Over the past months, I have had some interesting and valuable discussions with my son, Matthew. I have read some of his Facebook & Twitter posts, some books he has read or recommended, and portions of his soon-to-be-published book by Crossways (temporarily titled, “Reforming Criminal Justice: A Christian Proposal.”).
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Midst all that reading and talking, I have been sadly reminded about the abusive use of Scripture to justify ungodly policy, laws, and actions by churches, Christian leaders, and pastors — both historically and within my lifetime. Reading about this abuse and misuse of Scripture is frankly appalling and shameful.
As Matthew would say . . .
“That’s how churches justified slavery. — ‘See, right there it says in Philemon that . . . .
Don’t you believe the Scripture’?’ “
That shameful behavior by ministries and local churches of our day has not ended. Ministry and local church leaders still use their pulpit and the Scriptures to beat down critics and criticism — legitimate and illegitimate criticism. 
It is possible to warp Scripture and turn it into a weapon to quiet or attack people and/or to avoid addressing real issues. At least three warning flags indicate that the Scriptures are being used, not to instruct or correct, but as a weapon to self-defend.
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#1) “This Passage” Is Cited, But “That Passage” Has Been Knowingly Ignored:
I am thankful for the fact that we believe and teach that one passage does not say all that there is to be said on a biblical truth or principle. Instead, we teach and believe that the whole of Scripture is critical to understanding the truths of God and accurate biblical exposition.
When a verse or passage of Scripture is called into play, while other obvious balancing truths are ignored or marginalized (sometimes within the very passage being taught or preached), because it doesn’t further the desired argument or narrative being made, be very wary. You are not dealing with an honest broker.
Many (if not most) Scriptural truths are balanced against other equally important truths.
We find a simple example in Ephesians 6:1 — “Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right.” However, there is more in the Scriptures than Ephesians 6:1. There are also many balancing truths that would forbid a Christian to obey if asked to do something clearly ungodly.
Seeking to follow biblical truths and principles is a balancing act. The Scriptures well reflect the fact that life and decision-making are far more complicated than some would like to admit in their preaching or teaching.
- Speak the truth, but do it in love.
- Be loving, but speak the truth
- Be kind, but turn over the money-changers tables when justified.
- Entertain strangers and show hospitality, but have no fellowship with the workers of darkness.
- Come as you are to Jesus, but “go and sin no more.”
“G. K. Chesterton — “The virtues have gone mad because they have been isolated from each other, and are wandering alone.” Compassion and honesty are virtues, but separate them from each other and they become vices and do more harm than good. Dysfunctional churches have gone mad.” — Keith Ford
Some weaponize Scripture by preaching one truth without a proper and without the needed understanding of equally weighty other Bible truths.
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#2) Fogging Biblical Concepts:
There is no lack of examples of “fogging up” the meaning of Scriptual words & concepts.
Such words as . . . . .
“Love” “Loyalty” “Unity” “Submission” “Forgiveness” or “Peace” — are all words that can be called up to blur the real issues that need to be addressed. These words do speak to biblical truths and principles, and that is why it is beyond shameful when they are used to silence, further hurt, or protect wrongdoing! That is what makes the weaponizing of them so heinous.
Right before a church business meeting, some pastors will speak about these biblical truths to quiet legitimate or illegitimate criticism or silence dissent — “We always need to be reminded that we need to be loving towards one another as believers.”
I am reminded of . . . .
Stephen Bryce’s comment . . . .
“Love isn’t letting other people have their way with you. “Grace” isn’t ignoring the hurts caused or weeping them under the rug. Anyone who says that, or defends those who say it, is setting people up to be abused.
or Raymond Chang’s words . . . .
“A call for unity that doesn’t address the sources of disunity is not a call for true unity. True unity emerges from addressing the things that created the divisions in the first place.”
or MLK’s statement . . . .
“Peace is not merely the absence of tension; it is the presence of justice.
” — MLK (Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, March 18, 1956)
Likewise, as I have often said . . . .
“Forgiveness is not something done in isolation, without any confession or admittance of wrong-doing — “I just forgave them.” Matthew 5:23-24 says go to them!
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#3) Hiding Behind The Scriptures:
In the secular world, wrongdoers hide behind legitimate legal principles — “There is an ongoing case on this, and we are not going to comment on it.” “My lawyer has advised us not to comment at this time.”
In the ministry world, wrongdoers hide behind legitimate Scriptural truths — “Like Jesus, I am going to remain silent — He opened not His mouth.” (or the opposite) “Jesus whipped the money changers in the Temple and denounced them publicly.”
In both cases, “I am just being like Jesus.” WWJD works as a shield to avoid addressing legitimate and illegitimate criticism. As Jesus said, it is a cloak used to cover their sin (John 15:22; Mark 7:11-13; I Thess 2:5; I Peter 2:16).
“Cloaking” works publicly and personally; it silences those outside, and quiets the conscience inside. It makes one look like Jesus, and allows one to sleep at night. (Nevertheless, it is seen for what it is by most, and it is subconsciously noisy at bedtime!)
Handling the Scriptures in the above three ways is what allows and promotes God’s people to be quieted — at best, and deeply
hurt hurting — at its worse, with little to no biblical recourse and a great deal of spiritual weight. Instead of helping those used and abused in ministry, greater weight is loaded on them!
“See, right there it says in Philemon that . . . .
Don’t you believe the Scriptures?’ “
As Timothy Keller states . . . .
“Picture how you help a person who is trying to carry a load that is too heavy. To help with a burden, you must first come very close to the burdened person, standing virtually in their shoes. Next, you must put your own strength under the burden so its weight is distributed on both of you, thus lightening the load for the original bearer. To “carry the burden” means to come under it and let some of its weight, responsibility, and pain come to you.” 
There is a reason for the “Reverse Exodus” that is taking place in today’s churches!
Look around; you can’t miss it!
Let me close with this post by J. S. Park . . . .
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1. “Illegitimate” is determined after a conversation or confrontation about an issue. That is why Matthew 5:23-24 is so important!
2. “A pastor with a theological degree and knowledge of Scripture can lift words out of those Scriptures, pronounce them with authority, and wound those under their care. An ability to articulate theological truths does not mean the speaker is an obedient servant of God.”
3. “For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.” — Matthew 23:4
4. DARVO: “Cloaking” is part of DARVO — Distract, Attack, Reverse Victim Order. It is the “RVO” part. I am the victim, the one suffering, who needs the sympathy because I am being like Jesus!
After you “stab” a brother or sister in Christ, you claim that you are the one bleeding!
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