Divisive Leaders

In our adult Sunday school class we’ve been doing a somewhat in-depth study of 1 Corinthians. We’ve progressed as far as chapter 3 and this coming Sunday (well, tomorrow actually!) we’ll be looking at verses 10 and onwards. It’s a very powerful passage. My main purpose for this blog post though is to quote something I found on Bible.org by Bob Deffinbaugh. Those who know me well will know immediately which “leader” came to mind when I read his comments. Here’s what he says:

I know of several men whose failures have caused great damage to the church and to the cause of the gospel. There seems to be one common element in these disasters—the men who fell were so powerful, and their control so great, that they seemed almost “unstoppable.” The reason for this: these leaders were so elevated and revered in the minds of their followers that they were considered beyond the temptations and sins of mankind. When men are elevated too highly in the minds of their followers, the people begin to think their leaders are infallible, that they are above the sins we see in ordinary people. And so they refuse to believe the evidences of sin, even when they are compelling. Even if they are guilty of known sin, no one seems to feel sufficiently qualified to attempt to rebuke or correct them.

The problem of esteeming leaders too highly starts very subtly and innocently. It begins with a deep respect and appreciation, often because this individual has led them to Christ, or that he (or she) has significantly contributed to their spiritual growth. This one person is given excessive credit for the work of God and elevated to a position of authority above what should be given to men. Allegiance to this leader becomes a status symbol in which followers take great pride. Out of this misguided allegiance, they feel obligated to ignore or even oppose other Christian leaders.

Elevating any human leader more than we should is a huge mistake, and can have devastating consequences in our spiritual lives, as Paul tried to show the Corinthians.

Prayer Meeting

Last night was my turn to take Wednesday night prayer meeting. The crowd was at an all time low due to so many being out at camp meetings, etc. but nevertheless we had a good time. My topic was “Loving God with All Your Mind” (click on that title to read the full text). I had originally thought about finishing what I started in my last year’s talk, which was about the Lord’s Supper, but decided against it. Then I toyed with talking about Repentance. I really wonder if we don’t have a very shallow idea of repentance these days. I began reading several books on the subject, but the more I read and researched, the more the topic seemed to wither away on me. Then somehow I stumbled on to this idea of loving God with all our minds, and the more I thought about it and studied into it, the more it came alive. I read through the whole of J. P. Moreland’s book, Love Your God With All Your Mind and scanned Gene Edward Veith’s Loving God With All Your Mind. I wished I had more time for Veith’s book but I discovered it too late. Anyway, my turn at prayer meeting is over for another year!

How We Got Our King James Bible

In prayer meeting last night David Franklin gave a talk on the history of the English Bible. Some of his material I already knew, but some of it was new to me. As always, his study was very thorough. He talked, of course, about Wycliffe and Tyndale and later Miles Coverdale, and many others. He said that William Tyndale could speak so fluently in 8 different languages that it was hard to tell which was his native tongue. It’s always amazing what happens when someone with such colossal intellect places his life at God’s disposal.

One of the things David emphasized was the longevity of the King James Version: The year 2011 marks 400 years since it was released to the English speaking public and it is still among the three top-selling versions of the Bible. What an amazing achievement! He made the observation that its longevity can be put down to the fact that the translators didn’t use the most current English spoken at that time; and that doing so is one weakness of current “modern” translations.

I like the King James Version and it’s the one I’ve used most of my life. It’s definitely the easiest English version to memorize from. But I’m not a “King James only” person. I think it’s a very good translation and has obviously stood the test of time, but it’s not perfect; and contrary to the belief of some, the KJV translation itself is NOT inspired. It’s a translation of an inspired book.

Some people have a real problem with all of the modern translations and compare them unfavorably with the KJV. What’s funny is that almost every translation throughout history has been greeted with skepticism from some quarters. Even the KJV itself was at one time a “modern,” new-fangled translation that was considered unnecessary by certain folks.