Todd Weber's Random Thoughts

November 4, 2012

Rape Pregnancy NOT God’s Intention

Filed under: Biblical/spiritual, Politics — Tags: , , , , , , , — tkweber @ 11:11 pm

Indiana Republican Senate candidate Richard Mourdock recently said that pregnancy resulting from rape is “what God intended.” Baloney! To believe such nonsense is naive, at best. To speak such nonsense while running for Senate is idiotic and will likely result in a lost race. Unfortunately, many Christians agree with him.

Let’s consider this position. Mourdock’s belief implies that God is intimately involved in the conception of every human embryo, and without this divine involvement, conception would not occur. Therefore, every human child is a direct result of divine causation. If this is so, then every child born with a disease or birth defects or fetal alcohol syndrome or HIV or cancer was made so by God himself. Also, every still-born child is so by the will of God, as is every miscarriage, etc. What a cruel and sadistic God this would be.

Let’s also consider that, if Mourdock’s belief is true, then God – whom the Bible says is a “jealous God” – also purposely gives billions of children to people who have little or no faith or who believe in other gods and hold beliefs that are diametrically opposed to Judeo/Christian doctrine.

Moreover, it follows that such a God purposely gives children to parents who have no means (and sometimes no desire) to provide or care for them. Other children are given by divine will to sick, demented, evil people who will eventually abuse and molest them or allow others to do so.

Regardless of which faith one holds, it is difficult to believe that any deity would willfully and purposely create human beings under such circumstances. It is much more reasonable to recognize human reproduction as a natural process of physical and chemical reactions that were set in motion in the beginning (by God, of you’re so inclined), and which runs on without any further intervention. Therefore, pregnancies resulting from rape or affected by disease are merely unfortunate consequences of the human condition, not the cruel intentions of a careless deity.

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May 10, 2010

Consequences Unforseen

Filed under: Biblical/spiritual — Tags: , , , , , , , , — tkweber @ 8:52 am

“When the perceptive Frenchman, Alexis de Tocqueville, visited the United States five years after Jefferson’s death, he discovered a society that had sought ‘to evade the bondage of system and habit, of family maxims, class-opinion, and, in some degree of national prejudices.’ Tocqueville described for his readers how in Europe aristocracy bound all members of a community to one another, while New World democracy had severed every link in that chain. In America, Tocqueville noted, the individual stands alone without hereditary allies or neighborhood support. Personal freedom and economic opportunity – that was the gist of Jefferson’s ideas and convictions. He did not fully understand what he had wrought, nor was he entirely comfortable with the result. It was his legacy nonetheless.” (Norman K. Risjord, Thomas Jefferson, Madison House, 1994, p. 195-196)

 Tocqueville’s observation highlights the fact that ideas and actions, no matter how well-conceived and well-intentioned, always have consequences unforeseen or anticipated by their proponents. In the case of social and political structure, we Americans have basked in the liberty, security and prosperity of our Constitutional Republic free of the limitations and inequities of Old World structures and traditions. At the same time, however, we mourn the weakness of our social fabric and yearn for many of the elements left behind, such as a strong sense of community with extended family and neighbors, a sense of identity and belonging to history and heritage, the warmth and security of cultural and family traditions, and so on. Still, we cannot forget the causes and motivations behind the genesis of America. Thousands of years of Old World systems gave rise to tyranny, oppression and suffering from which our forefathers fled to create the New World in which we now live, with blessings and curses all its own.

 This is true in the context of faith and religion, as well. New generations wrestle with the structures and traditions handed down to them and search for new ways more meaningful and satisfying than what they have known. Sincere idealism drives the quest for truth which often results in the modification, and sometimes rejection, of beliefs and practices long held by predecessors, but now deemed irrelevant, unprofitable or undesirable. However, there are always unintended, unforeseen consequences, good and bad. There is no way to avoid this.

 Everything comes at a price and even the best-laid plans have unintended consequences. We are fallen beings in a fallen world. No one is perfect; therefore, it is impossible for us to create anything that is perfect. Everything we build, devise or operate will eventually break down and fail. Even the Church, the body of Christ, which is not our creation but God’s, is subject to corruption, misuse and failure (limited and temporary) because it is in the care of humans.

 The point is that knowing our plans and schemes will result in effects we cannot possibly anticipate should not keep us from continually striving to create better circumstances for ourselves and posterity. Regardless of context, the price of timidity is often mediocrity and stagnation. It can be hoped and trusted that whatever negative or undesirable effects of our decisions and actions today will be corrected by brave and energetic occupants of tomorrow. This does not suggest license to be careless or cavalier, but rather an antidote to fear and inaction. We must do the best we can with what we have, carefully considering past and present circumstances as well as potential future ramifications.

 God lives and moves in every generation of man and desires the best of circumstances for those made in his image. Proof of this is the environment first created for man’s habitation. Corruption and depravity resulted from man’s sin, not God’s will. As seen in the history of the Israelites, wherever God’s will is upheld and maintained in full accord, the peace and prosperity of man follows, limited only by the weaknesses of man himself. Therefore, it seems our duty to continually seek to improve our state, right our wrongs, and rise again from the ashes of failure to which all human endeavors seem ultimately destined.

 © Todd K. Weber 05/10/2010

April 29, 2010

Farewell, familiar shore!

Filed under: Biblical/spiritual — tkweber @ 8:03 am

I am surprised to feel more anxious now that we have taken the most significant step in making this transition a reality. It is now official and the butterflies in my stomach have multiplied exponentially overnight, which is not what I expected. It is not of fear, though, and still I have no apprehension about what we are doing. I continue to believe it is the right thing and a good thing – a very good thing. It is the anxiety of truly walking by faith, not knowing how all the details will work out, hoping that all is and shall be well.

I appreciate the trust and confidence the congregation has expressed in me by their unanimous vote to follow my lead in this. I understand their real and valid concerns and apprehension, and am truly humbled by their willingness to rally and support my initiative.

There are so many things I do not know and cannot foresee, yet I am convinced that we must not allow the unknown to hold us captive. There are times in all our lives when we must choose between the comfort, safety and mediocrity of the familiar or the potential bounty that lies just beyond our field of view. The risk of unforeseen loss and regret is real, but the potential reward of tremendous blessing and fruitfulness is well worth it. It has been said that one cannot discover new lands without first losing sight of the shore. I believe this. We have hoisted sail and caught the wind. Let us charge the horizon with faith worthy of our God!

 Todd K. Weber

April 26, 2010

Where Art Thou, Lord?

Filed under: Biblical/spiritual — tkweber @ 10:20 am

Some of my peers and I struggle with the tension between what we have known and what we know to exist but have not yet obtained. We desire the sense of spiritual life and power in the presence of God that we have experienced countless times in Pentecostal church services, while at the same time attempting to lay aside and leave behind the un-biblical elements of those events as we pursue authentic biblical spirituality and relationship with God.

While often accused of spiritual compromise, “leaving the message,” heresy, and other crimes against the faith, our sincere desire for pure faith and biblical accuracy has led us to recognize that many of the methods, mannerisms and activities common among Pentecostal/Apostolic Christians have little or no basis in scripture and often lead to error and abuse. We find in the New Testament a conversational, dialogical style of preaching and teaching rather than the loud, passionate, emotive style with which we are familiar. We read of outpourings and manifestations of the Holy Spirit occurring in response to sincere prayer and devotion which seem nothing like modern Pentecostal gatherings which often rely on music, hype and manipulation to work people into a frenzy, which is associated with a “move of the Spirit.”

It is not that we are against emotional expressions in worship and emotional responses to the presence of God. We understand that humans are emotional beings and that our interaction with the Creator will naturally involve the emotions he created. Our problem is with emotionalism and emotional manipulation that is mistaken or misrepresented as spirituality and/or worship. In fact, we desire and encourage the deep devotion, prayer and worship that brings the manifestation of the Spirit which is often evidenced by emotion, be it crying, or laughter, or silent awe and reverence.

However, the tension arises when we abandon traditional modes of worship with which we are familiar to practice what seems to us a truer form, but then fail to achieve the same powerful experiences as before. We try to lead people into a more sincere and Christ-centered worship, but are often left with the sense that we failed to connect with Christ because no sinners were converted, or sick people healed, or prophesies given, etc. So, we begin to wonder where we have gone wrong. What have we missed? Are those traditions and mannerisms we have abandoned truly essential? Should we go back to the ways of our fathers?

My answer to such questions is an emphatic, No! Our dissatisfaction and disillusionment come from our upbringing. We have been conditioned by years of teaching and experience to expect the manifestation of the Holy Spirit to occur in certain ways and to elicit particular responses or reactions from worshipers, and when those expectations are not met, we doubt the validity of our faith, worship, and even our relationship and devotion to God, in spite of our desire to move beyond such shallowness.

All we know is what we have known, so our journey into the unknown is fraught with anxiety and apprehension as we feel our way forward in faith. We must resist the natural tendency to measure what lies ahead with the same rule given to us by our predecessors. Just as Moses led the Hebrews through uncharted wilderness, suffering the cries of the fearful and unbelieving to return to the bondage they knew rather than pursue the freedom that they did not know and for which they had no frame of reference to comprehend, so we who desire pure, authentic New Testament faith and praxis must stay the course and feel our way through the mysterious mist of the Spirit until we reach the Promised Land.

One of the hardest things for us to deal with, and which slowly wears down our resolve to continue this journey, is leading members of our congregations who are likewise conditioned and programmed with false expectations, but who do not wrestle with the deeper issues and implications and the causes and consequences as we do. We often feel as though we are rowing a boat upstream against a strong current while our passengers (and sometimes the crew) are hacking holes in the hull. We are continually subject to misunderstanding, accusations, and assaults upon our character and commitment to Christ and truth, yet we must press on.

Remember, the fledgling New Testament church had no idea what they were doing, either. From the moment they were filled with the Spirit in the upper room, they were walking in the unknown. They continued to serve the same God as their fathers, but in a radically different way. They left many of the traditions with which they were raised to worship and serve Jesus in a manner that evolved from day to day. There was no roadmap. There were no how-to manuals. And, they were locked in a continual struggle with those who were determined to go back to the “old-time religion” of Judaism.

The answer we all need is in Christ. When we pursue the person of Jesus Christ first and foremost, all the rest will follow naturally. It is when we pursue other things first–spiritual gifts, signs and miracles, emotional stimulation, etc.–that we get off track and drift into areas none of us want to go.

The failure to apprehend does not invalidate the pursuit of a worthy goal. Let us keep seeking, pursuing and reaching toward the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. The manifestation and operation of the Spirit that follows may (or may not) turn out to be different than anything we expect or are prepared for. Can we trust God enough to simply follow and allow him to act according to his own will?

©Todd K. Weber 04/26/2010

March 26, 2010

Hyping the Gospel

Filed under: Biblical/spiritual — tkweber @ 7:46 am

“I have come that they might have hype, and that they might have it more abundantly.”

Of course, this is not an accurate quotation of John 10:10, but it seems that many believers today are reading it that way – particularly many pastors and ministry leaders who nurture this view, albeit inadvertently.

As a pastor, I am well aware of the constant pressure and perceived obligation to motivate and inspire people to actively live their faith and participate in the body of Christ. I am continually confronted by believers who can’t seem to keep it together on their own and who feel it is my supreme duty to keep them pumped-up for Jesus. In addition to prayer, study and crafting engaging and effective sermons, we are set upon by the apparent necessity of orchestrating experiences that will fulfill the spiritual and emotional needs of our audience and keep them coming back for more.

The result is that pastors and ministry leaders sometimes sound more like carnival hawkers and concert promoters than ministers of the gospel as we try to grab people with persuasive hype about the next great sermon or series that they don’t want to miss because it will blow their mind, change their life and rock their world. Don’t get me wrong, I am not against the use of creativity, multi-media, and various other means of communication. My concern is that, in our pursuit of capturing the attention of our audience in order to facilitate genuine life-change via the gospel, we may end up empowering the very monsters we set out to slay in the first place. While apathy, complacency and idle spectatorship may seem to be abated by a hip, wiz-bang presentation, it is but a brief respite for most – especially those who have been in the church for a while – followed by the expectation and urgency of ever-more-engaging and exciting experiences to keep them interested. It is in this context that Karl Marx’s famous statement about religion being the “opiate of the masses” has the ring of truth.

However, in fairness to ministry leaders, this cycle usually doesn’t begin with them. The majority of such men and women are deeply sincere individuals whose desire is to serve God in their calling to proclaim the gospel and make disciples. Yet, they are faced with the challenge of attracting and holding the attention of people who, for various reasons, often suffer from a combination of shallow, immature faith and an insatiable thirst for entertainment and external stimulation. Furthermore, the thirst for entertainment and stimulation is not limited to the Hollywood variety. There are countless “revival junkies” in churches across the land who are not satisfied until and unless someone whips them into a pseudo-spiritual frenzy of motion and emotion.

It is not clever, creative and captivating methods of communication with which I take issue. Jesus was a master communicator who used meaningful stories and object lessons to hold his listeners’ attention and relate powerful and important truths. He did not lecture or pontificate from behind a pulpit, as has become Christian tradition. His words, spoken with amazing simplicity, had profound impact on those who heard him. And, in fact, not everyone who heard him believed and responded favorably. Many turned and walked away, even from Jesus, so we should not feel bad when they do it to us, too.

Neither do we see any hype in or around the ministry of the apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, teachers and ordinary believers whose words and ministries are recorded in the New Testament. What drew and connected people to Jesus and his Church was the pure and simple life-changing power of the gospel – the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ reconciling sinful people with God. Paul put it succinctly when he wrote, “And my message and my preaching were very plain. I did not use wise and persuasive speeches, but the Holy Spirit was powerful among you. I did this so that you might trust the power of God rather than human wisdom.” (1 Corinthians 2:4-5, NLT)

I respect and admire the creativity and passion of many of my peers in ministry and do not wish to dampen or diminish the exercise of such gifts for the glory of God. I only want to raise a warning that the gospel does not need hype to be effective, and that when the gospel or our presentation of it is hyped, it may do more harm than good in the long run by feeding our lust for entertainment (which will never be satisfied) rather than focusing on the reality of Christ, faith and truth. It may also further diminish the Church in the eyes of the world by enhancing negative stereotypes.

Besides, if we are honest, this disciple-of-Christ gig is not really as fun, exciting and cool as we sometimes advertise. We know that spiritual life is challenging, often difficult and always involves the denial and sacrifice of self. No matter how you slice it, it is hard to put a positive spin on that. But then again, it is not our job to put a positive spin on the gospel. Our job is to merely speak the truth in love and help those who receive it embrace it and grow therein. Their desire to do so is not our responsibility. In other words, we can lead a horse to water, but no amount of hype will make it thirsty. “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him…” (John 6:44, NIV).

Somehow, we and those in our care must learn to be satisfied with the simplicity of the gospel and life in Christ. We should also realize that we will never make Jesus, the gospel, or the church as appealing to people as many other things in life and the world which vie for their attention. And that is not our fault.

T. K. Weber, 02/26/10

March 25, 2010

Following Jesus…Responsibly

Filed under: Biblical/spiritual — tkweber @ 10:51 am

John Ortberg wrote, “Life begins when a person whispers, ‘Jesus, today you lead, and I’ll follow. Whatever I have to do in my relationships, my body, my health, and my finances are in your hands. I won’t try to figure out the rest of my life. I won’t try to solve every day. Just today. You lead. I’ll follow.’”

I agree with the spirit of this statement, but I think it over-simplifies the issue for many Christians. I know that many believers read or hear a statement like this and immediately experience a rush of anxiety or a sense of guilt or frustration as they realize that their attempt to live this way (as they have tried in the past) will surely result in more anxiety rather than peace and contentment. This, in my opinion, is not due to an error in the statement or principle, but in the perception or understanding of those who are frustrated by it. I know this because I used to be one of those, and as a pastor I have spoken with numerous sincere believers who struggle with the same anxiety and frustration as they try to live faithfully for God.

Where we go wrong is in thinking that saying, “Jesus, you lead and I will follow. You are in control.” means that we let him make our decisions for us, and all we have to do is pray, ask for guidance, and wait for the answer to come. When the answers do not come, frustration and anxiety ensue.

We need to understand that giving God control and accepting his leadership in our lives is mostly about the big picture rather than the minute details. While it is certainly true that “A man’s ways are in full view of the LORD, and he examines all his paths” (Proverbs 5:21, NIV), God’s oversight of our lives is, in some ways, more like that of a corporate CEO than a shift supervisor. He sets the course and direction – the vision and values – and leaves the daily details to us (for the most part). There is no indication in the scriptures that God wants to micro-manage our lives making our decisions for us. Yes, there are Biblical examples of divine intervention in certain otherwise mundane decisions, but those are exceptional events, not necessarily for general application.

Growing in grace and knowledge of the truth does not mean abdicating responsibility for the conduct of our own lives. Too many good, sincere and capable believers do too little with their lives in this world because they spend their days waiting for God to tell them what to do.

  • Should I go to college or not?
  • Should I take this job or that?
  • Should I marry this person or the other?
  • Should I buy this house or another?

 

Following God and walking in the Spirit means that we endeavor to learn all we can about the nature and plan of God and live in agreement and cooperation with him. It means conforming our lives to the example of Jesus Christ, spiritually and morally, yet realizing that we are not him.

When Jesus taught his disciples to pray, “Give us this day our daily bread…,” he did not mean that we should only pray and wait for God to send food from heaven. He meant that we should ask and trust our heavenly Father to bless the work of our hands as we labor diligently to provide for ourselves (Exodus 23:12; Psalm 128:12; Proverbs 13:11, 14:23, 21:25, 24:27; Ecclesiastes 9:10).

If we will be filled with the Spirit (Ephesians 5:18) and live in agreement and cooperation with the Spirit (Romans 8:4-14), and so abide in Christ (John 15:4-7), then we can rest assured that he will lead us in his will on a daily basis. That is, he will guide us in fulfilling that part of his plan that involves us. Whether you are a butcher, a baker, or candlestick maker, God wants to live in you and shine his light into the world through you as you go about your daily life following Christ. Live out the redemptive power of the gospel in faith, righteousness and love while following the passions of your heart and exercising the gifts and abilities you possess as a unique child of God.

“Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the grave, where you are going, there is neither work nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom.” (Ecclesiastes 9:19, NIV)

So, as you are praying from a sincere heart of faith, “Thy kingdom come, thy will by done, on earth as it is in heaven,” pursue the career that best suites your interests, personality and talents; buy the car that makes the most sense for your needs and budget; and live the life that God has given you with joy and confidence in the promise of his continuous presence and gracious care. Accept and surrender to God’s sovereign will and let his nature and words be the master-plan while you work out the daily details as one who is made in his image, utilizing all the powers of reason and creativity and free-will that he has given you.

Do not fail to pray and ask for divine guidance, especially with regard to major decisions; but do not wait for nor expect God to make your decisions for you. He gave you a brain and he expects you to use it. Do not waste the precious life that God has given you waiting for him to live it for you. It is yours and you are his. Live your life for the glory of God, which involves being the best you that you can be by, through and in his grace.

T. K. Weber, 3/25/2010

June 25, 2009

Enough of this Hair-esy!

Filed under: Biblical/spiritual — Tags: , , , , — tkweber @ 2:44 pm

It seems clear now that leaders of the UPCI, and therefore the organization itself, is taking a stand in favor of the damnable heresy known by its opponents as Magic Hair Doctrine, which has flourished in our ranks for many years. In spite of apparently increasing numbers of opponents and the rising din of voices against it, the doctrine continues to advance unchecked by those in leadership.

My ire was raised when reading the first article (after the predictably alarmist editorial) in the July 2009 issue of the Pentecostal Herald titled “Memorials,” authored by none other than the foremost contemporary champion of MH doctrine, Ruth (formerly Rieder) Harvey (p.7). Following four paragraphs describing some of our nation’s hallowed war memorials and the value of remembering the costly sacrifices of our forebears, she stated the importance of “revisiting the landmarks erected by our spiritual forefathers” which “stand in mute testimony to their consecrated lives.” She noted that there has been a “changing of the guard. Our elders are passing the torch to this generation and entrusting us with their memorials.” She then quoted Proverbs 22:28 and 23:10 which warn against removing “the ancient landmark.”

Given the fact that Harvey is known far and wide for tireless and fervent advocacy of MH doctrine, including authorship of numerous books and speaking at countless conferences on the subject, only the most naïve observer would deny that such prominent placement of this article within the official organ of the UPCI amounts to tacit approval of MH doctrine at the highest levels.

Having personally opposed this heresy to the General Superintendent some years ago with a plea for corrective action, I am deeply disappointed that no repudiation has come forth. Meanwhile, this devilish teaching continues to flourish unabated, ensnaring many sincere believers and turning their faith and hope away from the only Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Furthermore, embarrassing and repugnant cultish expressions and behaviors continue to abound across the fellowship bringing reproach upon Christ and the gospel before the world, with many adherents going so far as to quote the writings of witches and pagans to justify their biblically insupportable dogma.

It is long past time for the UPCI to take a clear and unequivocal official stand against MH doctrine, regardless of who may be embarrassed or offended. Frankly, as a member of the generation receiving the aforementioned torch, I refuse to honor and champion any doctrine built on so tenuous a foundation and producing such bizarre and questionable acts as have been witnessed and documented among its adherents. If there is no more serious regard for truth and biblical accuracy among the leaders of the UPCI, then I don’t think I can take their torch without being burned.

To read my review of Ruth (Rieder) Harvey’s teaching, see my post of March 2008.

January 29, 2009

People and Religion

Filed under: Biblical/spiritual — Tags: , , , — tkweber @ 8:35 am

Human nature is a strange thing. We begin life as godless sinners asserting our independence and resisting authority.  But when we “get religion,” we become obsessed with authority and control, creating endless laws and regulations to heap upon the relatively few that we get from God (from the Christian perspective, anyway).   Religiously, we go from abstinence to gluttony.  Ironically, history shows that the more religious people get, the less godly they become.

June 11, 2008

Embrace the Mystery

I have just read an article in the May/June 2008 issue of Outreach in which a former New Testament scholar and pastor describes his departure from Christian faith to agnosticism.  Apparently, his breaking point was his inability “to reconcile all the pain and misery in the world with the belief that there is a God in charge of it.”  It’s a sad story.  A Christian turning to agnosticism doesn’t indicate a failure of one’s faith, but rather his failure to exercise faith.  It’s not that Christianity isn’t up to the challenge, but that some believers give up in the face of the challenge.

 

“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Heb. 11:1).  In order to succeed and persevere in the Christian faith, one must embrace the mystery of it all.  The believer must be willing to admit and accept that some things may never be understood during our earthly existence.  This does not deny the validity of curiosity and reasoned inquiry, i.e. the search for truth.  Jesus himself said that the Holy Spirit would guide believers in truth (John 16:13).  Indeed, there are some very reasonable and biblically sound theories for why God allows so much pain and misery in the world.  However, the Bible nowhere states or implies that believers would be given understanding of all things.  On the contrary, we are admonished to “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding” (Prov. 3:5).

 

Many are the times my own faith has been challenged by circumstances and difficult philosophical questions, yet it remains strong.  The reason for this is largely due to the reality of my relationship and experience with God.  I have personally experienced and witnessed in others the genuine presence and grace of the living God, confirmed and validated by the Bible, enough that I cannot deny the reality of his existence.  There have been times when, for various reasons, I have contemplated giving up my faith in Jesus Christ, the church and his people, but I always come back to the landmark experiences of divine visitation and intervention in my life and the lives of people I have known.  If my faith were based on the biblical text alone, I may have given up by now.  But because my knowledge of God’s word has been confirmed by my experience with God himself, I cannot cease to believe in him.  And, if God is real, then he is also in control and he is much smarter and wiser than I; therefore, I will continue to trust him even when I don’t understand why certain things are allowed to happen, or when questions remain unanswered.  

 

I truly hope the man mentioned above will soon realize his error and return to faith in Jesus Christ.  I hope he will go beyond intellectual agreement with the Bible to find a genuine personal relationship with its divine author and learn to trust him with the mysteries of this life. 

March 12, 2008

Refuting Ruth Rieder-Harvey

Power Before the Throne, by Ruth Rieder-Harvey

A Book Review by Todd K. Weber   

       I appreciate and respect Ruth Rieder-Harvey’s love for God and zeal for holiness.  There is no doubt that living in holiness is an essential element of a right relationship with God.  We live in a fallen world that is horribly corrupted by sin.  Jesus Christ has provided humanity a way of escape from sin, and when a person is saved by the new birth experience, their life should be transformed into a holy instrument of godliness, free from the controlling power of sin, for this is the will of God and the work of His grace.  The main focus of this review is to address subject matter in the book which is both unbiblical and potentially harmful.  I am surprised and disappointed that such a spurious and harmful doctrine is earnestly propagated in books, articles and conferences.  I have waited patiently for some respected voice to speak up on this, but to my knowledge none have.           

Guardians of the Glory? 

The real trouble begins on page 55, with the chapter heading: “Guardians of the Glory.”  I quote:            

 “The cherubim, one of the angelic orders, seem to be particularly assigned the responsibility of guarding the glory of God. The verses that place them beside the throne of God and ever on guard are Psalm 80:1, Psalm 99:1, and Isaiah 37:16. Thus, Lucifer, as the anointed cherub, was set forth as the chief guardian of the glory of God.”            

Since when does God need anyone or anything to guard His glory?  None of the verses cited state, either explicitly or implicitly, that cherubim – or anything else – guard the glory of God.  For one thing, who or what would they be guarding against?  And, is God not able to defend Himself?  Consider the following:             

 “The glory of the LORD shall endure for ever: the LORD shall rejoice in his works.”  (Psalm 104:31)            

 “For mine own sake, even for mine own sake, will I do it: for how should my name be polluted? and I will not give my glory unto another.”  (Isaiah 48:11)             

When Lucifer rebelled, was it the angels who cast him out of heaven?  Of course not.  While the angels have served to guard various things, God’s glory is not, nor ever has been, their charge.  By itself, this point may not be worth debating.  However, it is used here as a basis for further distortions and misrepresentations; therefore, it is central to the issue and must be discussed.  The idea that God’s glory is so fragile and assailable as to require both angelic and human (namely, female) protection is ridiculous.  Even a cursory review of scriptures relating to the glory of God reveals that it is entirely God’s domain, and that He alone is the protector and preserver of it.  In fact, since God’s glory is intrinsic to His very nature; that is, you cannot separate God from His glory, nor His glory from Himself; it is impossible to tamper with the glory of God in any way, shape or form.  To corrupt God’s glory would be to corrupt God Himself, and since this can never be done, the point is erroneous. This seemingly innocuous misrepresentation of scripture becomes the foundation for the doctrinal house-of-cards erected throughout the remainder of the book.   From page 65 comes this disturbing section, following a quotation of Ezekiel 28:14, 16:            

“Lucifer’s main responsibility was as the covering cherub that guarded the glory of God.  When he was cast out, he lost his covering. God in His amazing and poetic nature delegated Lucifer’s lost estate to the woman. “For this cause ought the woman to have power on her head because of the angels. But if a woman have long hair, it is a GLORY to her: for her hair is given her for a COVERING (1 Corinthians 11:10 and 15).  This issue of the hair is of major proportions. The enemy tempts women over and over to tamper with the covering because it symbolizes to him everything that he lost. When he sees a saint of God who is a guardian of the glory, he gnashes his teeth in frustration and anger…Women are now the “Guardians of the Glory.” As the aforementioned Scripture declares, it is a glory to the woman. The glory is not hers but is the glory of God residing upon her and in her life.” (Emphasis is Rieder‘s.) 

There are several points in this paragraph which need to be addressed as follows. 

1) Ezekiel 28 is addressed to the king (“prince,“ KJV) of the ancient Phoenician city of Tyre or Tyrus, on the Mediterranean coast.  This chapter is part of a series in which God declares His judgment against several heathen kings.  The King James syntax has led some to conclude this is a reference to Lucifer’s fall, but this is tenuous at best, and certainly not grounds upon which to build a doctrine.   

2) As previously stated, Lucifer was not responsible for guarding the glory of God.   

3) If Ezekiel 28 were a reference to Lucifer, then, when cast out of heaven he would not have lost his covering, but his position as the “covering cherub.”   

4) The Bible never in any place states or implies that God has “delegated Lucifer’s lost estate to the woman.”  That is utter nonsense. While the statement “because of the angels” is a point on which there is disagreement among Biblical scholars, there is certainly no basis for the author’s incredible assertions.    

5) The word “for” in 1 Corinthians 11:15 means “instead of,“ or “in place of;” thus, the woman’s hair is given to her “instead of a covering.“  (Strong’s Concordance #473: “‘anti,’ Meaning:  1) over against, opposite to, before 2) for, instead of, in place of (something) 2a) instead of 2b) for 2c) for that, because 2d) wherefore, for this cause“.)  This in itself turns Rieder-Harvey’s ideas on their head, so to speak.   

6) Saints of God, male or female, are not “guardians of the glory.”   

7) The author’s interpretation of “glory” is likewise faulty. Again, Strong’s Concordance, #1391: “‘doxa,’ Meaning:  1) opinion, judgment, view 2) opinion, estimate, whether good or bad concerning someone 2a) in the NT always a good opinion concerning one, resulting in praise, honour, and glory…” (The full meaning and use of the word is much more broad than this, but this definition is relevant to the context.)  The phrase, “It is a glory to her” means that it speaks well of her as a woman who is devoted to God.  Her hair is simply a symbol of her faith relationship – nothing more.              

The author continues to draw out her erroneous points in later paragraphs, and then makes this unfounded claim on page 67:            

“The woman’s hair is a type and shadow of the covering that Jesus provided for his church.”            

What is the basis for such a preposterous claim, other than her own imagination?  There is no such thing stated or implied anywhere in the Bible.   

Superstition and Magic 

On page 68, we find this statement:            

“When a woman cuts her hair, she actually severs the glory of God from her life. The angels will lift and depart, for they are committed to the glory.”            

This conclusion is based on her faulty interpretation of 1 Corinthians 11:10, 15, as previously addressed.  First, a woman’s hair is not the “glory of God.”  Second, her hair is given her instead of a covering, which covering Rieder incorrectly associates with God’s glory. Third, our faith and attention should be directed to Jesus Christ, not angels.  While the Bible certainly reveals that angels are “ministering spirits,” our hope, confidence and security should be wholly in Christ alone.            

Also on page 68, the author claims that since the “armor of God” (presumably from Ephesians 6:11, although not stated) does not include protection for the back, God has provided such protection in a woman’s hair, based on Isaiah 58:8 (“…the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard.”).  If this were true, then what about a man’s back?  Did God leave men vulnerable to attack from behind, but made women more secure?  Of course not.  Then she ties this idea to Titus 2:5 (“To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.”) to make the point that women are “to be a guard that will beware of any evil that would try to come into your homes” (p. 69), followed by the statement, “Your uncut hair brings protection to your entire family” (p. 69).  In order to prove her point, the author relates a story involving a young married couple who were Bible school students.  Apparently, the husband committed adultery, and “their lives were shattered, and their ministry was completely ruined.”  This is alleged to have occurred as a result of the wife’s prior indiscretion of cutting her hair: “the spirit of vanity had caused her to become more concerned about the appearance of her split ends than about her obedience to God” (p. 69).              

This is irresponsible, manipulative and misleading.  It is one of several anecdotes which the author uses to give credence to her fallacious claims, which amount to nothing more than superstition, making female hair a sort of magic talisman to keep at bay the lurking evil spirits which would otherwise invade and take over the home and family, and against which men are otherwise powerless.  But wait, there’s more:              

“Can our husband’s hearts safely trust in us to guard the glory and to insure divine protection for our family so that no wicked spirit can enter in to spoil us?” (p. 70)            

“Can the Lord depend on you to guard the glory faithfully and diligently?” (p. 70)            

“Husbands are put there as a safeguard for the woman as she carries out this wondrously important duty that God has entrusted to her hands…guarding the glory and insuring divine protection for your family.” (p. 72, 73)            

This appears to be a new brand of feminism.  The author is promoting a pseudo-spiritual role-reversal under the pretense of preserving God-given roles outlined in the eleventh chapter of First Corinthians.  The contradiction is obvious.            

I am very disturbed by the author’s views noted above, and by the eager acceptance of them by many sincere believers.  Such doctrines turn our attention away from the efficacy and sufficiency of the blood and the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and salvation by grace through faith, and instead move us toward superstition and cultic fanaticism.   

I wonder if such ideas stem from a sense of inferiority and/or inadequacy.  It seems to be an effort to elevate Christian women to a higher station than some may presently realize for themselves.  If Christian women lack a sense of meaning, purpose or privilege, it is not because the word of God denies it them.  It may, however, be the result of erroneous teaching and practice by spiritual leaders who manipulate God’s word to suit their own predisposition.  Clearly, God has given women a high and honorable role in the family, the church and the world, and equal claim to the divine gifts and calling as their male counterparts.  It is therefore not necessary, nor beneficial, to concoct erroneous theories and dogma in order to give Christian women a sense of empowerment.            

The great salvation received by way of sound Biblical doctrine is a wonderful thing which ought to be shouted from the rooftops all over the world, regardless of what others may think or say.  But, such error as found in Power Before The Throne hurts the cause of the gospel, and casts a shadow of careless Biblical exegesis and cultism upon many believers and churches.  Promoting such non-Biblical doctrines and misinterpretations erodes peoples’ confidence in both the truth and relevance of the Bible and in our ability to communicate it with integrity.  Any doctrine which cannot be solidly supported by scripture must be laid aside, lest we be found to add to or take away from God’s holy word.            

I do not doubt that Ruth Rieder-Harvey’s intentions are noble.  Nor do I question her sincere devotion to Jesus Christ.  However, it is disappointing and regretable that she feels it necessary to create such elaborate and fantastic interpretations of the scriptures in order to promote holiness and consecration to God among women.  I have not read the sequels to Power Before the Throne, but if they build on the ideas presented in this book, they will serve only to propagate the errors contained therein, and to turn the hope and confidence of many Christians away from the Lord Jesus Christ, and add to the ammunition of critics of the faith.  God forbid.  

Todd K. Weber (Nov. 2002)

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