How many children's party games can you recall? Ever play the one called "Gossip?" If so, the following description of it will amuse you all over again. If you're not yet familiar with it you may catch up on loads of fun and gain some valuable human nature insight, to boot! Read on for a brief description of that fascinating game:
With the children lined up single-file, an adult leader explains the game's simple rules and its two objectives. She might say, "The important thing is (A) to listen very carefully, so that you'll be able (B) to whisper the message, accurately, to the next person in line. Then, from the last player in line, we'll learn how well you've all listened and how accurately you've delivered the original message, as a team." After reading a short written message, the first player gives it back to the game leader and the fun begins.
More players mean longer games. Longer games always yield hilarious distortions of the original messages. Please keep that in mind—and this, too: Even among our mainstream denominations there are shocking contrasts in the interpretation of critical scriptures. Seems our professionals, the religious elite, have been playing multiple separate games of "Gossip" for 2,000 years. Those long games have predictably distorted God's original message. That's no surprise, of course, but there's great news: We still have God's original message—in writing! Shouldn't we throw out all the new stuff? Some of it is hilarious. It's true! The Gospel message has "evolved!" There's an awful lot of new time religion today that masquerades, very successfully, as old time religion.
Throughout most of the 2,000+ years since Jesus walked here, literacy was the exception. Literacy, today, is the norm. Still, though, the vast majority of churchgoers trust their preachers for interpretation of scripture, as if they aren't capable of reading, for themselves, with understanding. The people they trust with all their hearts, their preachers, trust denominational theologians, the Bible "experts." The theologians of each denomination hold one another accountable to their respectively franchised "what 'we' believe" platforms. What could have possibly gone wrong with that scenario over a period of 2,000 years? Suffice it to say that Lucifer is ecstatic. The gates of Hell have observably prevailed against the visible church. (See Matthew 16:18.)
Often, when a discerning parishioner questions an interpretation of Scripture, a sanctimonious teacher will respond cleverly (like a politician) with something like, "In matters like this, dear sister, you just have to have faith." That's an awful lot of faith to invest in other human beings; don't you think? To invest that much Faith Equity(SM) in God and His sensibly interpreted written word would be the smart thing to do. But these are those last days, when most believers won't endure sound doctrine. That's at least partly because popular doctrines feel more religious and more spiritual, you know....and they're more comfortable and convenient, too! It's just that human nature (i.e.: the Sin nature) is like water, always following the courses of least resistance.
Such insight prompted the apostle, Paul, to write several bombshell messages about using our minds instead of our hearts to rightly divide the word of truth; e.g.:
> Change the way you THINK! —Paul, at Romans 12:2
(Do you know someone who keeps praying that God will do that for them?)
> "Let this MIND be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus." —Paul, at Philippians 2:5
> "PROVE all things; hold fast that which is good." —Paul, at 1 Thessalonians 5:21
> God has given us the spirit of a sound MIND. —Paul, at 2 Timothy 1:7
The prophet, Jeremiah, was also acquainted with the folly of thinking with one's feelings:
> "The heart [is] deceitful above all [things], and desperately wicked: who can know it?"
You can do this! Your own literacy and intellect can get you the original 1st-Century truth. That original written message of truth is rather easy to understand—for those who will, first, learn how to study the Bible as-if-no-one-had-ever-explained-what-it-means. Some professional Christians would have you believe it's too complex and difficult for you to understand. They seek to preserve their own employment/income security. For multiple centuries, members of the clergy were delighted that their parishioners couldn't read. You and I are fully literate, though, so we must study to reap the eternal benefit of that blessing.
The lofty, intellectual, Pharisee-like theology and all that "deeper meaning" stuff can surely wait long enough for us to put an end to the 2,000-year games of Bible "Gossip." We can do that by getting the very basic critical stuff straight, first. (One of my favorite quotes is from Vince Lombardi: "Gentlemen, this is a football.")
There are critical differences between sincere Believers and fruitful Disciples. The visible church has done a respectable job of making BELIEVERS, but Jesus commanded the church to make DISCIPLES. Who's doing that? (See Matthew 28:19,20.)
Many, including clergy, may not consciously know WHY they believe whatever they believe about Christianity and the Bible. It is likely that most have passively subordinated their personal understanding to one of the theologically elite societies, each of which claims a divine monopoly on scriptural interpretation. Observably, many believers have simply defaulted to the doctrine to which they were respectively first introduced; e.g.: "Momma was a saint! Her religion's gott'a be the right religion!" You may be aware that most Muslims follow precisely the same logic to justify continuing in the Muslim faith...
> "Thus saith the LORD; Cursed be the man that trusteth in man..." —Jeremiah 17:5
In 2006, I organized a relatively large group of multi-denominational friends for some serious Bible study. We have been prompted to reexamine our own respective beliefs on several important Bible topics. In the process of following through on that objective, we have gained compassion for others who'll feel compelled to embark on their own active (as opposed to passive) searches for 1st-Century truth. Might that include you? (Learn more about how we got started at www.DYPK.org/about.)
Each believer must acquire truth for himself. One of several critical consequences for not doing that is NEVER becoming a Disciple. Active searches for truth are effective. Passive searches are more comfortable, but they can only yield confirmation of denominational dogma, at best. While denominational theologies may feature elements of Bible truth, their foundations are typically constructed of collections of derivative works. If you'll invest sufficient time on our www.DYPK.org site, you can learn why and HOW to search God's written word effectively and efficiently for the 1st-Century truth that was taught by Jesus and the apostles.
You're literate. You're intelligent. There is no rational reason for you to think the religious elite have a greater ability to interpret the really important parts of God's word for you. Yes, many of them have studied for "deeper meaning" and we should acknowledge that. But, if they are fellow servants of God they'll be delighted to learn that you've decided to begin a new study of critical scripture—this time as-if-no-one-had-ever-explained-what-it-means.
My multi-denominational Bible study colleagues and I have discovered that much of what we had respectively been taught in our various church experiences is simply not true. Some of it's dangerous! Our teachers were educated and sincere, just like yours are. So were their teachers…and their teachers…and their teachers! We were disappointed to learn that they ALL gained most of their understanding from others. Those you trust, who do they trust?
> "MY PEOPLE ARE DESTROYED FOR LACK OF [righteousnes?] [sincerity?]
[worship?] [holiness?] [getting "truly 'saved'?"] [prayer?] [faith?] [hyperspirituality?]
[regular church attendance?] [believing "what 'we' believe"?] KNOWLEDGE..."
"Gossip." Gotta stop that game! But don't make up your mind about any of this until you've done what the more-noble Bereans of Acts 17:11 did:
> "Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they
received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day
to see if what Paul said was true." [NIV]