Acts 5:35-39 (New International Version)
35Then he addressed them: “Men of Israel, consider carefully what you intend to do to these men. 36Some time ago Theudas appeared, claiming to be somebody, and about four hundred men rallied to him. He was killed, all his followers were dispersed, and it all came to nothing. 37After him, Judas the Galilean appeared in the days of the census and led a band of people in revolt. He too was killed, and all his followers were scattered. 38Therefore, in the present case I advise you: Leave these men alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. 39But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God.”
This passage of Scripture has become somewhat of a mantra for the “Turnstile Pastors”. We’ve seen Furtick employ it against carnal deacons , and here, Noble uses it against his critics. Who can blame them? It is an awfully strong passage. It appears that the Word of God is telling us to avoid hindering anything that may be scene as a movement of God. However, even the shallowest look into the context of this passage shows something quite different.
The first question that comes to mind is, who was Gamaliel? Certainly, for these powerful leaders of the modern Church to quote him so frequently he must have been an early church father…or something. Nope. Gamaliel was a rabbi with great respect among the Sanhedrin. He was a Pharisee, which strikes me a little funny, considering that in the same post that Perry invokes Gamaliel’s advice against his critics, he compares his critics to the Pharisees. Anyone seeing the irony in that?
So, here are just a few problems with using Gamaliel’s advice in the way that Furtick and Noble want to use it:
- The advice was not given in regards to people who wanted to debate doctrinal issues with the Apostles. The Sanhedrin completely disagreed with the Apostles, and Gamaliel did too. The debate was as to whether or not the Apostles should be killed. Gamaliel was never implying that they should start agreeing with the Apostles, only that they shouldn’t kill them. For Furtick and Noble to compare their situation to that of the persecuted early church is both silly and insulting. There are people in the world who are suffering for their faith. However, American pastors living in huge homes paid for by their congregation might want to tone down the martyr act just a bit.
- It goes against the words of Jesus and Paul when they warn against false prophets and teachers. Was Paul wrong when he wrote his letter correcting the Corinthians? According to Gamaliel he should have left them alone and let God deal with them. This is the problem with taking one small passage out of context, and not weighing it against the whole of Scripture.
- It is just BAD advice. If Gamaliel’s words are true, then the Muslims, Mormons, Buddhists…etc…all are of God. Gamaliel equates longevity to God’s favor. This is clearly untrue.
So, my first article on Pajama Pages. Tune in next time when we discuss “Excellence as an Idol”.
Man, I’m feeling rather BAM…nah, I won’t go there.