2 Samuel 16:9,11 - "Why should this dead dog curse my lord the king? Let me go over, I pray thee, and take off his head...let him alone, and let him curse; for the Lord hath bidden him."

Matthew 7:15 - “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.

Matthew 24:11 - “…and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people.”

Monday, August 31, 2015

The Pompous Ass Speaks

KJV Numbers 22:30: And the ass said unto Balaam, Am not I thine ass, upon which thou hast ridden ever since I was thine unto this day? was I ever wont to do so unto thee? and he said, Nay.

The Message: Numbers 22:30 The donkey said to Balaam, “Am I not your trusty donkey on whom you’ve ridden for years right up until now? Have I ever done anything like this to you before? Have I?”  He said, “No.”

What a pompous ass!  Balaam was God's man. And look at the tone and questioning of God's man by a lowly ass. Who does this ass think he is? Balaam doesn't have to answer to an ass, amen! And why does the ass ask him questions instead of just respectfully saying in a hushed, whispering voice of admiration "Doctor pastor, man of God, I'm your trusty ass you've ridden for years and I've never done anything like this to you before." Why ask a series of questions except to be disrespectful?  Or maybe he is familiar with, and prefers, the Socratic method of teaching. (Socrates lived from 470 - 399 BCE, which is the same time frame this story was written, so it's possible.) And that second question: "Have I?"  I can almost picture this donkey jerking the glasses from his face and stomping while asking the second time after a dramatic pause: "WELL, HAVE I?"  To me, there is no doubt this talking donkey was indeed a pompous ass, literally.

Of course, the donkey had more to say earlier in the sacred text: Verse 28 states:  Then God gave speech to the donkey. She said to Balaam: “What have I ever done to you that you have beat me these three times?” 29 Balaam said, “Because you’ve been playing games with me! If I had a sword I would have killed you by now.”  Even donkeys know you don't "play games" with God's man or you could be killed.  What arrogance by Balaam. What anger.  What disrespect for the faithful donkey.  "I would have killed you by now."  It looks like there are TWO pompous asses in this story.

Wilford Brimley plays a pompous ass in The China Syndrome
Talking donkeys is not a revolutionary miracle occuring only in the Pentateuch.  Aesop's Fables include many tales of talking animals.  These fables were used to teach wisdom and not to be taken literally.  The Fox and the Grapes. The Boy Who Cried Wolf.  The Tortoise and the Hare. All great childhood stories that teach us wisdom for life, but that never happened.  Aesop lived between the years 620 and 560 BCE (years before Christ).  The majority of Biblical scholars believe the Pentateuch was written between 600 and 400 BCE. Uh oh.

"... like those who dine well off the plainest dishes, he (Aesop) made use of humble incidents to teach great truths, and after serving up a story he adds to it the advice to do a thing or not to do it. Then, too, he was really more attached to truth than the poets are; for the latter do violence to their own stories in order to make them probable; but he by announcing a story which everyone knows not to be truetold the truth by the very fact that he did not claim to be relating real events."
PhilostratusLife of Apollonius of Tyana, Book V:14

Might this story have been just a fable used by God to make some good points?  Who really cares, right? Unfortunately, many modern day fundamentalists care deeply.  So deeply in fact, that if you don't believe this story, you cannot trust in Jesus Christ for salvation.  Why?  Because the same book that tells of Christ, also tells us of this talking donkey. They say you can't pick and choose. They say if you find parts that are not true, then you can't trust the rest of it either.  They will say, why do you trust and believe in John 3:15, but not in Numbers 22:30. So they paint themselves, and their faith, into a corner and force otherwise good Christian people to decide: "Do I believe in talking donkeys or not?  No. So I guess there is no salvation for me.  I'm done with religion."

But before you simply say this is a waste of time, who cares about whether the donkey talked or not, you need to see also 2 Peter 2:15 and 16 which says:  "Forsaking the right way, they have gone astray. They have followed the way of Balaam, the son of Beor, who loved gain from wrongdoing, 16 but was rebuked for his own transgression; a speechless donkey spoke with human voice and restrained the prophet’s madness." So there you have it. It's not just an Old Testament story. Peter says it happened. You can't ignore his teachings.

So am I "attacking" the Holy Bible?  Not at all. I'm just pointing out that religious fanatics who demand that other believers have to agree with their narrow doctrines and theological views are hurting the cause of Christ and in many cases, are hurting their own families and their own ministries. I'll say it again.  It is NOT necessary or essential to believe all the Bible in order to believe its overall message of redemption through Christ.  You don't have to believe all of it or none of it. It does not have to be perfect and inerrant.  We know that it is not.  So that type of insistence on these matters of "religion" will drive more and more people away.  And more importantly, it makes those people sitting in the pews open to any kind of manipulation and exploitation. And it causes division amongst the brethren and amongst families, and in marriages and in relationships.

Thankfully, most Christians don't really believe this nonsense anyway.  Love Jesus. Learn from Him. You can learn alot from his life and ministry that will help you in your life, career and family. Serve Him. Tell others about Him. Love. Laugh. And leave the talking donkeys and the tower of Babel to the seminarians and theologians to get all tore up about. Don't turn your back on Christ because of a corrupt church and angry fanatical Christians. The church can't save you. Religion can't save you. The Bible can't save you.  Only Jesus.


WishIhadknown said...

I remember hearing a sermon from a rather well known pastor where he pointed out that the "ass was smarter than the man of God." His exact words not mine.

Anonymous said...

For all of your talk about "pompous Asses" you seem to come across as one yourself.

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

Is it my stomping that does it? Or maybe when I snatch the glasses off my face and stare at my keyboard with an awkward pause? Or is it when I complain about how tough this blogging is? Or is it my constant, relentless, year after grueling year trips to the "holy land" or world cruises? Or when I ask for millions of dollars? I will try to cut back on those things so as not to come across as pompous. Otherwise, I may have readers leave by the thousands and have to remodel the blog to make it smaller so it looks fuller. No one likes a pompous ass blogger.

Anonymous said...

Redneck Bubba says:

"The Pompous Ass Speaks"...accurate title and description of this blog and it's writer.

Anonymous said...

This is reminiscent of the KJV-onlyists.

KJV or question your salvation. And not just KJV, but KJV from THIS region and from THAT publisher only.

Maybe this is why Jesus spoke against religion?

bobfelton said...

It's just as H.L. Mencken once said: Nobody ever went broke by underestimating the intelligence of the American public.

Anonymous said...

Anon - You are exactly right. I remember when I was working with the college students from my church with another couple and one day, after I had led a college Bible study in my home, the man told me privately with sincerity and love that the Bible I had in my hand was not "God's word" because I was using the New International Version. (he was using the King James Version) This was over 20 years ago. I never forgot that day. Looking back, I believe that was the first crack in my dogmatic views of the inerrancy of scripture. I would never again be so dogmatic or fanatical about which version someone used, or whether there was one version that was inerranct or infallible. I knew that if the students knew about such nonsense, it would weaken and harm their faith. I didn't like it then, and I don't like it now.

Anonymous said...

Sorry " Redneck Bubba" you lost me at your name. I am from that part of the South. I know plenty " Redneck Bubba's" both in and out of the pulpit.

Maybe if you had another name, you might be taken a little more serious.

Ripberger said...

At my Christian college, we looked at the Bible with the view of "What are the writers trying to get at?" The Old Testament, and even New Testament, have a lot of allegories not intended to be literally interpreted. If we went back in time to the original Biblical authors and said "You know that what you wrote can't make literal sense," they would reply, "It never was meant to be literal. It's a story with a moral or multiple morals. You have to find the meaning(s) within the story."

Of course, my moderate, sane Baptist-affiliated college has been denounced by fundamentalists as "unChristian" for not having mandatory church sessions and not teaching the Bible literally. My college's response was and still is "Christian education is meant to open minds, not close them." Education means questioning one's preconceived notions and seeing the world in a different light. You can disagree, but you need to learn how to look and analyze evidence and arguments before making a commitment. Willful ignorance by resting on your metaphorical laurels is neither wise nor prudent... nor Christian.

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

Ripberger - The teachings of your "unChristian" Baptist affiliated college is exactly what led to the Conservative Takeover in the SBC. It split the denomination in half. They made this inerrancy issue "a hill on which to die" and began adding trustees that agreed with them to every seminary board. Then these trustees literally fired every single president of every baptist seminary and replaced them with men who would only hire professors willing to sign an oath that they believed it all and believed in inerrancy. They labeled the rest as liberals and as unChristian. Unfortunately, I was on the wrong side then, and applauded their efforts and wrongly believed the ends justified the means. The "moderates" tried to warn us then, of the dangers of this fundamental takeover, but they too were labeled and forced out of any leadership positions. I trusted leaders like Adrian Rogers and Jerry Vines. Now, leaders like Steve Gaines, and Robert Jeffress and other such stomping arrogant paid clergy, who I see as charlatans and manipulators, have opened my eyes to how brazenly this new brand of church leaders will lie to get sex, power, money and influence. And more importantly, I am shocked that so many pew sitters don't see it.

The Govteach said...

I was at SWBTS in Ft. Worth during the takeover. I never saw more un-Christ like actions occur when I was there.
Christian men thrown out because they taught things such as " the earth might be older than 6000 years old." Or things such as " the priesthood of the believer."

I have a friend, a Baylor grad who is convinced if he after he passes away, and see the leaders of the so-called " Conservative Movement" in the same place as him, then he did not make it to heaven....

Anonymous said...

You do realize that the vast majority of all preachers holding to what you call "fundamentalism" toil away in modest-sized churches and get paid modest salaries, right? So whatever criticisms you may have of fundamentalism, I hope your cynicism doesn't have you thinking that all fundamentalist preachers have some terror motive other than an abiding conviction that they are correct and fulfilling Gods call on their lives.

Anonymous said...

Since the bible does reference many supernatural events in its pages might this event with the donkey be also true? I personally don't know and believing or disbelieving this particular story probably makes no difference anyway.

Anonymous said...

"I'm just pointing out that religious fanatics who demand that other believers have to agree with their narrow doctrines and theological views are hurting the cause of Christ"

Seems like you are trying pretty hard to convince people to agree with your views.
How is that different?

Anonymous said...

Dear Govteach - I can remember when "priesthood of the believer" and "autonomy of the local church" were championed by the SBC...wow. Now I'm part of a Methodist congregation that lifts high the name of Jesus, and this continual airing of grievances has no part in worship.


My observation has been, the fewer questions a person asks along faith's journey, the more threatened he or she is by those who dare to ask them.

How big is God anyway? Is He big enough to handle our questions, doubts, & frustrations we well as our honor, praise, and faith? I believe it's possible to communicate all of those sentiments to God, even simultaneously.

Hint: He knows everything in our hearts anyway, whether hidden or spoken. And loves us unconditionally!

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

anon Augusts 31 at 4:02 pm - Yes, I understand that. I'm sure many lay people hold to their beliefs with good motives also. I have no problem with that. My posts focus on charlatans (who can also be toiling away in modest sized churches) and fundamantalists fanatics who put their own beliefs and dogma ahead of the gospel. People who would put those things ahead of their spouse or children, for example. I realize this only applies to a very, very small percentage of people. Thankfully.

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

August 31, 2015 at 4:21 PM - Yes, it could be true. But those that insist I believe it or else I can't be a Christian, are the ones I have issue with. I agree, it shouldn't make any difference.

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

August 31, 2015 at 5:02 PM - Good question. I would never claim that if you disagree with my views you are not a Christian. Or that you have to throw the whole Bible out if you disagree with my views. That is how it is different. And I'm not trying to convince anyone to agree with me. I am hoping that people that take their religion too seriously will stop hurting the cause of Christ over these types of things and that they will find peace.

Anonymous said...

The talking donkey is really quite a minor supernatural occurrence related in the Bible. Let's face it. If you start with the premise that the supernatural is not possible, then it's not possible to be a Christian. A donkey talking is no more supernatural than a dead man's being brought back to life. I realize that there are reasons for believing the latter that may or may not exist for the former, but if you believe in the resurrection of Jesus, I don't think you can disbelieve anything else in the Bible solely because it's supernatural.

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

I believe in the resurrection of Jesus. I don't believe the donkey talked.

bobfelton said...

FBCJax: "People who would put those things ahead of their spouse or children, for example. I realize this only applies to a very, very small percentage of people. Thankfully."

Jeremy Bentham: "The principle of asceticism never was, nor ever can be, consistently pursued by any living creature. Let but one tenth part of the inhabitants of the earth pursue it consistently, and in a day's time they will have turned it into a Hell."


Ramesh said...

Actually this is a perfect parable to the current authoritarian strain of pastor and pew sitter interactions.

The pew sitter is the donkey. He/She has been indoctrinated since childhood to never ask questions of their teachers. That way life is very cushy for the teachers to speak whatever to control their dumb pupils.

Then God intervenes. Yes the pesky God who causes problems for status quo to make life difficult for the ones who are riding the pew sitters.

And God gives speech to pew sitters.

Now remember speech primary purpose is NOT for communication but for THOUGHT.

And the pew sitter rebels from following the goading of the pastor riding him/her.

After some more beatings as in beatings will continue till morale improves ... the pew sitter finally speaks ... asking questions ... searing ones.

Of course the pastor who is riding the pew sitter is immune to questions that trouble conscience. For conscience is missing in the pastor. For logically if it was present in the pastor he would not be riding the pew sitter.

So who is the ass here?

And who is the pompous ass here?

BTW I am not really concerned about God giving speech/thought to a donkey for he gave a genetic mutation for ONE human about 50 to 100 thousand years that created Universal Grammar of the genetic component that allowed that ONE human for the first time to THINK. Later on as these got passed on to more humans then came the need for speech.

So the real miracle is not the donkey speaking but the human to think and speak.

As per this parable the pew sitter can finally speak. And over throw the pompous ass sitting and riding him or her in the new testament for we ALL are equal.

No one to ride on each other and use the whip.

No need.

Christ made sure this is not be.

Ramesh said...

A historical placement of the conservative resurgence in 1979 of the US and Latin America is always missing in discussions.

1. Southern Democrats mass migration to Republican party in opposition to Jimmy Carter.

2. Brutal suppression of liberation theology in Latin America with active involvement of US and also knee jerk opposition in US.

3. Gospel preaching and its efficacy neutered in US due to questions of indoctrinated people and its ties to Communism and Socialism.

So in this context dissent in churches is tolerated to some extent. But once you go down the rabbit path of hard questions, the forces in power will come down hard. This is part of the DNA of power and class struggle in US.

So my reading of conservative resurgence is part of business class asserting its dominance in local and Latin American politics and religion.

Pedagogy of the Oppressed

Anonymous said...

I really couldn't care less what a sociopathic narcissistic atheist like Jeremy Bentham had to say (he actually willed that his corpse be kept unburied so that future generations could be inspired by it). Like so many other secularists he assumed that humans in general were as warped in their thinking as he himself was. What I do care about is when Paul says that "I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that after I have preached I myself will not be disqualified."

bobfelton said...

Anon 3:21 -- Paul, as you doubtless know, came to a very bad end because he was precisely the sort of insufferable prig FBCJax, and Bentham, were alluding to. But Thanks! for arguing my case.

Anonymous said...

Anon, at 3:21, Bentham might be narcissistic atheist, but he was right on the nose about the 10%.

Anonymous said...

Tom, do you agree with what Mr Felton says here? Do you think the apostle Paul was "an insufferable prig"?

By the way Mr Felton, we actually don't know for sure how Paul died. But we do know that he considered death for the cause of Christ to be gain. He expressly wrote that. He also made it clear in his writings that he actually longed for data so that he could be with Jesus.So not sure how you conclude that he came to "a very bad end."

Ramesh said...

This is a very well written article rich with varying themes. Also ripe for commenting with both opposing and supporting arguments. If nothing else this article stretches your mind to question ... what you know ... what you are being taught ... what you think you are but not are ... To some it looks silly all this questioning but on reflection is profound.

BTW did you know THE major scientific revolution ... The Galilean revolution took place in being allowed to be puzzled about simple things as to why they are that way. As in when holding a cup of hot liquid, when you drop it why it falls down and why steam rises. For more than thousand years the natural explanation sufficed that both the cup and steam are seeking their natural places. Until Galileo allowed himself to be puzzled by it. From this came the entire scientific progress we are surrounded by and immersed in.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting this. Not sure if I agree with you completely, my friend, but you have certainly given me food for thought. I've been in ministry for 30 years, about 25 of those as a pastor, and had I shared some of these things you said, I'd have been run out of town on a rail. I am a college and seminary graduate and I have pondered and studied many of these passages in the Bible. I do believe the Bible is God's Word, but I sometimes question whether or not the Lord ever intended us to take such passages as Balaam's donkey literally. Like you, I am certain I have salvation in Jesus Christ regardless of whether or not I believe the dumb-ass literally spoke.
One more thing, brother; please tell me Steve Gaines isn't really seeking donations for a vacation fund. Sheesh, I guess making half a million or so a year would not be anywhere near enough for a little getaway. In all my years as a small church pastor, I have never made more than 27,000 or so a year. A few years ago I went bi-vocational to make ends meet, and the Lord has always provided. And yet, I've had people in the church accuse me of making too much money with the added funds from my part-time job. I recently decided to step out of the pastorate and work full time. I'll make even less money, but I can't take the pressure anymore of being a pastor. I still believe, I still have faith, and I hope to still preach as the Lord leads. Paul was a tent maker who paid his own way, right?
Thanks for letting me vent, and I do enjoy your blog. The mega-church, rock-star pastor mentality is making me sick.

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

Kelly, thanks for sharing. I believe millions of Christians feel the same way as you and I. But the megas and fundies keep the pressure on any dissenters, telling them they are not Christians. That they are persecuting God. We Christians need to stand up to these extremists. This blog attempts to do that.