GERALD COWAN’S PERSONAL PERIODICALS
Number 568 • October 4, 2020
FALSE TEACHERS AND FALSE REPRESENTATIVES OF GOD
Oh how I love Your law. It is my meditation all the day.
Through Your commandments You make me wiser than my enemies; for they are ever with me.
I have more understanding than all my teachers;
for Your testimonies are my meditation.
I understand more than the ancients,
because I keep Your precepts. . . .
All Your precepts concerning all things I consider to be right; I hate every false way. Psalm 119:97-99, 128 NKJV
This Psalm is considered to be inspired scripture – no teacher today is inspired by God, though many seem to think they are and are allowed to speak and are deferred to as if they were by ignorant or naive persons who accept their words as if they were genuine oracles of God. Some are actually willing to set aside the words of scripture and take in their place the words of men overly impressed with themselves who confidently assure us they are telling us what God, the Lord Jesus, the prophets and apostles and other supposed oracles really meant by their words, and what God would be saying now had He kept up with the development of science and culture and, especially, the evolving insights of philosophy and religion. God will not forgive such blasphemy, but we can pray that He will defend and preserve us from it. He will do so if we abide in His precepts, His testimonies, His commandments, His law and covenant.
Unfortunately we who claim to be His people have shown ourselves willing to retranslate, reinterpret, and misrepresent His words of scripture to suit the times, the culture, and the insistent demands for a message and a God that more nearly fulfills our desires. We have proved our willingness to hear and trust false prophets and false teachers, those seducing spirits who tickle our heretical ears by preaching damnable heresies and doctrines of demons in service to the enemies of the only true God and His Christ (1 Timothy 4:1, 2 Peter 2:1-2). We have bowed the knee to Baal and a multitude of other idols who promise us freedom to do whatever we want and not fear recriminations from God. We have become easy prey for false teachers and antichrists who persuade by great swelling words of vanity – good-sounding, fair-sounding empty speeches that appeal to the hearer (Romans 16:18, 2 Peter 2:18, 1 John 4:1-2).
FALSE TEACHERS ABOUND WHERE YOU LEAST EXPECT TO FIND THEM
Translations of the Bible. We have bought into the proliferation of “versions” of the Bible. “Purpose” Bibles for a particular targeted audience are very popular: Men’s Bible, Women’s Bible, Children’s Bible, simplified easy to read and understand, deplorable paraphrases, and many more are commercially profitable. There are versions designed, produced, and supported by denominations and cults – from Catholic to Reformed Protestants to the Watchtower Jehovah’s Witnesses and the esoteric fiction of the Book of Mormon. Even a few of “our own” preachers and pundits who persuade us they “have finally got it right” and we can rest easy and confident now that “our” doctrines are properly presented in Bibles fit for “our people.” On the other hand, some have resisted any “updating” or revisions, even corrections, of favorite long-trusted standards such as the Authorized Version more commonly known as King James Version (authorized by King James, not by God) – despite the fact that a number of common words in it have changed meanings since the late sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. A usable and trustworthy translation must present the exact meaning of the original Bible words into words of the target language (for us that is 21st century English). It is not enough that we end up with the same meanings as the words used in our favorite English translation. We do not need a translation of the KJV, ASV, NIV, NLT – but we actually have some of those. I know, with these remarks I have probably lost some who will not tolerate any hint that the KJV is not a sacrosanct translation “inspired and preserved from error and presented in proper holy language (thee and thou and appropriate inflected verb forms) by the Lord God himself” and not to be altered in any way. Actually the only scriptures truly inspired by God and preserved from error are the original autographs from the authors themselves – none of which are still in existence, for all we know, and are certainly not extant and not available for perusal by any human eyes now. Translators or interpreters who tell you they have been assured by God – “God spoke to me” (directly or by dreams, visions, or visits from angels) and “God speaks to me and/or the church I represent” – that their product is in very truth “the inspired words of God,” are either confused or lying. Some suggest that you “pray and ask God to verify” the version you consider selecting – which actually means “let your heart be your guide, make your own choice.” Be pragmatic: if it fits your need and desire, that’s enough to validate your choice. It is a bit disconcerting, isn’t it, that your “easy to read and easy to understand” version may be misleading and misinforming you? You need and deserve better.
Churches which are not the church of the Bible. EKKLESIA, the word translated church means literally an assembly, a group congregated or gathered together for a special purpose, etc. Compare Acts 19:29-41 where a hostile angry mob is called an unlawful assembly (EKKLESIA), and Acts 7:38, where the whole encamped nation of Jews is called the church (EKKLESIA) in the wilderness. Jesus did not build or call into being many different churches – especially not different “kinds” of churches. He spoke of it in the singular (Matthew 16:18 I will build my church). The church, the “body of Christ” is one (Ephesians 1:21-23, 4:4-6). The plural form of the word, “churches” (as in Romans 16:16 and Galatians 1:2) refers to various existing congregations, not different kinds as in denominations, etc. The current tens of thousands of “churches” are all doctrinally, structurally, and functionally different and do not agree with each other or with the New Testament of the Bible. Those not of the Bible must be false.
Popes, prelates, pastors, and preachers. These generally reflect and represent disparate religious groups, churches, or denominations and teach or impose the dogmas and promote the agendas of counterfeit Christians and usurpers of divine prerogatives. They cannot secure their own position or even their existence with the truth of God, so they make outrageous claims, extravagant promises, preposterous demands, and apocalyptic threats. The “carrot on a stick” ploy promising health and wealth for “keepers of the faith” keeps the greedy trying to follow their leader into the utopian paradise he or she claims to inhabit and seem willing to accept a personal lack of proper faith as cause and justification for their perpetual failure to reach the promised heaven on earth. The purveyors of pretended prosperity, these self-appointed spokesmen – some like to be called ambassadors – of God do not hesitate to sign His name or that of His Christ to I-O-U’s that will be as worthless as counterfeit Confederate money when one tries to redeem them at the Bank of Heaven. The most effective way to keep parishioners passive is to frighten them into submission by threats of violent punishment, excommunication, and an eventual fiery hell for all dissenters. There are religious terrorists, just as there are political and social and cultural terrorists who use promises and threats to suppress and control any opposition.
There are religious anarchists too, intent on having their own way no matter what the consequences and costs may be for others. Truth to tell, most and possibly all of us are infected with trace amounts of anarchy – self-seeking, self-serving, self-pleasing, self-gratifying me-first, me-only and I don’t care anything about you or others as long as I can get what I want for myself, while valuing others (including God, the church, the government, and society) only as resources for self-fulfillment.