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Some Thoughts on the Book “What’s the Least I Can Believe and Still Be a Christian?” (Post #11) IT’S OKAY FOR CHRISTIANS TO BE JUDGMENTAL AND OBNOXIOUS!

We are continuing our review of the book by the United Methodist minister Martin Thielen entitled What’s the Least I Can Believe and Still Be a Christian? We’ve already seen a number of areas where he rejects such doctrines as the sovereignty of God, the accuracy of the Bible, the exclusivity of Jesus as the only way to God, and the reality of eternal suffering for those who die without the Lord Jesus.

In this last section of “Ten Things Christians Don’t Need to Believe,” he subtitles this chapter True Christians leave judgment to God.

[Again, before I read his chapter, let me point out that he himself has been quite judgmental toward Christians who hold to a “literal” method of interpretation, who  believe homosexual behavior is sinful, who believe in inspiration, etc. He will most likely bring up Matthew 7 where Jesus says “Judge not lest ye be judged,” a passage many misunderstand.  We’ll see.]

Well, I guessed right! Thielen begins this chapter by quoting Matthew 7:1- “Do not judge, so that you may not be judged.” He then tells several very sad stories of people being kicked out of churches for a variety of reasons (singing in a bar, being addicted to drugs or alcohol, unwed mothers, evolutionists, homosexuals, etc.).

MY RESPONSE: Of course judgmentalism is sinful.  Of course there is no excuse for obnoxious Christians! But Thielen’s “bottom line” is: True Christians leave judgment to God.  Talk about throwing out the baby with the bath water (pun intended).

What about passages like Matthew 5 and Matthew 18 and I Corinthians 5? What about proper, biblical, compassionate church discipline? What about the Apostle Paul’s command in I Corinthians 5 regarding an unrepentant believer who will not cooperate with the church’s process of restoring him to the Lord and the Lord’s people: “Expel the wicked person from among you”? In fact, Paul asks the Corinthians “What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside?” (vv. 12-13). 

And Thielen doesn’t deal with the Matthew 7 (“Judge not lest ye be judged”) reference. A careful look at that text shows that Jesus isn’t saying don’t judge. He is saying don’t judge hypocritically! Here’s the passage:
So, I am first to get the plank out of my eye so I can “then see clearly to remove the speck from [my] brother’s eye.”

I wonder — is the concept of church discipline completely anathema to Thielen? Of course, discipline out of anger and rage is never right. When church discipline is exercised biblically, there should be many tears and prayers.

The second half of the book concerns “Ten Things Christians Need to Believe.” With all that he has rejected, it will be interesting to see what Thielen affirms.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on February 21, 2019 in judging

 

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Ten Habits That Have Helped Me in My Christian Life (Habit #9)

Benjamin Franklin once said, “Never ruin an apology with an excuse.” The great theologian John Wayne said, “Never apologize, mister. It’s a sign of weakness.”  But is it, really?

Apparently, after John Lennon made his unfortunate statement about Christianity (“Christianity will go. It will vanish and shrink. I needn’t argue about that; I’m right and I will be proved right. We’re more popular than Jesus now . . .”), he followed it up later by saying, ““I wasn’t saying whatever they’re saying I was saying. I’m sorry I said it really. I never meant it to be a lousy anti-religious thing. I apologize if that will make you happy. I still don’t know quite what I’ve done. I’ve tried to tell you what I did do but if you want me to apologize, if that will make you happy, then OK, I’m sorry.”

There’s a lot of confusion about apologizing, don’t you think?  Someone named Mark Matthews said, “Apologizing does not always mean you’re wrong and the other person is right. It just means you value your relationship more than your ego.”  I don’t know — whenever I apologize it usually means I’m admitting I was wrong in my words or my actions or my attitude.

This is the ninth habit I’m working on — the necessity of the practice of apologizing.  It’s always painful for me.  I do want to value a relationship more than my ego.  Asking forgiveness puts one in a vulnerable position in which the other person might well choose not to forgive.

Jesus says in Matthew 5: 23 “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, 24 leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.”  How important is apologizing?  Getting reconciled with another brother or sister?  Admitting one’s offense and trying to straighten things out?  Important enough to interrupt one’s worship of the living God!  Does a habit get more important than that?

May I suggest this includes also apologizing to those who are not yet Jesus-followers?  The more friendships we have with those not yet in God’s family means the more occasions we will have to disappoint them, hurt them, offend them.  And those become opportunities to admit our wrongs, to ask for their forgiveness, and to respond in a godly way (even if they choose not to forgive).  Allow the chinks in your Christian armor to show.  You are not yet perfect and neither am I.  So, apologize already!  (to be continued)

 
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Posted by on January 9, 2018 in holy habits

 

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