A few months ago I wrote a piece examining some of the popular quotations and posters making the rounds on various social media networks. Many of these I found to be quite unhelpful, even harmful. The real problem was that so many Christians were proudly posting and sharing these rather dubious sayings and quotes. That article can be seen here:
Well, it looks like I will have to turn this into an irregular series, since there is so much of this dodgy material floating around to work with. I keep finding really questionable if not downright dangerous posters, so I guess I will have plenty of stuff to keep me busy with for some time to come.
Now with most of these posters and quotes, there is often an element of truth involved. That is usually the way these things go. But of course it only takes a bit of poison to spoil the batch. It only takes a bit of error or falsehood to pervert and distort the truth.
That is what makes many of these quotes so dangerous. They sound good, but a bit of closer reflection will reveal that they are poisonous thoughts indeed, which really ought not to be promoted – certainly not by those who claim to be biblical Christians.
Deception often does not involve out and out lies, but a mix of truth and error. All the cults operate this way for example. They have some truth, but it is mingled with real falsehood and heresy. And they will often use biblical words and terminology, but twist them to suit their purposes.
Of course these are just posters, and quite often they can be more or less harmless, even if presenting questionable material. And most times they are presented with the best of intentions. I too often post or share posters, and there are of course real limitations with these brief sayings.
So I am not seeking to be too harsh on anyone here. But we do nonetheless need to be aware, discerning and vigilant. We should seek to carefully and accurately represent our faith online, just as we would anywhere else. So here then are a few more somewhat alarming examples.
This one can often be found: “In the end, only kindness matters.” Well, does it? It is reported that Stalin could at times be quite charming and kind. Is that all that mattered then? Just forget about the millions he had killed? Undoubtedly there are many abortionists who carry out their killings in a very kind and nice manner. So are they off the hook then as well?
Being kind is a virtue – it is even one of the fruit of the Spirit. But as with all divine attributes, they must stay together. To be kind or loving, yet without being holy and truthful, is to present a half-baked Christianity. Indeed, one can be kind yet in fact be unloving, if one does not also stand up for truth.
Plenty of Christians think it is kind and loving to just accept everything and every lifestyle. That is not how Jesus operated. He loved us too much to leave us in our sinful condition. He was too kind to be indifferent to our plight. He was too full of compassion to allow us to wallow in our sin and dead-end paths.
It is not in fact being kind to a drug addict to just allow him to go his way – with every hit he takes perhaps being his last. Biblical love would seek to see the addict set free from his sinful addiction. So too, it is not kindness at all to deceive the homosexual into thinking his lifestyle is just fine and he cannot be delivered from it. That is not kindness, but cruelty.
Another rather silly – and just plain unbiblical – poster making the rounds is this one: “No one is born with hatred or intolerance.” Once again, incredibly, there are plenty of Christians passing this one around. No one is born this way? You mean it is all just learned behaviour?
You mean the secularist Rousseau was right – that we are all born with a clean slate and society later corrupts us? That is the usual nonsense emanating from the secular humanists, but why in the world should any Christian buy this baloney?
Aren’t Christians taught to think anymore? Aren’t they taught to exercise a bit of discernment? Don’t they in fact read their Bibles anymore? What about Psalm 51:5 for starters? “Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.”
Have these Christians never heard of the concept of original sin? Are they so biblically illiterate that they have to buy into foolish secular thinking instead of clear scriptural teaching? We are all born with a sinful nature, which is why we sin from day one.
You don’t have to train little kids to be greedy and selfish – they will snatch that teddy bear out of their toddler friend’s hands without any coaching from us. It is teaching them and training them not to follow their natural selfish impulses that parents must work on so fervently.
The biblical reality is this: we are not sinners because we sin, but we sin because we are sinners – and from birth. Again, these folks may mean well, and it is a good thing to oppose racism, and so on. But it helps no one to pass around this sentimental mush which is not even remotely biblical.
OK, one last example. Consider this: “Human beings are perhaps never more frightening than when they are convinced beyond a doubt that they are right” – attributed to a certain Laurens van der Post. And I have seen this foolishness posted by big cheese Christian leaders no less!
When will believers – and especially Christian leaders – stop throwing their brains away and stop peddling all this humanistic nonsense? To be certain is a bad thing? It is a vice? It is never to be seen as a biblical virtue? How silly is this for heaven’s sake!
Have these folks who are pushing this goofiness actually been reading their Bibles of late? What about the following texts, as but a few examples?
John 5:32 There is another who testifies in my favor, and I know that his testimony about me is valid.
John 6:69 We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.
John 8:32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.
John 21:24 This is the disciple who testifies to these things and who wrote them down. We know that his testimony is true.
Rom 4:21 being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised
2 Cor 4:14 we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us
Gal 1:11 I want you to know, brothers, that the gospel I preached is not something that man made up.
2 Tim 1:12 I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day.
Heb 11:1 Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.
1 John 2:20 But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth.
1 John 3:14 We know that we have passed from death to life
1 John 5:13 I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.
1 John 5:20 We know also that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true.
The Bible is full of such passages. We can have real certainty, assurance and strong conviction of what we believe. Sure, we all need to be humble and open to correction as well, but there is no need to throw the baby out with the bathwater here. I love the words of John Stott in this regard:
“Christian dogmatism has, or should have, a limited field. It is not tantamount to a claim of omniscience. Yet in those things which are clearly revealed in Scripture, Christians should not be doubtful or apologetic. The corridors of the New Testament reverberate with dogmatic affirmations beginning ‘We know’, ‘We are sure’, ‘We are confident’. If you question this, read the First Epistle of John in which verbs meaning ‘to know’ occur about forty times. They strike a note of joyful assurance which is sadly missing from many parts of the church today and which needs to be recaptured.”
Quite so. Here then are three zingers which really should not be so glibly passed around. Yet sadly, I suspect, we will see many more such unhelpful and irritatingly silly quotes being proudly tossed about. Thus the reader is advised: stay tuned for Part Three of what looks to be an ongoing series.