Posted by: Bro. Lawrence D. | October 15, 2008

Extremely Lazy Extremism Part 2

In my last post on this subject I tried to both define and provide examples of the effects of this malady I call “Lazy Extremism”. One example that I didn’t necessarily hit on was the problem of accepting words without definitions. We tend to hear people use words, and use them ourselves, so often that the usage becomes the definition for us. But is this a sound way to approach our biblical faithfulness. Hardly!

The problem is exasperated by the issue of tradition. I’ve found that when most people are pressed to define what they mean when they use a certain word they are usually at a loss for words. Pardon the pun. For example…

A few weeks ago a co-worker of mine, who is a nominal Christian at best (and that by her own admission, not my judgment) approached me about some of her family members (Oneness Pentecostals) whom she felt were hypocrites. I pressed her on what she meant by that label. We all know the charge that the world levels against the church so it was important to me to decipher whether or not she knew of what she spoke. As is the normal case with those who level that charge, to her it meant that they didn’t practice what they preached. In her opinion, they were hard on and judgmental towards all unwed mothers except their own daughter. This she considered hypocrisy. But in the case of proclaiming that which is right in one’s own home while being unable to effect the choices of one’s children, the charge of hypocrisy would seem to be patently unfair. But here’s the greater problem…

The aspect of not practicing what one preaches is actually a secondary definition to what a hypocrite is. We know in the original Greek that it meant a “mask wearer” to denote actors who would wear large masks in order to destort their voices so that they could play more than one character in the same play. But how does that translate into the way that Christ (the terms most prolific user) used it against the Pharisees? Well, Christ knew that despite the Pharisees true heart condition, they wanted everyone around them to THINK that they were truly God’s men. The Pharisees themselves knew that their motives were power, influence and money, but the only way to gain either was to convince others that they were sincere worshippers.

You see sisters and brothers this is the essence of the hypocrite. It is one who while knowing the truth of their own motives, speaks and lives in such a manner as to convey otherwise to those over whom they desire impact. In order for the charge of hypocrisy to be labeled on someone for not practicing what they preached, it would have to be an expectation of perfection for all who dared to declare anything as right or wrong. And needless to say, none of us are perfect; even in the areas where we are certain of what is right or wrong. Therefore, it can not be the expectation of the one who declares, for example, “thou shalt not lie” to have never lied him/herself.

But what about other words that we hear and use where we aren’t certain of the definition? I mean, what is the church? What is scripture? What is worship? What is leadership? What is accountability? What is membership? What is love? (Baby don’t hurt me, don’t hurt me, no more. I couldn’t help it. LOL!!!)

But seriously, in a time when the true believer is almost unidentifiable and Christianity is “just another religion”,  it seems to be imperative that we work really hard at articulating our hope and beliefs in clarity, against the backdrop of post-modernism. No longer can we attack the kaleidoscope of “new-age” religious thoughts while utilizing traditional versus biblical definitions. If we are going to be faithful in the defense of our Master and Lord’s holy word, then we must do so in a way that would seperate us from the rest. We can’t afford to be lazy extremists!

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Responses

  1. I have wondered for a while how many people of the faith really understand what salvation really means. We then wonder why many do not belive or walk is legit.

  2. This was good post for me to define by the scriptures what I believe and say clearly. I used the hypocrite term plenty of times to describe ‘charasmatics’. Wow, I like how you explain the Greek transliteration for the word hypocrite. Gives us more clarity my brother. Thanks for this post.

    Karsten Miller

  3. Bro. Brian,

    The ignorance of the faith that is so prevalent today is certainly due in part to what I have described as lazy extremism. But there are also many other factors that can be blamed. The false view of authority in the church is one of them.

    Right now in most churches there is one main teacher who’s exposition of scripture has become scripture itself, at least in the minds of the congregation. That has caused many, because of the confidence that they may have in these particular men, to abandon the notion of studying for themselves. Coupled with that is the fear of challenging traditional interpretations of scripture. In the way teaching is done nowadays, it is highly dangerous territory to actually believe that the “pastor” may be wrong! God forbid!

    I believe that logic would have us to deduce that since all of us will stand before the Lord alone, it is imperative that we know for ourselves and are “convinced in our own minds” about all of the things that we say we believe.

  4. Bro. Karsten,

    In the way that we normally use the word hypocrite we could actually substitute another word: deceived. Look at Romans 2. Paul is making the argument that the Jews were sadly mistaken or deceived if they believed that simply being the possessors and proclaimers of the law would justify them even while they broke the law.

    The person who believes that proclaiming what is right to others exempts them from living up to those same standards, is a deceived person.

    The same goes with those who don’t understand the legalistic or “works-centered” nature of their doctrines (Charismatics, Pentecostals, Arminians, Cults, etc.). They aren’t hypocrites. They are trying all they know how (normally) to live up to what they profess to others. The problem is they are simply incapable of doing so. Read Romans 7 in the context of a religious person prior to conversion and you’ll see what I mean. This person is no hypocrite. This person is deceived. And tired I might add. I don’t mean to imply that Charismatics, Pentecostals or Arminians are not converted, just that they are deceived in some areas. (By the way, part of our instruction on how to treat those whom we believe to be deceived is found in Titus 3:2-7)

    That’s why I love the gospel. It is the truth that makes us free. It gets us off of the performance based thinking that not only plagues our lives, but that causes us to condemn other people for not living up to standards that we ourselves are unable to keep. It is the great equalizer. Believe it and be saved or reject it and be damned. Simple!

  5. BLD,

    We have started a church plant that actually encorages dialog from all and the response has been good. But you still have that chosen few that choose to stay in the bleachers. They say they do not like the way church is presented but do not want to engage in anything else though. They buy into the one-man show concept hook line and sinker.

    You bring up an interesting point about standing before God alone convinced in our own mind. You know I have been having an interesting conversation with a pastor for about a week on universalism. I had began to enter in to Lazy Extremism myself. If the conversation did anything for me it awakened my sense of “studying to show myself apporoved.”

    Even though his doctrine is wrong he delivered some good points and his argument was clear and precise. It was rally a wakeup call for me to get back in the grind of studying the scriptures. I have been reading so many books but not focused on the scriptures.

  6. Bro. Brian,

    More books than scripture? Look to your left, I’m in the guilty seat next to you!

  7. Bro. Lawrence D

    The Gospel is definetly an awesome news!!!. Thanks for the Titus 3:2-7. I sometimes forget that I was once blinded by false doctrine, and want so bad for those in it to understand what the truth is.

    An argument broke out in my bible study class last week over speaking in tongues. Many held the view that the tongues they speak is valid. I was shot down as I defended the truth of scripture. Inside, I was angry because I felt no one defended the Gospel. I wanted them to know the cross of Christ is where we find our best edification, but the didn’t listen and affirmed that there is something called corporate tongues and private tongues. Both Romans 2 and Titus 3 really reminded me that I was once trapped under similiar teaching. Thank you brother

    Karsten Miller


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