Category Archives: False Teaching

The Brick Bible: Subtly Deceptive

brickbibleThe Brick Bible, which comes in several books (such as The Old Testament, The New Testament, The Brick Bible for Kids: Six Classic Bible Stories, The Christmas Story: The Brick Bible for Kids, as a complete set, etc.) claims to be “an original, modern interpretation of the Bible, based on older public domain translations such as the King James VersionDarby’s Bible, and Young’s Literal Bible.  In addition, modern English Bible translations were used as references, and the author consulted the original Hebrew for certain passages.”  After one reads (views) The Brick Bible, he should come to realize that it is not a Bible at all.

Up front note that the LEGO Group does not sponsor, authorize, or endorse the publication or content of these books.  

The Brick Bible attempts to illustrate the stories of the Bible using LEGO bricks in various dioramas.  The author states on his website “For ease of understanding and avoidance of bpsmith lego bible2copyright issues, The Brick Bible uses its own wording of the Bible’s text.  But chapter and verse numbers are always cited and also act as clickable links to the rendering of the same verses in the King James Version, the New International Version, the New Revised Standard Version, the New Living Translation, and the Easy-to-Read Version.”  The author is simply trying to appear to give a fair rendering of Scripture while using his own wording to create the impressions and emotions of the Biblical text that he wants regardless of whether it is faithful to the original text. 

The Brick Bible does not contain the Bible in its entirety.  Through selective editing, the author creates his own (mis)interpretation of Scripture.  Small, almost imperceptible edits turn a reasonable Biblical story into something suitable for mockery.  For example, brickbiblenoaharkthe author portrays on page 27 of The Brick Bible: The Old Testament an ark crammed with Noah’s family and the animals, which perpetuates the skeptics tactic of debunking the historicity of Noah’s flood by showing how the ark could not possibly have contained all the animals as claimed. 

He portrays Yahweh as a singular being, instead of a Trinity.  See page 20 where Yahweh is depicted as talking to the angels instead of the other members of the Trinity when he said “The man has become like one of us, knowing good and evil….”  The author’s God-caricature is always as an angry, vengeful, human-killing monster.  As an example of this type of portrait, page 29 shows skeletons everywhere when God is brickbiblefallmaking his covenant with Noah.  Instead of emphasizing the promise of a new start, the author subtly reminds us that God (unjustly) killed everyone else in the world.  Every single facial expression of Smith’s chosen LEGO character for God is with furrowed brow and angry eyes.

In going through the Ten Commandments, and the punishments for violations, he depicts the punishments (death) to be carried out at the scene of the “crime” instead of after a trial and the testimony of at least two witnesses.  He creates two misconceptions in the mind of the reader.  First, that the punishments are disproportionate to the wrong, and secondly that the punishments are administered on the spot instead of after careful deliberation based on the evidence.  This strategy is to make God’s justice to be unreasonable, if not immoral.  The author chose to illustrate the more violent passages of the Bible, and failed to provide these passages in context.  The theme of his illustrations is simply God’s wrath. 

Depictions of the events in the New Testament are similarly flawed.  Matthew 27:52-53 describes the opening of graves and many who were dead came back to life after the brickbiblezombiesresurrection of Jesus.  On page 134 of The Brick Bible: The New Testament, the author states “At [the moment of Christ’s death] the tombs broke open and the bodies of many holy people who died were raised to life.”  The author shows zombies leaving the tombs instead of resurrected bodies.  This alone is problematic.  He also misunderstood Scripture because the resurrection of these people occurred after Jesus’ resurrection, and not at his death.  This point is important because Colossians 1:18 and 1 Corinthians 15:20 state that Jesus is the firstborn of the resurrection, not these people who are mentioned in Matthew.  Downplaying the miracles, the author shows the Apostles performing “many signs and wonders” as if they were conducting mere magic tricks.  By doing this, the author turns brickbibleapostlesthese accounts into goofy legends and undermines the evidence of the Apostles’ authority as eyewitnesses to the resurrection.

The use of LEGO toys to depict Bible stories does not allow for a clear understanding of Scripture.  The depictions are often silly, and limited by the “brick” nature of the medium.  The limitations of the medium, combined with the likely nefarious aim of the author, turn the serious nature of the Biblical accounts into silly stories akin to the absurd tales of Norse or Greek mythology.  Through his Brick Bible the author would have us believe that God is hateful and vengeful.  He makes no attempt to portray the real theme of the Bible: redemption.

Though marketed to children, The Brick Bible is not suitable for children with its cartoonish depictions of killing and sex.  The Bible itself with its adult themes, may be unsuitable for children without their parents close supervision.  Parents need to explain the hard passages of the Bible to children, and not just assume kids are going to get the right impressions from descriptions of killings and rapes that are recorded in Scripture.

The content of this “Bible” is not accurate or theologically sound.  But now I want to discuss the author.  His name is, Brendan Powell Smith, or at least that is what his

bpsmith trans

Brendan P. Smith, a.k.a. Elbe Spurling

name was until he legally changed it to Elbe Spurling after he announced that he is a “transgendered lesbian atheist.”  What he has told us is that he is a man who likes women, and that he doesn’t believe in God.  So, he is in denial about his gender, in denial about his sexual preference, and is in denial about his creator.  Such a person is not in a good position to offer spiritual guidance to our children.  Yet, some parents still think giving his books as gifts to children is a good idea.  After reading some customer reviews on Amazon, clearly some parents have no discretion.  Here are some examples:

Someone whose screen name is 250xGirl stated “Bought for my step son who is autistic and here (sic) loves Legos. This is perfect for him to relate to the Bible.”  Another customer identified as Janyre said “My little guy (who’s 8) LOVES this. Not only is it super creative, but the stories are quite accurate too. I’d recommend it to any other boy mom out there.” “Sombrero” exclaimed “My Kids (5 and 3) will not go a day without reading this bible. What can I say to the author besides THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU for such a wonderful work of art that gets my kids to read their bible daily!!! Its beyond imagination how amazing this work is. God bless.”

Another Amazon customer gave the product five stars, stating “This was a huge hit as a gift as a confirmation gift.”  Confirmation of what?  That parents who do not read the actual Bible really have no discernment when choosing illustrated Bibles for their children?  The Brick Bible is not a gift to give to children for their spiritual growth.  Parents who give these books to their children are giving them a completely wrong understanding of God.

On his website Brendan Smith, a.k.a. Elbe Spurling, uses the imagery of his LEGO photos to misinterpret Scripture and cast the Word of God in a bad light.  For example, in brickbiblenazi1interpreting the source for governmental authority, Smith insists Romans 13:1 (“Everyone must submit to governing authorities, for those in positions of authority have been placed there by God”) required unquestioned devotion to Hitler and his Nazi government, and that the American War for Independence was also rebellion against God.  Smith also plays fast and loose with enemies, slavery, women, marriage, wealth, wisdom, those who will never inherit the Kingdom of God, justice, and the Jews.  He simply parrots how atheists characterize what Scripture says about these issues without bothering to understand context or nuance.

In his desultory, disconnected spirituality, Smith has drafted up something called “The New Morality: Living on the Right Side of History.”  He condensed this “new morality” into 10 “New Commandments” which are more like guidelines than commands.  These new guidelines, however, are a mishmash of some of the “Old Commandments” and some brickbibleguidelinesprogressive platitudes, like do not alter the environment, and minimize the suffering of “sentient animals” which presumably means we should protect the animals, but not babies in utero.  But, I will discuss this “New Morality” in another article.

Brendan Powell Smith is a troubled man.  That he is an atheist should lead us to question his motives for illustrating the Bible.  That he is mentally disturbed by his pretending to be a woman also raises concerns of whether we can trust his perceptions of Scripture.  Do not mistake my review of these books to be a call for burning them.  I believe God has given us liberty, even liberty to choose what is wrong.  Though, with wrong choices certainly comes consequences.  I also believe that truth will prevail in the ultimate sense over lies like those promoted in The Brick Bible.  But, until truth triumphs, lies may deceive many into forgoing eternal life offered to us by Jesus.

Also, do not think by my evaluating the author that I do not care about him.  We should pray for him.  He is deeply disturbed.  Atheism is currently being studied either as a cause of mental illness, or a mental illness itself.  His transgenderism is also a mental illness.  I am not saying this to insult him.  As a man created in the image of God, he is of inestimable worth.  But, we still need to be discerning in what we allow our children to consume.  Like the lie the serpent told Eve in the Garden of Eden, The Brick Bible is subtly deceptive.  It pretends to be a fair rendering of Scripture, but it paints a distorted portrait of who God is.  We should not let Brendan Smith’s fun, and somewhat funny, misinterpretation of the Bible put another brick in the wall that separates our children from God.

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Are You a Cretin or a Cretan?

Epimenides1
Hint: Don’t be either.

To call someone a “cretin” is to insult him as a person who is stupid, obtuse, or mentally defective.  Even the world’s most famous composer was insulted by his employer with the epithet.  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart wrote to his father in May 1781 about a conversation he had where the Archbishop of Salzburg.  During a heated

Mozart1

Mozart is sacked by the Archbishop and kicked in the backside by Count Arco.

exchange while in Vienna, the Archbishop had called him a “cretin” because Mozart had not made plans to return to Salzburg as ordered and was unable to deliver a package in Salzburg for the Archbishop.  This insult likely derived from the medical condition called cretinism.  This medical condition is a congenital disease due to absence or deficiency of normal thyroid secretion, characterized by physical deformity, dwarfism, and mental retardation.  Most etymologists believe the word cretin is a derivative of the Swiss-French Alpine dialect word créstin, which comes from the Latin word christianus or christianum.  The use of “Christian” to describe people with such physical deformity or mental disability was probably as a reminder that those suffering from the unfortunate medical condition were still human creatures, created in the image of God, deserving respect.  The term has become a pejorative now, that has been far removed from its original usage.

Some people mix up calling someone a “cretin” with calling him a “Cretan.”  A Cretan is Cretans1simply someone from Crete.  However, in antiquity to be identified as a Cretan was to be linked with the moral decadence the ancient world associated with the people of Crete.  Cicero wrote “[T]he rules of life are so contradictory that the Cretans…regard robbery as honorable.”[1]  Ancient Greek historian Polybius had a more biting estimation of the virtues cicero3of Cretans. “Now it would be impossible to find except in some rare instances personal conduct more treacherous or a public policy more unjust than in Crete.”[2] 

The Apostle Paul gets in the game of insulting Cretans when he wrote to Titus whom he established as the bishop on Crete to oversee several newly planted churches there.  Paul counseled Titus against false teachers that were infiltrating the churches on Crete.  “They must be silenced, since they are upsetting whole families by teaching for shameful gain what they ought not to teach.”  (Titus 1:11).  Paul then likely referred to Epimenides when he continued “One of the Cretans, a prophet of their own, said ‘Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons’.”  (Titus 1:12).  Paul then affirms this accusation “This testimony is true.  Therefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith….” (Titus 1:13).  Paul, of course, meant this as a generalization and not that all Cretans cannot speak the truth, ever.[3]  These particular Cretans were leading the people of the Church astray.  They claimed to know God but their behavior demonstrated their claims were a lie.  “They profess to know God, but they deny him by their works.  They are detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good work.” (Titus 1:16).

Paul called these false teachers liars and unbelievers because of their deeds and false teachings.  He was not the least bit hesitant to make such a judgment.  Defending the Church from such wolves evoked a strong response from Paul. 

The Church is filled with both cretins and Cretans.  There are those Christians who reject church idiotsthe intellectual side of Christianity for an emotional, if not lazy, faith that is easy.  It takes no effort to feel.  Feelings just happen to you.  There is no work, no study, no diligence required.  “God said it. I believe it. That settles it.  I don’t need to know why what I believe is true.  I just believe it.  If I have the evidence, then I lack faith.”  Such cretin Christians make the job of Cretan Christians easy because they lack the knowledge of the Word of God.

“Cretans” profess faith in God, but teach false doctrine and live lives that betray their profession.  “Cretans” may be in leadership, or they may be merely laymen, but they teach a foreign gospel that makes light of sin, and shuns sound doctrine.  They say things people want to hear.  “Jesus is all about love, not judgment.”  “He who is without sin cast the first stone means we are not to be judgmental.”  “God wants us to be happy, so do good for yourselves.”

Faith is always linked to actions.  Belief is always associated with behavior.  A true confession of faith will ALWAYS be demonstrated by righteous living.  Not that Christians never sin, but that the vector of their lives are always more holy, more righteous, more obedient.  The process of sanctification is evident in a true Christian.  We are known by our fruit. (Matthew 7:20).

Are we Cretans whose profession of faith is a lie?  Are we cretins when it comes to sound doctrine because we have been following the teaching of “Cretans?”  Perhaps our pews would be filled with fewer cretins when it comes to biblical orthodoxy if Christians would take a more manly approach to the teachings of Cretans, and expose them publicly like Paul did.

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[1] Republic, Cicero 3.9.15.  To be fair, Cicero was comparing several contradictory moral principles in the world at the time, and not just denigrating Cretans.  The complete quote in its context reads “How many, such as the inhabitants of Taurica along the Euxine Sea—as the King of Egypt Busiris—as the Gauls and the Carthaginians—have thought it exceedingly pious and agreeable to the gods to sacrifice men. Besides these religious discrepancies, the rules of life are so contradictory that the Cretans and Ætolians regard robbery as honourable. And the Lacedæmonians say that their territory extends to all places which they can touch with a lance. The Athenians had a custom of swearing by a public proclamation, that all the lands which produced olives and corn were their own. The Gauls consider it a base employment to raise corn by agricultural labour, and go with arms in their hands, and mow down the harvests of neighbouring peoples. And our Romans, the most equitable of all nations, in order to raise the value of our vines and olives, do not permit the races beyond the Alps to cultivate either vineyards or oliveyards. In this respect, it is said, we act with prudence, but not with justice. You see then that wisdom and policy are not always the same as equity.”

[2] Histories, Polybius 6.47. “So just as when we observe the laws and customs of a  p377 people to be good, we have no hesitation in pronouncing that the citizens and the state will consequently be good also, thus when we notice that men are covetous in their private lives and that their public actions are unjust, we are plainly justified in saying that their laws, their particular customs, and the state as a whole are bad. 5 Now it would be impossible to find except in some rare instances personal conduct more treacherous or a public policy more unjust than in Crete. 6 Holding then the Cretan constitution to be neither similar to that of Sparta nor in any way deserving of praise and imitation, I dismiss it from the comparison which I have proposed to make.”

[3] Some skeptics use this verse to discredit Paul, the New Testament, and the entirety of Christianity.  Theirs is a rather silly argument, however.  They say it is self-defeating to quote a Cretan (Epimenides) for the truthfulness that Cretans never tell the truth.  The argument goes the Bible is supposed to be without error, but to say have a Cretan say “Cretans are always liars” is logically impossible to defend.  Yet, Paul says “This is a true testimony.”  Therefore, the Bible is not inerrant, and the truth of the resurrection is now in doubt.  See this lengthy, silly argument here http://www.jcnot4me.com/page37.html.  It is amazing sometimes the lengths people will go to try to discredit Scripture.  They blind themselves with vain, and silly objections to soothe their consciences from the guilt they feel for preferring their disobedience to surrendering to the sovereignty of Christ.

PCUSA General Assembly Prays to a Demon

wajidi-said-at-presbyterian-church-usa

Sadly the title to this post is not one found in the Babylon Bee, but the reality of a church that is teetering on the brink of complete apostasy.

At its General Assembly in Portland, Oregon this year, the Presbyterian Church U.S.A invited a spirit of inclusion and ecumenicalism that reached out to the community at large to share in their gathering.  One of the people they invited to offer a prayer at the beginning of their assembly was Wajidi Said from the Muslim Community in Portland.  (http://www.charismanews.com/us/58128-presbyterian-church-usa-caught-praying-to-allah).  The prayer to Allah can be seen here starting at the 14-minute mark.  After chanting something in Arabic, he prayed

Allah bless us and bless our families and bless our Lord. Lead us on the straight path – the path of all the prophets: Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Moses, Jesus and Muhammad. Peace be upon them all Amen. (This portion appears to have been unscripted.  Said then proceeded with his scripted prayer.)

“In the name of Allah, the beneficent, the merciful, let us praise the Lord. The creator of the universe, the most merciful, the most compassionate and the Lord of the universe who has created us and made us into nations and tribes, from male and females that we may know each other, not that we might despise each other, or may despise each other. Incline towards peace and justice and trust in God, for the Lord is one that hears and knows everything and the servants of God, the most compassionate, the most merciful, gracious are those who walk in the earth in humility and when bigots and hateful and Islamaphobes address them, they say peace. Peace be upon them and peace be upon Allah.”

In robotic fashion, the attenders at the assembly read in unison “Amen! May our grief be more than sentiment and our ‘amen’ more than words. God lead us on that our work may transform our neighborhoods into communities of inclusion and peace.”

In offering their “amen” of “more than words,” the PCUSA General Assembly affirmed the position of prophet for Muhammad, and therefore, the authority of the Qur’an that he dictated to his followers.

More distressingly, the General Assembly also affirmed the lordship of the demon-god, Allah, by agreeing that he is the most compassionate and lord of the universe.  In a gesture of Jumairah Mosque with half moonecumenicalism the PCUSA equated the Triune, Yahweh with the vengeful, moon god of the Muslims.  The General Assembly allowed the Muslim to pray to Allah and the congregation agree in the prayer as if they worshiped the same god. (Perhaps they do.)

Also, by assenting to the Muslim prayer, the members at the General Assembly allowed their gathering to be used for the proselytizing of Christians to leave the straight and narrow way to walk the “straight path,” the path of Muhammad.  The “straight path,” as prayed by Said, is from the opening surah in the Qur’an.  The PCUSA allowed a Muslim to introduce the Christians of their assembly to the basics of Islam.

From approving same-sex “marriage” to supporting abortion the PCUSA has consistently sided against God.  Now they’ve opened their 2016 General Assembly in prayer to a false god.  Ichabod.  I believe the glory of the LORD has departed this church.  If ever there was a time to reject the PCUSA as apostate, it is now.