Perry Noble’s Apology

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It’s All God’s Fault I’m an Idiot!

So Perry Noble gave what amounted to a disjointed TED talk for the 2014 Christmas Eve services at his church. In that talk, he explains how he was told by some guy in Israel that there is no word in the OT for “commandment,” and he then proceeded to rewrite and reexplain the 10 commandments.  I guess the rule of thumb is that if you are a guy living in Israel with an accent, you’re automatically an OT textual expert.

A number of sound individuals, you know, men who actually study the Bible and whose ministries are not marked by dressing like a skater and behaving like a man-child, pointed out that there was indeed an OT word for “commandment” in the Bible. I mean, anyone can break out their Strong’s concordance and see it for themselves.

Most people just rolled their eyes, made a few comments on social media about Noble’s idiocy, and shook their heads to move on. Comments like those routinely spurt out from his brain. And judging from the way he generally mocks and ignores his critics, it’s not like the guy is teachable anyways.

But in this case, the reactions struck a nerve with Noble, enough so that he issued an apology letter.

A Letter to the Church I Love

Folks can go and read the entire letter at his site, but I wanted to highlight a few lines from his opening comments. There are some wonderful life lessons we can all learn that reveals for us how foolish cliched pseudo-Christian spirituality can become when vision casting pastors like Noble who make the Bible a secondary consideration for ministry and constantly invoke the mantra that “God told him” thus and such.

That Bible-diminishing, mystical approach in one’s relationship with God isn’t just limited to cranks like Noble, though. Christians throughout Red State evangelical churches constantly interpret odd tingly impressions, personal moments of quasi-deja vu, and a really weird pepperoni induced dream, as God leading them to act and do in some fashion.

Noble writes,

#1 – I am imperfect.  I make mistakes and fall way short of who I should be each and every day.

As a fellow human being, I can sympathize. I make mistakes all the time, too. I’ve spoken curtly to my wife in a moment of stress. Unnecessarily provoke my children at times. Canceled commitments with others because “I just didn’t feel like” keeping my appointment. You get the picture.

But in this instance, Noble proclaimed that what he was about to tell the audience was given to him by God. That God Almighty “started speaking to his heart” and told him that He had a message He wanted Noble to share. So. Either God wasn’t clear, or God mumbled, so that Noble didn’t quite understand the speaking in his heart, or God was wrong. Which one was it?

#2 – I fully understand and feel the weight of James 3:1 that clearly says that people who teach God’s Word will be judged more strictly.

But again, in this case, Noble declares that his message was what God told him to share. That God Almighty was compelling him to present it. Moreover, Noble even says that he told God that he already had a message to give, but God said no. So was God misleading him to violate that passage of Scripture? That God led him to sin?

#3 – I take teaching the Bible very seriously and desperately want to always put forth my best effort as I really do believe that when God says “don’t” in Scripture it is more like Him saying, “don’t hurt yourself,” because, as a friend of mine often says, “choose to sin, choose to suffer.”

Not entirely sure what the relevance is with those comments. It was God, according to Noble’s own testimony, who spoke to his heart and told him He had a message He wanted him to share. It was never an instance of Noble mistakenly interpreting a passage.

Of course, that makes me wonder about a previous comment Noble made about those who take the teaching of the Bible too seriously. He called them jackasses.

On Christmas Eve I really did feel The Lord pressing into me to do a different message than we had previously done in the days before.  I wrestled with this for several hours before finally saying “yes.”

According to his comments at the opening of the video, Noble claimed God told him to share this message, and he told himself that if the “feeling” was still there in the morning he would share it, and in the morning God was still telling him and that “He wasn’t backing off of this one” so he had to get ready to share it.

Then, just to be sure, Noble claims to have sent out a group text to his leadership team and campus pastors asking them if they thought he should share this message. All of them responded with a unified, resounding “Do it!”

That also makes me wonder. What was it that Noble told them? Did he text to them his key talking point? Did he tell them that what it was God was wanting him to say is there is no Hebrew word for “commandment” in the OT? If he did, am I to believe that not one person among his circle of “advisers” told him he may want to research that out? Not one person in that circle fired up their Bible software and double-checked for him, or even turned on Google?

So either Noble was vague in his text, or his “advisers” didn’t really care and told him “That sounds awesome, man,” or perhaps a few did raise the warning flags, but Noble chose to ignore them. Whatever the case, it doesn’t look good for his “advisers,” either.

This set my heart on fire and I put the message together, believing it was from the Lord, and we saw over 200 people come to Christ as a result.

nobleWhat he is saying is that it doesn’t really matter if he was wrong, or God misled him, or his “advisers” are a bunch of back-slapping, sycophantic “yes!” men. Two hundred people came to Christ in spite of the wild, unbiblical inaccuracies of his message.

Assuming Noble isn’t fudging the numbers, (and I will go out on a limb here and say I don’t believe there was anyone who “came” to Christ that night), wouldn’t those people be false converts?

They “responded” to a talk that not only taught biblical error regarding the Hebrew word “commandment,” but the presenter expanded on that error to rewrite and reinterpret a foundational portion of Scripture: THE 10 COMMANDMENTS! Even more, after a couple of weeks of people telling him about his terrific error, he issued an apology admitting he was wrong (and his advisers are all idiots). Does that not in and of itself cancel out the reality of those 200 conversions? They were converted under the pretense of a false message.

One more thing, if you still cannot wrap your mind around what I taught and disagree with it, I do not consider you to be a “hater.”  There are really godly people on both sides of incredibly difficult theological arguments.

There is nothing difficult about this. Perry Noble claimed God pressed upon his heart to share a message at the last minute the day before their Christmas Eve service and the message was that there is no Hebrew word for commandments in the OT. He then went on to reinterpret Exodus 20 as promises from God rather than commandments.

What’s the take away from all of this?

First of all, I think it is just the gathering of crumbs underneath the charismatic table that has abandoned the authority and sufficiency of Scripture for a Christianity that is nothing more than interpreting omens and horoscopes.

While Noble, to my knowledge, isn’t charismatic, at least according to the classic definition, he sure does speak like a charismatic. And like the charismatic, God tells him all sorts of stuff. If whatever life changing decision you make when the still small voice speaks to you pays off with hearts and roses, it was God. But what happens if you faceplant faster than fat lady on a Segway?

Let me close with these words from Jeremiah,

For thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: Do not let your prophets and your diviners (read here, vision casting pastors) who are in your midst deceive you, nor listen to your dreams (you know, impressions, little voices, weird feelings) which you cause to be dreamed. For they prophesy falsely to you in My name; I have not sent them, says the LORD.  (Jer 29:8-9 NKJ)

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22 thoughts on “Perry Noble’s Apology

  1. “I take teaching the Bible very seriously and desperately want to always put forth my best effort…”

    …said the guy who then admitted to writing his sermon in…what did he say?

    10 minutes?

    I’m sorry. Perry Noble needs a serious intervention if he’s so busy with other church duties (in a church with what? Dozens of staff? Hundreds?) that he literally can only scrape 10 minutes together for sermon prep?

    My goodness!

    I’m surprised that the fellow ever eats!

  2. Okay. All jokes aside, I just went and listened to Noble’s Christmas message.

    He actually doesn’t have a clue about the gospel. It’s utterly amazing how badly he misunderstands the 10 commandments. He lies about the Bible. He’s shamefully incompetent at exegesis or hermeneutics.

    I don’t understand how a guy who gets the gospel that wrong could possibly believe the true gospel. Noble might be a Christian, and I’m praying that he is, but my GOODNESS!

    What Christian thinks that keeping the law MAKES you a Christian? Has me missed the entire New Testament or WHAT?

    Sorry. Seeing such a large church led by such an idiot just infuriates me to no end. I weep for the tens of thousands of people he’s misleading and inoculating against the gospel.

    Also, I predict that he’s not at that church in 10 years or less. Now that Driscoll is somewhat out of the way, Noble will get bigger and all that power/fame will go to his head. I predict a massive moral failure sometime in the next 10 years.

  3. Don’t forget to go all the way to verse 11 of Jeremiah 29 where it says God wants us to make lots of dough.

  4. Just another false teacher – a wolf among the sheep. And those people following him appear to be more goats than sheep, because they are there to have their ears tickled.

  5. I live in the same state as Noble and his “church” is casting a dark shadow all around us. His goal is to have 100,000 people attending his “church” and to take over the church as we know it. I have met many of his “converts” in doing street evangelism and they know nothing of the biblical gospel. They just think Noble is cool and hip and all and who cares about the Bible stuff anyway? Pray for God to help true disciples here in South Carolina to stand firm despite not seeing the pragmatic results that Noble does.

  6. I guess the rule of dumb is that if you are a guy living in Israel with an accent, you’re automatically an OT textual expert.

  7. I am not saying one in defense of the pastor impersonator known as Perry Noble. But, the Hebrew word that is interpreted as commandment in most of our English Bibles has several meanings, including word, instruction, command. The Decalogue was known as the Ten Words (hence, Decalogue) until the Puritans published their Geneva Bible – at which time they began what is now the accepted practice of calling the Ten Words the Ten Commandments, and making them equal to God’s moral law. It’s not as simple as that, but most biblical doctrines aren’t.

  8. “That Bible-diminishing, mystical approach in one’s relationship with God isn’t just limited to cranks like Noble, though. Christians throughout Red State evangelical churches constantly interpret odd tingly impressions, personal moments of quasi-deja vu, and a really weird pepperoni induced dream, as God leading them to act and do in some fashion.”

    Ahem, Last I checked both James MacDonald and Mark Driscoll are blue state evangelical churchmen, and they do this stuff too.

  9. Manfred – It’s true that words have a semantic range, but a single word doesn’t have a wide variety of equally possible meanings in any given propositional statement that is situated in a historical/grammatical context.

    Exodus 20:1 says “And God spoke all these words…” (dabar – Hebrew term meaning “word”, hence calling the 10 commandments “the 10 words” idea).

    Exodus 20:6 God describes what he’s delivering to Moses as “my commandments…” (mitsvah – Hebrew term meaning “command”, hence the “ten commandments” idea).

    The Hebrew term “mitsvah” only occurs twice before Exodus 20:6: In Exodus 15:26 and 16:28. In Exodus 15:26 it’s paralleled with “statutes” (choq – a Hebrew term having to do with a prescribed ordinance or statute, and in 16:28 it’s paralleled with “laws” (torah – a Hebrew term having to do with a legal code or a body of formal instruction).

    In Exodus 20:6, the previous two occurrences of “mistvah” in Exodus set the literary trajectory of the term, and the nature of what’s happening in Exodus 20 makes it clear that what’s going on is that god is giving decrees or commands.

  10. Also, in Exodus 32:48 and Deut 10:4 the law is summed up as being referred to as the “ten words”, and the term there is the Hebrew term “dabar”. That term needs to be understood in the light of it’s previous occurrence where it is paralleled with “mitsvah”.

    Translating the term “dabar” (in those two instances) as “commandment” is fully acceptable, and most likely preferred in English.

  11. Someone else will have to do the analysis of the Greek, but in Matthew 19:17-18 Jesus refers to them as “commandments” per the ESV and other versions.

  12. John – there is no question in my mind that the Jews were supposed to consider the Mosaic Covenant as authoritative, although the Greek word also has a couple of closely associated meanings. The Scripture is very plain that the Decalogue was the sign of the Mosaic Covenant and is nowhere shown in Scripture as equal to the moral law or authoritative, as such, over those in the New Covenant. I’ve wwritten about this here: http://defendingcontending.com/2014/05/03/the-decalogue/

    And I also recommend this book for an in-depth review of this concept: http://defendingcontending.com/2014/04/09/the-sabbath-complete/

    Not to stir up conflict, but to prompt myself and other brothers and sisters to set aside our presuppositions and reform the Scripture alone for the Glory of God alone.

  13. My favorite part of the faux-apology was the assertion that there are godly men on both sides of this issue. I would love to see the litany of the ‘godly’ who are standing with Noble here.

  14. Wasn’t anyone else shocked by his admission that it took him way more research than I have ever done” to determine that he was wrong? How much effort was really necessary to determine that there is a Hebrew word for command? And he has never put that much effort into any of his ministry before this? Yikes!

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