25 July 2011

"Grandma, What Big Teeth You Have"

The following was posted today at The Cripplegate:

“Grandma, What Big Teeth You Have”
by Clint Archer

I confess I have a habit that must prove annoying to most bookstore attendants. While browsing in secular bookstores, should I encounter corrosive doctrines on display under the rubric of “Christianity” I surreptitiously plunk the offending specimens in the “Esoteric” section. Call me old fashioned, but I’ve always felt that poison and pirate ships should somewhere on them sport a skull and crossbones insignia. Arsenic should be kept on a high shelf, not strewn near the baby formula. And Rob Bell’s books should enjoy a reserved space on the “Philosophy” shelf, or perhaps in that special cylindrical section under the clerk’s counter where scrap paper and chewed gum are temporarily stored til the janitors transfer it where it really belongs. 
Unbiblical teachings are only dangerous to the flock of Christ when they are averred by those alleged to be sheep. If a bear clambers into the sheepfold with his teeth bared (like Nero who claimed to be a god, and collected Christians to be used as candles at his pool party), the lack of subtlety is our ally. But when Brian McLaren, Rob Bell, and other canine types don the garb of benevolent shepherds, their wiliness ups the threat. It’s not so much the doctrine; it’s the disguise. I don’t think Christian bloggers joining the conversation are in the wrong for being quick to interject, “Oh Grandma, what big teeth you have.”
 
The one thing Muslims tend to do well is be Muslim. Buddhists generally achieve the same eponymous success. I acknowledge that Atheists betray copious incongruence in their daily living (your iPhone doesn’t have a “Made in China” sticker on it, but you admit someone thought it up). But an Atheist will never converse in print about the existence of a deity, for fear of being shunted to their neighboring  pigeon hole, Agnostic (which Atheists see as an intellectual category reserved for pot-heads and other indecisive philosophers). It seems to me that only Christians have long, published conversations about whether or not they should believe what their God teaches.
For example, when God talks about Hell in the way that he does, i.e. that it’s a nasty, hot, everlasting place for rebels who are awake to experience it, is it really reasonable for a Christian to say, “Maybe, maybe not”?
Or when God mentions a six day creation using strikingly unambiguous time indicators like, “It was evening and then it was morning, the third day,” is it acceptable for his followers to respond with, “More likely, a theory hatched by God-haters is true”? I’m not saying unbelievers shouldn’t believe our God. That is after all why we tag them that way. But surely it’s not too much to expect believers to, you know, believe.
So when the blogosphere erupts with discussions about whether or not Rob Bell is a believer, I modestly propose a quaint litmus test: belief. Can a person believe that Jesus is the way the truth the life, and that “No one comes to the Father except through Me,” and simultaneously believe that the opposite has a real chance of being just as true. The skill it takes to hold two opposing assertions concurrently isn’t just Post-Modern, it’s Post-Reason.
I’m ok with Hindus saying its possible no one ever ends up in Hell, though if you are going to make up an innocuous punishment, then coming back as a worm seems to be only a moderate improvement on being eaten by worms. I’m also ok with JW’s believing there’s no hell. Heck, I’m even ok with the kids in my church having a conversation about the truth claims of the Bible. But when a pastor/teacher/writer aims his teachings conversations, at the Christian community, while touting the name of Christ as his Lord, then I think he’s asking for the very same evangelical disavowal he’s now facing.
Orthodoxy is blood bought. There are countless saints who were burnt at the stake to defend the claims of Scripture. John Wycliffe was exhumed and posthumously burnt to ashes when the Catholics realized they hadn’t put enough exclamation points behind saying he’s not on their team. Wycliffe would be rolling over in his urn to know that men calling themselves Christians are saying orthodoxy is not generous enough. Ortho means straight. Would you want your orthodontist to tell you that although your teeth are still crooked after you spent a fortune on braces, you should simply have a more generous definition of straight?

I leave you with the words of Paul to the elders of his beloved flock at Ephesus, Acts 20: 28Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood. 29 I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; 30 and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them.
Christian, let’s be candid. It’s ok to read Love Wins and say, “Wow Rob, what big teeth you have.”

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