Monday , July 23 2018
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How Christians Can Use the Bible to Disagree

Summary:
I am traveling and took my son to a (Bible) church that isn’t our normal one. The people there were very pleasant and welcoming, but I personally had a doctrinal disagreement with one of the posters hanging on the wall. I explained the issue to my son afterwards, but it might be of interest to readers of this blog, especially if you think that religious stuff is “just how you feel about God.” So, the poster had in caps, “FINISH HIS WORK” and the “O” of “work” was a globe. Underneath the big letters it gave the reference “– John 4:34.” Now through the whole service that poster was really bothering me. It sounded like they were saying, “Hey you Christians, you need to go out into the world and finish the work that Jesus started.” (Also, the sermon and other posters

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I am traveling and took my son to a (Bible) church that isn’t our normal one. The people there were very pleasant and welcoming, but I personally had a doctrinal disagreement with one of the posters hanging on the wall. I explained the issue to my son afterwards, but it might be of interest to readers of this blog, especially if you think that religious stuff is “just how you feel about God.”

So, the poster had in caps, “FINISH HIS WORK” and the “O” of “work” was a globe. Underneath the big letters it gave the reference “– John 4:34.”

Now through the whole service that poster was really bothering me. It sounded like they were saying, “Hey you Christians, you need to go out into the world and finish the work that Jesus started.” (Also, the sermon and other posters were consistent with my interpretation. It was very much of the mindset that we had to go win souls for Jesus.)

I explained to my son that obviously, Christians should indeed go do good works. But that would not be construed as finishing the work of Jesus (i.e. His work), because Jesus accomplished His work on the cross, period. (He said, “It is finished” just before dying on the cross.)

Another way to see it is like this: If it were up to humans to finish the work of Jesus, then humanity would be doomed; we would fail.

The last loose end was for me to look up hat was presumably a quotation from Scripture, i.e. the reference they gave to John 4:34. Here it is in context (the NIV translation):

31Meanwhile his disciples urged him, “Rabbi, eat something.”

32But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you know nothing about.”

33Then his disciples said to each other, “Could someone have brought him food?”

34“My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work. 35Don’t you have a saying, ‘It’s still four months until harvest’? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest. 36Even now the one who reaps draws a wage and harvests a crop for eternal life, so that the sower and the reaper may be glad together. 37Thus the saying ‘One sows and another reaps’ is true. 38I sent you to reap what you have not worked for. Others have done the hard work, and you have reaped the benefits of their labor.”

So you can see why both camps would feel vindicated by the above text. I saw that and thought, “Aha! It wasn’t Jesus telling His disciples, ‘Finish the work that I start while I’m with you.’ Instead, it’s Jesus saying He would finish God’s work. Totally different message.”

However, the people who made that poster would presumably say, “See? Jesus wants us to follow-up with all the seeds God has planted and cultivated. We need to go out into the world and reap the harvest.”

In summary, I still don’t like the vibe of the poster because I think a lot of Christians would assume the “His” means Jesus, not God the Father. But, I was more sympathetic after considering the full context of the quotation.

In any event, this is the kind of stuff that even Bible-believing Christians argue about…

Robert Murphy
Christian, Austrian economist, and libertarian theorist. Research Prof at Texas Tech and author of *Choice*. Paul Krugman's worst nightmare.

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