The Bible is not a Cudgel

Cudgel n. A short thick stick of wood, such as may be used by the hand in beating.

It's not a cudgel you barbarian!

A few weeks ago I got into a Twitter battle with a rabid fundamentalist…er..uh I mean iBFer who wants to take me to task on multitudes of sins and crimes against him and fundamentalism as a whole.  Back and forth we went through out the day…bing, bang, zing, pow, crash, it was like the old Batman T.V. show from the 60’s, – can I get a witness, you gotta love old-time religion!  He said: “I wouldn’t give you two cents for someone in supposed leadership that lays out of…CHURCH! 2Cor. 3:2”  To which I replied, I wouldn’t give you two cents for an evangelist who uses the Bible as a cudgel.  Then I said I wouldn’t give you two cents for an evangelist who doesn’t know what a cudgel is.

Now to be fair I want to put the whole verse here because it is important to know what 2Cor. 3:2 says, and how it relates to what this national defender of the faith tweeted. II Corinthians 3:2  2Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men: Now it is plain to see exactly what this National Sword of the Lord conference speaker meant. I mean it is painfully obvious what he was trying to say, plain as the nose on your face, plain as sand in a sand box, plain as….(insert sound of needle being dragged across record with speakers turned up to 75…if you remember that sound!) Hold the phone, wait just a minute.  This verse he quoted has nothing to do with what he said.  Or does it?

If you think about it he is trying to say everyone sees what a hot mess you are, everyone knows what a dirty dealing backsliding scum sucker you are, everyone knows how depraved you are, because you are known and read of all men.  Shame on you, you are an evil little twit and you have no business opening your mouth about anything because you don’t go to church and everyone knows it.  This Bible reference, coupled with the tweet, is so vague that the aforementioned is all I could come up with to describe what he must have meant.

A cursory reading of this verse would tend to make the reader think the writer was saying something good about the reader.  And in fact Paul was exhorting the Corinthians, not condemning them, and he did not mention one single thing about church attendance in the entire chapter.  Nevertheless, the evangelist in question has no qualms twisting the word of God to fit his desire to bash a brother, and whether or not he likes it, a fellow preacher.  Guys like this grab a Strong’s Concordance, look for one word and WHAM, BOOM, BASH, they fire the Bible buckshot into the backsliders backside!  They do not bother to consider the context, they just fire.  They do not consider whether or not the verse fits, they just fire.  It is not the lesson, but the fire with which the lesson is delivered that excites these “men of God.”

Now this may seem like splitting hairs, but listen folks, we are not talking about Shakespeare and one of his plays, we are talking about God and the Bible.  Now if my former bosom buddy had tweeted: “I wouldn’t give you two cents for someone in supposed leadership that lays out of…CHURCH! As You Like It act 2 scene 3  in which it says: Methink’st thou art a general offence and every man should beat thee.” not only would it have more relevance to what he was trying to say, but he would not have abused the written word of God in the process.  This is a frequent problem on Twitter, Facebook, and sadly in the pulpit as well.

You're not splitting my hair dude!

Too often an iBFer “man of God” will use the Bible to inflict verbal wounds on his hearers.  Is this what Christ would have us do?  Too often they hurl verses at men and women intended to bludgeon and maim not heal and edify.  Is that why God gave us the Bible?  This problem tends to bleed over into many other areas of ministry.

These iBFers reason that since they are the”man of God” they can use the Bible as a cudgel, because their knowledge is superior to yours.  Instead of studying to show themselves approved, they falsely use the Bible to make their points on myriad issues.  Another tweet by the same nationally published author says: “OFTEN in soulwinning, the problem is not with the sinner but with the…SAINT! John 4:27”  To be fair, Twitter does not afford the luxury of posting complete Bible verses along with commentary; you only have 140 characters to get your point across.  Perhaps the authors of such tweets use this to their advantage, be honest, how many times do you see a verse attached to a statement and not look up the verse?  I think these guys count on it.  Many on Twitter just put a verse, no commentary, just a verse, and let the Bible speak for itself.  To me that makes the most sense, God doesn’t need your comment to validate His word!  Getting back to the tweet at hand. . .

John 4:27 27And upon this came his disciples, and marvelled that he talked with the woman: yet no man said, What seekest thou? or, Why talkest thou with her?   

Jesus is speaking with the woman at the well in this passage.  The disciples are astonished and marvelled at this because 1. Jesus was speaking to a woman 2. Jesus was speaking to a Samaritan, and not necessarily in that order.  These things, and not the fact that Jesus was sharing Christ with someone, are why the disciples marvelled.  This tweet by the modern-day Billy Sunday, was meant to beat you over the head with the idea that you should be confronting people with the gospel, and you do not do it; YOU are the problem, not the wicked sinner. Again, this seems innocent because shouldn’t we be sharing our faith with people?  Yes, we should, no doubt about it.  BUT, and that was a big but…Is it ok to put words in other people’s mouths?  Is it ok to force your meaning into what someone else has written?  Is it just fine to mischaracterize the statements of others? No, no, and again I say no! It is not correct to do any of these things with anyone, and it is plain evil to do it with the Bible no matter what your intentions are.  Those who do these things are politicians, and too many of our preachers have become politicians.  Politics has turned our ministries into industries.

The disciples marvelled because Jesus spoke with a Samaritan and a woman, not because Jesus was sharing the gospel.

These preachers take this same practice to the pulpit.  Numerous times I have heard the same evangelist, and other preachers, state plainly as if it was common knowledge and written in the Ten Commandments, dead believers, are looking over the battlements of Heaven, gazing down to earth with delight in what we are doing for the Lord.  These “men of God” use Hebrews 12:1 as proof of this written in stone fact everyone and their brother knows.  However when we look at Hebrews 12:1 which says

Hebrews 12:1 1Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,  

Excuse me, grandma we're out of sugar could i borrow a cup?

We should realize this verse is not indicating Grandma and Grandpa, and the Apostle Paul are watching our actions.  Instead we must read all of Chapter 11 to realize that the “Hall of Faith” as we call it, is being referenced here. They have been a witness to us, and they have shown that we can lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and they show us we can run with patience the race that is set before us, because with God’s help they did it.   Remember, the chapter divisions and verse divisions are not inspired by God, they were put there by man for reference purposes. Hebrews 12:1 belongs in chapter 11.  So do verses 2, 3, and 4 in my opinion.  You are free to disagree, but when it was written there were no chapter divisions, and there can be no debate on that point.  Not to mention, the idea of passed on saints seeing us originated in the Catholic Church, by tradition, not by Bible.

The dead saints are not watching us from above; but this belief is symptomatic of the kind of sloppy hermanuetics and homiletics that are in play in fundamentalism today.  This is what happens when you dedicate yourself to topical preaching and call it Bible preaching.  What is the cure you ask?  You! You are the cure.  Do not let these Bible twisting scoundrels get away with it.  Stop following men, and start following God.  WE ALL have a tendency to be attracted to strong personalities, but there is no excuse to continue to let them deceive you.  When you find them to be in error, respectfully bring it to their attention, question them on it, ask them to defend their position, and when they cannot, or will not, quit going to their meetings, quit going to their church, quit participating in their empire building.  More than anything else, listen to every word, every phrase, every sermon with a critical ear, listening for error, but ready for the truth; and do not automatically assume they are doing it on purpose.  Some of these men are just parroting things they have heard from men they worship.  Others know exactly what they are doing and these men are engaging in false teaching, they are violating the meanings God has intended, they are using the Bible as a cudgel.

The Bible is not a cudgel!

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4 responses to “The Bible is not a Cudgel

  1. Ummmm… you are condemning any act of application. The idea that the men marvelled because Christ was talking to someone THEY wouldn’t talk to can directly be applied to Christians who don’t witness to sinful people because they are afraid at how other Christians will look at them. The idea that an individual is a walking talking epistle of what we believe, that our actions tell our heart is absolutely a sound application of what was said in the scriptures. There is no twisting of scripture here. And you are correct that the Bible is not a “cudgel” (get that off your word of the day calendar?) but it is a two edged sword. It IS to be used to rebuke someone in error. Everything about this post is incorrect. You apparently have hard feelings for someone, so you are trying to make them look evil, and in the process have made yourself look ignorant of preaching in general. This post made me question your history. I see that you were an associate pastor for 4 years and a “senior” pastor for 1. I’d find a mature man of God and ask him to guide you in preaching principles. Praying for you as you learn!

    • Sir or Madam,
      First of all I thought you were not going to comment on my blog again??? Secondly, your generalization is false, as are most generalizations. I do not condemn any application, just false applications like the one you propose here. The disciples were not marveled because Christ was talking to someone THEY wouldn’t talk to, they were astonished that he was talking to a woman who was a Samaritan. As you may not know the Jews hated the Samaritans because they were half breed Jews who practiced a bastardized form of Judaism mixed with Zoroastrianism. They were astonished that Jesus would bring his message, meant for the Jews, to a non-Jew who was a woman. To apply it to Christians afraid to speak to sinners is an incorrect use of this scripture. The disciples had been dealing with and talking to sinners from the very beginning of their association with Christ. It was a common and even daily occurrence for these men to speak to sinners. The application of the man on twitter was silly and a good example of a preacher using the bible as a cudgel. Additionally, I do not own a word of the day calendar. Just because you had to look up the word doesn’t mean everyone is ignorant of the word cudgel.
      As far as the II Corinthians 3:2 what I said stands. The Tweet from the twit was aimed to bludgeon me for not going to church. There are two problems with this. First, he lives 1500 miles from me and has no idea what my church attendance is. Second, he misused this verse as far as I can tell because he was accusing me of doing something bad while Paul was commending the Corinthians for doing good.
      You say the bible should be used rebuke someone who is in error and I agree, however I am not in error, and I do not need to be corrected on Twitter by the man in question. Everything about my post is correct, and I don’t need to make this man look evil, he does a fine job of that all by himself.
      As far as my resume is concerned you are close, I was an assistant pastor for 5 years and a senior pastor for a little over a year. I started preaching three years before I was on staff and I preached 2-3 times a week during that time. I have been saved for about 36 years and I am not looking for a mentor in preaching. I appreciate the suggestion, but then again I really don’t need advice from someone who is too much of a coward to identify himself.
      Sincerely,
      Rev. Jason Little

  2. Richard Jackson

    Maybe I missed this point somewhere in all this writing but according to Paul when writing to Timothy: All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
    Sounds like a cudgel to me. However I’m sure it is meant to be a loving cudgel.

    • Instruction is not a cudgel, correction is not a cudgel, and reproof is not a cudgel. The bible itself describes itself as sharp, sharper than a two-edged sword. It is ignorant preachers who turn that blade around and use the haft instead of the edge. The bible is not a cudgel.

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