Just finished a book called The Lost Message of Jesus, by Steve Chalke and Alan Mann. The book was a mix — a small handful of good insights, a few places where I was glad they didn’t give that part of the store away, a few sections of thundering naivete, and overall that general bleh feeling that you get when squishy moderates and squashed liberals are so busy apologizing for themselves (and the rest of us) that they forget to take their own side in the argument. Give me a cranky Lutheran or hardshell Baptist any day of the week, someone who wakes up in the morning knowing what he believes. Such gentlemen have, as the parlance goes, their own issues — but at least we all know what they are.
A universal symptom of the apologetic disposition in this book is found in the numerous examples Chalke and Mann cite. Whenever there is misunderstanding or conflict between some non-believer and the Church, or between non-believers and believers, and so on, it is blithely assumed by these authors that the problem had to have been on the Christian side. But in the breaking news department, sometimes non-Christians complain about all the hypocrites in church, not because they have a great zeal for Reformation, but rather because it is a tried and true method for getting inexperienced evangelists to jump the rails. That, and where Cain got his wife.
Lots of responses. If there is a hypocrite between you and God, then he must be closer to God than you are. If there is a hypocrite between you and God, then you must be too far away. If hypocrites are on Satan’s side (and they are), then what kind of sense does it make to stay on Satan’s side yourself because you are disgusted by what people on your own team are doing? In other words, sometimes an excuse is just an excuse.