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So Wrong

Okay, I don't want to post this, but it's burning up in my bones. Or I need a Tums. Probably both.

I've held back in so many ways in talking about something, and it's time for me to at least vent, exhaling some of the gunk that's been backing up in me over this one area of Christianity that's just so wrong: . There are a number of blogs and websites that exist to point out the flaws in others within the Church. Some are directed towards the postmodern or emergent church. Others focus more exclusively on aspects of spirituality, seeing something "new age" under every rock & in every corner. Others look to tear down anyone remotely associated with Rick Warren, Bill Hybels, anyone with a goatee or tattoos, etc.

Tell me where in the Bible God calls anyone to spend their lives or make a living by pointing out the folly and foolishness of others. I know there are prophets in the OT who did amazing things as the mouthpiece of God to tell the entire nation of its depravity, and to point out to individual leaders what might come their way as a result of their sin. I know that there are numerous admonitions for protect the faith, to discern truth, to avoid the appearance of evil, to beware false doctrine. I know all that is there - but there is even that much more in the Bible having to do with extending grace, forgiveness in the face of sin, our inability to judge because of our tendency to look only at the outside. Hello, people - when you judge the shortcomings of others, your own faults come to the top as a "log in the eye" that needs to be dealt with in the same way you should be dealing with others. Passing judgment is a very big deal, something reserved for Jesus, and then mostly at the end of it all.

I think I understand their heart, feeling that they are defending the faith by pointing out where the message of Christ might be sold short. They want to protect others from falling into what they see as traps. We do need to be vigilant and watchful, so I'm not faulting them there. It's the way it's being done, with no mercy and without allowing for conversation and questions. Most of what I see is misunderstanding and just selling people short on their motives. One side wants the other to understand its position, basically willing to have freedom with the nonessentials of the faith; the discernment ministry side wants the other side to cease and desist as demonically wrong.

But "heresy" is a huge charge, having the assumption that the one calling out the wrong is the holder and arbiter of absolute truth. There's no unity in this, no love for brothers and sisters in Christ. Instead of conversation to understand, or at least a reproof that points toward growth and giving each other the benefit of the doubt, there's this feeling of superiority and righteousness that totally disregards what God might actually be orchestrating.

"His ways are higher than our ways" works both ways, and we'll miss out if we dismiss each other, if we can't fellowship around our commonalities for the impasse of undiscerning judgment.


Blogger The Cubicle Reverend said...

Although to a certain extent I agree with you I do think there is a justification of being critical of a lot of teaching. Most teaching I hear is more shmaltzy which I think we can let go (be greatful Lucado) while others are actually I think putting souls in jeopardy. I spent a number of years following Creflo Dollar and believing the name it and claim it doctorine. All it ultimately did was burn me out and made me almost lose my faith. And to be honest I think when it comes to Emergent thinking and the rise of the mega-church I think we should be critical of these types of thinking. Instead of turning them too God they are making them more self-centered, "How can I feel good?" and want to be a part of American culture (or wherever) instead of being a response and even counter to it at times. When it comes to small issues (are we pre-trib or post, infant baptism or not) it is ok to disagree, even healthy and necessary. But when that teaching gives us a perverted view of God then it is very dangerous indeed.

24/8/05 9:22 AM  
Blogger MaryAnn M said...

yes..go on..good job

24/8/05 4:00 PM  
Blogger Zube Girl said...

This post is a perfect example of why I respect the heck out of your blog.

You have a beautiful heart Rick.

That is all.

24/8/05 7:12 PM  
Blogger Kim said...

I'm totally with you on this, Rick S. Bravo! Well said!

Someone once told me if you hang out with Jesus, you're going to get well. That's true for all of us, isn't it? Getting a little better every day? Even the "name it/claim it" doctrine had a time and a purpose for you, Cubical Reverend -- you simply grew out of it. God met you where you were at at that moment in time (the name it/claim it time). He's meeting you now -- exactly where you're at. Being burnt out isn't so bad -- to use the forest fire analogy(and risk over doing the metaphor) -- sometimes the forest fire helps eliminate the weeds and overgrowth and helps the long term growth, health and stability of the forest. Are there people in that doctrine that know God? Of course there are! Are there some that don't? Of course! Everywhere! Every church has flaws -- giant ones. But God is bigger than the flaws. We need to be where we are called to be, and focus on connecting to Jesus. (so we can keep getting well...).

If pure motive (or even good motive) was necessary for salvation, no one would be saved. If we're all honest about why we follow Jesus -- wouldn't it all come back to self? I love Him because He first loved me. Being loved feels good. The more time I spent in pursuit of that good stuff, the more He overwhelmed me. The more of Him I got, the uglier I realized I was. It's unavoidable. Hang out with Jesus and you're gonna get well.

Bottom line -- if you want to find evil, no question, you'll find it everywhere. Afterall, it's a fallen world. Finding Jesus everywhere -- that's the harder view. Seeing the world with God's eyes -- Asking for His heart for people -- all people -- the unchurched, the mega-churched, the American, the anti-american, the rich, the poor, the broken, the self-righteous -- that is indeed the view that is hardest to attain. Yet He tells us all we need to do is ask. He tells us not to fear, not to worry. Stay awake -- but love until it hurts. And it will hurt.

Thanks for this post.

24/8/05 8:23 PM  
Blogger Rodney Olsen said...

The book of Jude warns against 'fault finders'.

Good post Rick.

I've spoken to a lot of fault finders over the years. The interesting thing is that if you got all the fault finders in a room together, you can be assured that they still wouldn't come to a concensus.

Each one has their own idea of right and wrong and they are convinced that anyone outside those ideas is wrong.

The scriptures say that we should confront people with their error and if they don't respond, have nothing more to do with them. It doesn't say that we should confront them and then wage a continuing campaign to drag their name through the mud.

24/8/05 8:34 PM  
Blogger The Cubicle Reverend said...

that is too true. Someone told me Christians shoot their wounded. And perhaps I did grow out of it, thank God. But, we do need to challenge each other. I'm talking about exposing false doctrine, not causing harm to those who follow them. As Christians, we cannot be afraid to share honestly the good with the bad. Jesus did it all the time, as well as Paul and the other apostles.

24/8/05 10:15 PM  
Blogger Kim said...

Great post and great conversation!

I agree that we should say the truth and confront lies. I agree that we must be able to share the good and the bad -- I think it is freeing that we are to say the truth and walk away. It is like a package, either received or not -- what happens to it after we deliver it is not ours to worry about. I think words stay alive a long time after we say them. So if we say the truth in love (when confronting an error), it will be like a seed. If the soil is good it will eventually germinate. Maybe it will lay dormant for years. We might not see it grow, but that doesn't mean it didn't make a difference.

This actually happens to me now and then. It has taken me years to open up some such packages of wisdom. Suddenly, when the circumstances are appropriate, a scripture or comment that someone referenced years ago when I wasn't ready, willing or able to hear it becomes ripe and fresh in my memory. I wonder sometimes if some of the people who trusted me with these pearls would be surprised that I cherish them finally!

25/8/05 1:40 AM  
Blogger Rick said...

thanks for all the feedback. my thoughts as i've read through is that the problem isn't in the confrontation. rather, it's in the perspective that the one being confronted is demonically evil and opposed to the Lord, and second, that my calling is to point out the errors of others so that no one else will fall into my perceived trap.

where's the "truth in love" that seeks to impart grace, gives the other the benefit of the doubt, and actually might be open to change and to learning if i'm the one who's wrong or who needs to see something in a new way?

if i'm the judge, i'm through growing and everyone must assimilate. but if we're in this together, it's better for all parties to work it out together :)

25/8/05 7:09 AM  
Blogger The Cubicle Reverend said...

There is a big distinction in judgint a person and teaching about truth. We all can come up with whacky ideas of faith. While some ideas do not harm, others like Copeland's belief we are little God's are.

This is a great discussion. I am glad to see so many people involved with it.

25/8/05 8:56 AM  

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