Micah Royal’s Confronting Bible Abuse, Another Perspective
Micah Royal is an ex-member of the Worldwide Church of God and is now co-pastor, with his wife, of Safe Haven Community Church, an independent interdenominational church in Colton, California. They have a special ministry focused on the disabled community, racial and sexual minorities, and family members of those in these communities. Royal may be a nice person and a sincere Bible believer. I have never met him, and I really have no bone to pick with him except to say that the translators of Scripture itself, especially the New Testament, have committed Bible abuse down through the ages.
In his internet article “Confronting Bible Abuse” (htt p://www.ambassadorwatch.co.nz/mr1.htm), Royal cites but does not quote in its entirety, for example, Luke 4:18,19:
The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor... (NIV Study Bible--but see all the different versions you may have on hand).
Jesus apparently applies these verses to himself as the Messiah. The supposed text generally cited for his reading, however, is from Isaiah 61:1-2 which actually refers to the prophet Isaiah and makes no mention of the coming Messiah. As far as I am concerned, much of the New Testament was plagiarized from the Old Testament to appropriate to Jesus what was clearly not referring to him.
Most English translations of Luke 4:18,19 are based on the Greek Septuagint (as are most Old Testament quotes in the New Testament). In the era of the supposed Messiah Jesus, a Jew, I very much doubt that he would have read from Greek text, especially in a Hebrew synagogue in Nazareth before the establishment of the Christian church. The Isaiah scroll (not a book with pages) that Jesus supposedly read from had to be unrolled and rolled up as one read from it. The scrolls are read from right to left, not the way we read our books from left to right. It, therefore, would not have been easy to flip from one place in Isaiah to another as today’s ministers do to “prove” points in their sermons from taken-out-of-context scripture. In verse 17 of Luke 4, we are told that “[Jesus] found THE PLACE [one place in scripture] where it is written” and then proceeded to read from the supposed Isaiah 61:1-2 passage.
The problem, however, is that the official Hebrew version (the Masoretic text) of Isaiah 61:1-2 does not say what Jesus supposedly read. It says:
The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn.
Notice that there is no mention of “recovery of sight for the blind.“ In order for Jesus to have included that phrase, or, more correctly, a similar one, for example, he would have had to roll the scroll back to Isaiah 42:7 where the nation of Israel is talked about (not a Messiah). Let’s begin at verse 6:
I, the Lord, have called you in righteousness; I will take hold of your hand. I will keep you and make you to be a covenant for the people and a light for the Gentiles, to open eyes that are blind, to free captives from prison and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness.
I agree with Royal that Bible abuse includes select texts, taken out of their historical context, to support the marginalization of individuals from certain minority groups such as the physically or mentally challenged, homosexuals, racial minorities, the divorced, the enslaved, etc. In fact, I believe the Bible itself IS ABUSE. It confuses; it builds walls between people. If this is not true, then why else do we have so very many opinions about what this one book says and means? Why are there so many denominations, sects, and cults if a benevolent creator (if one indeed exists) who, supposedly, wants all to come to the knowledge of “the” truth (if there is any such thing)?
I admire Royal in the sense that he has dedicated his ministry to “tearing down barriers of prejudice and discrimination.” He, however, could do this just as well without a god, a savior, or a book of religious instruction--perhaps even better. I wonder, for example, if he ever quotes or refers to Leviticus 21:16-23 in sermons to his congregations. If he does, I would certainly like to hear them. Notice:
The Lord said to Moses, “Say to Aaron: ‘ For the generations to come [this sounds like a very long time to me] none of your descendants who has a defect may come near to offer the food of his God. No man who has any defect may come near: no man who is blind or lame, disfigured or deformed; no man with a crippled foot or hand, or who is hunchbacked or dwarfed, or who has any eye defect, or who has festering or running sores or damaged testicles. No descendant of Aaron the priest who has any defect is to come near to present the offerings made to the Lord by fire. He has a defect; he must not come near to offer the food of his God. He may eat the most holy food of his God , as well as the holy food [at least God didn’t want the marginalized of Aaron’s descendants to starve]; yet because of his defect, he must not go near the curtain or approach the altar, and so desecrate my sanctuary. I am the Lord, who makes them [the trappings of god’s sanctuary] holy.’
At face value, this portion of Leviticus, quite frankly, makes it appear as though God can't stand the sight of handicapped people. The blind, the lame, dwarfs, men (and only men could be priests) with eye problems, funny noses or blemishes, those with damaged testicles (or “broken stones” as the prudish translators of the King James Version render these two words), or misshapened extremities, crooked backs, or those who have scurvy or scabs, or who have anything that would render their bodies imperfect could not approach the altar of God.
Christians, in explaining (or excusing?) this section of “holy” scripture say that those especially set apart for service at God’s sanctuary represented him in a special way. They, like the sacrifices offered, had to be without blemish or defect. Then they generally cite Hebrews 9:13-14 to show that the priests as well as the sacrificed animals represented Christ’s perfection.
Rarely does the God of the Old Testament clearly explain why he makes certain pronouncements. He simply states the way things are, or will be, and expects belief and obedience. He offers no hint to prefigure the sacrifice of his son, a perfect god-man, hundreds and hundreds of years in the future. But the New Testament, always in retrospect for it was written years after the supposed death and resurrection of Jesus, conveniently invents implications and applies them in a presumed prophetic sense from the Old Testament to a sacrificed savior--without any proof or substantiation whatsoever.
History has demonstrated that so-called “holy” scripture of any religion has caused much abuse and has created prejudice, divisiveness, and hatred to the point of bloodshed. Every religion claims a monopoly on virtue and truth concerning almost any subject one can introduce. Every religion teaches that a god of some sort graces one group of people with truth while excluding all others. Every religion arrogantly claims a monopoly on virtue and truth. >From my perspective, this is definitely abuse. How sad--how very, very sad.
ã 2005, Betty Brogaard
Posted -- 10/16/2005
If you have anything you would like to
submit to this site, or any comments,
email me at:
Email The Painful Truth
The content of this site, including but not limited to the text and images herein and their arrangement, are copyright © 1997-2005 by The Painful Truth. All rights reserved.
Do not duplicate, copy or redistribute in any form without prior written consent.