Friday, March 06, 2015

The "Gospel" Coalition Says You Can Know God's Goodness Through Eating Honey

More problems are coming from The "Gospel" Coalition, this time by Piper's Bethlehem Seminary professor, Joe Rigney, in his article, "How Honey Helps Us Taste God". Also straw man arguments from elitists. This is dangerous. Notice the sloppiness of definitions (or lack of them) and the blurring between the temporal and the eternal. 

When we savor the sweetness of honey or sweet tea or pumpkin crunch cake, we engage in a fancy bit of “reading.” We transpose the physical enjoyment of taste onto our souls and offer thanks to God, not only for the simple pleasures of food but also for the spiritual pleasures to which the food is but a fitting echo.

But this means we can’t short-circuit the enjoyment of the honey. In order for us to gain the full spiritual benefit of honey, we must really enjoy its sweetness...
If rejecting God’s goodness in creation is demonic, then might there not be more subtle forms of this temptation, such “schemes of the Devil”? Ask yourself the following questions and probe the reasons for your answers:
Do I feel a low-grade sense of guilt because I enjoy legitimate earthly pleasures?

Is this guilt connected to any particular, concrete sinful attitude or action? Or is it rooted in a vague sense that I’m not enjoying God enough (whatever that means) or that I’m enjoying his gifts “too much”?

Am I attempting to detach from creation and God’s gifts out of fear of idolatry, lest my love for them surpass my affections for him?

Am I overly suspicious of created things, looking at my delight in ice cream and sunny spring days and hugs from my spouse with a wary and skeptical eye, perpetually unsure whether they’re too precious to me?

Do I have the sense that as I progress in holiness, my enjoyment of fresh raspberries and hiking in the mountains and an evening of games and laughter with old friends ought to diminish, because I’m becoming increasingly satisfied with God alone?

Do I regard certain activities like prayer, worship, and Bible reading as inherently more holy and virtuous than others like doing my job or listening to music or taking a nap?

My point is not that you shouldn’t worry about the danger of idolatry. Far from it. Good gifts really can become distractions that keep us from communing with God. Idolatry isn’t a game; it’s a suicidal reality that wrecks our souls and awakens the wrath of a jealous God. My concern is that, in general, thinning out the gifts and rejecting the stuff and suppressing our delight in created things actually hinders our growth in grace and our ability to resist the pull of the Devil’s lies. In fact, by stiff-arming created things, we miss the crucial role they play in the faithful Christian life.

End quote.

This  just a repackaged self-love teaching. Reminds me of Piper and his "Christian hedonism".

Aren't we supposed to be seeking the things that are above where Christ is seated and aren't we supposed to be seeking to do the "one anothers"? Isn't that the opposite of the seek pleasures of the flesh as a spiritual pursuit?
I also find such notions trite as we who are boldly standing for the Truth and wage war against the wiles of the enemy as well as our own flesh, don't have the same temporal fascination as these hedonists. We aren't in a sandbox, we're at war. To deal with such heavy artillery from Satan and then have a religious elite say "Just eat for pleasure" and "look at my ice cream" and "smell the flowers"  etc, is nothing short of what Joel Osteen teaches as does John Piper.

I actually do think that reading Scripture is far more important than a mere nap. One has eternal value, the other is temporal. It's this mixing up and blurring of the lines that really bothers me.

Lev 10:10 You are to distinguish between the holy and the common, and between the unclean and the clean, 11 and you are to teach the people of Israel all the statutes that the LORD has spoken to them by Moses."

2Co 4:18 as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.

Especially ridiculous is this particular line, which is far from exgeting Scripture:
"Honey is “good,” and we are exhorted in Psalm 34 to “taste and see that the LORD is good!” Our souls have taste buds, just like our tongues, and we can train the soul-buds by exercising the tongue-buds. When we savor the sweetness of honey or sweet tea or pumpkin crunch cake, we engage in a fancy bit of “reading.” "

God is not saying to taste Him by eating honey. Ps 34 doesn't even mention eating honey. It is talking to those who are in trials to look to the faithfulness and goodness of God and that we are to fear Him. Just because "taste" is in that verse and then in one about eating honey doesn't mean they are related. That's mishandling Scripture.  

Pro 24:11  Rescue those who are being taken away to death; hold back those who are stumbling to the slaughter. 
Pro 24:12  If you say, "Behold, we did not know this," does not he who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not he who keeps watch over your soul know it, and will he not repay man according to his work? 
Pro 24:13  My son, eat honey, for it is good, and the drippings of the honeycomb are sweet to your taste. 
Pro 24:14  Know that wisdom is such to your soul; if you find it, there will be a future, and your hope will not be cut off. 

It seems Prov. 24, which Rigney uses to prove his point, is actually making the opposite point: the temporal is obvious to people, but the eternal is true wisdom from God is spiritual and has long lasting benefits. It has nothing to do with eating honey to taste the goodness of God.

Tasting the goodness of God is spiritual:

Heb 6:4  For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, 5  and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come

John MacArthur notes on this verse:

"This is not a command to eat honey, but an analogy to seek the sweetness of wisdom's rewards." The cross reference given is:

Psa 19:7  The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple; 
Psa 19:8  the precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes; 
Psa 19:9  the fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; the rules of the LORD are true, and righteous altogether. 
Psa 19:10  More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb. 
Psa 19:11  Moreover, by them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward. 

Tasting the Lord's goodness is not by the flesh but by the spirit. The world eats honey and all kinds of food, but so what? They don't come to know Him by that. In fact, this reeks of natural theology. 

Pursuing God by the flesh is anti-Biblical. It also determines God's goodness by circumstances which is also sinful. What happens when there is no honey or ice cream or family ? What happens when all turn on you and persecute you b/c of Christ Jesus? What if that bitter cup? Do you then determine He is not good or is mean ? Such heinous and fleshly and temporal and earthly views are worthless as well as detrimental.
Such a theology doesn't work in Africa or other third world countries. It doesn't work 

in persecution. Paul didn't get to know God by earthly pleasures of honey or ice cream or family and friends. He was beaten, ship wrecked, and deserted by everyone at one point. Yet he knew God's grace all the more. He knew of God's faithfulness all the more. In times of want, not merely times of plenty, he knew what it meant to be content in all things. That is not what Joel Rigney is promoting.

Joh 6:63 It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.

Co 4:18 as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.

Col 3:1 If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.
Col 3:2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.
Col 3:3 For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.

Psa 84:10  For a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness. 

Rom 5:2  Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 
Rom 5:3  Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 
Rom 5:4  and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 

Rom 5:5  and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. 

Jas 1:2  Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, 
Jas 1:3  for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 

Jas 1:4  And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

Is not the definition of an idol of the heart one in which an object competes with Jesus? We should never place family or any other thing on par (or even close to being on par) with Christ. Moreover, if we are more loyal to them rather than to biblical doctrine and thus the Bible's Author, then we have already idolized them are are in sin. 

If the pleasures of this world are more interesting and enjoyable than sitting at the Master's feet, then we are idolizing those things. If we are gluttonous with food (honey, ice cream), we are sinning, no matter how you try to sanitize it with Christianese.  If we place Scripture last (aka "ultimate") in our lives, then we are idolizing something else. 

Are we not to enjoy God's gracious gifts? Of course we are. James 1 says, after talking about the view of counting all trials with joy and that they are for our spiritual growth (earthly pleasures are not listed) it says God is the giver of all good gifts, primarily and supremely Scripture and eternal life (see the context). Proverbs and Ecclesiastes also talk about enjoying the life God has given us. However, it does not command or infer that to enjoy temporal things = knowing God. We know that from Heb. 11:

Heb 11:1  Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. 

Heb 11:2  For by it the people of old received their commendation. 

Heb 11:35  Women received back their dead by resurrection. Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, so that they might rise again to a better life. 
Heb 11:36  Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. 
Heb 11:37  They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated—
Heb 11:38  of whom the world was not worthy—wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth. 
Heb 11:39  And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised, 
Heb 11:40  since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect. 

Recognizing God's gracious gifts to us and praising Him for them is commanded, but it is not the vessel through which we know God. We know Him through a new heart and through His Spirit and Scripture (John 14-15 calls it abiding in Him). Earthly pleasures are temporary and tainted and very circumstantial. But knowing God is so much more deeper than mere flesh.

2Pe 1:3  His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, 
2Pe 1:4  by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. 
2Pe 1:5  For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, 
2Pe 1:6  and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness
2Pe 1:7  and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. 
2Pe 1:8  For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 
2Pe 1:9  For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. 
2Pe 1:10  Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. 
2Pe 1:11  For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. 
2Pe 1:12  Therefore I intend always to remind you of these qualities, though you know them and are established in the truth that you have. 

2Pe 3:18  But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.

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