Only One Rotten Apple
By John Gavazzoni
We're all familiar with the adage, "it only takes one rotten apple in the barrel to spoil the whole batch," or some slightly different version of the same. Lotta' down-home wisdom there that can be applied to Christian theology. The barrel may be filled with good apples, but given time, that one bad apple will spoil all the rest.
The bad apple often has become spoiled by a theologian's need to press a point, to nail down a genuine truth with great emphasis, but in attempting to do so, he might make only one badly-considered statement that's supposed to sum up what he understands to be so very important. To use a contemporary expression, he'll "push the envelope" beyond what it can bear.
In my little study of church history, but more so, from bouncing around the Christian scene (or better, having been bounced around), these past 63 plus years since the Lord called me to Himself, I've seen it happen over and over again on the part of those for whom such deviation is unworthy, given the whole body of their contribution to true orthodoxy.
My experiences with being confronted by barrel-spoiling statements and/or concepts has involved sometimes an anointed sense immediately that something wasn't right, but without understanding just why or what, and having to wait sometimes years until understanding was added to the raw discernment. Other times, the anointed warning was immediately accompanied by understanding, and so it is with what is on my heart in writing this article.
I have been relishing a certain brother's depth of understanding of all that Christ involves. Several of us who have fellowshipped over the internet have commended to one another concerning this brother's insights. Then, just recently, in the middle of a barrel of good apples, this rotten one appeared, as a statement meant to clarify with great emphasis the breadth, length, height and depth of Christ: "Jesus died, Christ arose."
You might say I was transfixed at reading such a concept. As it was so with other similar statements, I silently groaned within. What was meant to emphasize a great truth with succinct clarity, actually, with pronounced emphasis, interjected confusion instead of clarity.
No, no my heart cried out. "That's wrong; that's not true; that's insidiously erroneous." Scripture could not be clearer, Jesus arose, and Christ died for us. On the Mount of Ascension, two men (note, men), stood by as the disciples watched (as their physical eyes interpreted the scene) as the Lord was taken up from them, and the two men exclaimed, "Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven, this same JESUS, which is taken up from you shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go" (emphasis, mine)
The risen, ascended, enthroned, and glorified Lord, identified Himself to Saul on the road to Damascus as JESUS. (again, emphasis, mine) The risen Lord showed Himself to Stephen as he was being stoned to death. How did the risen Lord reveal Himself to Stephen? I don't think anyone can dare say that Stephen was confused regarding what he saw: "I see JESUS standing at the right hand of God." (again, emphasis mine)
The Bible is clear that "CHRIST died for our sins;" "CHRIST died for us." (again, my emphasis) In fact, Jesus died and rose again, and Christ died and rose again. No need for additions of esoteric nuances. This article may call for others to follow to address what differences the writers of scripture may have meant to convey when they wrote variously of "Jesus Christ;" "Christ Jesus;" "the Lord;" "Lord Jesus" and "Christ," but I can tell you confidently that that one rotten apple: "Jesus died, Christ arose," given time, will corrupt the whole barrel on the part of many who will extrapolate a deviant conclusion re: a supposed distinction to be made between Jesus and Christ.