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Twisting the Texts

Alan Colmes on his talk radio show in asserting that the Indiana religious freedom law promotes bigotry, stated that every legislature in the nation is and always has been run by Christians. To those who believe that being a Christian translates into a way of life that is described by the Bible, that assertion comes as somewhat of a shock. However if you see through the thick lenses of Colmes’ worldview, you see Christian in a much broader way. The term Christian, in such a view, would embrace anyone who takes that name including those who see God as Mother described in feminist theology, liberation theologies backing Marxist revolutions in South American nations, and Calvinists who believe that those who are foreordained to damnation are actually hated by God as depicted in the sandwich boards they wear to protest at funerals of U.S. soldiers killed in battle. With such a broad definition, Colmes may technically be right that legislatures are Christian. But he is dead wrong Biblically.

It is interesting to note that Colmes also promotes the view that Islam is a religion of peace and rejects the idea that ISIS is Islamist. He follows in the footsteps of others who, in their effort to redefine what Islamic “holy texts” actually say about jihad and dhimmitude, try to make the religion one of something that is sweetness and light and open to free expression.

There is a consistency here. If one superimposes a preconceived idea of what religion is really all about and ignores or downplays texts that contradict his assertion, his view of religion is not going to align with reality. So the texts become subjugated to the interpretation of the critic who in reality believes in neither. And then the texts are twisted. Colmes and others like him appear to have done this with both the Christian Bible and the Muslim Koran.

A personal note here. When in college, I picked up a book about world religions. I wanted an overview of how they compared and contrasted. Before I read the whole book, I wondered if I could trust the author. So I went to his chapter on Christianity to see how accurate he was in describing those who claim the name of Christ. What I found was a presentation of spirituality without Christ that would fit in with practically any belief system. Without reading further I pitched the book into the trash. If he got it wrong about what the Bible says about being a Christian, how could I trust what he said about any other belief? If he twisted the truth to make it less than it was, why would he not twist falsehood to make it more than it is?

Peter spoke of being careful about perverting difficult biblical passages “which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction” (2 Peter 3:16). It has been a historical reality that people will twist the scriptures. Wars have been fought over twisted scriptures. It was because of perverted scriptures that Martin Luther felt compelled to nail his Ninety-five Theses to the door of the church in Wittenberg. It was because the scriptures had been perverted that the Wesleyan movement moved away from the mother church. It was also the distortion of scripture that caused the break-away movements from the churches that in the mid-twentieth century made up the National Council of Churches. More recently, the perversion of scripture regarding social issues created the reaction of those who signed the Manhattan Declaration which defends the Biblical views of life, morals, and marriage.

What is at the heart of the twisting of Biblical texts? The Bible itself gives us the clue. Study the confrontation of Jesus of Nazareth with the religious leaders who were experts in the Jewish scriptures and see how prevalent twisting the texts had become. Jesus had already confronted this when he encountered the devil in the wilderness (Matt. 4:1-11). Before it was over the perverted Judas, warped in his own false ideas and overcome by Satan himself, betrayed Jesus into the hands of sinners who with perverted scriptures as their defense and with wicked hands had the Son of God crucified on Good Friday. Peter’s admonition about being careful with the scriptures came with a warning that may have been prompted by the image of Judas twisting in the wind with a rope around his neck before he went crashing to the destruction of the rocks below.

Men’s perversion, however, does not negate the truth. The wickedness of men on full display as they crucified the Son of God was answered by the compassion of Christ from the cross. The twisting of truth of the Jewish leaders who turned Jesus over to the soldiers to crucify him was answered by Jesus when he said, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”

The Biblical record at the cross takes a turn at about mid-day. Where are the cat-calls now that the sky has turned black? Where are the strutting soldiers? The arrogant priests? The noisy crowd? Somehow the perverse arguments are being silenced and truth is being displayed. And then, it is finished. Jesus died. “And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent” (Matt. 27:51). Moreover, the scriptures had said that Jesus would not be left in the grave. “For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption” (Ps. 16:10). On Sunday it happens. Jesus rises from the dead. The tomb is empty. And the chief priests are now in the gutter of paying off soldiers to lie about the disciples stealing the body of Jesus, twisting themselves into a position as low as mafia thugs. All to keep their perversion of the scriptures intact. All to keep from admitting that Isaiah 53 had been fulfilled dramatically before their eyes.

Does anyone ever get untangled from his perverted view? Thankfully, yes. Saul of Tarsus, for one. On the road to Damascus he encountered the very One whose disciples he was on his way to imprison. Realizing that Jesus had actually risen from the dead was his epiphany. From then on he dedicated his life to preaching that Jesus of Nazareth was the Messiah of Israel who had died for the sins of the whole world, was buried, and on the third day rose again.

It is this message that has opened the eyes of many to salvation and the joy of experiencing real forgiveness and cleansing from sin. The truth is Jesus who said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6). The scriptures point to the strait gate and the narrow way which lead to life which is in Jesus. The broad way, partly exemplified by those who embrace perversion in various forms and yet call themselves “Christian,” leads to destruction. One would hope that more would take off the glasses of their distorted world views and see the truth for what it is. It will change their lives now and their destinies for eternity.

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