Posted by: Bro. Lawrence D. | December 29, 2008

Reject, Regurgitate or Reexamine

By observation and experience, I have noticed that people (including myself) usually have one or both of two responses to challenges as to what they believe. Either they reject the challenges outright as foolishness or they regurgitate the arguments with which they have been taught to respond, but both without real thought. But the more I read and study, the more I realize that most people (again, including myself) need to explore a third option, reexamination.

In the rejection and regurgitation processes we fail to realize that we may be as unsophisticated in the knowledge of what we believe as the person offering the challenge. We may know as little as they, concerning how we arrived at our conclusions. The definitions of the words that we use to defend our position my be as undetached from their meanings as our challenger’s “facts” are from reality. Therefore, in the minds of the knowledgeable, we actually end up being perceived as either paranoid, shallow thinkers (place in your mind the “Christian” most often depicted by Hollywood) or as complete non-thinkers (What the “New Atheists” would like to convince the world that we are). Either way, we give a less than stellar representation of our cause when we appear so robotic. A cause, by the way, which should be the cause given to us by Christ.

So the question remains, why aren’t we more eager and willing to reexamine what we say we believe? Why aren’t we more enthusiastic to stand firm on the foundation of study which we have done ourselves? Why are we so dismissive of  the idea that we ourselves are able, with proper time and effort, to arrive at solid, defensible conclusions concerning what we say is the truth? It seems to me that, at least in our own minds, it rids our opposer of the opportunity to accuse us of being mindless drones. It may be true that we come to the same conclusions. It may be true that we would use the same argumentation and site the same scriptures. But at least it would be with the inward assurance that it was from our own exploration of and reflection on, the issues.

There is one thing, admittedly, that I love to say when I am accused of “following men” or “repeating the party line”. Whether the subject is Calvinism or Eschatology, I take great pleasure to inform the one raising the accusation that I’ve never read anything by John Calvin, John Owen, Martin Luther or any other “reformer”, that is, that wasn’t being quoted by someone else. And I don’t own any of their literary works. I’m also, very, very, very unfamiliar with the “historic creeds”. I don’t think I’ve ever read or researched any one of them. And don’t even get me started on the so-called “early church fathers”. (By the way, didn’t Christ tell us not to call any man on earth “father”) Talk about a group of scattered thoughts. These men are almost as varied in the annunciation of their beliefs as the denominational landscape of the modern day Christian religion. Therefore, whatever positions are affirmed by these men or in these creeds, I can’t be accused of mindlessly following or “standing on the shoulders” of any of them. I’m not saying that the study of these “great men” or of these creeds is a waste. I’m not saying that they shouldn’t be consulted. But I am saying that I can’t be accused of xerox copying them. Which, let’s face it, is the standard in evangelicalism these days.

This “xeroxing” mentality is partly to blame for the rejection/regurgitation tendency. I mean who is Bro. Lawrence D. in comparison to John Calvin? But this is not all. There are also several other reasons why reexamination is often not pursued.

The first may be called the “apostaphobia”. So often, reexamination is met with the fear that because one is reexamining their faith, that one must also be prepared to abandon that faith. This is a fear that is mostly founded in sensationalism. We are all familiar with the so-called “former Christian” ( i.e. Bart Erhman, Dan Barker, etc.), individuals who upon reexamining Christianity, subsequently decided to abandon their “faith”. Not only are there just as many “non-believers” who have went through this process of reexamining Atheism or another religious belief system only to come out a “Christian”, but it should be clear that apostasy does not necessarily follow reexamination. Most people actually become further hardened in their beliefs. At least in my experience. I mean can’t we at least all agree that it takes a supernatural work of the Holy Spirit on the heart of any man in order for them to come to Christ? But this reality doesn’t stop men in the pulpits across this nation from warning you not to read “The Shack” (a fiction novel by the way), the Purpose Driven Life, or to utilize “The Message Bible”. Sorry friends, but if we’re going to promote the powerful work of the Holy Spirit in the lives of God’s people, then we can’t have a “no don’t read that!” reaction to “fringe” writings. We must, as the Apostles Paul and John did, balance warning against false teaching with a dependency on the Holy Spirit to guard the mind of the believer who is exposed or exposes themselves to it.

Another reason may be called “label-phobia”. We don’t mind labels that we choose for ourselves. (which may be why Christians are always trying to come up with new labels). But we despise being labeled by others. For instance, right now I am a monergist. I believe that the bible teaches monergism. But you may cause me to sin by calling me a Calvinist. I despise this label. John Calvin did not write the bible! He’s not mentioned in it by name! He is not one of “The Twelve”! He is the wrong J.C.! He is…Uh oh, sorry I was back in a COGIC pulpit for a minute there. Moving right along, lol! 

And because of this fear of being labeled by others, reexamination is often not done because it opens us up to some of the most hurtful labeling. Names like heretic, rebel, lone-ranger Christian, the afore mentioned apostate, cult member, or the worst for me, man follower. (There are some members of my family who would accuse me of blindly following Pastor John E. Coleman. If only they knew, right PJ?!) Either way, Christians are often very hesistant to buck the status quo. There really is no genuine encouragement in the Body for one to be “fully persuaded” in his/her own mind. So we end up with a group of what I call “RoboChristians”. (Go to the “search” box if you want to read my article on this.)

One more reason that I would like to mention is the fear of saying “I don’t know”. (Notice how all my reasons center around some kind of fear?) This particular fear may be the result of pride. It may actually reflect true ignorance. And worse of all, it may signal an inauthentic relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. So many, many people know about the Lord. So few, actually know Him. They hide behind “conservative” theologians. They learn the facts. They learn the arguments. They learn “what would Jesus do”? They learn how He would vote. They learn where He would and would not go for entertainment. They learn what He would wear. They learn where He would go to college. They learn how he feels about sports. But sadly, they never learn Christ! As I’ve written before, so many sermons today are calling for Christians to “examine” themselves. Sadly, many really just need to examine Christ FOR themselves.

All I really want to get across in any of this (and I hope that in dialogue more of this can be explored) is that the next time someone tells you there is no God, or they say that it’s all based in Astrology or Greek mythology, that there are no miracles or they ask you how you know that the bible is the word of God or that Jesus ever actually lived, don’t just reject the challenge offhand. Try not to regurgitate someone else’s reflections and answers. And please don’t be afraid to just say, I don’t know. Don’t just know the “what” but the “who, when, where, why and how” of your belief.

Simply put, it’s time to reexamine.

Advertisements

Responses

  1. Engaging in this type of reflection will always place us in a humble position. I have really been trying to look at the scriptures through the lens.

  2. Please excuse my errors up top. BLD this has been ringing loudly in my mind. I wonder if this was what the Apostle Paul was wrestling with in Phil. 3:12-13.

  3. This was a thought provoking post. I have long time battled with these Christian labels. I watched the movie “Case for Faith” by Lee Stroubel, and brought to that as believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, it is most important that we continuously re-examine our faith. Is not Christ open to our questions and searching of the scriptures to see if things are true.

    Lot of times we like to argue what we know, maybe thinking what we know is the ultimate authority. Really? If we sat back and listened to some of the challenges, then re-examined our stance ourselves, O what marvelous things would be done for Christ. This takes humility. It also takes humility to say “I don’t know!”. I have had to learn at times say to Shannon (my wife), when asked a thought provoking question, “I don’t know”! I wanted to appear like I knew, but I didn’t. I found even at times when I re-examined things, and listed to the challenges brought forth, it made it much easier to see where a person was coming from. I praise Jesus Christ for having James write:

    Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath: (James 1:19)

    Oh if I just listened first. But I like to speak first and argue first. Got a little of topic but thanks for this post BLD.

    Karsten Miller

  4. Bro. Brian,

    Humility in knowledge is always a worthy pursuit since we’re told that “knowledge puffeth up”. I was really unaware of the lens that I saw the scriptures through. But now that I’m aware of the lens, the battle is to remove them and hear what God is saying.

  5. Bro. Karsten,

    You’re not off topic at all. I know that I love to have my wife look at me as the “source of all knowledge”, lol! But the truth is, there are so many things that I just plain don’t know. I used to allow challenges to get under my skin but now I try to allow them to actually challenge me. In the end I may either add to what I know or I’ll have to change positions. Either way, God will have shown to be gracious towards me in coming to the knowledge of the truth!

  6. I have a friend who memorized his religious and political beliefs thirty years ago and refuses to talk about them anymore…

    If someone told me I would believe the exact same things thirty years from now as I do today, I say shoot me now – if I never change my mind, that means I haven’t improved!

    -Danny

  7. Bro. Danny,

    I wouldn’t see a problem with you believing the exact same thing in thirty years that you do now unless, you got there by refusing to think, interact, reflect or reexamine any of those beliefs. As with your friend, that refusal may signal a shaky belief that one would fear challenged.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Categories

%d bloggers like this: