GERALD COWAN’S PERSONAL PERIODICALS
Number 618 • March 3, 2021
FALSE RELIGION AND BOGUS SCRIPTURE
Bogus scripture? Sounds odd to say that, doesn’t it? Mention scripture and many people automatically think of the Holy Bible revered by Jews and Christians. Scripture simply means written, something preserved in writing. The written Bible is scripture, but not all scripture is the Bible . Bogus means false, counterfeit, spurious, not actually being what it claims to be. If we applied the term bogus to money nobody would misunderstand it – most would automatically think of counterfeit. No honest person would try to pass off a counterfeit as genuine. Mind you, we are not including pretend money or play money, as used in some board games such as Monopoly. Nobody thinks of that as real money. Nobody thinks you can pay your bills with “monopoly money.” No, we’re thinking here of non-genuine items one tries to pass off as genuine – some counterfeits are so similar that they are actually sometimes mistaken and accepted in place of the genuine items.
The intended deception achieves its purpose when the counterfeit is accepted as real and is then included in further transactions until it is widely accepted as genuine. But woe to you if you get taken in by the deception – you cannot spend money which becomes identified as counterfeit, and you may be penalized, even incarcerated, if you try to pass it off to others. Money is not the only thing counterfeited – paintings, sculpture, literature, music and more are forged and signed with a famous name that the counterfeiter hopes will be accepted as of great value in social commerce. Bogus or invalid counterfeits also include written things claimed to be from God, the product of inspiration of God. Counterfeit or bogus scripture includes a flood of Gnostic writings which plagued believers in God during both Old and New Testament times, but was a far greater problem for the gospel and the church. Gnosticism was and is an attempt to redefine the nature of God and Christ and the Holy Spirit by perverting the gospel and the scripture (Galatians 1:6-9), diverting the reader from the truth of God and planting in one’s mind fantasies, theories, doctrines, and great swelling (but empty) words of vanities, making merchandise of men (2 Peter 2:1-3, 18-19). But the problem of bogus scripture is greater than that.
Bogus or counterfeit scripture also includes a plethora of translations, interpretations, paraphrases, and versions some of which are travesties of truth. Do you remember The Cotton-patch Version? Have you seen Da Book, an ‘ebonics’ translation? It purports to put the Bible into racist and ethnic language for a very narrow slice of the population (others will probably not understand or appreciate it). Both are examples of Lewis Carroll’s Humpty Dumpty dictum: “Words (including written words and biblical scripture?) mean whatever I (or my version of the church) say they mean.” So, for Catholics it must include apocryphal and pseudepigraphical source writings that support evolving Catholic doctrine while supplanting the Spirit-given words of God’s truth. The Book of Mormon adds fanciful non-history as unreliable as the Babylonian Epic of Gilgamesh, the Hindu Bagavadgita and Upanishads, and the accommodative inventions of ancient Greek and Roman mythologies, and recommends them as once lost but now re-found and re-established histories of God (or gods) and His or their people. The New World Translation of Scripture of Jehovah’s Witnesses has mangled and mistranslated the scripture to support their contentions about God and Jesus Christ, the nature of humanity, the supposed “end times” and eschatology. All these and more supplant, neutralize, and vitiate that which bears evidence that ir is truly from God, breathed out by His Holy Spirit (2 Timothy 3:15-16). Those who defend various versions, including distortions, of the Bible like to say, “My Bible says …” or “That’s not the way my Bible says it” probably do not know their chosen book is not God’s Bible. What’s the benefit of counterfeit money? Little or none. But there’s no real danger unless one tries to pass it off as genuine. What’s the benefit of counterfeit scripture? Little or none – probably none. But there’s a real danger in accepting and peddling counterfeit doctrine – misinformation, disinformation – because eternal souls are placed in jeopardy, their own souls and the souls of others who can be influenced by their words.
Before considering and contrasting the positive beneficial effects of God’s word and the negative detrimental effects of the world’s words upon us, read carefully Romans 12:1-2. We will add other references as we continue.
THE EFFECTS UPON US OF THE WORDS AND WAYS OF THE WORLD.
It misinforms us. Myths, fables, fabrications, and perversions that tickle the ears of novelty-seekers and truth-deniers (1 Timothy 4:1-2, 2 Timothy 4:1-4) may tell us what we want to hear, whatever we are willing to believe – some may have moments of truth but the general impact is to misinform, to disinform. Disinformation and misinformation are usually authorized or certified by a religious leader, a “saint” canonized by a recognized church, or by a church itself. with the nihil obstat (nothing objectionable, safe for consumption by the faithful, certified by an official censor) and the imprimatur (permission to print and disseminate from some person highly placed in a church’s hierarchy) – all of it leaving the recipient ignorant and unstable, devoid of truth and separated from God.
It conforms us. Those who believe and accept the words and ways of the world become conformed to the world (Romans 12:2), enamored of the lusts of the eyes and the flesh, built up in selfish pride and vain ambitions (1 John 2:15-17). Those who conform to the world – or to any false religion – can expect to receive only what the world and the worldly institutions are able to give. Those who refuse to conform will be marked as non-conformists set for elimination by the “cancel culture.”
It deforms us. Each person is the product of what he believes and to which he consciously conforms and fits. False scripture and false churches are of the world, not of God. They demean, degrade, dishonor and dehumanize us, making us into something other than the human image of God that He designed and requires us to be (Genesis 1:26-27). They alienate us from God so that He must reject us and divest Himself of identity or fellowship with us. Worldly Christians are an abomination to God – their god is their own belly (Philippians 3:18-19); despite their earthly pedigree, their worldly human desires and lusts make them like brute beasts in His sight (2 Peter 2:12), and their end will be in the dust of the earth (Ecclesiastes 3:16-22).
THE EFFECTS UPON US OF THE WORDS AND WAYS OF GOD.
It informs us. It supplies us with the truth about our origin as the distinct design and creation of God (Genesis 1:26-31, 2:21-27). It teaches how to live as God wants and directs – God’s way is for our good, not to satisfy pride and desires of our own hearts.
It transforms us (Romans 12:2). The laws and commands of God, including the gospel of Christ, are not merely to restrain and control us but to equip and enable us to secure fellowship with Him, life in Him, and a place in His heaven. Obedience to His words removes all flaws, sins, and imperfections. It adds virtues, corrections and improvements, all that is needed to be and reflect what God wants and designed us to have and be – all of that is as revealed to us in His words. Pause here and read Ephesians 3-4 and Colossians 3. See how many lists you can find in the New Testament writings of what is to be removed and what is to be added in the one who wants to be right with God. Make note of what you find, send me a copy if you would like to.
It reforms us. The renewed person is called a new creature, a new creation (1 Corinthians 5:7, 3:18, Ephesians 4:20-32, Colossians 3:1-16). The new spiritual creation is God’s part. The new personality, new attitudes, desires, abilities, concepts about purposes and goals – that’s our part, but directed by and based upon His words.
It glorifies us. Faithful adherence and obedience to the words and ways of God will qualify us for citizenship in the kingdom of heaven and certify our rights and privileges while clarifying and brightening our hope of extending it from earth to heaven. Our commonwealth, our citizenship as Christians is already noted, but our current place and conditions of residence are on earth. But we look forward to the time we can go home, to our real abiding and eternal home reserved for us in heaven (1 Peter 1:1-9). We are willing to die – to be absent from our current physical bodies and from our current situation on earth in order to be eventually present with out Lord in heaven (2 Corinthians 5:1-9). Then our imperfect earthly bodies will be changed into the likeness of the glorified and glorious body of our Savior, Jesus (Philippians 3:30-31, 1 John 3:1-2). Because of that hope, that desire and expectation) we are zealous to purify ourselves – to be pure and holy as he is pure and holy – while we are on earth in these mortal bodies and capable of making all the required changes in our faith and action and disposition (1 John 3:3). What a day, glorious day of our final transformation comes, when we see the Lord as He is and will be like Him. God is working in us, with us, and for us – for our good, and so that we can be conformed to the image of His Son, Jesus (Romans 8:28-29). We are workers together with Him for the same purposes and the same hope (2 Corinthians 6:1-2).