Rubel Shelly: Woodmont Hills Sermon Review #24a-Loving One Another

Aristotle warned about drama misleading the audience by false clues in order to make the final revelation more effective. The gospel or "good news" frees the believer from those Paul identified as "trained speakers." In the Greek world this training was in the theater which was also the site of pagan music to "dramatize" the message to disable the rational mind. The subliminal message is a Calvinistic salvation by "faith only."

Great Themes of the Bible (#24a-Loving One Another)

While this sermon is good and sentimental it may ignore the fact that tragic drama is played out in all households in the world. However, there is no logical connection involved in sandwiching a small sermonette on grace or faith-only between two or more tragic dramas. One can readily give accent to the need to love others as illustrated by these "death bed stories." However, we need to keep our eyes and ears open to the infiltrated teaching of "faith only" and perhaps a small addition to the gospel of 'seven facts about Jesus.'

Unfortunately it seems that "lading other people's burdens on the brethren" may create the "spiritual anxiety" Jesus came to remove but it "ain't preaching" the Word but self. At the same time, it is a good psychological machine to keep people from that gnawing pain in the soul as they "hunger and thirst for the Word, travel from sea to sea to find it but cannot."

"All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable," meaning useful. It's useful first, for doctrine or teaching. The passage is followed immediately by the divine charge to Timothy to "Preach the word," meaning to preach God's word, the Scripture. Scripture is useful for "reproof." Scripture is useful for "correction." Scripture is useful for instruction in righteousness. "That," and the word "that" makes all that a statement of purpose. The Scripture is useful for doctrine, reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness" that the man of God may be perfect [complete or completely], thoroughly furnished unto all good works." The NASV translates the verse, "that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work." From Source

Help us out here, experts on the drama. Help, Aristotle!

A noted drama expert notes that "drama works because we know that it isn't true." And Gallup found that 80% of preacher's stories have no basis or less basis than advertised. We don't doubt the heart-softening stories (I have a dying 95+ mother and a near dead 75 year old brother but neither has anything to do with the dogma of "faith only.").

Dramatic events such as the "Jubilee" with all of the elements of ancient religions depends totally upon "praxis." Or practice. Lynn Anderson in Navigating the Winds of Change calls this "prayerful brinkmanship." That is you upset the equilibrium and push the "audience" in the direction you want to go. If the practice seems too dangerous for your paycheck you "pull them back" and try again at a later day.

Therefore, let's hear Aristotle to soften you up to the facts:

Aristotle notes that "Epic poetry, then, and the poetry of tragic drama, and, moreover, comedy and dithyrambic poetry, and most flute-playing and harp-playing, these, speaking generally, may all be said to be "representations of life."

AT the Great Dionysia competitions at Corinth.. led by a man "wit-stricken by the thunderbolt of wine, the presentations consisted of a dithyrambic song accompanied by circular dances performed around the altar of Dionysus by choruses composed of 50 men and boys; the whole proceeding was accompanied by reed flutes and was led by the speaker of a prologue.

From roughly 450 BC onward, dithyrambic poets employed ever-more-startling devices of language and music, until for ancient literary critics "dithyrambic" acquired the connotations of "turgid" and "bombastic."

This is what they tried to get Jesus involved in and the Judas Bag was for "carrying the reeds of wind instruments."

Note 2: "Life "presents" to the artist the phenomena of sense, which the artist "re-presents" in his own medium, giving coherence, designing a pattern. That this is true not only of drama and fiction but also of instrumental music ("most flute-playing and harp-playing") was more obvious to a Greek than to us,

since Greek instrumental music was more definitely imitative. The technical display of the virtuoso Plato describes as "a beastly noise."

Note 4: pathê kai praxeis cover the whole field of life, what men do (praxeis) and what men experience (pathê). Since pathê means also "emotions" and that sense may be present here, but as a technical term in this treatise pathos is a calamity or tragic incident, something that happens to the hero.

You will notice that Jesus is rarely the "hero" in the Gallup-warned preacher tales.

Aristotle continues: to tell us that to be effective you must represent "us" as the better men and "them" as the worse. All of the horrors of fratricide or racism must happen to "them" to make "us" look better. This has nothing to do with Jesus; if "we" are better than "them" then it is because I, as high priest, have more god manipulating power -- the power to lead you into the god's presence or to cause you to have a "worship experience."

"Since the objects of imitation are men in action, and these men must be either of a higher or a lower type (for moral character mainly answers to these divisions, goodness and badness being the distinguishing marks of moral differences),

it follows that we must represent men either as better than in real life, or as worse, or as they are. It is the same in painting. Polygnotus depicted men as nobler than they are, Pauson as less noble, Dionysius drew them true to life.

Now it is evident that each of the modes of imitation above mentioned will exhibit these differences, and become a distinct kind in imitating objects that are thus distinct. Such diversities may be found even in dancing, flute-playing, and lyre-playing. So again in language, whether prose or verse unaccompanied by music. Homer, for example, makes men better than they are; Cleophon as they are; Hegemon the Thasian, the inventor of parodies, and Nicochares, the author of the Deiliad, worse than they are

Aristotle proposes a third method:

"There is still a third difference- the manner in which each of these objects may be imitated. For the medium being the same, and the objects the same, the poet may imitate by narration- in which case he can either take another personality as Homer does, or speak in his own person, unchanged- or he may present all his characters as living and moving before us.

This was the role of the soothsayer who mumbled into an old wineskin (familiar spirit) and claimed that the message which echoed was the dead or the gods speaking. Let Aristotle "echo" again that "soap operas" prove: we love to get bruised by myth and music because it scratches some deep, childish urge to be bruised. Jesus warned the "offenders" who know fully well that they can "see Godliness as a means of financial gain" and damage the simple-minded but leave them with the endorphins of the "runner's high." "Poetry in general seems to have sprung from two causes, each of them lying deep in our nature.

First, the instinct of imitation is implanted in man from childhood, one difference between him and other animals being that he is the most imitative of living creatures, and through imitation learns his earliest lessons;

and no less universal is the pleasure felt in things imitated. We have evidence of this in the facts of experience.

Objects which in themselves we view with pain,

we delight to contemplate when reproduced with minute fidelity:

such as the forms of the most ignoble animals and of dead bodies.

The cause of this again is, that to learn gives the liveliest pleasure,

not only to philosophers

but to men in general; whose capacity, however, of learning is more limited.

Thus the reason why men enjoy seeing a likeness is, that in contemplating it they find themselves learning or inferring, and saying perhaps, 'Ah, that is me.' For if you happen not to have seen the original, the pleasure will be due not to the imitation as such, but to the execution, the coloring, or some such other cause.

Imitation, then, is one instinct of our nature (carnal).

Next, there is the instinct for 'harmony' and rhythm, meters being manifestly sections of rhythm.

Persons, therefore, starting with this natural gift developed by degrees their special aptitudes, [No. God doesn't give one the gift and music is the most works-intensive "acts" one could invent for "worship."]

till their rude improvisations gave birth to Poetry.

(This is why H. Bamfort Parkes calls the "god manipulator" the world's oldest profession and perhaps the most tolerated but least respected.)

Aristotle Poetics in XVIII: 1 Corinthians chapter 13:,

"The fourth element is spectacle, like the Phorcides and Prometheus, and all scenes laid in Hades.

One should ideally try to include all these elements or, failing that, the most important and as many as possible, especially since it is the modern fashion to carp at poets, and,

because there have been good poets in each style, to demand that a single author should surpass the peculiar merits of each.

Publisher's Note: The text is obscure, and our ignorance of the play or rhapsody adds to the darkness,

but the reference may be to the ruse, common in detective stories,

of misleading the audience by false clues in order to make the final revelation more effective.

After a sentimental softening up, Dr. Shelly proposes to divine God's Intentions:

God's Intention

The Epistle to the Romans is Paul's magnum opus. It is in many ways the pinnacle of all biblical literature because of its full and clear exposition of the biblical thesis of salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. The theme verse of the book comes at 1:16: "I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile."

This is sure a great work but it does not tell the whole truth. And surely the "opus" being taught here is that salvation is by our faith only based on Christ's grace only. However, if we are going to "preach the word" lets begin where Paul begins in Romans chapter one rather than a human drama:

PAUL, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God, Romans 1:1

(Which he had promised afore by his prophets in the holy scriptures,) Romans 1: 2

Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh; Romans 1: 3

And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead: Romans 1: 4

By whom we have received grace and apostleship, for obedience to the faith among all nations, for his name: Romans 1: 5

Among whom are ye also the called of Jesus Christ: Romans 1: 6

Grace is not unlimited forgiveness for unlimited sins. Rather, grace often means the power of God to be conformed to the image of Christ. If there is no conforming then there has been no grace exercised. Obedience is from the Greek:

Hupakoe (g5218) hoop-ak-o-ay'; from 5219: attentive hearkening, i.e. (by. impl. compliance) or submission: - obedience, (make) obedient, obey (-ing).

Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey;

whether of sin unto death,
or of obedience unto righteousness? Ro.6:16

The commission Paul received was not to preach the seven facts about Jesus and not to preach death-bed stories:

For I will not dare to speak of any of those things which Christ hath not wrought by me, to make the Gentiles obedient, by word and deed.Ro.15:18

Who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God. 1 Peter 1:21

Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently: 1Pe.1:22

In speaking to Agrippa Paul said:

At midday, O king, I saw in the way a light from heaven, above the brightness of the sun, shining round about me and them which journeyed with me. Acts 26: 13

And when we were all fallen to the earth, I heard a voice speaking unto me, and saying in the Hebrew tongue, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. Acts 26: 14

And I said, Who art thou, Lord? And he said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest. Acts 26: 15

But rise, and stand upon thy feet: for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness

  1. both of these things which thou hast seen,
  2. and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee; Acts 26: 16

    [Like the other apostles, Paul would be guided into all truth by Christ as the Spirit]

Delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee, Acts 26: 17

To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God,

that they may receive forgiveness of sins,

and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me. Acts 26: 18

Turn means to be converted:

Epistrepho (g1994) ep-ee-stref'-o; from 1909 and 4762; to revert (lit., fig. or mor.): - come (go) again, convert, (re-) turn (about, again).

Jesus sent Peter with the same commission he sent Paul:

And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. Mark 16:15

He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. Mark 16:16

Peter honored the "gospel" and:

Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. Acts 2:38

Metanoeo (g3340) met-an-o-eh'-o; from 3326 and 3539; to think differently or afterwards, i.e. reconsider (mor. feel compunction): - repent.

And then Paul continues:

Whereupon, O king Agrippa, I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision: Acts 26:19

But shewed first unto them of Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the coasts of Judaea, and then to the Gentiles,

that they should repent (g3340) and turn (g1994) to God, and do works meet for repentance. Acts 26: 20

Paul and Peter preached the same gospel where turning "into Christ" is at baptism:

that they should repent (g3340)

Then Peter said unto them, Repent Acts 2:38

and turn (g1994) to God,

and be baptized every one of you Acts 2:38

The magnum opus and the pinnacle having been reached, we now come to:

The watershed text of the epistle comes at 3:20-24: No one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin.

Couching powerful "proof-texts" in the context of sentimental human trauma is assuredly one way to "navigate the winds of change" and inculcate false doctrine from the Baptist friend. Therefore, let's quote the passage to see whether we are being fed error or not:

Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. Romans 3:19

Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin. Romans 3:20

The context is "the law" and not "law."

In the next statement Dr. Rubel Shelly leaves out an important word, "the." The NIV, KJV, NAS, NKJV, RSV is careful to say "the law" because the subject is not generic "law" but the law of Moses which was "added because of transgression" at Mount Sinai where Israel "rose up to play" which was singing, playing instruments, dancing and generally repeating the worship of their old Egyptian gods. The Living Bible reads:

So the judgment of God lies very heavily upon the Jews, for they are responsible to keep God's laws instead of doing all these evil things; not one of them has any excuse; in fact, all the world stands hushed and guilty before Almighty God. Romans 3:19LIV

The "faith only" dogma moves easily between "the law of Moses" to any law such as "thou shalt obey Paul's command about worship" and thereby makes obeying the inspired "written" Word into legalism. Next, we hear:

But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished he did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.

"By faith" is not a "one act plan of salvation." Rather, by faith is how we live and obey God:

For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith. Ro.1:17

Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; Ro.3:25

Cometh this blessedness then upon the circumcision only, or upon the uncircumcision also? for we say that faith was reckoned to Abraham for righteousness. Ro.4:9

And I will make thy seed to multiply as the stars of heaven, and will give unto thy seed all these countries; and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; Gen 26:4

Because that Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws. Gen 26:5

Righteousness by faith also says "thou shalt not."

But the righteousness which is of faith speaketh on this wise, Say not in thine heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? (that is, to bring Christ down from above:) Ro.10:6

Paul here and in 1 Corinthians 10 speaks of the musical idolatry at Mount Sinai when, in today's terms, they used music in an attempt "to move the worshipers into the presence of God." Seek the Mount Sinai Event

From the magnum opus to the pinnacle to the heart of the Christian faith:

That is the gospel. That is the heart of the Christian faith.

We have been accepted on the merit of the atoning work of Jesus, in spite of our inability to measure up to the demands of law, righteousness, and good deeds. In this marvelous work of grace, God has both shown himself "just" (i.e., honorable under the provisions of law) the one who "justifies" (i.e., grants right-standing to) all those who believe in Jesus.

The first part is fact: the last part moves from fact to "prayerful brinkmanship" and teaches error. It is not rational to take bits and pieces out of context and make the heart of the Christian faith mean "all who believe" with the always-possible (because of the Baptist theme) addition of the fatal word ONLY.

Romans 12:1 builds on Paul's explication of the gospel in the first eleven chapters of the epistle and proceeds to show some of the practical outcomes of salvation in a Christian's new world-view and lifestyle. He is not deserting or compromising his thesis that salvation is in Christ and in him alone. The new life of loving obedience he envisions for a saved woman or man is not offered as a way to woo God's favor. It is what Paul had called at 1:5 "the obedience that comes from faith" (cf. 16:26) or "the obedience that is inspired by faith."

In Romans 6 in connection with baptism, Paul insists that we consider the old nature and body dead. He said the same thing in 12:1. He did not define spiritual worship as "aggitating the minds by telling horror storys."

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. Romans 12:1 I

Sacrifice is:

Thusia (g2378) thoo-see'-ah; from 2380; sacrifice (the act of the victim, lit. or fig.): - sacrifice.

Thuo (g2380) thoo'-o; a prim. verb; prop. to rush (breathe hard, blow, smoke), i.e. (by impl.) to sacrifice (prop. by fire, but gen.); by extens. to immolate (slaughter for any purpose): - kill, (do) sacrifice, slay.

And they that are Christs have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. Gal 5:24

If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Gal 5:25

Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another. Gal 5:26  

Dr. Shelly attempts to recruit "musical worship facilitators" which means "manipulators." He claims that they have the power to move the worshipers into the presence of God. This is purely a "body work" appealing to the carnal senses with the belief that it can woe God into accepting worship. However, Christian assembly is like the Synagogue. It is not a "temple" but a "school." It is not even a hospital, financial service, car repair or mental ward. It is to teach people to live their own lives before the watching world.

Performance preaching or musical performance "makes alive" the carnal senses of the "spectators" and is according to all of the bible and historical evidence the antithesis of love.

On the basis of God's mercy experienced in Christ, we offer ourselves as living sacrifices to him. Energized for new ways of thinking and behaving by Holy Spirit- presence in our hearts, minds, and bodies, we see ourselves as belonging to God and eager to give him glory with whatever giftedness he has entrusted to us.

Specifically, as he also says in one of his epistles to the church at Corinth, love is the greatest of spiritual gifts and is our first calling to demonstrate newness of life in Christ.

We call your attention to the Corinthian church where "your assemblies do more harm than good." The "love" drama in First Corinthians had to do with those elements which Dr. Shelly would add to attract the seekers even if it becomes sectarian and "sows discord among brethren."

Dr. Shelly has applied a huge list of epithets against those who refuse to worship with churches using instruments in an attempt to worship God. The same applies to choirs. It is not sectarian or fratricidal to continue to worship without machines or mediating choirs consistent with the entire history of the Bible and the church. No. The Jews did not "sing congregationally with instrumental accompaniment." No. The Levitical musicians did not "aid" the worship of the people; they aided the priests in slaughtering and offering animal sacrifices while the "congregation" was shut out -- outside the camp as the place where we now find Jesus.

Love, in this epistle, is to quit preaching, teaching or singins "poems" out of your own "spirit" and not adding "lifeless instruments" which our Aristotle notes prove, are to manipulate people. Love would have everyone not inspired to sit down and shut up.

Then Dr. Rubel Shelly ends with another very traumatic story to stress our need for one another. However, this will make it easier to ignore the subliminal injection of "wind navigating" change -- almost hypnotic -- to redefine the gospel as a very fluid scheme. The final remark moves off the Jubilee theme sowing discord among brethren and displaying hate before a watching world. That old theme was that the "Watershed of the church is worship." Nonsense.

Take what you wish from the sermon but be alert that smack in the middle is the teaching of his Baptist friend's dogma of faith only. True. The passages say what they say but one cannot find the "core gospel" in one passage and one cannot define the nature of man's obedience to the faith without hearing all that Paul says about faith.

True. No one earns God's grace but performance worship is the most works intensive "act" possible and it "lades" the burden Jesus came to remove: "spiritual anxiety from religious ceremonial."

Contrary to Leroy Garrett, Alexander Campbell actually said vocally:

"No relation can be changed by believing, apart from the acts to which that belief, or faith, induces us."

And Martin Luther wrote:

"But as our would-be wise, new spirits assert that faith alone saves, and that works and external things avail nothing, we answer:

It is true, indeed, that nothing in us is of any avail but faith, as we shall hear still further. But these blind guides are unwilling to see this, namely,

that faith must have something which it believes, that is, of which it takes hold, and upon which it stands and rests.

Thus faith clings to the water, and believes that it is Baptism, in which there is pure salvation and life; not through the water (as we have sufficiently stated), but through the fact that it is embodied in the Word and institution of God, and the name of God inheres in it.

Now, if I believe this, what else is it than believing in God as in Him who has given and planted His Word into this ordinance, and proposes to us this external thing wherein we may apprehend such a treasure?

Now, they are so mad as to separate faith and that to which faith clings and is bound though it be something external.

However tragic life is and however noble it is to take care of unloved orphans (lots in America) none of this must be allowed to alter the Word of God "as it has been delivered to you." Take the good beginning "death bed" preaching and the ending stories but don't ignore the false, subliminal message sandwiched between.

Again, the meaning of "justification by faith" has always been made clear by God as He told Isaac:

And I will make thy seed to multiply as the stars of heaven, and will give unto thy seed all these countries; and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; Genesis 26:4

Because that Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws. Genesis 26:5

For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love. Ga.5:6


Dr. Shelly Sermon Reviews

Wineskins Index

Home Page