An Example of Deception

Steve Calvin sent me an incredible article by a pastor in Flagstaff, Arizona. It has one value—to demonstrate the slippery use of sacred words to say wicked things. Quoting from it here is like showing you a picture of a scorpion—so you won’t mistake it for a friend.

We are commanded in 2 Thessalonians 2:3, “Let no one deceive you in any way.” Every mature believer should be able to say with the apostle Paul, “We are not ignorant of Satan’s designs.” We should not investigate all his work first hand. Some is too infecting and defiling. But when it comes to his use of slippery language we need some first-hand experience. We must learn to detect smooth, devious talk.

Here is an example:

Existence is not only good it is holy. Seeing life in the broadest possible context requires the use of symbols. Symbolic thinking leads to God-consciousness, for it opens ways of thinking in interconnected patterns. Literal thinking, on the other hand, leads to isolation, away from spirituality, away from community, for it does not utilize the full range of skills needed to practice stewardship of Earth. When abortion is viewed as a single act, as the destruction of a human life, it fails to encompass the full range of symbols contained in the events surrounding the pregnancy and their implications for building a God-like world. For the literal thinker, abortion is the death of a person, a preborn baby. For the spiritual person in full compassionate touch with the symbols of human experience, abortion is part of God’s creation. Even if the person views abortion as a death, death is part of creation and brings about the possibility of new life. The ending of pregnancy in this context is to continue the cycle of regenerative life, for all molecular structures are part of creation and do not end.

What is wrong here? Basically this: the paragraph gains its life from a spirit of confusion, not a spirit of precision. And to head off this criticism, it makes its vice into a virtue called “symbolic thinking.” This is demonic genius: make “literal thinking” a culprit (without argument) so that anyone who demands more precise definition is ipso facto guilty.

But we will not be deceived. We will ask questions: Can you prove that literal thinking leads away from community and spirituality? If you are literally bleeding and I literally bind up your wound is that a threat to community? What do you mean by a God-like world? What are the “symbols of human experience”? Why are these more highly prized by you than the literal death of a literal person?

If we are approaching the last days of this fallen age, we may expect that such talk will increase. Be on your guard. Train yourself in careful reading and clear thinking. “Let no one deceive you in any way.”

Vigilant with you,

Pastor John

©2014 Desiring God Foundation. Used by Permission.

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in its entirety or in unaltered excerpts, as long as you do not charge a fee. For Internet posting, please use only unaltered excerpts (not the content in its entirety) and provide a hyperlink to this page. Any exceptions to the above must be approved by Desiring God.

Please include the following statement on any distributed copy: By John Piper. ©2014 Desiring God Foundation. Website: desiringGod.org