This is the sixth part of my review of Brian Zahnd’s teaching at The Meeting House. You can read Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4 and Part 5. In this series am reviewing Zahnd’s sermon and a Roundtable podcast he participated in during his visit to The Meeting House.
This post will conclude my review of the sermon he preached, “Bad Idea: The Bible Trumps Jesus” before I move on to his Roundtable podcast interview he did with Bruxy Cavey.
Here I will quickly address one more comment Zahnd made in the sermon and offer my concluding thoughts
The Great Sin of the Church
As I mentioned in the first post in this series, Zahnd spends some time abusing the story of Christ’s transfiguration. Like Bruxy Cavey before him (dealt with here), he uses this narrative to teach that God the Father instructs the disciples on the mountain NOT to listen to the law and prophets, but to listen to Jesus.
Apparently, Zahnd has arbitrarily granted authoritative and inerrant status to the account of the transfiguration in Matthew 17, Mark 9, and Luke 9, while rejecting Peter’s own interpretation and application of this event in 2 Peter 1:16-21.
“The Law and the Prophets arrived to bear their final testimony to the true Word of God, who is Jesus. But the church misunderstands this. The church says ‘Oh, we have the Law, and the Prophets, and Jesus. And we’ll just make the Bible a flat text where every verse of the Bible carries equal authority, where every verse of the Bible will be regarded as having the same capacity for revelation regarding who God is. We’ll just treat the Bible as a flat text. We’ll have the Law, and we’ll have the Prophets, and we’ll have Jesus, and we’ll treat it all more or less the same and God said ‘That’s a bad idea! You will not! This is my beloved son listen to him!’ because Jesus is what God has to say.” (17:21)
There we have it plainly said. When the church has tried to take all of Scripture to understand who God is the church was in grievous sin and error – God himself says so! On Zahnd’s view, God has explicitly commanded us NOT to do that. The attempt to understand God in a way that is consistent with the entirety of the scriptural testimony concerning him is actually sin and results in us having a false view of God. Zahnd has arrived two thousand years after Christ with a view not found in Jesus, the Apostles, the Old Testament, or centuries of church history to correct the entire church of this grievous sin.
So, what would Zahnd recommend we do instead of submitting our thoughts to all of Scripture? Apparently, we are to adopt his view, which makes utter nonsense of the biblical text. That shouldn’t bother us because, as Zahnd says, “it doesn’t matter” what Scripture says or doesn’t say. We should arbitrarily grant authority to the texts Zahnd has chosen and reject others. Is that a better position? Should I base my entire worldview on Zahnd’s preferences? No, thanks. As we have already seen (Part 3), Jesus said that such a view was unbelief.
Here I want to make a very basic point – a plea to those who listen to Brian Zahnd, Bruxy Cavey, or like the teaching coming from The Meeting House. Could there possibly be a more obvious sign of a false teacher than the fact that he calls belief in the Scriptures a sin?
Concluding Thoughts on Zahnd’s “Sermon”
Zahnd’s message is summarized in these words:
“So, when you hear someone using Moses and Elijah to trump Jesus, when you hear someone appealing to David and Joshua to argue with Jesus, you know that you’ve heard a bad idea. Because Jesus is what God has to say.” (32:38)
I agree that we ought not use other parts of Scripture to “trump” Jesus. But it’s not because the teaching of Scripture is somehow at odds with Jesus’ teaching. On Zahnd’s view, the revelation that God gave through Moses, Elijah, David and Joshua were somehow out of harmony with Jesus. Of course, this was not Jesus’ own view, nor was it any of the apostles’ view. To boot, it has not been the view of anyone who has been considered orthodox from the beginning of Christian history. There is, however one famous man from early Christian history that it seems Brian Zahnd (and Bruxy Cavey for that matter) have a lot in common with – Marcion. Faithful Christians have argued from the very beginning that revelation God has given in Scripture, all of Scripture, is consistent, authoritative, and without error (for example here and here).
As has been demonstrated in this sermon review, to prove his position Zahnd makes statements that are demonstrably false, reasons illogically, and ends up contradicting and refuting himself. He presents false dichotomies, straw-man’s those who disagree with him, and overall argues dishonestly. In his zeal to prove that the Scriptures are not authoritative and inerrant he arbitrarily grants authoritative inerrant status to everything he likes (whether it is actually Scripture or not!), and manipulates the text of Scripture to create a false sense of contradiction to refute everything he doesn’t. He does all of this with a contemptible level of mockery of Scripture.
Zahnd’s approach to Scripture is not only incapable of self correction, but is incapable of any correction. Nor is it capable of offering correction to anyone else, because it is not based on any authority outside of Zahnd’s personal preference. Zahnd spends a lot of time ranting, trying to convince people that they cannot trust all of Scripture, but all it turns out to prove is that Zahnd doesn’t like the Bible. It is ultimately nothing more than a loud, emotional, admission that his view is thoroughly unchristian! He simply refuses to submit to everything God has said because he doesn’t like it. He offers no objective standard by which anyone else could know whether what he says is true, nor offers any compelling reason why someone who differs from him on this should abandon their view for his.
In the end I found myself wondering if there was anything Brian Zahnd said in this sermon that was not based on a lie, or was a lie itself. The entirety of his sermon relied heavily upon the ignorance of his hearers, or the desire of his hearers to believe falsehood. This is not the sign of a teacher who is interested in delivering the message of Christ in a way that is faithful to Christ. He quite literally admits that he is not interested in letting the text of Scripture speak for itself. This is a man with an agenda to confuse and draw people away from a solid knowledge of the Scriptures.
Zahnd’s sermon reminds me of Jesus’ encounter with Satan after his 40-day fast in the wilderness. Zahnd’s tactics are exactly those of the Devil in his attempts to deceive and tempt Jesus. Like Jesus in that encounter, all we need to do is look to the Scriptures, let them speak for themselves, and the lies are laid bare. For a good explanation of this event listen to this sermon from my Pastor, Jacob Reaume: Our King Defeated Satan
Brian Zahnd is a wolf. Bruxy Cavey, a wolf himself, brings Zahnd in to help him in his work. Avoid Brian Zahnd. Avoid Bruxy Cavey. Avoid The Meeting House. Warn others.
In my next post in this series I will be addressing an interview that Bruxy Cavey did with Brian Zahnd and his wife, Peri, following Zahnd’s message. It will shed some more light on Zahnd’s view (as well as Bruxy Cavey’s). Specifically, we will finally get Zahnd’s answer to the question of what exactly Zahnd’s ultimate authority is. To be honest, it is frightening. (It’s now up here)