I am not targeting Mr. Compolo here as what I am about to talk about is not only found in his book Red Letter Christians, pg. 109, but is actually a trend in the Christian church. it is not a new trend but has existed for decades if not generations and millennia. Mr. Compolo’s words will only serve as an example for all those who do not apply scripture correctly and to the proper situation. Here are his words;
When considering a candidate, Red Letter Christians should ask about how the candidate would handle the problems of educational funding for the poorer school children, remember what Jesus said about anyone who offends a child: “it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones.” (Luke 17:2, NKJV)
That passage has nothing to do with education and school funding. If we were to clearly look at that passage we see the word ‘offend’ and during my junior year of my undergrad days a friend of mine did an exegesis on the word offend and it means to cause someone to come to the point of losing their faith. Children are not going to be brought to the point of losing their faith simply because the government doe snot provide proper funding for poor schools. Since the government is secular and since many in government and who have money are secular there is no way that these little children will be brought to the point where they will give u their faith in Jesus if they have any to begin with.
Not all school children are christian. Christians need to understand and apply scripture correctly. Just throwing a verse at a situation and claiming that it applies just does not work and only demonstrates the inability of the Christian to understand and apply their own holy words. There are lots of scriptures that would apply to the issue of school funding, for example– do unto others as you would have them do unto you– is a great guiding force for believers to follow when they address these political and educational issues.
Distorting the application and meaning of scripture only breeds inferior believers and misleads them as they think scriptures says one thing when in reality they have misunderstood and have been led away from the truth by well-meaning but misguided preachers. Mr. Compolo is not the first preacher this writer has encountered who has done this and it does a great disservice and injustice to the body of Christ when it takes place.
There is a reason Jesus said, you will be given the Spirit of truth and he will guide you to the truth. That is because Jesus wanted and wants his followers to go with the truth not with the cute or faddish interpretation or misuse and misapplication of God’s word. In my internship days i was subjected to the following statement far too often–‘that is your interpretation’ and when I was speaking it wasn’t my interpretation. I was following the Holy Spirit to the truth. Sadly too many people opt for interpretation instead of hungering for the truth of God’s word.
They also look to ‘spiritualize’ a given situation or action so they throw any scripture at the other person in hopes of ending any debate or opposition on the issue at hand. That is not the correct way to use scripture. The misuse of scripture also sends a message to the unbelieving world that Christians do not know what they are talking about even though they have access to God, his ministers and his word. The believer demonstrates a grave ignorance which in turn undermines their impact for Jesus.
There is one more quote, out of many, in that book I want to address and it also is found on page 109. In fact, it is the very next paragraph from the last quote:
I do not want to convey that inequities in the funding of education are the only reasons that children in poor neighborhoods are inadequately educated. Too often, inner city schools waste money on superfluous administrative overhead. In competent teachers, protected by unions, must be acknowledged as major factors contributing to academic failures. Furthermore, fiscal corruption and cronyism, which are too often realities in our cities, result in wasted resources.
First, this paragraph sounds like so many westerners who came to teach in Korea yet had no idea what teaching and overseeing a school was all about. They thought there were things wrong but their complaints boiled down to ‘you are not doing it my way thus the Koreans were wrong’. In other words, education is being turned into a subjective argument without any real objective standard to follow. Some complaints are basically disagreeing with the decisions made by those in charge.
Second, unless you have run a school or academic institution it is unwise to state that administrative costs are superfluous or a waste. If you have no idea of the overhead that takes place in a school then you should not speak. I had often told whining westerners to start their own school, raise their own funds, recruit their own students, pay their own bills, and so on. Not one ever did. Some people do not want to do things right or better than others, they just want to complain and force their views upon others.
Third, while some schools may have wasteful administrative costs, that designation is also a depends because schools also have to motivate their teachers, treat them well and that takes money. Every year, Korean schools, for the most part, take their teachers on a two-day get-a-way twice a year at the end of each semester. it is a wonderful way to relax, recharge and face the challenges that are going to come in the days after the get-a-way is finished.To some that may be a waste of money or a superfluous administrative cost but to the Koreans it is money well spent as it helps the students to have teachers who are treated in the proper manner.
Fourth, yes there are some incompetent teachers, that is a given and many years ago ABC’s 20/20 did an expose on the rubber rooms of New York City housing a number of those incompetent teachers who were and are protected by unions. BUT let’s not generalize and punish all teachers for the sins of a few. In Korea all westerners were given new restrictions, even though they had done nothing wrong, simply because a few others decided to break the rules. If you want to call incompetent teachers to account then one needs to be fair, just and make sure they have the offending teachers and not punish innocent ones.
Nothing hurts a school more than a zero tolerance policy, whether it is applied to students or teachers.
Fifth, let’s call corruption and cronyism what it is–sin. With the correct label then we can deal with it more effectively and more honestly. But as we do that we need to make sure corruption and cronyism takes place and is not just a subjective accusation because one person doe snot like how the money was spent.
What this writer makes of the Red Letter Christian movement is that it is filled with people who do not understand scripture nor how to apply it correctly. They are also people who do not like how schools are run but would rather force their ways upon others instead of setting the correct example and setting up their own schools and do education correctly. The best way to influence others is to show that you actually have the better way to go.
This writer feels that Red Letter Christians do not understand what really takes place and makes giant leaps to conclusions without proper and honest investigation into the matters they want addressed. Finally, Red Letter Christians are not the solution to the problems faced by the world but part of the problem as they act in unscriptural and unspiritual ways undermining any impact for Christ they think they have and bring disrepute upon the church as a whole. Unbelievers do not separate the offenders from the good believers, they lump them all together and make their judgments.
We need to practice scripture correctly, properly applying its message to our lives and behavior towards others remembering that a lot of people have not chosen to follow God’s way which is their God-given right to do. They do not have to follow God’s way because God has allowed them the option to choose which path they will go. We set the example not force our ways upon others and part of that example is doing things God’s way correctly and with the correct leading of the Spirit.