A Christian Guide to Acts by R. David Pogge

Appendix E

Cotton Candy Christianity

Here are two typical Christian daily devotions I downloaded from the Internet. I won’t tell you who wrote them because I don’t mean to criticize this person or his liberal denomination. These devotions aren’t unique to him, so I’m not picking on him. I could have walked into a Christian book store, picked a daily devotional book off the shelf, opened it to a page at random, and would have found practically identical examples. It is the message, not the author, I am criticizing.

Section E.1 - The Gospel According to Bill & Ted and John

Scripture meditation for Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Job 6:14 “Those who withhold kindness from a friend forsake the fear of the Almighty.”

It wasn’t kindness that the sorely afflicted Job was looking for from his friends. It was the full and unquestioning support of true friends. He wanted them to say that they knew what a completely good man he was, express their bewilderment over his sudden, severe misfortunes, which they were sure he did not deserve, and commiserate with him.

Instead, they said that he had to have done something seriously sinful, which had brought on the devastating losses and terrible pain he was suffering. They were stridently insistent that he was not being honest with himself or them in denying it. They were positive that God knew the truth of how Job had sinned.

Jesus said plainly that the two great commandments are to love God and to love others, without exception. Genuine, close friendship is a very special form of love. It hurts, badly, if a close friend lets you down. In Job’s eyes, while his friends may have been sincere, they flunked the test of friendship. It’s a lesson to remember.

Fundamentally, the message is no different from the tag-line repeated so often in the movie, Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure: “Be excellent to each other, dudes!” [air-guitar sound effect “dee-dl dee-dl dee-dl dee-dl”]

Devotionals like these are simply secular humanism disguised as Christianity. There is nothing in these devotionals that an atheist would find objectionable. Nobody objects to love, kindness, and generosity.

Since I know the author, I know he believes all the commandments have been annulled, except “to love God and to love others.” Not only that, he completely missed the primary lesson of the Book of Job because he is looking for verses to twist to support the Gospel of John (the Beatle—not the apostle. “All you need is love! Da-ta-da-ta-da.”).

You can tell this author thinks the Book of Job is all about love. In the devotional above, and the devotional below, both of which are supposedly based on the Book of Job, he used the word “love” a total of four times in six paragraphs.

Is the Book of Job really about love? Take a guess as to how many times the word “love” appears in the 42 chapters of Job. You don’t really have to guess because I’ll tell you. Just three times. Here they are:

For the company of the godless will be barren, and fire will consume the tents of those who love bribes. [Job 15:34]

This verse is about the reality that God punishes sin—it is not about God’s love trumping justice.

All my intimate friends detest me; those I love have turned against me. [Job 19:19]

The friends he loves don’t really detest him. They are just mistaken because God is doing something contrary to His normal character to teach Satan (and us) a lesson.

He brings the clouds to punish people, or to water his earth and show his love. [Job 37:13]

Here’s another judgment verse. Some people God punishes, some He blesses.

The Book of Job is about faithfulness—not love; but Cotton Candy Christians find love everywhere, whether it is there or not.

Section E.2 - We Are Losers

Here’s another example from the same author, the previous day.

Scripture meditation for Monday, August 27, 2018

Job 5:7 ...but human beings are born to trouble just as sparks fly upward.

I think the New Jerusalem Bible’s translation says this better: “It is people who breed trouble for themselves as surely as eagles fly to the height.” Either way, life is not trouble-free, and we bring too many of those troubles on ourselves.

All I have to do is look at myself to see how it happens. Faults like anger, impatience, focusing on my needs and wants rather than the needs of others, being judgmental, selfishness, self-indulgence, laziness, and thinking unkind thoughts all add up to not doing things I should do, which brings on various troubles, and doing things I shouldn’t do, which brings on other troubles.

Avoiding these troubles is (mostly) as easy as developing some good habits. When I do my best, with God’s help, to live in love, minute by minute and person by person; when I have a daily spiritual discipline; and when I try to act responsibly and resist temptations, then the troubles I bring on are comparatively few and I know myself richly blessed.

Reading between the lines, the writer is telling you that he fails all the time, so you can take comfort in your failures, too. Everybody fails just like you both do, and Jesus knows that. His inspirational advice is that you should just do your best to muddle along, be who you are, and love yourself. You don’t have to worry about Judgment Day because you aren’t any worse than anybody else. You will be saved by the loving God who doesn’t care if you sin or not.

There’s no victory or power in that counterfeit gospel. It is just booze for the soul, numbing you to reality.

The true Gospel has power. That’s why thousands were converted by the preaching of the apostles. If you read the Bible, learn what God expects from you, and obey His commands, the Holy Spirit will come on you and you will have power to overcome sin.

Section E.3 - The Gospel of Job

I didn’t intend to bring up Job, but since the two devotionals were allegedly based on Job, I must deal with it.

Every devotional written by that writer contains the word “love” at least one time. His mantra is, “God is love,” so he tries to inject love into every Bible text, whether that text has anything to do with love or not. An unbiased reader will see that the main point of the Book of Job isn't about love.

The Book of Job makes the point that God is greater than man, and it is man’s duty to obey God no matter what. It also pulls back the curtain on the cosmic struggle between Christ and Satan, helping us to understand that we humans are caught in the crossfire.

The Gospel found in the Book of Job is exactly the same Gospel as found in the Book of Acts. If you read the 31 Sermons in the Book of Acts you must have noticed that they all address the same three issues: creation, judgment, and the Messiah. The Book of Job does, too.

1-Creation: In Job 38 through 41 the Lord asks Job question after question about creation, and Job can’t answer a single one of them. Creation testifies to the greatness of God, and man’s inability to understand the mysteries of life.

2-Judgment: In practically all of the rest of the book, Job and his friends repeat over and over the undeniable fact that God punishes sin. As true as that is, what they all fail to realize is that not all punishment comes from God. We have an advantage over Job and his friends because were are told about Satan’s part in Job’s sufferings.

Peter could have explained it to Job and his friends.

Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name. For it is time for judgment to begin with God’s household; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God? And,

“If it is hard for the righteous to be saved,
   what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?” 1

So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good. [2 Peter 4:12-19]

3-Messiah: Job knew about the Messiah, too.

I know that my redeemer lives,
   and that in the end he will stand on the earth.
And after my skin has been destroyed,
   yet in my flesh I will see God;
I myself will see him
   with my own eyes—I, and not another.
   How my heart yearns within me! [Job 19:25-27]

Of course, Job didn’t know Jesus is the Messiah; but he did know the Messiah would come and resurrect the dead. That’s the message that the apostles preached, too.

Back to Appendix D Table of Contents On to Acknowledgements

Footnotes:

1 Proverbs 11:31 (see Septuagint)