CultureWatch

Bill Muehlenberg's commentary on issues of the day...

Dopey Posters and Memes, Again

Aug 16, 2020

Some of the nonsense Christians post online is utterly dreadful – and unbiblical!

All believers will one day give an account of how they spent their lives for Christ. There will be many things looked at, but I suspect one biggee will be this: So many Christians will be asked, ‘Why did you not use the brains that I gave you?’

That we should love God with our minds (and the rest of our being) is crystal clear – Jesus said it was the greatest commandment there is. Yet millions of believers act as if they must throw their brains away to follow Christ. And it certainly shows.

One simply has to look at the social media on any given day to find plenty of senseless, moronic, and completely unbiblical posts, memes and quotes – and so often Christians are the ones posting them. Many of these folks should know better: they purport to be Bible-believing evangelicals yet they will still proudly put up brain-destroying nonsense.

And that in good measure is why this irregular series on dumb memes and sayings exists. There is never a shortage of this stuff making the rounds. So let me look at five more examples of this. Often they can contain a bit of truth, but sadly they also have enough error to make them rather worthless. The ones I start with here are not too bad, but my last one is an absolute shocker.

“Where did the early church meet?”
In this meme there is a list of Bible verses – 13 all up, mostly from the book of Acts – all of which say that the early believers met at homes. OK, that happens to be true. But what of it? Many are using this to say that we should do the same today, and church buildings are somehow evil or unbiblical.

There are some obvious problems with this line of ‘thinking’. The truth is of course that there were no church buildings back then, so they could only meet in homes or in other places. When persecution ramped up they may have had to meet outside of cities, or in catacombs, and so on. But description does not equal prescription. The early church also did not use computers, the internet, smart phones, or televisions. So should these be verboten for believers?

Don’t get me wrong: I am a big fan of house churches and have no probs with them. And I am often quite critical of our megachurches and the big, fancy monstrously expensive edifices we build, with all the other unnecessary razzmatazz such as strobe lights, smoke machines, the disco look, etc. But anachronisms are not very helpful here. Of course the early church did not meet in lavish church structures for the simple reason that there were none back then.

“God never shuts one door without opening another”
This too is often seen online, and it too may have some truth to it. The actual phrase itself is of course nowhere found in the Bible. If we mean by it that God can close doors to us, yes that is biblical. If we mean by it that God may have other plans for us than what we have in mind, yes it is biblical. If we mean that God loves to guide us along the way, yes that is true.

The book of Acts for example would give us cases of all that. But the phrase as it stands is simply not always true. Let’s say you love someone heaps and wish to marry her. But it does not work out, and you may say that God closed that door.

But does that mean God will open the door to another relationship leading to marriage? Not necessarily. Perhaps God is calling you to serve him as a single person. In which case there will be no open door – at least for a potential marriage partner. So at the very least we must take care with a saying such as this. It is not an absolute, and counter examples can be found.

“The day she stopped listening to what everyone else thought and started listening to her own inner voice, was the day that her life became full of light and hope.”
This and my next examples are much more cases of humanistic mush than they are of biblical truth. Yet sadly you will still see Christians running with these sorts of posts. Um, no one reading Scripture will fall for this foolishness. Not only do we need the wise counsel of others, but we can easily deceive ourselves.

We have plenty of proverbs for example which tell us things like ‘with a multitude of counsellors there is safety.’ We all have blind spots and the inability to see everything clearly and accurately, so we need others to help us see things as God would have us see them.

And Christians obviously would be very careful with this idea of some infallible “inner voice.” If by that you mean seeking to discern what the Holy Spirit is leading you to do, that is one thing. But if you mean running with whatever is bubbling through your head at the moment, that is a recipe for disaster. The voice you hear may be God’s – or it may just be your own voice, or even Satan’s. So Scripture must be our ultimate guide for whatever we hear or feel or sense.

“Above all else, be true to you”
This is similar to the above meme in not being even remotely biblical, but just the stuff of secular humanism. Once again, all the emphasis is placed on self – on the subjective, finite and fallen self. Instead we need objective truth that we must align ourselves to, and that comes from God and his Word.

The Bible makes it clear what sort of persons we are, and how unreliable we are. Consider just a few passages. Jeremiah 17:9 says this: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” Being true to self – to a deceptive heart – helps no one.

And the New Testament speaks about the ‘natural man’ who cannot know the things of God. As 1 Corinthians 2:14 puts it, “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.”

And even the Christian who has the Spirit of God abiding within still must be careful and not run with whatever seems good or feels good. Instead he must align all things with the infallible Word of God. Turning within can easily spell trouble; turning to God’s unchanging Word is the way to proceed here.

‘Scripture versus love’
This meme is the worst of all – and all the more shocking because I have seen so many Christians absolutely gushing over it. It shows a bunch of people holding Bibles on one side, and Jesus on the other. Jesus says this: “The difference between me and you is you use scripture to determine what love means and I use love to determine what scripture means.”

If one was not fully sure where all this was coming from, it was not hard to find out: it had a web address to look up. I knew this was a lousy meme, but I did follow the link. It only took around 20 seconds to see where this guy was at: he was an ex-pastor who is now pushing all sorts of unbiblical nonsense, including the homosexual agenda.

That fully explains the ‘love is all you need’ nonsense. That has long been the homosexual mantra. That has NEVER been the biblical Christian mantra. We know for a fact that a vague and sentimental ‘love’ can lead you away from God and straight to hell. Some folks have a romantic or sexual love for children. Should they just run with it because love is all that matters?

For heaven’s sake! Adulterers and fornicators also speak glowingly about ‘love’. But mere feelings are never what the true Christian runs with. We run with Scripture which fully informs us exactly what true love is – and what false love is.

And as any Christian with half a brain understands, the Bible NEVER pits truth against love. They must always go together. Of course we need the Bible to inform us what real love is about – and everything else for that matter. We are all lost if we do not have Scripture there to instruct us in all things.

Yet we had supposedly mature believers pushing this and saying how true it is! Good grief! When you have Christians going all mushy over patently unbiblical nonsense like this, no wonder the church is in such bad shape. We need to repent and start again, loving God with all our minds.

Sadly it seems far too many believers have understood Romans 12:2 to say “Be transformed by the removing of your mind” instead of what it actually says: “Be transformed by the renewing of your mind”. Lord please, help your people to think for your glory!

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5 Responses to Dopey Posters and Memes, Again

  • “God never shuts one door without opening another”

    I always heard it as when God closes a door he opens a window. same sentiment though.

    lack of discernment is a huge problem in the church especially when it comes to that inner voice or still small voice. too many act like satan isn’t allowed to fool us, or speak to us, or even tempt us. they might run with the sheep will know his voice but way too many DON’T seem to know his voice since way to many follow anything they hear. (how many have had “God” tell them to get a divorce [I am looking mainly at CCM but it most certainly applies elsewhere] or to get an abortion or commit some other sin???)

    to thine own self be true. a motto for narcissistic hedonism.

    ah the false dichotomy when is reality scripture and love are completely compatible. especially since God WROTE scripture and DEFINED love.

    it is almost like ‘when entering church, or anywhere else, please remove you coat, hat, and brain.’

    A good way to get christians away form such nonsense memes is reading the bible cover to cover and having a good commentary handy.

    while not a biblical quote I would like to say ‘we are surrounded by signs and portents and I feel a darkness pressing at our backs.’
    something evil is coming very soon and I fear the church and the world are NOT prepared! Time is running out. too many are unconcerned. talk about nero fiddling while rome burned. We are in for a shock we can no longer say the problems of others are not our concern. their problems are our problems very soon we all will be in great pain. hoofbeats will be hear and it will be too late.

    I leave with this by Yeats:
    …..Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
    Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
    The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
    The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
    The best lack all conviction, while the worst
    Are full of passionate intensity.
    Surely some revelation is at hand;
    Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
    ……but now I know
    That twenty centuries of stony sleep
    Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
    And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
    Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

  • 36 But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken. 37 For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.”
    Matthew 12:36-37, Billy Joel, whom I do not believe is a Christian, summed these sentiments up well in his song “Careless Words” from the album “An Innocent Man”.
    I am as saddened as you, Bill, to see many Christians who are a “thinking-free zone”, think Romans 12:2.

    Don’t forget the ripper, “God helps those who help themselves”, sometimes known as 1 Americans 1:1.
    If we were indeed able to help themselves, then we wouldn’t need God! (Or is this too logical for those who really believe this statement)

  • I saw a sticker which was more profound: ‘Be yourself’ is the worst advice you can give some people.

  • There is a saying “cowards die a thousand deaths, brave men taste of death but once” in today world though it seem the reverse is true.

  • Thank you, Bill, for another timely article. Over the past four years I have been pestered by a so-called pastor and his wife who think they were justified in voting for a corrupt politician so that they can use the politician to “punish” the world, meaning various people and groups they do not like. They further want to justify this by saying, “We think this is what God wants.” Since when are believers to use God to judge and punish others and how do they know it is “what God wants?”

    I was very much irked by this announcement, and it was as if some 1930s German gentile citizen had walked up to a German-Jewish person and said, “I just voted for Hitler because I know that is what God wants. Ha-ha!” I have four relatives who are Neo-Nazis, my husband was born Jewish, and I do not see this attitude or possible scenario as funny or even tolerable.

    Upon meditating on various sad experiences and what the Bible says about the love and goodness of God, I believe Christians are to show love and compassion to others and to help them — and not to judge and punish them. Evil is promoted by Satan and the people and situations he uses as his tools. If good somehow comes from tragedy or loss, it is because God works through situations and leads people to Him for comfort and healing. It certainly does not seem to be appropriate or Biblical for the “we know what God wants” to play God and to spread evil, pain, and ruin in doing so.

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