Bruxy Cavey is a Pastor and teacher at The Meeting House, a multi-site operation with locations across Ontario, Canada. In the past few months I have listened to many hours of his sermons, other podcasts, university lectures, and You Tube videos. I had originally seen some videos of him denying inerrancy, the ultimate authority of Scripture and Penal Substitution on You Tube, and I wanted to get a good grasp on his teaching simply because he is in my area and is very popular.
I listened to his series “Inspired – How God Speaks Through Scripture” closely, knowing already that he denied the inerrancy and ultimate authority of the Scriptures. What I heard was very troubling – especially this portion of Part 3 of the series titled “The Shadow & The Substance” where Bruxy teaches on Colossians 2:16-17. What troubled me was not only his denial of the ultimate authority of the text, but the way he was willing to handle the Scriptures to affirm his position. I will address that particular part of his teaching here.
What does the Bible say?
First, let’s look at Colossians 2 verses 8-23. Bruxy uses verse 17 to teach his doctrine of errancy and secondary authority of Scripture, so we should see the context.
8See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. 9For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, 10and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority. 11In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ,12having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God,who raised him from the dead. 13And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses,14by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. 15He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.
16Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. 17These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ. 18Let no one disqualify you, insisting on asceticism and worship of angels, going on in detail about visions, puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind, 19and not holding fast to the Head, from whom the whole body, nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God.
20If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world,why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations—21“Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch” 22(referring to things that all perish as they are used)—according to human precepts and teachings? 23These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh.
The verses preceding and following 17 give the context of Paul’s thought – Don’t be deceived by those who use the Scriptures improperly and impose their own man-made philosophies and traditions on the text. Because you have been resurrected from the dead by the power of God and reconciled to Him through the sacrifice of Christ in your place do not allow others to judge you based on certain Old Testament ceremonial laws which all served the purpose of being a shadow of Christ, who was still to come at the time of their giving. Those Old Testament ceremonial laws had a purpose, and that was to point us to Christ and His work, to be an earthly representation of heavenly realities, to communicate truth about Him before His earthly ministry. Now that we have Christ and are in Him we no longer need those things which served as a shadow of Christ because He is the fulfillment of those things. This same concept is taught in the Epistle to the Hebrews (8:5, 9:23, 10:1).
How does Bruxy handle the text?
Okay, this text seems straightforward enough. Now let’s look at how Bruxy handles it. He says:
“So you’ve got your Bibles open to Colossians 2:17. In context Paul has just raised the issue of religious rules in the Bible. Rules about what day of the week you should worship. Rules about what festivals of the year you should keep. There’s all kinds of rules that will come up – dietary laws and other things. So in light of these things Paul says in verse 17 ‘These’ – that is biblical commands, biblical teaching – ‘These are a’ – what does your text say? ‘A shadow of the things that were to come, the reality however, is found in Christ.’ Scripture is a shadow of Jesus! It’s not the substance of Christ, it’s the shadow of Christ. He says these things – and he’s talking about Bible teaching, Bible commands – are the shadow that point to Jesus.” – Inspired #3, “The Shadow & The Substance” (20:12)
How is Bruxy handling this text? He makes the appearance of summarizing the context, inserts a new context, isolates verse 17, and then inserts the word – or at least the concept of – “Scripture” into verse 17! He begins with “In the context…” but doesn’t actually give any context except that Paul brought up some biblical teaching and commands. He completely leaves off explaining what kind of biblical commands or what the significance of the teaching may be. Then, isolating verse 17, he inserts an entirely new concept into the text – Scripture. He makes it seem like Paul is not speaking here of only certain types of Old Testament laws, but all of Scripture.
Here is how the text, starting in verse 16, would be understood if we accepted Bruxy’s handling of it:
16Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of biblical teaching and commands 17Scripture is a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ.
This gives the verse a completely different meaning than it actually has. Was Paul talking about Scripture here? Was he saying we should not judge by the Scriptures or allow ourselves to be judged by biblical teaching? That is pure nonsense, but that is the conclusion that one would be forced to if we accepted Bruxy’s interpretation. Paul was specifically speaking of a specific type of Old Testament law. All of a sudden, and with no reason given in the text, Bruxy takes this and applies it to all of Scripture! What justification does Bruxy have for his insertion of a concept that is not even addressed in this text?
If you listen to Bruxy very much, you may notice that he refers to Scripture as “the shadow” fairly regularly. This, apparently, is his basis for doing so.
This is not exegesis, this is manipulation and perversion of the Scriptures. And for what purpose? For the purpose of dividing Christ from His Word, and diminishing the authority of Scripture. He has literally imposed entire concepts onto the text of Scripture to make it appear to teach an utterly unbiblical concept. This is not the only example of Bruxy’s disrespectful mishandling of Scripture, but it is one with very deep consequences.
It seems to me that if we obey what Paul says in Colossians 2:8-10, we will reject what Bruxy Cavey teaches here about Colossians 2:17 and be suspicious of Bruxy Cavey as one who is willing to twist and manipulate the text of God-given Scripture to teach what he wants, not what Scripture clearly says.