Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Perry Noble Removes the Ten Commandments

On Christmas Eve NewSpring pastor Perry Noble removed the Ten Commandments from the Bible.

He did this by claiming there is no Hebrew word for command. According to Noble, the Old Testament never uses the word command, and the Ten Commandments are really the Ten Sayings or Ten Promises of God.

Noble came to realize there is no Hebrew word for command because one of his friends told him that. In the message Noble admits to not knowing any Hebrew, and without doing any research, he rewrites the Ten Commandments on a whim. In fact, he says he wrote the entire sermon in 10 minutes, and it shows. The message could have been written by a 10 year old in 10 minutes.

Exodus 34:28 says Moses, “wrote upon the tables the words of the covenant, the ten commandments.” The word used for commandments could be better translated as “words or sayings.” This one instance is probably what Perry’s friend was referring to.

Even if there is no word for command, how does Noble simply get to rewrite Scripture? If they are sayings or promises, the words are still the words. He changes the command to not commit adultery to the promise “You do not have to live a life dominated by the guilt, pain, and shame associated with sexual sin.”

Just because you change command to promise, God still said, “You shall not commit adultery.” This is a clear example of both adding to and taking away from Scripture.

Following this same “promise,” Noble expounds on it by saying sex should be done the right way, as a married heterosexual couple. But if there are no commands, then how does Noble get to decide how to do it? Couldn’t a homosexual say, “That is really a promise. God is saying, ‘You don’t have to live a life dominated by guilt, pain, and shame associated with hateful heterosexual bigots.’”

Of course, Noble couldn’t get through this point without his usual habit of salivating over his love for sex and his wife’s ability to keep it real in the bedroom, but that is another issue.[1]

 The worst mistake Noble made is in taking his friend’s word for it that there is no Hebrew word for command. This is very easy to explain. There actually are several Hebrew words for command, and they are used 347 times in the Old Testament.

The word used in Exodus 34:28 means “words or sayings,” but the word used in Exodus 20:6 (the heart of the Ten Commandments) is different. That verse says God is, “showing mercy unto thousands of them that love me and keep my commandments.” That Hebrew word is mitzvah, and it means commandments.

Noble doesn’t have to speak fluent Hebrew or be a scholar, but a basic understanding of biblical languages, or at the very least the ability to do word studies, is crucial for a pastor. Any first year seminary student, or most teenagers with Google, can debunk Noble’s entire premise in five minutes (less time than he spent writing the sermon).

The reality is the Ten Commandments should be better thought of as covenant obligations. As Kay Arthur often says, “Everything God does is based on covenant[2].” When God led the Hebrews out of Egyptian slavery He promised to take care of them. He said, “If you will diligently listen to the voice of the LORD your God, and do that which is right in His eyes, and give ear to His commandments (mitzvah) and keep all His statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you that I put on the Egyptians, for I am the LORD, your healer (Exodus 15:26).”

God continued this covenant talk right before giving the Ten Commandments. In 19:5 He said, “If you will obey my voice and keep my covenant, you will be my treasured possession.”

Noble’s point seems to be that God doesn’t expect anything of us, and there are no rules, only promises. In actuality, God made it perfectly clear that there were promises to claim, but only if the Hebrews were willing to enter into a covenant relationship with God.

God would provide for them (manna, quail, water from a rock, etc.), protect them (part the Red Sea, victory over Amalek, etc.), and pour out love on them (“treasured possession” “healer” etc.). That was God’s end of the covenant.

What was man’s end of the covenant? You guessed it. The Ten Commandments. Before giving the law God reminded them who He was and what He had done (“I am the LORD your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage”); because of that, “You shall have no other gods before me…”

All relationships have rules that keep them together. The covenant of marriage hinges on faithfulness, and this covenant between God and the Hebrews was a picture of marriage. If the Hebrews would be unfaithful to God, the relationship wouldn’t work. There are plenty of promises to claim in a good marriage, but they are dependent upon both partners keeping their vows.

Noble’s message would be like taking the marriage vows and only looking at them as promises. Instead of making “in sickness and in health” mean you will stand by your partner in sickness, you change that to a promise that only focuses on your partner staying with you in your sickness. The covenant is a two-way commitment.

The people wholeheartedly agreed to the terms of the covenant, saying, “All that the LORD has spoken, we will do (19:8)!”

Please read Deuteronomy 28 for a fuller look at both ends of the covenant. That pesky word command keeps popping up somehow in that chapter, which is odd since, according to Perry, it doesn’t exist.

Another mistake Noble makes is failing to understand that this covenant (called the Mosaic Covenant), is the Old Covenant, which believers today are no longer under since Jesus became “the mediator of a New Covenant (Hebrews 12:24)” on the cross. Whether they are commands or promises matters only to those who lived under the Old Covenant, which is not us.

I know he is only human, and I have certainly made my share of mistakes from the pulpit, this blog, and in life. I am not picking on him because I don’t like his style or his philosophy of ministry, but I am concerned. I am praying for him that his eyes will be opened to the many errors of his ways. In the meantime, Christians need to beware of this ear-pleasing false teacher.

*You can listen to his message for yourself here.

[1] In this same message Noble also feels the need to let the crowd know his wife is white, lest there be any confusion. Just minutes later he accidentally uses the “N-word” and abruptly changes the subject when he realized it. His PR team has since denied it.
[2] Arthur, Kay, Our Covenant God, Waterbrook Press


Nathan Lawrenson said...

I believe Noble's post below clearly explains his beliefs, and I find no reason to object with them. He specifically says, "Learning that the 10 commandments are not just commands, but rather way finding arrows that point us to all the promises of God that are ‘Yes’ for us in Christ (II Corinthians 1:20)."

Noble is not refuting that they are commands. He IS attempting to move us away toward the idea that Got asks us to remove things from our lives so that He can give us something better in its place.

Neither is Noble adding or taking away from Scripture. He is doing exactly what ever good teacher of Scripture does...helping us understand the intent of God's Word.


Tommy Mann said...

Thank you for your post Nathan. I'm glad that Noble backpedaled away from his first message, but you can't use his damage control blog to argue away from his early message. My post was a critique of Noble's message, where he did not say they are both commands and promises; he said they are promises and not commands.

He later admitted he was wrong when he said there isn't a word for commands in Hebrew, and since this mess he also said he learned his lesson and actually studies more now. I'm grateful for this, because now he might not teach as much poor theology as his did on this New Year's message. If only we can get him to stop talking about crude things and using profanity for shock and awe.