Dissing Jesus and Paul’s church takes real guts 10

It’s fairly routine for Perry Noble to use his pulpit to rant against other churches. I’ve always assumed that the implicit assumption was that we should all just get back to a New Testament kind of church and we’d all be living in the ecclesiastical Promised Land.

Until Sunday that is, when Noble showed his distaste for the churches of Jesus, Paul, and the Apostles.

His pre-service Twitter offered this wisdom:

Keep seeing in the book of Acts that Paul would always go to the synagogue every time he went to a new place…why…BECAUSE religious people NEED JESUS!!! Not a program…OR a process…but a relationship with a PERSON!

The context was Noble’s sermon about how Jesus saves us from our churches and our religious programs. Problem is, the accounts in the Acts show that the Apostles liked religious programs and processes to the point of insisting on them.

Paul went to the synagogue wherever he went because it was the Sabbath and he wanted to worship with God’s people.

As his custom was, Paul went into the synagogue, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures. (Acts 17:2)

Again, from Acts 14:1:

At Iconium Paul and Barnabas went as usual into the Jewish synagogue.

It’s also in the synagogues that Paul meets the commendable Bereans (who insisted on “going deeper”).

As for religious programs, Paul was quite convinced that they provided the best context for meeting Jesus.

As Paul and Barnabas were leaving the synagogue, the people invited them to speak further about these things on the next Sabbath. When the congregation was dismissed, many of the Jews and devout converts to Judaism followed Paul and Barnabas, who talked with them and urged them to continue in the grace of God.

On the next Sabbath almost the whole city gathered to hear the word of the Lord. (Acts 13:42-44)

Paul and Barnabas apparently believed that church was the best place to hear Jesus preached and invited the city to join them the next week for their weekly religious program. Yes, they spoke to the people outside the synagogue, but they recognized that the sabbath and the synagogue were God’s special time and place for preaching and hearing the Word.

Noble treats Paul’s sabbath synagogue trips as rescue missions into hostile territory, when it would be more accurate to say that the Apostles were eagerly and regularly obeying Jesus’ command to meet on the sabbath to worship with the saints.

So Noble doesn’t like most existing churches. He doesn’t like Jesus’ church. He doesn’t like Paul’s church.

Is there any church that existed before the age of Hybels and Warren that he does like?

10 thoughts on “Dissing Jesus and Paul’s church takes real guts

  1. B. Rink Apr 20, 2009 12:47 pm

    It’s funny how people read things different ways. I really cannot see anything from that Twitter that can interpreted the way you interpret it. The message Sunday wasn’t really about that either. I would encourage you to listen to last Sunday’s message in its entirety when you have time and offer your opinion on it. I think you will find it is far different from what you have explained it to be.

    • James Duncan Apr 20, 2009 3:05 pm

      I have not listened to the whole message (got a few other things on my plate this week), though I think the context of his past statements and his Sunday evening reflection suggest that I didn’t get his meaning wrong. He blogged last night, “I believe the most untapped harvest for the Gospel are the people who come to church every week and strive to “do the right things” but have never really trusted Christ for their salvation!!!”

      He’s talking about going into all the local apathetic churches and converting their members. In the sense that he characterizes Paul’s synagogues the same way, I don’t think I’ve misinterpreted him.

      Regardless of what he preached on Sunday, his Tweet indicates that Paul’s main motivation was to charge into these synagogues and convert the religious lost. In that sense, I think he both misunderstands the state of the believers in those churches and Paul’s primary motivation for visiting, which was for regular worship.

  2. B. Rink Apr 20, 2009 4:01 pm

    Maybe not, I think he is addressing apathetic members in those churches and not necessarily the churches themselves. He’s preaching to the apathetic members at NS as well as the church as a whole. And I think you both can be right in this instance, Paul did go for regular worship, but he also went to correct those believers first before preaching to the lost.

  3. Twit Conway Apr 20, 2009 7:48 pm

    I think it underscores a big reason not to use Twitter – lack of context. How much providing the background or reasons can you achieve in 140 characters?

  4. anonymous Apr 20, 2009 9:52 pm

    I find it odd that you have time to pull out bits and pieces of a sermon and write a blog about it but you say you don’t have time to listen to the sermon in its entirety (or simply choose not to). If you simply listen, you will understand that the message was against indoctrination in favor of a relationship with the Savior. Are we not all the body of Christ? Why do you attempt to divide it?

    • James Duncan Apr 20, 2009 10:08 pm

      Good grief. I wasn’t critiquing the sermon; I was critiquing PN’s Twitter observation within the general context of his body of work that finds any opportunity to belittle the church. The only reason the sermon was relevant was that the Twitter post appeared to be related to a key point he wanted to make in his sermon. His blog notes later that evening confirmed that.

      I don’t go to NS. If there was something in his sermon worth critiquing, I suppose you had to have been there. Until they posted it on their website, I wouldn’t have had a chance to listen to it anyway.

  5. James Duncan Apr 20, 2009 10:15 pm

    One more other thing. How is the first verse I quoted not indoctrination?

    “As his custom was, Paul went into the synagogue, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures.”

    Indoctrination is not a bad thing if the doctrine is correct. We’re all indoctrinated in something. We might was well make sure it’s the right thing.

  6. Tommy F. Apr 20, 2009 10:42 pm

    @ anonymous: I’m glad to see that another NS devotee has joined the discussion.

    Might ye be Ace Noble, in disguise? Or one of his representatives … one of his “boys”?

    It seems to me, Ace’s MO is to divide the church. To hear him tell it, his church is better than anyone else’s, and we should thank God that Ace is here to show us the way. Ace can hardly go a week without critiquing churches or pastors. I realize it’s his schtick, but really … it’s a bit rich criticizing JDuncan for dividing the church, when he’s replying to Ace’s attempts. I suppose, anonymous, that you are equally frustrated when Ace is divisive, right?

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