Terry Jones, you will recall, is the pastor who had planned to burn Qu'rans/Korans/Qurans/Allah-Driven-Lifes on 9/11.
Why was he going to do it? The reason is under-reported, but reader Jason Woelm brought it to my attention. According to associate pastor Wayne Sapp — yes, evidently a church with around 50 people has an associate pastor; go figure — said that God told them to do it.
"God is leading us right up to the moment. It's no different than Abraham and his son. God didn't tell him, 'Go right up to the point where you might sacrifice him.' He wanted him to be fully committed. We're prepared to do what we're called to do."Oh boy, here we go. As long as I've been preaching, teaching, writing I have been trying to school anyone who will listen to take such talk seriously, and analyze it right down to the floor. I urged folks to do it with Francis Chan's irresponsible language. Now let's do it with this gent.
So Sapp — I did not make that name up, before you ask — says "God is leading us...no different than Abraham and his son." Does he mean what he said? "No different than Abraham and his son"? Because we read in Genesis 22:1 and following that God spoke to Abraham, in inerrant, morally-binding, direct, verbal revelation. Had Abraham refused, it would have been sin.
But Sapp leaves wiggle room, adding that the church was still in prayer, and could cancel — thus the point of citing Abraham. You see, God told Abraham to kill Isaac, and then told him not to kill Isaac. It could be like that with them, Sapp was saying. God tells them A, then He tells them anti-A.
Wellsir, it turns out those words, at least, were prophetic, because Pastor Jones himself later said "We feel that God is telling us to stop.... Not today, not ever. We're not going to go back and do it. It is totally canceled."
So, that's interesting, isn't it? God told them to do it, then God told them not to do it. But when God told them to do it, they built in the wiggle that God might change His mind. Yet then when God tells them not to do it, there is no wiggle-room: "Not today, not ever. We're not going to go back and do it." Sounds final. Nice that "God" seems to have settled His mind on the issue, finally (I speak as a leaky-Canoneer).
By this time, our single-issue readers are beside themselves. "What does any of that have to do with Charismatics? These guys are nuts!" Not so fast. We've seen it many times. All Charismatics come in right at this point: they come in by giving this man "cover." A Charismatic has to say,
"Well, how do I know whether God told him to do this? He could have. It could have been like Abraham, with God just doing this to expose the Muslims, like Jones says. God never meant Jones to do it, He just meant him to say he was going to do it, so the Muslims who riot and foam and make threats and throw chairs would be seen by all to be the violent loons that they are. We mustn't quench the Spirit. We can't put God in a box."
I am not making this up. This is Pat Robertson, the Charismatic (Southern Baptist!) leader whose massive, tireless mouth and constant claims of semi-revelation have made Christians wince and squirm the world over. "This is so stupid!", foams this particular unpaid bill of Charismaticism (see also here).
But I digress.
So, all Charismatics "own" Terry Jones.
Let's be more specific: the Wayne Grudem type of Charismatics — and everyone who gives Grudem cover — "own" Pastor Jones.
How so? They give Jones cover by their desperate re-defining and Clintoning-down of the Biblical gift of prophecy. What is prophecy, to Grudem? He explains it as the errant reporting of inerrant revelation. It is precisely like the old liberal redefinition of Biblical inspiration: the writers of Scripture received inerrant inspiration from God, but they wrote it down errantly. Grudem simply transfers this to NT prophets, instead of the writers of Scripture: they give errant reporting of spontaneous inerrant revelation. The message they receive is right, but it may be garbled in transmission.
Ditto the miserable spiritual trainwreck that is Blackaby-ism: on their premises, who can say whether or not this was God's leading, hinting and nudging Jones to make a fool of himself for Christ?
Am I being unfair? I don't think so. The constant refrain of such folks is that God is whispering and mumbling and nudging, and the only "control" we have is whether or not it is contrary to Scripture. Well, friends and neighbors, that leaves a lot of open ground for fools to graze. So: is it contrary to Scripture in so many words to burn some cult's "holy" book? Nope. So there you go: it might have been God's static-riddled leading — on Charismatic/Grudemic/Blackabbean premises.
I know, we're not supposed to say this, or ask these questions. We all love Charismatics, with all their great music and laughing and big name sane leaders and enthusiasm and joy and warmth and all. True; I love them too.
But I still think we have to ask the hard questions, lay down rulers and draw out where all these lines lead.
So where do we stand — we who confirm Scriptures' sufficiency and the Canon's close without crossing our fingers?
We're left with Scripture, and our responsible application of it.
In response to Jones, we come up with something like this, or this, in short. What we do is we study to find what the inerrantly revealed and inscripturated call of the church, and we pursue that call. Faced with choices to do this or do that, one prayerfully and responsibly and rationally weighs them by Scripture, and then one makes a decision. One then takes responsibility for that decision if it does not grow from a direct statement of Scripture, rather than blaming it on God.
So: should Christians be ashamed by association with Terry Jones... or John Crowder?
Don't look at me.
Take it up with a Charismatic.