Against God’s Word: Anti-Epistle As A Devotional Tool

I’ve been reflecting on this old post from Tim Challies that I stumbled upon again recently: The Anti-Psalm. I encourage you to go read it. The general idea is from David Powlison. Taking a Psalm, he writes his own psalm in the exact opposite way, and it reveals some insights into ways me might deny the truth of the actual psalm, but with words we otherwise wouldn’t use.

It made me think what this would look like applied to a different kind of text, such as an epistle. In particular, my mind turned to 1 Thessalonians 4:3-8;

3 For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; 4 that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, 5 not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God; 6 that no one transgress and wrong his brother in this matter, because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, as we told you beforehand and solemnly warned you. 7 For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness. 8 Therefore whoever disregards this, disregards not man but God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you.

An anti-epistle might read something like this:

3 God doesn’t care about the particulars of your life . He created you with these urges anyway, 4 so let loose: look at porn, have an affair, or at least give into your fantasies; it’s your body, your choice. It’s not even that bad. 5 Everyone is doing it, even some people who call themselves Christians. 6 God isn’t going to be angry with you like your family or friends might. He understands. There’s nothing to worry about. 7 God just wants you to be happy, whatever it takes. 8 Therefore go ahead, because no one will see, and God doesn’t care.

I’m no David Powlison (who Challies initially quoted). But even my amateur an attempt brings it into stark light. Some of these thoughts are utterly worldly–things you might hear on TV or see on Facebook. But some of them have been in my heart too; only, I never would have said them out loud. It seems like a good Bible study practice to think about. The anti-Word, whether anti-Psalm or anti-epistle, as I’ve tried here, teaches us to ask a very important question about the Bible:

If God’s Word is true, then what is the lie?

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