Thursday, January 10, 2013

A Thought

“We have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed, as a light that shines in a dark place until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts; knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretations, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.”  2 Peter 1:19-21

The first thought I had this morning after having read this passage was Tony Alamo, the self-described “prophet” from Fouke AR who is now serving time (and will likely die) in prison for child molestation.  Then I thought about Warren Jeffs, the Fundamentalist Mormon also serving time for the same thing.  Then there was David Koresh, Jim Jones, and so many others who have taken the mantle of spirituality upon themselves and were so charismatic and exciting that hundreds of people followed these men, many to their deaths.  Each of these men claimed to have been speaking on behalf of the Lord and knew the Scriptures well.  What made them so dangerous and yet so compelling that men and women willingly surrendered themselves, their spouses, and even their children to these men and their ideals?

I think the answer lies in the danger expressed by St. Peter in that “private interpretation” is best expressed to those who live in ignorance of what is actually written in the Scriptures.  When our children are not exposed to the stories of the Bible and when we decide for ourselves that we do not need to read and study the Scriptures, we are susceptible to any and all strange ideas that appeal to us on some level of spiritual hunger.  It doesn’t get any more bothersome, however, than when a single preacher becomes the focal point of an entire church’s ministry.  When any community of faith is defined by the pastor rather than by the community itself, there is this substantial risk. 

I don’t think St. Peter is as concerned about the individual opinions we all have more than he is concerned about our choosing to follow any individual preacher who promises to lead us and challenges us to follow him or her rather than to follow Christ alone (rigid rules might be our first clue).  We must remember, however, that hungry people will follow the food and will not care where it comes from. 

Think of the very hungry Jesus in the wilderness who, when tempted by the evil one, resisted with the Word of the Lord: “It is written: ‘man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God(Matthew 4:4).  It is the Word of the Lord – and not individual opinion – by which we find Eternal Life!

Read the Word.  Study the Word.  Gather in the Word in communion with others of the faith.  Opinion is one thing, perspective is another, but “every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” is the ‘manna’ which sustains us and saves us.


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