On Being Too Hard on the Christians

I remember a commercial from many years ago that featured a football coach in the locker room at half time, and he was chewing out his team in a royal way. They had missed that tackle, they had screwed this up, they had failed to do something else, and so on. Finally, after a good bit of this, one of the players looked up and said something like, “But, coach, we’re ahead by 21 points.”

One of the temptations that reformers face is that of seeing all the negatives. And it is appropriate to say that the rising tide of secularism is directly related to the impotence of the church. There are many things in the church that need to be reformed — our worship is inane, our preaching anemic, our eschatology is defeatist, our complicity with the state is worrisome, and this list could be quite a bit longer. That’s all true. That’s all true, as far as it goes, but it is not the only truth.

A few weeks ago, we had our county fair here. And after going through the hall where a number of our local ministries had their booths set up, Luke and Rachel commented to the rest of the family about something they had noticed there. From the Hope Center, to CareNet, to Logos School, they noted that if all these ministries just disappeared one day our small town would be a completely different place. It would be colder, and more cruel, and much more contemptuous of the lowly.

“For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people.” (1 Pet. 2:15, ESV).

We Christians do need to do more than we are currently doing, because God calls us to it. But we do not need to do more because secularist critics like to taunt the church with our shortcomings. They, as it turns out, do not know what they are talking about. They are like a bed-ridden hypochondriac who has developed quite a critical eye concerning the free nursing care that his volunteer neighbors are providing.

Paul tells the new Christians at Thessalonica that they already love all the brothers throughout Macedonia (1 Thess. 4:1,9). Well done, he says. But then he says that he wants them to do the same thing more and more (1 Thess. 4:10). And so for us — from mercy work to political activism — we need to do so more and more. God summons us to it.

But for those who think we are not currently doing anything worthwhile to speak of, the only way that could be refuted is if it were all made to disappear. And that is what the secularist agenda currently is driving at — to replace their forms of statist and coercive compassion for ours, the kind that is freely given, to replace our Savior with their savior. As I have already noted, I do not believe this attempt will be successful.

But if it were, there would be a point to made from it. The forces of unbelief were successful in driving the Huguenots from France. The thing can be done. The problem is that France never recovered.

“This is a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable unto men” (Titus 3:8).

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David Douglas
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David Douglas

to replace their forms of statist and coercive compassion with ours, the kind that is freely given..

I understand what you mean but I think that the wording is inverted.

Darius T
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Darius T

^ David beat me to it.

Jane
Member

Change “ours” to “our kind” and it’s clearer. The antecedents are correct as written, but it’s easily misread.

Eric the Red
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Eric the Red

I don’t want Christians to disappear. I don’t even want Christianity to disappear I may be a secular atheist but that doesn’t mean I don’t recognize that the Christian church doesn’t do good charitable works, that some people aren’t better people because of their religious beliefs, or that the community-building done by some churches is beneficial. And I’m in favor of recognizing the good that people and institutions do, even when I don’t agree with them, and even when they also do nasty things, which Christianity also does. My opposition to Christianity is pretty much limited to its attempts to… Read more »

Eric the Red
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Eric the Red

Sorry, typo. My second sentence should read “that the Christian church __does__ do good charitable works . . .”

Eric Stampher
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Eric Stampher

Hi Eric from Eric,

Regarding “prescribe moral codes for non-Christians to live by

I take it you’d like to prescribe the taking away of their power to do so?
Is that your moral remedy?

Eric the Red
Guest
Eric the Red

Eric Stampher, no need to prescribe anything. In my ideal world, when the subject of gay marriage comes up, Christians are free to tell anyone who will listen that they think it’s a sin. They’re even free to try to pass laws against if if they like. But, in my ideal world, everyone else would listen politely and then ignore them. Which indeed is what happened when Orlando passed a pro-gay-marriage ordinance not long ago: A couple of ministers showed up to oppose it, the council listened politely, and then passed the ordinance anyway.

wtrsims
Member

EtR said:

In my ideal world, when the subject of gay marriage comes up, Christians are free to tell anyone who will listen that they think it’s a sin. They’re even free to try to pass laws against if if they like. But, in my ideal world, everyone else would listen politely and then ignore them.

Is anything true in your ideal world, EtR? Is there any Truth or true moral?

wtrsims
Member

EtR, in your ideal world, can those tables be flipped? If not, then why not?

Eric the Red
Guest
Eric the Red

Yes, it can be flipped; all you have to do is produce evidence (as opposed to bald, naked assertions) sufficient to show that Christianity is true. Whatever limitations there may be on our frail human ability to know the truth, you’ll be hard pressed to find a secularist who denies that absolute truth exists. Whether there actually is a physical sun that shines, or whether it is merely a figment of my imagination, has only one correct answer. Maybe my human limitations don’t allow me to state the answer with 100% certainty – my statistics professor would only give 95%… Read more »

timothy
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timothy

Eric,

Your conceit that you are going to rule us is funny.

Eric the Red
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Eric the Red

Timothy, if I were to make a list of things I have absolutely zero interest in doing, ruling you would be at the top of the list.

Eric Stampher
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Eric Stampher

Eric from Eric,

In your ideal world, would you proudly applaud your bureaucrats for ignoring a moral ebola destroying the lives of their constituency?

In your ideal world, would God watch politely as folks mutilate themselves, then politely ignore them?

(Let’s stipulate that some behaviors are a form of self-destruction. Whatever would you have folks do see it spreading? Calmly & lovingly pronounce it legal?)

timothy
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timothy

Timothy, if I were to make a list of things I have absolutely zero interest in doing, ruling you would be at the top of the list.

1 down ~100 million to go.

(:

Eric Stampher
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Eric Stampher

Eric —

Believing you will soon change your mind on this —

Should a darling little cutie 22 year old and her father come to the city fathers, demanding their love be recognized — would your wise bureaucrats stoically ignore the objections of the religious riff-raff and pass those laws recognizing the beauty of incestuous love?

wtrsims
Member

EtR said: You want the Christian viewpoint on gay marriage to be the law of the land, show me some evidence that gay marriage is bad policy. If the best you can do is a bald, naked assertion that your Deity thinks it’s immoral, then the rest of us should listen politely and then pass gay marriage. So, unless I show, with proof, that I’m correct, we assume that you’re correct? Right. Got it. Show me evidence that gay marriage is good policy. If the best you can do is a bald, naked assertion that because there is no Deity… Read more »

Eric Stampher
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Eric Stampher

Eric — “the rest of us should listen politely and then pass gay marriage

Tis more honest if you change that should to shall.

After all — your “recommendation” is based upon how you feel about what you think, and not about any external authority imposing itself upon your being.

Therefore you tell us how you’d like others to behave, based upon your preference alone.
Do you agree? — or is there some good & just standard outside yourself that you appeal to?

Eric the Red
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Eric the Red

Well, what’s the rationale for not wanting a 22 year old to marry her (or for that matter his) father? If you can articulate an objective harm that such a marriage would create, then you don’t need religion to ban it; the fact that it causes harm is sufficient. On the other hand, if the only reason you can come up with is that you think it’s icky, well, that’s how I feel about eating raw oysters but I don’t try to tell other people that they can’t indulge their tastes because I find them icky. And I think the… Read more »

Eric the Red
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Eric the Red

Wesley, you’re assuming that “Deity exists” and “Deity doesn’t exist” start off with the same set of presumptions. They don’t. The burden of proof is always on the person claiming that X exists, regardless of what X happens to be. That’s why the prosecutor has to prove your guilt rather than making you prove your innocence.

timothy
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timothy

You want the Christian viewpoint on gay marriage to be the law of the land, show me some evidence that gay marriage is bad policy. If the best you can do is a bald, naked assertion that your Deity thinks it’s immoral, then the rest of us should listen politely and then pass gay marriage. I love how the mini-me-Nero’s deign to let us pretend we would govern ourselves. We did pass referendums and laws that activist judges overturned; so be it, we will pretend to obey them and they can pretend that they rule us. Its cute, the little… Read more »

Eric the Red
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Eric the Red

Eric Stampher, the “good & just standard” is expecting people to show some evidence for the claims they make in support of what they think is good public policy. As I’ve already said, if you have any actual basis for a particular claim, fine, make it. If you don’t, that’s fine too, but don’t expect to be taken seriously.

Matthias
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Matthias

Eric T. Red,

Out of curiosity, what is your stake in this argument? How does it affect you for gay unions to be disallowed?

wtrsims
Member

EtR is trying to win the argument by pretending that he’s above it. He’s set himself up as arbiter, declaring that his assumptions are better than Christian assumptions, and since he’s arbiter, assuming that his assumptions are better than Christian assumptions, he appears to be rational in declaring us irrational. To paraphrase Mel Brooks’ Louis XVI, “It’s good to be arbiter.”

Your analogy to the constitutional stance of innocent until proven guilty is flawed. The assumption of innocence is based upon assuming the Constitution. Tangentially, that Constitution assumes the Creator.

wtrsims
Member

If the question arises as to why that last comment was relevant, I’m objecting to this place of moral and philosophical authority you’ve unilaterally granted you and your opinion. I’m picking at the argument that you’re using to elevate yourself to such a position.

Eric Stampher
Guest
Eric Stampher

Eric — are you asking me to prove that homosexual unions are harmful to parties involved?

And you’d like me to do it without reliance on some supposed outside religious authority’s say-so?

May I use expert testimony?

If so — what qualifications will you allow for the validity of that authority?

Eric the Red
Guest
Eric the Red

Eric Stampher, I’m telling you that if you are going to advocate for a policy that inflicts suffering on people (as refusing to recognize their most intimate relationships most assuredly does), you’d best have a lot better reason for it than the bald, naked assertion that your Deity doesn’t like it. Wesley, the concept of innocent until proven guilty far predates the Constitution; it goes back at least to the ancient Greeks, who most assuredly did not believe it came from the Christian God. And it’s based on the simple principle that he who claims something to be true has… Read more »

Katecho
Member

Eric the Red just can’t seem to free himself from his unproven assumption that the world ought to be governed one way and not another way. Where does such a naked assertion come from in his paradigm? It certainly doesn’t come from any prescription in his worldview. His worldview has none. Whatever is, is. We’ve already covered this many times for Eric the Red. He’s just recycling himself now. Apparently he hasn’t learned any new tricks during his leave of absence. Governance is something that Eric the Red will have to leave to those with a worldview where things can… Read more »

Eric the Red
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Eric the Red

So, katecho, let me ask a purely utilitarian question: Why would I pay any heed to the comments of someone who has turned violations of the Ninth Commandment into an art form the way you have? If you spend a few minutes actually thinking through what the world view that you impute to me would look like, you will soon realize that your caricature is so silly that nobody could actually have that world view. And it’s not like I haven’t previously explained that it’s not my world view. So, regrettably, I see that you haven’t gotten any more honest… Read more »

Jane
Member

Eric has a point. katecho shouldn’t impute consistency and coherency to his worldview just because consistency and coherency are consistent and coherent. That doesn’t mean they’re features of Eric’s worldview.

Eric Stampher
Guest
Eric Stampher

Eric — you say “you’d best have a lot better reason for it“.

What do you consider acceptably better reasoning than my deity’s instructions?

Will you accept any expert witnesses’ reasoning & observations?

What constitutes proof for you?

Katecho
Member

Eric the Red wrote: “So, katecho, let me ask a purely utilitarian question: Why would I pay any heed to the comments of someone who has turned violations of the Ninth Commandment into an art form the way you have?” Wasn’t Eric the Red the one complaining about naked assertions just a bit ago? If I have misrepresented Eric the Red, then all he has to do is explain how prescription can be rationally supported in his accidental materialistic universe, or else stop prescribing how we should think and behave already. He has previously conceded that prescription is beyond his… Read more »

timothy
Guest
timothy

Katecho restates for the eleventy-billionth time the void at the core of ETR’s emotional and intellectual blankey. ETR will ignore the void again and accuse others, never acknowledging or facing that empty pit that he is making his eternal home (thy will be done, Eric). The question on my mind is why? Narcisism? Dread? Hate? Insanity? Listening to Eric is like listening to the perverted homicidal maniac in The Silence of the Lambs standing at the top of the pit looking down at his victim who pleads with him ‘why?’ and the answer is–always–“it puts the lotion on its back”… Read more »

David R
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David R

“If the best you can do is a bald, naked assertion that your Deity..”

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that we are endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights….

Hmmm…. that appears to be a bald, naked assertion and one the Founders thought was the basis for our rights. No Creator, no rights.

Matthias
Guest
Matthias

Mr. the Red, thanks for the reply. So your stake isn’t a personal one, but one that transcends, if you’ll allow, personal preference viz. “good governance” (Well, that and a “slippery slope” argument). You probably saw this coming (and indeed a couple commenters have said as much already), but what’s “good”? As a side note, do you believe laws in general are created to avoid an objective harm or to uphold an objective good? Concerning incestuous relationships and other “slippery slope” examples, would you say it’s wrong “to advocate for a policy that inflicts suffering on people (as refusing to… Read more »

wtrsims
Member

So Eric asserts that Christians are the ones making assertions, therefore we are the ones who have to present the proof. Do you still not see how you’ve attempted to pivot yourself as unassailable? And, as far as our example of the presumption of innocence, or just the more general principle that the one who asserts is the one who must prove? Please prove that assumption. You’re belief system is just a faith-based (irrational) as Christianity. Christians recognize the position of faith in our worldview. You don’t recognize it in yours, and you would criticize anyone who disagrees with your… Read more »

Moor
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Moor

EtR is to logically consistent worldviews what Nickelback is to rock.