I don't often write theology and seldom publish what I write when I'm ticked off. Today I find myself very angry about ideas from a book circulating in the churches... again. Similar reoccurring heresies pop up every once in a while, deceiving believers with half-truths and outright lies. So here goes.
Lew White's self-published "Fossilized Customs" as a go-to book on how to serve God better. "You'll love it. It will open your eyes." Well, it opened my eyes all right. I couldn't believe the nonsense I was reading. What goes around, comes around ... including heresies. What did I think? (Note: I checked my ideas with a few theologians before writing this.)
What rubbish. By the time I'd finished the second page, it was clear that this was a rant of legalism and church-bashing, not a scholarly work. Fanciful claims appear on photo captions as well as in the text. (For example, that archaeologists have discovered 3-4 meter skeletons, supposedly the Nephilim of Genesis 6:4, and hidden the evidence. Where are the studies to prove the claims? The photographic "evidence" is badly Photoshopped.) Most stridently, the book shouts that a Saturday Sabbath is commanded by God. Obviously the author gives no credibility to Galatians 5, Colossians 3, or Romans 14, where Paul forbids arguments over the day of the Sabbath.
The pictures and choices of illustrations are aggressively offensive and insulting and some sketches look demonic (75). The book looks and reads like a National Enquirer mixture of fact and fiction: historical customs and traditions are viewed with a sick sexual bent. The Christmas tree or a civic memorial pillar? A phallic symbol of course. Santa Claus with kids on his lap? Clearly alluding to the idol Moleck and the custom of putting children "on his lap" to offer them as child sacrifices. A snapshot of a mayor cutting the ribbon for a new building? Symbolically cutting a hymen... OK, that's enough. But you get the picture. I was offended, grossed out, shocked, and mortified that evil syncretism caused by personal perversion was presented as God's caution for believers.
The author refuses to reference the scholars or studies he disses, making up some history or ignoring facts (i.e. the early NT church - including Paul - and second-century churches already celebrated "on the first day" or Sunday. That was not a new invention forced on Christians by Constantine, as White claims (7, 80, etc.)
God occasionally used rituals familiar to Israelites from surrounding contexts to help them understand worship. Building altars with burnt sacrifices, erecting memorial pillars, etc. are only a few. Missionaries today similarly contextualize the gospel into new settings. If the book's ideas were followed to their natural conclusions, we'd have to live in Israelite tents, worship at the temple on the Sabbath, and be bound up again in ceremonies that foreshadowed the Savior. I'm grateful that the apostles put no such burdens on Gentile believers (Jerusalem Council, Acts 15).
You've probably figured out that I really get mad when someone twists the truth and harms the flock of God. I say, "Stay away!" from ANY such pseudo-scholarship. May God have mercy on Lew White's soul and keep the unwary from falling into this snare of deception.
*Accept the one whose faith is weak, without quarreling over disputable matters. One person’s faith allows them to eat anything, but another, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. The one who eats everything must not treat with contempt the one who does not, and the one who does not eat everything must not judge the one who does, for God has accepted them. Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To their own master, servants stand or fall. And they will stand, for the Lord is able to make them stand.
One person considers one day more sacred than another; another considers every day alike. Each of them should be fully convinced in their own mind. Whoever regards one day as special does so to the Lord. Whoever eats meat does so to the Lord, for they give thanks to God; and whoever abstains does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God. For none of us lives for ourselves alone, and none of us dies for ourselves alone. If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life so that he might be the Lord of both the dead and the living. Romans 14: 1, 5-9
*You are all sons of God through faith in Christ
Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ
have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free,
male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.
Galatians 3:26-29 NIV
*Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ. Do not let anyone who delights in false humility and the worship of angels disqualify you.
Such a person also goes into great detail about what they have seen;
they are puffed up with idle notions by their unspiritual mind. They have lost connection with the head, from whom the whole body, supported and held together by its ligaments and sinews, grows as God causes it to grow.
Since you died with Christ to the elemental spiritual forces of this world, why, as though you still belonged to the world, do you submit to its rules: “Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!”? These rules, which have to do with things that are all destined to perish with use, are based on merely human commands and teachings. Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence. Colossians 2:16-23
*I pray that your love will overflow more and more, and that you will keep on growing in knowledge and understanding.
For I want you to understand what really matters,
so that you may live pure and blameless lives until
the day of Christ’s return. May you always be filled with the fruit of your
salvation—the righteous character produced
in your life by Jesus Christ—for this will bring
much glory and praise to God. Philippians 1:9-11 NLT