July 16, 2011

"Isms" That Aren't...

I've compiled a list of "Isms" that aren't Christian. These are the most prevelant and the most virulent "Isms". They are poison to a Christian and a Christian congregation. They need to be rooted out and stomped on until they stop moving or until they're dead. Kill Isms dead  before they kill you.


This is when the Christians or those that call themselves Christian do not behave any different than the people around them in the world. They are indistinguishable from one another. It is when we adapt or incorporate the worlds methodologies for “doing church”. Personally I see this as the churches that latch on to the next big fad like: The Purpose Driven Church, The Prayer of Jabez and of late it has been Rob Bells book Love Wins. It will also be the "next big thing" and the "next big thing after that" or some other nonsense that does more to detract from Christianity and polarize those within it than it does to attract people to Christianity and bring people together. The powers and principalities of this world are good at fomenting division and allowing strife to fester by drawing off our resources to address secular distractions and heal wounds. Personally, I hate the distractions. Life is short enough, I do not want to waste it chasing chimera. Christianity differs and needs to differ in that it is not driven by the culture. If anything, for Christian culture, it should be driven by the Christian Bible. Instead we teach gimmicky trendy books more latched into the world than they are to God. We teach the latest religous craze rather than the Bible. We are to engage the culture, not embrace it.


The Proverbial Pharisaic attitude and the fencing off of the law with additional rules that need not be there to “protect” the Law (lol). Any additions to God’s mandates, statutes or commandments do not a good Christian make. Stripping down the heart’s desires so that only the things of God surround it...does. This is why Jesus made statements like, “You have heard it said…but I say to you…”. You don’t need rules piggybacked to the Law you just need to obey the Laws that are “already on or in the Book. “I did not come to abolish the Law, I came to fulfill it” Jesus said. Christianity is what Jesus was describing, obey the Law at its true intent and you would not need the superfluous rules of men. Of course we understand that no man has this righteousness nor is it produced by human effort. It is only through the Spirit of God out of the work of Christ. Otherwise works become a focus on self-effort supplants divine grace and encourages pride rather than humble dependence.


Ugh…outward piety…*(vomit reflex)*…another staple of Pharisaic behavior. God doesn’t want arrogant aloof holier-than-thou’s. How do you suppose dopes like this win people into the Kingdom? Truth is, they usually don’t. I see this often in Christian circles. After years of being told they are to be different from the world, kids grow into young adults and become haughty, arrogant and unapproachable. They went from different to indifference in a conscious choice to avoid the lowly “sinners”. This isn’t the “different” Jesus was talking about. It was and is to be a humble difference. We are not to conform to the sin or reprobate nature of the world, but neither are we to ignore our own sin and pretend we do not have any. This is hypocrisy and quite frankly, nauseating to see in other “Christians”. We are to be humble and different because we realize just how sinful we are and seek to avoid being called out knowing out depravity. We are called to serve not be served. To be helpers of the church not an emotional and fiscal drain on it because of a lousy attitude. The best line I read about this attitude is this, “no man can effectively play two audiences.” Those audiences are God and men. As Christians we are here on this earth to do what God wants us to do, not what the culture pressures us into with its shallow and deceptive philosophies.


You know you know them. They are the ones in the fellowship that know they are right because God sent them a sign that also manifested itself in a "feeling" they had. This is like the reverse of gnosticism or a secret knowledge of God. This is thinking you are getting a revelation or message on the Batphone from Commisioner Gordon but instead of the Commisioner it is God and the Batphone. Its a tingling sensation that runs up your spine and makes your hair stand up on end and gives you goosepimples. Now far be it for me to say that all emotion in worship, prayer and praise is errant. I would never be so presumptuous as to do that. But every Sunday worship service? Please. I know for a fact that many services purposely do certain things to solicit these types of sympathetic response(s) from worshippers, clever lighting, sensuous music, and uplifting liturgy and even occasionally incense and other sensory stimulus (fake cry...how do they do that?). For a person to rely solely on ones feelings is manipulation by emotion an quite frankly dangerous. What does the Bible say? We are to discern...with our minds too! What did the Bereans do in Acts? Emotions? Fine, have at'em but please please please...THINK TOO! Its why God gave you a brain and commonsense...or maybe He didn't give it to everybody?

Materialism (The Ism of All Isms):

Materialism attaches more value to material goods than they rightly deserve. At materialism’s root is anxiety bred by a preoccupation with money and instilled or perceived value of an item. Strangely, some of these values we can instill in these objects can even be spiritual. The worldly attitude is “he that dies with the most toys wins”. This couldn’t be any farther from the truth. As the old saying goes, “once your dead you can’t take it with you” and we are told that you never see a U-Haul hitched to the back of a Hearse. It is about having messed up priorities and worrying about things of the world that just don’t matter.

We are told straight away that we are not to lay up treasures that are of this world and can perish. We are to store up things for heaven or the Kingdom as that is all that will be left after judgment anyway. We are to value the things the Bible tells us are worth valuing, not what the world tells us to value. Most often these two types of things are literally opposite anyway. They are traveling at high speed in opposite or 180 degree directions. A Christian should pursue knowledge of God, love, and things becoming of the Kingdom.

Another way of seeing this is:  Spending money you don't have on junk you don't need at the cost of your soul.

Misdirected Effort-ism

Misdirected effort is the error of passing hasty and critical judgment on others before having all the facts or in an act of unwarranted piety. We in and of ourselves and our own criteria are not qualified to pass judgment of other’s deeds without discerning first what their motives are. Often acts themselves do not betray what is in the heart. Sometimes people do things by mistake with the best intentions and look like a jerk anyway as was the case in the example of the Thanksgiving turkey.
A man worked in an office where every year the boss gave each employee a turkey as a bonus for the holiday season. Of course, the bachelor could never figure out what to do with his ‘turkey.’ One year the other fellows in the office decided to play a little practical joke on their friend. They exchanged the genuine item for one made of plaster. They could hardly wait to hear his report after the holidays.
On the way home on the bus that evening the young man was contemplating how he could dispose of his turkey. About this time a man in tattered clothing, obviously "down in his luck" sat in the seat beside him. In the course of their conversation, the young man began to perceive the solution to his problem—he would give this poor fellow his turkey. It would meet a real need for this fellow and his family, and it would solve his problem, too.
In order to avoid humiliating the man he decided that rather than give the turkey to him as charity, he would sell it to him for whatever he could pay. The man gladly produced the last of his money and the exchange was made. Both men parted rejoicing. But when the bachelor returned to the office, he was horrified to learn of the trick which had been played on him, and the terrible deed unknowingly done to the poor man on the bus. For days, the young attorney and his friends rode that same bus to rectify their error, but no one ever saw the man again.
This story illustrates the principle laid down by our Lord that we are not qualified to pass judgment on the deeds of others. If we were to judge this young man by the act itself, we would conclude that he was a absolute scumbag. If we were to judge him by his motives, we would have to regard him as a wise and benevolent individual.
Discerning though is acceptable and often required, especially when the person is clearly in error and in need of correction. Unfortunately in our age any judgment for any reason is considered unacceptable. This is just foolishness. Nor is it wrong to think critically, otherwise how would we know when we are just being flat out stupid and gullible to the next gimmick or trick to steal our money, identity or worst of all…our soul. The Devil will not be telling us the truth while he is lying to steal our souls. Being critical on the other hand as a Christian is a no-no though. More often than not the criticism arises out of an impure heart or impure motives. It is the passing of judgment itself that God frowns upon, not the discernment. God frowns upon that exact moment that we make ourselves the higher authority over another and deem ourselves better than or good enough to decide when we focused only on the outward rather than the inward or made a judgment call based on limited or distorted information. “He or she did this they are evil and a jerk”. Someone can know that for sure and not be God? Even when we do it with a pleasantry attached, “I love you and think you are the greatest…BUT…..” Sorry folks, there aren't any "buts" in love.

We are still on shaky ground. It is only when we are firmly planted in God and the Word that we are anywhere near where we need to be to make a legitimate call. We walk a tightrope between opposites and can quickly find ourselves on the outside looking in if we are not firmly root in God and His Word (more on this in my post: "We're Not Suppose To Judge Others, Right?"). Instead of laying into others about their failings most often we are better served going to prayer.

Much of that which is done in the name of Christianity is unprofitable and detrimental because it is mis­directed and misguided. Matthew 7:1‑5 warn us of one type of misguided effort, criticism with no foundation in fact or the Bible. Hypocritical judgment. Matthew 7:6 on the other hand cautions us not to carry this to the opposite extreme by insisting that we discriminate between receptive listeners and hardened rejecters. Matthew 7:7‑11 instructs us to redirect our efforts in the practice of persistent prayer. Finally Matthew 7:12 concludes with a principle which ties together the entire section and guides us in our relationships with our fellow man.

Mistaken Identity-ism

The mistaken identity or mistaken idea is that all religious roads lead to heaven. Wrong. Regardless of what Rob Bell says about Hell, it is real, and it is permanent. Just because some people don’t want to believe in a place of eternal separation from God doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist, it just means there are a load of duped people walking around in the world. Atheists, agnostics, evil or bad people do not have the market cornered on Hell. There are plenty of religious people in hell too. If you do not believe in the work that Jesus Christ did on the cross and you are still a religious person, you are a good candidate for the “religious dude in Hell” label.

Believe it or not salvation is not for everybody. Jesus said, ““Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life and only a few find it.”

Only a few find it. I believe we will be surprised by who makes it to heaven. I think we will be even more surprised to see who doesn’t. As humans we make too many assumptions about our “goodness” or “righteousness” never once comparing them to what the Bible has to say about it. Therein lies the fatal mistake. We judge and assume by our standards…and we are mistaken.

Religion: Man’s effort on behalf of himself to reach God.—False Christianity

True Christianity: God’s effort on behalf of man to help them reach Him.

Christians need to stay ever vigilant to the swarm of "isms" that surround us every day. They hover most times just out of reach. Occasionally when they think we're not looking they come buzzing in to sting and torment us. It is at these times that we need to take out the spray or the swatter and kill them so they do no damage. Those nasty "isms" spread a venom called sin. We need to make sure we do not purposely allow that to happen. We need to protect ourselves and those we love from those stingers.

Jesus! Kills Sin Dead!


Dota said...

Not bad.

I would also add feminism and post-modernism to that list.

Andy Pierson said...

Good Evening Dota,

Thanks for your comment. Yes, at some point I should write on feminism but you will be pleased to know that I have written on post-modernism in a series of posts that begins here...


I have also written on many false religions in this series.


There are 27 isms so far but it looks like I will add feminism to the list because it is a good idea.

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