29 July 2008

Dark-Side Christianity

I have done a lot of surfing in the blogosphere recently, especially among the “Christian” crowd, and have been both encouraged and concerned. I am encouraged that people are taking advantage of a great opportunity but concerned about the nature of a large number of Christian blogs. Some come across as very negative and critical. Their approach is more like throwing mud than sharing truth. They use what I call the “Dark-Side” approach and that is not a complimentary characterization for Christians.

Christians have the privilege of dealing in God’s truth and the primary point of this truth is the “Gospel.” The word means “good news” and it is gloriously liberating. There’s nothing dismal about the Gospel. Christians do not come bearing bad news.

God’s truth comes wrapped in words like love, forgiveness, life (everlasting), newness, understanding, etc. The concept of “judgment” is included in the Bible but it is not the primary issue. The Gospel dispels judgment it doesn’t dispense it.

Exuberance and uncontrollable joy accompany the Gospel. It is never harsh, critical or repressive. It is truly an unbelievable, once in a lifetime offer. It is so great, that there is no comparison between the Gospel and even winning the lottery.

But, you wouldn’t get that impression by reading some Christian blogs. Instead of sharing the truth, a lot of time and energy is spent finding the fault. Once it is found the descriptions can be unbearably graphic and it isn’t long before your head is so filled with un-truth, and the people who promote it, that there isn’t much room left for real God given Gospel truth.

The Dark-Side mindset isn’t happy until every false doctrine has been found, named and attributed. And naming the false doctrine is never quite enough. Those associated with it must be defamed.

Dark-Side investigators have become the tabloid of Christian media and keep us informed on every wrong thing and those who propagate it. The error they seek to expose doesn’t have to be absolutely wrong. It only need appear that way and no incriminations are spared for the people who teach or believe it. On the surface this sounds noble but there are several reasons why this approach will always fail.

You Cannot Teach Truth By Articulating Error
Sharing God’s truth is not the same thing as identifying error. You don’t have to explain what is wrong in order to say what is right. I don’t have to try mud cakes to know chocolate cake is far superior. Truth alone, speaks for itself.

People don’t learn more about God when you talk about ideas that are wrong. Heresy needs to be avoided not discussed in detail. The best way to fight error is to contend for the truth.

Truth is by nature illuminating. Things become hazy when you discuss error. The best way to clear the air is to elaborate on the truth itself. Focusing on error is like turning off the light. The more you talk about a thing the more prominent it becomes.

Unfortunately, error needs no assistance. It is the default setting and has been around since the beginning of time. Truth, on the other hand, must be carried and shown. You cannot demonstrate the blessing of marriage by decrying the shame of adultery.

You Cannot Debunk Error Without Attacking People
Christians are supposed to love people. We are not called or even allowed to love some and hate others. We are commanded to love our enemies just like we love our friends. Anything else is disobedience.

This idea gets a lot of lip service but not much in the way of attitude. We would rather win the debate than the person. Faultfinding generates fights not friendships.

At the end (or maybe the beginning) of every error is a person. God loves that person, Jesus died for that person and we are commanded to care about that person. You cannot deal with the error without damaging the people attached to it. If you really care about a heretic, you will talk to him or her not about them. Being hateful toward people is not a good way to love God.

So, if you want to oppose immorality, talk about moral things. If you want to dissipate darkness, shed more light. If you want to please God, find a way to love those in error. God will be more pleased and people will find you more approachable. And remember, the Dark-Side approach is always destructive. ThinkAboutIt


Dutch said...

Interesting... I have to agree that it is better to show God through sharing truth and light rather than condemning and being judgemental. God hates sin but He loves sinners! This has been shown to us through the giving of His life to set sinners free... to set us free! I believe that this is the same attitude that we need to aspire too, and this is where we need to do the work, asking God to install this characteristic in our lives. Do we however have to stand for truth, even if it means that we are hated for it... we have had examples of this in the church for ages?

Dutch said...

:) Just read my own post and wanted to clarify my question at the end... are there times when we need to stand in hardness against sin or error. Some of the apostles and writers of the new testement made harsh comments against error in the church? Where does this fit into our lives. And is it like I said, rather as stand that we make in 'love'?

John W. Watts said...

It is difficult to stand FOR the truth without TAKING A STAND against error. But, I agree that we need not expose error, heresy and sin in a manner that makes us appear to be the bearers of bad news rather than good. Jesus said that men will know that we stand for Him in that we love each other. He was talking about the manner in which we believers treat other believers. We must hate sin without hating sinners; expose error by revealing truth. Our motive must always be to demonstrate love and truth. We must be ready always to give a reason for the faith, the truth, that is IN us. That can be done in a positive inspiring manner, or it can be done in a spiteful, hateful ... "holier than thou" ... manner. Too often our own pride in being "right" while others are "wrong" is our motivation for exposing and opposing error. That does not demonstrate the good news of God's love, His mercy, His grace, or His forgiveness ... the "Big Four" I like to call them. It is a slender tight rope we walk but it can be done if we keep our BALANCE.

free said...

I grew up as a dark side christian. In fact the safety and security of my relationship to God was often based on the error I separated from (and in so doing the truth that I upheld). Thank God for the first time in my life, He is teaching me the true meaning of Grace. The closer I get to grace the less important the distinction between truth and error becomes. Insert a Darksider gasp here. This is not because their is no distinction or because it is not important. It is because I am an error riden sinner saved because God decided to make a way for me, because he loved me inspite of me. The truth is I and no human; christian or non alive has ever been able to separate from the error that resides in their own hearts. So instead of focusing on erradicating that which will not be erradicated until the return of Christ. Let us embrace the grace that embraces us inspite of our error. As a friend of mine shared with me we are all beggars searching for some bread (truth) as followers of Christ lets simply share with the rest of the beggars that surround us that we have found some bread.