Tuesday, 21 August 2007

Inconsistent Christians

In his book The Battle for Truth, David Noebel comments in his conclusion,
Why do Christians so easily accept inconsistencies into their worldview? In this sense, non-Christians are much more consistent. There are no Marxist/Leninist creationists. There are no New Agers who believe in ethical absolutes. The Christian, who trusts the Scriptures and therefore has access to the one worldview based on eternal truth, should be the first person to recognise the bankruptcy of secular religious views. Yet all too often he is the first to embrace them!
This seems way too common. It is most unfortunate. Christians need to love the Lord with all their heart, soul and mind. I think there are several reasons why the above comment is the case—at least within the West.

Christianity is the truth, so where other worldviews contradict Christianity they are incorrect. Many Christians subscribe to a false worldview. To a subset of this group the inconsistencies between what they believe and Christianity may not be a compelling reason to reject their false beliefs, or conversely, Christianity. While some atheists may be somewhat more consistent, there is, fortunately, no shortage of inconsistent atheists. While atheists have no reason for universal, objective morality they do not all become nihilists, or mass-murderers like Stalin who was more consistent.

Part of Christians' inconsistency is their desire to hold onto Christ in a world that denies him. They have met him and believe but have yet to allow their false worldview to be completely transformed. It is admirable they remain in Christ but they need to be made aware that Christianity demands our worldview is conformed to Scripture. What is also difficult is that they live in a culture where they are now going against the flow. Christian beliefs are currently very antithetical to secular beliefs, therefore the Christian viewpoint is actively opposed. While that may not be a lot different to what the non-Western Christians face, the Western Christians are in the position of having emerged from a Christian heritage which had a more favourable view of Christianity.

A further reason is that there are weeds within the church. Some people are "within" the church but are not of God and they promote ideologies that oppose God. Christians need discernment, though with the basic lack of a Christian worldview this is more difficult; looking at the fruit of person's lives can be helpful in this area. Weeds appear like wheat early on, but they do produce fruit in the long term? fruit consistent with being in Christ. Rank heresy should not be too difficult to spot. Unfortunately it detracts some, and there is much that is more subtle than grossly heretical beliefs.

We have a tendency to agree with data that confirms our beliefs and explain away that which challenges it. This is understandable. It is a reasonable position if you are in the truth but an unreasonable one if you are in error; the problem is how do you know which camp you belong to?
For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths (2 Timothy 4:3-4)
The answer is not to assess if data conforms to your ideas but do you conform to Scripture.
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:2)

8 comments:

  1. I think Noebel overestimates the capacity of Christians to read the Bible carefully and to grasp biblical doctrine. We must distinguish between being saved and being willing to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit.

    ReplyDelete
  2. bethyada,

    My pastor and I have been talking about this problem of inconsistent Christians.

    I've come to the conclusion that to many Christians in todays society, they have a get out of jail free card. They have accepted Jesus offer of Salvation. They will even live in a way as not to accept all of the trapping of the world, yet they do not, can not or will not, take the step of literally making themselves a living sacrifice, to put self on the altar, and prove what is the good and acceptable will of God. (Romans 12:1,2) 1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.
    2And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.


    I see Christians every day who don't act like the world in one area of their life, let's use their finances as an example, they are honest trustworthy to a fault, always have their finances in perfect order, so that no one will question their integrity. Yet the same people will allow their early twenty-something living at home daughter to work at a Victoria's Secret's wearing less than modest clothing and having a reputation as a party girl. They brag about her paying her own way through college etc while she lives as though she is no different than the world.

    It makes may brain hurt.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I have to apologize. I read the first part of your post, and did not read the Scripture you quoted. I did not realize that I was quoting the same passage you had already used.

    I was hurrying because we have been experiencing lighting and thunder this evening, I was trying to comment before the next storm rolled in.

    This disconnect that some Christians have is very real. A very close friend, is very committed to living a separated life, not only from the world, and those that live as Galatians 5:19-21 describes. He also practices separation from those he believes take advantage of their Christian liberty in their lifestyle, personal conduct. Yet this same man sends his child to a secular humanist run school system and then constantly complains about the lack of moral standards, the inclusive/relativist agenda pushed by the school officials and the total disregard for the rights and responsibilities of the parents. How can this guy, who clearly loves the Lord, who tries in every way to be separated from the world, at the same time take part in a Godless secular humanist school system. I've tried to point out that it's inconsistent and the response is always a defensive justification based on historical standards. IE the system was ok when I went there.

    I try constantly to check my behavior against my belief. If I claim to be a Christian then all of my beliefs should be in line with that, not just the easy ones or the visible ones.

    ReplyDelete
  4. The answer is not to assess if data conforms to your ideas but do you conform to Scripture.

    13And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted up his eyes and looked, and, behold, there stood a man over against him with his sword drawn in his hand: and Joshua went unto him, and said unto him, Art thou for us, or for our adversaries?

    14And he said, Nay; but as captain of the host of the LORD am I now come. - Joshua 5:13-14a

    It's not "Is God is on our side?" It's "Are we on God's side?"

    ReplyDelete
  5. Christianity has largely been co-opted by he world.
    These days, going to the average church will lead you away from God.

    Then there is the 'I an saved' degenerate aspect of Christianity that people use as a rationalization for their worldly behavior.

    There are not very many Christians.

    TL.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I was reading a book the other day and the author wrote, "The greatest trick the devil ever played was convincing Christians to be religious, instead of just loving Christ." [OK, that is not an exact quote, I am too lazy to walk upstairs and get the book, but it is certainly the gist.]

    I think that this concept, which I agree with, comes into play with you observation of inconsistent Christians. That is, some get too busy "playing the game" that everyone can see, they forget that God sees it all, and that He is the only one who really matters. Even more, they forget that God doesn't even play games.

    Thank you for your thoughts, I look forward to reading other insights.

    Blessings!

    www.clmcgown.com

    PS: The book was Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller.

    ReplyDelete
  7. It takes a long time to read the Bible and an even longer time to understand it. During that process we often develop a conflict between our previously held world view and the new world view we are learning about. If you add to this process the many various teachings and conflicting doctrines available, it doesn't seem possible for a man in his short lifetime to become completely consistent.

    ReplyDelete
  8. it doesn't seem possible for a man in his short lifetime to become completely consistent.

    Outside of Jesus no one is completely consistent. However it is a process. We can be happy at becoming more like Christ. I don't mean to disparage inconsistent Christians who are obedient to Christ. Better to do what he says and have some wrong ideas than to minimise theological error yet lack love.

    However we are to love him with all our minds and that may mean abandoning our cherished beliefs for more scriptural ones. All things being equal, more consistency (in truth) is better than less. The fact I don't know how to spell every word in the world is no excuse for not knowing how to spell anything.

    ReplyDelete

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