verse is also about that resonance of relationship with Father.

    To me these don’t sound like principles. Principles are like laws “never move a boundary marker”, “thou shalt not kill”, “everyone who disrespects their parents shall be killed”. Principles are more black and white “if you do X then Y will always happen”.

    Teddy, your position is that the scripture is about principles to live by if I understood correctly (which I may not have). What principles do you see in scripture that we should live by?

  12. It is possible that we all define ‘principle’ a bit differently. Heretic has defined what he means – does everyone agree?

    I think there can be two understandings of the term ‘principle’ – 1. Laws, and 2. Guidelines – eg: In principle it should go like x, but y is an exception. So something that is generally true, but not a law.

    So again, I would apply principles in the sense of guidelines, but in the context of love – there will be times when the principle does not or should not be applied.

  13. Main Entry: prin·ci·ple
    Pronunciation: \ˈprin(t)-s(ə-)pəl, -sə-bəl\
    Function: noun
    Etymology: Middle English, from Middle French principe, principle, from Old French, from Latin principium beginning, from princip-, princeps initiator — more at prince
    Date: 14th century

    1 a : a comprehensive and fundamental law, doctrine, or assumption b (1) : a rule or code of conduct (2) : habitual devotion to right principles c : the laws or facts of nature underlying the working of an artificial device
    2 : a primary source : origin
    3 a : an underlying faculty or endowment b : an ingredient (as a chemical) that exhibits or imparts a characteristic quality
    4 capitalized Christian Science : a divine principle : god

    — in principle : with respect to fundamentals
    usage Although nearly every handbook and many dictionaries warn against confusing principle and principal, many people still do. Principle is only a noun; principal is both adjective and noun. If you are unsure which noun you want, read the definitions in this dictionary.

  14. Then would anyone feel comfortable with this verse being rephrased, “The principle of the Spirit is life in Christ has set us free from sin and death”?

  15. Is “the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus” a principle. Is it is a law in the sense that gravity is a law? Is it a principle in the sense that if I do X then Y will happen?

    This one is also a candidate “whatever a man sows, this he will also reap”. Except that then there are variations “one sows another reaps”. Both are true. These are wisdoms rather than laws I think.

    Oops, late for work!

  16. Yes wisdom is important, nearly important as love, both go hand in hand. Its a fine balance and we will never be perfect as we are but human. A sense of humour doesn’t hurt either.

  17. mj: “A sense of humour doesn’t hurt either”

    Yes there is apparently a book about the humour of Jesus but I have not come across it yet. In the NASB you can see a wry kind of humour in John’s gospel especially at the beginning. I guess it kind of balances his “man of sorrows” aspect.

  18. Re Biblical humour:

    “It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle if it is lightly greased” from “The Profit” by Kehlogg Albran

    On Biblical Principles:

    I tend to agree with Heretic, anyone who espouses a Biblical “Principle” has generally taken an abstraction from the Bible and now wants to apply it like a law. Most things in the Bible, as in life itself, cannot be boiled down to a simple principle.

    Even when the Bible states a truth, it often states something else that seems like a paradox. As in the reaping and sowing example given above. Or in the “justification by faith alone”/”faith without works is dead” tension.

    To be able to understand all these things, and apply them correctly in our lives is the start of wisdom.

  19. C3 believe in the ‘tithe principle’ and other ‘principles’ in giving. It’s a nice guise in hiding the fact that the tithe was a law.

  20. I think principles are fine when they are your principles and not so fine when you are required to adopt them.

    It might work like this:

    1. Father built the universe and hid himself in, through and over all things.

    2. All wisdom is from Father and the wisdoms we discover reveal him to us (including Newton’s equations, relativity, quantum physics, economics, art, politics, IT, etc).

    3. An infinitesimally small percentage of these close to infinite number of wisdoms of Father are contained in scripture to get us started.

    4. Wisdoms are revealed to us through our interaction with Father’s creation (including scripture which is also Father’s creation) and through interaction with Him.

    5. We tend to need to codify these into principles to capture and share them, as scientific theories, doctrines, movements, and so one.

    6. From time to time more wisdoms are revealed and these principles evolve (as it were). We see things in a different light and we move on from some principles and on to others.

    7. Occasionally we will join an organisation and choose to adopt their group principles (like at work or church) for our own purposes. This is fine as long as we know what we are doing and don’t regard ourselves as having arrived at completion because we have a new and different set of principles. In a decade we will likely had different ones.

    So basically I think my principles are a function of Father’s wisdom as I understand it so far. They will be different from yours as we have had a different walk and that is OK because such things are not absolutes.

    For someone else to impose their principles on me is for them to say that their experience of Father and His wisdom is better or more complete than mine and they know best what Father is doing in me. That would be a nonsense as I am Father’s workmanship and His only.

  21. Heretic, I’m not sure if I totally understand what you are saying in relation to principles. Are you refering to principles as a personal code of conduct or as something set in God’s creational order. As the latter, I think principles are absolute and don’t evolve. I think they were established as set from the beginning of creation.

    However, I think our insight into God’s wisdom in not absolute and our application of principles require wisdom to apply them to our specific situations. As such, our application of these principles evolve in unique ways.

    That’s why trying to follow just one person’s take on the application of principles is of little benefit. But the principle of sowing and reaping for instance stands in it’s own right. (Whether it is imposed on us or not). It’s just far more beneficial if we gain wisdom through our relationship with God to learn how to apply the principle of sowing and reaping to our own lives.

    We can also gain a lot by learning the wisdoms that each member of the body uncovers, rather than following just one person’s revelation. That’s why forums such as these work so well. It’s a place where one’s life story in God can be used to encourage, edify, challenge and reveal wisdom to others.

  22. I think – and I could be wrong here – that Heretic’s definition of principles is not the same as truths revealed in God’s pattern of creation, which are immutable. But he can clarify this later.

    I agree with Muppets post, in particular:

    However, I think our insight into God’s wisdom in not absolute and our application of principles require wisdom to apply them to our specific situations. As such, our application of these principles evolve in unique ways.

    – Muppet

    I have to admit that in one respect this topic is a bit loaded for me.

    Having spent considerable time in churches where ‘laws of giving’ were taught, it becomes difficult to agree with the principle of ‘sowing and reaping’ without clarifying it – it can mean different things to different people. This is a good example of a teaching that is taught differently in different places, and that is then imposed upon people in some churches in a manipulative fashion.

    So for me, yes I do agree that in scripture we have plenty of references to a principle of sowing and reaping – one of my favourites is in Ecclesiastes 11:1-6…

    1(A)Cast your bread on the surface of the waters, for you (B)will find it after many days.

    2(C)Divide your portion to seven, or even to eight, for you do not know what (D)misfortune may occur on the earth.

    3If the clouds are full, they pour out rain upon the earth; and whether a tree falls toward the south or toward the north, wherever the tree falls, there it lies.

    4He who watches the wind will not sow and he who looks at the clouds will not reap.

    5Just as you do not (E)know the path of the wind and (F)how bones are formed in the womb of the pregnant woman, so you do not (G)know the activity of God who makes all things.

    6Sow your seed (H)in the morning and do not be idle in the evening, for you do not know whether morning or evening sowing will succeed, or whether both of them alike will be good.

    Sometimes sowing and reaping is taught as an input/output equation, where you will reap in kind by a multiple of 10, 100 or whatever. Other times it is taught as sowing and reaping in some other fashion, or reaping reward in heaven. In Ecclesiastes, one meaning would be give to those who are poor or in need, as one day you may also be in need and it will come back to you. The same passage also emphasises that you give, but you don’t actually know what God will make with it. It certainly teaches in its context that if you don’t sow, you won’t reap!

    On the other hand, we have other scriptural references in other contexts where one man sows and another reaps – showing the body working together, or God at work through a variety of people. Or even the tragedy of another person reaping the bad results of bad sowing.

    ‘Sowing and reaping’ principles have been applied most frequently in my hearing to giving money and time, and to evangelism. The application to evangelism has seemed like quite good teaching from what I remember. The application to giving money and time has been selective and therefore at times distorted.

    So then we can’t just receive an instruction from another person to live by a scriptural principle – we have to test it (which is a scriptural principle often neglected despite so many, many warnings in the NT), understand it, and absorb it for ourselves, as with anything else. Plus be wary of anyone trying to condemn us for not obeying an apparent principle to the letter. Or of condemning others for not obeying to the letter of our own understanding. These things are often understood by us over time, and are probably part of our increasing revelation of God over our lifetimes, though good teaching is a great help in getting us started on that path to greater understanding. (Really, Muppet already said this much more succintly.)

    So I think a wariness of having others impose principles upon us can be a wariness of having a false understanding and application of a principle foisted upon us. Its not so much that we ought not have principles that guide us, so much that in principle, we should be wary unless we are guided falsely. 🙂 Plus of course overlaying the principle of love in the application of whatever we know.

    We need to be very careful if we live by principles, because if they are wrong they have enormous potential for harm if applied rigidly, and this happens in some places.

  23. In regards to sowing and reaping one my children said to me at 17years of age “if you’re sowing to reap isn’t that selfish” I was attending a pente church at that time and was speechless, or I think I said no,no, that’s not what it means

  24. Yes I think motive is extremely important. However, the farmer still sows in order to gain a crop. Or I could sow into my education in order to reap a reward from it – this could be deemed as selfish. Though in reality, in the case of my education, it gives God more to work with.

    But I hope I never have the motive of encouraging others to give where I get a direct benefit – that would bring a very grey area of manipulation. And if I was sowing manipulation, then I shouldn’t be suprised by what this creates for me.

    Either way, the principle holds true and is at work. It just can’t be manipulated by us to work in formulas that we would sometimes prefer (eg receiving 100 fold).

  25. yes Muppet its our “motives” Of course God wants one to get a good education or work hard but literally tithing to get back for its own sake is a bit greedy and i think God wants us to give to say, a poorer friend, and one sees the benefits straight away, it gives them joy/thats what my friends and I do. If one is having a good week that one shouts a dinner then, the next week, the other is more flushed and blesses the other, thats how we do it (and some of friends aren’t even Christian ;o)

  26. Hahaha,, I think im banned from watching ccc live services, tried to get on twice this month and it wont work “live” anyway.

    Oh no……the pain the pain of it all :o)

  27. Muppet:

    Heretic, I’m not sure if I totally understand what you are saying in relation to principles. Are you refering to principles as a personal code of conduct or as something set in God’s creational order. As the latter, I think principles are absolute and don’t evolve. I think they were established as set from the beginning of creation.

    OK I could be splitting hairs here but I think there is an important distinction between Father’s reality and our use of “principles” to describe and understand that reality. On the other hand I am not distinguishing between my understanding of the way Father has made the world and the way and the way I behave/rules I live by because I think the way I behave is a reflection of the way I believe Father has made His world. Does this answer the question?

    However, I think our insight into God’s wisdom in not absolute and our application of principles require wisdom to apply them to our specific situations. As such, our application of these principles evolve in unique ways.

    Agreed. And the wisdom we need to “apply them” was also created by Father long ago and revealed to us so that we could. (There is nothing new under the sun).

    But the principle of sowing and reaping for instance stands in it’s own right. (Whether it is imposed on us or not). It’s just far more beneficial if we gain wisdom through our relationship with God to learn how to apply the principle of sowing and reaping to our own lives.

    Bearing in mind RP’s comments I wonder whether scripture contains a principle of sowing and reaping at all. Does it? Does scripture say there is a principle of sowing and reaping? Or have we taken a common saying from an agrarian culture and regarded it as a “biblical principle” simply because it was written down in scripture?

    What is this principle? Scripture does refer to the fact that if you sow wheat then wheat will grow (I think it was wheat) and if you sow thistles (say) then thistles will grow. If you sow thistles you won’t reap wheat as a result. I may be being obtuse here but this does not sound like much of a principle to live my life by, more of a reminder not to be an idiot and plant one thing and expect to get another, for example don’t expect to be able to sow money into a miracle offering and then reap a husband or wife. Basically – be wise, don’t act like an idiot. (Not a lesson I have always followed unfortunately 😦 ).

    There is also “sow a wind, reap a whirlwind” which also sounds like a common saying. The point of the saying is, I think, that when you sow stuff then you end up reaping more than you sow because each plant that grows produces lots of seed and that this is as true with sowing bad things as with good things. What is the principle here? That there are consequences to my actions so don’t do bad stuff? Ok that is reasonable but is it really a principle is it a law of how the world works? Not really because “evil men prosper” is also a truth that is in the bible.

    I don’t think scripture talks much about principles.

  28. I was just flicking through all of Rick Warren’s purpose driven wank material.

    I’m amazed how often he talks about using ‘principles’ in church growth, prosperous living, fruitful living, etc. I wonder if he started all this ‘principle’ crock?

  29. “There is also “sow a wind, reap a whirlwind” which also sounds like a common saying. The point of the saying is, I think, that when you sow stuff then you end up reaping more than you sow because each plant that grows produces lots of seed and that this is as true with sowing bad things as with good things.”

    I would say that it is a GREAT observation in what NOT to do: Investing empty words or evil works into something, only to have it grow and corrupt, destroy or bankrupt you. The passage is about sow into sin and destruction is made from they sowed into.

    Very applicable to the church of today. The more the church sows into idolatrous winds of praise to manmade kingdoms, the more it is sowing into it’s own destruction.

    Here’s the actual passage:

    Hos 8:7-14 “They sow the wind and reap the whirlwind. The stalk has no head; it will produce no flour. Were it to yield grain, foreigners would swallow it up.” Israel is swallowed up; now she is among the nations like a worthless thing. For they have gone up to Assyria like a wild donkey wandering alone. Ephraim has sold herself to lovers. Although they have sold themselves among the nations, I will now gather them together. They will begin to waste away under the oppression of the mighty king…”

  30. Jude talks about certain things in his letter …

    A preacher I know put it like this to me:

    The first thing that goes wrong is Conversation is corrupted. The second thing is Conduct. The third thing is Character.

    Sow a conversation … reap a conduct.
    Sow a conduct … reap a character.
    Sow a character … reap a destiny.

    A man will eventually sow exactly what he has been reaping … take the grace of God too lightly and you will eventually reap a character that has gone rotten.

    That was very tough … but it is so true. We see it wherever large amounts of money provides for the lavish lifestyle of a church leader or minister.

    The love of money (and nice, expensive things) inevitably corrupts those who should know better.


  31. Heretic, whether or not sowing a reaping is a biblical principle it is still a principle that operates in God’s creation and there is nothing in Scripture to say otherwise. I didn’t think you were so restricted by what the bible does or doesn’t say (insert smiley face here)!!!

    Perhaps I am just talking semantics and need to look more closely at the definitions of principle and law.

    To me a law is a rule, regulation or a system that is directly measurable (and when repeated brings the same results). A principle is a foundational truth that can be related to in a number of ways.

    I can relate to the principle of sowing and reaping through, giving finance or time, planting seed, serving old people etc. It is not a repeatable formula that can be measured (unlike experiments involving gravity).

    As it is less clear, the operation of a principle is not so clear cut because we don’t always understand what it is we are sowing. I have sown into a business situation that is now reaping the rewards of flexibility in a time of my life that I need it. When I was sowing into the business situation “flexibility” was not on my mind.

    Laws seem to always be more clear cut. They can be repeatedly measured and used in calculations. Or they can be followed as a dictate of man or God.

    So tithing in my view is a law which can benefit us only as far as it relates to the foundational truth (principle) of sowing and reaping.

  32. Muppet said:

    To me a law is a rule, regulation or a system that is directly measurable (and when repeated brings the same results). A principle is a foundational truth that can be related to in a number of ways.

    That is my understanding as well. Sowing and reaping is a good example, as it has been revealed in creation. It is both true in the agrarian sense, and in any area of work – if you put effort in, you will generally reap a result of your effort. Ecclesiastes is a good example of how scripture can take that self evident creational truth, and add to our knowledge (or confirm our experience – since this is a truth that we experience all the time). Ecclesiastes tells us that we can’t always know which of our efforts will succeed, or whether they will all do well. Storms or other disasters may destroy our efforts. We are still dependent upon God’s mercy and provision over and above our own efforts. However, over time, when we sow, we will generally reap.

    When people try to remove the complexity from this principle, then it becomes a law which doesn’t work.

  33. I got in contact with the guy who did the artworks, the ‘lurker’, this morning. He’s making one for Bull, MN and MJ. Muppet, he saw you post this morning and wanted if you wanted one too.

    He just wants to know your genders to finish the caricatures off.

  34. I am female, brunette shoulder length hair, pale skin and late 40s, slightly curvy (sounds better than overweight) :o)

  35. hahaha, yes my (male) boss suggested one describe themself that way, it does sound better than plump, generous, full-figured, voluptous, middle-age spread and the like

  36. That’s quite insightful for a male to use such a phrase. Working in the building industry we tend to be more abrupt!

  37. Yes, he (boss) sometimes uses v cute polite descriptions or aussie euphamisms. I come from a tradie family, building sites are interesting places……and well dad was a builder initially and my brother, I even worked as a bricklayer, that lasted about a day and a half

  38. I look like shortish, balding, bearded prop the right side of 40 with graying hair. (loose-head prop is what I used to do on the rugby field … I miss playing 😦 . What happened to Australia on Saturday? I reckon you guys aren’t looking forward to facing Wales this weekend!)

    hmm … I guess I’ll end up with egg on my face …


  39. I look nothing like my avatar! I’m short, brunette, pale skinned, and am almost always over my ideal weight, but the amount over varies.

    I’ve never laid any bricks, but I’m OK at rendering and plastering. I did wash bricks one weekend, trying to save money, and decided to never do it again, I was sooooo sore afterwards!

  40. I am on-topic 🙂


    To me a law is a rule, regulation or a system that is directly measurable (and when repeated brings the same results). A principle is a foundational truth that can be related to in a number of ways.

    I guess so. I can live with this definition of principle. But what is truth? (That old one!).

    To me a truth is something absolute – something finished that does not need to be added to. “God is good” might be an example of a foundational truth. That is a foundation I can build on once it becomes real to me.

    So scripture certainly contains truths about Father and how he relates to us.

    I think scripture contains far more patterns than principles. I think sowing and reaping is more a pattern than a principle.

    For a star it fails the “absolute” test. No one seems to have been able to define it so far. Or rather lots of people have defined it differently. So far the “principle” of sowing and reaping has been:

    If you put effort in you get a return
    Things reproduce after their kind
    Things can have a multiplying effect

    And there are other equally valid views on what sowing and reaping is about.

    The more you look at how a someone can sow seed and get a hundred-fold return (say) the more analogies you can see with other aspects of creation that we are involved with. So we can each look at the practice of sowing and reaping and see different truths in it.

    That is a pattern at work I think.

  41. Heretic, I think you are thinking too much!!!

    The principle of sowing and reaping can result in a number of patterns (which you have listed). It is the principle that is operating at the core of those patterns.

    So I agree that Scripture contains more patterns than principles and I also agree that truth is absolute. However our understanding of words (and their definitions) can make truth appear subjective because it changes our relationship to those words. I’m not sure if words can ever sufficiently hold the totatily of the truth it tries to encapsulate?!

    This is a whole other area which could get quite scary – so I’ll stop!

    But for here; “Sowing & Reaping” is a principle, a truth or a pattern depending on the definitions you choose to apply.

    This may be my last comment, as I anticipate that your superior intellect is about to blow my mind.

  42. “But for here; “Sowing & Reaping” is a principle, a truth or a pattern depending on the definitions you choose to apply.” – Muppet


    I’d have to agree.

    I think this is a matter of semantics.

    I think everyone here agrees that to apply a principle as a law is a bad idea. I think that most of agree that there are eternal truths, sometimes (often?) poorly understood by us.

    I guess one issue is that patterns and truths are then selectively misused by some to create ‘principles’ for their own purposes.

    I think we can find principles in scripture which are useful, but not usually as simple as they might first appear – we need wisdom in applying and understanding them.

    This is going around in circles now!

    How many things which are taught as ‘principles’ in scripture are agreed upon as evident by different denominations?

  43. Basically don’t be an ass. But the tricky thing is, and Ive been re-reading CS Lewis is what constitutes bad behaviour etc.

    I believe if a child isn’t taught right from wrong, even basically, they grow up with no common principles. These principles are handed down so if someone comes to church without prior “knowledge” they need to really be mentored properly. Ive worked with drug addicts and its interesting to see how their schema and worldview has developed.

  44. Oh God, save me, I just watched C3 9am Sunday and verbatim PP said if you are in this church today you love God…..blah blah blah

    So I can be a “d” head the rest of the week but as long as i make it to church, looking normal, saying and doing the “right” things I will be blessed and succeed. If only life were that easy and simple

  45. im not sure where your going with this as your post started someowhere and then touched on other doctrines and views so here goes on the core of the subject: we must come back to Biblical language so that people remember the scriptures, it is not wrong to use illustrations after all Jesus did, they are practical, however, the mega church movement that has swept the west has serious problems, I should know i was once a part of it, not that im against a large church at all but we must remember our responsibility with each person to properly disciple them and give them back to the Lord. on the tithing comment, that it is not in the New Testament nothing can be further from the truth, Heb 7:8…..no doubts if this post is read all else wll be forgotten except my last comments, quick call the moderators your servers are about to collapse lol

  46. Doz – we often get sidetracked here. But then that’s how we end up starting new threads sometimes. This blog is fairly organic in many ways. For example, we could now take off into tithing debate territory, but having been there many times before, I’m not going to this time. The only thing I will say, is that I’ve never read a better book on the subject than ‘Beyond Tithing’ by Stuart Murray, an Anabaptist. No anger or vitriol, just an examination of the historical practice and the scriptures. Look that book up on the net, and you’ll get the idea.

  47. yer Rave, i am an avid debater of the scriptures, and i have debunked a number of anti tithing PHD’s, i have never been outdebated on this subject, jaws have been left opened, then the unfortunate response seems to always come that being they run…i am still yet looking for a PHD who will do as i do and admit when convicted of truth in their heart ‘i concede your points and i will have to study further on this subject’. when someone doesnt want to do something nothing will change them. In 16 years i have been gven book after book, webste after website, thesis after thesis, view after view and have honestly looked at such for scriptural validation. In fact what i regularly do is involve myself with the complete opposite theological argument before i establish a doctrine, this way i know that i have been challenged with the best of the views of scripture so that my view is either correct or corrected, n doing so i also can see how and where people come up with different views and understand lovingly, but scripture can only say one thing on this topic that being is it NT for the Christian or isnt it, i personally couldnt care less, i just want to know what the Word says and obey it, after these many years my view remains unchanged it is.

  48. Oh apologies, i have heard of this book and probably also read it but i will look it up and read it, and i will repent if i am wrong openly no probs..thanks

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