August 25, 2012

Evanjellyfishism [ih-van-jel-ē-fish-iz-uhm]

I imagine this won't win me many friends...and frankly, I don't care. My job is to teach people from Scripture and rebuke when necessary. Even those that think they don't need to be taught or those that know everything. Sometimes the hardest people to save are the Saved.

It has quickly become my experience that those claiming that we should not confront people about their bad theology because it offends them and causes divisiveness within the body are themselves adhering to bad theology. It is beginning to grate on me as I have tried to be polite to these people and even bought into this nonsensical philosophy but I am weaning myself off of this weak-willed unbiblical approach to evangelism. We should be men (or women), or go home and hide in our collective evangelical closets.

It is quickly becoming my experience that those tell me that I should not rebuke people for fear of offending them or “making a scene” has missed the point of a rebuke.

I have long bought into the mainline church philosophy that if it is not directly affecting my loved ones I should “live and let live” or consider it a minor offense that doesn’t detract from the church but is essentially harmless. "Be like Jesus" they tell me, "just love people and be nice." Judge not lest ye be judged. You can't know what's in a person's heart only God does so we shouldn't make mean statements and tell people they're wrong.

Nonsense. The Bible says we'll know them by their fruits. Out of the abundance of their hearts, their mouths will speak. It has become obvious to me that those who do not speak up are themselves unsure of Scripture or its principles or do not have a firm grasp on Scripture and the underlying principles. The claim that those that do speak up - "end up causing divisiveness for all to see" - are themselves causing more divisiveness by their docile approach and this can be potentially damning to the one that is errant and all those that follow their errant philosophy. A rebuke may cause temporary division in a Christian setting but if the rebuke is founded in Scripture and the division remains then it is the errant Christian that is to blame for not coming around to the truth of Scripture. Therefore they are to be given over to the world so that they might return all the wiser. If not...they are condemned by their own actions and choices.

To passively allow error and not speak truth into the situation is foolishness. A failure to act in these situations knowing something is wrong or theologically unsound is the equivalent of moral apathy or complete ambivalence. It is the moral / theological equivalent of watching a murder unfold and saying nothing knowing you can stop it. We are told that by being “caustic” or “abrasive” in this type of an approach we are being unloving. We need to be loving and not be confrontational with the rogue agents in the Church. Really? What is more unloving, allowing someone to pursue errant theology that condemns and damns them (and others) or correcting their errant philosophies and saving them from the fact that they are not as biblical as they thought they were. Perhaps they were so unbiblical in their beliefs that they were not even Christian? Sorry folks, I’ll err on the side of caution here and rebuke 100 times over rather than let some damn themselves. I’d rather be perceived as harsh and help save someone with a harsh truth rather then be polite to them and damn them to Hell. To me, being unloving is not telling someone they are wrong when it is a potential error, especially in a salvation-based issue. If I hated them I would remain silent. My rebuke shows my love. Many members within churches have this one completely backwards. I rebuke you because I love you, not because I don’t.

I fear we missed the boat on this one with few exceptions. The cultural mindset and complacency has poisoned our minds.  In a so-called attempt to save Evangelical Christianity from itself, church members are trying to rescue Christianity from irrelevance by putting it on a Procrustean bed and proceeding to amputate the the Faith and pull the teeth of the Gospel until it became invalid theologically and has no bite whatsoever. What remains when we are done barely resembles Christianity but rather a politically-correct “Christianized” New Age feel-good pantheism that relies on reason, rationalism and most people feel. The poor theology and mindsets within many, many churches is predominately based on what they want to hear....not what they need to hear. They want their ears tickled and they want to feel good about their poor theology.

2 Timothy 4: 2 "...preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry."

For those of my brethren that will continue to cling to the idea of formula-driven mainline evangelicalism that says: "We can’t yell at people for being wrong, that’s the job of the Holy Spirit!" or some other banality...this is wrong. The Bible condones “division” when the "division" means that we are to be matching up errant teaching with Scripture and subsequently rebuking or correcting based on Scripture which is often the case when aforementioned situations arise. If someone is wrong and they are corrected in accordance with Scripture and this causes a division...this is a necessary fallout from the rebuke to show the break or inconsistency between the person in error and the Bible's truth. If this person "comes around" to the proper way of thinking, this "division" or incompatibility or clash disappears since they are then in aligned with Scripture. Straight with Scripture or  ὀρθός / orthos a.k.a.: orthodox(y) 

Now, read the next very closely.

2 Timothy 3:16 ~ “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness”

This is a verse that is in many church mission statements and statements of faith when they are justifying the Inerrancy of Scripture. Two words in this verse alone speak directly to reproof or correction. When matched up against Scripture, division is allowed in an effort to correct errant belief as it is usually an effect of the correction. The word reproof here should be better understood as exposing falsity or deceptiveness. The root of this word reproof in the Greek: ἐλεγμόν / elegmon literally means “to rebuke another with the truth so that the person confesses, or at least is convicted of his sin. Although convicted, he may not be convinced.” To verbally rebuke with the truth (a.k.a.: Scripture). It is expected that we will call people to task if they are out-of-bounds in terms of Scripture or unorthodox.

Now…following logic directly from Scripture we arrive at a deductive conclusion. By rebuking, you most likely will cause a division but you would be doing it with truth in the same manner Jesus Christ did when here on Earth in His own ministry. Jesus used Scripture to correct people and that is the exact next phrase in our verse above, “for correction”. Once you have reproved an errant person you then need to correct them or as the Greek implies, you need to ἐπανόρθωσιν /epanorthosin “straighten them out”.

1 Timothy 5:19-20 ~ “Do not entertain an accusation against an elder unless it is brought by two or three witnesses. But those elders who are sinning you are to reprove before everyone, so that the others may take warning.”

In the case of elders or perceived leaders in error this needs to be done publically. So here we see that not only are laity to be reproved for being rogue of Scripture but there is even a contingency for leaders or perceived leaders in the Church.

By not doing as Scripture has told us above we’ve now allow falsehood to creep in innocuously into the Body and society in general by taking a passive and nearly submissive approach to dealing with it. We now care more about how we will be perceived by other brethren and by the outside unbelieving world. Many will claim they don’t but their actions speak louder than their words. Why should this matter over the accuracy and truth of Scripture? Why should these superficial surface judgments trump correction by the Word?

Answer: They shouldn’t.

Political-correctness is demonic as it subscribes to the underlying unbiblical philosophy that no one can be wrong. This is where I believe we are in serious error in the Church. Inadvertently, in an attempt not to appear divisive and confrontational we have become afterthoughts to the world and the culture because of our spinelessness. We are spineless not only because we don't tell the world it is wrong but we even shy away from telling our own they are clearly wrong. We have literally given into the postmodern PC culture that allows all truth claims to be true. By trying to offend no one we lose nearly everyone. By offending no one we attract few to our cause. In the attempt to win people to Christ by using the PC method or inoffensiveness like the world does, we fail to be champions for Christ and become doormats for the world. Even the non-believer can see a lack of conviction. When there is a failure to act on one’s conviction (such as knowing someone is wrong and saying so) what does this say about what we believe? It says we either don’t really believe what we say we believe or we do not have enough spinal column to act on it.

If we as believers don’t have enough conviction to call out people when they’re wrong, why would others be interested in what we believe or what we have to say?

This is faulty thinking. The world system scores a point against us for the cleverness at which it has managed to erroneously manipulate the Church in this situation. When you stand for nothing, you then have nothing to say that is of interest to other people. When you have nothing to say…no one will listen to you. In a knee-jerk reaction to the abuses of the past by the Church, the Church has now tried way too hard to accommodate itself to the culture to win the culture. In so doing the Church has ceased being the Church and has become the culture. For any that cannot follow that logic, it means the Church is no longer the Church but is in actuality the world…therefore it is of the world system…the Devil. Poor company if you ask me. If we continue down this path we will be in for a stinging and painful awakening when we realize it is a wide path we are on and it is the preferred path of the world.

We truly need to stop allowing people with a poor grasp of the Bible dictate how we behave within the Church. Even the ones that have been given positions of leadership and are not qualified. Sometimes we allow the Biblically illiterate (or partially illiterate) to dictate our behavior so much that we can hardly be perceived as being Christian since we look so much like the culture. Frankly, I am tired of the evanjellyfishism and seeker-sensitive approach to ministry…its literally killing the Church from the inside-out. Instead of being fortified by the Word we are becoming devoid of substance. It is doing more damage than any division I could possibly cause by Biblically rebuking someone.

If you don’t stand for something and show the conviction of what you believe…people will step and stand on you.

I personally will stand straight for Scripture and the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Better a door to Christ than a doormat to the system of the world. For those that clearly feel I am wrong for having typed this and posted this, please explain to me from Scripture where I am incorrect and I will take heed of you words.

For all that take offense to this and feel I am being unloving in my stance, please consider this a stinging rebuke for embodying spiritless and fainthearted behavior where we have been called to be bold and stand firm. If we love God, we obey his commandments and obey Scripture. By not calling people out when they are clearly wrong for fear of being perceived as divisive, we are not doing as we've been commanded and we are being disobedient. We are to be strong in not only our defense of the Gospel but also diligent to rebuke and correct when necessary regardless of who it is that is in error. We've grown too comfortable in our isolated non-evangelizing, non-confrontational lives and have become too cushy in our failure to promote the truths of Scripture. The truths that people want to hear and even the truths they don't want to hear but dearly need to. In an effort to not offend the goats we have mislead the sheep.

2 Timothy 1:7-8 ~ For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. So do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord ...

Paul goes on later to add...

2 Timothy 1:13-14 ~ What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus. Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you—guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us.

We need to stop worrying about what other people think of us and worry more about what God thinks of us.


Anonymous said...

Andy --

Thank you. While you focused much on 2 Timothy, what came up for me immediately when reading was Christ's exhortation that He did not come to bring peace, but a sword.

The next one that came up was to be salt and light.

I really appreciate your blog. God uses it to make me think and study. Thank you again.

Andy Pierson said...

You're welcome whomever you are. :)

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