You can’t make this stuff up 30

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. It reverses the relationship of worship. We don’t hold Jesus in our arms; we’re grateful that he holds us in his.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.

30 thoughts on “You can’t make this stuff up

  1. Tommy F. May 26, 2009 12:15 am

    Like I’ve been saying (writing) for weeks now. NS would benefit a lot from a little more education – as in a seminary education about how to read the Bible and how to interpret what’s there rather than what’s not.

    This is just a personal preference: I like it when people who are paid to know something and then share it, first learn what it is they should be sharing, rather than making it up.

    The worst part – I bet he has no clue how far he missed the mark.

  2. Albert May 26, 2009 3:27 pm

    “False teachers 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…”

    I had a conversation with an English woman who was complaining how American food companies add sugar to most every product they sell and distribute to get consumers addicted to it.

    This kinda reminded me of that conversation.

  3. Seth May 27, 2009 8:36 pm

    After reading the passage in scripture, I do not see where the Bible states that Simeon was a priest. The only description it give is of him being righteuos, devout, waiting on the consolation of Israel, and that the Holy Spirit was on him. Which Perry does say. The Bible doesn’t say he was a minister, and it doesn’t say that he consecrated Jesus. Yes, Simeon was there because the Holy Spirit revealed him where to be, but Perry does make that point, that Simeon was following the Holy Spirit. Perry doesn’t say anything about us holding Jesus in our arms, he talks about us being as close to Jesus as we can be.

    “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.” -PN

    The part about holding Jesus mentioned before this sentence refers to Simeon holding Jesus, not us. The part about the people freaking out is what you would say today if that happened at NS, he did not say that Mary and Joseph were the ones freaking out. I don’t see anything how it is ‘needlessly antagonistic’, but, even the Bible says and shows that doing the right thing and following God comes with persecution and people against you. And is it not complete fiction, the Bible does say he was gonna die, actually, Simeon himself says it. Also, Perry is giving commentary in there, just like you do on this blog, the commentary wasn’t quite right, but, everything you provide commentary on isn’t right either.

  4. James Duncan May 27, 2009 8:44 pm

    Seth, did you read Leviticus 12? That explains what Mary and Joseph were doing, and, yes, Simeon had to have been a priest.

    Perry wasn’t just commentating, he was putting words in Simeon’s mouth and teaching a lesson from them. They weren’t Simeon’s words; they weren’t God’s words; they were Perry’s.

    And they were necessarily false.

  5. Seth May 27, 2009 8:57 pm

    Why does Simeon have to be a priest? Where is the proof? Yes, Leviticus 12 talks about how but it says nothing about Simeon being a priest. The Bible doesn’t say he consecrated Jesus, it doesn’t say he was a priest, but it does say he was devout, righteuos, and following the Holy Spirit. That doesn’t equal priest in my book, saying he a priest from that evidence is also adding things to the Bible, like you say Perry does all the time, which makes what you says false. Also, I did agree that Perry stretched the point there, the second paragraph, minus the first sentence or two, is off, but, I did have to correct what you said he said worship was, because with that he did get it correct.

  6. James Duncan May 27, 2009 11:38 pm

    Seth, you cannot draw a lesson about worship from what Noble said about Simeon. Noble says that Simeon said, “I want to be as close to you as I can,” which becomes the basis for the last part of Noble’s lesson.

    Simeon did not say it, so how can Noble say that that’s what worship is?

    It’s what Noble thinks it is, but it’s not what the Bible is saying here.

    If you are using a false Bible to preach from, your preaching is, by definition, false. Can you find me a Bible where Simeon says what Noble has attributed to him?

  7. Seth May 27, 2009 11:56 pm

    No, I cannot, but the idea that PN has about worship, with the exception of it being from Simeon, is correct. Could he have used better scripture, yes, did he? no. I did agree that he didn’t get it all quite right, but, like I said, he didn’t get as much wrong as you perceived that he did.

  8. James Duncan May 28, 2009 12:02 am

    Sorry, Seth, but on this issue we go to the mattresses.

    If you excuse false teaching because he got it almost right, or because he meant right, you’re toast. The nature of false teaching is that it does not look like it’s false. It looks like it’s right. A little bit of wrong is very seriously wrong.

    Perry’s teaching, because it is based on the Gospel According to Noble, is false.

  9. Seth May 28, 2009 1:07 am

    And since you got things wrong on your list of why he is a false teacher, that also makes this post partially false, so you too could be said to be a false teacher in a way. and, to see what it was you got wrong, look at my first post, mostly tho, is number 8. because only the second paragraph is false, the first paragraph minue the part about if it happened at NS, (which, if that did happen someone would freak out so in a way it also true) is true. its not complete fiction.

  10. James Downing May 29, 2009 1:28 pm

    I do think there needs to be some distinction drawn between someone not understanding scripture, and someone who does understand and is purposefully twisting the meaning. Don’t misunderstand, either is bad, but the motivation involved would be totally different.
    I don’t think the question here is whether or not Perry got this right. He didn’t. I think it’s a good bit safer to say that Simeon was a preist, than to say he was a crazy old man. The question is, what was his motivation in misinterpreting this?
    I honestly think Perry was just ignorant in this case, and saw what he wanted to see in this passage in order to fit his message. Does that make him a flase prophet. I don’t think so, at least in this case. Now, one may want to question how safe it is for a guy with limited knowledge of scripture to pastor a church…but that’s another issue.

  11. JT May 29, 2009 3:53 pm

    James Downing-

    You nailed it.

    This is not so much false teaching as it is misapplication. I, for one, see a difference there. When I first heard Noble preach that sermon, I did think to myself, “That’s a bit of a stretch.” But honestly, I can let that slide. I’ll never agree 100% with any preacher if I listen to them long enough. None of them are perfect.

    Now if I ever hear Noble preach heresy (rather than just make an error of application), I’ll start a blog to expose his false teaching to the world. Until then, I’ll give him some grace when I disagree with him.

  12. Tommy F. May 29, 2009 5:16 pm

    Offering Noble some grace is probably a good idea. But, it appears what he really needs is a Bible.

    This is the man who calls for Reformation.
    This is the man who plans for weeks what he’s going to say to over 10,000 people.
    This is the man who claims he has a vision from God.
    This is the man who people keep defending.

    Enough already. Give him grace, sure. But what you ought to do is stop giving him your adoration and attention.

  13. Sophie May 29, 2009 7:07 pm

    I’m surprised that the argument on this one is about Simeon rather than the gross misinterpretation of worship. Just as Downing stated before, it was an act of ignorance on Perry’s part. I would certainly not say that it was heretical false teaching. That is forgivable. What is not is how Perry interprets worship.

    “All I care about, Jesus, is seeking your face and being as close to you as I can. That’s worship.”

    Coming from a reformed background, I have always struggled with the question of where divine intervention ends and where human will begins and vise versa. I would venture to guess that this is a struggle for many with a similar background.

    If you “measure” worship by how close you can get to Jesus, the assumption made is that it is what YOU do that will determine your relationship with Jesus. If Perry is supporting this thought, there are many many people who are going to be disappointed when their efforts fall short.

    It is also incredibly arrogant to assume that there is something in our power, as humans, that could bring us closer to Jesus. Worship is an act of obedience. There was never a thing that I’ve done that has made Christ come closer to me. It was by HIS stripes I was healed, and it was he who called me to him so that I could share in HIS reward.

    A child that reaches for a father cannot be picked up because they want to be picked up. They have to reach their arms up and ask. However it is the father’s choice to bend down and lift them.

  14. Seth May 29, 2009 9:39 pm

    Tommy F.

    Exactly, Stop giving him your attention, does that advice also go for this blog? With all the posts about him and the twitter feed and everything, you are giving him attention too.

  15. Seth May 29, 2009 9:40 pm

    Or, is that a polite way of telling us NSers, whom you want to defend our Pastor, to go away?

  16. Tommy F. May 29, 2009 9:43 pm

    Seth:

    Adoration and attention are joined.

    Regarding attention to PN, actually, I wish the opposite. It seems to me that not enough NS-ers pay enough attention to what he says and does. Or rather they don’t pay close enough attention.

    Once you actually begin to pay close attention to him, it’s not hard to spot the problems.

    I think NS-ers ought to consume this blog. Read it and test it to see if it’s accurate. I’d say it is. And it has more scriptural teaching than PNoble’s does.

  17. Seth May 29, 2009 9:49 pm

    No, we NSers know he isn’t perfect and that he will get things wrong, I’m sure that the churches you attend have things they say that wre wrong and things they do that aren’t always right.

  18. James Duncan May 31, 2009 2:15 am

    JT writes, “If I ever hear Noble preach heresy (rather than just make an error of application), I’ll start a blog to expose his false teaching to the world.”

    You are dismissing this rather easily. Of course it was an error in application, because the application was based on a false gospel.

    You promise to be tough on heresy, but what counts as heresy for you? The word comes from the Greek hairesis, which has its roots in a military concept of capturing a city to possess it. Applied to religion, it describes our choice to capture or own a particular set of beliefs.

    Wouldn’t you say Perry’s sermon was an example of him choosing to capture and use another gospel instead of him submitting to the Gospel as written?

  19. JT May 31, 2009 1:20 pm

    A heretic is someone who teaches a false gospel.

    Here is Noble’s quote: “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.”

    I don’t see how that is preaching a false gospel. This teaching is seen by example throughout both the Old and New Testaments. I agree that he could have chosen a more applicable passage to make this point. What tweaked my beak when I first heard him say this wasn’t the point he was trying to make about worship, but that he was putting words into Simeon’s mouth. I’m not a fan of that type of preaching. And honestly, I haven’t heard Noble do it very often.

    In any event, if you choose to argue that misapplying scripture in order to make a theologically correct statement is false teaching, you are heading down a slippery slope of nitpicking. There was only one preacher who ever got it right 100% of the time.

  20. James Duncan May 31, 2009 1:43 pm

    JT, I’m not talking about the lesson on worship. That was what you had called the misapplication.

    I’m referring to everything Perry said after the words, “Simeon said…”

    He’s not misapplying Scripture. There is no Scripture here at all. That’s the heresy.

  21. Twit May 31, 2009 9:54 pm

    This post from Ray Ortland is helpful in this discussion I think:

    The Bible is our authority as we sort out what deserves certainty and what deserves openness. 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 defines the gospel of Christ crucified for our sins, Christ buried and Christ risen again on the third day, according to the Scriptures, as “of first importance.” Here is the center of our certainty.

    From that “of first importance” theological address, we move out toward the whole range of theological and practical questions asking for our attention. The more clearly our logic connects with that center, the more certain and the less open we should be. The further our thinking extrapolates from that center, the less certain and the more open we should be.

    When a question cannot be addressed by a clear appeal to the Bible, our conclusions should be all the more modest.

  22. Seth May 31, 2009 9:55 pm

    If you read what Simeon says in Luke 2:34-35, that I think is where Perry is referring to. It is still not exactly right, but I think the overall idea of what he said Simeon said comes from these verses.

  23. JT May 31, 2009 10:30 pm

    JD-

    I agree that putting words in Simeon’s mouth was not how Noble should have made his point on this particular Sunday.

    But are you saying that anytime we verbalize the actions of a person in the Bible, and it isn’t a direct quote in scripture, it’s a false teaching? Even if the point being made is otherwise supported by scripture?

    I guess every flannelgraph lesson I ever heard in Sunday school was taught by a heretic.

  24. James Duncan May 31, 2009 11:46 pm

    No, JT, I don’t mind paraphrasing, but PN wasn’t paraphrasing. He was fantasizing. He thought he could conquer and own the scripture for himself.

    The point of the original post was to show how his lesson was completely wrong because it was built on false assumptions. My comments today were to contest what was seeming to become the consensus of commentators that the lesson he drew from it was the main problem. For me, the whole foundation is suspect, so the content of the lesson that is built upon it is rather secondary.

    If coming to the right conclusions is all that counts, let’s just all start watching Oprah instead.

    A teacher should show more respect for the Bible than we see here. If his listeners are as eager to let stuff like this slide, which is apparently your desire, where do you draw the line? As I asked earlier in the discussion, when does this get to be too much? How much Gospel of Noble are you willing to tolerate?

    Tommy had this right. From someone who’s starting a reformation, you’d expect better.

    (As for nitpicking, I don’t go looking for this stuff. This was a video highlighted by a NSer, the highlight of which was the smoking reference. How is it that it’s the smoking that gets more attention than the obvious distortion of scripture? That’s what drew my attention.

    One more related question, JT: Why is nitpicking a slippery slope? What’s wrong with it?)

  25. James Downing Jun 1, 2009 2:19 pm

    Even scarier thatn Perry’s ignorance in this case, is his follower’s total inability to question him.

    Also, I think “nitpicking” is a necessity in the modern church. Way too many one-man-show pastors going totally unchecked by their congegration. If you can’t see the danger in that, you have no sense of history whatsoever. In a perfect world, I suppose a pastor of Noble’s stature would have some type of accountability in place that would keep him from making these kind of errors, but these guys tend to fire anyone who tries to keep them accountable.

  26. JT Jun 1, 2009 4:08 pm

    JD,

    I didn’t say Noble was paraphrasing. I said he misapplied a scripture passage and ‘verbalized’ the actions of Simeon. Like I said before, my Sunday school teachers must have all been heretics for putting words into the mouths of Noah, Joseph, Moses, Joshua, David, Jonah, Jesus, Paul, and countless others. These teachers did this to help us understand the story and, more importantly, the message. Noble did the same thing. He seems to have gotten it wrong this time. Sorry, but I won’t brand him a heretic for that.

    That’s the slippery slope of nitpicking that I alluded to. Notice the sentence that follows my “nitpicking” statement: “There was only one preacher who ever got it right 100% of the time.”

    JD, you said:
    “If coming to the right conclusions is all that counts, let’s just all start watching Oprah instead.”

    The fact that you think Oprah comes to the right conclusions proves you don’t watch her show. We have that in common, at least.

    You said:
    “…when does this get to be too much? How much Gospel of Noble are you willing to tolerate?”

    But that’s my point. This isn’t the Gospel according to Perry Noble. His statements about worship are theologically correct. There is nothing in this message that was wrong, other than the way he told the story of Simeon.

  27. JT Jun 1, 2009 4:18 pm

    Downing,

    I agree with the spirit of what you are saying about nitpicking. However, ‘testing and trying’ is probably the more appropriate way to discern the teachings of a preacher. ‘Nitpicking’ (at least the way I’m using it) is more about finding every little mistake a man or woman makes in order to discredit their overall ministry.

  28. Tommy F. Jun 1, 2009 9:07 pm

    JT: you wrote: “This isn’t the Gospel according to Perry Noble. His statements about worship are theologically correct. There is nothing in this message that was wrong, other than the way he told the story of Simeon.”

    One major problem with this statement, if I may so boldly nitpick. I think I can mainly agree with Noble’s notion of worship – that it takes courage, and not everyone will welcome it, but the Simeon passage is not at all related to what Noble deduced from it. It’s not even in the vicinity. So: fine point, teaching + Wrong passage = problem. He should have found a better passage.

    The more curious thing is why he didn’t think it through himself. I think he started with a thought, sermon, lesson, etc and went looking for a passage. How did he ever stop with Simeon?

  29. JT Jun 2, 2009 12:13 pm

    Tommy,

    I agree. I’ve said several times already that he used the wrong scripture to make his point.

  30. Preston Porter Jun 8, 2009 5:01 pm

    Did everyone miss the part where he openly admits that he has people taking pictures for the purpose of ridicule.

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