Copyright 1994 - 2018 Bill's Bible Basics
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Published On :
March 30, 1998
Last Updated :
December 23, 2012
Father David And The Family, The Apostle Paul, Man Worship, Many Teachers But One In Christ, Book Of Mormon, The Urantia Book, A False Gospel, The Roman Catholic Church's Authority, Divine Inspiration Of The Scriptures, Private Interpretation, Philip And The Ethiopian Eunuch, Unbelieving Jews Conspire To Conceal Jesus' Resurrection From The Dead, Brainwashing Today, Lost And Destroyed Manuscripts, Composition Of Modern Bible
In my articles "Elijah: Where Are the True Prophets of God?" and "The Kings of the North and the South", I mention the fact that in their early years, one of the controversial practices of the organization known as "The Family", was to encourage their members to memorize a set of Bible verses known as the "David Set". The primary purpose for memorizing these verses, which are taken mostly from the Old Testament, was to enforce the belief with group members, that their now-deceased founder, David Brandt Berg, also known variably as Moses David, Mo, and Father David, was God's chosen prophet and one true voice for the Endtime. As I explain in the second of the aforementioned articles, I believe that the organization has totally misinterpreted these verses of Scripture. Please refer to that article for a list of the verses, as well as my explanation concerning their proper interpretation.
However, it appears to me that one of Father David's primary errors was the same as that committed by some of the other self-proclaimed prophets, faith healers and preachers who have stood in the limelight of American Christianity; and that is that he allowed and encouraged his followers to set him and his words on a pedestal. The practice of memorizing the "David Set" is one clear example of this; but it is not the only one. Like certain other organizations, such as the Mormons and the followers of the Urantia Book, members of The Family believe that the writings of Father David, and possibly those of his wife and successor, Maria, are new Scriptures which supersede the Bible in certain instances. This belief is particularly true in regards to some of the writings of the Apostle Paul, quite possibly because some of Paul's writings challenge some of the questionable doctrines of The Family.
This belief in viewing the writings of Father David as modern-day Scripture is held so strongly amongst members of the group that, just as student radicals of the 1960's memorized quotations taken from "The Little Red Book" written by former Chinese leader Mao Tse Tung, The Family also encourages memorization of quotations taken from the "Mo Letters" of Father David; and this practice began even before the man's actual death in 1994! To aggrandize a man after his decease is one thing, but to do so while he is still alive through memorizing his words and making them equal to the Bible almost defies belief. While the communist ideology of Mao Tse Tong is far removed from the Christian ideology of Father David, it is nevertheless the same principle at work which causes people to memorize their works; and that is the glorification of a man and his words.
At this point, someone might present the argument, "Well, don't we as modern-day Christians memorize the words of the Prophets, and of Jesus Christ and of His Early Disciples? Don't we memorize the words of the Apostle Paul as well?". While this is indeed true, I believe there is a marked difference between these two practices, which I will explain shortly. Personally, I can very easily imagine that had such things occurred in Paul's day while he was still alive, upon discovering it, he would have become quite upset, and probably very embarrassed as well. On one hand, it is true that the Apostle Paul did say:
"Wherefore I beseech you, be ye followers of me."
1 Corinthians 4:16, KJV
However, if we look at other parts of Paul's Epistle, and put his statements in their proper context, we see that he was actually saying "Follow me inasmuch as I follow Jesus Christ.":
"Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ."
1 Corinthians 11:1, KJV
Paul wasn't telling anyone to follow him as a man. He was telling them to recognize the Spirit of Christ working through him. In his Epistle, Paul was rebuking certain members of the congregation at Corinth because they had taken their eyes off of the Lord, and had begun to argue between themselves regarding who had been instructed by which Earthly teacher. Paul emphasized that who they identified as their Earthly teacher wasn't what was important, but rather that they all belonged to Christ:
"For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men? For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal? Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man? I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase . . . Therefore let no man glory in men. For all things are yours; Whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours; And ye are Christ's; and Christ is God's."
1 Corinthians 3:3-7, 21-23, KJV
While at times Paul was quite bold and forthright in some of his comments, he absolutely refused to accept the praise or worship of men. As I have explained before, in Acts chapter fourteen, when the people of Lystra tried to declare him a god along with his companion Barnabas, this is how they reacted:
"Which when the apostles, Barnabas and Paul, heard of, they rent their clothes, and ran in among the people, crying out, And saying, Sirs, why do ye these things? We also are men of like passions with you, and preach unto you that ye should turn from these vanities unto the living God, which made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all things that are therein:"
Acts 14:14-15, KJV
In the Book of Acts, as well as in his Epistles, Paul was quite candid about his own waywardness and former life as a self-righteous Pharisee who persecuted the True Church. He willingly admitted his own human weaknesses, and pointed to and uplifted the Lord as the only way to Eternal Salvation. Paul's overall view is clearly reflected in the following verse he wrote to the Hebrews:
"Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God."
Hebrews 12:2, KJV
While it is certainly true that we memorize verses from the Bible for our own edification, as well as to enlighten others concerning the Truth of the Gospel, in my view, the primary difference between this practice and the practice of memorizing the writings of modern-day men of God, is that the canon has been universally recognized as the inspired Word of God within the Christian world. The same cannot be said of the writings of Father David, of Joseph Smith, of the communicators of the Urantia Book, or of any other modern work which boasts of being equal to or superior to the Bible. The Divine Inspiration of these other works has only been accepted by a small minority, that is, by those who actually belong to each of these groups. On the other hand, in accordance with the Scriptures, the acceptance of the canon has been universally established in the mouth of many more than just two or three witnesses:
"But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established."
Matthew 18:16, KJV
"This is the third time I am coming to you. In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established."
2 Corinthians 13:1, KJV
"Against an elder receive not an accusation, but before two or three witnesses."
1 Timothy 5:19, KJV
"He that despised Moses' law died without mercy under two or three witnesses:"
Hebrews 10:28, KJV
Concerning the Book of Mormon, as I mention in "A Biblical Cafeteria, or the Whole Course?", I personally view it as a complete fabrication of Joseph Smith's wild imagination. His purported method of interpretation, that is, by looking into his dark hat, has been a source of great controversy for many years. Even amongst his early followers there were a number of conflicting views regarding how and when Mr. Smith received his revelations and interpretations. Despite these apparent conflicts which occurred during the development of the Mormon Church around the middle of the nineteenth century, in the minds of modern-day Mormons, the Book of Mormon is still considered to be sacred scripture. In fact, it is so sacred to them that they place it above the Authorized King James Bible. In their minds, the KJV is a supplementary work to the imaginary ramblings of Joseph Smith. They claim that the Bible is not the primary source of the Word of God. Surely this is the epitome of deceit.
The origin of the Urantia Book is also doubtful and should be called into question. According to the ardent supporters of this blasphemous tome, it was received from higher level spiritual entities during the early part of the twentieth century I have discussed this in other articles such as "The Urantia Book: A Dangerous New Age Doctrine", "The Urantia Book: An Attack on the Blood Atonement", and "Noah's Flood: The Urantia Book Exposed Again!". The fact that the Urantia Book totally denies and rejects the necessity of the Blood Atonement of Jesus Christ clearly exposes its demonic origin. Thus, while works such as the Book of Mormon and the Urantia Book claim to present Biblical Truth in a new light, for me personally, it is easy to recognize that they are no such thing. As the Prophet Isaiah wrote:
"Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!"
Isaiah 5:20, KJV
While the Book of Mormon and the Urantia Book are easy to classify as works of darkness, the many writings of Father David are not so easy to categorize. While this man espoused some very radical and questionable doctrines, an honest reader must also admit that some of Father's David's writings are indeed inspirational, and are either very Scripture-based, or contain many direct quotes from the Bible; but then we have the others which are very hard to accept as being Divinely Inspired; and this is precisely the danger. As I have expressed in other articles, just because a certain person quotes the Scriptures does not necessarily mean that he or his writings are inspired by God's Spirit; or that his particular interpretation is the correct one. Sometimes we misunderstand things due to simple human error. On other occasions, it might be a result of demonic influence.
We would all do well to remember that Satan is also very knowledgeable of the Scriptures; and he can use them to deceive well-meaning people; even sincere Christians. We have but to recall the events in Eden, and the Lord's temptations following His forty days of fasting in the wilderness. In the Garden of Eden, Satan said, "Hath God said?", and in Matthew chapter four he said ". . . it is written . . ." So, as the Apostle Paul warned the Corinthians, sometimes Satan can appear as an angel of light to the unwary:
"And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light."
2 Corinthians 11:14, KJV
Do these warnings apply to my writings as well? Of course they do! I am not an infallible human being. Absolutely no one is forced to accept my interpretation of the Scriptures. In my articles I am simply sharing what I believe may be true based upon my personal understanding of the Word after many years of studying the Bible. I could be wrong about some things, and I openly admit it. I am not like some of these others who say "Thus saith the Lord!" and then condemn you if you don't agree with them. I normally stay away from criticizing specific individuals unless I strongly feel that they have gone astray to such a dangerous degree that they are having a negative affect upon many others. Let us not forget Peter's sober warning concerning those who wrest, or twist, the true meaning of the Scriptures:
"As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction."
2 Peter 3:16, KJV
As I point out in other articles, the other Apostles were also quick to warn the First Disciples to beware of false doctrine creeping into the Early Church. Consider the following sobering admonitions:
"But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him."
2 Corinthians 11:3-4, KJV
"I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed."
Galatians 1:6-8, KJV
"If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds."
2 John 1:10-11, KJV
In contrast to these workers of darkness, there have also been many men of God over the past two thousand years who have been moved by the Holy Spirit to write many wonderful books, papers and treatises which are in agreement with the Holy Scriptures. These works feed your soul. They motivate you to follow the Lord. They inspire you to do good. They defend many of the doctrines of the Bible. I truly hope that some day some of my writings will be viewed as belonging to this category. However, does this mean that all of these other godly works should automatically be accepted as Holy Scriptures as well?
In an indirect subtle way, the Roman Catholic Church seems to hold the opinion that, yes, some of these writings should be accepted as Scripture. I base this view on several facts. First, millions of Catholics worldwide esteem the words of the Pope as the voice of God on Earth. Second, it has long been held as a tenet of Roman Catholic doctrine that the "holy mother church" is the only religious body on Earth with the spiritual authority to properly interpret the Scriptures. This is clearly spelled out in older church documents. To enforce this belief amongst their followers, the Roman Catholic hierarchy will often quote the following verse written by the Apostle Peter:
"Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation."
2 Peter 1:20, KJV
In their mind, "private interpretation" refers to any person outside of the Pope and his close associates who alone have the Divine Authority to interpret the Scriptures. Through the enforcement of this doctrine, Catholics have been taught to not trust in their own judgment or leading of the Spirit in understanding the Scriptures, but rather to trust solely in the "authoritative" interpretation of the Roman Catholic Church. It is for this reason that when Roman Catholics participate in Biblical discussions, they are more prone to quote from one of their "church fathers", which might be a saint, a bishop, a cardinal or the Pope, than they are to quote directly from the Prophets, or from Jesus, or from His Disciples, or from the Apostle Paul. In other words, while they don't openly say that the writings of these men are Holy Scripture, through the very act of quoting them more often than they do the actual Bible, they are in fact making just such a claim.
To a certain degree, I can understand this approach to studying the Scriptures. In the minds of sincere Catholics, relying upon the works of their "church fathers" acts as a kind of safety net which prevents them from falling into Biblical error; at least I believe that is the intention of those who use this method; however, it is precisely because of their limited knowledge of the actual Scriptures that many Catholics have been led astray by those who rule over them. Due to various reasons, the Catholic laity has placed their faith more in the words of men, than in the actual inspired Word of God. While the Roman Catholic hierarchy applies the term "private interpretation" to others, it is quite apparent that it excludes itself; however, notice what Peter said in full:
"Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not."
2 Peter 1:20-2:3, KJV
The whole reason Peter issued this warning was because he was concerned about false prophets and false teachers creeping into the flock, just as we read in the verses I shared earlier. This is a very legitimate concern. While Peter and others were speaking primarily of the unbelieving Jews of their day, these verses have their modern-day counterpart, and it isn't just found in the flesh Jews! Notice that one of the traits of these false teachers will be that "through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you". While the Jews certainly control the modern world of business and finance, they are not alone. The Roman Catholic Church certainly has a worldwide empire of wealth, much of which was obtained at the expense of the poor of the world who feel obligated to tithe to the "holy mother church". Jesus accused the ancient Jews of the very same thing when He said:
"Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye devour widows' houses, and for a pretence make long prayer: therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation."
Matthew 23:14, KJV
Notice that under the guise of being religious and holy, these Jewish leaders devoured widow's houses. Perhaps you will recall the story of the widow's mite in which the poor woman cast into the Jewish treasury all that she had, of her very own need, while the rich Jews simply offered a small portion of their abundance. The Lord seemed to imply that this woman would receive the greater reward in the Kingdom of Heaven:
"And Jesus sat over against the treasury, and beheld how the people cast money into the treasury: and many that were rich cast in much. And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing. And he called unto him his disciples, and saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury: For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living."
Mark 12:41-44, KJV
According to what I have read, in the Catholic country of Spain, tithing to the Roman Catholic Church is actually a part of the country's constitution. Some watchers of the RCC claim that this may soon become a worldwide practice. In his first Epistle to Timothy, Paul also mentions some of the traits of these Endtime false apostles of Christ:
"Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth."
1 Timothy 4:1-3, KJV
In the previous verses, Peter and Paul describe a group of men who, although they have forsaken the True Faith of the Bible, will feign to be apostles of the Lord. These usurpers will control a worldwide financial empire, and will place certain restrictions on marriage, and on the eating of meat. In my view, this perfectly describes the modern Roman Catholic practice of celibacy, and the tradition of not eating meat during the Lent season. In short, while on one hand the Roman Catholic Church teaches that the Scriptures are of no private interpretation, on the other, they are guilty of this very thing themselves! In the strictest sense of the word, not only have they falsely interpreted the Scriptures for their vast worldwide following, but they have also written new scriptures, or church laws and doctrines, which totally contradict the writings and teachings of the Original Writers; all for the sole purpose of maintaining power over the hearts and minds of the laity.
Frankly, I am quite happy with the Original Scriptures. They are all that we need. There is more in the Holy Bible than I could ever hope to understand in one lifetime; and believe me, I am trying my best to do exactly that. In his second Epistle to Timothy, just as Peter had done, the Apostle Paul also clearly tells us that the Bible is the inspired Word of God:
"All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:"
2 Timothy 3:16, KJV
Paul is clearly telling Timothy that the Scriptures are inspired of God. He then tells him that they are to teach us doctrine; they are to reprove and correct us when we stray from the ways of the Lord; and they are to teach us the way of Salvation, that is, "instruction in righteousness". After all, the only way to achieve true Righteousness is through admitting our own sinful condition, then understanding God's Plan of Salvation, and finally accepting that Salvation through the Sacrifice of His Son. That is the only Righteousness there is:
"Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;"
Titus 3:5, KJV
All of the things which Paul described for Timothy can be achieved through a personal direct reading of the Holy Scriptures without having to rely upon any self-proclaimed prophet of God, without spending a lot of money on all of these tapes, books and videos published by so-called learned theologians and scholars, and without the need for a rich and powerful religious body like the Roman Catholic Church. This being the case, why do Roman Catholics go to their "church fathers" instead of straight to the Word of God for their spiritual enlightenment? Do they believe that their "church fathers" have more of the Spirit than those who actually met and lived with Jesus Christ? Now, I will admit that when we are all young in the faith, we need someone who is more spiritually mature than ourselves to explain things to us. I am reminded of the story of Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch in the Book of Acts:
"And the angel of the Lord spake unto Philip, saying, Arise, and go toward the south unto the way that goeth down from Jerusalem unto Gaza, which is desert. And he arose and went: and, behold, a man of Ethiopia, an eunuch of great authority under Candace queen of the Ethiopians, who had the charge of all her treasure, and had come to Jerusalem for to worship, Was returning, and sitting in his chariot read Esaias the prophet. Then the Spirit said unto Philip, Go near, and join thyself to this chariot. And Philip ran thither to him, and heard him read the prophet Esaias, and said, Understandest thou what thou readest? And he said, How can I, except some man should guide me? And he desired Philip that he would come up and sit with him."
Acts 8:26-31, KJV
Once Philip had explained to him that Isaiah was writing about the sufferings of Christ in the fifty-third chapter of his book, the Ethiopian man was gladly baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Having accomplished his task, to the eunuch's amazement, Philip was suddenly whisked away by the Spirit and was later found at Azotus. Exactly what these verses mean delves into a lot of interesting speculation:
And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing. But Philip was found at Azotus: and passing through he preached in all the cities, till he came to Caesarea."
Acts 8:39-40, KJV
Sadly, what occurred on that wonderful day almost two thousand years ago, and what we have in the world today are two very distinct situations. The eunuch had the blessing of being taught directly by one of Jesus' very own Disciples. Philip had sat at the feet of the Master and obtained the straight pure unadulterated Truth from Him. Philip and the other Apostles were then able to take that Truth directly to the masses during their lifetimes. However, beginning the very day that Jesus was resurrected from the dead, the Jews had already begun their dirty work of perverting the Truth of the Gospel message:
"Now when they were going, behold, some of the watch came into the city, and shewed unto the chief priests all the things that were done. And when they were assembled with the elders, and had taken counsel, they gave large money unto the soldiers, Saying, Say ye, His disciples came by night, and stole him away while we slept. And if this come to the governor's ears, we will persuade him, and secure you. So they took the money, and did as they were taught: and this saying is commonly reported among the Jews until this day."
Matthew 28:11-15, KJV
Today, the truth comes in many different doctrinal shades and colors. Some churches and organizations will condemn you if you dare to question their particular understanding of the Scriptures, or if you challenge the spiritual authority of those who rule over them. Unless you accept their version of the truth, and the teachings of their appointed leaders, you can't even belong to some of them. There is absolutely no room for personal reasoning and understanding. It is very similar to the public school system which revolves around the concept of swallowing what they feed to you, and then spitting it back to them upon request. This is the modern definition of education and intelligence. It is a robotic herd mentality. Modern religion and public education are just as guilty of brainwashing as some of the minor religions who are accused of doing the same.
At the time Paul wrote the above verse concerning the Divine Inspiration of the Scriptures, what was he referring to when he used the word "scripture"? Obviously, he was pointing to what we Christians today refer to as the Old Testament; and probably to a number of other Sacred Manuscripts which have been lost since that time. As I point out in a few other articles, what we have today in the form of the Bible is more than likely not the full body of Inspired Texts which were available to the Early Disciples two thousand years ago. Some of them have already decayed. Other manuscripts were purposely destroyed. Some are probably intentionally being hid from our eyes by certain powers that be. Some may very well still be waiting to be discovered.
Please go to part two for the conclusion of this article.
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