“Repentance”

Why do you not speak more often on the importance of “repentance?”

Is it because I do not use the words “repent” or “repentance” (or “repenteth” or “do penance”) that you feel I do not speak enough on the subject or that the subject is not important to me? I do not make a habit of using those words for at least two reasons: First, the words have become sacred calves for the brick and mortar church. They carry with them, in my opinion, a bit of Hell-fire and brimstone. Second, the Greek word used for Jesus’ and John the Baptist’s famous proclamations is hopelessly mistranslated “Repent.” Some scholars believe it to be the worst translation in the New Testament! The problem is that we have not in English a proper equivalent to the Greek word.

The word translated into English as “repent” is the Greek word “metanoeo;” meaning, “to think differently;” it is, quite simply, but specifically, “to change the mind.” Theologically, it denotes a change of volition and, therefore, action toward God. It is a change that must begin in the mind before it can be expressed in actions. Incidentally, one can change his/her actions and call it repentance, but in actuality it is only hypocrisy when the mind has not first been changed.

Logically, one can “repent” (negatively speaking) of being a Christian, and if their mind is truly changed then his/her actions are changed as well (unless, of course, he/she is a hypocrite).

Furthermore, according to Paul, the idea of the Greek word is more than a “feeling of sorrow” (2Cor. 7:10). God produces in a person “a change of mind and heart,” which leads to salvation; and humanity produces in itself a simple “sorrow,” which leads only to death. Human “sorrow” is about being wrong, not for sinning against God. The difference is whether we feel sorry for self or sorry toward God. But the word “repentance” does not do justice to this distinction.

Now, to whom are we implying that I never speak about “repentance?” If one would listen to any of my sermons (www.solidrockumc.org) or read my writings or attend my classes, one would see that the subject (though not the word) is the rule rather than the exception concerning the church. In fact, another good translation of the Greek word “metanoeo” would speak to “reformation.” And I often talk about the need for further “reformation!”

Concerning the Un-churched, logically speaking, how does one accept and believe what Christ has done without “turning, both away from where one is heading, and toward God?” To truly be in right-standing-with-God (God is not fooled) one must have “repented.” But since we are questioning my speaking about it (rather the lack thereof), we must be “judging the fruit” of those whom I pastor and their claim of Christ; to which I will simply say, “to be a fruit inspector I have not been called.”

The only other concern in this matter would be the kind of people to which I speak; to which I will simply say, “I would rather stand before God and answer to why I let them in His church, then to have to answer to why I did not.” God will (and can, I am quite sure) handle the “repentance” of a person, since it is He who brings “the change of mind and heart.”

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