Posted by: Bro. Lawrence D. | September 26, 2008

Extremely Lazy Extremism

(Author’s note: I have decided to dispense with trying to frame every article under the title “Agonizing Over” or “Being Honest About”, hence the plain title of this post. I believe that the purpose and point of every article on this site has been well established at this point and so the use of those headings is no longer necessary.  By the way, I also want to thank a few brothers for helping with my thinking on this issue because they may not be aware of how much they have helped me. Many thanks to Bro. Lionel Woods, Bro. Derrick Hill, Bro. Leonard Lyles, Bro. Jun Renegado and Bro. Hutch!)

In Ephesians 4:14 we are commanded to “no longer be children, tossed to and fro by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftines in deceitful scheming”. This admonishment comes as an expected response to the gifts that have been provided by Christ for His church for both their maturity and protection against false teachers. The problem comes when we fail to “all speak the same things”. What do we do when otherwise reliable teachers happen to differ? What if there is nothing heretical in the teaching that will allow for an easy identification of the one teaching it as a false teacher? What happens when we are tossed to and fro between two doctrines that are otherwise orthodox? As my two brothers Derrick the Gladiator and MSAMU often mention, there are way to many denominations for the Church (visible) to claim to have a unified voice. But what do these things have to do with the title of this post? I’m glad you asked.

I believe that I have been personally guilty of what I’m going to call “Lazy Extremism”. Now first let me define what I mean by that phrase. “Lazy Extremism is: The undiscerning acceptance of any doctrine without thorough investigation into, and necessary reflection upon, its implications. It is coupled with a willingness to defend said doctrine without regard to its impact upon the gospel or upon the person with whom one may be arguing. It is being persuaded by an outside influence even while not being fully persuaded in one’s own mind. It is switching one’s allegiance like a free agent in the major sports leagues. In other words, going with the most personally fulfilling teaching.

What are some of the results of this mindset? Well, it can lead to arguing a point that may have no real point. It can lead to arguing with the goal of just winning the argument. It can lead to arguing while using information or arguments that one has not personally investigated but is repeating because it sounded good when one heard it. You may even end up having arguments where you forget what subject you were even discussing.

Worse still, is that “Lazy Extremism” can lead to holding another true brother-in-the-Lord in contempt. (A violation of Romans 14 I might add) That in and of itself could lead to disunity in the Body. And again, individually it can lead to a lack of authenticity or basically hypocritical behavior. And maybe worse of all, it can lead to judging scripture by a particular system of doctrine, rather than judging all doctrines by scripture, which just so happens to be one of the basic mistakes of all of the cults and false religions. (Thanks again Bro. Lionel! I know this is one of the things you endeavor to avoid.)

I can use my own experience as an example of where I have experienced all of these results while buying into this mindset. For instance, when I began to accept the Doctrines of Grace, or Calvinism, I did so without any direct interaction with anyone and with limited information. I considered myself an intelligent person and the intellectual nature of the arguments appealed directly to my way of thinking. Granted in the beginning I did only make a committment to 4 points. But of course after some more “convincing arguments”, the 5th point became etched in stone also. Eventually I ended up on a like-minded blog where I could simply join the chorus and shout down the infidel. Basically this led to not really being challenged at all. You know, safety in numbers.

Within that experience was the fact that the initial information that I ingested was from a cessasionist perspective. Now it would seem that a lifelong Pentecostal like myself would have had a real struggle letting go of the experiences with the gifts that I had no doubt had. Not all were real but not all were fake either. But I didn’t really struggle at all. It was as if I hadn’t had any experiences at all. After some time past and I heard some more information I began to move again. Next I began to accept and defend the false distinction between, as one known bible expositor puts it, the temporary “sign” gifts and the permanent “speaking and serving” gifts. This I did as a way to sort of hold on to the cessasionist view while still considering myself biblical. But alas, I ended up right back where I started, fully accepting the present operation, in the Body, of all of the spiritual gifts. And only because the Holy Spirit would not allow me to continue to ignore the plain teaching of scripture and the “burning strawmen” that had been put before me.

But the sad thing is that along the way I left a trail of wounded soldiers. Every Arminian became for me a glory stealing, self-saving, sign chasing, biblically illiterate, scripture twisting, idiot. And guess what? It became my goal to identify them as such and then to commence to arguing them out of it. But you want to know what was revealed about myself in the process? That I was a glory stealing, self-righteous, Spirit grieving, unity destroying, scripture ignoring, hindrance to the gospel. It was as though every place I stepped became a hill to die on and a land mine for the “enemy”. And that’s just one example of what happens when we embrace doctrines like we’re playing “Frogger” on the Atari 2600. (I know, I’m old! LOL) It’s an example of what a Christian who suffers from “Lazy Extremism” looks and sounds like. But thank God for His grace!

Bottom line, ladies and gentlemen, we must be very discerning about any doctrine that we may be new to. Rather it be “Lordship Salvation”, “New Covenant Theology”, or “Preterism”, we must subject everything to the scriptures while at the same time asking the Holy Spirit for an understanding. We should be careful not to get into the habit of receiving or rejecting “new things” off-hand. Nothing would be more awful than to be chastened or worse, rejected by Christ, simply because we took someone else’s word for it when it came to a doctrine. Isn’t that what we warn the Mormons and Jehovah Witnesses about? As they say over at the White Horse Inn, “Know what you believe and why you believe it”.

2 Timothy 2:15 reads, “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.”

A zealous person who ignores this clear command will do nothing but fall into “Lazy Extremism”.

Let me know what you think.

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Responses

  1. Brother I have went so full circle on so many of these issues I don’t know where to start. It is troubling to say the least.

    What I do think is that we happen to hold the words of those that helped us above our own study and we also hold those whom they esteem in high regard. I think this happens because once the Gospel hits your heart you have soft spot for the individual that brought you in.

    I think as we mature however (mature in our handling of the word and living it out and listening to other Christians, and to quite putting a specific teacher two steps behind Jesus) we begin to open our minds to other perspectives and we begin to look at the scripture on our own. As we examine we can quickly realize that our beloved teacher holds some views that get kind of tricky. This causes us to examine more and then wahlah, you become a thinker.

    I think this should be the normal cycle. I think this cycle is halted prematurely because of “lazy extremism” as you call it. We don’t want to do the due dillegence and we don’t want to disagree with people we respect and love. However, I believe we have a responsibility to do both. As a disciple we are to become more like Christ not some prized theologian, regardless of his expertise. We are to come to the scriptures with only one mediator. The Spirit of God.

    If we stop or become stagnant in this process we rob ourselves of the work of the Spirit in our lives. This is a really well written post. I wish it could be published somewhere.

  2. Why did you have to take it back to the Atari 2600? I agree that we must as Christians examine our doctrinal stances by the Holy Scriptures alone. Even for all the things we believe, we must be able to define it by the Word of God.

    Recently, I have been searching the scriptures as for my stance in not voting this election. A couple of people have said I should reconsider my thoughts, but instead of basing my thinking of people’s suggestions, I desire to let the scriptures evaluate my stance. I have done that with the cessasionist view as well.

    We must stop allowing ourselves to stand in doctrines we don’t fully know about nor have not defined those doctrines by the scriptures alone. This need to be fully investigated, like a murder trial.

    How is your family Bro. Lawrence. We just got back from Elijah’s (2nd son) birthday party. The final cost for the party ate at my pockets real good. May the grace of Christ be with you!

    Karsten Miller

  3. Bro. KM,

    My brother! How have you been? The family is great man! Keep us in your prayers. I have added you to my blogroll. I just found out today that you had a blog. Forgive me brother, I’m slow. LOL!

    It’s so interesting that voting has come up for you as a situation over which to wrestle. It’s the same thing I’m going through right now. I’m almost ready to post on it. I guess election time gets us to thinking. You need to hit me on the e-mail so we can exchange numbers and rap on the phone.

    BTW, how’s your family?! I see you’re spending that dough. Do I need to send my tithes? LOL!!!

    Bless you brother and don’t be a stranger!

  4. Bro. LD,

    This is an interesting factor that you bring up with Lazy Extremism. This appears to be happening in 95 % of the churches. The pastor has people “gased up” to the point that they do not even take the time to read their own bible.

    It is amazing how far we have come from Paul’s writing to Timothy, admonishing him to “study to show yourself approved.” We either study to debate, preach to others or to just floss our knowledge. I have been guilty and at times can still be considered guilty of that very same thing.


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