Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Stop Calling Them Christians!

This week, Lebanese government official Pierre Gemayel was assassinated in Lebanon. It was a tragic murder, as Mr. Gemayel was committed to freeing Lebanon from both Syrian control and from jihadist control. As tragic as this story is, I was even more saddened to see how the media colored the story. One remark in particular from the AP story really bothered me. It was alleged that rival "Christian" groups might have been involved in Gemayel's assassination. Keeping in mind that this could easily be misinformation from the radical Muslim side or even secularists, I have a bone to pick with the way this kind of story is handled in the media. I have seen this time and again and I am really getting tired of it.

From the days when "Protestants" and "Catholics" were killing each other in Northern Ireland to other conflicts around the world, this kind of obfuscation and inaccurate reporting serves only to distort global understanding of what true Christianity is. True, born-again, regenerate Christians do not go around killing each other, especially for the reasons inherent in this awful conflict. The idea is obscene.

While not overlooking the fact that a true Christian can and does fall into sinful behavior from time to time, that is not the case here. These people are nominal at best, or more accurately, labeled Christian in a traditional sense. Faith in Christ, a desire to live a life pleasing to Him, and sharing the Gospel has nothing to do with these peoples' agendas. Their concerns are political and territorial. If there are people waving the Christian banner and committing revenge killings, they had best go back to biblical square one and see what the Lord Jesus Christ Himself had to say on that question.

I am not speaking of defense of one's home or family from harm. I am not speaking against Christians in legitimate military or police service of their countries defending their nations or keeping order in their communities. I am talking about individuals or private armed thugs engaging in tit-for-tat murders or assassinations and trying to claim that they're murdering for the sake of Christ. For the sake of truth in labeling, I call on them to drop "Christian" from their self-identification until they actually read Scripture and come to saving faith in the Lord.

When that happens, they just might wake up and discover that shooting each others' skulls off in rage, resentment and hatred is hardly the act of a regenerate, Spirit-filled Christian.


Lori said...

And isn't it funny how the MSM goes out of it's way to NOT identify killers and terrorists as Muslims? Unless they're killing other Muslims, of course.

The thing is that the Muslims themselves admit they do what they do for Islam. But you'd never know that from reading the press.

SolaMeanie said...

Yep. And could it be that the MSM knows full well that Christians probably won't blow up their offices or broadcast centers, while the radical jihadists will. They're cowards.

crownring said...

I so agree with you, Sola, but what are we to do? I got into this very argument on IMDb so many times, I finally gave up. For that matter, a great many Americans claim to be Christian without ever having opened a Bible or having seen the inside of a church except for weddings, funerals, or Easter. For lack of a better way of putting it, these people call themselves "Christian" because they don't want anyone to think they worship trees.

Oh, I could go on and on, but what would it prove? As shocking as it may seem to some, Jesus Himself said "Let the blind follow the blind". When people's brains are set in concrete, there's little one can say that'll make any difference.

Skybalon said...

Did Jesus say that? That is shocking.

SolaMeanie said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
SolaMeanie said...

Why, Skybalon! Why are you shocked? Haven't you read the New Testament? Jesus said all sorts of relevant things. Some might even be considered shocking.

BTW..I wonder at your chosen user name. Do you really want to be linked to "skubalon?" I would hope you esteem yourself a bit more than that! ;)

Skybalon said...

I suppose I'm shocked because I have read the New Testament. And maybe shocked all the more, if there are degrees of the condition, because I would assume this is an environment where one was likely to believe the previous ways of God's revelation are done with, and so could not easily pull words from Jesus' mouth, especially if they are not found in the New Testament.

As for the name... maybe my parents didn't love me.

SolaMeanie said...

Well, you didn't read it well enough. In Matthew 15, Jesus did indeed refer to the blind leading the blind and both falling into a pit. The immediate context was dealing with the Pharisees.

Perhaps if you would be less cryptic in telling me what your issues are?

Skybalon said...

Well, I didn't realize I was being cryptic. I figured the reference was to Matthew 15- where Jesus asks the Pharisees why they broke the commandments with their traditions- saying to do so is vain worship, then he tells the many to be concerned with what comes out of them rather than what goes in, then His disciples ask if He realizes the Pharisees were offended, to which He responds, in perfect Jacobian English, "Let them alone; they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch."

The command being to leave them- as in get away from them- not let them do as they see fit.

I get it. I thought.

Maybe it's quibbling to say it's a problem to put quotation marks around something Jesus never said unless we have some claim to knowing what He said without it being recorded that He said it. I don't know- do you think it's okay to say "Jesus said..." and follow that with something he didn't actually say in scripture?

I don't have an issue per se- but to be less cryptic, I kind of got the impression that y'all were a bit more conservative, so I was, yes, shocked... or maybe surprised, that someone would use quotations and Jesus' words so liberally. That "shock" probably has more to do with me and my understanding of scripture joined with my assumptions about your theological conservatism than it does with you. After all, you do seem to affirm crownring's use of the quote and encourage me to return to scripture to find the same thing. I don't find the same thing, but maybe that's my problem.

Even as a paraphrase, I don't find the phrase, "Let the blind follow the blind," to mean the same thing as "Let them alone; they be blind blind leaders of the blind." In the former, it seems the command is to let blind followers go after blind leaders. It puts an emphasis on the followers being left to do what they will. Dumb blind people- what with their not knowing who to follow- let them do what those dumb old blindies will do. We'll show 'em, they'll fall into a ditch, then they'll think twice about being blind won't they?

In Jesus' quote, the command seems to be to stay away from the leaders, followed by an indictment of their leadership. They're blind leaders, not much of a leader at all are they? But then they're laughable (and dangerous) because they don't know or act as if they're blind. Blind leaders of the blind, indeed; they'll fall right into a ditch won't they? So stay away from those blind leaders because they are blind and assume to be leaders.

But fault the blind follower? That doesn't seem to be a part of it, so even as a paraphrase, "Let the blind follow the blind" doesn't seem to work.

Speaking of context, in Matthew 15, it seems the blind (real and metaphorical) are actually helped out. Rather than being told, "Too bad, blind dummy, go follow someone else that's blind," it seems that Jesus explains the teaching to Peter when he asks for it. That's followed by a story wherein we might think we finally get to embrace the idea behind the paraphrase, "Let the blind follow the blind- we get to ditch you in your sorry state." He says something about not giving the children's bread to the dogs and we think "Right on, stick it to that no good Canaanite woman," but then she kind of admits she is a dog and then Jesus goes and heals her daughter. And then He heals actual blind people, and then he feeds hungry people. He doesn't seem content to leave them in their pathetic states at all. You are right, that New Testament is shocking, indeed

It seems, rather than leaving the blind and pitiful to their own devices, they are helped. Unless of course they are blind and pitiful but think much more of themselves than they should, those blind leaders should be left alone.

I don't see Jesus actually saying those words, "Let the blind follow the blind," nor expressing that sentiment in Matthew 15. But that's just me. You all might accept it as a perfectly legitimate quote and consistent sentiment with what is found in Matthew 15. In which case I say, "That's about as well as I can read it, so my bad, go right ahead."

SolaMeanie said...

Thanks for explaining, and I apologize for the length of time it's taken me to reply. We've had our retired field missionaries in the office this week to honor their service, and I've been swamped with related activities.

Yes, I am indeed quite conservative in theology, although not everyone who posts comments here is as conservative as I am. Your point is well taken to handle Scripture with care and in context. This is vitally important to me. However, I think it is indeed quibbling a bit in this instance. Crownring was using Jesus' quote to make a point, and I don't think she intended it as any serious doctrinal broadside. I took what she said in that spirit. For instance, I won't take issue with your paraphrase "we get to ditch you in your sorry state." I think you know that wasn't precisely what Jesus meant. ;)

Now, even with that in mind, while the immediate context of Jesus' statement dealt with the Pharisees, one CAN apply what He said in a broader sense especially when taking the Word of God as a whole and seeing what is said in other passages. False teachers are false teachers, and the same strictures apply to them no matter who they are and where they are at.

More than that, one CAN fault the blind follower because the blind follower is responsible before God as is the leader. Remember the example of the Bereans in Acts? They received what the Apostle Paul said with joy, but they still held his feet to the fire and examined the Scriptures to see if what Paul said was true. A teacher incurs a stricter judgment, however the follower is also responsible to seek and know God's truth. Ever wonder why Jesus would say to let BOTH the blind leader AND the blind follower fall into the pit? Remember that the fickle rabble who cheered Him coming into Jerusalem turned on Him very quickly and began jeering Him on His way to the cross. It doesn't take much to excite a rabble, as we see on a regular basis watching the news every night.

I don't think the later account (I dislike the word "story" as it's often used these days. It makes one think you're reading a Grimm's Fairy Tale instead of something that actually happened) is tied with the earlier issue with the blind leader. The situation with the Samaritan woman is a completely different matter. When incidents in Scripture are tied together, that's generally pretty clear. But frequently, many incidents with Jesus in His earthly ministry are best understood in a sequential fashion.

Hope this explains my thinking a bit more clearly.

SolaMeanie said...

To clarify something in relation to the blind leader and follower, I don't think what Jesus said means that we automatically abandon a blind follower. We should indeed lovingly try to correct their error. However, if they insist on being rebellious and staying blind, after a time one has to say, "okay, that's the way you want it? Go for it." One should listen for the Spirit's direction in knowing when to speak and when to be silent.