Posted: February 26, 2012 in Uncategorized

Dead on. Agreed.

CNN Belief Blog

Editor’s note: Steven James is the author of more than 30 books, including “Flirting with the Forbidden,” which explores forgiveness.

By Steven James, Special to CNN

(CNN) — The Bible is a gritty book. Very raw. Very real. It deals with people just like us, just as needy and screwed up as we are, encountering a God who would rather die than spend eternity without them.

Yet despite that, it seems like Christians are uncomfortable with how earthy the Bible really is. They feel the need to tidy up God.

For example, look in any modern translation of Isaiah 64:6, and you’ll find that, to a holy God, even our most righteous acts are like “filthy rags.” The original language doesn’t say “filthy rags”; it says “menstrual rags.” But that sounds a little too crass, so let’s just call them filthy instead.

And let’s not talk so much about…

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  1. Noel says:

    Great article!!! Thanks for the reminder that Jesus is not about worshiping an ideology, holy religious figure, but about real life, real needs that need to be met by all of us when serving the poor, not mere rituals and traditions to serve the self.

  2. says:

    After reading Steven James’ special to CNN called ‘My take; stop sugar-coating the Bible’ I felt compelled to be a voice for Abraham, Job, Elijah, Naomi, Hannah and Christ, who Mr. James persecuted through his little commentary.

    Mr. James’ first comment instantly brought to mind Genesis 6:6. And it repented the Lord that he made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart. And the Lord said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth, for it repenteth me that I have made them. Now, that is much different from Mr. James’ take which is, God would rather die than spend eternity without a needy and screwed up people. Mr. James’ take that the Bible is a gritty book, very raw, very real differs from mine, which is, the Word of God is the destroyer and healer of all things. My take of the Bible edifies God’s Word which testifies His Word is a doubled-edged sword. Mr. James take of the Bible does not edify God who is a Spirit; his obnoxious comments crucifies God’s Spirit which makes him a partaker of what the church does through their religious rituals and carnal theologies of a Book written by the Spirit of God through righteous men who suffered horrendous trials and tribulations in search of understanding in God’s call, which was, seeking God for understanding in His Word they saw written upon their heart. The destruction brought upon their natural lives in search of understanding in God’s Word was the sacrifice they made unto God having seen through their own experiences in life that it is through God’s Spirit manifested in the truth of His Word that man enters into a relation with their Creator. In lieu of their obedience unto God’s call they received God’s Spirit who is the Breath of Life God’s Word testifies He breathed into man. Their sacrifices unto God also bore witness of His Son who sacrificed His Life for man to receive God’s Spirit: Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, The Comforter (Holy Spirit) will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you, John 16:7. The point of this paragraph is this; people need to hear God’s Spirit not the voices of those who obviously have no knowledge in God, in His Son or in His Kingdom.

    At the bottom of Mr. James’ blog there is a requirement that all responses to his blog stay within the margin of his commentary. Posting a comment on a blog that restricts me from adequately addressing the errors and misconception I see in Mr. James’ take on the Bible leaves me in a an uncomfortable place. I don’t like coming off as being critical. That is certainly not my intent; my prosperity is in God whose truths lift a man up through destroying false misrepresentations of His Word that separates man from God. Moving on…

    I find it quite appalling that Mr. James called Noah a drunk. That derogatory statement is a direct contradiction of the scriptures that testify Noah was a righteous man who walked before God. In fact, they testify he was the only just man on the face of the earth in the day God said ‘I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth’. Mr. James assumption that the vineyard Noah planted was one of grapes is no different than that of the churches who he accuses of being delinquent in their theologies. What’s the difference between his commentary and religious theology? None that I see! How often did Christ refer to the Kingdom of God as a vineyard? What saith the scriptures, the window of Heaven was opened unto Noah. Noah was lifted up from the earth by God’s Spirit through whom he received knowledge in God which is the wealth of God’s Kingdom that Christ taught man to seek thereafter. If both Mr. James and the church were lifted up by God’s Spirit in their understanding of God’s Word they would have a much different understanding of the covering the scriptures testify Noah removed from the ark. The errors and misrepresentations of God’s Word brought forth by those who are not led by God’s Spirit prevent man from entering into the Covenant God made with Noah and the patriarch’s. The flood of knowledge God brought forth through Noah delivered man from the wickedness that risen up in the earth in Noah’s day through the sins committed against God by the religious theologies taught by the sons of God in Noah’s day. That wickedness has risen up again in the earth, and the scriptures testify such would be in the earth when Christ retuned. This wickedness is exposed on my web-site for the purpose of opening man’s understanding in the truth of God’s Word through which God’s Spirit is heard. You can respond to my comments of Mr. James blog or anything posted on the web-site if you wish;

    On numerous occasions I have heard pastors preach that Abraham deceived Pharaoh and Abimelech. What’s the difference between deception and a liar?

    The KJV testifies that Abraham asked Sarah who was his wife and his sister to say she was his sister when they entered Gerar because he thought the fear of God was not in the land. His survival instinct caused him to ask his wife to truthfully state she was his sister. Obviously his instinct was correct for the scriptures testify Abimelech would have taken Sarah to be his wife had God not given him a vision that she was Abraham’s wife. After God spoke to Abimelech in a vision, the scriptures testify he was sore afraid: Abraham did not see that fear of God when he entered the land. Point here is this; God led Abraham into a situation that caused him to fear for his life for the purpose of making His Presence known unto Abimelech. God causes Abraham to fear for his life, so He could reveal himself unto Abimelech and Abraham is called a liar and a deceiver for his obedience unto God in the face of a situation that caused him to fear for his life. Abraham did not lie, nor did he deceive Pharaoh or Abimelech; Sarah was his sister as well as his wife. His obedience unto God opened the door for God to speak unto Abimelech who obviously believed in God or the scriptures wouldn’t testify the fear of God came upon him after God spoke unto him through a vision. What saith the scriptures; fear is the beginning of wisdom.

    Now concerning Mr. James take on Job’s lusts for young girls. Job 31:1 testifies Job made a covenant with his eyes and then the scripture testifies he had no desire for a maid. Henceforth the covenant he made with his eyes speaks to what he saw in his heart being his desired to know God, which is clearly seen throughout the entire book he wrote. He made supplications for his sons in case they sinned against God; why therefore would he even contemplate entering into sin or such a state? I made a covenant with mine eyes; why then should I think upon a maid, Job 31:1.

    I take great offence, as should we all to Mr. James’ take on Jesus being a gluttonous, drunken party man. To hear Matthew 11:19 one must hear Matthew 11:18: For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, He hath a devil. Since the body requires natural food to survive that was not the nourishment John 11:18 is referring to. John did not partake of the religious philosophies of his day; his teachings bore witness of Christ. John 11:19 the scripture referred to by Mr. James testifies Jesus came eating and drinking (feasting on the law he came to fulfill). His knowledge of the law was so over their head they deemed him as a glutton and a winebibber. John prepared the way for Christ who bore on the Cross the sins of carnal doctrine and carnal priests, and Mr. James take is simply that of the other side of the elephant. In view of the fact that Mr. James’ is an acclaimed story teller it’s unfortunate he took the Holy Word of God to mock the sacrifice Christ made on the Cross for man to receive the Holy Spirit through whom God delivers man from the sin and bondage caused by the foolishness of preaching.
    I would like to ask Mr. James if he ever suffered the grievous vacuum of either a loss or lack of a child in his life. And what he would feel, and if he would petition God as did these ladies? Both Naomi and Hannah carried a heavy burden; they were both to be recipients of a child God required for the furtherance of His kingdom. Naomi’s daughter-in-law brought forth the linage of Christ, and Hannah’s son Samuel raised in the Temple eventually became priest and judge over Israel anointing Saul and David who was of the linage of Christ.

    Concerning Mr. James’ assumption that Elijah dealt with depression, I beg to differ! There is a difference between brokenness and depression. Like Abraham, Elijah also faced death, several times. When a man faces challenges that tear at the very core of his being, and then is delivered by God out of those trials he’s left with an understanding in God that gives him the strength and wisdom to overcome and see the providence of God, which is the foundation of his faith. They are like elastics ever being stretched to bring forth the knowledge of God, through which God delivers man from the heavy burdens caused by religious theologies that do not exalt God, His Son and His Kingdom. All God’s servants suffered persecution and brokenness; persecution because their knowledge of God separated them from the religions practices in their day, and brokenness because they saw the truth of God was less desirable to man than the rituals performed by the leaders of the church.

    When I read Mr. James comment about the Gentiles pissing against the wall I was immediately reminded of the Toronto Blessing. Now I don’t know if you have read the book called the Toronto Blessing or if you are familiar with the ‘Rival’ that took place eighteen years ago upon which the book was written. During that ‘Rival’ a prophecy came forth calling all the men in the congregation to piss against the wall. After they performed this mock ritual another prophecy came forth stating they were all jackasses. Here, God expressed what He saw in that church. A couple weeks later His Spirit rested upon the church I attended. The Crucifixion I witnessed of God’s Spirit through the Pastor calling the Spirit evil in this uncommon spiritual experience opened my eyes to the Crucifixion Isaiah saw in His day and ultimately at Calvary. My take of the Bible is this; when the churches and people Mr. James stop Crucifying Christ through killing God’s Spirit (who man receives through Christ) by their carnal theologies of God’s word maybe the voices of those who the wrote God’s word can be heard.

    We are living in perilous times; Christ is the way, the truth and the light we need in this time of darkness. My fervent prayer is that the truth of God would take root in lives of his people. Amen.

    • matthew2262 says:

      Thank you for your comment. But you mentioned many things I did not find in James’ article. Like Jesus being a drunkard that partied. Did James say something along those lines in another article or post perhaps? Either way, we can get into the nitty gritty about his theology. The point he is making (and the reason I posted this) was to emphasize the need to break away from the mentality that “Jesus is love, and that’s it, don’t waste your time focusing on anything else in the Bible.” Most of the gripping and dark areas of the Bible, which are in my opinion vitally important if in the Bible, are overlooked. The specific details of James’ theology I might disagree with, but the overall purpose of this post he made, which I re-posted, is just to point out that we need to read, acknowledge, and understand the more difficult stories in the Bible which are hardly ever preached (if at all) in the increasingly liberal churches nation-wide. In the end, we all agree as you said, “that the truth of God would take root in the lives of His people.” Thank you again for your comment.

  3. Noel says:

    What Matthew2262 pointed out is what I understood as well from reading the article. It is funny how some people choose to feel offended by articles like this one which remind us about the humanity of Bible characters, including Jesus. These people tend to glorify and almost worship these Biblical characters and stories to the point of missing the point of the message. They prefer to write extensive comments “defending” the Biblical characters, which in reality is a way to defend their own interpretations and, therefore, their egos, which justify their rigid and close-minded doctrines.

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