A few weeks ago our friend, BRink, posted the following video on his blog to highlight the fact that his pastor says some odd things. The point of the video seems to be the hilarious (Albert, that’s sarcasm) bit at the end about weed-smoking grandmas. I found the first part the most appalling, where Noble just invents a lesson about Simeon and worship from whole cloth.
Here’s what he said:
Here comes Mary and Joseph, and they’re walking into the Temple and they’ve got their baby, and here comes the old man. He’s an old man. The Bible says he’s getting close to death. He walks up to Mary and Joseph and takes the baby from them. Now, that’s a weird scene right there. If you are at NewSpring church, and you walk in the lobby and the old man walks up and takes your baby going, “Praise God!” And you’re going, “What in the world? Security!” You’re calling people. You’re freaking out.
Here’s what happened to Simeon. He was moved by the Spirit to a place where Mary and Joseph were moved by the Word. They met together, and he said, “I’m going to take him in my arms. I want to get as close to him as I can, and I don’t care what people think about me, and I’m willing to risk ridicule, and I’m willing to risk being pushed away, and I’m willing to risk my life because that baby is Jesus and I want to get as close to him as I can. And he took Jesus in his arms, saying, “I want to be as close to you as I can.” Worship is when you and I say, “Jesus, I want to be as close to you as I can, and I don’t care what others think about me, and I don’t care how others perceive me. All I care about, Jesus, is seeking your face and being as close to you as I can.” That’s worship.
Here’s why it’s a problem:
- It’s self centered. Simeon was playing his priestly role in consecrating Jesus to prepare him for his own ministry. This was not about Simeon getting his jollies at all; it was about God.
- It’s out of control. Simeon was not a maverick; Mary and Joesph didn’t freak out. Representing Simeon as someone who did unpredictable things in the temple must be comforting to a preacher who relishes his own attempts to push the limits of what’s acceptable in church.
- It ignores God’s formula. This wasn’t a special, out-of-the-blue meeting. It was a planned aspect of whole-life worship, as dictated in Leviticus 12. Mary, Joseph and Simeon were all operating within God’s constraints. While we can’t put God in a box, he can put us in one, and these worshippers were respecting those bounds.
- It disrespects Simeon. Mary and Joseph could only have a qualified priest perform the required consecration, so Simeon was not Perry Noble’s crazy old man. Simeon was an ordained minister of God. In other words, he probably had gone to seminary. The reason he was there was very likely because the Holy Spirit had, through Simeon’s study of Scripture, revealed to him that the Messiah had come, much in the same way as probably happened with the believers in Acts 2.
- It’s needlessly antagonistic. Perry Noble wears out the NewSpring-against-the-world meme again in this routine. This was Simeon’s ministry, his divine calling. Why would anyone think less of him (risk his life?) for doing this? If Noble can establish that doing the right thing makes people hate you, he can (and does) reverse the proposition to prove that when people don’t like what you’re doing, you must be doing the right thing.
- It reverses the relationship of worship. We don’t hold Jesus in our arms; we’re grateful that he holds us in his.
- It does, however, justify NewSpring’s no-kids-in-church policy. A stranger taking a kid out of your arms when you walk into the NS lobby happens all the time. Perhaps this is how Noble justifies it.
- It’s complete fiction. Except for the part about taking Jesus in his arms, everything else is the product of Perry Noble’s imagination. It makes for an interesting story, but it’s just not true. If you want to know exactly what Simeon said, Luke 2:29-35 tells us very clearly.
Why does this matter? Noble’s just spouting off like he always does, you counter. He’s demonstrating passion, and you’re trying to tear him down. Let it go. Focus on the weed smoking.
It matters because this is adulterous teaching. He takes a little bit of the Gospel according to Luke and adulterates it with a whole lot of the gospel according to Noble. Note how the whole lesson is predicated on a very long fictitious statement from Simeon. Noble’s gospel is false.
False teachers (like Rick Warren’s example a few days ago) often work this way by taking a little bit of truth and mixing it with error so we think we’re hearing the Word of God. This particular teaching is false, and whenever Perry Noble preaches like this, he is a false teacher.
When it comes to the Gospel, you can’t make this stuff up.