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Sunday, September 26, 2010

Church Goes After Jeroboam I

It's been a while since I felt compelled to write but here goes. King Jeroboam I (hereafter referred to as Jeroboam) seems sufficient cause.

Jeroboam's sin was to set up idols at Bethel and Dan for the Northern Tribes (Israel) to worship rather than having them travel to Jerusalem to worship the God of Israel. His motive was to retain control of his recently acquired kingdom by discouraging the people from travelling through the kingdom ruled by Rehoboam - his adversary.

Jeroboam appointed his own priests who were not of the Aaronic line and established a religious calendar with appropriate festivals. It was all very convenient, one golden calf in the north and one in the south. They were presented as something not really removed from the true worship of God for these were the "gods, Oh Israel, which brought you up from the land of Egypt." (1 Kings 12:28) Furthermore, the cumbersome and rigid appointment of priests from the Aaronic line was less attractive to the people than Jeroboam's method of appointing priests from every class of people. It was all so easy for Jeroboam to avoid a charge of apostasy from the people.

Jeroboam's actions were an offence to God and the seeds of ruin to Israel. There are firm lessons in all this for the Church today.

As with Jeroboam, compromising religion can be introduced in the name of the true God. Church activities are not necessarily acceptable to God just because they are instituted in His name. Rituals of worship can be convenient, popular and presented under the sacred name of Jesus Christ yet be delusive.

Synchretism of Christian theology and pagan superstition in past centuries by various denominations has been destructive to the Church. A cursory look at what may be described as fervour in evangelical circles today is a poor caricature of the spiritual worship and faithfulness Jesus Christ instituted in His Church some 2,000 years ago. This fact presents important questions. Is the message we preach biblical and faithful to the gospel revealed in Jesus Christ or is it corrupted by worldly ideas which surround us? Do our public services lead people to the true worship of God or are they calculated merely to be aesthetically pleasing and, even worse, just giving some sense of worth to one or more persons with musical interest.

Similarly, presenting to the world a disjointed Jesus Christ who is a miracle worker of the New Testament but a blurred and indistinct Creator of the Old Testament is sure recipe for failure both in understanding of the hearer and blessing of God.

As the example of Jeroboam shows, simply sanctifying religious exercises with the trappings of 'tradition' is not enough. His ridiculous claim that the golden calves were the ancient God of the Hebrews did not make it so. Similarly, we may dress up our professed Christianity today with the nomenclature of past orthodoxy and associate such worthy names as Calvin, Luther and Wesley with it. But would they really approve? Such men laboured and fought to reform the church and conform it to the Scriptures. It is dishonest to wrest their teachings to justify theologies and practices which any honest person should know they would have repudiated. Even worse, to classify semi-pagan theories and practices as 'Christian' is a sacrilegious affront to the Holy Spirit. There is all too much reason to fear that many evangelicals have forgotten Jeroboam and none more so than many within the Anglican Diocese of Sydney today.



John said...

But Neil, are they listening? Check out Michael's recent blog trying to push aside the charge that SAD is fundie. Jensen junior goes to gereat length to argue against the accusation and it is clear that all he is interested in is their public image.

neil moore said...

Oh yes, the public image is vital for the diocese. After all, they don't want to be seen as hillbillies.


John said...


can you refresh the gentle readers' memories? Who made that comment? Was it Richard Dawkins or one of the other rabidly mad atheists?

neil moore said...

No, as I recall, it was the Most Reverend Dr P.F. Jensen, Anglican Archbishop of Sydney when responding to a question from Paul Sheehan, Journalist for the secular newspaper The Sydney Morning Herald a few years ago.

The question was about those today who hold to the same biblical history held by Martin Luther and John Calvin ie that God created in six days, each of 24 hours and that the earth was created by God approximately 6,000 years ago. Archbishop Jensen's response for Sydney Anglicans was to reject such a concept and say something to the effect of "We are not hillbillies!"

In effect, the Most Reverend Dr Jensen told the world that his Christian brethren along with Luther, Calvin and others who upheld the historical integrity of God's word on origins were hillbillies.

Ouch!!! That hurts.


sam drucker said...

I am hopeful that Archbishop Jensen will recognise the harm he has done and will apologise one day soon.

Perhaps he will do it here.

Sam Drucker