This weekend I came across some writings on a blog by Peter Kirk called Gentle Wisdom. He's written several posts lately on the Rob Bell thing...specifically about the way another blogger named Adrian Warnock handled the whole "Love Wins" concept. (More on that...and the universalism issue in an upcoming post) I was not familiar with Adrian...or his website. I took a look around and he seems to be a Calvinist....and he definitely does not agree with Rob Bell's theology.
But that is not the point of this post. It seems the blogger at Gentle Wisdom was having some second thoughts about some of his comments. And he cites a post by Martin Trench, another UK pastor (all three of these guys are in the UK) called "Do You Ever Feel Like a Hypocrite?"
It is a thought provoking post. And it grapples with questions I've asked myself many times. Oh….like perhaps…..
"And just who do you think you are, missy, writing some of the bitchy things you post on your blog?" "Pretty full of yourself, aren't you?"
I will admit my posts sometimes take on a somewhat…ahh….sarcastic tone.
Following are a few quotes from the Hypocrite post...
I hate to hear Christian’s judging other people. It seems clear to me that Jesus taught “Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. For you will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged” (Matthew 7:1-2). Why is it then, that so many Christians love to pass judgment on other people? Even on other Christians? The vitriolic, hate-filled, Tweets and blog posts that many Christians (including some well known pastors) put out, is, (in my humble opinion), a disgrace to the name “Christian” and an embarrassment to the gospel.
I would not disagree.
If you don’t like another preacher or author – don’t listen to them or read their books. It’s simple. You don’t have to preach hate and accuse them of all kinds of crimes against God or hurl names like “heretic” about.
Again...no arguments here.
So I do not like to see people judging other people, and I tend to be pretty free from judgmental attitudes myself …….. with one exception. I tend to judge judgmental people. I know it sounds ludicrous, but I tend to judge their level of Christianity by the fact that they go about judging other people’s Christianity.
And there's more. He also discusses those mean spirited theological debates that often turn very ugly and hateful. Like a dog chasing it's tail...they go round and round and round but don't get anywhere or accomplish anything. Participants tend to stick their fingers in their ears while silently reciting the “close minded mantra.”
(la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la....I can't hear you)
But then..the purpose is not to hear .....the purpose is not discussion. The purpose is to defend and prove one's pet theology. Two topics that often spawn this kind of debate....
- free will vs. sovereignty
- universalism vs. hell
These two topics have been debated down through the ages and only rarely do minds or hearts change.
So he doesn't like these kinds of discussions. I don't either. And I usually bow out of them on e-groups and message boards....because they are fruitless time wasters.
And there is something else that bugs him....
I know that it sounds self-righteous of me, but I can’t stand seeing or hearing people being self-righteous.
If I see you going after another person, I am going to go after you!
And here is where my views differ somewhat (and where it gets hazy and blurred) He thinks that's a bad thing. And perhaps, it is a bad thing if you journey around the internet searching for heresies and threats to the faith and differing theologies. If you are searching simply to find and set right those who have a different world view...or scriptural view....or moral view...perhaps that is self righteous.
And really....are those who espouse different world/scriptural/moral views a danger? Perhaps Adrian Warnock and others who have spoken out against Rob Bell feel it is their Christian duty to call out a perceived universalist. But is it really? Where do you draw the line?
Perhaps I feel it is my Christian duty to call out those who take their theology to such an extreme that it hurts others. Seriously, irrevocably hurts others.
I am thinking of the "Christian" backed initiative in Uganda that makes homosexuality a crime punishable by DEATH. Talk about an Old Testament mentality. Sharia Law anyone?
And I am thinking of Fred Phelps and his gang. Who doesn't want to speak out against idiots like Fred Phelps?
And looking back….didn't Christians and their unwillingness to oppose Hitler play a part in his regime? And even Hitler declared he was just doing the will of God.
I believe today that my conduct is in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator.
- Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf, Vol. 1 Chapter 2
So exactly where does self righteousness end and "I'm my brother's keeper" kick in?
Good questions. I hope you didn't expect to find definitive answers in this blog post.
I do, of course, have an opinion. For me, a good rule of thumb is to determine if there is a real live, actual victim in the situation. To quote Elie Wiesel, Holocaust survivor, author and activist...
"We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. Sometimes we must interfere. When human lives are endangered, when human dignity is in jeopardy, national borders and sensitivities become irrelevant. Wherever men and women are persecuted because of their race, religion, or political views, that place must - at that moment - become the center of the universe."
"There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest."