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Sunday, February 12, 2012

Is it un-Christian to point out error?

Is it possible to be pro-something without being anti-something? Is it possible to stand up for the right without standing up against the wrong (borrowed from a Christian song)?

Is it possible to believe in sanctity of marriage without being against divorce, abuse, and adultery?

Is it possible to believe in the sanctity of human life without being against abortion?

Is it possible to believe something without believing the opposing views are wrong?

As with everything, there is a balance. For example, being a Christian, I believe Jesus is the only way to God (which the Bible teaches). I believe that those who believe different (for example, Muslims, Hindus, athiests/agnostics, etc.) are incorrect. The balance comes in how you handle it. I completely respect the individuals who believe differently than I do, even though I disagree with them. I don't get in people's face and tell them that their beliefs are wrong. I don't post comments on their Facebook page saying, "I'm right and you're wrong." I don't think less of a person for believing differently than I do. Those would all be very un-Christian things to do.

However, I do speak my beliefs on this page. I do not attack specific people, and I very much love the Adventist people themselves. It is the doctrine/theology that I have a problem with. Even though I created a site where people would have to come to if they wanted to see it (so it would be less-offensive than having it on my personal page and popping up in people's newsfeed), I know some people still feel like this is a personal, in-your-face attack.

This is something I struggle with. On one hand, I understand where they are coming from and I know it's not very "nice" to point out error's in a church - people tend to take it personally if you express your disagreements with their beliefs even if it not meant to be personal. But on the other hand, I don't know if it's possible to be Pro-Gospel (as someone here put it) without standing up against false gospels.

Sometimes I think this generation in particular has lost focus of what's important. It seems to be more important now to not offend people and just "mind your own business" than to risk offense by sharing your beliefs. But how is that compatible with Christianity? If Jesus IS the only way to God, how is it better to avoid offending someone by sharing that (though they may believe completely differently) than to not tell them and have them be lost? If the Sabbath IS the end-time issue in the world dividing true believers from false believers (as we used to believe), how can anyone say, "I'm happy that you've found another church (even if it's on the "wrong" day) - to each his own"? If Ellen White DOES teach a different gospel than the Bible, how is it "Christian" to not share what we've learned (wouldn't we encourage someone who left LDS Church to share the truth with those they left behind?)?

Why do we think the "Christian" thing to do is to just keep our beliefs to ourselves so we don't inconvenience or offend anyone? Is that what the Bible teaches?

  • John the Baptist didn't mince words when he called the Pharisees & Sadducees a brood of vipers. Matt. 3:7
  • Jesus' very message was offensive in that it meant people were doing things wrong and needed to repent. No one WANTS to be told to repent - "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near." Matt. 4:17
  • Jesus denounced unrepentant cities (he wasn't concerned with protecting people's "feelings"). Matt. 11:20-24
  • Jesus didn't tiptoe around the Scribes, Pharisee's, and Sadducees. He called them a wicked and adulterous generation (Matt. 12:39), commandment-breakers (Matt. 15:3), hypocrites (Matt. 22:18, 23:13), said they were in error in their beliefs (Matt. 22:29). In fact, read all of Matthew 23, then tell me that Christianity is just about being "nice".
  • Jesus said "Get behind me, Satan!" when Peter said that Jesus wouldn't be killed. Matt. 16:23
  • He overturned the money-changers' tables at the temple (certainly not a "nice" thing to do). Matt. 21:12-13
  • Peter didn't sugar-coat his words when he addressed the crowds at Pentecost. He said YOU killed Jesus. Acts 2:23, 36. Repent! Acts 2:38
  • Again in Acts 3:12-15 Peter told the crowd straight up, "You disowned the Holy and Righteous One." "You killed the author of life." Wow, talk about potentially-offensive words!
  • 1 Cor. 5 Paul tells them to kick an immoral man out of the church. But wait, that's not very "nice"!
  • In Galatians 2 Paul stood up against Peter and called him out for his error.
  • Gal. 3:1 is quite offensive - "You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you?..."
There is example after example in the Bible of people standing up against error (just think about the prophets in the Old Testament). So why in the world do we think it's more Christian to ignore error and not say anything so as to avoid offense? I think part of the reason for this mindset is because the Bible tells us not to judge others, so somehow we think that we aren't allowed to stand up for right or wrong because somehow that is casting judgement on others.

"What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside. 'Expel the wicked man from among you.'" 1 Cor. 5:12-13

There is a difference between looking down on someone because of their actions and calling sin "sin" or error "error". Saying something is right or wrong isn't the same as judging a person's hearts or motives or saying someone isn't right with God because of externals ("dangly earrings" for example). Christianity isn't about smoothing everything over and making everyone feel comfortable - "It's ok if you believe that. I'm happy for you! (I really think you're lost, but I'm not going to share the truth with you because it's not my business)"

While Christians aren't called to be "nice" and make people feel warm and fuzzy inside, we ARE called to love. There are so many ways to show our love for people. Sometimes the "loving" thing to do is not the "nice" thing to do. If we strap our screaming toddler into a car seat for their protection, they may hate being confined and think we are being mean, but really it's for their protection and it's the loving thing to do. If we smack a child's hand away from a hot stove to keep them from being burned, they won't see that as loving but it's done to protect them. If we point out false doctrine (which we have great examples of people in the Bible doing that very thing), it may come across as offensive or hurtful, but it's done out of love - for those we share with and for the true Gospel.

We need to get our priorities straight. To quote Paul from Gal. 1:10
"Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ."

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