I made up the title. The “letteralists” are legalists by the “letter” of whatever law is on the floor at the time.
I discovered a long time ago I didn’t speak the same language as many of those who call themselves Christians. We read the same Bible, in the same language, but we come away with a different understanding. I don’t want to sound smug, but I think it has to do with the difference between the letter of the law and the spirit of the law. I see Jesus more interested in the spirit, the intent, the meaning and purpose of the law, rather than the statement of the law itself.
I thought about this as I looked through a journal that comes my way every so often. The topic of the issue was Situation Ethics, so I knew it would have a number of examples of the barriers of spirit versus law.
In one article, the author seems concerned about Rahab. Two passages say she was justified by “faith”, Heb. 11:31, and by “works”, James 2:25. But she is saved because she lied about the Hebrew spies and hid them to save she and her family.
Let’s see how this fellow worked that out. He said that nowhere in the New Testament does it mention that she lied. That’s true, but it hardly changes the fact that she did. (By the way, she was also a traitor to her country.) The writer says this “…demonstrates that all justification before God involves both faith and works.” He then says, “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Rom. 10:17. Conclusion? “We do not know how the information had been brought to Rahab, but her faith came from the truth that she had heard.” He says that Rahab was told the truth about God’s people (Josh. 2:9,10), so she had faith and acted on it. That’s a terrible use of scripture, but she still lied.
In a place where his language gets twisted, he mentions Abraham. Remember Abraham lied twice and put Sara in jeopardy to save his own life. The author says about Abraham, “More than once he thought lying was necessary to save his life. The situation demanded it. (Read that sentence again) But it was a sin…”
I have my doubts about the situation demanding it, but he did it. But how can anyone say the situation “demanded it” and then say it was wrong?
After running around more than I have room to discuss, he says, “Further, in view of all the Bible teaches about repentance and forgiveness, it has to be recognized that Rahab, Abraham, Noah, David, and all the rest did not continue in their wrongs.” So Rahab repented?
If we apply the logic (?) he used on Rahab, the Bible never says they all repented. In fact, the writers of the Bible have no trouble with any of that. Why? It seems to me that they were more interested in how the will of God as they saw it turned out, (the spirit of it) rather than finding a way to deny or to justify it.
Using his logic we could also say since faith comes by hearing from God, all the concubines and plurality of wives of the kings must have been because God said they could have them.
A close look at the Old Testament shows a different ethic applied to the enemy than to countrymen. When Moses went to Pharaoh to ask for the release of the Israelites, he said they were only going out on a three day trip to worship. Not true. He knew they were not coming back. And, the Israelites were to ask their Egyptian friends and neighbors for gold and silver and clothing. The assumption was that these items would be blessed by the God of Israel and returned. Not so. See Exodus 3ff.
When David was running from Saul, he and his men came to Nob. David told Abimelech, the priest, that they were on the King’s business. Not true. David demanded the consecrated bread to eat since they were hungry. (Another ethical dilemma) A servant of Saul’s, Doag, saw all this. Later, when Saul demands to know how David escaped, Doag tells the “truth” and gets an innocent Abimelech and some other priest’s killed by guess who? Good old, truthful, Doag. (I Sam. 21,22.)
The “letteralists” ask, “Is it right to do wrong for the right reason?” Their assumption is that because it does not fit the letter of the law it is wrong. Thinking of Doag, I would ask, “Is it ever wrong to do right?” Which is what Doag did by the letter of the law. Is there ever a time when the “letteralistic” truth is a lie? .
CONCERNS: Polly Altice has been told she will need a kidney. Tests will begin in a couple of months to see if she is strong enough for the surgery. Debbie McRoy’s great-niece, Jewell Manhold, will have surgery on the 6th. Ian McRoy has a friend, Michelle Yates, who has terminal cancer. The son of one of Judy McWhorter’s customers has a tumor removed that is affecting his heart. Tricia, a friend of the Bolins needs our prayers. Alice Blessing has a friend whose child was born with scolioses and will need surgery. A good friend of the Foys also has terminal cancer. Connie Crites dad is doing well, but hospice has been suggested. Pam Pierce (Philip’s mother) is improving as she gets ready for heart surgery. Remember also Joni Beach’s mother, Zona Fisher and her brothers, Tim and Roger, who have cancer, Roger Fishers nephew, (cancer) James Altice, (cancer)
Melanie Almeder, (cancer) Mike Breeding, (heart problems) Isabell Simmons, Helen Nicklas, Julie in Texas, (stroke) Teri Burks, Trixie Long, Barbara McCauley, Wilma and Jenni Cullum, Tim Elder, Health Talents and Bread For A Hungry World.
OUR DAILY BREAD: JULY 5-10
Monday: II Thessalonians 1:2-12
Tuesday: Matthew 1:18-25
Wednesday: John 2:1-11
Thursday: I Thessalonians 1:2-10
Friday: II Timothy 2:1-13
Saturday: Isaiah 40:1-11
OUR DAILY BREAD: JULY 12-17
Monday: John 4:27-42
Tuesday: Ecclesiastes 11:1=10
Wednesday: Psalm 86:1-17
Thursday: Genesis 3:8-21
Friday: II Timothy 3:1-17
Saturday: Psalm 84:1-12
HIGH SEAS EXPEDITION!
That’s’ the theme for this year’s Vacation Bible School. It will take place on the days of 26-30 each evening from 6-8 PM each evening. As the dates arrive the building will become more and more transformed, which will require helpers, so be ready to volunteer mate!
Some of the needs are posted on the wall near the steps. Take a look at the barrels and see which of them you can supply. Also, if you have any nautical items you could lend, s let Erma know.
Registration can be done on the our web site @ roanokechurchofchrist.com
Since we did not have camp this year we have been talking about doing a short camp on our own. It looks like August will be a good time for that. What we need is for all the young folks who go to camp to talk to their parents and to each other and find the best dates that will not conflict with vacations etc.. We will get ideas from the Lynchburg folks as well. We will also be doing our own cooking, so we will need to fix a menu of the most liked breakfast and food for other meals. Anyone who would like to go as a cook, let it be known.
Our thanks to Nathan Flora for his help in cutting up the tree that fell last Sunday behind the annex. There was just a little damage to the gutter and down spout. The tree was part of a tree that had a twin trunk, so the other half will be taken down soon.
While we are talking about trees, the two large trees along the street on either side of the entrance to the parking lot tend to be the ones that drop limbs in the summer. If you usually park there you may want to find another place. The trees belong to the city and in time they will probably replace them with new ones as they have on nearby streets.
Manna Ministries distributes groceries to over 200 local families each week. Baker Chiropractic and Wellness Center, 3260 Electric Road is helping out by being a collection center from July 5-29. A box will be in their office for non-perishable food items and paper items.