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