Should we preach? publish?, or proclaim the Gospel -
Yes? No? Maybe?
I just got my copy of Michael Pearl's book in the post sent from a new friend in North Carolina (thanks TJ - your book is on the way). In reviewing the book, I opened up the front cover and saw a little box which says:
"All Scripture quotations are from the King James Holy Bible"
So, I went to page 35 and found Mr. Pearl's references to 'prove' his arguments in favor of spanking children. The texts he quoted were very familiar to me and to many of us. They are commonly known as the 'rod' verses. They were:
So there it was - Case Closed. The Bible advocates spanking children. End of story. Well, not quite so fast.
I got to thinking about this whole issue once again and thought about this book and its assertions.
Here is a well intentioned Christian brother living thousands of miles away from the region where the Bible was written, using a 400 year old Bible version attempting to bring information which in some cases is over 3,000 years old into our modern day.
When I look on the front cover of the book, I saw the following page and you can review it at the following link.
The front cover of the book shows a family riding in a horse drawn cart with a father at the reins with a wife at his side carrying a babe in arms with four other children in the wagon.
When I thought about this book and its teachings, I thought this cover was really appropriate because the information that you find in this book represents a type of a theological perspective which reflects a time about 400 years ago when people moved around by horse and buggy.
The good news is, theologically speaking, we no longer move around with horses and buggys. Today, we have airplanes that take us around the world to libraries where we can study thousands of Bible manuscripts; where online resources are the fingertips that even the non-expert can reach into the treasure troves of Bible scholarship and study at the feet of modern day Gamliels.
The bad news though is that many dear people like Michael Pearl, God bless him, continue to drive around the same old tired arguments which are based on a Bible translation, which was a monument to great scholarship in 1611, but today, it represents one of the biggest obstacles to understanding God's messages to mankind, especially concerning what the Bible means in the book of Proverbs.
And here is where we come to the title of my blog post -Should we preach? publish?, or proclaim the Gospel - Yes? No? Maybe?
I remember once my father telling of an experience he had when he first got into researching the Bible and in fact it relates to this issue we are here discussing. It concerned the issue of preaching, publishing and proclaiming the Gospel of Christ to the world.
My father was a minister as well as a college professor. The church that he was a member of was lead by a very charismatic leader. The Bible of choice in that particular denomination was the King James Version of the Bible.
The Church had a wide ranging ministry with numerous methods of outreach. They had a 'preaching' ministry and a 'publishing' ministry. Yes, the Church used all different types of outreach methods to get the Gospel message out to the world including radio and televsion.
The head of the Church not only insisted, however, in the 'preaching' ministry, but he made a big deal about the need for the Church to also engage in a 'publishing' ministry. This meant a top quality, slick four color magazine, books, booklets, pamphlets, newsletters, etc.
Now, these methodologies were used to 'proclaim' the Gospel. Anything wrong with that? No, not at all.
However, when Dad began to just do a bit of study in the New Testament, he learned that the Greek word keerusso is translated in the King James Version by several different English words: preach, preached, proclaim, proclaimed, proclaiming, publish, and published.
So when we read in Mark 13:10 in the King James Version saying: "And the gospel must first be published among all nations" we can compare this to another section in the Gospel of Matthew which describes the same event and time period. It is found in Matthew 24:14 saying: "And this gospel of the Kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations;"
So, Dad quickly found out that the words "published" and "preached" in these two verses are from the exact same word in the Greek language, which is the original one for the New Testament. Therefore, to say that one must have a "preaching" and or "publishing" ministry on the basis of these verses is really not justified in Scripture at all. Of course, that message is not one that Church leaders want to hear. This is because they often gain great power and influence through their "preaching" and "publishing" ministries.
There is of course nothing wrong with preaching, publishing or proclaiming the Gospel. On the contrary. What is wrong, however, is misusing the Holy Scriptures to attempt to prove that a particular Church or religious leader must engage in preaching and publishing and that Church members should pay to see that these things take place. Preaching and publishing ministries are fine and excellent things in and of themselves, but one should not use these passages as justification for demanding that Church members pay the bills for these ministerial elements based upon a wrong understanding of Scripture.
But here we get to the crux of the matter. If these well intentioned ministers of the Gospel will use the modern tools that we have available instead of continuing to drive our Christian brethren around in the theological equivalents of horses and buggys, we might be able to avoid some of these nonsensical teachings promoted by many well intentioned but misguided religious leaders. Look at the ESV, which makes this whole issue clear.
And the gospel must first be proclaimed to all nations. (Mark 13:10 ESV)
And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations.
(Matthew 24:14 ESV)
So, the answer to my blog question is. Yes! We should proclaim the Gospel.
But, this all helps to contextualize something which I have dealt with in much greater detail in my book and that concerns the interpretation of those six verses that Michael Pearl uses to open and close his arguments on spanking children.
The question we have to ask Mr. Pearl and many other dear brethren in Christ is this: Should we spank? chasten? hit? switch? strike? our children in the way you tell us? Yes? No? Maybe?
Michael Pearl and many others say "Yes."
After reading my book, I think you'll agree that the answer to this question is a resounding:
Note: Some of the material in this post is referenced in audio cassette tape which my father produced in the Foundation for Biblical Research in 1976 called: "A Brief Background of the Director."