ISSUES IGNITE IRE
February 18, 2012
Be Angry, but Sin Not
Whether self-described as “right” or “left,” “faith-based” or “secular,” “conservative,” “liberal,” or “moderate,” those engaged in the political process poise themselves for battle. Unfortunately, the voice of reason is too often sidestepped. As agenda-driven politicians lick their chops in anticipation of a pending presidential election, scathing rhetoric escalates all the more.
With this in view, I’m reminded that Jesus was no stranger to “telling it like it is.” However, in characterizing Pharisees as “white-washed tombs” and “a brood of vipers,” He never succumbed to conspiratorial plotting, pride, hatred, or lies. Only fools engage in slander, and Jesus was no fool!
Following His example, Bible honoring Christians must speak out boldly without fear of ridicule or, in extreme cases, persecution. But, frankly, as a Christian, I’m sometimes at a loss. Wisdom dictates that a “soft answer turns away wrath,” but I’m often befuddled as to how best to broach flammable issues that, by their very nature, ignite ire.
Navigating Strategically Set Land Mines
True, our adversaries draw from an arsenal of dubious political tactics; but tit for tat hardly becomes a Christian. Before jumping into the fray, we best examine our own motives and the accuracy of our information. Both should remain above reproach.
Given the postmodern mindset, ceding to “common ground”—i.e., the lowest common denominator—is deemed necessary. Not so for Christians. Simply by choosing the narrow way less commonly traveled, and by acknowledging moral absolutes, fundamentalists bear the unfair label of being somehow divisive.
In navigating strategically set land mines, Christians must remain ever mindful that postmodern ground rules forbid “adversarial processes”—e.g., proclaiming Bible truth. Given the dialectic process, ends always justify means. Accordingly, in Sustainable Values, Ross McCluney calls for a new, more liberal core set of “universal” values distinguished by imagination, ambiguity, and “evolving truth.”
To uphold Bible truth, Christians must challenge what’s wrong, not go along with it. Otherwise, rugged individualism will take its final bow to consensus, and “gray” thinking will trump absolutes. Hence, for Bible honoring Christians, the art of “collaboration” goes beyond difficult. It can be downright impossible.
The Civility Card Tactic
George Orwell explained: “In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.” Even when its presentation is diplomatic, this revolutionary act is tagged “uncivil.” Count on it. Playing the civility card is intended to silence one’s opponent, and it does a great job of it. Once accused of incivility, the faint hearted wilt and fade so as not to appear bullish. In response, opponents skillfully steer the sheepish into conceding core convictions about traditional family, national patriotism, religious dogma, and the like.
Shifting accountability from self to others, many tacticians feign “outrage” over moral failings of their adversaries. As Christians, we’re to “judge nothing before the time until the Lord come.” That is to say, while Christians rightly exercise and act upon spiritual discernment, they mustn’t usurp God’s position as Supreme Judge. Furthermore, before attempting to remove a speck from another’s eye, they first must remove the log from theirs.
When it comes to politics, however, Christian activists sometimes fall prey to bouts of opportunistic outrage when, instead, they should strive more diligently to be irreproachable workmen who honor the Bible, “all men,” and dignitaries for whom they are commanded to pray.
Our purpose, as Christians, isn’t to prove others wrong. Rather, we’re to seek truth and, with meekness and due reverence, give account for our findings. In so doing, we remain fully aware of our personal limitations and strive to avoid nonproductive wrangling over dogma intended to advance some church-, philosophical-, or political- agenda. Apart from God’s calling, we mustn’t presume to teach others lest, by our own errors and shortcomings, we lead them astray.
“Iron sharpens iron,” and that’s a good thing. However, in wielding the sword of truth, believers mustn’t go so far as to disembowel their fellows! Divide and conquer is the Devil’s work. He’s the consummate accuser. Christians aren’t.
Hot Button Christianity
Because their respective worldviews are altogether incompatible, Christians simply won’t see eye-to-eye with secularists. In the Book of Amos, we learn that two cannot walk together except they’re agreed; nonetheless, the basis of fellowship with other believers is not so much agreement when it comes to highly disputed or complicated theology. Rather, it’s founded on shared, saving knowledge of Jesus Christ—distinguished by sound biblical belief and shameless confession of one’s faith.
Curious, isn’t it, that in the Gospels Jesus posed over 300 questions and, when asked some 183 questions, He answered only three of them [Don Everts and Doug Schaupp, I Once was Lost (IVP, 2008)]. Jesus wasn’t uninformed or confused. Rather, we glean from this observation that Christianity is not entirely a “tucked-in-tight religion.”
Nonetheless, unity is achievable if, when hot button issues arise, zealots avoid becoming unduly blinded by their own biases. It’s true, there are “deal breakers” rendering compromise impossible; but we’re likely to catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. By following Christ’s example of asking probing questions to expose folly, we’re more likely to accomplish this without capitulating our values and standards.
The Ploy of Stereotyping with Impunity
By taking moral stands, supporters of life (over abortion) and traditional marriage (over gay relationships) are not necessarily hateful. But to special interest groups focused on targeted political agendas, you’d never know it! Such groups accuse principled religionists of phantom phobias and, then, fashion negative stereotypes to belie believers’ rich heritage of abolishing the slave trade, defending human rights, practicing charity, and founding hospitals and schools.
By stereotyping with impunity, opponents undermine traditional values and break ground for rampant secularism, sexual perversion, genderism, Afrocentrism, and radical environmentalism. So powerful are special interest groups that theirs have become, in effect, a fourth branch of government characterized by unchecked power funded through earmarks.
While biblical perspective for holding government in check includes sphere sovereignty, subsidiarity, balance of power, and God’s transcendent law, too many have come to believe that emissaries of an all powerful Nanny State must act for the common good by curbing religious zeal and silencing moral absolutism—this, to foster utopian dream of an illumined, collectivist world order.
A secularist who believes that “ends justify means” is expected to play the civility card, feign outrage at moral failings of others, and fashion fallacious stereotypes that discredit opponents. But Christians are held to a much higher standard. In no way are faith-driven citizen activists “just another special interest group” pleading for some self-serving agenda. When issues ignite ire, Christians rightly manifest indignation at what’s wrong, yet their charge is to “sin not.” Believers are commanded to love their enemies and pray for those who abuse or falsely accuse them.
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In fighting “the good fight of faith,” believers mustn’t faint. Nor must they engage adversaries with arrogance, hostility, or deceptive practices. Theirs is a spiritual fight in which principled moral positions evade partisanship. Uniquely, their war targets forces of darkness, not the people deceived by them.
There exists a natural order that government “under God” is compelled to respect and uphold. For Christians, “politics is the high calling of ensuring that government protects the pre-political institutions and preserves the moral order.” Standing for truth demands nothing less than absolute integrity.
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� 2012 Debra Rae - All Rights Reserved
Prominent and influential, Pharisees were a closely organized separatist
group at the time of Christ.
2. Psalm 31:13,101:5; Proverbs 11:9; Jeremiah 9:4.
3. Proverb 10:18.
4. Proverbs 15:1.
5. 1 Corinthians 4:5.
6. 1 Corinthians 2:15.
7. Matthew 7:3-5.
8. 2 Timothy 2:15.
9. 1 Peter 2:17.
10. Jude 8.
11. 1 Timothy 2:2.
12. Acts 17:11.
13. 1 Peter 3:15.
14. 2 Timothy 2:24.
15. 2 Timothy 2:24; 1 Timothy 6:20.
16. James 3:1.
17. Proverbs 27:17.
18. Revelation 12:10.
19. Romans10:9; 2 Timothy 3:16.
20. Marvin Olasky. “Complicated Truth.” World: April 23, 2011, p.84.
21. Ephesians 4:13.
22. Article Source.
23. Dutch statesman Abraham Kuyper coined the term “sphere sovereignty” to assert that individuals, families, churches, schools, and businesses owe their origin, not to government, but rather to God, before whose face they live. Accordingly, their rightful structures and functions come from Him.
24. Subsidiarity insists that nothing is rightly done by larger, more complex organizations when a smaller one closer to issues at hand can handle it.
25, Ephesians 4:26.
26, Matthew 5:44.
27, 1 Timothy 6:12.
28, Ephesians 6:12.
29, Charles Colson. “The Value of Virtuous Government.” The Sky is Not Falling: Living Fearlessly in These Turbulent
Times: 2011, p.140.