Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Misapplied verse: Ezekiel 3:17 (Protestant Pope)

"Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel. Whenever you hear a word from my mouth, you shall give them warning from me..." Ezekiel 3:17

I am no exegete, or theologian (even if I was, I would not say it in this blog!) - so I can only offer questions and possible answers to the verses that ODMers love to cite to justify their actions.
  • Is this watchman specific for the nation of Israel & for a specific time?
The ESV heading for this verse is "A Watchman for Israel". Strictly speaking, the watchman is specific for the nation of Israel during the OT. A cursory look in the bible will show that the word "watchman" only appears in the OT, for the nation of Israel. The watchman is to stand on a tower and call out if enemies (physical, literal) are close-by - like a guard on sentry duty. ODMers need to ask themselves - Is there scope for the NT to have watchman?
  • Is the watchman a term for specific Christians or for all Christians?
Daniel Chew has called himself a watchman in a letter that he wrote to the Campus Crusade community in the National University of Singapore.

He wrote "As someone who has been called by the Lord as a watchman, I would like to warn all of you of the incoming tide of heresy encroaching into the churches under the guise of ‘tolerance’."

Antithesis has in the past wrote a funny post about Daniel Chew's antics and his now infamous "NAME CARD"

Daniel is not alone in this matter.

Years ago, there was another famous Christian man who decided not only adopt the title of Watchman, but he actually changed his name to Watchman - Watchman Nee. Again, Watchman Nee also had similiar views about himself in his biography found on the Watchman Nee website:

At the moment of his salvation, all his previous planning became void and his future career was entirely abandoned. He testified, "From the evening I was saved, I began to have a new life, for the life of the eternal God had entered into me". Later, after being raised up by the Lord to carry out His commission, he adopted the new English name Watchman and the new Chinese name To-sheng, which means "watchman's rattle," for he considered himself a watchman raised up to sound a warning call in the dark night.

Note, the Lord promised His Spirit who would guide us into all the truth (John 16:13). Not some earthly Watchman - to warn us about the Lord's coming.

Ah, the ODMer will say - but what about pastors and teachers (Eph 4)? Do we dispense with them?

NO! Jesus appoints the means of saving people from their sins (preaching of Gospel and Work of Holy Spirit) and ALSO the means of keeping them from falling. How? By the Word of God (Bible) and the Pastors/teachers appointed in the church (Eph 4) to preach and uphold it. NOT some imaginary "Watchman".

Next, the ODMer will say, but what if the pastor/teacher is a heretic?

It is deplorable that churches have pastors/teachers who are heretics (or hold known heresies). Pastors are appointed by the Christians in the church to guard the flock of God, and for the church to realise later that the pastor to be a heretic is tragic. However, the Lord who builds His church will also guide His church. We know of men and women, who realising their pastor is a wolf in sheep's clothingm, have either left the church, and joined better churches OR brought it before the elders who may question and if necessary, remove the pastor who are teaching known heresy.

However, it is not the place of individual self-appointed watchman (or watchwoman) from outside stir up trouble (on blogs or discusssion boards) in other churches, just because they heard from so-and-so about the pastor in question.

If anything, the "watchman" should be within the church in question, who knows the pastor in question personally and deal with the issue with maturity, kindness, love - always seeking to restore, help, assist, rather than cause trouble.
  • Is there a ministry for the watchman?
There are those who believe that Christians ought to be watchmen. Some like Herescope would have us believe that there is a "ministry" for the watchman. For e.g.

"In case you get the impression from the previous articles that I am against any form of apologetics or discernment ministries – I am not. The ministry of a watchman is vitally important to the church. But, unfortunately, many have brought discredit to a crucial ministry by their bad attitude." Killing the Messenger, Herescope

"Watchmen who warn about impending danger have an important role throughout the Bible (Ezekiel 3:17, Acts 20:28-31). BUT, there is a huge difference between a watchman and a gossip. A watchman takes no delight in reporting the threat, while the gossip enjoys telling and re-telling the juicy stories of sin and failure. These gossips are just like the godless Athenians who “spent their time in nothing else but either to tell or to hear some new thing” (Acts 17:21). Some who style themselves as “defenders of the faith,” take extreme delight in rehearsing the latest error. I have seen the glint in their eye as they play the latest DVD or as they sit around the table seeking to tell of some greater error than the previous speaker. Some rush to the keyboard to publish the latest juicy morsel as quickly and as widely as possible" Watchman or Gossip, Herescope

At least Herescope pays lip service to the fact that there is a difference between a watchman and a gossip. Personally, I think there is a very fine line between the 2, and the "watchmen" of today do not know (care about) the difference.

I have yet to find in the NT the ministry of a watchman. True Christians will have inbuilt discernment, as the Lord Himself has promised. Although we freely acknowledge that there will be some who for one reason or another lack discernment, the Lord's promise still holds true. To imagine that there is a specially (self-) appointed person called to be a watchman, like the OT prophets, is at best self-delusion.

Even the OT prophets did not come amongst the people of God with a shout "I am a Prophet, called of God!". They simply said "Thus says the Lord" and the God's people simply responded - some favourably, many unfavourably.

The problem with ODMers is their own lack of discernment, love or concern about the NT people of God. They latch onto some verses, imagined that God has appointed them to be a watchman, and then run along to churches creating trouble. Or they use their blogs to be "teachers", "watchman", etc....

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