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Wednesday, June 6, 2012




 I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel,  which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ.  But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed.  As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed.
(Galatians 1:6-9 - NKJV)

This verse in Galatians, in which Paul rebukes the church in that city for preaching "a different gospel" or "another gospel" is liberally used in all the "heresy hunter" books, and on all the fundamentalist watchdog websites and blogs (check it out and see for yourself)...

It certainly has been used against me a lot by some of these groups (along with verses about "wolves in sheep's clothing", last days false prophets speaking to people with "itching ears", and those who no longer endure "sound doctrine")....the implication being that I preach something "other" than what Jesus preached.

It doesn't bother me.

If I thought for a minute that I was preaching anything different than the original, organic Gospel of Jesus Christ, I might find it bothersome, worrisome, or offensive to be targeted with this verse, and others like it.

But because I know the truth, and understand the concept of reading the Scriptures IN CONTEXT, it actually amuses me when some religious bigot levels an accusation against me by using this passage, because I actually think that what Paul was talking about here is infinitely more applicable to them than it is to me!

If you understand the purpose and tone of the Epistle to the Galatians, you know that Paul was angry when he wrote it...it's actually his angriest Epistle...and the object of his fury was the fact that these Gentiles, who had never been bound, whatsoever, by the Law of Moses, were leaving the simplicity of GRACE and putting themselves under the bondage of LEGALISM!

As I see it, the "different gospel" that Paul was referencing here was the expressed idea that the true Gospel could be anything other than (or more than) what Jesus actually said that it was...2 things: Love God...Love Others...

...and since Paul never talked about any kind of eternal punishment anywhere in his letters, the threat of one being "accursed" here has to refer to curses brought on oneself in this life by not correctly handling the Gospel...by not preaching it in its most simple, most basic form.

I don't know what the manifestation of that kind of curse would be...perhaps it would be different for every individual...but I know I don't want to invite any kind of curse into my life, so I plan on always only preaching the Gospel...the Jesus Gospel....the Gospel that is GOOD NEWS. PERIOD!

We already discussed this earlier in the book, but allow me to reiterate here that the true Gospel is what the angels declared to the shepherds when Jesus was born...GOOD TIDINGS of GREAT JOY which shall be to ALL...ALL...ALL PEOPLE!

The question "If you died tonight, do you know where you would spend eternity?" is not the Gospel.

It's an ultimatum.

GOOD NEWS is just that...news that is GOOD!

Pretty much, any Christian group that disapproves in any way of another Christian group, basically believes that that group is preaching "a different gospel".

Most denominations are built on the assumption that "we" have the truth, and you don't!

"We" preach the truth, but you people are "other" or "different", which is code for "YOU'RE WRONG!"

The word "Pharisee" simply means "separatist", and one of the most amazing and confounding things about what the Gospel of the Kingdom that Jesus preached has devolved into (i.e., Christianity), is the fact that there are "Christian Pharisees" (Christian separatists)!

It's the height of perversion!

There are only 27 books in the New Testament, and THOUSANDS of Christian denominations!

THOUSANDS of Christians believing and preaching that the other Christians are preaching "a different gospel"!

I personally believe that Paul would be shocked to know that there is so much division in what he referred to, by revelation, as The Body of Christ, and that so many members of that body use his exhortation, written in a letter to a church in the Asian Minor province of Galatia to keep each other at bay, and to justify their division!

Anyway, I've pretty much covered all of this kind of thing earlier in the book, I just don't want to end the writing without reminding everyone who reads this once again that the Gospel is GOOD NEWS. PERIOD!


A few days ago I was doing a radio interview on a program that was discussing President Obama's supportive statement of marriage equality, which he had made just a few days earlier.

It was a very good and lively interview, and we covered much more than just the subject of marriage equality, but while we were talking, the moderator of the program said, "Bishop Swilley, someone just called in to our switchboard and wanted to inform you of 2 Timothy 4:3, 4."

In case you don't know, the passage says this:

For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine,
but according to their own desires,
because they have itching ears,
they will heap up for themselves teachers; 
and they will turn their ears away from the truth,
and be turned aside to fables.
(2 Timothy 4:3, 4 - NKJV)

I knew what the passage said, and so I asked him "What's the question?", to which the moderator asked, "Well, what do you think about that?"

"What do I think about what?", I asked.

"What do you think about preaching sound doctrine?" he said.

I said, "I'm for it! And I do it! Just don't understand the question, especially in light of what we're discussing."

Of course, I knew the implication that the caller was making...it was an inference that, because I don't fit her idea of what a preacher of sound doctrine is supposed to be like, presumably because of my innate sexual orientation, that I owed her an answer concerning Paul's exhortation in a letter to his protege, Timothy.

So I said, "Well, I believe in the Virgin Birth...I believe in the miracles of Jesus...I believe in His work on the cross...in the power in the blood...in His resurrection...I believe everything in the Apostle's Creed...I certainly believe in Jesus' own definition of the Gospel, which is simply LOVE GOD and LOVE OTHERS...I don't know what part of "sound doctrine" you're asking me about, because I believe and preach all of that.

The moderator (who was not at all being antagonistic...he was actually playing devil's advocate for the sake of his caller...but he simply said, "And you're gay, right?"

To which I said, "I am...even though it's irrelevant to the issue of whether or not I preach sound doctrine, as I see it in the Scriptures...and the bottom line is this...the Gospel is GOOD NEWS. PERIOD.

Jesus or Paul?

Where in the Bible do you find the Gospel?

I've been saying for years that to really understand the Bible you have to always remember that it's not a book...that it's a collection of books by many different authors who wrote to different generations of people for very different reasons, and is therefore loaded with contradictions (which I've already discussed in previous chapters)...but that the truth of it...the "spirit of the letter", if you will, is inspired and absolute.

Above all else, when we try to define 'The Word of God', we have to keep in mind that the Word became flesh, not pen and paper.

One thing that has really become undeniably obvious to me, especially while writing this book, is the stark differences between the Gospels and the Epistles, particularly Paul's Epistles.

I covered this material in the chapter about Paul ('A Man of Letters'), but I want to revisit it before I close this out.

To be continued...


  1. More more more more, I love it Bishop

  2. Brenda Bevelle Yarbrough said...

    That was so enlighting, so simply wonder why people just don't get it after all this time...now Bishop how can you just stop writing after you've captured my interest with a to be continued...