Consistent Inconsistency – Part 1

Some things have been taking place in my life and heart over the past few years and I would like to share some concerns. I believe these concerns directly affect the state of the body of Christ, particularly in the west like here in America.

There is a trend that seems to have developed to great proportions over the last century. In modern evangelicalism, the trend has grown to the point where fellowship between brethren is either non-existent, or teaching of issues and doctrine has become consistently inconsistent.

Let me explain based on the groups that I have seen or been involved with and share a few examples –

For a long time, I heard that the KJV Authorized Version 1611 was the ONLY version that was ever to be used. It is ignorance to hold to such a position when today we know that only a handful of people in the world can even read the 1611 version due to its style of English. But, it has not stopped the arguments which range from the ridiculous (if it was good enough for the apostle Paul, then it is good enough for me) to the well-meaning individuals who believe and practice that the Authorized Version is the “best translation” available in the English language. It is not really the latter that I am addressing here, but those who fall under the ridiculous 3/4ths of the spectrum.

Many in this group are militant and will refuse to even fellowship over coffee with another pastor across town if they learn he uses the NKJV, does his own translation work for his sermons, or <gasp> has denigrated the faith once delivered to the saints by using the ESV.

Or, another doctrinal issue that is prevalent, normally in the same group, is “Are you pre-trib and pre-millennial?” Again, the straw man arguments abound on positions both for and against, but they exist only to break down possible fellowship between people for whom Christ died.

Sadly, these same individuals have rows of books on their shelves from godly men of old that they hold in high esteem who used versions other than the KJV. They will even quote these men from the pulpit, recommend their books, and send their young people to a Bible college that uses books written by and about men who do not use the KJV and did not hold to a pre-trib rapture position. (Gasp – please say it is not so, but as an aside, this includes the great Prince of Preachers, Charles Spurgeon!) Shhhh, don’t tell anybody this little tidbit or sales of The Pulpit Commentary will decline greatly.

However, the inconsistency lies in the fact that if these godly men were alive and called for a meeting – they would be rejected outright because “they don’t believe in the same Bible.“ Many pastors would refuse to have tea or coffee with these old saints because of their belief system.

Please do NOT misunderstand. I am not speaking about sharing pulpits with others who deny the foundations of the faith. I am speaking about refusing to speak or love others who do not hold the same position on areas that are not based solely on the Scriptures. There were 1600 years of church history before the KJV was offered to the English-speaking world.  There were also a number of godly men, like Spurgeon, who did not believe or hold to a position on the rapture of the Church. Yet, these two issues divide brothers and sisters from spreading the cause of Christ.

Let me use this example —

As a missionary, I called hundreds of pastors trying to schedule an appointment to share my ministry to a non-English speaking group of tribes in Liberia, West Africa. NOT once was I ever asked about my philosophy of ministry. NOT once was I asked what my stand was on teaching these tribes about the dangers of polygamy. NOT once was I asked how I planned on teaching the men to become elders and what material would I be using to ensure continued growth should we ever have to leave the mission field.

Yet, I was asked dozens of times, “We might be interested in you sharing your ministry, but WHAT Bible version do you use?”

NOT once was I asked how I would provide spiritually, mentally, and emotionally for my family while spending hours and hours with men who were almost illiterate. NOT once was I asked what we would do when we walked into a new village that had never heard the gospel even once.

BUT, I was asked, “Do you believe in the pre-trib rapture?” Strangely, I was rarely asked my position on the millennium. However, these same pastors never questioned the theology behind some of their favorite hymns. They have never once bothered to determine whether the hymns they are having the sheep in their flock sing each week are truly theological powerhouses, or if the hymns have faulty doctrine.

Do you see the inconsistency here?

The missionary and his family have been called to a mission field foreign to everything they know and love. Yet, the average missionary requires 3-4 years to raise the needed support to sustain them on the mission field.

This involves:

  1. The cost of calling hundreds of churches,
  2. Travel all across the USA
  3. Wear and tear on the body of each family member
  4. Maintaining a home as well as hotel costs or buying an RV like a travel trailer and vehicle to pull it. The expense of living full time in an RV is not cheap and greatly depreciates what they can sell the unit for at the end of the 3-4 years.
  5. Mailing out hundreds of presentation folders, prayer letters, prayer cards, thank you cards, etc.

Why does this happen?

The average missionary on deputation takes so long to raise funds because of the consistent inconsistency in the body of Christ. Instead of asking questions about things that are vital or important, they are being asked to take a stand on areas that have no bearing on the people they will be working with.

The issues of the KJV or the rapture are obviously not the only ones that are at stake. I have received dozens of “surveys” or “questionnaires.” These pastors and churches who are to be a guide and a shepherd to the sheep would spend great deals of time asking questions like: 1) whether my wife or girls wore pants, 2) what version I used even in my devotions, 3) whether we listened to a certain Christian music group or individual, 4) what hymnbook we used personally, or 5) whether we went to the pastor’s favorite Bible college.

Sadly, if the questions were not answered correctly or favorably, the missionary has to call more churches just so they can find “the right place” to talk about their love for the Lord and for an unreached people group.

Oh, and for all this hard work of finally gaining a meeting, the average missionary gains a love offering that rarely covers his expenses for a week and a possibility of support. The average missionary requires 4-6 churches visited to gain an average monthly support of $50-100 per supporting church.

Brothers and sisters, this is just wrong. Such inconsistencies bring many missionaries to conclude that they must not have been “called.” Many use up all of their savings accounts just trying to gain enough funds to support their family and their ministries while they are on the road. They are worn out and often not in a position spiritually, mentally, or emotionally to then go through the culture shock of entering a foreign land.

To conclude for now, I realize that many who claim to be called as missionaries are not qualified. They were not taught by their home church, or have no clue about what they are going to do when they arrive in their chosen land. There are many factors that affect a missionary going overseas, but again, this is just a concern that needs to be addressed.

There is nothing about inconsistencies that bring honor and glory to Christ. All it does is helps to perpetuate poor or shallow theology at best to lies at worst.

Just because a church or pastor is consistent in their inconsistencies in belief or practice does not make it right. Inconsistencies are harming the body of Christ and not just when it comes to dealing with missionaries. Over the next few blog posts, I will have other thoughts on consistent inconsistencies.

I look forward to hearing any thoughts you may have.

 

 

9 thoughts on “Consistent Inconsistency – Part 1

  1. I have had a similar situation at church, a local person called and asked some of these same questions before they would even visit our church. I must have gone to the wrong college or use the wrong hymn book, because they never came. I do use the KJV, but I am not KJV only. I have an original page from a 1611 KJV and it is difficult to read, just as you said. I like the KJV and have used it all my life, but when you ask someone today to “fetch a compass”, they will go look for that round thing that points north; but in the Bible, it means to sail in a circle. There are other examples of words that have changed meanings over the last 400 years, so we must use other books to understand what was meant. That’s why we are told to “Study to shew thyself approved unto God” instead of merely “read”. (OK, I’m off track a little).
    Deciding such important things takes more than a few questions, it takes seeing the love that the church members have for one another, how people help others out, how they are a giving group, and how they serve God.

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  2. So sad to major on things like this
    Jesus died to deliver us from the power of sin; by faith
    He delivered us who believe from hate and greed and immorality and all the variations of these
    It sounds to me like this group of people do not really know how to rightly divide the word of truth and are even guilty possibly of judging people’s souls which we are warned in 2 Corinthians not to do. Let’s pray for unity and peace and restored love of our brothers and sisters who are the holy ones in the earth in whom shall be our delight.

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  3. Robert, you bring up a good point. It is not just the fault of the pastors who perpetuate things like this. Many were talk while sitting in the pews that those are the vital elements to look for in a church. When it is not found then they foolishly determine that there must not be a Biblically based church in their area. Again, a sad commentary on the state of the church here in America.

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  4. ‘Tis so sad so many of us love our traditions more than we love the people of God, which means there’s not much love of Christ therein, as well.

    The long-time members of the little church we belong said they liked the preaching to be from the KJV because that’s what they were used to, not because they think it, alone, is the Word of God (although one fella did say that).

    I was pretty much run out of a church because the preacher could not tolerate the knowledge that I disagreed with him – on election and the rapture.

    Those who expect others to line up under their extra-biblical traditions need to revisit the Word.

    As for missionaries, I am not supportive of the SBC program that reduces engagement to a financial contribution through the coercion, I mean cooperative program. I would much rather give money and prayer to and for a missionary or two that I KNOW.

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  5. Manfred, I agree with you, especially your comment about revisiting the Word. I don’t agree with the SBC cooperative program for a few reasons, one of which you mentioned. It is so impersonal and I also believe that it is better to give to someone you know on a close friendship level.

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  6. Good points, Mark. To be honest, insisting that the Bible only be read in a dialect no one speaks today reminds me of how the church in the Dark Ages insisted on the Vulgate or Latin Bible when no one spoke Latin anymore.

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  7. Thank you Rachel. I think one of my concerns is the ignorance of a position that has been stated in some churches, ad infinitum, ad nauseum. Instead of careful study of the Scriptures, as well as study of church history, that ignorance has taken a foothold in way too many churches. Sadly, I know of dozens of churches that are looking for pastors, but their number #1 requirement is that the preacher be KJV-only! It is a sad testimony that many can spout straw men arguments, but have no clue about Biblical theology.

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  8. I am by no means an expert on anything, but I do use the KJV. I do not find it that difficult to read. My husband and I read and study things we do niot thirughly understand, through cross references which we trust, as we do the KJV..much labir was given,and much time spent in prayer ,by the well appointed Translatirs iof the KJV, into an accurate understanding iof the Hebrew and Greek writtings ..we believe that God wants those who are seeking Him ,toknow the truth of who Jesus Christ is ,and the relationship we must all have with Him to iobtain Eternal life ,and the love that Our Father Giod has for us since befire the foundations iof the heavens and the earth. We do not believe that He would lead us all astray with the first translation ever put in print for the entire world to one day read, and come to kniw Him by the Living Word of Jesus Christ. He led these men who were translators i0f tthe same, by the Holy Spirit. He would niot ever play such a cruel Joke on us whom He loves,to allow the first translation ,which inspired other translations from that, tio be in error

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