Can This Really Happen in America?

Last night I went to a Bible study. Most of the people I’d never talked to before. The topic was faith and works. Everyone agreed with me.

It wasn’t a dream.

I couldn’t believe it was happening. I’m somewhat scared to mention that they were all Baptists because maybe their church isn’t supposed to find out! I’d hate to expose them!

They were Bible believers, only they were reading and talking about the parts people really don’t want to discuss. Here’s some things they said:

  • People get offended and don’t even want to discuss whether Genesis 1 might not be literal, but they’re constantly explaining Jesus’ words away by interpreting them figuratively. (“He really didn’t mean that.”)
  • When Jesus said we need to cut things off if they cause us to sin, or when he said to forsake all our possessions, those are the places we need a more literal interpretation.
  • “Faith alone” is the ultimate American doctrine, but as far as I can tell, the only place it occurs in the Bible is James 2:24, where it says “not by faith alone.”

At one point, I said to them, “So, you’ve already embraced the modern heresy that James meant what he said, and tonight we’re just working on reconciling all the things the Bible says about faith and works?”

They all nodded like that was a perfectly normal thing to hear at a Bible study, especially one consisting mostly of Baptists.

Now, keep in mind that my blood cell counts are half what they’re supposed to be. They’re so low that I’m going in to get two pints of blood at the hospital in 40 minutes. I can’t rule out the possibility that I hallucinated all this.

Gideon went along, though, and my wife seems to know I went to a Bible study.

By the way, beyond finding fellow heretics, I found men that deeply loved God, and in the midst of all the discussion of faith and works was a humble pursuit of how to better please God through faith and an exuberant praise for the mercy and power of the Lord Jesus.

It was so good that it’s just hard to believe it even happened.

The Impossible Part

I mentioned that my blood counts are low enough to need a transfusion. Sitting up for an hour and a half, unless I’m in a recliner, is exhausting. I walk around really, really slow so that I don’t get light-headed and my forearms and legs don’t burn from the effort.

Last night, though, I participated in robust, excited conversation for two hours, and when I was done I was full of energy. I had more energy than before I went in.

I’m the one living in this body. I can tell you that’s simply impossible. Mere enjoyment could never produce that.

Now impossible I don’t have any problems believing. Things just work right when God’s presence comes. I remember a diabetic missionary who used to remark that whenever we came to visit him he never needed insulin. He would check his sugar levels, and they were always good, even when we visited for several days.

I walked out of that Bible study wondering if I still really needed the transfusion.

(Um, this morning, it feels like I need a transfusion, though I still feel better than I did yesterday.)

Ok, gotta go.

About Paul Pavao

I am married, the father of six, and currently the grandfather of two. I run a business, live in a Christian community, teach, and I am learning to disciple others better than I have ever been able to before. I believe God has gifted me to restore proper foundations to the Christian faith. In order to ensure that I do not become a heretic, I read the early church fathers from the second and third centuries. They were around when all the churches founded by the apostles were in unity. I also try to stay honest and open. I argue and discuss these foundational doctrines with others to make sure my teaching really lines up with Scripture. I am encouraged by the fact that the several missionaries and pastors that I know well and admire as holy men love the things I teach. I hope you will be encouraged too. I am indeed tearing up old foundations created by tradition in order to re-establish the foundations found in Scripture and lived on by the churches during their 300 years of unity.
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7 Responses to Can This Really Happen in America?

  1. Man of Confusion says:

    May I add my two cents about the Bible study? It will not necessarily give it more worth but it will fill the pockets a little more (I am not real sure what that means or why I said it but if you figure it out let me know. haha)

    I just want to state that we agreed in Christ. I am not capable of agreeing with someone who understands things or lives differently than I do but when I allow Christ to work in and through me I can even agree with Man of DIrt (to whom I am related. hahaha).

    On a personal note, I never want anyone to agree with me but I want to be used of God in such a way that others would agree with Christ. Our theology, doctrine, thoughts, ideas, and the like are nothing compared to that of our Savior and I pray that we, who believe upon the name of Jesus, would surrender their ALL and follow His ways and His commands so that we can spend an eternity together in heaven laughing at one another because we thought we were right. HAHA!

    It was a blessing Shammah and I look forward to future Bible studies. May God’s will be done in your life and may He be glorified in and through you and your family.

    Blessing and peace be with you,

    Derek Bodiford

    • Shammah says:

      I never asked your last name. Are you related to Ritchie?

      You are hilarious. I’m just used to frightening everyone. It’s a delight to find people not gasping for breath after I talked to them! In fact, had I not been who I am, I probably would have been gasping for breath.

  2. Man of Dirt says:

    I knew your heart brother. And I agree with you that if we could ever move past fear, and learn to listen with the ears of the spirit and eyes of Christ, then we may just find brothers and sisters in some of the most unexpected places. One of the most amazing discussion groups I have ever been a part of was a group of both lay and ministry leaders in West Georgia who joined together monthly to discuss hard topics, knowing we may not always agree in detail, but agree in the Spirit to love one another. I think one of the tragedies of the internet and Blog-O-Sphere, is that – devoid of relationship – we tear down each other based of concepts and theological quibbling. I know there are many people with Blogs which have made a “ministry” out of tearing down others in the Body of Christ from across the country and world. Of course there should be a place where we can debate and disagree. And there are many in the church whom I believe are doing great harm to the Kingdom – most without realizing it.

    I have never changed opinion reading a web site. I have changed when hearing the same idea, birthed in a relationship with a brother, whom I saw the Life of Christ in, and whom I knew loved me no matter if I disagreed with him. Thankfully Jesus gave clarity when he said the one who loves me is the one who follows my commands. He did not say the one who loves me is the one who has perfect theology and knows the right information.

    So from one brother without fear to another brother without fear.

    May the Lord strengthen you today in His Blood.


  3. Chasah says:

    Papa Shammah,
    This is such exciting news! In a way, I felt like I was reading something from the early church πŸ™‚ I think of Joan of Arc being burned at the stake for her faith and people calling her a heretic in order to try and cover up the truth. It is more than important for us to always keep the truth alive! I hope and pray that I am always willing to fight for this same truth even if it means giving my life in order to help keep it alive. Thank you Papa Shammah for not being afraid to fight for the truth no matter what the cost! I believe with all my heart that God really appreciates you for doing this for Him πŸ™‚
    I hope that I am just like you when I grow up:)
    I love you and I love the God that we live for!

  4. Man of Dirt says:


    I agree, it was a great night. Blessed that you came and God blessed you with the strength to run the 2 hour race with us. I appreciated your input and honest thoughts. We will continue praying with you and your family through this Leukemia journey. As I said before, God never waste a good crisis with His beloved. I look forward to His redemptive work in this, and look forward to a day when you can join us again.

    A few thoughts of clarification:

    1. Funny I thought everyone was agreeing with me. (Said in a jovial spirit – of course) I think in reality we agreed with each other – which is a beautiful thing. But I know the surprise when people agree with me – and that seems to be less and less as I journey further with Christ. But I think He promised us something like that.

    2. Just to be clear, the bringing up of Genesis was just to illustrate that we tend to like to pick and choose (ala Thomas Jefferson) which parts we like to take literally, while turning others into figurative, or dismiss them through theological noodling (ala Darby and Scofield). At this point I hold that the Creative Artist that which is My King can sculpt with Word a mountain, mouse, monkey or man in seconds which would appear to take millions of years to form. (2 Peter 3:8) I have studied science as a non-professional, but have yet to read anything which has convinced me to dismiss Genesis as real history. So I have no problem taking Genesis literally. Now if someone were to be able to form an argument which integrates faith, scripture and science together to explain another option which I could not refute – it would not shake my faith in Christ at all. Once I tasted the goodness that He is, I could never turn back.

    So with that said, my main challenge was that we are inconsistent when we demand literal interpretation of Genesis and yet dismiss the core of our supposed King’s teaching and commands because it does not line up with our supposed theology. So I for one will take Jesus at His Word, and submit before Him to follow His commands and thus I will remain in Him. (John 15:10)

    So in the end, I pray you can return soon. Our desire is just to encourage each other to live His Life and so fulfill the law of Love.

    Fron one heretic to another.


    • Shammah says:

      Thanks for the clarifications. I’m hoping that my “everyone agreed with me” was interpreted as “we agreed with each other” even when I said it. I’m assuming so.

      The other thing I better clarify is that agreeing, in my eyes, is joyfully looking at the Scriptures and anything else God is saying together, **without fear**, and pursuing that great and wonderful result of actually doing what our Father says to do.

      There’s a Presbyterian pastor in California who doesn’t agree with me intellectually near as much as y’all did last night, but I would have said the same of him–that we agree on everything–and the very reason I ended up pursuing him was because I knew he wouldn’t be scared.

  5. Doug Chamley says:

    I would have to say that if God could speak into existence the heavens and earth, and destroy life with a thought or a word, then He should be more than capable of sustaining your body and giving it life at anytime. He alone has that power so I would say you were supercharged by God last night.

    Holy, life giving, blood sustaining, supernatural, transfusing and power-packed energy from God himself!

    That’s exciting to me!

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