The Things Christians Say, But Shouldn’t: a response…well, sort of 

There are some well meaning, very confused people out there. A great many of them claim to be Christians. They have ideas and they try to present them as being, somehow, biblical at their root.  This is very prevalent among those who present themselves as being liberal in their interpretation of Scripture (I think the term that is most often could be applied is eisegetical). 

A recent blog post came across my feed, and it needs to be addressed. It comes from the blog “The God Article” by Revered Mark Sandlin, a minister in the Presbyterian Church (USA).
There’s a lot to address in the blog itself, but I would like to address and respond to a few of his posts because there are a lot of people out there who will probably read his blog and not really think about what is being said, so I will do the heavy lifting here.
In his post, “10 Things You Can’t Say While Following Jesus“, he demonstrates his clear break from revelation that needs to be pointed out. I’ll just address a few points that he makes in his post and pick up the rest in  later posts.
He begins,

 If any list has been overdone in the Christian blogging world, it’s this list.

Just about every Christian blogger has done one and if they haven’t, they’ve thought about it and then thought better of it – because just about every Christian blogger has done one. (See what I did there?)

Let me say, firstly, that I agree with his statement, there are a lot of things that Christians often say that simply aren’t biblically supported and that we need to stop saying because they are confusing and deceptive as to what Scripture actually says. So, in principle, I’m agreeing; but, then he goes on to say,

[…]I’m not saying that people who follow Jesus don’t do these things; I’m saying that you can’t say you are following Jesus’ example when you do them. Finally, specific to this list, I think people who say these things are mostly trying to be kind, grateful and even humble when they say some of them. But if we really do want to be kind, grateful and humble we need to think about these sayings a little more – and then stop saying them. (Emphasis original)

 

In his “top 10” style list he counts down, so let’s look at numbers 10 and 9.

10) Everything happens for a reason.

Implied in this is a very specific understanding of how God interacts with the world. Specifically, it says God directs all things. So, mass murders? God had a reason for that senseless act of violence. Stubbing your toe on the door frame? I guess God wanted to smite your toe.

This way of seeing God turns us all into puppets. God’s little play things who really have no freewill. Do you truly think a god needs toys? If so, do you really think we’re the best toys God could make to play with?

Obviously the man is not Reformed in his theology. I’m not, exactly, totally completely on board with Calvin, but I’ve read Scripture enough to understand that his anthropology is not biblical. Man is God’s creature and can do with us as he pleases. Now, I believe that man does have a type of free will, what is called a compatibalist type. We can only do those things which are compatible with our nature. The best way that I have found to argue this point from Scripture is:

  1. God is sovereign. 
  2. As sovereign, God has delegated to his creatures a level of freedom in his will and intention to bring glory to himself. 
  3. With that delegation comes responsibility
  4.  With responsibility comes accountability. 
  5. Therefore, man’s will is limited to what he has been allowed in regards to revelation, first in nature, second in Scripture. 

Man is not responsible for God’s hidden will, how he intends to work things out for his glory, rather what has been made known to him through revelation. To say that something like, let’s use everyone’s favorite example, the Holocaust was not intended by God to cause the reconstitution of the nation of Israel (as some have argued) or to display the abject wickedness of men when they worship themselves instead of God (as others argue) then more than 6 million people died for no reason at all. This point is simply unreflective. The God revealed in Scripture is one who, “who accomplishes all things according to the counsel of his will…(Ephesians 1:11 NET)”, therefore we can conclude that everything that occurs in time occurs purposefully, ultimately resulting in the glorification of the one for whom and through whom we live (1 Corinthians 8:6). 

Carrying on…

9) God needed another angel.

God loves you. God loves your loved ones. God is coming for your loved ones.

You think it hurt when God smote your toe? Just wait ’til God rips out your heart. But it’s OK. They needed another angel in heaven.

See? All better!

Really? No, of course not. Now that you understand what you are saying, can we just stop it?

Absolutely! I’m in agreement with him on this point. It’s simply an unbiblical statement. How dare we presume on God and continue with this patently false statement. It’s terribly tempting, especially in the loss of a child, for example, to make empty platitudes, but the truth is, for one, we know that people, in death, are like angels (Matthew 22:30), but are not angels. Jesus makes it clear in Luke 16:19-31 that there is a conscious existence after death and that people when they die outside of God’s grace exist apart from him in a place of torment. Well what about babies or people who have not heard about Jesus, or those who lack the mental capacity, comes the question. I simply do not know, but what I do know is that I hope in a God who is as much love and mercy as he is holiness and justice and will judge fairly, because, like Abraham, I have to ask, “Will not the judge of the whole earth do what is right? (Genesis 18:25 NET)”

In the next post we’ll be looking at at least numbers 7 & 8. Until then,

Maranatha

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