Saturday, November 18, 2006

Another Reason for the Lack of Spiritual Discernment: The Doctrine of Balaam


Balaam is a popular name in the Bible, but I am not suggesting that the reader should name his son Balaam. Balaam is mentioned by name three times in the New Testament: once by Jesus (Rev. 2:14), once by Jude (Jude 11), and again by Peter (2 Peter 2:15). Our Lord adjured the church in Pergamos to repent of “the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication.” Both Peter and Jude lamented that false teachers had gone in “the way of Balaam (Jude 11, cf. 2 Peter 2:15).” In this post, I will briefly reflect upon how this “doctrine of Balaam” is closely related to the lack of spiritual discernment in some churches today, although I am aware that the context of these passages has to do with false teachers.

So who is this Balaam? According to biblical records, Balaam was the son of Beor, a king of Edom (Genesis 36:31-32). He settled in Pethor, beyond the river Euphrates in Mesopotamia (Numbers 22:5; Numbers 23:7; Deut. 23:4). By the way, this place is actually quite far from where I live in Singapore. Having a widespread reputation of being able to prophesy and to pronounce a curse or blessing on people, he was called by Balak, king of Moab, to curse Israel (Numbers 22:5-6). It is fortunate for us that Saddam Hussein was not alive when Balaam was developing his career in Palestine. No one could have predicted what Hussein will require Balaam to do for him - with much cash, of course.

As we have read in the Bible, King Balak (not Hussein) and his minions tempted Balaam repeatedly with filthy lucre and honor to betray Israel. Balaam finally yielded; he taught Balak how to tempt Israel to sin so that God would curse them Himself (Numbers 22:7,17-18; Numbers 24:11-13; Numbers 25:1-18; Numbers 31:16; Deut. 23:4-5; Joshua 24:9-10; Neh. 13:2; Micah 6:5; 2 Peter 2:13-16; Jude 1:11; Rev. 2:14). Finally, to cut the story short, Balaam returned to his home after having gained a reward by teaching Balak to ensnare Israel in sin (Numbers 24:25; 2 Peter 2:15; Jude 1:11; Rev. 2:14).

Balaam went astray because he “loved the wages of unrighteousness (2 Peter 2:16, Jude 1:11).” He taught aberrational doctrines for reward (Rev. 2:14). He compromised God’s Word and betrayed God’s people for physical benefits, temporal gains and personal honour. This is the error of Balaam, and tragically, some churches have followed in his fungal footsteps.

In the worldly sense, compromise brings great dividends. The rejection of false teachings and teachers will greatly narrow the number of churches with which one can cooperate. “Loving” acceptance of all sects, cults and denominations would guarantee the unending contribution ($$$) and cooperation (even more $$$) from such organizations. By being accommodating to errors and deviant doctrines, and by pandering to the lowest common denominator in their confession of faith, these leaders would establish better rapport with a wider range of institutes and churches. For them to be “narrow-minded” and unyielding would only mean forsaking friends, “open doors” and financial help.

Do you want to know what Balaam’s maxim is? As the saying goes, “Maintaining a conspiracy of silence with an inclusivistic philosophy is the ultimate strategy for sustaining profit margins.”

Therefore, discernment has to be abandoned if one wants to be a successful clergyman in today’s churches. Perhaps it is time to purchase donkeys for these compromising leaders, and preferably, talking ones.

Yours truly,

Balaam’s Ass

2 comments:

Mike Messerli said...

Vincent,

great new look. I continue to enjoy your thoughts.

Jenson's Blog said...

I almost thought I was in the wrong place! Nice layout.