This is a blog from Chris RoseBrough at Fighting for the Faith. I think he really nails it on what most are actually hearing on Sundays. It is not sound exegesis of scripture, but rather a narcissistic eisegesis (or as Chris calls it; narcigesis) self help seminar. I will let the post speak for itself:
How To Narcigete Any Bible Story
There is an epidemic of Narcissistic Eisegesis a.k.a. Narcigesis, infecting the churches in America today. Pastors and Bible teachers have mastered the art of allegorizing all of the characters and details of every Bible story in order to make the stories about YOU. Therefore, I’ve decided to give a little ‘how to’ advice regarding this Bible twisting technique in the hopes that by doing so you’ll see the obvious problems with this way of approaching the Biblical texts. So here we go.
How to Narcigete Any Bible Story In 4 Easy Steps
Primary Assumption: Every Bible story is about YOU. And, since YOU struggle with setbacks, problems and challenges that keep YOU from achieving YOUR maximal greatness that means that the Bible is really all about giving YOU a road map that YOU can follow to achieve YOUR dreams and god-given destiny.
Read a Bible Story.
Identify the hero and the villain(s) in the story.
Identify yourself with the hero (who also happens to be on a journey toward greatness and achieving his god-given destiny, just like you).
Identify your current problems, challenges and setbacks with the villain(s) in the story.
Identify the key action taken by the hero to defeat the villain. Allegorize that action by calling it a ‘principle’ and then challenge people to ‘apply this principle’ in their lives in order to defeat the problems, challenges and setbacks in their lives so that they can achieve greatness.
We’ll begin with the story of the parting of the Red Sea from Exodus 14:5–31.
Step 1 – Read the Story
“When the king of Egypt was told that the people had fled, the mind of Pharaoh and his servants was changed toward the people, and they said, “What is this we have done, that we have let Israel go from serving us?” So he made ready his chariot and took his army with him, and took six hundred chosen chariots and all the other chariots of Egypt with officers over all of them. And the LORD hardened the heart of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and he pursued the people of Israel while the people of Israel were going out defiantly. The Egyptians pursued them, all Pharaoh’s horses and chariots and his horsemen and his army, and overtook them encamped at the sea, by Pi-hahiroth, in front of Baal-zephon.
When Pharaoh drew near, the people of Israel lifted up their eyes, and behold, the Egyptians were marching after them, and they feared greatly. And the people of Israel cried out to the LORD. They said to Moses, “Is it because there are no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? What have you done to us in bringing us out of Egypt? Is not this what we said to you in Egypt: ‘Leave us alone that we may serve the Egyptians’? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness.” And Moses said to the people, “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the LORD, which he will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again. The LORD will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.”
“The LORD said to Moses, “Why do you cry to me? Tell the people of Israel to go forward. Lift up your staff, and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it, that the people of Israel may go through the sea on dry ground. And I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians so that they shall go in after them, and I will get glory over Pharaoh and all his host, his chariots, and his horsemen. And the Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD, when I have gotten glory over Pharaoh, his chariots, and his horsemen.””
“Then the angel of God who was going before the host of Israel moved and went behind them, and the pillar of cloud moved from before them and stood behind them, coming between the host of Egypt and the host of Israel. And there was the cloud and the darkness. And it lit up the night without one coming near the other all night.
Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and the LORD drove the sea back by a strong east wind all night and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided. And the people of Israel went into the midst of the sea on dry ground, the waters being a wall to them on their right hand and on their left. The Egyptians pursued and went in after them into the midst of the sea, all Pharaoh’s horses, his chariots, and his horsemen. And in the morning watch the LORD in the pillar of fire and of cloud looked down on the Egyptian forces and threw the Egyptian forces into a panic, clogging their chariot wheels so that they drove heavily. And the Egyptians said, “Let us flee from before Israel, for the LORD fights for them against the Egyptians.”
Then the LORD said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand over the sea, that the water may come back upon the Egyptians, upon their chariots, and upon their horsemen.” So Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and the sea returned to its normal course when the morning appeared. And as the Egyptians fled into it, the LORD threw the Egyptians into the midst of the sea. The waters returned and covered the chariots and the horsemen; of all the host of Pharaoh that had followed them into the sea, not one of them remained. But the people of Israel walked on dry ground through the sea, the waters being a wall to them on their right hand and on their left.
Thus the LORD saved Israel that day from the hand of the Egyptians, and Israel saw the Egyptians dead on the seashore. Israel saw the great power that the LORD used against the Egyptians, so the people feared the LORD, and they believed in the LORD and in his servant Moses.”
Step 2 – Identify the hero and the villain(s) in the story.
Villain: Pharaoh’s Army
Step 3 – Identify yourself with the hero and your current problems, challenges and setbacks with the villain(s) in the story.
Hero: Moses = YOU
Villain: Pharaoh’s Army = debt, negative people in your life, a boring job, marital challenges, etc.
Step 4 – Identify the key action taken by the hero to defeat the villain. Allegorize that action by calling it a ‘principle’ and then challenge people to ‘apply this principle’ in their lives in order to defeat the problems, challenges and setbacks in their lives so that they can achieve greatness.
Key action: Moses lifted his staff and parted the water.
Therefore, in order to defeat the forces of evil that are keeping you from achieving your god-given greatness and destiny, YOU need to apply the principle of “Staff Raising” and lift your staff and command the waters to part so that you can enter your promised land.
Obvious Problem: Telling people to lift their staff and part the waters in their lives doesn’t make any sense. How does one go about doing such a thing? I don’t even own a staff. Do I need to go out and buy one? Do I need to practice this principle at a local pond or lake?
Although this advice sounds Biblical because it uses Biblical imagery and words, there is no real way to apply the “principle”. In the end the advice offered is empty and useless.
This year I decided to bring back a little bit of the tradition we used to do when our daughter was little. Oddly enough, I seem to take particular pieces from various traditions and make my own family celebration. For instance, I would take the 8 nights of Hanukkah with candles, food and presents, and then teach Christ centered Bible messages.
This year we are doing a 4 night celebration leading up to Christmas. We gather with donuts and eggnog and yes, little presents, and are focusing on 3 elements of the importance of Christmas.
Night 1: His coming Decided
In this lesson I stress the Omniscience of God. It was not decided that Jesus was to be born of a virgin, live a sinless life, be crucified and raise on the third day as an ‘OOPS ‘moment after the Fall in the Garden.
The Bible declares that God knows end from the beginning:
“I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning
and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, “My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose.” – ESV
What scripture teaches us is that the decision for Jesus to dies for our sins and to provide Salvation was decided in eternity past.
“But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:
Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you,
Who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God.” – KJV
Revelation 13:8 refers to Jesus as the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.
Night 2: The Reason for His coming.
This is the night where I explain to my daughter exactly what Sin, Salvation by Grace not works, and double imputation is all about. We start in Genesis 3 with the Fall.
2 Cor. 5:21, “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”
1 Peter 2:24, “and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed.”
Rom. 8:3-4, “For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.”
Therefore, salvation is by grace through faith since it was not by our keeping the Law, but by Jesus, God in flesh, who fulfilled the Law and died in our place.
Eph. 2:8-9, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast.”
Night 3: His coming
We finally get to Luke 2 and read the story of the birth of our Lord.
Night 4: The Birth
This night is a family outing where we go see a Nativity play and enjoy coffee and treats afterwards.
I encourage you to find your own ways to use this time of year to get the gospel to your family and create memories founded on the Rock and surrounded by love and each other.
There are three elements that compose saving faith: notitia, which refers to the intellectual knowledge of the content of the person and work of Christ; assensus, which demands that Christians not just know the facts about the gospel but also assent to and believe in their veracity; and
fiducia, which calls the Christian to put their personal trust in Jesus as the Savior from their sins.
As Martin Luther said at the Diet of Worms, “Unless I am convinced by the testimony of the Holy Scriptures or by evident reason-for I can believe neither pope nor councils alone, as it is clear that they have erred repeatedly and contradicted themselves-I consider myself convicted by the testimony of Holy Scripture, which is my basis; my conscience is captive to the Word of God. Thus I cannot and will not recant, because acting against one’s conscience is neither safe nor sound. God help me. Amen.” I will go with the reformation cry of “Scripture Alone.”
This week I decided to enroll in Ligonier Connect. What is Ligonier Connect you ask? It is basically an online theology school presented by R.C. Sproul and the teaching fellows at Ligonier.
Take over 40 interactive courses from Dr. R.C. Sproul and other trustworthy Bible teachers in a global community of over 9,000 students as a single student or with your own family, friends, or church.
I started my first class on Luther and the Reformation. I am enjoying it very much. I have watched the Luther movie countless times. And I mean all 3 movies that I know about. This class is filling in soo many gaps in the history and explaining the theology and the events that lead to my favorite time in church history. I recommend Ligonier Connect to any one who is looking to study theology for dirt cheap ($9 a month subscription gets you access to all the classes). It won’t give you a degree, so keep in mind this is primarily for “continuing education” if you will.
This is a great blog post from John MacArthur that I wanted to share:
Just as you might measure a child’s height on a wall or a doorpost, use these biblical principles to gauge how much you’ve grown spiritually, and how much more you still need to grow.
First of all, people who are being sanctified can clearly remember a time when they weren’t. Look back at your life and the sinful patterns that used to dominate it. What has changed, and why did it change? If you’re truly growing spiritually, you ought to see a stark difference between your life now and how you lived before you were saved.
Next, people who are being sanctified are indwelt by the Holy Spirit. Is the Spirit living and working in you on a daily basis? That’s not a mystical, subjective evaluation—is there practical evidence of God’s Spirit at work in your life? Look over Paul’s description of the Spirit-filled life in Ephesians 5:15–6:9. Can you find those characteristics, attitudes, and actions in your own life?
Third, people who are being sanctified have a strong antipathy toward sin. Do you hate the sin in your life? What about the sin in the world around you—is it attractive or repulsive to you? God is faithful to grant His people a strong aversion to sin. Do you feel the same internal tension Paul described in Romans 7:15?
Fourth, people who are being sanctified are motivated by a heart of love for God. In 2 Corinthians 5:14, Paul says that his love for God controls his life—do you see that same control at work in your life? Do you truly love the Lord, and does that love guide and direct your decisions, your actions, your speech, and your relationships?
Fifth, people who are being sanctified live disciplined lives. Peter commanded believers to reflect God’s holiness in their own lives (1 Peter 1:13-16). To be holy means to be in control of your behavior, and not just in areas of obvious, blatant sin. Are you lazy? Do you love gossip? Is your speech filled with profanity and filthiness? Do you look a lot like the rest of the world, or are you living a disciplined, holy life?
Sixth, people who are being sanctified have a strong desire to serve Christ. Part of growing spiritually is presenting yourself as a living sacrifice to the Lord. You’re not consumed with your own agendas, interests, or desires. As Paul told Timothy, you’ve become “a vessel for honor, sanctified, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work” (2 Timothy 2:21). Are you devoted to serving Christ?
Number seven on our spiritual growth checklist: people who are being sanctified love the Word of God. Read Psalm 119, paying careful attention to all the times the psalmist professes his love for God’s Word. Can you see that same love for Scripture in your life? Are you hungry for the life-transforming truth of God’s Word (1 Peter 2:2)?
Finally, people who are being sanctified associate with other people who are being sanctified. Rather than wallowing in the world, they seek out and surround themselves with other believers. We can’t totally separate ourselves from the world—nor should we try to. But who you choose to spend your time with says a lot about what you love and value, and what matters most to you. People who are growing spiritually don’t intentionally open themselves up to worldly, corrupting influences (1 Corinthians 15:33). Instead, they seek out productive, godly fellowship—the kind that “stimulate[s] one another to love and good deeds” (Hebrews 10:24). Who do you spend your time with, and what does it say about where your heart is?
If you truly belong to the Lord, His ongoing work in you will be evident. If you feel like your spiritual growth has stalled out, first carefully examine your life for unchecked sin. Then look back over that checklist and see where you might be falling short. Don’t let yourself become spiritually complacent or lazy. Keep the goal of godliness in front of you at all times, and trust the Lord to keep working through His Word and His Spirit in your life (Philippians 1:6).