The Bible and Hypocrisy: Another Take

Hypocrisy_man with maskOne of the most commonly cited grievances against Christianity is the hypocrisy of its believers. I doubt there is anyone, Christian or non-Christian who has not encountered such hypocrisy. I certainly have. In fact, I’ve been that Christian. The incidences of public moral failures don’t help the case either. Yes, there is hypocrisy amid the body of Christ.

But I think there’s another kind of hypocrisy afoot that gets little notice. In fact, I’d say, it’s gaining widespread acceptance. If we consider what hypocrisy means. Merriam Webster provides these definitions.

1) The behavior the behavior of people who do things that they tell other people not to do: behavior that does not agree with what someone claims to believe or feel.

2) Feigning to be what one is not or to believe what one does not; especially; the false assumption of an appearance of virtue or religion.

The second definition is what I want to focus on. I’m coming to the conclusion that hypocrisy is not just Christians who behave in contradiction to what they profess they believe they Bible says. Another kind of hypocrisy is non-Christians who embrace the Bible but reject it’s author – Jesus Christ. It’s quoting Scripture for life application but rejecting the One who gives life. It’s being spiritual but not Christian and using the Bible as some kind of inspirational talisman. It’s saying “God” but not “Christ” and portraying a form of Christianity.  In a way, it’s like stealing-going into a store and taking stuff without paying for it. That’s thievery and it’s hypocrisy. Continue reading

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Catching the Anointing

charismatic gatheringI fear this post might confront some popular held beliefs about the word anointing. But if there is ever a word that is overused and abused, its this word. For awhile, I’ve been wanting to address how anointing is actually used in the Bible but James White of Alpha and Omega ministries has done a superb job. He addresses the phenomenon of catching the anointing that occurs at mass gatherings, using Benny Hinn as an example and compares it to how the Bible uses anointing.

Here is the key excerpt from White;

“Does the Bible know anything of an anointing that can be ‘received’ through the yelling of the word ‘fire’ and the waving of a garment (accompanied by choreographed music, lighting, choirs, etc.)?  No, it does not.  Most of the appearances of the term (χρίω; χρῖσμα, τος) have to do, of course, with the Messiah, the anointed one.  But it does appear in reference to believers:

The One Who establishes us together with you in Christ and anointed us is God, who also sealed us and gave us the Spirit in our hearts as a pledge.  (2 Corinthians 1:21–22)

This anointing is defined as the work of God and it is clearly connected with the dwelling of the Spirit in the believers, resulting in their union with the body of Christ.  It is not some ecstatic secondary experience that comes later, it is primary, foundational, and universal.  It is not something offered at revivals, it is definitional to what makes a person a Christian in the first place.  It is not mediated by traveling evangelists, it is the direct and powerful work of God in the salvation of his elect people.  Likewise, the phraseology appears in John’s epistle: Continue reading

Why I Think L.A. Preachers Need a Reality Show

l.a. preachersI know that sounds strange coming from me, but let me explain. I came across this article from Thabiti Anyabwile over at The Front Porch, a new site to foster discussion around biblical faithfulness in the black church. Thabiti gives a break down of the scenes from the trailer. He then concluded with a section asking what are we to make of all this?

In a comment to The Christian Post, Noel Jones responds to criticism by saying the show is “no evangelical tool”. He explains:

“My original intention was (for) it to be a tool to help bring the minds of Christian people to the place where they give some balance to who their pastors are and how they deal with their pastors,” said Jones. ”The only reason I signed up was to help to reduce the iconoclastic proclivities that church members have about their pastors to the point where if they break any of the rules that the church members are breaking, they completely throw them away.”

Thabiti responds by saying this;

To be clear, an ‘iconoclast’ is someone who destroys icons. A ‘proclivity’ is a strong tendency, a bent, a habit, usually toward something negative. What Jones intended to say is he wants to reduce the tendency to idolizing—making idols of—pastors and church leaders. That’s a good aim. There’s not much “iconoclastic proclivity” on display in these churches—just the opposite. Continue reading

Shaming to the Glory of God

A few years ago, I wrote this piece here on Parchment and Pen about how we use condemning statements under the rubric of Christian affection.

I was listening to a Christian broadcast the other morning on the way into school and the topic of the sermon was Christians and alcohol.  The preacher took a rather hard stand against alcohol and insisted that the Bible expressly forbids the use of alcohol.  While I don’t agree with him, I was intent be gracious to his points as to why.  That was until he made the statement at the end of his broadcast that he did not want to condemn any Christian who drinks alcohol BUT (yes you knew there was a but coming, right?) you Christian, should really ask yourself does your use of alcohol really glorify God.  If you love God and offer yourself to Him….skreeeeech! My first thought was ‘how is that not condemning’?  That person who may have a glass of wine or beer on occasion, and has a conviction regarding this liberty, has now had their Christian devotion challenged.

wagging_finger_cartoonI find this all too common – shaming to the glory of God. Well, of course it’s not to God’s glory. In fact, I’d take a gander and say it is to our own to show we have the upper moral ground. Shaming happens when you highlight deficiencies and then show the other person how they are not measuring up. It happens on issues of Christian liberty and demonstrating the superiority of doctrinal positions, as I highlighted in the article. Shamed based preaching usually involves some condemning statements to motivate people into doing something because the preacher feels they aren’t doing enough.

Most Christians don’t [insert statement about how people aren’t measuring up]

Then follow it up

If you really loved the Lord, you would….

Is that love? Dr. Anthony Bradley said it well.

Love does not shame people into compliance or service. Love does not pull out the measuring stick then smack them over the head with it. Love let’s people know that they can’t measure up and points to the One who has. Love encourages that we rest in the completed sacrifice of Christ. Love encourages not condemns.

Let us consider how we may spur one another on to love and good deeds (Hebrews 10:24)

Oh and the good deed? That would be loving neighbor, not productions to satisfy our sense of what we feel somebody ought to be doing for God.

The Problem of Evil: Why We Need a Good Theology of Bad

newton ct imagesSadness. Grief. Shock. Horror. Questioning…lots of questioning regarding this recent tragedy that has severely impacted the lives of 26 families who must cope of the aftermath of loss and unspeakable violence. Sheer evil, actually. Even countless more are impacted: the responders, the survivors and their families and anyone else who got close enough to this tragedy to feel it’s penetrating arm.

The question of evil is most obviously on the minds of many. Christians have responded and some responses have been…troubling.

  • We’ve taken God out of the schools
  • Evil spirits at work
  • Video games
  • Gun control
  • Poor parenting

The commonality in all these responses is that there is something outside of oneself to blame. These responses are inadequate. Because they dismiss the very real presence of sin that resides within humanity. This sin and evil that entered the world through one man’s disobedience has impacted us all and subjected humanity to death, disease, dysfunction and delirium. (Romans 5:12; 8:18-22). There is something within, that when facilitated by aggravating factors, like mental illness result in horrific atrocities. But as long as the external factors are blamed, the root cause is overlooked. Jesus himself said

Listen to me, all of you and understand: there is nothing outside the man which can defile him if it goes into him; but the things which proceed out of the man are what defile the man (Mark 7:14-15)

See also the compatible passage in Matthew 10:10-20. And specifically vs 19 – “for out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders.”

So we need a good theology of bad because unfortunately bad is with us. The problem of evil will persist until Jesus comes back and fixes everything. Until then, his kingdom breaks through in various ways in the midst of pain and suffering. We’ll celebrate that in a couple of weeks and marvel at the incarnation and the promise of redemption through God the Son, Immanuel God with us. He provides light, hope and comfort though not eradicating the presence of evil.  Until evil is eradicated with his glorious appearance, we wait and hope and trust though trying to make sense of it all. These are the unfortunate tensions of living in the already-but-not yet kingdom realities. For there remains grief, heartache and questions. .

Here are a few good articles I’ve come across.

An Insufficient Answer to the Shootings in Connecticut

Any Person is Capable of Any Sin

If God is Invited in, All is Well?

Continue to pray for the families of this tragedy.