Resounding Gongs, Clanging Cymbals

I’ve been thinking, reading through some of the Christian oriented blogs out there and the comments posted. And I will admit to feeling somewhat of a malaise about the blogoshpere lately. Seems like there is a lot of arguing going on about what people are saying about how they relate to God. This person says that, while another person says this. That is right, but this is definitely wrong. Questions are asked; Where do you stand on this? How do you feel about that? No one should ever say this about that. (I know, I know. Look who’s calling the kettle black, right?)

Then of course we get into the heated debates about what it is that God said about this or that, or even what God wants for this or that. There is never a full consensus, even among Christians. How many denominations? I can’t remember; is it 1,000 or 10,000? And every single one of them claiming to hold the TRUTH. (About God, of all things. And we can’t even figure out a frog’s DNA yet.) But of course there can only be one truth, right? How fortunate that it just happens to belong to your particular group. (Actually, it belongs to mine. Sorry.)

The one thing that all these disparate groups seem to agree upon is that it is unacceptable to be equivocal. Tolerance is a bad word, especially when it comes to tolerating the idea that perhaps the whole of the truth cannot be contained, itemized, categorized and idolized. Although insisting (perhaps politely) that all dissenters are wrong, they will usually agree with each other that someone who avoids taking any dogmatic stance is patently inexcusable. Why, that person is guilty of relativism (really not that bad of word, friends) and is lacking conviction.

A clear conviction is sometimes having the humility to say that, though this is what I believe, I will respect you in your beliefs. No one likes a Know-It-All. And you know why? There’s no such thing. Even about mere matters of physics and the universe. To claim a unique and correct knowledge of God, to the exclusion of all others, certainly diminishes him and what he might possibly be capable of.

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  1. #1 by inWorship on January 19, 2008 - 2:08 am

    “I think many people do that when confronted with hard nosed evangelism.”

    And evangelism is not exclusive to Christianity or religion for that matter.

    And ya…that GG, she’s a crazy lady…but I love her 🙂

  2. #2 by Christian on January 19, 2008 - 2:15 am

    Perhaps ‘evangelism’ is the wrong word. Maybe I should of said ‘conversion recruiting’? – I don’t know, is there a good word for this? But I know what you mean. I have been beat up by some atheists that make Tony Evans look like a pussy cat.

  3. #3 by logiopath on January 19, 2008 - 8:45 am

    I read this from Gordon Spykman, late professor from Calvin College in Michigan–please forgive the misquote.

    On Fundementalists and Liberals–they make strange bedfellows.

    In other words, both end up at the same point, that the actions of faith are existential–personal and experiential in nature–whether one affirms the Bible (fundementalists) or rejects the authenticity of the Bible (like some liberals).

    Hmm. I will try and find the direct quote from Spykman.

  4. #4 by logiopath on January 19, 2008 - 8:59 am

    The liberals also make the case for “faith as subject.”

    In other words, “God is worshiped”–God is the subject of faith and the reaction of worship.

    Fundementalists see God as object, rather than subject, or both, as in

    “I worship God.” (Free will) or “God calls me to worship Him.”
    (Calvinists)

    It sounds confusing, doesn’t it?

    Fundementalists say, How can liberals worship God if they reject His word?

    Liberals say, How can fundamentalists claim exclusive rights to God?

    Chew on these

  5. #5 by 1godsgal on January 19, 2008 - 12:23 pm

    “If someone is willing to “do unto you” til you either renounce Christ or agree with them, what do you do?”

    Hi Christian 🙂

    I had a bit of a tough week with my atheist friends in case you hadn’t noticed…ahem…which was where that comment came from…..

    Since then I have regained my composure….(breathe….in with the good, out with the bad)

    I really do want to show Christ to these people, yet when it comes to attacking my God I lose it…can’t seem to find the middle ground…..has nothing to to with anything….just a thought.

    Anyway, you mentioned the virgin birth earlier…to me that is a key point to Christianity also….but I’m learning to just take people where they are, you can’t feed a baby meat….and let God do the rest. It’s His battle, right? Even as believers who have been walking for awhile, He is constantly opening our eyes to new and wonderful things…yet we haven’t even begun to fully comprehend all that He is. How can we expect a baby, or non-christian too…..thinking out loud here…sorry

    Have a super-tabulous weekend!!!!

    Kirking out????? What the……Sheesh…

  6. #6 by BuddyO on January 19, 2008 - 1:43 pm

    Chirs,

    A large part of what you said is waht I’ve been spouting for a couple of years now… the one sky many windows thing… and you have been arguing with me about…

    Of course there’s got to be something I disagree with you about… Well, not disagree but challenge you on.

    You say it is impossible to know everything, granted, I would also add that it is impossible to stand firm on nothing. How’s that Rush song go? “If you choose not to decide you still have made a choice”

    Read back through the comments on this post and read the number of times you use the phrase “I think..” or “I believe…” You also spend a large portion of one comment explaining why you think one particular form of evangelism is wrong. Doesn’t that seem antitheticalto your post?

    I’m not raggin on you, really, I’m just pointing out that this reasoning:

    A clear conviction is sometimes having the humility to say that, though this is what I believe, I will respect you in your beliefs.

    works fine until someone comes along and emphatically says “you are wong, and I have no respect for your beliefs”… now that “I respect everyone’s beliefs” go out the window because you cannot respect that persons beliefs while holding on to your own.

    The point is, not that everyone respect each other, that’s not something we can control, you can’t control what someone else does no matter how hard you try. It’s that I stand strong enough in my convictions that what anyone else says just rolls off my back… that you can control.

  7. #7 by Christian on January 19, 2008 - 2:54 pm

    I think that when a sane person is accused of standing for nothing it is a false accusation – it is impossible to stand for nothing, just as it is impossible to say logically that there is no truth. A person may have a very firm conviction about something but believe it may antithetical to answer certain questions about it. (As the Zen proverb says; “He who speaks does not know, he who knows does not speak”)

    I think this is the problem with some people’s take on emerging church leaders like Brian McLaren, Steve Chalke and Tony Jones. They definitely stand for something and they definitely ‘preach’ the Gospel. But some of the questions that for some reason so many people think are important (virgin birth, hell, who is saved and who is not) they may ignore. Sometimes this is for ‘diplomatic’ reasons because these issues deflect the conversation away from what they have been talking about. Not to mention that trying to get everyone in the Church to agree on some of these doctrines has led to the prevailing state of Christian disharmony.

    Of course this is all about what I (or you, or anyone) think and believe. This can’t be turned into a sovereignty dispute – my wishes over God’s. I (and you) can only act (or not act) on what we believe God’s wishes to be.

    The person who comes along and makes the statement that you suggested above is precisely the one I am talking to. When this happens I tend to lose respect for their position. If he happens to be a Christian (or Jew, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu,, agnostic or atheist) I still will respect his beliefs but not his attitude. I think that is precisely my point. However I don’t need to respond in kind. I am talking about behavior, not beliefs. When someone is confronted with this kind of behavior (such as Deb encountered with ill mannered atheists) they will often get angry or quickly lose interest in what they have to say. (Matt 7:5-6)

    Not only can I control how I allow another’s disrespect to effect me but I can also control how I approach and respond to them. Not everyone has the ability to just let things roll off their backs so I should be careful in how I address them. Even so, after a certain number of times of being the subject of insult, intimidation or ridicule even the most thick skinned of people will just end the conversation. If that is the goal- get the point across in any fashion possible and then walk away to ‘plant’ another seed – it might make sense. If it is to talk things through then it will rarely work.

  8. #8 by Michelle on January 23, 2008 - 12:03 am

    Speak the truth in love . . . easier said than done.

    I thank God for His correction and His forgiveness.

  1. Rev22: Whoever Is Thirsty, Let Him Come » Finding Your Backbone

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