Posted in OPINION

THE CONTINUING DIVIDE

It was for freedom that Christ set us free.
(Gal. 5:1)

In the early days of the Charismatic Movement, when it began to appear in mainline denominational churches, I heard more than one pastor say, “Tongues divided our church.”

Any rational person, however, should be able to see that it was not the gift of the Spirit that divided their church, but the reaction of people to that gift. Was the gift used inappropriately? Absolutely; but that is still not the source of the division.

The source of division is people. Period. Anything else is an excuse.

Many would proclaim that they needed to be where they were free to speak in tongues. While that may have been true for them, most did not realize that true freedom lay in their being able to also restrain themselves. (1 Cor. 14:1-32)

Tongues, interpretation and prophecy were all manifest during that time, and there were continual abuses of those gifts by many. That in itself, though, is not enough to prove that the gifts are not valid for today; yet that is where many went.

Simply because something is abused is no reason to get rid of that—whatever it is. Parenting is abused, but we should not do away with it. Guns are abused, and though many want to be rid of guns, that is not the answer. Name most anything and you can find situations in which it is abused. That simply does not make the thing itself bad.

All these things are simply a catalytic precipitation for something lying beneath the surface in the heart of man.

Much the same thing is happening within the hyper-radical-pure-grace world today. People are discovering the unrelenting, everlasting and unconditional love of God, and turn right around and throw stones at their former way of life in what they call religion.

There is no doubt but that many have suffered pain, abuse, or even life-altering trauma as a result of what may have happened to them “in church.” I in no way mean to discount, belittle or otherwise invalidate anyone’s experience. However, until we are able to speak the truth about things, healing is not possible.

Was it religion that hurt you? Or, was it people who hurt you? The distinction is important. Or, for a different analogy—was it the gun that shot you? How, then, will forgiving the gun bring any emotional healing?

LET US NOT MISTAKE THE INSTRUMENT FOR THE SOURCE

Let us not mistake the instrument for the source.

The constant bombardment of slams against religion or church is not a manifestation of the love that many of these wounded saints are proclaiming. A feeling of powerlessness causes us to lash out with words from a seemingly safe place of anonymity such as social media. Doing so, however, will not bring a restoration of mind or healing of the spirit.

One of the most healing things any person can do is to realize that they are where they are today because of what has gone before. Notice how Paul relates to our past “imprisonment”—
“Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed. So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith.” (Gal 3:23-26)

We may no longer be under the guardianship of the law in the form of organized religion, but as long as we continue to talk about what it was like, we are still at its effect on us.

As Tony Robbins says, energy flows where attention goes. If our attention is on the past, our energy for the present is dissipated. The writer of Hebrews said much the same thing—”If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return.” (Heb 11:15)

While you may never return to church or religion, as long as you continue to slam in any way, that is where your attention and energy are consumed. Also, are you not doing exactly what you are holding against religion—exacting condemnation for a lack of proper behavior?

But what does the Scripture say? “Cast out the slave woman and her son, for the son of the slave woman shall not inherit with the son of the free woman.” (Gal 4:30)

Were we not sons of the slave woman at one time? Cast out the slave woman. Remove yourself from the influence. You are now a son of freedom.

For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. (Gal 5:13)

If you must give energy in the direction of your former way of life, then use that energy to love and serve them. It is the flesh that desires to castigate.

True freedom lies not in avoiding any association, but in not being affected by that association. As Steve McVey is so fond of saying, “That is the grace walk experience.”

Posted in OPINION

THE CLOSING OF THE AMERICAN MIND

I may not always be right, but I am absolutely never wrong.

Of course I’m right. I’m always right. If you don’t believe me, just ask me.


Maybe I live in a very small world, but I find the attitudes portrayed above to be quite the norm in which I live.

I find them among church folks and non-church folks. I find them on both sides of the political spectrum and stretching to the extremes of each. I find them in academia. I find them among gays and straights. I find them among pro-choice groups and pro-life groups.

In short, I find this to be a characteristic of modern man.
That’s too bad–and sad.

In fact, it’s a shame. (Of course, we are no longer concerned with ‘shame’ in any form in today’s society. So, my stating such has little meaning. And that’s a shame.)

The misconceived ideas that (1) I am entitled to my opinion; and (2) I am entitled to shout you down with my opinion have both combined to render our society incapable of reasoned debate.

The first is patently false.

While one may be entitled to think anything in any manner that one wants, that does not necessarily qualify as an opinion. An opinion is based on some observable fact. However, the term ‘opinion’ has been watered down in today’s vernacular to mean exactly that—’my thoughts.’

When you go to a doctor for an opinion, do you want him to rattle off whatever pops into his mind in the moment? Of course not. You want someone who is up to date on the latest symptomatic phenomena and medicinal contra-indicators to give you an opinion as to what is bothering you.

Opinions in the modern marketplace of ideas, though, are generally just knee-jerk reactions to whatever is presented in the moment.

(If you find this difficult to believe, just simply read through the comments on someone’s post on Facebook about a subjective topic such as religion or politics.)

Far too many comments seem to come from being triggered by the use of a particular “buzz word” that set the commenter off. I personally find it amusing when someone goes off on one of their rants that has little or nothing to do with the original posted thought.

That is opinion gone to seed

That’s opinion gone to seed.

It is number two—shouting down—that is the premise of this article, though. (Yes, I’ve been rambling.)

Shouting is probably not the best term to use here. I am referring to the trait of continuing to speak, speaking over the other’s comments, getting passionate about the need for the other to see your viewpoint, or indignant with opposition. So, shouting is the term I choose.

A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion. (Pro. 18:2)

Is it permissible to take the reverse of this Proverb and conclude that anyone who is only interested in expressing their opinion is a fool? The one who does not want to take the time to listen and to understand is a fool?

How does this apply to me and you?

Have you ever taken the time to engage an atheist and just listen?
How many Christians have taken the time to engage a pro-choice advocate and just listen?
Have you ever taken the time to engage a homosexual and just listen?

What I mean by “just listen” is to hear them out without interruption, without quoting a Bible verse at them; asking questions for further clarification; laying aside your judgement or conclusion until you have heard them all the way through.

How many non-Christians have tried to engage an intelligent, reasonable, faith-filled Christian and just listen?
(I admit that the qualifications I listed for these questions are rare.)

It is evident that Solomon had in view not a particular creed, but a certain attitude and approach to life when he termed one a “fool.”

Spend any time on social media and it would appear that we have become a nation of fools.

We have closed our minds to anything but that with which we already agree. And in that place, the “dumbing down” of America is complete.

(Yes, I borrowed the title from Allan Bloom’s seminal work, ”Closing of the American Mind: How Higher Education Has Failed Democracy and Impoverished the Souls of Today’s Students.”)

All comments, questions, and/or criticisms are welcome. They will be posted immediately without the necessity of approval.