December 6, 2010

Unhealthy Dependancies: Epistemological Parastism

I must first state before typing this that I was the type of person that I will be typing about. Second, I am not saying doctrinal errors are okay and where possible, they should be called out and corrected. They should be corrected in a gentle coaxing manner not a bludgeoning with a crowbar. I will define the syndrome I am about to elaborate on as Epistemological Parasitism (a.k.a.: belief sponges). Those of our brethren that believe what they believe because it is NOT what someone else's belief is. They allow someone else's belief system to shape theirs. What this is is rather simple to explain but I have yet to find a full proof answer to fix it other than prayer. The problem is that it is nearly impossible to get the people doing this to realize they are doing it or accept that they are doing it because the very rudiments of our faith tell us that we are to cling tenaciously to the truth. The problem is...what people often cling to is not "THE TRUTH" but usually "someone elses truth", "their truth" or "a truth" (all lowercase "t") which is nothing more than someone's opinion...or worse..false teaching.

This rant arises from a conversation I have had recently where I was told I was an idiot for going to an Arminian based a person that leans Calvinist. Read between the lines on this one folks. I am currently undecided and sitting on the fence somewhere between the two BUT I do believe that Christ came into the world to serve as a propitiatory sacrifice for the sin of all humanity. I believe that Christ was crucified, died, was buried and raised again on the third day (1 Cor 15:3-4). I believe in the Trinity-three persons, one being (Matthew 28:19). Do these beleifs make me a heretic? If I said right now to all theCalvinists reading this that I do not fully adhere to T.U.L.I.P. (I'm not saying I don't...I'm just using for example) do Calvinists believe I will go to Hell? This is a huge argument between Calvinists and Arminians. Is it worth taking into the public square to air dirty laundry?

Epistemological/Epistemology (theory of knowledge or belief) and Parasitism (symbiotic relationship between organism/entity where one organism/entity, the parasite, benefits at the expense of a/the host)

You/we all know this person. They are venomously anti-Catholic, anti-Protestant, anti-Dispensational, anti-Premillennial, anti-Amillennial,anti-Calvinist, anti-Arminian, etc, etc. These people are so anti-whatever that their vitriol and "anti-ness" overrides what they really should believe or surprisingly what they want to believe. They allow their displeasure with what they dislike (or dare I say hate) determine what they actually like. Not only is this not loving your neighbor, in Christian circles it is also not loving your brother and it is absolutely harmful to the person doing it. They are causing damage to themselves with their venom. Frankly it is spiritually unhealthy. It is most pronounced in those that do not like the tradition and ritual of other denominations. At one time I was one of these people. I let what I didn't like about other denominations dictate how I worshipped and deal with my faith. What some denominations held in high regard I neglected to my own regret. I actually diminished proper importance of certain areas of Scripture...that is not biblical.

Yes, I believe there are doctrinal errors in some denominations, too many to go over now. There are horrible misconceptions that get piggybacked onto these differences that make demons out of brethren because of non-salvational issues. Do I think some within those denominations are totally on board with some of those errors? No. Do you think every living soul within those denominations are damned because they don't belong to yours and go to your church? Do you think that everyone in your church understands every little nuance of doctrine in their Church? If you do you are deluding yourself. Sometimes having faith like a child doesn't require people in your church to split hairs down to the microscopic level. Pop quiz (for other than Theology majors and Pastors): Do you know if your Arminian friends care who is infralapsarian or supralapsarian? No? I didn't think so.

I know plenty of Catholics, Calvinists, Arminians and Dispensationalists that I am pretty sure I will see in heaven in the presence of Christ. Sadly, I also believe their are many hardcore believers that might not and would whip you silly for even mentioning Mary or PreTrib or for not seeing exactly eye-to-eye with them. They would stare at you as if you were the devil incarnate for mentioning the possibility of Predestination or Freewill or condemn you for being a heretic for not believing their views of prophecy concerning Israel. Exclusivity doctrine is fine in salvational issues, in other areas it is potential fodder for driving people away from the church because it will affirm many outsiders belief that Christians are overtly judgemental. Arguing over the prophecy of Revelation (which hasn't even happened yet) to me is ridiculous. It is not for us to know...

"...the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." Acts 1:7-8.

Those that would ostracize you immediately for not agreeing with their specific views would probably never talk to you again if you didn't immediately repent of your "heretical" beliefs on the spot. They would also have no qualms if they never had to come near you again for not adhering strictly to their "code" and denominational prejudices. Many are too quick to broad stroke an entire denomination because of a combination of bad experience(s) and inability to see the difference between salvation and non-salvational doctrine. Half the time, what they deem as heretical are not even issues that can be deemed heretical, it is open to interpretation based on its significance to the reader.

"You don't believe in Pretrib, Premill Dispensationalsim!?!?! Yoouuuu sinner! You are going to buuuurrnnnn!" Instead of lifting up brethren, people that think this way are tying to bury the brethren.

Meanwhile (back in the real world) most folks don't even know what the heck dispensationalism is nor will it ever affect their salvation or relationship with Jesus if they never heard of it either.

I am here to say one thing. A belief in Christ as the Savior that will saves us from our sins is a darn good place to start. Knowing that salvation is by faith in the work that Christ did on our behalf. Knowing that he fulfilled the Law and the prophecies of the prophets. Knowing that he died for our sins, was buried and rose again in the third day. Knowing that the Godhead is three persons and one being. These are good places to start.

Our hyper-judgmental brethren are so set against the thing they hate that it totally affects what they actually believe and how they make decisions. Any theology built on the polar opposites of another belief or denomination is a detrimental symbiotic parasitism. Without something to stand against, the belief systems of these types of people crumbles. Sorry folks, the "If you're not for us you're against us" doesn't work here. If this is not true to some extent for many of us then I want anyone responding to this post to tell me exactly why they have chosen the church they have, the denomination or the thought processes behind their choice of doctrines. If they cannot give a clear decisive reasoning and logic based on the Bible that holds water then they have not done their homework. The Bible said to renew our minds not remove them. Doing things because they "feel right" is dangerous ground to be standing on. They don't know fully what they believe but they know what they don't believe and they know what they don't like. Whatever "it" is that doesn't conform to their presuppositions is deemed the "enemy".

So test yourself in relation to what you think of me. After making some of these statements it will be interesting to see how many, after reading this, will unfriend me or dump their join on my blog.

(1) I sit on the fence between Calvinism and Arminiansim right now. But mostly lean towards Calvinism. I believe in the Sovereignty of God AND Free Will. They're are not mutually exclusive "this" and "that" but instead they "overlap" so to speak. I do not know how I just know this is what the Bible tells me. At least that is how I have read it. Does this make me a heretic?

(2) I do not have an opinion either way on the prophecies of Revelation because they are not suppose to be fodder for the tabloids at the supermarket or material for some guy's "end of the world" novels broken up into 23 volumes at $25.99 apiece. Does this make me a heretic. Revelation is suppose to be a warning to believers to make sure their hearts are in the right place if Jesus comes back tomorrow. It did not say He WAS coming back tomorrow. As a matter of fact it is the "Revelation of Jesus Christ" not "Revelation of the end times!"

Do these make me a heretic? If you believe these issues make me a better check your mirror.

The bottom line is this. Does the doctrine taught truly jeopardize a persons salvation? Does it violate on on the essential tenants of the Christian faith? Does it cause another to stumble? As Augustine of Hippo once penned, "In essentials unity, in non-essentials liberty, in all things charity." You really have to decide if what you are prepared to argue with someone really worth arguing over. You can still win an argument and loose the person. Is what you believe and are willing to caustically defend worth losing a person's soul over? Frankly, if you have the chance to lose a person in the argument it had better be a salvational issue. Nitpicking and non-salvational hairsplitting in this situation becomes asinine and counterproductive. Look at it this way. If someone from the outside (non-believing) is sitting on the fence thinking about coming into the faith, do you suppose bickering between religious siblings is going to seal the deal for them?

"Oh look! I get to argue with the people I love and care about over petty insignificant minutiae that means little or nothing on the eternal scale of things! Yay! Then I get to spend the holidays with them henpecking and badgering me about my erroneous view of predestination or free will! Yippy! Where do I sign up?"

Its enough to make someone want to leave The Church...or never come to it. Please note that I did not say you should dumb down Scripture to gain more converts. I also did not say to preach errant doctrine. I am just saying that you may often need to humble yourself and realize that you are not always right in issues where Scripture did not directly speak to an issue. Are you sure everywhere you took something literally that it wasn't meant to be taken figuratively? Are you sure? Are you over-spiritualizing a passage to suit your own needs?

Again it bears repeating Augustine's brilliant statement and then paraphrase and put it in my own words.

In essentials unity, in non-essentials liberty, in all things charity."

Andy's translation: In Salvational Issues: Correct Doctrine and Unity, In Non-Salvational Issues: Liberty, In all things: Don't be a dope and don't bludgeon people with your opinion. Present them with the Bible and do the best job you can explaining why you believe the things you do.

1 comment:

ArtWerx said...

i always like your happy positive tone. when we "rejoice always" & "fear not", we are filled with the Spirit of a Sound Mind, & don't make goofy decisions about how to behave or relate to others! (:D

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