COURTEOUS GUIDES ON
THE ROAD TO HELL

By: SR Shearer

Pastors John Hagee and Glen Cole: courteous guides on the road to hell

INTRODUCTION

A dear brother told me recently,

"Steve, people really don't like you very much. They think you're cold and callous; that you're an 'unloving person'; that you're harsh, acrimonious, bad tempered, and brusque."

But these kinds of charges are nothing new to me. It's true - I don't seem to engender "warm," "fuzzy" feelings, and those who would like to throw a rock at me have to take a number and get in line. The fact is, it's a very difficult thing today for people to speak honestly and frankly on a subject that others find "uncomfortable" or controversial without being labeled "pompous" and "arrogant."

This brings me to the subject at hand: It appears that many of our readers think that the tone of some of my recent articles has been too "unyielding" and "inflexible" – especially insofar as my twin brother and Richard Paradise are concerned, all of whom I have "been relentlessly ‘pounding’ for the last several months." [Please see our article, "The Great Grief Associated with Preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom;" please also see "The Good News of the Coming Kingdom" and "The American New World Order System Must Give Way to the Kingdom of Heaven."]

"Pompous," "arrogant," "egotistical," "overbearing" - these are but a few of the descriptions that have been hung around my neck. It seems that being direct with people is considered to be impolite and ill-mannered. Don't back people into a corner; don't hurt their feelings; don't offend others by trying to push your convictions on them. Be "tolerant" and "civil" in the things you say and do - and, God forbid, if you do decide to make a direct statement on an "uncomfortable" or controversial subject, be sure to precede your statement with "weasel words" like, "I think," or "It's my opinion," and then - when you're finished - be sure to ask those who have been listening to you, "What's your opinion?"

EVERYBODY HAS A PIECE OF THE TRUTH

That's the "likable" thing to do; after all, nobody has a corner on the truth - and if we just listen to others, and if we are willing to "communicate across our disagreements" and "find common ground" then everything will work out. Typical of this kind of FEEBLE-MINDED thinking (OOPS, there I go again) is a letter I received several years ago from one of our readers who wrote to me in reaction to another one of my more intemperate and unrestrained articles, "Capitalism and Christianity."

The article dealt with the "deceitfulness of riches" (cf., Matt. 13:22); the reader - who was evidently quite wealthy - was deeply offended by what I had said, and wrote to me in an attempt to "moderate" my views:

Be polite and respectful!

"While the content of the article is largely true, I found it interesting that you used, as support, references from the Bible - in particular one that is commonly read as "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter into the Kingdom of Heaven." My understanding is that the original Greek read "... for a tax collector..." rather than "... for a rich man..." and that the prevalent interpretation was introduced into the King James translation because of the effects that were becoming evident on the tax revenues flowing to the crown.

 "While I am unsure as to the original, untranslated content of your other supporting scriptures, it seems to me that perhaps in the case of this particular verse, it is not altogether solid in its support of your stance. Thoughts on your part? THEY ARE WELCOME SO LONG AS THEY ARE POLITE AND RESPECTFUL." [Please see addendum at the end of this article for the proper interpretation of this portion of Scripture.]

BE POLITE AND RESPECTFUL?                                                       

Wow! I must tell you, this kind of wimpy, mealy-mouthed person makes me want to vomit! Be polite? Be respectful? Of what? - of this form of absurd thinking? Is this what Jesus was doing when He said to the Pharisees and scribes (i.e., the "Religious Establishment" of His day):

"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, HYPOCRITES! For you build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the monuments of the righteous,

"And say, 'If we had been [living] in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partners with them in [shedding] the blood of the prophets.'

"Consequently you bear witness against yourselves, that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets.

"Fill up then the measure [of the guilt] of your fathers.

"You SERPENTS, you BROOD OF VIPERS, how shall you escape the SENTENCE OF HELL? (Matt. 23:29-33)

Where is there any respect here by Christ for the opinions of the scribes and the Pharisees? Where is there any willingness on Christ's part to "communicate across His disagreements" with them? Where is there any effort here to be polite? Surely, there is none!

Nowhere in any translation of the Bible can the STUPIDITY evinced in the letter above (and that's exactly what it is! - stupidity) be maintained - i.e., that the word for "rich man" should be translated "tax collector" in Matt. 19:24. The fact is, this kind of thinking is so far "out of line" that it can only be accounted for by some kind of pre-disposition of mind intent on emasculating the Bible's very clear injunctions against the rich. One needs only to take the time to consult Strong's Greek Lexicon (#4381) to dispel such thinking. Maybe the Bible according to the Republican Party (or the freakish Gospel according to Kenneth Hagin or Kenneth Copeland or Robert Schuller or Bennie Hinn) might offer such a translation, but nowhere else!

COURTEOUS GUIDES ON THE ROAD TO HELL

No! - this person is entitled to the UTTER contempt that I feel for him! - which is exactly the kind of loathing that Jesus gave to the "Religious Establishment" of His day (and, again, that's precisely what it was: loathing) when He referred to his religious opponents as "DESERVING THE SENTENCE OF HELL" and called them a den of "POISONOUS SNAKES" and a "BROOD OF VIPERS."

Prissy leaders of today's church

Moreover, one's disdain for such people should not be diminished by the rather "effete" and "polite" manner in which they present themselves and their opinions. The fact is, this kind of dishonesty in the handling of the Word of God leads to hell, and whether one is guided there in a courteous manner or not won't much matter in the end after one has at last arrived at that destination.

This is the sort of Christianity that has nothing definite to say to anyone, the kind of Christianity that is so "moderate" in its beliefs that it feels no chagrin in using such prissy phrases as "My understanding is," "The prevalent interpretation is," "While I am unsure," and that final wickedly delicious phrase, "Thoughts on your part? THEY ARE WELCOME SO LONG AS THEY ARE POLITE AND RESPECTFUL." These phrases are all typical of the kind of effeminate, sissified Christianity in vogue in America today; the kind that affluence inevitably creates; the kind that refuses to trespass on anyone's comfort zone.

WHEN PROPHECY IS A DREAM

When prophecy is a dream, it's fun

This is serious stuff, and most people draw back in fear when confronted with it. They would prefer to ignore all this, to say that we are making a mountain out of a mole hill, that we are stretching things too far; or they prefer to believe that we are not as close to "the end" as we really are.

When prophecy is a dream - when it is nothing more than a mental image, a kind of fantasy or "furtive meditation" - it's sort of fun; it's like a secret GAME we can play on a cold night in the safety and comfort of our own living rooms with good friends, good food, a warm cup of chocolate, and a crackling fire in the fireplace - the kind of GAME that Tim LaHaye's "Left Behind" series of books casually and vacuously promotes.

It lifts us out of the "ordinary" and elevates us into a whimsical world where we are no longer nameless cogs in a giant, uncaring socio-economic machine that doesn't give a whit for us, but are instead heroes and heroines ("Knight-Templars") of our Lord and Savior immersed in great feats of "daring-do." And the wonder (indeed, the pleasure) of it all is that this GAME doesn't cost us much to play. Maybe a little, but not much. No real sacrifices are demanded of us; we don't have to "pay to play;" no relationships are threatened beyond those we don't care that much about anyway; no jobs are put at risk.

But when prophecy transmutes itself into reality, when it is no longer played as a game, when actual relationships are threatened, when money is really put at risk, when jobs are actually lost, and when lives are in fact jeopardized, then prophecy becomes something else altogether, AND NOT TOO MANY PEOPLE WANT TO BE A PART OF THAT" – and this is exactly where my twin brother and Richard Paradise are. They are precisely the kind of people about whom Jesus - when speaking to the leaders of the religious establishment of His day - said:

"Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in." (Matthew 23:13)

There is only one hope for such people: SHAME them into an admission as to what they are doing – and that is EXACTLY what I am trying to do. I am faced with a situation where I see my erstwhile friends in danger of going over the falls, and they seem UTTTERLY oblivious to what is happening.

I have called out to them, but they have not heard me, so now I am throwing stones at their little rowboat, trying desperately to awake them to the danger they face, AND I AM ACCUSED OF BEING MEAN-SPIRITED IN DOING SO.

But I would rather be accused of that in my attempt to get their attention, than to say and do nothing, and watch then them plunge over the falls to their destruction.

God bless you all!

SR Sharer,
Antipas

_________________________________________

ADDENDUM

IT IS EASIER FOR A CAMEL TO GO
THROUGH THE EYE OF A NEEDLE

Jesus said:

"... it is easier for a camel to go through a needle's eye, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God." (Luke 18:25)

There are, of course, those Christians who have been told by their pastors that "the eye of the needle" through which a "rich man shall hardly pass" (referenced also in Matt. 19:24 and Mark 10:25) is the name of a narrow gate in the walls of Jerusalem, through which a camel, with some difficulty, could actually get through. This is what Father John Neuhaus, a Catholic and the darling of all those evangelicals who today are pressing for a rapprochement with the Catholics -- evangelicals like Pat Robertson, founder of the Christian Coalition and president of the Christian Broadcasting Network; Charles Colson, head of the International Prison Fellowship Ministry; Steve and Lou Sheldon of the Traditional Values Coalition; Dr. Richard Land and Dr. Larry Lewis, officers of the Southern Baptist Convention; Mark Noll, of Wheaton College; Glen Cole of the Assemblies of God, etc. -- believes.

But such a contention is so COMPLETELY ridiculous that even Peter Singer (hardly a Christian), clearly sees through this hypocrisy. Writing in the humanist magazine Free Inquiry, Singer sarcastically (but very properly) reveals the "pretense to virtue" of Christians as they squirm to avoid the clear meaning of these Scriptures (i.e., Luke 18:25, Matt. 19:24 and Mark 10:25) - A "PRETENSE TO VIRTUE" UPON WHICH THE OIL ELITES CLEARLY HANG THEIR HATS.

As Singer points out, there is zero archeological or historical evidence for this interpretation, which can only be traced as far back as the ninth century. Jesus was using a metaphor popular at the time, although one that usually referred to elephants rather than camels. And, moreover, the disciples very evidently understood what Jesus meant here - i.e., that it was impossible for a rich man to enter heaven - because,

"... they were ASTONISHED OUT OF MEASURE (at this teaching), saying among themselves, Who then can be saved?" (Mark 10:26)

To this question, Christ offers a crumb of reassurance: "With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible." Possibly! Maybe! - but the original injunction stands: Christians who want to follow Jesus and inherit eternal life will do well to give all they have to the poor. Hardly an idea calculated to win Christianity the devotion of the rich! Hardly a saying that pastors - who desperately need the support of the rich if they are going to keep up the mortgage payments on their super-churches - can use to persuade "men of wealth" to take a seat on their Board of Trustees as Second Baptist Church in Houston, Texas has done with Archie Dunham, the Chairman and CEO of Conoco Oil.

Neuhaus haughtily denies Singer's assertion that the Christian ethic tells us to share extensively with the poor, and he seems extremely annoyed that a "humanist" like Singer would be telling him (supposedly a Christian) how to interpret Scripture. Neuhaus responds to Singer:

"... the Christian ethic ... underscores that we are 'situated' creatures with duties framed by specific place and time and possibility ... The Christian view is grounded in the particular, and most particularly in the incarnation ... (of Christ) ... The vaulting ambitions of Singer's concept of 'a morally descent person' (giving their money to the poor) are implausible in theory and impossible in practice."

In other words, what Neuhaus is saying is that Christ's injunction to His disciples to share EXTENSIVELY their wealth with the poor is not only "implausible," but "impossible;" that we are creatures of the "situation" God has placed us in, and as such we have "responsibilities" to that "situation" that take precedence over "giving to the poor."

What DRIVEL! What utter NONSENSE! - and Singer clearly recognizes it as such. He sneeringly (and mockingly) retorts to the "idiocy" advocated by Neuhaus:

"Presumably Father Neuhaus is suggesting that from the fact that God has been incarnated in the form of a PARTICULAR person (i.e., Christ), it follows that we have particular duties, to our families, friends, compatriots, and so on, which override the injunction to sell what we have and give it to the poor. But by what principle of interpretation does a vague reference to the 'incarnation of Christ' count for more than the EXPLICIT Gospel account of the WORDS OF JESUS HIMSELF? ... Only, I guess, because the idea that the founder of Christianity told us to give away our assets is not at all to Father Neuhaus's liking. Nor, presumably, would it be congenial to the conservative Christians of ... (today)."



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