Foxe’s Book of Martyrs is a volume every believer should read. It is at once sad, amazing and instructive to read the accounts of those who stood in the face of the religious establishment, even going to the flame. Convinced of Scripture over the religious traditions and self appointed authorities of their day, men and women refused to back down from the crush of an all-powerful establishment preferring death to compromise.
Protestantism reveres the many martyrs who paved the way not only for the Reformation, but the spread of the ideas of the Reformation that broke the choke hold a few religious elites had on the Word of God. Ironically, those self-same elites would burn others at the stake who do not agree with their narrow understanding of Scripture, even when clearly shown Scripture that contradicts their assertions. More in a minute.
The Torah awakening that has been and continues to sweep the globe is not without many warriors who have paid a serious price to face off against the establishment. Anyone who has been on this walk for any period of time will receive serious confrontation by religious elites who don’t like their little boats rocked. This movement that began nearly thirty years ago, and now numbers in the millions, has battle hardened – and weary – leaders who have the wounds and scars of persecution from the establishment.
At the BYNA Summit several months ago I had the rare opportunity to enjoy dinner with Batya Wooten and later have two separate extended conversations with Eddie Chumney. For both, as well as personal friends, Mike Clayton and Hanoch Young, I have taken the time to thank them for their willingness to sacrifice personal reputation, comfort and at times peace for the sake of the truth of the Word of God and the implications of Torah in the last days. Without these Spirit-filled and led pioneers, where would we be?
I am reminded of dozens of friends and co-laborers who study the Scriptures and through every avenue available to them, being ‘zealous for the Torah,’ share the truth of the whole counsel of God’s Word. Like the ‘big-names’ previously listed, you are my heroes. It is not easy. But, Truth will reign!
Recently, I was surfing a Reformed blog where pastors and seminary professors as well as hard core Calvinists hangout. They embody the background I came out of. I was so convinced of the Calvinist traditions I had inherited that I regarded other believers in the Messiah who differed with me as not having clear understanding, or not seeing the whole picture. How wrong I was. It was humbling when the Father began to show me Scriptures that contradicted basic tenets in the Church, nevermind the narrow Reformed perspectives. But, my the new vistas and the new freedom was so overwhelmingly refreshing to the soul that I begged the Holy Spirit for more leading to my awakening to the whole Word of God.
In my occasional returning to old stomping grounds to ask pithy questions or throw challenging verses at the ivory tower combatants, my reception has often been a little chilly, but this last venture to offer support (my comments at #74 & 99 ) for a guy I do not know who was being tortured would have turned into my being burned at the stake in a different era. Apparently, disagreeing with these guys makes me a heretic, wolf, Judaizer, cult leader and various other epithets, never mind that they themselves are the heretics, just like their fathers the Inquisitors. Seriously, that thread reads like a modern inquisition!
As an aside, here is a quote from a terrific recent article about heresy and heretic:
Who is a heretic?
Heresy is another word that carried a meaning long ago that has changed today. Having already shared the modern meaning (disagreement with the orthodoxy), allow me to share the Thayer Lexicon entry for the Greek word hairesis, the underlying word for heresy:
1) act of taking, capture: e.g. storming a city
2) choosing, choice
3) that which is chosen
4) a body of men following their own tenets (sect or party)
4a) of the Sadducees
4b) of the Pharisees
4c) of the Christians
5) dissensions arising from diversity of opinions and aims
Within the word we have the concept of disagreement and choice, but also division and sects. Yet the number one definition is dealing with force and manipulation. When Rome was sacked by the Gauls in 387AD after the Battle of the Allia, one could rightly say the action of the Gauls was heresy. Thus the idea of storming a city carries the notion of disagreement because nobody storms a city filled with people they agree with. Yet the word is used in Scripture and not in the context of storming a city, so let’s take a look at one entry:
2 Peter 2:1 But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you,who will secretly bring in destructive heresies (G139), even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction.
Within the context of the definition of the word heresy, I believe a proper conclusion here is to say that these false prophets and teachers that Peter speaks about have an understanding or perceived truth that they are attempting to force (or manipulate – force by stealth) others to accept. They are attempting to impose their view and their practices on others and in the process are causing division. Hypothetically, what they were sharing could have even been the truth, but because they have taken to the position of trying to manipulate others into accepting their belief or practice, they have crossed the line of heresy.
Quite interesting to see that those burned at the stake were not heretics, rather it was the ones asking the questions and holding the torches. Even more interesting to note that many Protestant elites are just like their mother, the Roman Catholic Church. Without saying it, their actions and attitudes demonstrate that they think themselves the gatekeepers of Truth and damned be anyone who disagrees and has Scriptural evidence.
It really is quite sad. My heart breaks for brothers in the pulpit who are so callous that they would destroy a brother (RB) to protect a tradition, but it is not a surprising result of the spirit of religion that we see exhibited in Scripture and through the pages of history.
Still, in our day, I am encouraged by the number and caliber of men and women being awakened by the Spirit to the everlasting Word. Last weekend, we were blessed to host a seminary-trained, ordained pastor for three days. He began “seeing” parts of Scripture about 18 months ago and as he prayed and searched the Scriptures, became convinced of the Sabbath, the Feasts and more. He had little interaction with any other teachers and he secretly wrestled with this shift in paradigm and began implementing it in his home with immediate recognizable blessings and benefits. His testimony is that the Holy Spirit was his teacher for the last 18 months, not any other men. He literally did not know the names of any Messianic or Hebrew roots teachers, but there he was, embracing much of what Scripture says.
We shared a wonderful weekend comparing notes and discussing Scriptures and Church history. I was encouraged by his optimism and excitement over teaching the things he is learning in several of his circles of influence. And, his testimony and presence affirms again that our Father is performing an amazing work in our day!
So, all that to say this: As you learn to walk in the ways of the Father, the ‘ancient paths,’ as Jeremiah calls them, understand that you will be persecuted, and most likely it will be by the very ones who you respected in the pulpit. Be encouraged, this is not our battle to win, we merely need to be lights. Interject truth and let the Spirit handle their hearts. The Scripture is sharper than a two edged sword!! Leave the ad hominem attacks to those who have no answer.
Blessings to you this Shabbat!!
Having had multiple encounters on that blog, here is a post that is interesting regarding a previous visit.