I have observed some interesting trends among Christians and, for the sake of discussion here, among Christian women. I think, because we have so often been accused, as females, of not being thinking creatures and of operating from sheer emotion, we often tend to hesitate to say the hard things that need to be said for fear of hurting someone’s feelings. We don’t want to be offensive or appear to be unkind. We don’t want to be disliked.
And because we are all aware that we, as believers, are ambassadors for Jesus Christ, we really want to come across as those who love one another. We are even more acutely aware of this when there are those among us who profess to not be followers of Christ. When you add to that the knowledge that many of us posting on this blog have experienced spiritual abuse and we want to tread lightly with those who are struggling and recovering, we can find ourselves in a quagmire of not wanting to offend while still realizing that truth must be stated.
This becomes an even greater problem when those who are more inclined to speak boldly when they take a stand for Truth, as is clearly taught in the Scripture, are criticized or belittled for doing so. It can really take the wind out of your sails and make you want to retreat. But 1 Timothy 6 admonishes us to fight the good fight, to boldly take a stand against false doctrines and against those things that exalt themselves above the name of Jesus. I am always so thankful for the women here who are willing to do that.
But, here is something that concerns me, not only on this blog and in the recent discussion, but in Christiandom in general. In the zeal to fight against abuse or legalism, whether it came from the hands of patriocentrists or fundamentalists, there is a growing tendency to not just “emerge” but to “emerge” away from the Truth of the Word of God, to set aside the very core doctrines of the faith, to question everything in the name of liberty and free thinking, to ride the swinging pendulum away from some of the most important teachings in the Bible so as not to appear bigoted or be offensive. How have we gotten to this point?
I believe it is the result of a couple things. First, there is always the tendency to throw out the baby with the bathwater. This is the real danger of false doctrine; it is always wrapped in the cloak of what is right and true. If false prophets came right out and made outlandish statements apart from the evangelical rhetoric and the Christianese they speak, no one would give them the time of day. So they hide behind not only familiar language but usually a sweet smile, pleasant, humorous stories, and sometimes a sad tales that elicits sympathy. And it is placed smack in the middle of things that are absolutely true.
A woman of discernment will always be on guard for this and will step back from any discussions or teachings long enough to evaluate exactly what is being said. She will ask herself:
“What is the purpose of the point the person is making?”
“Does this person have an agenda other than edifying the body of Christ and exalting the name of Jesus?”
“Does Scripture back up this teaching?”
“Has this ideology or theology stood the test of time or is it something new?”
“Who is teaching this and what other things does this person believe? Are they within the pale of orthodoxy or quickly moving down the road toward heresy? Do they seek to advance other teachings you know are false?”
“Are the main points supported by straight forward, sound thought or are they nebulous?”
“Does the one teaching or presenting these views leave herself open for questions and is she willing to answer directly and swiftly anything put to her?”
“Does the teacher or presenter hold herself to the same standards she requires of others?”
Secondly, I believe we are living in a day when indefinable and vague thought rules, where it is cool and hip to reject the authority of Scripture, when absolutes are considered archaic and for geezers and sneering Sunday school teachers in the basement of the First Baptist Church, where it is fashionable to state openly that the application of God’s Word is a “personal choice.”
The number of people who were raised in an environment that taught relativism is growing. Whether it is fashionable or not to say this, I am going to. The public schools and universities have done a marvelous job of teaching young people that everything is subjective, cannot be proven one way or other to be true, and that they are wise enough in their own eyes to figure it all out. They have trained their students to measure themselves by themselves rather than by the Word of God. John Stonestreet was correct, we are a nation full of people who are too easily distracted by the unimportant things and are willing to embrace the temporal. Whatever feels good or bothers us becomes the priority. Personal preference trumps the search for absolute truth.
Finally, I know that the majority of original “contributors” to this blog have moved on to other things, though I know some of them drop in here from time to time. There are not a large number of women moderating here and often that task falls to me. I am covered over many days and cannot always be Johnny on the spot to read every entry in a timely manner. But I don’t think I should have to do this. We are grown-ups here and I appreciate how mannerly we all are, usually. If someone is concerned about me not commenting on someone’s comments or not intervening when there is a disagreement, please contact me. I think of myself as very approachable so you don’t have to go through somebody else to tell me what you are thinking! That doesn’t guarantee that I will necessarily tell you what I am thinking, but I will listen to you! My hope is that each of us can use discernment as we approach areas of disagreement, that each of us will remember that the Word of God is the standard that is used on this blog, and I would hope that each of us will personally strive to discern the will of God through the Bible as we sort through ideas and teachings.
Just a reminder, here is our purpose statement:
The true woman of the new millennium seeks to honor the Lord Jesus Christ with her heart, soul, mind, and strength and to love her neighbor as herself. She is gifted by God with amazing and unique gifts and she is empowered by the Holy Spirit to use those gifts for His glory alone. As this true woman commits herself to the Word of God, she eschews the man-made stereotypes given to her in the past and delights in God’s distinctive calling on her life in her home, in the church, and in the world.
*Please note I have corrected some spelling and typing errors since this was first published yesterday. (1/23/09)