Once Again, Second Timothy

I haven’t quite finished the latest installment of the novel, but hope to post that later today.

In the meantime, since it’s been a couple days since the last post, let me keep forging on in the spiritual vein, and since I just had something from Second Timothy the other day, let me stay in that book, and that same general part of the book, in fact, with a little wisdom from chapter 2, verses 24-26.

Here’s the NIV translation of it for you:

And the Lord’s servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.

Now, this was a letter from Paul to Timothy. People often accuse Paul of being a hard-ass and a jerk based on some of his writings. And yet, what does he preach here for people leading the church and spreading the gospel? Kindness, gentleness, patience.

Which makes me boggle all the more at Christian groups and right-wing fundamentalist pundits who keep trying to bully people into lockstepping with their beliefs and who try to twist the legislative and even consitutional system into their tools for exerting specific doctrine on people who don’t share their beliefs.

Seems to me that religious leaders, or political leaders who use religion as their battering ram, are acting outside of the scripture they claim to hold dear when they strive with others to impose religious views on people in areas like same-sex marriage, divorce laws, abortion, end-of-life issues, sexual relations and various everyday vices.

In other words, they’re not simply annoying and bullying, they’re scripturally wrong.


4 Responses to “Once Again, Second Timothy”

  1. 1 LightWorker
    June 18, 2009 at 8:56 pm

    “Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth….”

    This part seems a little presumptuous. The “him” here seems pretty damn certain of his teachings, and that the “opposer” needs “repentance,” leading to “a knowledge of the truth….”

    This attitude, if mainatined, could turn off potential converts.

    It’s my experience that the truth is a slippery thing, and that no instructions are infallible, even that which is inspired.

    Through opposition, all is edified as long as it’s not contentious. But for a teacher to imply that his “truth” is the only truth, and that the word of God is given to him only, and, as interpreted by him, is “Gospel,” well, I have a problem with that.

    In fairness, though, the writer did say: “[lead] them to a knowledge of the truth….”]. God’s truth, presumably, and not the writer’s truth.

    “Those who oppose him he must gently instruct….”

    You could say that “those who oppose him,” could be opposing his belief in God, his Christian identification, or his “instructions.” I’m inclined to believe that it’s opposition to the instructions, rather than what the “Lord’s servant” represents–or, perhaps, it could be both.

    The use of the word “quarrel” suggests this, and also the requirement to “gently instruct.”

    God communicates with us all, all the time. Coming through an imperfect filter, the human mind, who’s to say we heard it correctly, or that our interpretation of the communication is infallible?

    I do like this statement, though: “And the Lord’s servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful.”

    I would welcome other views. You see, I’m not quarrelsome!

  2. 2 Deacon Blue
    June 18, 2009 at 10:57 pm

    Well, there are times that the translations can result in odd things…I have no idea what original word in Greek was translated into “oppose” but it might have been a more accurate and less loaded word in the original.

    The main thing here, though, is that part of what Paul was telling Timothy about were the problems of people preaching false doctrine…things that ran counter to the gospel…in that sense, someone preaching or promoting something different would be in opposition to the “him” that would, presumably, be a church leader preaching the gospel of Jesus.

    But you make a good case for your observations and concerns, and I don’t see any need to wrassle with ye…(if I may throw some Wild West jargon in there to mess with everything…) 😉

  3. 3 societyvs
    June 23, 2009 at 4:46 pm

    “The main thing here, though, is that part of what Paul was telling Timothy about were the problems of people preaching false doctrine” (Deacon)

    I think we need to oppose false doctrine – exactly as Paul states it (for most of the time). In the case of someone like Fred Phelps – whom I think runs around and preaches an almost devilish gospel – we need to oppose this person (in a nice way as someone claiming to be a person of Christ). If the point is about getting into some talks (not just quarrels) about doctrine – then as Christian people let’s do that – which makes your blog some kind of ‘fulfillment’ of this idea.

  4. 4 Deacon Blue
    June 23, 2009 at 10:58 pm

    Agreed on both fronts.

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