Editors Note: The following detailed paper follows lengthy email exchanges between a group of evangelical Christians in the United States and Uri Marcus, a Messianic Christian believer living in Israel. The issues raised have very much to do with Christian relationships with the Jewish people--and especially our fraternal ties to the Body of Yeshua in Israel. True believers in Jesus Christ are a tiny fraction of the population in Israel and they live under intense pressures unique to that land and this time of her history--as we enter the times of "the final redemption." It is vitally important for Christians friends of the Jews be well-informed--and wise--because problems we can inadvertently cause--by our careless comments and remarks--however well-intentioned they may be, often cause great hardship among believers in Israel. Uri's remarks demonstrate that Biblical Christianity involves Truth, Righteousness and Love. I believe we American Christians often tend to be careless with truth these days. Often we lack an understanding of integrity before God and man--character and fidelity to the whole counsel of God--which righteousness implies. Speaking the truth in love may require that we express our disagreements with one another when the Spirit brings them to our attention. Sins of omission are usually more serious than our overt offenses! I have known Uri Marcus for many years and can attest to his faith, his knowledge of the Bible, and his integrity. His typically Jewish frankness is, I believe, motivated by his love for the Lord, the Land, and for God's people. Email him if you questions or comments. See comments added at the end.(Lambert Dolphin July 9, 1999).
To: Truth Seekers <email@example.com>
From: Nehemiah Trustees Covenant Fund <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: The Case of the Disappearing Rabbis
Shalom from Jerusalem,
Sometime in 1996, possibly a bit later, many of you may recall
about an incredible story involving a reported "miraculous" encounter
in Jerusalem, in which an Orthodox Rabbi approached one Barbara
Richmond from Florida, who was on tour at the time. According to the
story for which Barbara was the sole witness, the Orthodox Rabbi
informed her that he believed in Yeshua, and that there were some 40
additional Rabbis, all supposedly Believers as well, who were
congregating together regularly in Jerusalem.
The meeting with this "secret believer Rabbi" ended
when he handed
Barbara "a collection of handwritten notes of Hebrew and cultural
insights into the New Testament, unique insights not evident in the
English or Greek words themselves." Barbara considered these notes a
treasure, and so she set out to share this information from the Rabbi's
notes in a book she published in 1996 called, "Jewish Insights Into the
For a mere $8.00 (postage paid), one could contact Barbara
and obtain a
copy of the book. More on this later.
In the meantime, the story of the 40 Rabbis spread like wildfire
amongst the signs and wonders crowd, and in no time found it way back
to Jerusalem, falling into the hands of the not-so-secret Messianic
Community who live here.
Of some 5,000 to 7,000 believers living in Israel today, only
fraction seemed to know anything that would corroborate Barbara's
story. In an effort to investigate this phenomenon, I personally asked
over two dozen congregational leaders and elders about these so-called
secret believers. and only three (3) were able to verify that there MAY
be a "secret underground" movement amongst the Haridim, who believe in
Yeshua. The majority were skeptical or were just convinced that so such
community could exist and be counted amongst the household of faith in
any tangible way. "If this Believing part of the body does exist, they
can be likened to an amputated leg at best," said one, "since they have
no primary connection with the rest of the visible Messianic presence
in the Land."
I must here admit that I myself have met Orthodox Jewish Believers
the recent past, but their demeanor and manner in which they express
their faith is anything BUT secretive. This is what makes Barbara's
story so hard to accept.
Reports from Richmond now indicate that the original 40 Rabbis
turned into over 400 in number today, though in reality no one knows
the exact numbers of these so-called believers.
Maybe there really are hundreds of Rabbis who confess Yeshua
Messiah. The problem is that they don't confess it to anyone except
themselves and to the walls they live within, with the exception of
Barbara Richmond. How strange?
Zev Isaacs, Founder of the The Messianic Times Newspaper, reported
he had spoken to Barbara himself, as a journalist, trying to find out
the facts surrounding Barbara's story and surmised that they could not
be supported in any way.
During his second conversation with Barbara, it became apparent
that the whole story was simply made up of fantasies, beyond the
possibility of just one Ultra-Orthodox Jew coming to faith.
Issacs concluded by saying, "In the last year, the son
of a Hassidic
Rabbi came to faith in the Tel Aviv area, and he is now boldly
proclaiming his faith in Yeshua. When someone accepts Yeshua,
especially in numbers that Richmond speaks of, it would be impossible
to keep it a secret."
My most reliable source told me that he had actually met a
Orthodox Believers in Jerusalem, but that they were so extremely
secretive, that they took exaggerated measures in order to keep any
visible indication of their faith from becoming publicly apparent. He
went on to say that he considered them "marginal" believers at best,
citing that they had "major" doctrinal problems and a mountain of pride
to deal with.
Moreover, when I tried to determine if this "secret"
community was the
same one which Barbara Richmond had come into contact with, he told me
that the chances were slim to none based upon the information which
Barbara had published. "These people," he indicated, "would not be
likely to contact any Christians on the outside, unless their own best
interests were served, and they were in total control of the conditions
of contact." This scenario presents a very difficult and one-sided
approach to fellowship, which needs to be reconciled with the
All told, it has becoming quickly apparent that it was easier
believe in UFO's than to believe in the existence of Richmond's 400+
disappearing Messianic Rabbis, as least in terms of assigning them a
place within what is globally recognized as "The Body of Messiah"
Some people, including Richmond have stated that "fear"
is a highly
motivational factor in keeping one's faith "underground." One Israeli
Messianic leader challenged me by saying,
"How can we expect these believers to come out into the
open, when no infrastructure exists within the Messianic
community to absorb them and their families, retrain
them for jobs, prepare them to serve in the Army, find
necessary housing, schools and other services which they
now enjoy within the Orthodox community which supports
them in every way?"
In my view, the question is absurd. It is not the task of the
community alone to shoulder this responsibility. Society as a whole has
a built-in infrastructure which provides opportunities to absorb its
members and make them productive. We as Messianics, though somewhat
handicapped because of our faith expressed openly, are recipients and
contributors to this infrastructure.
The Ultra-Orthodox camp in Israel, and especially in the Me'ah
neighborhood in Jerusalem are despised by the secular community
precisely because they do not serve in the Army, and all day long they
study at their Yeshivot [Jewish study centers]. Most do not hold
regular jobs, but rather are supported by tax Sheqels collected from
the rest of society, and manipulated by the Ultra-Orthodox presence in
the Israeli Knesset.
It would be well for these supposed secret believers within
Sha'arim to recall the New Testament warning about a man who refuses to
provide for his own family.
Still, Richmond believes that "fear of persecution"
is certainly one of
their main concerns, if and when they "go public" with their faith. She
shared in one letter to someone I know that...
"One of their number HAS been discovered and has suffered
extreme persecution and difficulty. You are absolutely
correct in saying that their discovery would be a BIG issue..."
And yet, boldly contradicting her own testimony, Barbara earlier
the Rabbi she mysteriously met, as saying...
"at present we are secret believers, not because we are
afraid, but because the Lord, the Holy Spirit, has NOT
told us to speak out our testimony yet."
Never mind that this flies in the face of every instruction
Spirit has given us with regard to our faith. How does this so called
command from the Holy Spirit square with Matt 10:33, "But whoever
disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven."?
I thought we are to be a city set upon a hill, in order that our light
might shine out for all to see?
Does my leg act on its own behalf without the rest of the body
about it? Do my lungs communicate with my eyes in secret, using a
special code in the blood? Does my spirit direct one thing to my arms,
and another to my fingers, so that one member does not cooperate with
When the human body acts out of cadence with the rest of its
call this person "spastic."
How can the Spirit of G-d lead these so-called believers to
fellowship with one another, but refuse to have fellowship with the
rest of the Body? How can a cut-off limb still be considered part of
It is now going on 5 years since Richmond's initial 1995 meeting
the Rabbi. How long is "reasonable" enough to keep quiet about one's
faith, given that 5000 to 7000 brothers and sisters in the Land do not
have any compunction about sharing their faith when asked to give an
account? They are also, by the way, paying a heavy price for their
convictions in this regard.
The bottom line is that "fear" is apparently not
even an issue with
these Rabbis. Rather, some are just trying to justify a fantasy, and
they will go to any lengths to keep it alive.
WHERE THE RUBBER MEETS THE ROAD
So what does Barbara Richmond think of all this?
After releasing my initial critique of this whole affair at
the end of
May this year, Barbara wrote me and said...
I completely understand your skepticism regarding my
testimony. let's face it....eyewitnesses to that
conversation would make my life so much easier!!!
I have no desire or intent to get involved in self-defense.
"Why? YOU went public with your report FIRST, not only
through the printed media and the Internet, but also on
Television (with Sid Roth), on radio , and who knows who
how many others in the context of your travels and
If you are not prepared to deal with public flack from
material you release to the public, don't release it to
Will you forgive me for any distress or pain you
have suffered because of this testimony?
"It is not quite so simple as this, Barbara. You haven't
offended me personally so much as you have wounded the
entire Body of Messiah in Israel , and left us a mess to
clean up after you. The time has come for you to help us
clean up the mess."
I then went on to suggest some statements I believed she needed
publish, so as to bring balance to her testimony, which has given so
many people outside of Israel, an unbiblical and totally false
impression regarding the community of Faith in our Homeland.
I mentioned that I would prefer for her to assist me in this
rather than having to do it alone.
This is partly what Barbara wrote in response:
In light of several other emails I have received from
believers in the land which are extremely positive and
supportive, I must conclude that "the mess" you refer to
is not so widespread as you suggest.
A testimony by definition is simply a report of what has
been seen or heard and that's all. It implies nothing
regarding others and does not "require" a pre-determined
response from others.
I was there; I told what I saw and what I heard....that's
all. You are free to believe it or reject it.
It is unfortunate that Richmond does not comprehend the magnitude
the consequences of her testimony which she released world-wide. Nor
does she appear to take responsibility for it, or be held accountable
by it. So be it.
Most people won't take the time, as I have, to write and challenge
Richmond's apparent fiction, because they are too polite. But believe
me, ever since her story broke, I've been bombarded with inquiries here
and during my own travels as to the veracity of her claims.
Instead of prayerfully focusing on the condition, needs and
the true Saints in Israel (numbering in the thousands) whom they CAN
SEE and who carry the name of Yeshua boldly before our nation, with
fear and trembling, our brothers and sisters abroad are having their
attentions hijacked and diverted, by encouraging to get excited about
400 Rabbis they CANNOT SEE, or hear from apart from Richmond's
Oh course Barbara doesn't feel that "the mess" she
has created is so
widespread as I have suggested. This is because she has deceived
herself and others into accepting a false sense of reality in Israel.
Like many others before her, she takes from Israel for her own
aggrandizement, but she doesn't puts anything back, let alone for the
benefit of the true Believing Remnant in the Land.
After living here for 17 years, I've witnessed so many times
foreigners visit (or DON'T), and without shame start ridiculous rumors,
prophecies, pronouncements, so-called miracle crusades or evangelistic
campaigns, without consulting with their friends who live here, and who
are left to pick up the pieces when they are gone.
The latest of these rumors to surface was "water flowing
Temple Mount" and how it is supposed to be "an end-time sign," a claim
which is completely void of truth and reality.
As Richmond said, "we are free to believe or reject"
her testimony of
"MORE THAN 400 HASSIDIC JEWS IN JERUSALEM SECRETLY WORSHIP JESUS."
BTW, how did Barbara came up with the number 400? Does anyone know?
It turns out that about two years ago, Barbara contacted a
believer-friend of hers in Israel, and during the exchange between her
and this person, the "40 Rabbis" subject was discussed. Whimsically
speaking, her friend said, "Forty? There are probably more than 10
times that amount in the Orthodox communities through-out the Land."
Walla! Barbara did some math, and suddenly the 40 Rabbis turned
You can imagine how sickened this person was (whom I also know
spoke with) by the manner in which Barbara ran with her statement to
the world, distorting the context in which it was spoken.
Finally to close, there is the matter of Barbara's book mentioned
earlier entitled, "Jewish Insights into the New Testament." A gracious
contact of ours recently bought this book for us, and sent it to us for
Having now read it, I must tell you that before you go out
your $8 on the book, read the following report, which I have compiled
from my own notes together with those from another Messianic Orthodox
Jewish Believer who lives in Israel, who also read the book, and for
whom I have a great respect.
FYI, concerning the books production, Barbara wrote to someone saying,
We only attempt cover our own costs of printing and
shipping and anything left over of that which people send
in for the book is put into the work of the ministry. I
do not personally gain anything from the sale of the book
As a graphic designer and a print-broker by profession, Barbara's
page book would have cost about $1.70 ea to print the first 1,000
The price of the book not only covers printing and shipping,
some, but also generates a handsome profit for the ministry. To say
that she does not personally gain from this is less than honest, for
everyone knows that the "ministry" undoubtedly pays for her air-travel,
meals, cars and all the other ministry expenses, including perhaps her
salary. They all come from the ministry budget. Therefore, it is
abundantly clear that Richmond DOES PERSONALLY gain from the book
sales. Who is she kidding?
The abnormally high cost of the book also bothers us from the
standpoint of layout.
A. The text is so thinly spread, that some pages contain only
one-sentence 'insight'. So the 'insights', Jewish or otherwise, as you
will see further on, are few to begin with, and don't start until page
One page contains only:
"Who else do you know who would profit from this book?
Will you recommend it? Thank you!" (page 38).
B. Three more pages are advertisements for Barbara's trips
Barbara's seminars on "The Jewish Roots of Christianity" and various
other books she has for sale.
C. Page 56 is a clip-art picture, the same one on the front cover.
D. The "appendix" is a time-worn list of "Jesus"
represented in each
book of "the Old and New Testament" (not Messianic prophecies, but
simply a one-line title summary per Bible book), which is very poorly
E. The last printed page is marked as "page 63,"
and contains the
words, "Even so, Come Lord Jesus," in 48 pt type. After that are 3
F. If I had to pay $8 for this 72 page 8.5 x 5.5 inch book
(44 pages in
the earlier spiral-bound, quick-copied version), I wouldn't consider it
Now, lets take a look at the content...
JEWISH INSIGHTS or SIPUREI SAVTA (Grandmother Stories of Fairy tales)
1. Anyone who has read the Talmud, Midrashim, or other Jewish
literature could immediately tell that nothing in the book was even
distinctly Jewish, let alone qualify as 'insights' that reflect basic
Rabbinic thought. A minimum we would have expected to see was an entry
on Rabbinic comment dealing with Isaiah 53, which most Messianics know
about WITHOUT Rabbinic training. But, we found nothing.
Instead, we were all given the opportunity to return to Kindergarten,
when Barbara gave us her example of a 'Jewish insight' on Page 34...
"Did you know that 'Christ' is the Greek word for
How profound! Again on Page 18...
"Who owns the Land of Israel? G-d does! He says so in Lev
I wonder if Richmond realizes that this verse is being concurrently
used by other Christians to claim "neutrality" in the struggle between
Jews and Arabs for the Land - it has the effect of de-legitimizing
Jewish claims based on Biblical promises, which Barbara alludes to
2. There were one or two interesting ideas, for example "why
Samaritan woman had divorced so many times" (Page 23) or "why the
face-covering of Yeshua was folded." (Page 45) But these historical
tidbits on Jewish life in NT days, related in these stories, were so
obscure that one could hardly put them on a level earning the status of
"insights". Perhaps they were nice for sake of cultural interest (if
indeed they are accurate), but nothing resembled what a real Rabbi
would glean from the same texts, Torah-wise (that is, by linking the NT
concepts with those found in the Torah).
I mentioned the accuracy because one would be hard pressed
source material backing up these historical/cultural tidbits. Barbara
herself failed to document or footnote any of these so-called
Example: On Page 19, she states that "Beggars in [Yeshua's]
actually licensed to beg." Though this possibility seems very remote to
me, I would love to check it out. But alas, no footnote or reference
was given which would establish where this information came from,
except that perhaps the Rabbi gave it to her, which doesn't solve the
problem of factual verification.
3. There was an almost surrealistic effort in writing imaginative
descriptions of what Yeshua, HaSatan or others might have been
thinking, feeling, and saying at the time of certain events. I am using
the term "imaginative" in the sense of going BEYOND what Scripture
describes. Every chapter contains examples. Some of them, quite
ridiculous. The book should almost be marketed with materials from "The
Yet, the actual Scriptures from the NT, which all offer lots
opportunity to fill in the "Torah" background of what was happening, in
order to gain understanding an "insight," was totally absent.
There was not one single hint of Jewish learning which we have
know from reading Rabbinic lessons (even lessons for beginners or "Bnei
Noach"). There was also no attempt at supplying the basic background of
the texts she used, not even at the level where most Messianic
believers have already been informed.
4. Mishandling of Biblical texts, in terms of accuracy was
problem. This stemmed not only from a noted lack of understanding
Jewish terms used in the NT, but also from replacing "facts on the
ground" with assumptions based on ignorance, or just "hot air."
Example: On Page 31, Barbara is "filling-in" in her
usual style, the
story behind the healing of the lame man in K'far Nachum told in Mark
chapter 2. When Yeshua told the man to "Rise, take up your pallet...,"
some "Torah Teachers" and "Pharisees" were present. Barbara, in the
next paragraph calls them "disgruntled Scribes."
In no Gospel account are there "Scribes," in this
story. Scribes are
not Pharisees, and Pharisees are not Scribes. Any Jew would note the
difference between these professions, and how that difference is
significant for the text in question.
5. In addition, there were one or two comments that showed
"ignorance" of basic Jewish teaching - not at all at a Rabbinic level,
but at a pshat (most simple) level.
For example, it was mentioned that Yeshua's teaching of a "forgiving
spirit" was "a radical departure [for] the 1st century Jewish mind"
(page 33), as well as for modern Judaism (same page). This is so
absurd, are even arrogant, that if I were a Rabbi making such a
comment, people would have thought I was a comedian.
Any third-grade frum (religious) kid who learned bedtime prayers
the siddur (Jewish prayer book) would know this is not true. The
central theme of the annual High Holiday of Yom HaKippor is
"Forgiveness." It was the Jewish people who brought the concept of
forgiveness to the world. The only radical departure from Jewish
thinking going on here is the claim that the Rabbi's notes supposedly
provided "unique insights not evident in the English or Greek words
6. Along these lines, there is likewise no attempt to bring
meanings in Biblical Hebrew, which are incredibly rich wherever one
turns, though this area is one in which all Rabbis excel. Wouldn't the
very least be a comment on Jesus' Hebrew name and its significance?
Instead, the word "Yeshua" is not even found.
7. The last straw is a statement pushing Replacement Theology:
"Do you realize that the New Covenant is only 'new' to
*They are the ones who had the 'Old' Covenant which was
*replaced by the 'New'.
For the Gentiles, the ' New' Covenant is the ONLY
covenant." (page 22, emphasis hers)
* - This sentence was edited out from later printed editions
It goes without saying that NO Torah Observant Jew would ever,
write this - forget about a Haredi Rabbi! Many balanced "Christians"
who believe the "Old Testament" would have a problem with that
statement as well!
Also, on page 52, the statements presented would be considered
anti-Semitic if Barbara wrote it, or made by a "self-hating Jew" if the
Rabbi wrote it. I'm referring to:
"G-d first called Israel to teach the rest of the world
about Himself. Israeli failed and the church was birthed."
This is deplorable theology. Israel only failed to recognize
Mashiach. She didn't fail is teaching the rest of the world about G-d.
Just the opposite. It should be remembered that G-d was first published
in Hebrew. It was the Messianic Jews who first opened the gates to
release the Bible upon the world. It was the Jewish People who brought
to the world the very concept of the Messiah. It was through our People
that the Gentiles inherited the Shabbat and the appointed seasons of
HaShem. We gave these things to the Gentiles, who were previously
excluded from citizenship in Israel and who were foreigners to the
covenants of promise, without hope and without G-d in the world. (Eph
And how is Barbara going to pay us back for making the Scriptures
available to her? Will she make us jealous with our own Torah, through
her witness? Apparently not, for she says on page 53...
"Do you know any Jewish people? Have you ever reached out
to love them and befriend them? Please note that I did
not say "witness" to them or "preach" to them."
8. Even though Barbara states in the preface of her book that
Rabbi's notes "form the basis for the book you are about to enjoy,"
there were places where it was clearly evident that these were
Barbara's own insights. Take page 42 for instance, where immediately
after a list of supposed 'Jewish insights' on Yeshua's Gethsemane
experience, she writes:
"It's time for our tour group to move on to another
I suppose this is not out of line, since Barbara's name is
cover. But it is confusing at best, since she expressly mentions in
other places that these were a Rabbi's insights which he gave her
permission to publish under her own name. The line gets blurred as to
where his notes end and hers begin. Put more bluntly, we couldn't find
HIS notes at all.
9. Richmond's sources for the book's material also leave some
She writes in the acknowledgments (not printed in the second
that "the majority of data that became the basis for this book" came
from "several Bible scholars and government trained tour guides in
Israel". The latter could explain the historical/cultural tidbits,
which do sound like Tourism Ministry bytes. The unnamed Israeli Bible
scholars (Jewish or not) didn't leave any trace that we could call
She wrote personally to my friend, whose comments I have compiled
this report, and said in her latter that this Rabbi from the Old City,
a major contributor by her account, had reviewed the book manuscript
How disturbing it is to imagine that any Orthodox Rabbi could
of the material in this book, much less one who reportedly follows
Yeshua. If that's not bad enough, at the end of her acknowledgments
she thanks "conservative Rabbis and Christian pastors" with whom she
consulted while preparing this book!
We can only hope that the published result DOESN'T reflect
of either the Jewish community or the Body of Messiah in Israel or
abroad. All those acknowledged should be thankful that they were not
10. The only positive things we can say about Barbara Richmond's
"Jewish Insights into the New Testament" is that
(a) it urges Christians to love the Jewish people and to pray for them,
(b) it lifts up Jesus (sic) as Lord
THE BOTTOM LINE
Hopes that this special scoop, these never-revealed-before
gems, would compensate for the inflated price of the book, were quickly
When Barbara was confronted about the comments above, and when
the problems which we saw were gently explained, and that what she had
written would not normally be heard from a Rabbi in Israel, it was
suggested that she change the title from "Jewish" to something more
accurate, and sell it as a devotional book so as not to mislead buyers.
Barbara replied that she would pray about it.
That was the last contact she had with my friend, and never
again or followed up on her plans to meet or phone my friend the next
time she visited Israel. We also know she has been her many times since.
In light of all these things, one must ask, "What has
the book done for
Israel?" What has it done for the true Believers here, many of whom do
not have enough money to put food on her table, or pay their taxes,
education or medical expenses?"
How is it that so many are willing to get so excited about
so-called "secret believers," and buy bogus books connected with them,
but so few will show any enthusiasm for some 5,000 to 7,000 Believers
who live their lives as living witnesses through-out the Land of
Promise, putting their faith on the front lines, so that you may one
day see Yeshua again.
They, who are willing to carry Yeshua's testimony need your
your prayers and your open concern. Talking about the secret believers
that nobody knows anything about, or whether or not they are even
bearing fruit for the Kingdom of G-d, seems so distracting and
"He who has ears to hear, let him hear."
"For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine.
Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a
great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear."
(2 Timothy 4:3).
And now, O Israel, what does the L-RD your G-d ask of you but to fear
the L-RD your G-d, to walk in all His ways, to love His, to serve the
L-RD your G-d with all your heart and with all your soul, and to
observe the L-RD's commands and decrees that I am giving you today for
your own good? (D'varim [Deuteronomy] 10:13).
The Nehemiah Trustees Covenant Fund
Comment Added: It seems to me (and this is not a prophetic utterance), that the big problem here is the "thus says the Lord". If the same substance were offered as one man's insight, or opinion, it could weigh in as exhortation or warning, etc. In my opinion the peril here is putting his words in God's mouth. Seems to me a true word of prophecy is the reverse. Elaine Stedman. 7/9/99.
Comment added: In 1 Timothy 4:16, Paul writes, "Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers."
To the Galatians, Paul wrote: Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned! As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned!" (Gal. 1:7b-9)
These are strong words. When the church at Thessalonica believed the rapture had already occurred and they had missed it, and were thrown into confusion, Paul spent quite a bit of time in his second letter to them reviewing doctrine and prophecy.
Most of Paul's epistles, as well as the entire epistles of James, Peter, and John, are concerning correct doctrines. It is the major theme of the NT -- what is the right belief?
So I cannot help but state right up front that doctrine is of utmost importance to the Christian. Yes, Christ alone saves, but after that comes sanctification, education, spiritual maturity. All these are related to knowledge of Biblical doctrine.
Because God's thoughts are NOT ours, and His ways far above ours (read Isaiah), we dare not try to "explain" what the Bible clearly says in terms of our own comprehension WHEN OUR COMPREHENSION MEANS DENYING OR ALTERING WHAT IT IS THE BIBLE IS SAYING. That is what "liberal Christianity" is. It is the effort to filter the Word of God through human understanding, thus bringing Biblical doctrine down to the post-modern world of "what it means to you may not be what it means to me, but God loves us all!"
The first question Satan asked Eve in Eden was "Did God REALLY say....?"
That is the exact question liberal Christianity asks today. And, like Satan, those who espouse it, are encouraging us to "use our own heads" in areas where our comprehension does not match up with God's clear Word.
That is not to say that all of His Word is or is not clear. That is to say, however, that we need to ask HIM for wisdom, and not each other in a good many more cases than we are doing now. Liberal Christianity turns us from God to man. Biblical Christianity turns us from man to God.
Especially in matters of doctrine. Helen Fryman. July 11, 1999.
Lambert Dolphin's Library