(This is an old post done during the time when I considered that Tim Snell actually may have support for his Abuse of me. Here is a link to December 2009 proving that Tim Snell has NO SUPPORT for his claims about Modeling God: Tim Snell's Formal Support.)
(The most alarming claim by Tim Snell and the Christian Law Association (Dr. Gibbs) is that they don't believe that Jesus was fully man! They don't believe that Jesus could choose to do evil. This is stating Jesus was unable to bridge the gap for our Salvation. This is deception. Worse, this is a contradiction of the most famous Old Testament prophecy concerning Jesus:
"14 Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.
15 Butter and honey shall he eat, that he may know to refuse the evil, and choose the good." (Isaiah 7:14-15)
It ALL begins with understanding God's Nature. I don't understand HOW anyone can teach God's Word when they deny God's Being.)
This is my rebuttal to Tim Snell's refutation of "Modeling God". Please note, you OUGHT to read "Modeling God" for yourself before you read Tim Snell's refutation...and you OUGHT to read Tim Snell's refutation before reading the rest of this post. If you have read "Modeling God" and are looking for the refutation, it is here: www.modelinggodheresy.com. To date, no one has quoted "Modeling God" accurately AND shown where it is wrong. Tim Snell is the only pastor to attempt to show "Modeling God" is wrong...but the only way he can do it is to misquote it. (You also may want to refresh your understanding of: What is a Cult?)
Our ability to think is based on words. The book "1984" tried to make the point that you can limit peoples' ability to think by limiting the words they use. I'm trying to help people do the opposite. I tell them to use any word they want as long as THEY define it. When people can't define their words they are proving they ARE NOT thinking! They are appearing to think, but they REALLY aren't thinking...
I accepted Jesus as Lord in 1981. For the first ten years, I read just about everything I could get my hands on to understand Christianity. I got heavily involved in my local church. No one seemed to be able to explain Christianity, but I just figured I was too new. Then I read "Mere Christianity" by CS Lewis. Suddenly I realized we were supposed to be able to understand what we believe. We were supposed to know the WHY. It became more obvious that people did not know the WHY behind what they believed to the same extent as they did in other areas of their lives. I also notice that this book written in the 1940's was different than the books written since then: "Mere Christianity" DIDN'T say God and the meaning of life is a mystery. He tried to explain the WHY in an objective manner.
My professional job was to understand how people thought, communicated, measured, and valued their experiences, expectations, and desires. EVERYONE has a model for EVERYTHING...whether they are aware of it or not is a different story. I found myself applying this perspective when I talked to people from all walks of life about their beliefs. I found out very quickly that people did not know the WHY, lived with contradictions, and focused on thinking less over time when it came to their beliefs...yet they still had a model for their beliefs. The problem is their model is flawed.
About the same time, I began reading through my Bible cover-to-cover every year and reading "Mere Christianity" cover-to-cover every month. After about three years of this, I found the CAUSE of the problem: everyone's faith was based on tradition...on man-made theology. When I asked a person how the Bible supported a specific belief that they stated, this reliance on man-made theology became apparent in three ways.
1. Misinterpretation - People would quote the Bible verse wrong
2. Misunderstanding - People would draw a wrong conclusion from the Bible verse
3. Projection - People would project events and intents that are not presented in the Bible
They and I would ALWAYS find out that an error had been made in one of these three areas.
I also noticed that people tended to reference certain KEY words when explaining their beliefs...yet when I asked for a definition they couldn't (or wouldn't) provide one.
It was at this point that a HUGE revelation hit me: the process currently being used to teach and explain Christianity is flawed because we are actually embracing tradition in the place of God's Word AND we are ACTUALLY encouraging people not to intentionally think. The second part of that revelation became obvious when people ended their explanation with the statement that we can't know or aren't supposed to know these definitions and explanations. THIS is the ONLY response one can have when they have stated a contradictory explanation AND they are trying to feel right.
Christians have contradictory beliefs where they have included man-made tradition in place of the Word of God. This is what caused the shifting in beliefs that we have seen. For instance, "mercy" and "justice" have slowly shifted over time until one day we wake up and preachers are teaching there is no hell. How did that happen? It happens so slightly and in various areas, that the shifting isn't noticeable to us until they all collide in a major doctrine. This shifting in belief wouldn't occur if we know the WHY behind our beliefs and stick with the Word of God instead of tradition. How do we determine the WHY behind our beliefs?
About this time I had created a model for my secular job by asking God for revelation on how HE created our brain and our nose. God directed me to the Bible and opened up passages that led to understanding that was beyond the scientific community. This caused me to ask God for revelation on the process HE wanted us to use to determine the WHY behind our beliefs.
In general, God gave me revelation and I would check the Bible, concordances, history, etc. and ask others. I would look at EVERY usage of the KEY word in the Bible...then I would go back to God. This has been a fourteen year process. I have read the Bible cover-to-cover fourteen times.
The result was a non-contradictory worldview that is Christian! The result is the same general abstract belief as what Christians profess, however the WHY is different. The WHY is based on the Bible, not man-made tradition. This fourteen year process made me realize people ACTUALLY believe in Christianity because of tradition and have convinced themselves these traditional beliefs are in the Bible or that they don't need to be explained...they can just be "felt".
There is A LOT of material from this fourteen year process. I didn't want to overwhelm people AND I didn't want to point an accusatory finger at Christians. I began to meet with pastors to explain the most pressing issues. I found out very quickly that some pastors have a different perspective on the purpose of church. For instance, when I showed them the work on "grace", the response was that while they could see that Biblical grace was NOT "unmerited favor", they weren't going to tell their congregation about "charis". Why? Because they didn't want people asking them why they were wrong for 10 and 12 years! They told me that they didn't have to worry about it because no one would listen to me anyway...I don't have a church...or a ministry...or a book.
God gave me a vision of an old pastor and a young pastor in a coffee shop talking about a woman who just walked in. The woman was a member of the young pastor's congregation and she was suffering. The young pastor talks to her and returns to sit with the old pastor. The young pastor says that he wishes he knew exactly what God wants him to say in that situation. The old pastor agrees and says that he would give anything to completely understand the Bible. Then God opens both of their eyes so they can completely understand the Bible. The young pastor is excited, but notices the old pastor is depressed. It turns out the old pastor didn't realize that completely understanding the Bible would ALSO mean he would learn where he had been wrong...for years. The old pastor walks by the woman dejected and leaves the coffee shop. The young pastor goes to help the woman...
It was at that point I believe God told me to write "Modeling God" to give the WHY behind the most fundamental beliefs: God and Salvation...AND encourage people away from tradition. "Modeling God" presents less than a third of the work that has been done over the last fourteen years.
It took three years and fifteen drafts before "Modeling God" was fit to be published. During the earlier drafts, people told me that I needed to be bolder when stating the purpose of this book. They realized this was the revelation people claim they want: an objective explanation of the Christian worldview that gives the WHY. I was told that it would be MY fault if I didn't blatantly state that this is the ONLY explanation for God and salvation that is non-contradictory because people need to know this is what they have been looking for. I realize these statements can appear to be egotistical, but I'm just making sure that I don't get judged like the watchman on the wall who didn't let people know what was coming. Again, if you have a non-contradictory explanation other than what is presented in "Modeling God" please share it with me. If you see something in "Modeling God" that is contradictory, please tell me. Be careful about projecting an intent or attitude onto me without talking to me. The reason there were fifteen drafts is because people pointed out flaws and I truly appreciated their correction.
I have tried to get pastors to read "Modeling God" in order to get their perspective. I have given the book to over a dozen pastors that I personally know. In addition, I gave the book with a letter attached to pastors of the ten bigger churches in the Fox Valley. I have been unable to get even ONE pastor to read this book. My wife was able to get two pastors to read "Modeling God" as a condition of her employment in each of their churches. Then, all of this changed...
Tim Snell is the pastor of Christ's Church of the Valley.
Tim Snell read "Modeling God".
Tim Snell took the time to interpret "Modeling God".
Tim Snell shared his process in a work known as "the refutation".
I am thankful to Tim Snell for sharing his process in the refutation. (Here are some excerpts of my e-mails to Tim Snell.) It is the ONLY objective example I have of how a pastor determines the meaning of text. Until another pastor steps up and explains his process for determining the meaning of "Modeling God", this is our example of the process today's pastors use to determine the meaning of the Bible. I believe it is objective proof of how we have been using a flawed process to misinterpret the Bible. Please read the refutation at www.modelinggodheresy.com before continuing. It has convinced me that my next book needs to come out as soon as possible. The next book will prove that we have embraced man-made traditions in our most public doctrines.
It is actually much easier to demonstrate how flawed our current process is for interpreting the Bible by using the refutation as an example. It is much less complex than the Bible. There are no language translation issues because we speak the original language that "Modeling God" is written in. I plan to use the refutation to help people for years to come. In this rebuttal what you will see is process vs. process as it applies to a simple and short book (relative to the Bible). You will see the process from "Modeling God" vs. the current process used to interpret the Bible.
LENHART'S MODELING PROCESS
The first sentence of the Preface of "Modeling God" is:
"The first of these two books identifies four tools for determining a comprehensive worldview that presents and proves the only possible explanation for a Supreme Being and salvation."
In the last chapter of the first of these two books, the following is stated:
"This book focuses on proving a non-contradictory explanation of God and salvation. This is an intellectual question. Since God is a spirit, our ability to do this process depends on our spiritual response. Knowing this process and doing it are two separate events. It is possible to do this process without completely understanding it. However, the more one understands the process, the better he is able to intentionally make progress towards God and help others do the same. Conversely, depending completely on salvation by solely knowing the process and not doing it is called "mental assent". Salvation cannot be obtained this way because there is no spiritual connection. We've seen "believe in your heart" is the key because it leads to doing the process."
The "Afterword" has the following sentence:
"Every Christian should have this foundation; otherwise, they will be contradictory in their beliefs."
I did not CREATE or INVENT this worldview...I DISCOVERED or DETERMINED it. Currently, the explanation most people have for God and salvation are contradictory. "Modeling God" presents a non-contradictory worldview. It presents WHY this worldview is non-contradictory AND based on the Bible. This explanation is NOT intended to take the place of salvation and a spiritual connection with God. EVERY TIME Tim Snell claims that "Modeling God" is denying the importance of a spiritual connection (Gnosticism), he has to intentionally ignore passages of this relatively short book. Why does he do this?
The passages above from "Modeling God" actually assert that the spiritual connection is PRE-EMINENT to ALL of this intellectual explanation!
The purpose of "Modeling God" is to present the non-contradictory explanation of God and salvation...the WHY behind these beliefs. "Modeling God" is NOT an explanation of HOW I discovered or determined this.
I think the majority of Tim Snell's misunderstanding in the first half of the refutation is that he wants "Modeling God" to tell him HOW I determined the non-contradictory worldview...I don't explain this in my book. "Modeling God" documents the WHY. The HOW occurred over 14 years and involved listening to God and others in order to get revelation (GRACE). It involved reading the Bible cover-to-cover 14 times. It involved finding all the usages of the KEY words and looking at the definition, context, etc.
THEN the process presented in "Modeling God" was used to determine if it was truth or not. This process is powerful BECAUSE it results in giving the WHY...it explains WHY the interpretation is truth. This is important...the first step was revelation from God...the second step was the process presented in "Modeling God" to determine if it is truth or not. Why would I need to prove if the revelation was truth or not? Because it may not be from God...it could be from my flesh.
The key question is: How do you know if what you are hearing is from God or from your flesh? I believe the answer is to use the process presented in "Modeling God". Notice that Tim needs to have a process to do the same thing. What is the proof the process is correct? The validity of the answer. This rebuttal actually shows two different processes for determining truth. My process is on display in "Modeling God". Tim's process is on display in the refutation.
My life is based on an accurate interpretation of the Word of God.
This means I first need to have a way to get an accurate interpretation...then second, I go to the Word of God. Actually, I continually go to the Word of God.
Tim gets upset because he wants me to put the Word of God in step one...but he can't explain how he makes sure he has an accurate interpretation. He just states he does...and then doesn't want to discuss what happened when he has been wrong. After all, if it is immediately obvious how to get the correct interpretation of the Word of God, why do Christians disagree? Why is Tim ever wrong? Tim has a habit of skipping the first two steps in a process, declaring them right, and then never explaining how he got past the first two steps.
HOW vs. WHY
When someone asks you HOW to do something, you tell them WHAT to do and give them the reason WHY it is true. If you do recount the HOW, it is short. You don't tell them a ten minute story for EACH attempt.
In the first chapter of "Modeling God" I write about HOW people found out that when grapes were crushed and allowed to stand, the juice turned into wine. Sometimes it happened and sometimes it didn't. Then they understood WHY...the skin of the grape had yeast on it and THAT caused the juice to ferment. The response was to intentionally add yeast instead of keep crushing grapes and hope for the best.
HOW did they find out? It wasn't something they did intentionally. They couldn't intentionally get the grape juice to ferment...it was out of their control. This is akin to revelation.
WHY did it happen? They determined the cause by thinking...so that they could do it intentionally...this is something they could be responsible for.
Imagine asking someone HOW to make wine and getting an hour long answer explaining the first time they crushed grapes, the background, the circumstances, the result...and then hearing the second time...then the third time...
Trust me, most people would eventually ask the person to just cut to the result...most people don't want to relive each and every experience. Notice the explanation of WHY would look "backwards".
The question is "How do you get grape juice to turn into wine?"...you assert the answer ("add yeast") and then give an explanation back to when you didn't know ("the grapes with yeast on their skin fermented, the grapes without yeast didn't ferment").
"Modeling God" is NOT an explanation of the HOW. It is an explanation of the WHY. "Modeling God" explains WHY the model is non-contradictory. If you have specific questions on the HOW and you are interested in hearing all or part of 14 years of explanation, looking at the word studies, and supporting scriptures....please do something Tim Snell refuses to do: ask me.
Tim Snell misses the PURPOSE of "Modeling God" even though it is blatantly stated. Tim Snell's process led to HIM projecting a PURPOSE on "Modeling God" from HIS mind AND then concluding I am wrong because I created a theology from MY mind...that was the same mistake (#3 mentioned above) I saw people make when explaining their beliefs.
In the first half of the refutation, there are over 90 statements made by Tim Snell that are stated as a fact AND are actually factually incorrect. Click Refutation Inaccuracies (Part 1) for the list of these statements. Let's go through the specific assertions in the first half of the refutation dealing with what Tim Snell believes is the process of "Modeling God".
Words have a specific meaning in context. I believe the Bible is the inspired Word of God. I believe God is consistent and the definitions of the KEY words are consistent. "Modeling God" ONLY looks at the KEY words...not EVERY word in the Bible. I believe words can change definitions over time and with cultures, but that is due to US...not God. I had this debate with Greg Boyd...if you are going to use an example where a word has changed, USE THE BIBLE. I agree that "gay" and "love" are ambiguous in English...because of us. How does man's inability to communicate perfectly mean that God communicates imperfectly? This argument is made with words...why doesn't Tim Snell explain every word he uses? More to the point, why doesn't Tim Snell explain the exact meaning of every word when he gives a list of Bible verses? When he gives a list of verses, isn't he saying that the meaning of the same words in different verses are the same?
For more information read: The Importance of Words
One of the assertions in the refutation is that I came up with definitions out of my head. If you read "Modeling God" you will see this is incorrect. Some words were defined without explanation (e.g., mercy). This DOESN'T mean I didn't go through a rigorous process to arrive at this definition. The definition presented for "mercy" was the result of extensive study and was presented on my way to making a greater point.
As with EVERYTHING in "Modeling God", if you can show me where the definition is contradictory OR you have a different non-contradictory definition PLEASE tell me. However, don't be surprised if I can identify a couple of verses from the Bible that contradict your definition...THAT is the result of a fourteen year head start. Where Tim Snell's assertion misses the mark is that not only do I explain the process for the most important KEY words, contradicting his statement, I ALSO explain the general process:
"Unlike faith, there is no passage in the New Testament that gives the definition of grace. When we don't have a specific definition, we will begin our process by considering another source and then removing the contradictions until the definition agrees with the Bible. In this case, we will start with Strong's Concordance..."
Step One is to find out if the Bible defines the word. For example, Paul defined faith in Hebrews 11:1.
Step Two is to go to a concordance...and work out the contradictions by using the Bible as the ultimate judge.
Step Three is to consider other sources....and work out the contradictions by using the Bible as the ultimate judge.
We will come back to this topic in several areas...
Everyone has a model for God whether they realize it or not. Everyone's problem with God comes from the differences between their model for God and God's ACTUAL identity. God is ultimately a set of principles...and so are each of us! However, the second part of that last sentence isn't shown until the second half of "Modeling God". So we are definitely persons...but ultimately we are principles. God is a Person and His Personality is an EFFECT of who He is. God's identity is understandable, otherwise how can we know if we are worshiping the right God? If you can't objectively define God, then you could be violating the First of the Ten Commandments. However, God's Personality is infinite...it is the EFFECT of who God is as it comes out through God's Mental, Emotional, Spiritual, and Physical Attributes.
Actually, this is a crucial doctrine of the church that proves how much we have lost our way. A.W. Tozer in "The Knowledge Of The Holy says it well":
"Before the Christian church goes into eclipse anywhere, there must first be the corrupting of her simple basic theology. She simply gets a wrong answer to the question, “What is God like?” Though she may continue to cling to a sound nominal creed, her practical working creed has become false. The masses of her adherents come to believe that God is different from what He actually is; and that is heresey of the most insidious and deadly kind."
For more information read: "Model for God"
For more information read: "God's Personality"
"Hermeneutics" is the ability to interpret text. This is what Tim Snell attempted to do with "Modeling God". His hermeneutical skills are on display. Hermeneutics are based on interpretation, understanding, and perspective. These are the three areas where I saw people making mistakes! SO, what I had experienced before I wrote "Modeling God" was peoples' flawed hermeneutics!
Ultimately, this rebuttal is a presentation of Tim Snell's hermeneutical process vs. the hermeneutical process shown in "Modeling God". The hermeneutical process currently being used by our "leaders" incorporates man-made tradition in place of God's Word because people: 1)don't interpret accurately, 2)don't understand the meaning of the passage, and 3)don't stick to what is presented in the Bible. "Modeling God" was written to show how to do hermeneutics so that it ALWAYS results in truth...this requires intentionally doing four principles together.
FOUR PRINCIPLES TOGETHER
A "principle" is a foundational truth. There are four principles that WHEN USED TOGETHER always result in TRUTH. EVERY mistake that has EVER been made throughout history in EVERY discipline (religion, science, politics, business, medicine, etc.) occurred because at least one of the principles were violated. These four principles are God-given...man did NOT invent these principles.
EVERYONE holds EVERYONE ELSE to these four principles....AND EVERYONE wants to avoid applying these four principles to themselves. I named the four principles AS A GROUP "Modeletics(tm)" in order to accentuate the fact that they ALWAYS need to be used together.
The Bible is written according to these four principles. The Bible is misinterpreted when the opposite of at least one of the four principles is used. What I found is the four principles being used together are the CAUSE of good hermeneutics. Misapplying at least one of the four principles results in the three mistakes we have mentioned above: misinterpretation, misunderstanding, and wrong perspective (projection).
Good hermeneutics actually relies on these four principles...however, when these principles aren't done intentionally, man-made tradition seeps into hermeneutics. Again, we will see objective examples of this later.
For more information read:
The second half of Tim Snell's refutation shows the practical result of his hermeneutical process. In this second half of the refutation, Tim Snell makes over 100 statements as fact that are actually factually incorrect. Click Refutation Inaccuracies (Part 2) for the list.
WHO GOD IS
We already dealt with who God is above. What I will say in this section is that Tim Snell says I don't believe in a sovereign and omniscient God, yet when I asked him to define both those words, he refused. I do believe in a sovereign and omniscient God AND I define them in "Modeling God". Finally, I would ask Tim Snell what HE specifically means when HE says God is a "Person". Is the Holy Spirit a "Person"? What is Tim Snell's definition of a person? Instead we get the abstract assumption we all know what "person" means even though I'm the only one who has defined the term.
In the refutation, Tim Snell writes about my characterization of God: "He is a god who is more of a set of characteristics than someone who has the dynamic essence of being which we understand is possessed by living spiritual beings." He's saying that I made God something less than a person and instead of defining "person" to PROVE the point objectively, he resorted to abstract words ("dynamic essence of being") and assumptions ("which we understand").
Again, Tim's mistakes could have been avoided if he had responded to just one of the attempts to talk with him before he published the refutation.
The question posed in "Modeling God" is: How is Jesus Fully Man and Fully God? IF a person says it is because Jesus' Father was God and His mother was a human, THAT would only make Jesus half man and half God. This cannot be the reason WHY. In order to answer this question, you HAVE to have a definition for GOD and a definition for MAN. THERE IS NO OTHER WAY TO ANSWER THIS QUESTION.
Tim Snell didn't like my definition of God, yet he didn't give one himself. Likewise, he is unable to answer this question. That is okay, because for the last 14 years I haven't had ANYONE be able to answer this question! Try it for yourself...ask a pastor, teacher, or theologian how Jesus is Fully Man and Fully God.
The answer is that God's Nature is RIGHT and JUST. Man's nature is the ability to act apart from his nature...the non-contradictory definition of "free will". Jesus' Nature (Spiritual) was RIGHT and JUST...this made Him Fully God. Jesus' nature (flesh) was the ability to act apart from His nature...He had a free will. God the Father cannot act apart from His Nature.
This discussion occurs early in the book and I do not cover Jesus' Nature...His ARE...by name. At this point in the book, I'm explaining that Jesus' nature (flesh) allowed us to have a connection with Him. (We do NOT have a connection with His Nature.) This is where Tim Snell flips causality and his hermeneutics suffer.
Jesus' choice to do everything RIGHT and JUST proves to US that He is God. Jesus' choice to do everything RIGHT and JUST is NOT a CAUSE with the EFFECT being He BECOMES God. Jesus' choice to do everything RIGHT and JUST is an EFFECT of BEING GOD...the CAUSE is Jesus' Nature...the CAUSE is Jesus is Fully God by Nature.
The key words in "Modeling God" are "always completely". When I first posed the question "How could God be just and merciful to a thief?", the answer would be: God doesn't punish the thief as much as He ought to. This makes God not completely Just. The other answer would be: sometimes God is Just and sometimes He is merciful. This makes God not always just. By writing "always completely" Right and Just, this takes the discussion from "each" to "every". Jesus' "Godly Nature" is proven with each decision. His "Godly Nature" is proven because every decision is always completely Right and Just.
From "Modeling God" (p. 26): "The only way for God to bridge this gap between His nature and our nature was for there to exist a being that had a free will and chose to be righteous and just in everything he did. This would make this person fully God because he is always completely righteous and always completely just. this would make the person fully man because he has a free will."
In order to explain how Jesus can be fully man and fully God, you need a definition for man and a definition for God. Tim doesn't supply one...just the abstract "Jesus is God by nature". I agree...but what is that nature?
This passage from "Modeling God" shows that the definition of God is having a nature that is Right and Just. The effect is that God would be always completely right and just in every decision. Having this effect makes Jesus God because He couldn't get it any other way...there is no other way for a being to be always completely right and just in every decision unless they have it in their nature.
For more information read: Fully Man and Fully God
If you want the entire explanation all the way through the explanation of our ARE, read the following in order:
-Model for God
-Jesus is Fully Man and Fully God
-Who ARE you?
-Are, Do, Have
-The Personality of God
Again, this is the ONLY non-contradictory explanation for how Jesus is able to be Fully God and Fully Man. If you have a different one, I would love to hear it. Instead, Tim even says that I state in "Modeling God" (and asserts that I believe) that Jesus could ONLY be at best half-God and half-man. This is another example of his faulty hermeneutics (mistake #2 "misunderstanding").
Again, Tim's mistakes could have been avoided if he had responded to just one of the attempts to talk with him before he published the refutation.
I state that Jesus is Fully God. I state that Jesus is God. Notice, Tim chooses to ignore these passages and misapply a belief to me that I make on behalf of others...and hold me to it to the exclusion of everything else stated. Another example of his hermeneutics...
From the refutation: "What one finds is that for Lenhart, sin is never the violation of objective standard which God gives to us, but is entirely dependent upon the individual and their understanding." Then he quotes a passage from page 89 of "Modeling God".
First, sin is the violation of an objective standard which God gives to the individual.
Second, the Law denied uniqueness...it treated everyone the same. We don't live under the Law.
Third, on the same page (#89 of "Modeling God) the following Bible verses are presented:
"For whatsoever is not of faith is sin" (Romans 14:23)
"Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin" (James 4:17).
The verse from Romans 14:23 is the Biblical definition of sin and is dependent on the definition of "faith" which Paul gives in Hebrews 11:1. EVERY OTHER definition for sin (including Strong's Lexicon) is hermeneutically weaker than this definition and relies on man-made tradition and/or interpretation.
Fourth, with fourteen years of research, there are a lot more verses and questions. Some of them are:
"All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not." (I Corinthians 10:23)
"If any of them that believe not bid you to a feast, and ye be disposed to go; whatsoever is set before you, eat, asking no question for conscience sake. But if any man say unto you, This is offered in sacrifice unto idols, eat not for his sake that shewed it, and for conscience sake: for the earth is the Lord's, and the fulness thereof: Conscience, I say, not thine own, but of the other: For why is my liberty judged of another man's conscience?" (I Corinthians 10:27-29) Is eating meat sacrificed to idols ALWAYS wrong?
"Who art thou that judgest another man's servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand. One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind." (Romans 14:4-5) This verse will also be referenced below...
These people violated "the objective standard God gave to us", or as Tim states in the refutation: "God's very being and of His holy standard"...or was there a time when this wasn't sin?
Moses was a murderer.
Moses' father married his aunt.
Abraham married his half-sister.
Hosea married a wife of whoredom.
Judah fathered a child (in the lineage of Christ) with his daughter-in-law.
God still worked through all of these people in a BIG way despite their actions...the Law came through Moses, etc.
Tim's hermeneutics take another hit when he states: "Lenhart then goes and insists that because sin is individual, and not the breaking of a set standard, that we should never point out sin. In doing so, he further ignores scripture about the hardness of people's heart by stating that guilt will always be felt if sin is truly present."
Take a second to read this next sentence clearly because it can be confusing. This is Tim's quote from the refutation when he is presenting a passage from "Modeling God" (page 89):
"Besides, it is not our responsibility to point out what is sin in other people... Sin causes guilt. If it is sin for the individual, the individual will feel guilt."
Look at that carefully. How did Tim understand this to mean I'm saying we should NEVER point out sin? This is hermeneutical error #2: misunderstanding. The passage DOESN'T say we should NEVER point out sin. The passage DOESN'T state that guilt will ALWAYS be felt if sin is truly present.
In fact, on page 113 of "Modeling God" it is stated: "Also, it is possible to sear over the conscience to the point that he or she is unable to feel guilt." In fact, the scripture reference is even given (I Timothy 4:1,2). The passage Tim quotes from "Modeling God" ACTUALLY agrees with the Romans 14:4-5 verse previously mentioned and the following verses:
"And thinkest thou this, O man, that judgest them which do such things, and doest the same, that thou shalt escape the judgment of God?" (Romans 2:3)
"But, after thy hardness and impenitent heart, treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God; Who will render to every man according to his deeds:" (Romans 2:5-6)
I'll state it again, it is not our responsibility to point out sin in other people...the section Tim cut out with ellipses before he rejoins what is written in "Modeling God" (page 89) is: "If we judge others unjustly, justice will require a value from us." This includes people going to Heaven! In Revelation 20:12-13 it says EVERYONE will be rewarded (recompensed BOTH good and bad) according to their works. Then a second separate salvation judgment occurs.
Tim takes his flawed conclusion due to his hermeneutical process and projects it onto me and how I would respond to Hitler killing the Jews. This is hermeneutic mistake #3: wrong perspective (projecting an action on to someone else that didn't actually occur). His extreme point is primarily based on his conclusion that I said we are to NEVER point out sin in others. We've already seen this was Tim's incorrect conclusion. However, just to make sure you realize how flawed Tim Snell's process is, here is a passage from page 210 of "Modeling God":
"Does this mean we should never confront unjust behavior? Actually, we should, but only if we can do it in love."
Tim stated as fact that I said we should NEVER confront sin AND then projects a response onto me involving one of the most sinful people who ever lived.
In reality, the passage Tim referenced DIDN'T say we should NEVER confront sin AND another passage says we should confront unjust behavior.
Could Tim Snell's hermeneutical process have been more wrong in this section?
Again, Tim's mistakes could have been avoided if he had responded to just one of the attempts to talk with him before he published the refutation.
If there was only one point that I wanted to get across in "Modeling God" it would be that we currently have a man-made 500 year old tradition in place of a doctrine that determines our salvation.
The level to which Tim Snell misinterpreted (hermeneutic mistake #1) and misunderstood (hermeneutic mistake #2) this section makes me wonder if there is a third possibility in addition to: 1)incompetence and 2)intentional...and possibly 3)spiritual attack.
Tim Snell states that I wrote the definition for "grace" is "divine influence upon the heart" and he gives a reference number. The reference number is a page from "Modeling God" that states the following (page 67 "Modeling God"):
"Unlike faith, there is no passage in the New Testament that gives the definition of grace. When we don't have a specific definition, we will begin our process by considering another source and then removing the contradictions until the definition agrees with the Bible. In this case, we will start with Strong's Concordance (Greek word and reference in parenthesis):
Grace: The divine influence upon the heart and its reflection in the life (Charis 5485)"
This passage from "Modeling God" is not only completely ignored in Tim Snell's refutation, he misstated the definition I gave. This is hermeneutic mistake #1: misinterpretation. How hard is it to copy ALL the English words in the definition from "Modeling God" into Tim's refutation? How would someone reading Tim's refutation know that he completely mislead them UNLESS they had read "Modeling God"? Who did Tim have read his refutation before he published it? Did these people read "Modeling God"?
Tim needs to decide if he is going to continue to use Strong's Concordance against me like he did in his refutation. If so, then he needs to agree to Strong's Concordance for this definition...or is he holding me to a standard that he refuses to hold himself to?
Worse than ALL of this, I sent Tim the list of the 200+ factual errors in the refutation before he put the refutation on the internet. I even made a separate list of some very specific errors that are blatantly wrong. This was the third error I specifically pointed out in the e-mails to Tim Snell:
"3. There are some blatant misrepresentations of text EVEN when you give a reference. For instance, the definition of GRACE from "Modeling God" is NOT what you state. Check YOUR reference page stated. Is this an example of your ability to translate?"
Tim Snell responded to say he made some of the changes I pointed out...and this section stayed the same! Why would Tim choose to intentionally keep a blatant mistake after it has been pointed out and he has made other changes?
I believe "grace" (charis) is the work of the Holy Spirit. The concept of grace runs throughout "Modeling God" as a pre-eminent attribute. This makes the work of the Holy Spirit vital and again reinforces the pre-eminence of the spiritual connection. This is completely lost on Tim Snell.
The rest of what Tim wrote in this section on grace is so far off, I suggest reading this GRACE link if you really want to understand what was meant by grace being in our control, how grace is different from works, and how we need to do something to access the value from Jesus' death on the cross. This will explain HOW grace is initiated and provided BY God...AND HOW we are accountable and will ultimately be judged for our response to God.
Finally, "charis" is very specific. It is a word used during a narrow period of time. The other definitions people use (e.g. "unmerited favor") would have been stated with COMPLETELY different Greek words. Ultimately, I would LOVE to see Tim Snell take Ephesians 2:8 and use his hermeneutical process to interpret every word in that verse and how they relate to each other. There is NO way to get to "unmerited favor" without including a step that blatantly brings in man's tradition instead of the Word of God.
I have checked every usage of the word "charis" and the definition given by Strong's (above) is the ONLY definition that fits every passage without making the verses and the rest of the Bible contradictory. When God revealed this definition of grace to me over 8 years ago, it has only led to me hearing from God more clearly and more often. I believe God wants this for everyone and tradition is making the Word of God of none effect in this area. I have had people who read the drafts of the manuscript prior to publication tell me that even though they didn't agree with the book, they thought "Modeling God" should be published solely for the two chapters on GRACE.
Again, Tim's mistakes could have been avoided if he had responded to just one of the attempts to talk with him before he published the refutation.
BONUS MATERIAL!!!! (May 2008)
Tim's misunderstanding in this section was so complete, I held back a lot of the explanation in order not to embarrass him. My challenge was for him to explain with his hermeneutics the meaning of Ephesians 2:8. Since that time, Tim has asserted that he intentionally misrepresented the definition I gave in "Modeling God". He admits it! He could have put ellipses in or said he was only dealing with the first half of the definition. Since he INTENTIONALLY wanted to present the first half of the definition of "charis", this raises even more questions about Tim's hermeneutics...his ability to interpret text.
His main contention is that cutting off the definition did NOT distort the point I was making. Does "Modeling God" state there is a difference between the first half of the definition and the ENTIRE definition for "charis"? If it does, how could Tim miss this point?
Page 68 of "Modeling God" clearly states that the first part of Strong’s definition is “unmerited favor”!...the ENTIRE definition that Tim is arguing FOR!
"This first part of grace could be abstractly described as “unmerited favor.” God’s influence is definitely “favor.” Also, it is “unmerited” in that we did nothing to deserve this influence. Actually, God is speaking to everyone, whether they are a Christian or not. God’s grace extends to everyone. It is our fault if we don’t listen to God. However, if we stop here, we miss the real impact of grace. Unfortunately, tradition has stripped Christianity of its full power by recognizing only half of the definition of grace." ("Modeling God" page 68)
So, on the one hand Tim is saying my definition for grace is wrong and his definition is right.
Then he states my definition of grace is ONLY the first half of Strong's definition.
And I state the first half of Strong's definition is "unmerited favor", the same definition as Tim's!
To me, this is the PERFECT EXAMPLE of distorting a point!
Furthermore, Tim writes in the refutation (page 25):
"Ultimately Lenhart’s contention is that grace is something we control, not God – and therefore it can NEVER mean “unmerited favor."
Yet, I've already shown that I define the first half of "charis" (the ENTIRE definition Tim attributes to me) as "unmerited favor".
The bottomline is Tim KNOWS he misrepresented me (he has admitted it), but rationalizes it by saying it didn't distort the point. Is THAT true? Judge for yourself...
This section is built on Tim's flawed conclusions regarding Jesus, sin, and grace. Let me give some passages from "Modeling God" to objectively show how far off his hermeneutics are...
From the refutation:
"Among the concepts that Lenhart articulates:
-That there is NOT a salvation event where one receives Christ and is made a new creation.
-That God's righteousness is NOT imputed to us and is not sufficient to save us.
-That one's faith DOES NOT NEED to be placed in the person and work of Jesus to be saved."
From "Modeling God":
"This is accomplished when a person expresses their will to emphasize the spiritual self over the physical self. Since only one self can take precedence, they are essentially killing the physical self and birthing the spiritual self. This is the event Jesus spoke of when he said we must be born again (John 3:3)."
"Notice the only way for us to "do the right thing" is for God to do it through us, which is grace. Grace is the ultimate way for us to become righteous because it is God who is working through us. We can act apart from our unholy nature by choosing to let God work through us instead of walking in the flesh. Righteousness is the key to salvation. "For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 5:20)."
"This person provides the only way for man to have relationship with God. This is the Jesus Model."
"This is why Jesus is the only way to the Father."
"If we were to put a name to the process, it would be Jesus, because He made it possible for us to receive the value. There is "none other name" that can be correctly placed on the process. However, a person doesn't have to know the name of Jesus in order to receive the value."
I want to take this section one step further because Tim accused me of saying there is more than one way to God. He also took my statement that "people didn't need to know Jesus' name in order to be influenced by Jesus" as if I believed that one's faith didn't need to be placed in the person and work of Jesus in order to be saved. As stated earlier, I believe that the ONLY way to God is through Jesus...there isn't another way. This doesn't mean you have to know the name of Jesus.
However, Tim Snell also posted a review of "Modeling God" on Amazon. The statements in the "review" aren't factual and some of them have nothing to do the "review". These statements actually show Tim is participating in gossip. However, his last line says to buy a good CS Lewis book instead. Here are two passages from the end of two of CS Lewis' most famous works:
"The Last Battle" is the last book in "The Chronicles of Narnia" series. At the end of the book (and series), a follower of Tash (devil) describes his Final Judgment in front of God (Aslan):
"So I went over much grass and many flowers and among all kinds of wholesome and delectable trees till lo! in a narrow place between two rocks there came to meet me a great Lion. The speed of him was like an ostrich, and his size was an elephant's; his hair was like pure gold and the brightness of his eyes, like gold that is liquid in the furnace. He was more terrible than the Flaming Mountain of Lagour, and in beauty he surpassed all that is in the world, even as the rose in bloom surpasses the dust of the desert. Then I fell at his feet and thought, Surely this is the hour of death, for the Lion (who is worthy of all honour) will know that I have served Tash all my days and not him. Nevertheless, it is better to see the Lion and die than to be Tisroc of the world and live and not to have seen him. But the Glorious One bent down his golden head and touched my forehead with his tongue and said, Son, thou art welcome. But I said, Alas, Lord, I am no son of Thine but the servant of Tash. He answered, Child, all the service thou hast done to Tash, I account as service to me. Then by reason of my great desire for wisdom and understanding, I overcame my fear and questioned the Glorious One and said, Lord, is it then true, as the Ape said, that thou and Tash are one? The Lion growled so that the earth shook (but his wrath was not against me) and said, It is false. Not because he and I are one, but because we are opposites, I take to me the services which thou hast done to him, for I and he are of such different kinds that no service which is vile can be done to me, and none which is not vile can be done to him. Therefore if any man swear by Tash and keep his oath for the oath's sake, it is by me that he has truly sworn, though he know it not, and it is I who reward him. And if any man do a cruelty in my name, then though he says the name Aslan, it is Tash whom he serves and by Tash his deed is accepted. Dost thou understand, Child? I said, Lord, thou knowest how much I understand. But I said also (for the truth constrained me), Yes I have been seeking Tash all my days. Beloved, said the Glorious One, unless thy desire had been for me thou wouldst not have sought so long and so truly. For all find what they truly seek."
Just so there is no misunderstanding what CS Lewis meant, here is a passage from near the end of "Mere Christianity":
"There are people (a great many of them) who are slowly ceasing to be Christians who still call themselves by that name: some of them are clergymen. There are other people who are slowly becoming Christians though they do not yet call themselves so. There are people who do not accept the full Christian doctrine about Christ but who are so strongly attracted by Him that they are His in a much deeper sense than they themselves understand. There are people in other religions who are being led by God's secret influence to concentrate on those parts of their religion which are in agreement with Christianity, and who thus belong to Christ without knowing it. For example, a Buddhist of good will may be led to concentrate more and more on the Buddhist teaching about mercy and to leave in the background (though he might still say he believed) the Buddhist teaching on certain other points. Many of the good Pagans long before Christ's birth may have been in this position."
What would Tim Snell say about these passages? Are these "good CS Lewis books" according to Tim Snell? I would also ask Tim Snell how many scripture verses are presented in CS Lewis' books and if they meet Tim's minimum requirements? There are over 140 scripture references given in "Modeling God" and apparently that wasn't enough for him...
The rest of this section on Salvation resembles the section on Sin. Tim Snell has blatantly missed the point and now feels justified in going to extremes (hermeneutics mistake #3: wrong perspective). This time he has me saying a child sacrificing, axe murdering, idol worshipper would go to Heaven if they questioned their actions WHILE THEY WERE SACRIFICING THEIR CHILD TO THE IDOL.
Clearly, this wouldn't qualify as "believe in your heart". However, if the person wasn't sacrificing their child to the idol and made a decision to pursue God, how would they be different than the sinner who hung on the cross next to Jesus? Tim also misunderstands (hermeneutics mistake #2) when he says that I state that someone who spent their life going towards God would lose their salvation with a momentary step away from God just before they died.
Again, to conclude this section and make it perfectly clear what the analogy regarding "make progress" towards God entailed, here are some passages from "Modeling God":
"It would seem that grace is actually the best way to improve our relationship with God. What could be better than listening to God and intentionally choosing to let God direct your actions? Yet, while people tell us to, "Have faith," you don't hear them say, "Have grace." Why? That's because when most people speak of grace, they are talking about "unmerited favor." Further, that definition puts the responsibility on God instead of us. Since grace is half of salvation, that would mean we don't have control over salvation. This contradicts free will."
"if the person would die during the time they recognized the act was sin and before they confessed and repented, it would depend on God's mercy. How much mercy did the person have? People who aren't merciful get little mercy from God. Would they have confessed and repented before their mercy ran out? Only God knows. It would seem unholy for a person to lose his salvation because he happened to die during this period while he was still under mercy, especially if his death was something he didn't cause."
Again, Tim's mistakes could have been avoided if he had responded to just one of the attempts to talk with him before he published the refutation.
ONE WAY JUSTICE
There is one important area where Tim seems to understand my belief and we COMPLETELY disagree: Justice.
I believe the Bible states everyone will be judged for all of their works. I call this the Reward Model. I also believe we attain salvation by grace through faith...God's Righteousness. This is the Salvation Model. These are two separate Models.
"Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven." (Matthew 6:1)
If "reward" in this (and other verses) refers to salvation, then how does this make sense? You lose your salvation because you gave alms AND told people about it? However, if this is separate from salvation and is a "righteousness" from works...then it would qualify for "reward". However, this righteousness is as filthy rags when it is compared to the Righteousness that leads to salvation...God's Righteousness through grace.
Righteousness (God's) determines salvation.
Justice means EVERYTHING will get equaled out through reward...even for people who are going to Heaven.
There is a belief going around the Christian community that God's Righteousness prevents us from having to pay for being unjust to others. Actually, God's Righteousness prevents us from paying for the sins against God...against not listening to God. However, we still have to pay for what we do to each other whether the person is a believer or not. Intentionally being unjust against someone and thinking you can get away with it because God will forgive you is believing that God is unjust.
The worse part is these people want EVERYONE else to give them everything they think they are owed. This is hypocritical to hold others to a standard you don't hold yourself to. This is NOT LOVE...it is the opposite. Why do people ONLY believe in justice when it means they get what they are owed? Why don't people believe justice means they will have to pay for what they didn't deserve?
As we saw, Tim's process involved making all three hermeneutical mistakes on a relatively simple and short text (compared to the Bible). We also saw that Tim's process involved NOT talking with me before publishing his conclusions. Even after Tim published his refutation, the difference between the two processes was on display.
My process led me to contact Tim Snell and ask questions so I could better communicate with him. He did not answer theses important questions AND continued to judge me.
Why was Tim Snell factually wrong? What in his process resulted in making blatant errors? Did he listen to God? Did God tell him to write those errors? Did he use "human deduction"?
Did God tell him to write factually incorrect things on Amazon?
Did Tim make up the information he posted on Amazon?
Did Tim participate in gossip and write what someone else told him?
He refused to meet with me for a variety of reasons, but once he published the refutation, he wrote me to say he will meet with me ONLY when he has other pastors who will attend the meeting on his side. What is his reasoning for being able to meet with me under those conditions? What was the objective of writing and publishing the refutation?
Was it to understand "Modeling God"? Then why didn't he contact me and ask for clarification?
Was it to help me get out of what he perceived as "error"? Then why didn't he contact me?
Instead, he refused to meet with me or communicate with me until he had made the refutation public. In it, he demonstrated his hermeneutics...his ability to interpret, understand, and have perspective on texts...including the Bible.
It appears the only goal he achieved was disclosed in the refutation: "As I finish this refutation of Lenhart's process and theology, I am more convinced more than ever that my initial reaction to his work is valid."
He convinced himself that he was right with his initial, and possibly ONLY, reaction to "Modeling God". His goal seems to be to prove my process wrong AND if it took misrepresenting passages from "Modeling God" and taking flawed points to extremes, then that is what he was going to do. Perhaps, all we had to do was look at the word "refutation" in the title to realize what Tim Snell's objective is. I believe Tim thinks he checked for contradictions in his refutation and believes none exist. I also believe this post called "Renewing Your Mind" explains how he can believe this and it not be true.
Ultimately, for Tim to be right he has to be right about two points:
1. His interpretation of "Modeling God" has to be correct.
2. The author and people have to believe Tim's interpretation of "Modeling God".
That second point is more subtle. When Tim has met with people and explained his interpretation of "Modeling God", he has been repeatedly told that the author and the people teaching "Modeling God" don't believe Tim's interpretation. That is, these people Jesus is fully God, etc. Tim rejects this assertion. Tim is stating that the people who teach and endorse "Modeling God" actually believe Jesus is not fully God, etc. and intentionally tell people they do believe these things. This is dangerous territory. I believe Tim has left himself open to judgment...but this is ultimately up to God.
Sadly, this is the ONLY pastor that has had the guts to take a public stand on "Modeling God"...and for that I can't feel any animosity toward Tim. I am extremely appreciative that he posted his refutation for everyone to see. In the future, I plan on going more in-depth with the refutation in order to help more people see even more clearly and objectively how we have been using poor hermeneutics with the result being we are making the Word of God of none effect by man-made traditions.
In the Big Picture, whenever a person interprets text they are demonstrating their hermeneutical skills. This ability may not be so crucial to most people...However, to a pastor and teacher THIS is the FOUNDATION! The ability to interpret text and think is what they get paid for...it is what they are valued for.
Tim Snell did NOT have to rely COMPLETELY on his hermeneutical ability...he could have asked me (or people who understand "Modeling God") questions to clarify the meaning of the text. However, HIS process did NOT allow him to do this. Consequently, he ended up publicly demonstrating his hermeneutical abilities when he didn't have to...
WHY did Tim feel the need to isolate himself from me and people who understand "Modeling God"? THIS question gets to OBJECTIVE...What was Tim's objective? Again, if it was to understand, then he would have contacted me and/or people who understood the book. If it was to feel right, then he would avoid contacting people who could explain the book.
Over the past two years, I have seen people purposely misinterpret "Modeling God" and avoid all attempts to discuss the book with me or others who teach the God-given principles. It is almost as if they believe their misinterpretation of the book MAKES the book mean what they say.
Some people say, "Perception is reality". ACTUALLY, it is a reality (fact) that the person has a perception. Also, the perception results in the creation of a reality (fact). However, to say that a person's perception makes a pre-existing reality (fact) cease to exist is incorrect.
The process outlined in "Modeling God" BEGINS with the thought, "I COULD be wrong." This is a recognition that reality (fact) and my perception could be two different things...and the responsibility is on me to get as much information as possible in order to determine what reality (fact) is.
The other process begins with the belief, "I CAN'T be wrong." This results in a belief that reality IS the perception of the individual. Since there are a lot of individuals, this means there are a lot of "realities"...and conflicting "realities" (contradictions) will result in SOMEONE being wrong AND doing MORE damage because they don't think they are wrong...AND there is no way to change because their process doesn't help them to become MORE right.
ACTUALLY, misinterpreting "Modeling God", avoiding talking to me and/or experts on the book, and telling others to judge me based on this faulty projection ONLY shows what kind of person THEY are...
I truly hope Tim does what the other pastors were afraid to do...pursue the truth and admit he has been wrong. To me, admitting he was wrong would ACTUALLY prove how excellent he is. Sticking to a flawed perspective just makes him the same as what all of us have gotten used to from our "leaders". Is Tim the "young pastor" or the "old pastor"? How would you react to Tim if he admitted he was wrong? It would tell A LOT about you! We will see...
In closing, let me take you as far away from the wall as I can at this time in order to give you the Big Picture...
People change for two reasons: 1)Achieve Gain or 2)Fear of Loss.
The reality is that less than 1% of people change in order to achieve gain. People want to remain comfortable as long as possible. Change is ALWAYS uncomfortable. Most people ONLY change when they HAVE to...when they are going to lose something and be uncomfortable anyway.
"Modeling God" was ALL about "achieve gain". It didn't threaten people. It showed people how they could hear from God more clearly and more often AND how they could understand the Bible better. THAT is the intended EFFECT of reading "Modeling God". Maybe pastors are afraid of people hearing from God and understanding the Bible better. I don't know.
However, the next book in this series is confrontational. "Modeling God" presented as much as possible without getting confrontational.
Look at how God approaches people in the Bible. He always starts off showing people how they can gain. He appeals to them through reason. Then when they reject Him (and ONLY then), God approaches them with fear of loss. People HAVE to ask God to approach them with fear of loss by ignoring God's attempts to help us achieve gain.
I'm going to look at ways to get the next book out by Memorial Day. (In fact, here is the link: The Sequel) Until then, if ANY pastor wants to communicate with me privately, I can remain discrete and no one ever has to know we are talking.