For those would-be scandal seekers, please move along. Nothing to see here. Pulp Fiction is a term used to describe cheap novels from the 20th century. "Pulp" was low quality paper and fiction was the genre - the 1900's version of "reality tv." Filled with action, adventure, horror and mystery; these racy publications were widely circulated and extremely popular for decades. Needless to say, people around the world ate them up - attracted to their elaborately designed, colorful covers. However, as literature, pulp fiction's content was mostly trash.
Sadly, a lot of church teaching and tradition nowadays resembles pulp fiction. Slow down! This is not the place to bash the Church or attack a particular denomination. Please! We, as the Body of Christ, need healing ointment not more stone-throwing. In order to properly treat the wound, however, let's tear off the Band-Aid: a) Self-help and motivational speaking are NOT the same as preaching the Gospel. b) Apologetics and intellectual dogma are not equivalents to sound, Biblical theology. c) Social action and political activism are not substitutes for humble, Godly service. d) Lastly, one's ministry involvement is not an accurate measure of their Christian maturity.
There is much more to say on this - but today let's hone in on one area in particular which I find particularly troubling: SPIRITUAL WARFARE. Of course, this would require more than a few blog entries to truly separate Biblical fact from ritualistic fiction. At least this will serve as a start to meaningful dialogue. In short, I have seen both extremes, to the detriment of a believer's health: a) total denial and neglect of the supernatural, b) glamorizing the mystical and magical (bordering on Christian "hocus pocus").
That being said, be sure to leave honest feedback, questions, and respectful dialogue as this blog moves along. Getting back to the basics, here are some Keys to Spiritual Victory:
#3. Know yourself: "But I have no leisure for [idle talk or theological debate] ...since I am not yet able ...to know myself; it seems to me ridiculous... to investigate irrelevant things." -Socrates, from the Delphian Temple ("Know Thyself")
#2. Know your enemy: "If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle." - Sun Tzu, the Art of War.
#1. Know the Truth (the Word and the Author): "Then you will know the Truth, and the Truth will set you free.” -Jesus, John 8:32.
The order listed here is key. Our Foe often masquerades as a friend and our heart is above all else (self) deceiving. Therefore, focusing on the first two will lead to a dead end (at best) or a trap (at worst). Too often, I have seen believers led astray, wounded or confused because they over-trusted a church leader instead of taking responsibility for their own personal walk.
TEST AND APPROVE everything: read the Word for YOURSELF, then interpret it within a healthy COMMUNITY of faith.
What is your literacy in this area?
Try this fun little exercise:
1. Finish the rest of the phrase: "Speak those things that are not _______"
2. Cite the actual address for this verse: "The righteous shall take it by force."
3. Where does Paul teach us about "pleading the blood of Jesus"?
4. Where are we commanded to "bind and rebuke the Devil" in prayer?
Hint: *NOWHERE. That doesn't mean it is necessarily wrong or evil in practice, but worth a closer look.
For God has not given us a spirit of cowardice, but of power, and of love, and of wise discretion. (2 Timothy 1:7 DARBY translation)