Shutting Up Jesus – The Ugly Verses
Shutting up Jesus – the ugly verses: Some of the things some of the Mosaïek Kerk fraternity say are thoroughly teachable wisdoms. If only some of them would listen carefully to these wisdoms, they might learn something profoundly biblical from their own mystical brothers armed in shiny contemplative armour. Sadly, they do not listen to one another and miss a great opportunity to grow in grace and sound doctrine. Allow me to give you an example.
Stephan Joubert of Echurch fame, who regularly preaches at the Mosaïek Kerk, recently wrote an article on his site which he calls, “So, you say you stand on the Bible . . ”The following passage from his article immediately caught my attention.
The Bible is our anchor. It is the Book we stand on. But I have noticed that precious few people know what really stands in the Bible. Even I went through years of catechism in the church without ever studying an entire Bible Book. Yes, I knew all their names but that was just about all I knew. For me, the Bible was somewhat like the “Groot Verseboek.”
That said, my aunt had a small box with Bible verses next to her bed. When we visited her, each one of us had to draw a verse for the day from the little box. It was always only the beautiful Bible verses. It was the promises God was still going to do for us. Yet, I never learned to read the Word properly. I was also never taught to deal with it myself responsibly.
Or, as some people say, they got scripture, but then they mean some or other promise or beautiful sounding verse that suits their own needs.
A quick reading between the lines, reveals that Stephan Joubert encourages people not to focus primarily on the beautiful verses in Scripture, but also to dig deeply into the verses that do not always make us feel whoopee with wild revelry. We may even call them the “ugly verses” or the “not so beautiful verses” of the Bible.
In a sermon Trevor Hudson delivered at Mosaïek Kerk on 13th September, “Relationship Sayings – Ask the Second Question” or “The Power of the Second Question” as Jacques Bornmann referred to it, Trevor very skillfully distinguished between “beautiful questions” and “ugly questions” to explain how questions can either enhance or disturb relationships.
He shared with the Mosaïek Kerk’s congregation and the many friends from all over the world Luke 24:13-19a, where Jesus asked the Emmaus goers two questions, “What are you talking about to each other, as you walk along?” and “What things?” in response to Cleopas’ question, “Are you the only visitor in Jerusalem who doesn’t know the things that have been happening there these last few days?” Listen carefully to what Trevor said.
I want to begin today as I so often do with an invitation. I want to extend this invitation to each one of you wherever you are, wherever you’re sitting, wherever you’re watching, and I want to extend that invitation to myself as well. It’s an invitation that is present throughout the bible.
It’s an invitation that comes to us directly from the gospel life of Jesus. it’s an invitation that we somehow often neglect and overlook and yet it’s an invitation, if we were to really receive it and respond to it, could transform our relationships profoundly, our relationship with God as well as our relationships with each other, and the invitation that I want to extend to you is the invitation to discover the power of a question.
A leprous vagabond
Indeed, the right questions can have an enormous effect on people. It can either draw people amorously to you or it can repulse them even to the extent that they begin to see and experience you as a leprous vagabond not fit to be a part of any society. I experienced something similar when I wrote a comment in the form of a question in the chat section of Hudson’s live stream, minutes before he began his sermon. I asked, “Has Trevor Hudson ever preached a sermon on Jesus’ words in Matthew 10?
“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the world. No, I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. I came to set sons against their fathers, daughters against their mothers, daughters-in-law against their mothers-in-law; your worst enemies will be the members of your own family. Those who love their father or mother more than me are not fit to be my disciples; those who love their son or daughter more than me are not fit to be my disciples.” (Matthew 10:34-37).
Jesus’ words do not sit well with Mosaïek’s relational sermons. Wow! That promptly threw the cat among the pigeons. I had scarcely typed the last period when someone removed my comment. The same happened when I asked my second question which is supposed to have more power than the first, according to Jacques Bornmann. I asked, “Why was my first question ignored and deleted?”
If Trevor Hudson and his compatriots at the Mosaïek Kerk were to have taken Stephan Joubert’s exhortation seriously, that we should not only read the beautiful verses in Scripture, they would not have hypocritically removed my comment. They would have left it in their chat box for everyone to see. But this is precisely the point; they don’t want people to know the truth; they don’t want them to read the “ugly questions,” as Trevor called them.
Paul wrote, “God’s anger is revealed from heaven against all the sin and evil of the people whose evil ways prevent the truth from being known.” (Romans 1:18). This is what I call, “SHUTTING UP JESUS,” or “COME ON, JESUS, YOU KNOW WE ONLY WANT TO HEAR BEAUTIFUL QUESTIONS AND VERSES. STOP MAKING US FEEL UNCOMFORTABLE. SHEATHE YOUR SWORD. THAT’S AN ORDER.”
Now, back to Trevor and what he said about the power of a question.
Will you notice that the question that Jesus asks, is a beautiful question. You know we get different kinds of questions. On the one hand we get ugly questions and I’m sure you know what I’m talking about. Ugly questions interrogate us; ugly questions put us on the spot; ugly questions invade our privacy; ugly questions seek to trap us; ugly questions close down conversations but on the other hand beautiful questions open up conversations.
Beautiful questions invite us to think about things that we’ve never thought about before. Beautiful questions suggest possibilities they bring hope and colour and depth into our life. Beautiful questions can often be a means of grace in our lives. I think as we follow Jesus one of the things, we really can begin to learn is how just to ask beautiful questions of each other.
I’ve just finished reading an interesting book it’s by a guy named Chris Skellett and it’s called, in fact, The Power of the Second Question, and at the beginning of the book he describes an encounter with his childhood doctor whom he hasn’t seen for over 25 years and it was this encounter that gave rise to this book that he wrote on the power of the second question.
He tells of how he bumps into the doctor and the doctor asks him and this is the doctor’s first question, “What have you been doing these past 25 years?” and Chris answers and he says, I’ve been working as a clinical psychologist and then the doctor asked him a second question and the second question was, “And what have you learned about people over these 20 – 25 years?”
And Chris said, “You know I’ve, I’d never been asked that question before. I never even thought about it was a question that invited me to think about things that I had never thought about. It caused me to reflect and eventually to write the book that I wrote that’s the power of the second question.
I once asked Stephan Joubert some incredibly beautiful questions which he flatly ignored and immediately shut down the conversation. During a break away session of a contemplative conference held on 14 and 15 September 2010 at the Mosaiek Church in Fairland, Johannesburg, Stephan Joubert openly took sides with Theo Geyser who complacently said that mysticism is much older than Christianity.
To substantiate his statement Theo Geyser quoted Karl Rahner who said: “The Christian of the future will be a mystic or he will not exist at all,” which, of course, undermines Jesus Christ’s beautiful promise in Matthew 16:18, that He alone is capable of building, caring for, and safely keeping his church, and not every Tom, Dick and Harry who pull mystical little tricks out of a hat, like walking the labyrinth and meditating until the cows come home. I asked Stephan Joubert,
You say, you cannot explain God. May I ask: Is God Holy? (In compliance with the contemplative art of “silence” or “stillness” Stephan remained silent); Is God merciful? (complete silence); Is God righteous? (utter silence); Is God just? (once again, complete silence); Is God loving-kindness? Is God love? (Stephan’s silence reached a climactic crescendo).
I waited a moment for him to answer and then decided to answer my own questions on his behalf. If your answer is “yes” to each of my questions, then you have managed to explain God. These are all attributes He revealed to us throughout the history of mankind. In fact, these few attributes alone contain the magnanimous elements of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. His awesome holiness presents you with an opportunity to tell people that sinful and lost sinners cannot possibly enter into the presence of God because of his awesome holiness and that they need to repent and believe the Gospel.
So, as you may have noticed, beautiful questions do not always boost or encourage conversations. Today’s false teachers know very well how to use the Name of Jesus to introduce their readers and listeners deceptively and cunningly to the doctrines and practices they say are Christian but are not. In short, they begin with Jesus and end up with the teachings of men “because they teach human rules as though they were my laws!” (Matthew 15:9).
Trevor’s sermon is a classic example. He begins with the two beautiful questions Jesus asked the Emmaus goers and then slowly wades through a labyrinth on his little journey to a clinical psychologist named Chris Skellet who wrote a book called, “The Power of the Second Question.”
Chris Skellett, as we’ve heard from Trevor, is a clinical psychologist who for 25 years never knew how to treat the “psuche” (“soul” from whence the word psychology is derived), at least not until he was asked the powerful second question, “And what have you learned about people over these 20 – 25 years?” For Chris, this was the aha moment of his life when he realized that he’d better start learning how to treat people more clinically with his psychology. Had he been an avid reader of God’s Word, he would have known that mortal man cannot know the intricacies and invisible or unseen trappings of man’s soul. Only God can know it. Here’s why.
“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9).
There is nothing that can be hid from God; everything in all creation is exposed and lies open before his eyes. And it is to him that we must all give an account of ourselves. (Hebrews 4:13).
Well, Chris Skellett’s first 25 years as a clinical psychologist is a pundit’s illustration of the truth laid out in Jeremiah. Imagine having to visit a medical doctor who knew nothing about the biological make-up of the human body and practices for twenty-five years and then suddenly experiences the aha moment when someone asks him the powerful second question, “Do you know what you are doing?”
A quarter of a century in human terms is an exceptionally long time, and clinical psychologists and medical doctors can do irretrievable harm to humankind if they miss out on the power of the second question which, in Chris Skellett’s own words, invited him to think about things that he had never thought about before. Psychotherapy has nothing to do with scientifically proven medicinal treatments, although medicine is often used to treat patients. The main modus operandi of psychotherapy is conversation.
DSM – The Bible of psychology
Things never thought of before are constantly being added to DSM, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. The very bulky 5th edition of this Bible of Psychology was published on 18th May 2013. A recent addition “to the American Psychiatric Association’s (APA) Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) included Internet Gaming Disorder as a new potential psychiatric condition that merited further scientific study.
The present research was conducted in response to the APA Substance-Related Disorders Working Group’s research call to estimate the extent to which mischievous responding—a known problematic pattern of participant self-report responding in questionnaires—is relevant to Internet Gaming Disorder research. In line with a registered sampling and analysis plan, findings from two studies (ntot = 11,908) provide clear evidence that mischievous responding is positively associated with the number of Internet Gaming Disorder indicators participants report.” (Przybylski AK. 2016. Mischievous responding in Internet Gaming Disorder research. PeerJ 4:e2401 https://doi.org/10.7717/peerj.2401).
Is it possible that President Trump had been notified about this new addition or has he read this new update in the DSM-5 himself? Following the mass shootings in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio which occurred in less than 24 hours last year, and at least 31 people died and countless more were injured, he said that the Internet and in particular violent video games have provided a dangerous avenue to radicalize disturbed minds and perform demented acts.”
The point is this: Ungodly and sinful behaviour is increasingly blamed on social structures, the system and the collective unconscious (Carl Jung), and not on the individual’s own sinful nature. In fact, sinful individuals are encouraged to acknowledge their innate goodness and to turn inwardly in the quest or journey to find the divine spark or DNA that is supposed to be in everyone. Voila! This opens the door to mysticism with its ungodly practices of contemplative meditation, Lectio Divina, stillness, labyrinth walking, clinical psychology, visualisation, intuitive imagination and dreams. This, as we’ve learnt from Trevor Hudson’s fear and dislike of “ugly questions, amount to the “Shutting up of Jesus.”
Questions, a means of grace?
If questions have the power to inspire people to think anew and “can often be a means of grace in our lives,” as Trevor Hudson said in his sermon, then my questions that I have been asking the Mosaïek Kerk’s leadership throughout the years, must have had some kind of impact on them because I have always been ignored in silent, non-verbal, non-responsive contemplative ways.
If “silence is the first language of God,” as they say, they have been honouring me in godly ways that I never dreamt could be possible. One of my most recent questions was addressed to Dr Johan Ferreira, Director of Psychological and Therapeutic Services at the Wholeness Center of Mosaïek. I asked him via email, “Would you be so kind to inform me whether you use the latest DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) in your counselling sessions at the Wholeness Center of Mosaïek Kerk? I would like to know what your thoughts are on the DSM manual.” Do I need to tell our readers what kind of answer I received? Nothing, zilch, nada, silencio – to this very moment.
Many of Mosaïek Kerk’s sermons are filtered with thoughts of hardship, disillusionment, suffering, disappointment, discouragement, discomfort, pain and loneliness, especially in this time of the global pandemic, COVID-19. Instead of reminding their congregants of the Blessed Hope (Rapture) in Luke 21:28, “And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.” (Luke 21:28), they send their despairing congregants to their Wholeness Centre where clinical psychologists, who themselves are ridden with spiritual deficiencies, preach for them from the DSM Bible of Psychology. Or they send them to walk the labyrinth to allegedly draw nearer to God and his presence. These poor deceived people are being led deeper into and closer to a depth of apostasy from which most will never emerge to a biblical knowledge of salvation.
A labyrinth of hideous deception
Speaking of the labyrinth, it is rather important to disclose from whence Trevor Hudson got his info concerning the number of questions Jesus asked, how many others asked Him and how many He answered. You may recall Trevor saying,
You know, so often we see Jesus as the ultimate answer man and Jesus certainly does have some wonderful, wonderful answers for our lives, but Jesus also comes to us as the great questioner. Did you know that in the gospels Jesus asks 307 questions? On the other hand, Jesus was asked 183 questions and he only answered three of those questions directly. Jesus is the great questioner and when he comes to us he often comes to us with a question and when we engage the questions that Jesus asks us, they bring us into a very deep encounter with ourselves with god and with others.
Without giving him any due credit, Trevor Hudson, took his statistics of 307 questions Jesus asked and the three He answered from a book written by Rev. Martin Copenhaver, “Jesus is the Question: The 307 Questions Jesus asked and the 3 He answered.” Trevor’s indirect reference to Copenhaver underscores the well-known maxim, “Birds of a feather flock together.” Both are avid mystics who love to walk the labyrinth and regularly hold retreats.
The forward to Copenhaven’s book was written by Lauren F Winner in which she exalts the labyrinth to a position only God can own up.
I SERVE A CHURCH IN A SMALL TOWN in Piedmont, North Carolina. The town has a college, and the college has a labyrinth, designed by one of my parishioners. I have known for some years that one of the ways you can pray in a labyrinth is to approach the labyrinth with a question. So if there is something in your life you are trying to discern or decide—if, to borrow from the poet Marie Howe, you are asking yourself, ‘Should I take the job? Move to the city? Should I try to conceive a child in my middle age?” you might hold that question in mind and ask it of yourself and God as you move through the labyrinth.
But, oh, how Jesus’ questions also disarm. Consider just the first question this book investigates: Jesus’ asking his disciples (and then later his arresters, and then later still Mary, at the empty tomb), “What are you looking for? „I find this a disconcerting question—so disconcerting that my tendency is to bat it away rather than really hear it. What am I looking for? I am not really sure.
And so, I took the question to the labyrinth. And there I heard what I would like the answer to be: “l am looking for my true self; I am looking for a genuine encounter with my neighbor; I am looking for God—sometimes I look in my neighbors’ faces for God, sometimes I look on hilltops or sometimes under couch cushions, sometimes I look in the bread and wine.” In the labyrinth, I heard that there is a way in which this is a true answer for me. And then there is a way in which it is only an ideal: if I were the person I would like to be, I would be looking for true encounter with God, neighbor, and self; but in reality I am looking for an intense discussion about eighteenth-century agricultural policy and some good advice about Roth IRAs.
It is now several days after I walked the labyrinth, several days after Jesus’ piercing question about my longing, and I am beginning to rethink the dichotomy between intimacy and between a question’s capacity to draw me closer to Jesus and a question’s capacity to unnerve me. I think I feel a closeness between me and my true self, and a closeness to me and God, being quickened right there in the place that Jesus’ question rankles. Right there in the place where question unsettles, I feel some new intimacy sparked.
Apart from her mocking Jesus’ question “What are you looking for?” and her preference to rather look for “an intense discussion about eighteenth century agricultural policy and some good advice about Roth IRA’s,” she prefers to consult a pagan and occult practice, the infamous labyrinth. She may as well have consulted a medium or the dead which is an abomination in the sight of the Lord (Isaiah 8:19). Moreover, the labyrinth gave her the answer she liked to hear. Notice the order of importance – “l am looking for my true self; I am looking for a genuine encounter with my neighbor; I am looking for God.” For more info on the dangers of the labyrinth, please read the following articles, “Mosaïek Kerk: The Scallop of Pagan Spirituality (The Divine Feminine”) and “Labyrinth.”
This just shows that Mosaïek Kerk’s fraternity cunningly starts off with Jesus and his beautiful questions only to lead their congregants into a maze of deception, deceit, lies and misery. “Shut up, Jesus,” we have found new ways to address our problems – the labyrinth at our Origins Retreat and clinical psychology at our Wholeness Centre.
Mosaïek Kerk’s wicked labyrinth
Trevor Hudson’s dislike of “ugly questions” (or Bible verses) perfectly echoes what Paul wrote about the ear-itching crowds in the last days.
“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.” (2 Timothy 4:3-4).
They will only listen to what they want to hear, the things that gently tickle their ears.
Tickle, tickle, tickle. Here are some beautiful questions.
See all articles on Mosaïek Kerk here
Please read this article on the: 7 colours of the Rainbow and the Labyrinth