07 January 2011

Complacent: Risking Souls in the Name of Tolerance

I recently read an article over at The Christian Post called "Bible Believers Can't Shake Intolerant Image, Says Atheist". I read a few things I disagree with and thought I would offer a brief commentary and critique of some of the comments. I just started following tweets from @ChristianPost and this is one of a few current articles that I've read with questionable content, so there may be more posts like this in the future. Let me say to those at Christian Post (as if any of them will read this), that I am unaware of the vision or mission of your establishment and this post is in no way a critique of the author or publication, rather a dissection of statements made therein...

"Joe Zamecki [Texas State Director of the American Atheists] believes that it is impossible for Christians to take a softer stance on issues such as homosexuality while adhering to the Bible..."

I wholeheartedly agree... and if you do take a softer stance, you don't esteem the Bible as the Word of God and probably aren't a Christian.

"...He cites staunch edicts issued by God in Leviticus as examples of how God is hateful and how His followers must be the same. Trying to adopt any other approach is, as he expressed, an act of hypocrisy."

Here we go again. An angry atheist taking the words of God (Leviticus 20:13) out of context to launch a futile ad hominem attack against the very God he claims he doesn't believe in. The problem is twofold... He is incapable of understanding: "The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned." (1 Cor. 2:14) nor can he discern the hatefulness in allowing sexually immoral behavior in the name of tolerance; and his arguments are inconsistent: “If you ever want that friendly church, then throw out the book" (along with the aforementioned "I don't believe in God, but God is hateful" argument). It isn't a church if the Word isn't brought to bear, true hypocrisy is ignoring sin in the name of love; ignoring or dismissing sin and calling it tolerance is not love.

"CFC [Changing the Face of Christianity] Founder R. Brad White, a former atheist, rejected Zamecki’s notion of disowning the Bible in order to reverse negative stereotypes. He said, as an unbeliever, Zamecki can’t 'grasp the complexities' of the Bible."

What about the doctrine of perspicuity? Scripture is clear. It does not withhold truth, but reveals it. It is light applied to the darkened mind by the Holy Spirit. True, Zamecki is (and always has been) an unbeliever, but the reason he can't grasp Scripture is because he is unregenerate. He lacks the Holy Spirit, and thus lacks the application of the Spirit's ministry of revelation or illumination in his mind and heart.

Another serious flaw in White's reasoning, besides "pushing for a [return] to real Christianity” (like it hasn't been around and we need to discover it) is that he confuses tolerance with complacency. I agree with him that we should "evangelize non-believers through honest, meaningful relationships" but it doesn't stop there, and when he calls for "leaving the judgment up to God" he misunderstands the concept of judgment. Of course we are not to "use [proof texts] as leverage to hate people" (one thinks of Westboro Baptist) or condemn them, but instead, speak the truth in love (Eph. 4:15) and expound the authoritative Word of God. Now, there are many who have a judgmental spirit towards non-believers (especially defiant sinners and homosexuals), and I agree with the approach of "asking what [one] can do to help him or her overcome the situation " but he limits this to inside the church. Part of evangelism and outreach is to confront people on the outside with their sin, preach forgiveness in Christ, call for repentance and faith, and disciple them.

What really gets on my nerves? The last statement: "Salvation is 'a two-way street,' he insisted, and the unbeliever needs to make the first step." Wow! Remarkable. Now, in all fairness, White prefaces that statement: "If we really want them to connect to us to the point that they trust us and care what we think, [they must be] the one to ask [about salvation]." Regardless, the unbeliever doesn't make the first step... in fact, without God acting first, an unbeliever wouldn't ask about salvation let alone incline himself toward God. The gospel isn't connecting to people with hope that they ask you about Christ... we need to preach the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus and pray that the Holy Spirit gives them ears to hear the truth and eyes to see the glorious supremacy of Christ in all things. We need to speak the truth of sin and impending judgment, demand repentance in the name of Christ and preach Him crucified. Other than that, may the sovereign Spirit use our biblical faithfulness to produce effectual transformation for His glory.

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