A Voice in the Desert Error


There is a movement who goes by the name "A Voice in the Desert" on YouTube.  This movement has some really good aspects to it.  First, it is encouraging people to turn to Jesus as his voice can be found in the four gospel books of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.  It is also encouraging people to obey Jesus, which is really good as well, with one exception.  Unfortunately, they are choosing to emphasize and obey certain teachings of Jesus and de-emphasize, de-prioritize, dismiss or ignore the most important teaching of Jesus - love.

When a person is understanding Jesus' teachings on love, they are very slow to condemn others who are imperfect or who have made mistakes because we should be embracing humility as Jesus also teaches, and thus we can see ourselves more clearly.  This teaching of Jesus also very much presses this point, "Do not judge so that you will not be judged.  For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you.  Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?  Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye?  You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye."

Of course love does not revel in sin or disobedience or wrongness - love flourishes in a context of a person or people trying to live rightly - "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness".  But perhaps the most important aspects of love are compassion and mercy.  As soon as a person elevates obedience over love, they err and will move away from compassion and mercy.  As soon as I start focusing on obedience, especially when I concern my self with OTHERS obedience, I err and err greatly.  This is the fatal flaw with the "A Voice in the Desert" movement, as the letter below will prove.

Those who don't understand love well will point to this quote of Joshua, "If you love me, you will obey me", and they will walk away hearing only "obedience".  But love is not obedience.  Obedience will be a fruit or manifestation of loving (valuing) a person you choose to put in authority over you.  But love is not obedience.  Love is first internal, and is all about valuing someone and having compassion on them and wanting to help them - THAT is love.  That internal attitude of love will then manifest itself in selfless behavior by helping people.  Since love has compassion as its primary motivator, a person acting out of love will NOT condemn people for their sins or mistakes.  Unfortunaly the leader of the Voice in the Desert movement does not undertand these truths, as the communication from that leader below will demonstrate.

Furthermore, the leader of the movement is very slow to state even his first name.  He eventually told me his name was James.  He seems to revel in the mysterious persona that he generates around himself, which of course is calling attention to himself.  The only reasons I could give for someone not sharing their name with someone would be fear or some form of self-pride.  Furthermore, James refused to talk with me but insisted on the inferior communicaion of email.  I have found that people who refuse to talk generally don't have good reasons for doing so.

Below is a correspondence I had with the leader of the Voice in the Desert movement who told me his name was James.  I have changed nothing in the correspondence.  I was having a discussion with James regarding trying to find common ground, and the topic he brought up was marriage and divorce.  The first part is James's response to me (Tim) in a prior correspondence.  The latter or following part lower on the page is my response to James.  James never responded to my last communication below.

I exhort those involved with the Voice in the Desert movement to heed what has been said here, and take appropriate action as the real, historical Joshua of Nazareth gives you guidance.

 

On 9/27/2017 8:47 PM, A Voice in the Desert wrote:


Hi Tim.  Thanks for that well written effort to address our differences.

For what it is worth, it seems that Jesus’ position on a number of sexual issues is a lot less strict than the amount of emphasis that the church in general places on these things today.  So, if I’m going to be open to the possibility that God makes exceptions on what we might assume to be the “Christian” position, that is probably an area worth considering.  For example, gay relationships which involve a commitment for life, in the context of a life which appears to be genuinely seeking to serve God.

But then, when it comes to divorce and remarriage, this DOES seem to be a topic on which Jesus spoke quite clearly.  Where it seems hardest for me is when a second marriage has endured for many years, including children, and in the context of an otherwise devout life.  Is it possible that when the Bible says, “God hates putting away,” that it could also apply to such a marriage?  I’m sure you would say, “Yes, yes!”

But then we have Jesus making no mention of divorce at all when he says that we must all forsake our wives and children for him.  So obviously, he’s deadly serious about this whole matter of wives and children.

Please note that I am trying to stay within the boundaries of our agreed position, which is that we would restrict ourselves to the teachings of Jesus.  I do not understand how you can say that considerations of whether or not a remarried divorcee is committing adultery every time he or she has sex mean nothing, because the sin was only committed in the past (when they got married) and is no longer a sin in the present (each time they have sex).  That does not seem to be how Jesus taught it.  It’s a little like a prostitute saying, “I’ve had this profession all my life, and I started it before I became a Christian, but I think God needs me badly enough to ignore what I’m doing at the moment.”

You ask if we can agree that remarriage “would be wrong” if the divorce cause were the fault of the disciple.  No, I don’t think we have agreement on that.  I think it is one of those things that is fairly easy for someone to see when they have never been divorced, but that it becomes extremely “convoluted” and “difficult to unravel” when someone finds themselves divorced, or interested in someone who has been divorced.

You say, “I don't believe Jesus mentions spouses or marriage in any of his teachings about what it means to be his disciple.”  Wow!  That’s a new one for me.  I did not realise when we agreed that the teachings of Jesus would form the framework for this discussion, that certain teachings of Jesus could be eliminated on an assumption that they do not relate to his disciples.  Like if they don’t relate to his disciples, then who DO they relate to?

I was further startled by your logic that any good thing which a non-believer can do is proof that it is irrelevant to following Jesus.  So what DOES define a follower of Jesus, if not obedience to ALL that he taught?

For myself, I have been working on a rather lengthy video about the one teaching of Jesus that is most difficult to counterfeit, and that is his teaching about working for God instead of working for money.  I know that people can SAY they are working for God, but sooner or later, out of their mouth comes evidence that they ultimately believe that they need money, and that God cannot and/or will not take care of them if they just concentrate on building his kingdom.  So, like I said, if we can rule out every other teaching of Jesus on the basis that others can obey them without claiming to be Christians, then I cannot think of any teaching which is more absent in the lives of EVERYONE who has rejected Jesus than that of working for God instead of working for money.

But hey, that was the next question on my list, and I see what you have done with that.

So is there ANY teaching of Jesus that you cannot find an excuse to disobey?

I guess that what I feared is happening.  Rather than us coming closer together, the differences are turning out to be much more fundamental than either of us would have liked.

So where do we go from here?  I’m still open to being friends, and just waiting on God for some kind of a breakthrough, one way or the other.

In peace and love,

Voice

-------------------------------------------------

On 9/29/2017 11:297 AM, Tim Spiess  wrote:
 
Hi James,

And good day : )

You say, "But then we have Jesus making no mention of divorce at all when he says that we must all forsake our wives and children for him.  So obviously, he’s deadly serious about this whole matter of wives and children."  I do not see how the latter sentence follows from the prior one.  Jesus does not mention many things, but not mentioning something does not make a strong point one way or the other.  I would counter that the primary thing that Jesus is deadly serious about is love.

You say, "I do not understand how you can say that considerations of whether or not a remarried divorcee is committing adultery every time he or she has sex mean nothing..." but that is not my belief, that is your belief.  Here is my belief:

"Some insist that the new marriage must be dissolved because every time the new husband and wife come together sexually, they are committing adultery.  But this is clearly NOT what Jesus says.  Jesus explicitly says the act of adultery is the initial consummating which comprises "the marriage", not sexual unions after that.  Listen again, "...whoever marries a woman who is divorced commits adultery" ("commits adultery", not 'becomes an adulterer').  It is the act of marrying in view here, not primarily the sexual union, although the two are related.  If Jesus intended to say that any man who marries a divorced woman will be in a constant state of sin every time they come together sexually, then he would have said something like, 'and whomever marries a divorced woman will be an adulterer', or, 'whomever marries a divorced woman, that sin cannot be forgiven unless they separate'.  But Jesus does not say that.  In fact, he says elsewhere, "Therefore I say to you, any sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven people..."

You say, "It’s a little like a prostitute saying, “I’ve had this profession all my life, and I started it before I became a Christian, but I think God needs me badly enough to ignore what I’m doing at the moment.”  I say that sex for money is always wrong so trying to make an argument from an always wrong state (e.g. being a prostitute) is error.  Essentially, our difference is that you want to condemn people who made mistakes and break what you consider to be Jesus' teachings on marriage, while I do not.  I think my position best takes into account all of Jesus' teachings and God's nature.  Here is my article on that matter for reference.

What does Jesus mean when he says this, James?

"Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a religious leader and the other a tax collector.  The religious leader stood and was praying this to himself: ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector.  I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get.’  But the tax collector, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, the sinner!’  I tell you, this man went to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.

I would call your attention especially to the 'righteous man' who sees others as "adulterers".

If a person is truly remorseful over bad marriage decisions and is committed to either live alone or in a faithful relationship, is your position that they should not be forgiven?  Then, are you not making divorce or wrongful remarriage unforgivable sins?  And didn't Jesus clearly identify only one sin that was unforgivable and that sin had nothing to do with divorce and remarriage?

When you say, " I think it is one of those things that is fairly easy for someone to see when they have never been divorced, but that it becomes extremely “convoluted” and “difficult to unravel” when someone finds themselves divorced, or interested in someone who has been divorced."; I cannot but take that as a personal attack with you scouring for hypocrisy in others.  That is not an objective principle argument from Joshua's teachings, but rather an accusation of someone's personal sin blinding them, a questionable judgment given this saying:

"Do not judge so that you will not be judged.  For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you.  Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?  Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye?  You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye."

You say, "You say, “I don't believe Jesus mentions spouses or marriage in any of his teachings about what it means to be his disciple.”  Wow!  That’s a new one for me.  I did not realise when we agreed that the teachings of Jesus would form the framework for this discussion, that certain teachings of Jesus could be eliminated on an assumption that they do not relate to his disciples.  Like if they don’t relate to his disciples, then who DO they relate to?"

First, I would say that you managed to convey incredulity with the "wow, that's a new one for me" comment.  It basically conveys, 'this idiot does not understand even basic things'.  It appears to be a comment that you might want to reflect on given this saying of Jesus:

"But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever says to his brother, ‘You good-for-nothing,’ shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell."
 
At best, it is a comment that works real hard against this statement of yours, "And do you think we could still come of it as good friends?" as well as your signing your emails with "peace and love".  Can you see the inconsistency, or perhaps you might have some blind spots as well?  Perhaps self-pride is a greater sin than love for money?

Now, to answer your comments.  "I did not realise when we agreed that the teachings of Jesus would form the framework for this discussion, that certain teachings of Jesus could be eliminated on an assumption that they do not relate to his disciples."  Jesus' teachings have relevance to all people.  Some people can hear them, others cannot; some can hear more, other's hear less.   Ignorance is a factor in determining our guilt.  When Jesus says, "If you were blind, you would have no sin; but since you say, ‘We see,’ your sin remains." or "If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin."; he is saying that knowledge and understanding brings accountability, and the reverse is true as well, ignorance reduces accountability.  My point in the context of remarriage is that people who are ignorant of Jesus' teachings are less accountable for their errors and should be shown more mercy/compassion.  And those who claim to be his disciples, ought to be more accountable.

You say, "I was further startled by your logic that any good thing which a non-believer can do is proof that it is irrelevant to following Jesus.  So what DOES define a follower of Jesus, if not obedience to ALL that he taught?"  You are having trouble understanding my reasoning, but then, you also refuse to talk with me which would essentially eliminate the confusion.  What good reason do you have for not telling people your name or refusing to talk with them?

What I said was that marriage - two people committing to be companions for life - has nothing to do with following Jesus, James.  Are there not many people who are married who are not following Jesus, James?  Does that not prove that marriage and following Jesus are not directly associated?  Stated another way, Jesus' disciples will endeavor to live by Jesus' teachings and if you are married, you will seek to obey his teachings on marriage.  Those who are not disciple's of Jesus don't really care about what he says about marriage.

Next topic.  You say, "But hey, that was the next question on my list, and I see what you have done with that."  I have no idea what you mean by that.  Is that an old article from my old web site, www.jesusfamilies.org?  Or is that comment from my new web site www.thepeacefulrevolution.info ?  Here are the relevant articles regarding Luke 14:33 - http://thepeacefulrevolution.info/forsake-all.html   Believe it or not, James, some people do change and grow.

Here is our fundamental difference, James. You choose to make Luke 14:33 your 'gospel', and you judge everyone as to whether they are doing that the way you think it ought to be done, and you say this to those who you judge are not complying with 'God's commands' - "So is there ANY teaching of Jesus that you cannot find an excuse to disobey?"  I, on the other hand, seek to implement what Jesus clearly identified as the "new command" because I see that love is the one thing that people will not do and that lack of love is the root of all evil.  I try and judge no one regarding how well they are or are not doing with following Jesus until I know them and they ask for help.  You judge quickly, from a distance, comfortable with your litmus test of how people ought to be forsaking all, and comfortable in condemning those who don't meet your litmus test.

I noticed you did not answer any of my questions that challenge your view of forsaking all and what it means.
So, let's get this straight.  You condemn me in the harshest way possible, "So is there ANY teaching of Jesus that you cannot find an excuse to disobey" and then you turn around and say, "I'm still open to being friends".  I am sorry, James, but that shows you have some real problems - a real disconnect - that are common to those who see themselves as some kind of religious leader or "prophet".

I know what those problems are, but I will not offer help unless you ask for it.  For the record, if you have any decent people that you know who are not kowtowed by you, you might want to show them that you say this to someone who is sincerely trying to follow Jesus, "So is there ANY teaching of Jesus that you cannot find an excuse to disobey" and then after you condemn then, you turn around and say, "I'm still open to being friends"; and see what they say about it.

Truly, peace to you and hoping for an opportunity to be able to love you,

Tim

Here are two article that directly address the Voice in the Wilderness movement errors:

Understanding the Forsake All Teaching of Joshua

Love or Zealousness?

 

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