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RUBEL'S RUBBISH OR THE MOUNTAIN
SERMON MANGLED BY MODERNISM
In checking back through the old issues of the Gospel Advocate, when problems and issues arose in the church, great and godly editors filled page after page of the paper with sound and scriptural articles which zeroed in on false teaching. Lipscomb, Sewell, Harding, Elam, Srygley and others stood as a solid phalanx against digression. Boles, Goodpasture, Brewer, Totty, Hardeman, and others, soared as on eagle's wings while combatting modernism, liberalism, digression and every other form of ism. Those brethren knew where the truth was and they stood upon it. They left us a heritage which should be guarded with our lives. That heritage is found in "...the faith once for all delivered unto the saints" (Jude 3). Let us be faithful to forever defend it (Phil. 1:17).
It is not optional, but it is a sacred mandate that we must lose our lives if we would follow our Lord (Matt. 10:39). "It is not ours to reason why, it is but ours to do and die." The cause of Christ must be dear to the heart of every Christian. This involves an attitude and a willingness to "...convict the gainsayer" (Titus 1:9). It demands that we "...hate every false way" (Psa. 119:104).
I need not stress to the reader that I love the truth as revealed in the Bible. For almost half a century, it has been my text. Why should I abandon it as my chart and compass? As the shadows begin to lengthen, my ardour for the sacred and eternal truth of the Bible grows as I sit for several hours each day with the open Book in hand and a hungering heart to imbibe the preachments and examples given by my heavenly Father. A charge to keep I have, and a God to glorify. This is not a charge to keep silence when evil is so pronounced.
When Rubel Shelly presented a series of lessons at the Woodmont Hills Church of Christ (formerly called the Ashwood Church of Christ), and when the Lipscomb Board of Directors gave permission for Rubel's church to begin meeting in Collins Auditorium on the Lipscomb campus, and when it became so obvious that brother Shelly was teaching error and that there was a growing affinity between Shelly and Lipscomb, some of us voiced our concerns then. But do you think we were listened to? I know that I know, that I can get a few people to listen, but do not think that I am so naive as to think that very many will hear what I have to say.
This little booklet is a bold challenge to the modernism which I firmly believe is at the root of brother Shelly's teaching in what he calls, "The Sermon On The Mount." I submit these writings because I love the church, I love the Bible and its teachings, and I love young people. It grieves my heart to know that one who teaches so much error is given an almost free rein on the campus of David Lipscomb University where he is in a position to have so much influence on the tender young hearts of the students there. It is my prayer that brother Shelly will repent of the error he has been teaching and return to the sound teachings he once espoused.
Keep praying for me,
184 Hillview Drive
Mt. Juliet, Tn. 37122
RUBEL'S RUBBISH OR THE MOUNTAIN
SERMON MANGLED BY MODERNISM
It matters not how puerile a position may be, or how absurd it may sound, we know for a fact that many will clap and clamor for it. As I write this paper, I also know that my efforts will be about as effective with some as Jesus' encounters with the blind guides of his day. It is not expected that wooden blocks can be made to think rationally, nor is it to be expected that some people will reason and "...work out your own salvation with fear and trembling" (Phil. 2:12). It is so much easier to entrust our thinking, understanding and salvation ( ? ) to someone else. This system has worked very well ever since the clergy-laity plan began to be used among congregations of the Lord's people. Members have to "lay" still until the "clergy" tells them what to believe. (The members "lay," and the clergy often "lie." (I'll try to mend my grammar). There are still those with good and honest hearts who steadfastly refuse to be led to the shrine of liberalism and bow before the gods of modernism.
I sincerely pray that those who read this material will not think that I might be shadow-boxing as one that beats the air. Anyone who knows anything about the Old Ship of Zion is keenly aware that the waters upon which she sails are troubled.
In these troubled times there is one passage of scripture which we need to pull out from among the moth balls and let everyone know of its value. When inspiration guided the pen of Paul, he wrote, "For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of the world, against spiritual wickedness in high places" (Eph. 6:12). All those who claim to be against being against, need to wrestle with the preceding passage. Those who have a distaste for wrestling with the devil and his crowd need to do some serious struggling with the word of God. Why should it seem to be such an
incredible thing to be against error?
Old Lot tried to get sweet with Sodom but he lost in every round. When Gideon marshalled his army, he immediately needed to get rid of 22,000 cowards. He didn't need soldiers who would blow bubbles and spew hot air. When he went to battle, Gideon knew that, "...He that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep" (Psa. 121:4). It is still the case that, "...even to your old age I am he: and even to hoar hairs will I carry you" (Isa. 46:4). "When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee: and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee..." (Isa 43:2).
We do not have to join the unholy alliances of the devil in order to be acceptable to God. Eve thought she could be a cheer leader on the devil's team, but she lost her fancy pom-pons have a neighbor who works for the State and Federal Wildlife Agency. He has some injured bald eagles in captivity and the majestic birds are powerless to soar heavenward. This is not half as bad as those poor preachers who have been "winged" and captivated by the devil. Seems as if the desire of some brethren to stand for the truth and be lifted up as on eagles' wings has all but vanquished. In too many places the preacher has built him a church play house . There is more concern for relevance than there is for reverence. One fellow now advertises himself as "church humor" and sallies back and forth over the country charging churches to entertain those who would turn the church into a religious night club. The Bible becomes a book of humor. How "funny" was it for Jesus to die for the church? We are a frenetic bunch seeking for prestige; position, prosperity and popularity. This has resulted in casting out all kinds of nets, but we have woefully failed in sorting the fishes.
If we seem to be too negative, too concerned, or too insistent, our sole purpose is to plead for a firm and unswerving stand for the word of God. Has there ever been a departure from the faith? Could there ever be a turning aside from the truth upon the part of individuals or congregations? The answer is too obvious for Bible students. One whole church turned Jesus out and closed the door (Rev. 3:20).
As our forefathers faced an onslaught of modernism, liberalism and warmed over German Rationalist exactly one hundred years ago, even so like the plague, the disease has broken out again to the utter wreck and ruin of many sound congregations. In one of my
lectures in Memphis, Tennessee, a few years ago I made the comment that it is not the woodpeckers without, but the termites within which do so much destructive work.
We are in perfect agreement with a young man of yesteryear who penned a factual, courageous, truthful, undeniable and needed warning against the encroachments of modernism. The article was the truth when written and it is the very truth today. Please give prayerful consideration to the following article which was written by Rubel Shelly and which appeared in the April, 1972, issueof the Spiritual Sword. With permission from the editors of the Spititual Sword, we reprint the article as follows:
SOME MARKS OF MODERNISM
There is a rising tide of liberalism in the church today. Some liberals are very open about their modernistic beliefs and practices and are avowedly intent on "restructuring" the church. others are modernistic in their tendencies and sympathies simply because they have let themselves be ruled by subjectivism (which is the spirit of our time) without having thought critically about the issues involved. In this latter category are to be found a great many young people who are highly susceptible to emotionalism.
Under the guise of "relevant preaching," "dialogue," "fellowship" and "tolerance," liberalism is sweeping the field! Now all of these terms, when properly defined by the Scriptures, are perfectly legitimate. "Relevant preaching" is the declaration that Jesus is Lord and the exhortation for people to submit to him in repentance and baptism. (Cf. Acts 2:36-38). "Dialogue" is the bold confrontation of error with the truth of the gospel. (Cf. Acts 17:16-31). "Fellowship" is the sharing of Christian love with others who are saved and serving children of God. (Cf. I John 1:7). "Tolerance" is the forbearance of one another in love with regard to matters of sheer opinion. (Cf. Rom. 14)
These terms which have just been defined by Scripture have been redefined and used improperly to justify various forms of compromise with evil. So "relevant preaching" is held to be the discussion of ecology, social injustice and humanitarian concerns. "Dialogue" is the giving of equal time to false doctrine without showing its damaging nature. "Fellowship" is the recognition of all so-called Christians as equals with those who have been obedient to the one faith. "Tolerance" is the ignoring of doctrinal error and an unwillingness to deal with sin in the manner the Bible has prescribed.
The words are good words! But with the definitions given them by liberals, they are nothing more than respectable disguises for subtle evil! The liberal is careful to appear humble, pious and genuinely concerned for the welfare of the church. He speaks in his special vocabulary and wins people to his way of thinking. He compromises the truth and undermines the strength of the gospel. How appropriate is our Lord's warning found in Matthew 7:15. "Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly are ravening wolves."
Dishonesty of Liberals
One of the great dangers of liberalism is its inherent dishonesty! False teachers in generations past would exclude themselves from the fellowship of the faithful people of God and seek to destroy the truth by a frontal assault. But not so with the liberals. They go about their insidious work of overthrow from within. They use pulpits, magazines, lectureships and publishing houses to win people to themselves and their false doctrines.
It is time that Christians generally know what is going on in the church. It is time for the marks of apostasy to be pointed out so that false brethren can be recognized and dealt with according to Scripture.
Abandoning Our Distinctiveness
Liberal elements within the churches of Christ have made great strides toward turning the church into a denomination. Although not many brethren seem to have realized it, we are being influenced to abandon our distinctiveness.
Faithful Christians have, since the time of Peter and Paul, believed and taught that: ( 1 ) Christ established only one church (Matt. 16:18: Eph. 4:4), ( 2 ) all those people who obey the gospel unto the salvation of their souls are, by the same process which saves them, added to that church when they are baptized unto the remission of their sins (Acts 2:38, 41, 47), ( 3 ) Christ's church must abide in his doctrine ( II John 9-11), ( 4 ) Christ's church must worship in spirit and truth (John 4:24) and ( 5 ) Christ's church is not on a par with denominations established by men and perpetuated by false doctrines. (Matt. 15:13)
In all this our distinctive plea has been for men to respect Biblical authority by having a "Thus saith the Lord" for everything believed, taught and practiced before God. We have pleaded for men to neither add to nor take from the plan of God but to "do all in the name of the Lord Jesus." (Col. 3:17) We have urged them to "walk by faith" (II Cor. 5:7) and have correctly observed that this involves strict adherence to the Word of God. (Cf. Rom. 10:17) We have reminded men to speak where the Bible speaks and to be silent where the Bible is silent.
But what we are hearing from the pulpits, in Bible classes and seminars today? What are we reading from left-wing magazines (e.g., Mission and Integrity) and in many church bulletins? We are being told that such "old-fashioned preaching" on baptism, the one church and intrumental music is no longer effective. We are being asked to believe that strong doctrinal presentations do more harm than good. We are being brainwashed into shying away from controversies and debates.
Bold Step Toward Apostasy
I have recently encountered several individuals who are frankly urging that we admit to being a denomination. Some would tie us to the denominational world by joining ministerial alliances and participating in inter-denominational sing-ins and social action programs. Still others have invited false teachers in the church or outright sectarians to speak to Sunday School or youth groups so as to "allow our people to hear the other side." These things are sinful in themselves and will ultimately lead to a mass apostasy from the truth!
If we do not intend to maintain our distinctiveness, we have no right to exist. If we are not going to preach the truth boldly, let us not preach at all. If we are unwilling to oppose false teachings and false practices, let us quit claiming to be the people of the holy God!
The church of Christ is not a denomination. But it will be soon if some among us have their way! As soon as we cease preaching the distinctive message of the gospel, we cease being the true church of Christ and become something less!
Brethren, let us unashamedly ring out the Jerusalem gospel and stand firm in our loyalty to the Lord. Let us be God's distinctive people! (Cf. I Pet. 2:9)
Standing Firm for the Word
Brethren, we are responsible for the soundness and progress of the kingdom of God in our generation. To deny the encroachments of liberalism among churches of Christ is to refuse to acknowledge what all of us already know! To write it off as a "matter of semantics" and "broken lines of communication" is to practice unpardonable self-deception! God alone knows how many of our brothers and sisters have already been swept into denomenationalism or uselessness in the church because of it-- or how many more will be.
It is time to become militant in our preaching of truth and opposition to error. In his day of distress over the work of God, Jeremiah cried, "And if I say, I will not make mention of him nor speak any more in his name, then there is in my heart as it were a burning fire shut-up in my bones, and I am weary with forbearing, and I cannot contain." (Jer. 20:9). Oh, that God would raise up more men with the spirit of Jeremiah in our own time!
A number of our brethren are teaching false doctrines which will condemn souls. They deny the infallibility and inerrancy of Scripture. They refuse to "walk by faith" in recognizing the authoritative statements and silences of the Word of God. Many are denying that instrumental music is a valid test of fellowship and have made overtures toward fellowships of the Conservative Christian Church. Inevitably, due to their having abandoned the authority of Scripture, they are willing to tolerate immorality in the church.
Responding to Liberalism
The burning question before us at this point in history is: Shall modernistic false teachers be treated as friends or enemies of the cause of Christ? Some would answer that liberals are not to be viewed so much as heretics but as those who intellectually hold views somewhat different from their more conservative brethren. In contrast to this view, the clear teaching of the Bible is that the work of God is to be done exclusively by his saved and faithful people and that modernists are to be regarded as heretics and enemies of the truth! (II John 9-11). They ought to be separated from, rebuked and warned against openly! (II Thess. 3:6: Rom. 16:17).
To be sure, such discipline must come as a result of careful adherence to truth and not as a carnal vendetta and act of the flesh. It must be administered with love for the offender and with a sincere desire for his repentance and restoration. Harsh personal remarks bordering on civil slander are unjustified in the treatment of any man whether atheist, immoral brother or false teacher. We must take heed against "ugliness in the name of truth," i.e., an eagerness to cut men off without first doing all that can be done to call them to repentance. This sort of spirit would surely make the church ugly and repulsive to all!
Let liberalism be called what it really is, i.e., damnable heresy designed to overthrow the faith. Let those who have come to champion its falsehoodsbe challenged, rebuked and called to repentance. If they persist in their liberalism to the church is real and our task is clear. May God help us rise to meet by his strength!
(The above article by Rubel Shelly was copied from the Spiritual Sword, Vol. 3, April, 1972, #3, and was the Feature Article for the Quarter)
As one young preacher said, "How's that grab you? The things he is saying today are not even akin to what Shelly said in days gone by. What he says now doesn't seem to be a firm grasping for the truth of my God and consequently, it doesn't "grab" me too well.
We simply cannot help wondering if some of our modern preachers think that they speak ex cathedra. Certain ones assume an air of superior knowledge and leave the impression that they sit in Moses' seat. Out in Texas, Alvin Jennings advertised himself as the angel of the church in Fort Worth. In Nashville, Don Finto has declared himself to be an apostle. I'm waiting until some brother sallies forth and announces that he is the devil. Oh, yes, some of the brethren will believe it and think what powers such a devil could weild. May God deliver us from the dictims which are handed down from the most holy sanctuaries. Only a buffoon would dare question the elevated learning of the L's, S's, and D's (That's Lawyers, Scribes and Doctors). Jesus didn't buy stock in fuzzy corporations and neither should we. Most any honest and sincere school boy can expose the liberal, burnt-crust theology which has been copied by some of our brethren from ultra liberal theologians.
The Athenians were described by Luke as men who sought some new thing(Acts 17:21). Do you suppose they ever found it? I reckon there is no new thing under the sun, but some of our brethren almost take the "jerks" when they happen to read some "new" idea--which of course has already been read by thousands of others(Eccl. 1:9).
It would be amusing if it were not so sad to see some brother who will try to make it appear that he has really sought out and laid the groundwork for some profound truth. Such revelations will usually cause a swarm of "me too dwarfs" to get so excited--but not enought to think about testing or proving matters by the word of God. It does seem a bit skeptical, unloving, sectarian and doubting to check up on clerical performers. But sure enough, the Bible actually says, "Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God, because many false prophets are gone out into the world" (I John 4:1). Now I reckon that's law, but the super star performers say that we are under grace and not under law. I still think that the only way the world could have been cursed with the first pope and all his successors was for men to demonstrate the same kind of blind allegiance to preachers that we see in so many places. The disc jockey says, "You stay tuned to my station and I'll tell you what you need to hear." The Bakkers, Swaggarts, Falwells, Robinsons and such stripe never had more blind devotees than can be found entering some of the doors over which it is written, "Church of Christ." It is absolutely futile to get the truth across to some of the disciples of him who gives out that he himself is some great one (Acts 8:9). Oh, but we like to follow those who tell us how brilliant and how great they are. One could as quickly stop a roaring tornado with a puff of breath as to succeed in arresting the attention of some who blindly follow false teachers.
Sometimes men change their colors like the autumn leaves, but the truth is as unchangeable as God (James 1:17). When any of us get to the point that we do not really love the word of God, then like Demas we can turn therefrom. Moreover, a working of error will be believed and our soul will be damned (II Thess. 2:11). The liberal modernistic spirit is certainly one of these errors. Brother Rubel Shelly tried to warn people about this back in 1972.
Some of us grow older and hopefully stronger in the faith, whereas some of us just grow older. On February 7, 1988, Rubel Shelly began a series of sermons to the Ashwood church in Nashville, Tennessee, which was to result in spending "...some time with Jesus' sermon on the mount." The performer and the performance were no doubt interesting to a certain class of people, but I stand ready and able to prove that the speech is reeking with falsehood. We are not at liberty to "whereas" and "whyfore" as we please. This matter of taking excessive liberties with the word of my God has been one reason for the egregious blunders into which various ones have fallen. I stand exactly where brother Shelly stood in 1972. I know for a fact that he will not consent to defend the views he expressed in that 1972 article. I feel certain that Rubel would not condescend to become so sectarian as to meet me or some other Bible believing gospel preacher in a public discussion on the liberal views expostulated in that sermon series at Ashwood. Most false teachers soon learn that, "Discretion is the better part of valor." We are positive that soldiers of Christ can be men of valor without being sectarian. It is never sectarian to take a stand for the truth (Eph. 6:10).
In the piece that Rubel presented to the church at Ashwood he tells us that he has, "...cleared the ground I hope, of a little bit of the idea that the sermon on the mount is some of those things that we've thought or been told it is that really obviously is not when you think about it."
Like a circus barker getting ready to introduce a brand new performance that the audience has absolutely never seen, one that is positively unheard of, Rubel invites us into his tent and under the spell of the big top we will have the wraps removed to what, "...really obviously is not when you think about it." Old Barnum never promised more. The spectators will no longer be in the labyrinth of tradition, but can sing the jubilee song that someone has finally "cleared the ground." No longer will we be disillusioned. One has finally been found who can interpret the text, illuminate the mind, and inundate the soul.
Brother Shelly has not learned one single, solitary fact about the sermon on the mount that hasn't already been known for long decades. We challenge him to specify one item--not two--not three. Our brother has read a few pages from liberal theologians and purports to clear some ground with such foolishness. He has constructed some speeches which are based upon modernistic nonsense. Now if I am wrong, let brother Rubel come forth and we will "clear" some more ground.
Sometimes, workers go out and clear the ground and develop a garbage dump. I use great plainness of speech when I state that Rubel scratched around on the ground and then he deposited a pile of garbage thereon. When he gets through with his homily, a serious Bible student would not even guess that he was expounding our Saviour's sermon.
Without any question, many of the older saints have heard myriads of messages from the mountain sermon of the Master as they were delivered by sound, solid, Bible-believing men of the Book. But now that the ground has been cleared we can forget what we have heretofore been told. We can now join with Rubel and the Holy Rollers and sing, "I Saw the Light." Whatever those old brethren preached about the sermon on the mount, "...it obviously is not what you think about it..." We have spent time thinking about it for at least one half of a century, but it wasn't what we thought it was, so now we can think about it and it will be what we think it is because the ground has been cleared.
Since there are twenty-eight chapters in Matthew and many of us have thought about them in the past, I reckon whatever we may have thought about those chapters, they were not as we thought--when we really think about it. Then, of course, there are those sixty-six books of the Bible which we have been thinking about for long decades. We need to shape up and realize that whatever it is, it is now what it obviously was not. The Catholics have their Pope, the Christian Scientists have Mother Eddy, the Mormons have Imposter Joe, Boston has it's Kip, Belmont has the Apostle Don--and now comes Ashwood with its ground clearer who can shell down the corn in a completely new fashion and get it where we can really think about it.
I am not a modernist or liberal in any sense of the term. Why should I be? I know that I know a liberal thinker when I read his thoughts as expressed on paper. I am certain that Rubel could detect the modernistic motions back in 1972 when he sent an article to be published in the Spiritual Sword. He did not misunderstand and he did a good job. I am just as positive, just as certain, just as sure and just as aware that I do not misunderstand, misrepresent, or misapply the stance and sayings of brother Shelly. I believe I can comprehend about as well as Rubel could back in 1972 when he thought he was capable of dealing with modernism. If he could understand the position of the modernists in 1972, what keeps me from knowing their position today?
Back when I attended one of the prestigious, liberal theological schools I was assigned thousands of pages from the liberal thinkers. One old professor assigned a minimum of 1000 pages to be read each week for one class alone. Do you think I was not made aware of liberalism and modernism in its most rancid form? Can I not detecta modernist when he begins to yodel? A list of the ten most profound theologians in America was printed in one of the international magazines. I sat at the feet of four of them and was granted the degree at the proper time. It is disgusting and sickening to hear or read from some brother who parrots the liberal line and then opines that we cannot understand.
Please hear me correctly! No German liberal has expressed the modernist position any better than Rubel Shelly. Let him deny it. Let anyone else try to deny it. It is the view of all modernists that the apostles were not guided by the Holy Spirit as they spoke and wrote. Consequently we only have a book pieced together by a bunch of wandering and ignorant Jews.
What is the sermon on the mount? Rubel says it is, "The sermon that he (Jesus) must have preached many, many times. The sermon that Matthew from memory maybe from some notes he jotted down hearing Jesus preach at various times. Maybe even written forms of this same sermon that others had pieced together and were circulating in written form."
I am sorry that a former gospel preacher has swallowed the liberal bait. Rubel has no earthly idea how he could possibly sustain any sort of notion that Jesus really preached the mountain sermon many many times. This is not new ground. I read such rot from the modernists many years before I ever heard of Rubel. Since I do not mind taking issue with "Guesswhats," it would be my advice that men should not swallow all the pills passed out by liberal professors. I am sure there are many brethren who can comprehend the theories of liberal theologians after reading a few pages from their phantasy books. To understand the Word of God one does not have to have a bloated head or a pompous heart, and one should not park ones brains on the doorstep as one enters the church building.
We strongly reject the Shelly hypothesis because it completely eliminates inspiration from the pen of Matthew. We do not hesitate to expose the fanciful fulminations of the Nashville Revelator. Read the paragraph again ans see exactly what Rubel has said. I have asked several brethren to read the statement and without an exception they identified the problem immediately.
When Jesus prayed in Gethsemane he said, "For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me; and they have received them" (John 17:8). "I have given them thy word" (John 17:14). "And I have declared unto them thy name" (John 17:26). "Howbeit when he the Spirit of truth is come he will guide you into all truth..." (John 16:13). "But the comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you" (John 14:26). Let all believe that the writers of God's word were not weak and fallible in their efforts. "God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and the gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will" (Heb. 2:4). When one gets so careless as to deny the very word of God, then what remains? It would not be surprising to pick up a paper written by some German infidel or liberal and read the same sluice of slime which Rubel wrote about Matthew. Rubel's piece is a spin-off of German modernism and we fear not nor cower to expose his efforts. Any person who has digested the works of Bultmann, Dibelius, Cullman, Grant, Grobel, et al, will readily recall their efforts in the field of "Form Criticism."
Never ever would we expect Rubel to inform us as to the source of information from whence he learned that Matthew may have jotted down notes as he heard Jesus preach a sermon many many times. He did not need to tell me where he got such rubbish. I knew the ground before he ever revealed it for the Ashwood folks.
Since there are some forty to fifty professors and staff from Lipscomb who go over to Ashwood and learn to think how it is not, I wonder if Rubel learned about how Matthew wrote from those professors, or did they learn the methods of Matthew from him? I am positive that there isn't enough conviction in the entire lot to get even a semblance of any sort of a public defense of such tripe. Will they take a stand? Never!
I emphatically deny that the book of Matthew, the sermon on the Mount or any part of the inspired book is the result of taking notes and piecing them together. Let Rubel marshal all the professors at Lipscomb who can help him and let's meet in the Valley of Elah. We shall be glad to test his modernistic coat of mail, or for that matter any of his Lipscomb cohorts.
I do not claim to be in inspired like Matthew and so if I wrote a book I would have to jot down research notes and piece them together. Remember those passages which Jesus gave from John 17? Did he not say, "For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me; and they have received them..." (John 17:26)? These inspired, infallible words will be forever true. The sayings of Shelly shove aside the statements of my Savior. I resent such high-handed scholarship. (???)
Since Matthew relied upon notes in order to patch up his piece then why in the name of reason would his book be of any more value than a book which any note taker would write? Even a dullard can take notes; and some even try to expound on the book of Matthew or the sermon on the Mount.
If we accept Rubel's ramblings, then we will be forced to believe that Matthew only gave a lectionary consisting of memory pieces and scraps. A thousand times, No! Matthew did not write from memory and any man who makes such a shallow assertion needs to work on his own memory of what the Bible teaches about inspiration. Rubel's assertion is purely conjectural emendation and he presumes to himself the province of par eminence. He has read from the works of men such as Bultman and Dibelius and pieced together some speeches which can only result in making miniature modernists. May God deliver our Lipscomb youth from such inane ideas.
There is not one whit of difference in Rubel's system when it is boiled down to its basic proposition, and the old Astruc theory concerning the Elohistic and Jehovistic sections of Genesis. Someone come forward and try to dissect the difference. We know how Graff and Wellhausen took up the Astruc bannder and many latitudinarians marched with them. No doubt their theories had a new smell to many, although it stinks to high heaven.
Over the years I have read numerous books from among the leading liberals, but I just never did fallin love with their, "perhaps" "maybe sos," "probabilities," "myths," "legends," "tales" and fanciful "fables." This, among a thousand other reasons, is why I am not a Lipscomb professor attending worship at Ashwood and also why do I not preach at such places.
Just read that sermon where "maybe Matthew," "perhaps received," "possibly written pieces," which "could have" been derived from "anonymous people" who were "seemingly circulating" in "probably written form" and pieced together into "Matthew's version," which was a "composite put down for us." Taking Rubel's stance, how can anyone be straight faced while trying to prove that Matthew even existed? Why study about someone named Matthew who perhaps never existed, never collected church scraps, composites, legends, myths, tales, fables and fragments and, "preserved them for us?" Even "sectarians" could do better than that. The Sermon on the Mount is not a medley of memorized notes!
Maybe, perhaps, possibly, Matthew took notes from Jesus' sermons and then he just got off somwhere and glued them together. "Gashmu saith it" (Neh. 6:6) Perhaps Rubel took notes from infidel German Rationalists and got off somewhere and glued them together perhaps into a sermon for Ashwood. His glue will not hold his notes together however. I am sincere when I ask if he got some of his notes from the Lipscomb professors who enter the Ashwood Sanctuary? Maybe the Lipscomb professors took notes from Rubel. Reckon what kind of book of sermons they would piece together? A snarl will not answer the preceding, nor subsequent pointers. I think it is high time for thousands of sound Christians to ask some questions, one of which would be, "Why do some of the Lipscomb professors and staff give sanction and support to the heresy propagated by brother Shelly?"
If Matthew depended upon his memory then the Bible is a fabricated lie. The Modernists at Vanderbilt Divinity School told it just exactly like Rubel tells it--and it is just what we think it is--pure hogwash! If some brother is able to express his beliefs in a coherent manner, then I believe I have sense enough to understand what is being expressed. One young "Divine" over at Memphis told me that I just misunderstood Rubel. I defy every liberal on God's earth to deny the inerrant, inspired, infallible, heaven sent spirit filled, "...words which the Holy Spirit teacheth..." (I Cor. 2;13)
If what Rubel has already said is not sufficient to hatch out a nest of fledgling modernists, perhaps another of his pointers will suffice. Did you know that "possibly" a number of other people had heard Jesus preach the same sermon many times and they wrote some of it down? Who were those others? What difference does it make just so they were were "others" ? When those "others" conjured up their "written forms," they circulated those patched and pieced together parchments, and Matthew may have used these pieces. Did he plagiarize the scraps of others? I wonder where Rubel found out about those "others" and what they did? Do you suppose he would care to tell those Lipscomb professors what he thinks about the verbal inspiration of the book of Matthew? Can those professors be consistent in claiming to believe the Bible and yet lend support to one who thinks the book of Matthew is a patchwork from scraps or memory? Heaven forbid! Poor Matthew would have been in a pickle if he had broken his pencil while taking notes and he really would have been in a mess if he had failed in his memory.
Rubel spoke in his Ashwood speech about, "Matthews version of the sermon that he particularly links in memory to a particular day with crowds around him." I'm just hard-headed enough to ask for some proof about that memory matter.
If anyone desires to write a personal version, just draw on the memory. The greater the memory, the more accurate the version. Can you stretch your mental faculties to the point where you can imagine intelligent people supporting and swallowing such garbage? Is Matthew's memory version any better than a memory version compiled by Joe Smith? Why would it be? If Matthew's version was just a product of his memory, then could it not have been a product of the Holy Spirit speaking through Matthew and guiding his pen while he wrote. Rubel's statement is a baseless and unfounded guess with not one syllable of proof being offered, and yet people will listen and support such junk. Why? I have every right to ask if the Lipscomb President and professors believe such foolishness. We hear nothing to the contrary. Why cannot someone speak forth? Is the handicap of lockjaw contagious on the campus? I'd be ashamed to be afraid and afraid to be ashamed to oppose error.
From 1903 until 1908, Julius Wellhausen wrote a series of commentaries on Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. His hypothesis was that the gospels were framed in a sort of piece-meal scrapbook fashion. They were developed only as the religious community needed extra materials. As times, traditions, and the religious ideas changed, the gospels changed according to the whims of whomever could write. Martin Dibelius and Rudolph Bultmann were German theologians and they were great admirers of Wellhausen. This triplet of German scholars pretty well set the stage for the modernists. In 1919, Dibelius wrote, "From Tradition to Gospel." (I think Rubel may have read the Dibelius book.) Three years later Bultmann wrote his "History of the Synoptic Tradition." Dibelius declared, "Gospel writers took over units of material which already possessed a form--a style. Each category will have its own 'Sitz in Leben'." That is, its stance. Rubel Shelly preached his version and "cleared the ground" in 1988 and what is the difference? Rubel has his idea about "units of material" or "notes." Tell me not that he hasn't relied on these German rationalists.
The old "Form Criticism" view and "Source" theory were not absolute. Certain modernists would add a few pointers but the end result would always be an attack upon the inspired Word of God. Some writers would guess that the book of Mark was the first pile of scraps to be pasted together. But maybe Mark drew his tales and tables from another source which was "Urmarkus." It could have been that Mark relied upon another pile of scraps which was referred to as "Q." To think that a gospel preacher would get into the pulpit and rehash such rubbish! Truly, one could as well preach from Grimms Fairy Tales or Aesops Fables.
Dibelius wrote at length about the "tales" (novelle) and "legends" which are formed in the gospels. Bultmann said that the many events and sayings in the book of Matthew did not really happen but rather they were stories fabricated by the church. Why will a man become enamored by the babblings of modernistic writers?
Why will people listen to brother Shelly when he says what the modern liberal theologians have written? There is no difference. Both would give us a Bible made from pasted scraps with some memory "notes" added.
It is begging the question and is really juvenile for liberal brethren to continually try to explain that they are just being misunderstood. The problem is, we fully understand what is being said and written. That there is an undeniable and deadly parallel between the statements of the liberal, modernistic, anti-God, anti-biblical writings of such men as Dibelius and Bultmann with that of brother Shelly, we will leave for the reader to decide. Of course there is the ever present problem that one or two who read this material will be so scholarly, intellectual and brilliant that they will readily accede that I cannot understand. I may not understand, but brother I refuse to stand aside for the liberals.
If we decided to attend the services in Collins Auditorium on the Lipscomb campus where Rubel preaches, would we be able to understand? Ah, but if some cowardly critter feels a cause to curse me, then I can retort that he just misunderstands what I'm saying. Yea verily!
SOME DEADLY PARALLELS OF INTEREST BETWEEN MARTIN DIBELIUS ON MATTHEW AND MARK, AND RUBEL SHELLY'S SERMON ABOUT MATTHEW AND THE SERMON ON THE MOUNT
DIBELIUS: "We must, therefore, presuppose that both made use of a common source, a collection (emphasis mine, wc) of sayings of Jesus, which has been lost, and which has been called the saying source--or in accordance with the need for brevity in scientific terminology, simply "Q." The foundation of the Sermon on the Mount goes back to the source, which, moreover, contained a speech whose beginning was the Beatitudes."
SHELLY: "...maybe even written forms (emphasis mine, wc) of this same sermon that others had pieced together and were circulating in written form..."
DIBELIUS: "None of the sermons, speeches, or addresses of Jesus in Matthew, Mark and Luke, was first delivered and then written down. Rather they are composite (emphasis mine, wc) in kind put together from sayings, groups of sayings, parables, and the like, which by no means appear to have been uttered on the same occasion."
SHELLY: "Matthews version, a composite (emphasis mine, wc) put down for us preserved in this gospel."
DIBELIUS: "Still other sayings of Jesus could be firmly held in the memory (emphasis mine, wc) because of their connection with Old Testament passages, whether by way of agreement or criticism, e.g., the well known group in the Sermon on the Mount--beginning: 'ye have heard that it was said to them of old time.'"
SHELLY: "The sermon that he much have preached many, many times, the sermon that Matthew from memory (emphasis mine, wc) maybe from notes he jotted down hearing Jesus preach at various times..."
DIBELIUS: "The time when these oral traditions came to be written down depended upon the need for writing and the memory (emphasis mine, wc) of those who conserved the traditions."
SHELLY: "In Matthew's version of the sermon that he particularly link in memory (emphasis mine, wc) to a particular day with crowds around him."
DIBELIUS: "Even before the Gospels in our sense arose, anonymous gatherers of tradition made after traditions of small collections (emphasis mine, wc) which afterwards entered into the more inclusive workers of the Evangelists.
SHELLY: "Maybe from notes (emphasis mine, wc) he jotted down, hearing Jesus preach at various times."
DIBELIUS: "Before the gospels were written, the source of preaching, teaching and edification in the church was the tradition about
Jesus preserved either orally, or else in small collections (emphasis mine, wc) capable of expansion."
SHELLY: "...Maybe even written forms (emphasis mine, wc) of this same sermon that others had pieced (emphasis mine, wc) together and were circulating in written form (emphasis mine, wc)."
DIBELIUS: "We can see that Jesus' sayings were handed down with great fidelity, thanks to the unemcumbered memory (emphasis mine) of his unspoiled followers."
Just what does one hope to accomplish in espousing the modernist view? What does one want to prove? After the inspired writers forever laid down the pen of inspiration, God has not had any new thing for any of us. We desperately need to stand with that which is revealed in God's Word.
No man can possibly believe the Bible and believe what brother Shelly said about how Matthew came to write the sermon on the mount. He prefaced his statement with "maybe." This indicates that he isn't really sure and obviously he doesn't know. We are not sure about many things, but, "We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost." (II Pet. I: 19-21). That settles it forever!
Young people, elders, college professors, and others sat and listened to brother Shelly preach about Matthew's version of the mountain sermon, the sermon consisting of written forms that others had pieced together and were circulating. What did those professors and elders think or say? Is a man really teaching the truth when he speaks about the sermon on the mount being that which others had "pieced together?" Excuse me, but I do not believe one word of such foolishness. Dibelius wrote about the collections of Jesus' sayings. Brother Shelly speaks about the written forms which maybe were pieced together.
Brother Shelly read somewhere that the sermon on the mount is a "composite." Dibelius wrote that the sermon of Jesus in Matthew
is a "Composite." I do not believe one word which they said about that fragmentary, composite sermon! Why should I believe them in preference to the Word of God which is inspired? Why should anyone accept such theories which would supplant inspiration? When falsehood is taught, we need to reject it and refute it. Will the elders at Ashwood go on record as rejecting the modernism which is so plain and so evident in brother Shelly's sermon? Will brother Shelly admit that he is teaching the Dibelius-Bultmann brand of modernism?
It is not sectarian to oppose error. My Lord was no sectarian, and the Holy Spirit did not lead the apostles to become and be sectarians. These men died for the faith. Will we do the same? Why would any man consent to receive a salary for preaching from a book that was predicated upon the mere memory of some forgetful man? Why would Christian people give money to support a preacher who proclaims the book of Matthew was the development of man's memory? Men who remember can also forget. Who knows exactly how much Matthew remembered and how much he forgot? Did he forget some of the myths, tales and legends about Jesus? If one's fallible memory is that upon which the Bible rests, then the Book is not infallible, but it is just a homespun concoction. Brother Shelly needs to write a Bible from memory with scraps, notes and patchworks which have been passed along by others. What kind of a Bible would it be? To be sure, it would be just as trustworthy as the one which Matthew and others pieced together from scraps.
If I were a liberal preacher, I think it would not matter one whit whether I tried to be honest with self, or the brethren. If I could deceive enough brethren to get them to furnish me a "tub of butter," so much the better. If I were a liberal, I would never concern myself with being consistent. In fact, whatever popped out of my pen or mouth would be my position at that moment. Emerson said, "Consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds." I have never known a liberal brother who admitted that he spoke or wrote with a little mind. They only do their thing after having close affinity with the Wizard of Oz or some other gang of wizards.
It was twenty-six years ago when brother Shelly, as the "Associate Editor and Minister, Church of Christ, Getwell and Dunn, Memphis, Tenn." wrote that very good article which we quoted. Please read and pay special attention to some of the following statements and see if you can detect any change of ideas. (Oh, he says he has just changed his attitude. But then he is "growing." ) Would he actually think that many of us have completely lost our minds? Can we not discern between THEN and NOW? Have we parked our brains on the doorstep? Please read again from The Spiritual Sword, Vol. 3, April, 1972, Some Marks of Modernism, by Rubel Shelly (the article which we quoted previously in this writing.) Brethren, please notice the major headings in that article as Rubel describes the modernists.
1. Deceptive Terminology
Some years before Rubel wrote his article, I had penned an article on liberalism and covered the basic points which Rubel covered. Believe it or not, I could write every word of that article again today and stand solidly behind it. Could and would Rubel write today what he wrote in 1972? Let's say emphatically that he would not! He knows it, I know it, and those who worked with him at Getwell and the Spiritual Sword know it! WHY? Rubel won't even repeat the brief conclusion of that 1972 article. He is too positive to be so negative!
2. Dishonesty of Liberals
3. Abandoning Our Distinctiveness
4. Bold Step Toward Apostasy
6. Responding to Liberalism.
Back in October, 1969, Rubel penned a piece for the Spiritual Sword which he called, Some Basic Errors of Liberalism. In that fine article, please note some of his judicious statements:
"While denying the supernatural in the Word of God, most liberals still attempt to hold it's moral teaching."
"Liberalism makes a direct threat at the concept of supernatural divine revelation."
"God has given us the definitive answer to liberalism's errors in his Word."
Back in October, 1971, brother Shelly wrote an article for the Spiritual Sword entitled Can the Bible Be Trusted? I could have answered the question in the affirmative then and can do so now. Brethren, the Bible cannot be trusted, IF men like Matthew wrote from memory or gathered scraps and tales and pieced them together. Why sensible saints will support such slime, I know not.
When Rubel wrote some years ago he quoted from Dewey Beegle, who is a modernist. Of course he took issue with Beegle back in 1971. Beegle was barking to the effect that one only needed a mental readjustment in order to reject the inerrancy of the scriptures. It doesn't take liberals long to make the needed adjustments--mentally. Reading from liberal fellows like Beegle will enable some to bark on the same trail with him.
Back in 1971, Rubel wrote, "Paul is not willing to grand for a moment that he is the proclaimer of a fallible human witness to an infallible divine person." Well, how does that "stack up" beside those remarks relative to Matthew and possibly others who, perhaps, or supposedly, or maybe, gathered their information, and God only knows from whom, how, where and what? Matthew, the note taker, would be the proclaimer of fallible human witnesses to an infallible divine person, but Paul would not. It should be said that Paul wouldn't in 1971, but in 1988, Matthew would (according to Rubel). Even Matthew wouldn't twenty years ago.
Back a few years ago while giving an exegesis on II Tim. 3:16, Rubel declared, "All this simply means that the Bible is not a body of human writings into which something divine had been breathed." Is the Sermon on the Mount a part of the Bible? What about the "composite" clap-trap? Pardon me, but let's not show our little minds by even thinking of the word "consistency."
Ah, but our brother actually wrote in that article the following words: "The human writers of the Bible were not free to choose whatever words they wished as they produced these prophecies." Instead they were "moved" or "borne along" by the Holy Spirit. "The inspired writers no more determined their course midst such strong winds." AMEN! But brother Shelly wrote that back in 1971. Again we quote him: "The Bible did not originate with men, but is the result of the work of God through the Holy Spirit. The Spirit acted on men so as to allow the words to come forth in the style and vocabulary of the writer but, at the same time, so controlled the choice of words that the finished product is the literal Word of God and not of mere men." AMEN! But that was back in 1971. Rubel said back then, "We must present and defend this doctrine before all men." That was back when he had a "sectarian spirit" and was willing to defend his convictions. Wonder what he would be willing to defend now and where? Has he gotten rid of that bad, sectarian spirit? Obviously there is now no Goliath great enough in Elah for Rubel to condescend and meet.
I wish Rubel had not forgotten so quickly the faith that he formerly preached. We heard him saying back in 1972, "By this 'chain of authority'--from God to Christ, from Christ to specially chosen men, from these men to the written words of the scriptures-- is established the absolute authority of the Holy Bible." Now let's all stand and say "AMEN!" By the year 1988, that chain had rusted, broken, bent and had been lost. You see, a few scraps of paper taken from memory, notes assembled by God knows who--have been used to take the place of the chain. Rubel would substitute a spider's web as the source.
Brother Shelly was pretty cocksure of himself some years ago when he wrote, "No man knows anything about Jesus or valid Christian experience except through the statements of Scripture." I wish I had said that--well, of course I did say that, and I'm still saying that!
I understand that brother Shelly is a frequent speaker at the Lipscomb chapel assembly. I wish I could understand better about the affinity between Lipscomb and Rubel. Does the Administration agree with what he teaches? We shall say a mite more about this later and we hope and pray that a concerned brotherhood will say plenty about this courtship. According to the newspaper, Doctor Hazelip was the guest preacher at Ashwood. Do you suppose he preaches against liberalism?
More From Sermon Number One
There is no doubt about it, by now I must be deemed as one of the worst of all sectarians, nonetheless, I shall continue for a while and look at a few more matters which need attention. Brother Shelly said, "I'm not sure there is any sense in which the law of Moses is abrogated." Do I misrepresent our dear brother when I look at his plain, declarative sentence and subsequently state that brother Shelly does not believe that the law of Moses has been abolished? Of course, I understand what he is saying, and he simply does not state the truth as is taught in the Bible. There was a time when brother Rubel would not have made such a mistake. When he debated Dunning, did he think the law of Moses had been abrogated? He certainly did not teach such error back then. How did those Lipscomb professors react to being taught that the law has not been abrogated? Did they agree or disagree? Do you suppose any of them took the preacher aside and taught him the truth about Moses' law? Obviously, if the Old Testament is just a bunch of documents pieced together by ignorant men, then the only result would be that there could be no abrogation of any of it! Over at Ashwood, the Old Law has not been abrogated. I want to know if the Old Law has been abrogated over at Lipscomb where Ashwood now has one of it's worship services on Sunday morning (in the Collins Auditorium)! Do the elders teach it one way at Ashwood and another way at Lipscomb. Have we gone so far that the Bible doesn't matter?
What is the purpose in saying that the law has not been abrogated? Why stand before an assembly of Christians and make such baseless assertions? Why sit before a preacher and listen to such profaning of the truth? Pray tell why we have such books in the Bible as Romans, Galatians and Hebrews? Can it be that people are so ignorant of these inspired books that they will sit like baby birds and swallow statements that completely repudiate the aim, purpose and content of these majestic books? Of what benefit are such passages as Col. 2:14? ("Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross.") Rubel thinks the law has not been abrogated, but he also thinks it has. The Adventists think it has, but think it hasn't. They get rid of the law, but keep the sabbath. Rubel gets rid of the sabbath but keeps the law. How utterly inconsistent! If the Old Law has not been abolished, I would like to know how Rubel goes about trying to observe it. I suppose if it came about in the same manner as Matthew, there would be no need to try to keep any of it, unless the preacher could replace the priest and get his part of the daily offerings. Yea, verily! But if the Old Law has not been abolished, then someone please tell me of what value is the New Testament. They cannot possibly be in force at the same time (Heb. 10:9). Will the Lipscomb professors contend that we are under two laws, one law, or no law? Will they contend for anything? What do the students and especially the preacher boys hear? If Rubel can preach to the professors on Sunday and tell them that the law has not been abolished, can he repeat the same lesson when he speaks in the chapel assembly? I would be happy to refute his claims with a chapel speech, but of course negative speakers just do not appear as speakers at Lipscomb. The docket is filled with love-one-another brothers. If I said the law was in no sense abrogated, then I would be guilty of blasphemy. I would be making a statement that plainly denies the Bible. Were the Old Testament prophets inspired? Did they speak the truth when they foretold the coming of a New Covenant and the abolishing of the Old? What does Col. 2:14 mean?
I keep wondering what Paul meant when he wrote, "Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances for to make himself of twain one new man, so making peace" (Eph. 2:14). Has brother Rubel had some new revelation that the inspired New Testament writers did not have? But Rubel says, "The Old Law and the New Law, that's not really the way to say it." I would kindly insist that the reader turn to Hebrews 8:13 and read the passage. I'm certain that people do not need any commentary of mine to understand what the writer said. Just read the text which says, "In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to varnish away" (emphases mine, wc). I feel sure if we do not accept a statement which is found one time in the Bible, we would not accept the fact if it was found a thousand times therein. The Old and the New Law is exactly the right way to say it. That's the way Rubel used to say it! What source has he found that leads him to now say it differently? (The Bible is not his source.) We would like to know, so we could be sure of saying it right, although I still prefer to reject the ground clearing methods of Rubel.
Our dear brother says, "Obeying laws doesn't put a person into the kingdom of God." Well, certainly not--IF THE KINGDOM HAS NOT YET COME! How could one get into something that doesn't exist? Were those Lipscomb professors asleep when Rubel declaimed against obedience as a means of entering the nonexistent kingdom? As against his assertion, we plead with all to read the Lord's instruction to Nicodemus. This man needed to be born again, i.e., of water and the Spirit in order to enter the kingdom (John 3:3-5). Can we know what that means? Is there any obedience involved in the new birth? Does it just happen accidentally? The very idea! Is this what Rubel preached some years ago? Why can he not find it in his heart to tell people what the Bible teaches relative to entering the kingdom? Whatever the Bible taught back in the sixties and seventies, we can be sure and certain that the same is true in the eighties and nineties. What did Rubel twach about the kingdom back in those two decades? He taught the TRUTH back then! Every false teacher on earth can now join in with Rubel against obedience to God's laws, but such will not change one priceless passage. Brethren should not support such ridiculous ideas. Rubel doesn't believe the kingdom exists either as the church or as the future state of the saved. When one is born of water and the Spirit, what does he enter? Maybe Rubel thinks we enter the second time into our mother's womb. Why not? It makes equally as much sense as what we would hear if we listened to Rubel preach on the kingdom during the Lipscomb chapel assembly.
Wonder what those Lipscomb professors thought when Rubel said, "The kingdom of God or the kingdom of heaven is neither the church nor the future state of the saved"? It would have been helpful if some sort of proof had been offered, but some folks seem averse to presenting passages as proof; others do not want to hear of anything that sounds like prood-texts. We happen to believe that all things need to be proven (I Thess. 5:21).
If the kingdom has not yet come, and if it is not the church, and it is not the future state, then there are some ridiculous passages of scripture in my Bible; also there are multiplied thousands who are hopelessly confused and we desperately need more light from brother Rubel so we can escape from our sectarianism and abysmal ignorance. Any youngster can learn from Sunday School studies that the kingdom and the church is the same. We would like to know when, where, and how, our dear brother found out that there is a difference in the kingdom and the church! Our blessed Lord thought and taught otherwise. He believed that the apostles should know that they were the same (Matt. 16:18-19).
If the church is one thing and the kingdom is something else, then I suppose we can be in the church and not be in the kingdom and/or vice versa. Furthermore, whatever is involved in being a citizen of the kingdom would certainly be different from being added to the church. Since these two are different, we need to know if it is essential to be a part of one or both in order to get to heaven. Could it be that we have all missed the boat relative to the church and the kingdom? Since the kingdom had not yet come (according to Rubel) we do not need to be concerned about it. Since obeying laws are non-essential to entering the kingdom of heaven, if a few million, or billions of souls do not enter the kingdom, then it would seem that God lets people suffer unjustly. They cannot obey to enter, and if they never enter they are lost, so who is to be blamed? How about those who do not obey the law which demands one to believe in God? See Hebrews 11:1-6. "Oh, what a tangled web we weave." Such is the foundation and diet of modernists.
Is it a law of God that it is not necessary to obey the laws of God? I think those Lipscomb professors need to help their brother answer that question, plus dozens of others. But of course, that might be sectarian!
Brother Shelly is completely wrong when he declares that the kingdom of God or the kingdom of heaven is neither the church nor the future state of the saved. Just what is the kingdom of heaven? What is the future state of the saved? How did he find out that the kingdom of God is not the church? Where did he get new information that the kingdom of heaven is not the church? Moreover, is he sure that the kingdom of God never refers to the future state of the saved? He makes such claims, but they are as false as can be and we will prove our contention by the Word of God.
Is it the case that a brother could just possibly think that somehow when he speaks, everyone is expected to believe what he says, regardless of proof? Does any man really have the right to expect us to hear him when we are even forbidden to hear or give heed to angels who might teach falsehood (Gal. 1:8-9)? It does little good to label as "sectarian" those who stand by the truth, demand Biblical proof, and also expose false teaching. The usual ploy of sectarians is to whimper, "You're judging." The more arrogant utterance today is, "That's sectarian."
Dear reader, all who sincerely study the Bible are fully aware that there are some words in the scriptures that are used in different ways with different meanings. Such words are sometimes spelled the same. The word "kingdom" is used in this fashion. A person would have to be devoid of reason to contend that "kingdom" has only one meaning according to Biblical usage. Either brother Shelly has never known the Biblical usages of "kingdom," or he knows and doesn't care how the term is used in the Scriptures.
We are told that the kingdom is, "an unfolding possibility in the life of every faithful disciple in the here and now." But the kingdom of God is also, "...the sovereign rule of God in the hearts and lives of the redeemed right now..." I distinctly recall when I was in Vanderbilt Divinity School and Professor Nels F. S. Ferre assigned me the task of reading The Kingdom of God, which was written by an ultra-liberal modernist by the name of John Bright. Two copies of the book are in my library and after having read Rubel's sermon, I knew that he was saying what Bright said, so I removed a copy from the shelf and read the book again.
Let's find a "faithful disciple." Whoever he is, for him there is an "unfolding possibility in the here and now." I may be pretty dumb about that "unfolding possibility." Methinks it would just be sufficient to be a "faithful disciple." When I have absolutely nothing to do and my life has lost all of its usefulness to self and others, then I might become interested in Rubel's "unfolding possibility," which he or others know nothing about. If there are people who have a lifetime to waste, maybe Rubel could attempt to explain his denominational jargon to them. Frankly, I suppose I haven't been a professor long enough to appreciate that "unfolding possibility." He borrowed that "unfolding possibility" from the sectarians and we dare him to deny it. I've heard as much of that clatter as Rubel, but thank God, I had sense enough to not assimilate it into my life.
Remember, that faithful disciple just has a sort of an "unfolding possibility." It is presently folded and is just a possibility. Now brother, that, (whatever it is,) is the kingdom! But let's find a "redeemed" person. That "redeemed" person is so much better off than the "faithful disciple." You seem the redeemed fellow has, "...the sovereign rule of God," in the heart and life "right now." With the disciple, the kingdom is only a possibility, but with the redeemed it is already in his heart and life--"right now." And to think that those Lipscomb professors will swallow such inanities. If that is what it takes to be a professor, thank God that is one of which I am not!
When brother Shelly state that the kingdom of God is not the church, he is terribly mistaken. If he believes such nonsense, he certainly doesn't know what the church or kingdom is.
Do we need to remind people who believe the inspired word of God that Daniel prophesied that God would set up a kingdom (Dan. 2:44)? Will we join the modernists and impeach the veracity of God and his prophets? Daniel saw one like unto the Son of man who came to the Ancient of Days and a kingdom was given to him (Dan. 7:13-13). Jesus promised to send the kingdom with power (Mark 9:1). The power came on Pentecost and so did the kingdom (Acts 2:1-4). There is not a preacher who walks on this earth than can offset the fact that the kingdom is now in existence. It is the church, the family, the household of God. We have received it (Heb. 12:28). Let some professor stumble forth and deny it!
Remember Rubel says that we should pray for the kingdom to come. If he is really sincere in this assertion (and I do not question his sincerity), I say emphatically that with respect to the kingdom, he doesn't have the faintest idea on God's earth what it is.
Peter was given the keys of the kingdom along with the other apostles (Matt. 16:15-20). Philip preached the things concerning the kingdom (Acts 8:12). Paul testified the kingdom of God in Rome (Acts 28:23). We have been translated into the kingdom of Christ (Col. 1:13-14). Brother John was in the kingdom (Rev. 1:9).
The kingdom of God refers to the location of those who have been baptized into Christ. The kingdom of God is also used with reference to the glorified state of the redeemed into which we will enter "Through much tribulation" (II Pet. 1:11). When the end comes, Christ will deliver up the kingdom to God. "..for he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death" (I Cor. 15:20-26). Reckon Christ is reigning over the kingdom that doesn't exist? If he reigns, then over what does he reign? How long is he to reign over the kingdom? Paul said he will reign until the end comes and when death is destroyed. Jesus is now on the right hand of God (Heb. 1:3). All the modernists, liberals, false teachers, and compromising professors who live cannot combine their efforts and dethrone my Lord. He is "...the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings and Lord of lords..." (I Tim. 6:15).
Back in July, 1970, brother Shelly wrote a good article entitled, "You Can Be A Member Of the Church." This appeared in the Spiritual Sword magazine. The author had done "Graduate study (University of Tennessee, Knoxville.) That was back before our brother became free from sectarianism! Back then brother Rubel didn't know any better than to just preach the truth. Could you believe it? He actually wrote about Isa. 2:2 and said, "First, citizenship in the kingdom would be available to all races and personalities." "Second, the statement implies that citizenship in the kingdom of God, which is the church(cf. Matt. 16:13-18; Col. 1:13), would be greatly desired." "When the kingdom was established on the first Pentecost following the resurrection of Christ, three thousand people entered it in one day." Wonder if Rubel has changed typewriters? That old machine certainly stamped out a totally different message from the one he used in 1988. In fact, his new fangled machine cannot get the kingdom to be in existence in any sense. There is no telling what Rubel will be typing with the passing of time. Oh, we might be nice and just blame the typewriters, but down where I came from, when someone so blatantly contradicted themselves, we didn't know any better than to say that a fellow was talking out of both sides of his mouth. Some were so crude as to even exclaim that a fellow had put his foot in his mouth. I have now "matured" some and repented of such "sectarian" statements. Has Rubel had a heavenly vision about Isa. 2:2, Matt. 16:13-18, Col. 1:13, since he wrote back in 1970? Either God has changed or Shelly has changed, but of course, Shelly hasn't--because he says he hasn't!
Notice, "The apostle Peter, along with the other apostles of our Lord, was given 'the keys of the kingdom of heaven.' Peter and the other apostles first used the keys of the kingdom of heaven on the first Pentecost following the resurrection of Christ." "The apostles had now used the keys of the kingdom! They opened the doors of the kingdom and bound, on earth and in heaven, the conditions which men must meet for entrance into it." (That's our brother Shelly.) That's it folks! You pick either color you want and don't bother about what it looks like, or how it fades. I cannot help but be curious about those Lipscomb professors who "elder" at Ashwood. Could we get a statement for the press from some of them praying for the kingdom to come? What do they teach your children about the kingdom? I think they had rather plead the fifth amendment than stand against Rubel and his errors relative to the kingdom. Some elders think I've got too much of the sectarian spirit when I make such statements as the preceding.
When he wrote Some Basic Errors of Liberalism back in 1969, brother Rubel took aim, pulled the trigger, and hit the bull's eye of blinding liberalism. He had a steady hand, a clear eyesight and a strong grip on the barrel. He even wrote, "God's word teaches that the church is a spiritual kingdom. As a kingdom, authority in the church is exclusively reserved for Christ." I wish I had said it like that. Well, of course I did say it.
When old Humpty-Dumpty fell off the wall, all the king's horses and all the king's men could not put Humpty-Dumpty back together again. But I'm almost certain that when Rubel wrote so plainly and explicitely a few years ago that the kingdom to come; surely, yea verily, there are professors at Lipscomb who can take such divergent statements into the campus laboratories and concoct a marvelous syntheses. Some people will believe anything, if they can dispense with thinking and find others to tell them what to believe.
That there is a serious threat from the onslaught of liberalism, even brother Shelly acknowledged as demonstrated in his many articles and in the book which he wrote entitled Some Basic Errors of Liberalism. He spoke out against that which he believed to be a deadly danger. Why? The danger has not disappeared, but is more deadly than ever due to the fact that brethren are more brazen in their efforts to saturate the kingdom with the venom of liberalism--even inviting such speakers as Shelly to the Lipscomb podium where he is encouraged to burp his brand of bile. May God have mercy upon us who have become so afflicted with lockjaw!
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