In an astonishing article at Pirate Christian Radio’s Messed Up Church site, Steve Kozar produces teaching that essentially rejects the notion that we have a personal relationship with Christ.
Quoting two sources that claim that we are in religion and communion with God but not in relationship, Kozar takes the pirate theology outside of New Testament doctrine into religious teaching that comes awfully close to another gospel.
‘The Bible does not mention a “personal relationship with Christ,” even though we’ve all heard that phrase a million times. The Bible does not mention our need to “spend enough time with God so that you develop an intimate relationship with Him,” yet that kind of language permeates Pop Evangelicalism. With those kinds of ideas being so common and prevalent, could it be that you’ve been given a burden that doesn’t come from God?’
The question is rhetorical.
The Bible doesn’t mention the Trinity either, but it is in there if you dig deep enough, which is the point of study. The Bible may not mention ‘a personal relationship with Christ’, but it is certainly implied. Developing an intimate relationship with God is also taught, although not necessarily in those terms.
Just because we use more modern terminology to interpret a doctrine doesn’t exclude that teaching from reality.
In the same way we can show the truth about the Trinity from a number of scriptural sources, so it is generally accepted that those who believe and are saved have a personal relationship with Christ, and are encouraged to maintain an intimate relationship with God.
Kozar is quoting Matthew Garnet who suggests that relationship is not a Biblical concept, but that, rather, religion and community are. Part of the argument he uses is that the word ‘relationship’ only appears once in the texts.
This could be because the word is relatively modern. The King James Version was completed in 1611, whereas the term ‘relationship’ is first attested in 1640. The etymology of the word reveals exactly why it is missing from the earliest translated English texts. The word was first connected with marital relationship as late as 1944. Now it is quite a common word which speaks of connection and intimacy.
That is speaking of the English translation of the texts. Of course the New Testament was not written in English, so we will need to see from the Greek if there are similar or matching terms that indicate any kind of relationship between God and His chosen people.
‘Religion’ only appears five times, by the way, and never in relation to our walk with God. James suggests that if you are going to be religious then take care of widows and orphans, but this should be our Christian service anyway and not a religious requirement. Paul makes it clear what he thinks of human reason in religious observation.
Colossians 2:20-21 Therefore, if you died with Christ from the basic principles of the world, why, as though living in the world, do you subject yourselves to regulations — “Do not touch, do not taste, do not handle,” which all concern things which perish with the using — according to the commandments and doctrines of men?
These things indeed have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion, false humility, and neglect of the body, but are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh.
What is relationship?
What does the dictionary say about relationship? It is defined as ‘the way in which two or more people or things are connected, or the state of being connected’, or ‘the state of being connected by blood or marriage’, so, clearly, then, relationship is about connection. The question we should ask, then, is simple: are we connected to Christ in any way?
Of course we have a deep connection with Christ through His blood. We are in blood covenant with Him. We are, in a manner of speaking, blood kin. Related, then. Jesus likens the relationship between the Church and Himself to marriage between a husband and his wife. That, surely, is relationship.
Ephesians 5:30-32 For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church.
We are members of His Body, of His flesh and of His bones. I would say that is very intimate relationship. It is a personal relationship. It meets the criteria for connection. Perhaps the texts do not use the term ‘relationship’, but by modern definition this certainly gives us relationship.
It is also true that Jesus humbled Himself as a man. The relationship was generated when God sent the Word to dwell amongst us as a man – as flesh and blood – born of a woman.
Philippians 2:5-8 Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men.
And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.
Galatians 4:3-7 Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world. But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.
And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, “ Abba, Father!” Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.
He is the Word of God made flesh. He became flesh and blood so that He could save flesh and blood.
Hebrews 2:10-15 For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.
For both He who sanctifies and those who are being sanctified are all of one, for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren, saying: “I will declare Your name to My brethren; In the midst of the assembly I will sing praise to You.”
And again: Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.
He is not ashamed to call us brethren, and, in fact became like us to deliver us through HIs death and resurrection.
Not only this, but we are called sons and daughters of Almighty God. He is our Father. There is no escaping the truth that we are related as His children.
Papal agreement with Pirate Christian Radio
Interestingly, there was an announcement made by the Pope that is completely in line with the article at Pirate Christian Radio.
“There is no “do-it-yourself” in the church, no “freelancers.” How many times did we hear Pope Benedict Describe the church as a “we” church? Sometime you may hear someone say, “I believe in God, In Jesus, but the church… I don’t care.” How many times have we heard this? This is wrong.
There are those who believe you can have a personal, direct and immediate relationship with Jesus Christ outside the communion and mediation of the church. These temptations are dangerous and harmful. They are, in the words of the great Pope Paul VI, “absurd dichotomies.”
It’s true that journeying together is challenging, and sometimes it can be tiring: it may be that some brother or sister (in the church) makes us face a problem, or scandalizes us. But the Lord entrusted his message of salvation to humans, all of us, as witnesses; and in our brothers and sisters, with their gifts and limits, who come to us and make themselves known. This means belonging to the church…”
So the Pope is also opposed to the notion of a personal relationship with Jesus, although he stresses that this is outside of the church, which would be defined by Catholics as the Roman Catholic Church, so it may be that he at least acknowledges a personal relationship within the church, although they tend to teach that Mary is a mediator, rather than direct communion with Christ.
It’s uncanny, though, to see the same spiritual attack on the reality of a personal relationship with the Father and the Son, bearing in mind also that cessationists pontificate that the gifts of the Spirit have ended, thus eliminating a crucial part of the work and operation of the the Spirit from the Church.
This, then, seems to be an attack on the notion of the Trinity, and our connection with the Godhead as sons and daughters of God.
Colossians 2:8-10 Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ. For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.
I am also interested in the concept proposed by Garnet of religion and community, remembering that Rosebrough has this notion that the promotion of community is a part of a fascist conspiracy he has
invented advanced at his sites.
One of the issues with so-called discernment sites is finding new material to build on the old. It’s hard for them to stay fresh and alive when they have a tendency to repeat old material.
This leads them into strange areas and unorthodox ideas that, it seems, take them into error.
Attempting to teach that we should not seek to maintain a personal relationship with the Father and Son is a dangerous road to travel. The key to faith in God is to diligently seek Him. Personal relationship is part of our worship.
He invites us to come closer to Him. He is the One promoting the idea of a personal relationship. He has sent His Son to be flesh and blood so that we can know Him. We love Him because He first loved us.
John 17:3 And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.
I would rather be hidden in Christ, dwelling in the secret place of the Most High, where we can find true intimacy with God.
Colossians 3:1-3 If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.
As He says, “Draw near to me, and I will draw near to you!”