Sunday, March 22, 2009

Failed Interpretations: The Narrow Road

The next episode of Xraydio that I had been working on has been put on hold indefinitely. It may show up as a "lost episode" some day. But I've chosen a replacement and have started breaking it down. Hopefully that one will be out soon. In the meantime, I'm going to break down some common mistakes in exegesis that ICOC and ICC people make in a commonly used teaching of Jesus.
"Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it." - Matthew 7:13-14 (NASB)
What does this passage say?

Jesus commands His listeners to enter through a small, narrow that leads to live. There's another wide gate that many people enter through, but it's a broad road that leads to destruction. What are these gates Jesus talks about? A parallel passage gives us the answer:
And He was passing through from one city and village to another, teaching, and proceeding on His way to Jerusalem. And someone said to Him, "Lord, are there just a few who are being saved?" And He said to them, "Strive to enter through the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able. Once the head of the house gets up and shuts the door, and you begin to stand outside and knock on the door, saying, 'Lord, open up to us!' then He will answer and say to you, 'I do not know where you are from.' Then you will begin to say, 'We ate and drank in Your presence, and You taught in our streets'; and He will say, 'I tell you, I do not know where you are from; DEPART FROM ME, ALL YOU EVILDOERS.'" - Luke 13:22-27 (NASB)
The narrow gate, or door, is a relationship with Christ. So Jesus says that the path to life is through a relationship with Himself. In addition, He says that few will find it because they will not be able to. Why? The passage in Luke mentions having a casual, not intimate relationship with Christ. The next few verses in the Matthew passage mention false teachers (Matthew 7:15-20) and lack of obedience (Matthew 7:21-23). These are the roadblocks to the narrow gate that will put someone on the path to destruction.

What does this passage not say?

This passage does not say that one can flip-flop between the narrow and wide roads. The ICOC/ICC attempts to use this passage to justify that someone can easily get back on the narrow road and consequently lose their salvation. The scriptures don't teach "once saved, barely saved". Scripture supports two possible cases: someone comes to Christ and are saved forever or someone comes to Christ and they permanently fall away from grace later.

This passage does not say that the narrow road gets narrower and more difficult as one travels upon it. Jesus's focus is getting people to go through the gate, not the difficulty of the journey once they made it through. (Conversely, it doesn't say that the broad road gets broader and easier to travel as a traveler continues on its path.) The ICOC/ICC attempts to use this passage to say that the narrow road MUST get narrower and more difficult as time goes on. And if it's not, a disciple must be on the broad road.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Exposing McKeanism In the Classroom

I ran across this series of videos on YouTube about a former member teaching about his experience in the Dallas/Ft. Worth Church of Christ to a group of students at Dallas Christian College. It's good stuff and the vast majority of it is (unfortunately) still applicable today. Enjoy!