Response to John Shore’s post at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/john-shore/10-ways-christians-tend-t_b_562583.html
- A Christian striving to be wealthy is pursuing the wrong things. This however is not the same thing as saying that wealth and Christianity are mutually exclusive. In Luke 12:33, indeed the rich young man was self-righteous and hung up with the pursuit of wealth. Jesus showed him that he was not perfect as he misguidedly thought. Trusting in one’s self to live up to God’s expectations is a mistake: this is not possible. It is only through receiving God’s free gift of forgiveness that God’s expectations can be met. Matthew 6:24 is correct: “You cannot serve God and Money.” We should not serve money. At the same time, Matthew 6:33 clarifies “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” God may choose to bless Christians with wealth—though pursuit of wealth is something the Christian should not focus on.
- Agreed. If we honestly read the Bible, we can’t help but see that we do not please God. Galatians 3:10 says “All who rely on observing the law are under a curse, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.” Clearly no one is justified before God by the law, because, “The righteous will live by faith.” We cannot be righteous by trying to be righteous. We are righteous only by receiving Christ’s righteousness.
- While we can misunderstand the words of the Bible, this does not mean that the truths of the Bible are unknowable. There are principles for right interpretation of scripture, such as “Let scripture interpret scripture.” For example, Luke 8:9-10 that you quote is a great example. Jesus clearly says that “the knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of God” (i.e. faith) had been given to the disciples, but that his parables would not be understood by others without faith. It is only through the gift of faith that the truths of God are understood. Without faith, God’s truths are foolishness as 1 Corinthians 1:20-25 says.
- There is a “do-be-do-be-do…” quality to Christianity. Christianity at its core is about being: being a sinner, loved by God, justified by Christ, free to live as His person. But out of this being flows doing. In John 15:5 Jesus says “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” Doing is natural result of the being, but the way to “do” is to “be”: remain in Christ, and let his love naturally express itself through your doing.
- Agreed. Christianity is not about being invasive. At the same time, Christianity is about love and concern for our neighbor. Coercion has no place in Christianity’s kingdom of grace. Christians are called to speak God’s truth in love. Our government should not coerce anyone to adhere to any faith, nor should it preclude the free expression of any faith. The government is however supposed to coerce people to comply with laws that we deem to be in keeping with the order and the preservation of the rights of others: murder is bad, for lots of reasons. The government is right in coercing people not to murder—regardless of the fact that the Bible tells us not to murder.
- Agreed. Love them (and pray for them), and let God worry about making them godly. That is his job—and something he alone can do, through the bestowal of faith.
- Christianity is not incompatible with fact and logic. On the contrary, Christianity celebrates the God that created fact and logic. At the same time, in the vein of your #3, some truths can be comprehended only through faith. God is perfect, His word is true, and our logic is at times fallible. If we see an incompatibility between God’s revealed truth and our logic, it means we are not doing our logic right (i.e. have based some of it on faulty premises or the like).
- Agreed, but I think there is a root cause for this issue causing angst: our culture’s stance on homosexuality forces us to admit that our culture is not inherently in line with God’s will. Christianity has always transcended culture, and has generally been at odds with culture. For the past many years in America, we have been able to be lulled into thinking that the culture’s values are compatible with Christianity. This is simply not the case. Should we try to coerce the culture to change? No: see #5. Should we live lives that reflect God’s callings even if out of sync with the culture? Yes: see #9. Wake up and realize that the only way secular culture has ever been compatible with God’s will has been through dumbing down the requirements of His law. The issue of homosexuality just makes this uncomfortable truth obvious.
- Agreed, but there is a dialectical tension that is challenging to live in. 2 Peter 2:11-12 says “Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.” Withdrawing from the world is not good, but neither is conforming to the ways of the world. Christians are called to live in the world, AND live lives transformed by Christ that are going to be different from the ways of the word.
- Agreed, and this problem is exacerbated when Christians act without love, thinking that they are dogmatically in the right. The more you know about God and his revelation, the better you know God. And the better you know God, the better equipped you are to live a transformed life according to his will. The learned and the ignorant would both do well to take Colossians 4:6 to heart: “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.