Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Deceptive CHANGE vs. Make it Plain

The following article was prepared by Anton Bosch, inspired by reading last week's Herescope blog posts on "change" and the deceptive process of "transition." Herescope was critiquing John C. Hillary's article "Paradigm Change: More Magic than Logic" and comparing it with Chuck McAlister's purpose-driven (www.pastors.com) formula for church transformation.

Make it Plain

“Write the vision and make it plain on tablets, that he may run who reads it.” (Habakkuk 2:2).

The instruction to the prophet is to make the vision plain. In other words make it simple and easy to understand so that the reader may be motivated into action. This is the calling to all preachers, teachers and writers of God’s Word. Our job is not to impress people with our knowledge and vocabulary but to communicate the message in such a way that the hearer will not only understand it, but will be able to apply it to his life.

Unfortunately, it seems that many modern “theologians” take the joke about theology being the art of making simple things complicated seriously. Take just the following statement as an example: “To envision, to energize, and to enable changes in the paradigm, mission/purpose, and culture. . . leans more in the direction of the supersensible, the intuitive, the spiritual, the metastrategic -- the magical." (John C. Hillary, in his article "Paradigm Change: More Magic than Logic") What does that really mean?

Jesus was the most powerful, wise and anointed preacher of all time but, look how He spoke: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth…" (Mat 5;3-5). While His words were profound and life-giving they were easy to comprehend so that even children could understand Him. Those with wisdom and insight plumbed the weightiness and depth of His sayings but even the simple could understand His message. When He commissioned Peter at the sea, He did not send Peter (and us) to feed the giraffes but to feed the lambs and the sheep. (John 21:15-17). He never said a single word about how we should impress the wise and intelligent, but He said much about the consequences of causing little ones to stumble. The lawyers of Jesus’ day were very good at this game and so Jesus said to them: “Woe to you lawyers! For you have taken away the key of knowledge. You did not enter in yourselves, and those who were entering in you hindered.” (Luke 11:52).

Paul found himself under pressure by the philosophers to display his wisdom by clever arguments, but he too chose to only preach the foolishness of the Cross and concluded that “God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise” (1Corinthians 1:27).

So, we should be very suspicious of the motives of anyone who writes or speaks in big fancy terms as this is certainly evidence of a desire to boast of their vocabulary and knowledge, rather than communicate the truth. Peter speaks of them as "wells without water and clouds that carry no rain. They speak great swelling words of emptiness…” (2Peter 2:18). What a graphic description – big words that say nothing! Paul spoke of those who, “Professing themselves to be wise… became fools” (Romans 1:23). This is the same spirit of the antichrist who “was given a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies” (Revelation 13:5). No doubt, one of the things that will attract the damned to this imposter will be his convincing words. Be careful of those who exhibit the same ability as the antichrist and Satan to disguise their lies by clever speech. Paul warns against those who “do not serve our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly, and by smooth words and flattering speech deceive the hearts of the simple” (Romans 16:18).

In the past few years many of these “clever” men have also developed a whole new language that is radically different to the language of the Bible. There may be times that we have to use words that are not part of Scripture in order to describe something that is clearly taught in the Bible. Think for example, of words like “the rapture” and “the Trinity.” I am sure that it is sometimes necessary to use such words, but they should be the exception rather than the norm. However, when I try to read the writings of modern gurus, or attend their lectures, I find they have a completely new vocabulary, filled with jargon which is almost impossible to be understood by an outsider like myself. Take another look at the quote from Mr. Hillary above. Are “envision,” “paradigm,” “supersensible,” “intuitive,” “metastrategic” and “magical” biblical terms, or do they describe biblical concepts? One of them, is not even in the English language and the rest do not appear in the Bible. While most of these words seem to mean the same as similar words in the Bible, what they really mean in modern theology is directly opposite to the closest similar word in the Bible.

Unfortunately some preachers are dazzled by these fancy terms and they then begin to borrow this jargon and begin to weave it into their own messages and writings. Sometimes these parrots know what the word may mean, but often they use it without even understanding what the term really means. Of course this is not unique to theology. It is very common for journalists and politicians to do the same. I have often thought about designing a computer program that will write political or religious speeches. The program will have a basic set of fancy words, technical terms and other mumbo-jumbo which the computer will then string together at random to form sentences that really say nothing at all. I am sure we have all listened to a sermon or a speech and after 20 minutes of much hot air wondered what really was said.

I think, but could be totally wrong, that what Mr Hillary said above is: “to make changes, we need magic.” So why did he not say so? Firstly, because that would not make him sound clever and secondly, it would reveal the gross error of what he is proclaiming!

So, whenever you come across a “Christian” whose writing or speech is confusing and verbose (wordy), don’t feel inferior. It is not you who have failed to understand, it is the writer who has failed to communicate. It is not you who is stupid, but the generator of hot air is the fool. Don’t struggle with it – just let it go. If it was God’s Word, it would not be hard to understand.

If you are a speaker or writer then don’t follow the footsteps of Satan who, by playing tricks with words, deceived Eve; but follow Jesus whose Words are spirit and life (John 6:63). Let us be like the Levites, in the time of Nehemiah, who “helped the people to understand the Law… (who) read distinctly from the book, in the Law of God; and they gave the sense, and helped them to understand the reading” (Nehemiah 8:7,8).