OK, this is now an official series. I was hoping a few articles on this would suffice, but how wrong I was. Every day another prime example of really dumb posters and sayings arise, so it looks like I now have a full time job just to keep up with it all.
The really shocking thing is that so many of these irrational, unbiblical and illogical quotes and sayings are being splashed around by Christians – people who really should know better. But sadly our churches today are filled with those who seem to know little about their own Scriptures, and have instead drunk deeply from the fount of political correctness and trendy secular sentimentalism.
Thus I here have to deal with another four shockers – and sadly there are many more where these came from. So let me examine a few more of these here.
“Before you judge me, make sure that you are perfect.” Just how many idiotic posters and quotes are there on the topic of judging? They head my list of really dumb sayings, and it is all the more amazing when people calling themselves Christians post this foolishness. But biblical literacy and discernment are not exactly high points among many believers today.
Just consider what is being said here: no judging until perfection. OK, so that means we get rid of all police. We get rid of all courts. We get rid of all judges. We get rid of all laws. We get rid of all sermons. We get rid of all churches. We get rid of all parents. We get rid of all pastors.
After all, they all involve judging. And obviously none are perfect. So thanks for this really swell advice. Next time I get pulled over by the police for driving 95 in a 60 zone, I can simply say to him: “Hey bud, take your ticket and shove it. Who are you to judge me? Are you perfect?”
Yep, that sure oughta get me off the hook. And the next time I stand before a judge and he wants to jail me for robbing a bank, I now have the perfect foolproof comeback: “Hey judgo – no dice. You see, you are not perfect, so you obviously are not in a place to judge me. So buzz off Jack.”
Hey, sounds good to me. And when my pastor calls me into his office and seeks to get me to stop my adulterous affair, I now have the ideal response: “And who do you think you are? Jesus? Don’t you dare judge me until you reach perfection.”
Wow, I can see a whole new world opening up before me. I can now do whatever I please, and absolutely no one can hold me to account. After all, we don’t want any imperfect pastors, parents, police or anyone else telling us what is right and wrong.
Far out! Freedom! Hey, why didn’t I think of this years ago? And hey, it sounds so very loving and non-judgmental and tolerant as well. What could be better? But if you find my reasoning a bit sus – and you should – then let me draw your attention to a few articles which explain why sayings like this are so frightfully irresponsible, unbiblical, and unhelpful: www.billmuehlenberg.com/2008/10/08/thou-shalt-judge/
“Correcting or caring: which matters the most?” The implication of this poster is of course that caring is more important, more loving, or more Christlike, than correcting. But this is obviously false. Often the most caring thing you can do to a person is correct them.
If a person is doing or believing something which is harming them and others, then the most loving and caring thing you can do is to warn them, correct them, and seek to turn them around. To refuse to look after their wellbeing is far from caring. It is in fact indifference and irresponsibility – but not biblical love and care.
The truth is, we need not choose between one or the other here. We need both. We need to be biblically correct, and we need to be caring. It is a false dilemma to demand we opt for only one or the other. We must have correct beliefs and behaviour and we need to ensure that other believers do so as well.
Church discipline is spoken of in many places in the New Testament. This involves correcting the wayward brother. And we do this because we care about him or her. Biblical love and care never relishes bad doctrine or bad living in others, but seeks to hold all believers up to the standards of Christ. For more on church discipline, see this post: www.billmuehlenberg.com/1998/02/23/in-search-of-church-discipline/
“Don’t look for God in the sky; search His presence within your heart…” This is another poster we have to say yes and no to. Theologically speaking, Christians believe God is both transcendent and immanent. That is, he is wholly other, he is not part of creation, as in panentheism, and he transcends all things in the created world.
Yet he also graciously chooses to dwell among us – especially his people. He is not aloof nor is he an absentee landlord, as in deism. He deals with us and interacts with us. That much is basic biblical teaching. But back to the poster:
Um, no. If you are not a Christian, God most certainly is not in your heart. True, his moral law is found there, but of course in a fallen world, any internal witness to God is greatly marred and distorted. The only one God dwells with and indwells are those whose hearts and souls are pure.
And the only one with this sort of purity are those sinners who have acknowledged their sin and impurity, and have repented of their former way of life, seeking Christ as Saviour. To these are granted the Holy Spirit to indwell and remake a shattered life.
So the believer can speak of God’s presence within, but not the unbeliever. And furthermore, the Christian does not settle for just this alone. The inner witness of the Spirit or the renewed heart and mind must always be in sync with external truth: the Word of God.
We don’t just trust the promptings of our heart. Even as a believer, the heart can lead us astray. We are still fallen and finite, and the heart is deceitful, as Jeremiah 17:9 teaches. That is why all our conduct, activities and beliefs must confirm to the external transcendent standards of God, as expressed in Scripture. But I deal with this further here: www.billmuehlenberg.com/2010/01/09/pantheism-and-biblical-christianity/
“List of people not welcome in our church:” followed by an empty page. Another yes and no reply is needed here. Yes, anyone is welcome to come hear the gospel preached at any church – or should be. But not anyone can become a committed member of a church. Church membership has to do with those who are Christ’s by faith and repentance.
Like any group, there are boundaries, and those who do not belong to Christ are not the stuff of church membership. Also, those who profess to be believers, but who show that they may not be by wrong conduct or wrong beliefs are also not the stuff of church membership.
So yes the church doors are always open for anyone to come in and learn about the Christian faith. Nothing wrong with that. But when it comes to something like church membership, there are clearly some parameters which must be observed, just as in membership of any other organisation. For more on this see here: www.billmuehlenberg.com/2012/06/04/on-church-membership-and-discipline/
But as I have said before, posters by their very nature are not theological treatises, and are often very abridged versions of at least some truth. Yet some are certainly better – and more biblical – than others. Some are clearly wrong from a Scriptural point of view, and/or at odds with clear Christian teachings.
We can expect that, but what we should not expect is to see Christians glibly posting these things. They should know better; they should know better about what they believe and why. But given the woeful state of biblical literacy and theological understanding in so much of the church today, I guess we can expect to see more such silly and unhelpful posters – even being posted by believers.