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.
#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.
What 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)