Twenty-Five Sort of Random Things I Do and Don’t Believe – by the Internet Monk
1. I don’t believe gay marriage is the biggest threat to the family. Not by anything approaching a long shot. I’ve worked with thousands of students in my life, and the messed up kids were messed up by divorce, absentee parents, sex, substance abuse and greed. I’ve met maybe 10 students in my life who were affected by anyone’s homosexuality.
2. I don’t believe America is a Christian nation. I actually don’t believe there is such a thing, and if there were, America wouldn’t be one. Not on paper, not from the founders and not now. We’re a secular republic and I like it that way.
3. I believe that Christian publishing does a lot of good, but I also think it does a lot of harm. All in all, we’d have to say that for all the good done, we still have a monstrous collection of lame, dangerous and outright perverse results from the various money-making adventures of the people who publish gems like “The Prayer of Jabez.” Without Christian publishing making a lot of nut jobs legitimate, things in evangelicalism would be a lot less wacky.
4. I don’t like or use the word inerrancy. In my context of working with non-Christian internationals, it’s simply too complicated to teach the complicated special definition of “no errors” that goes along with this view. The Bible truly tells us what we need to know. It has the authority of God. (Plus, I’m tired of seeing people like Peter Enns labeled as weak on scripture.)
5. Sunday night and Wednesday night church services ought to be against the law.
6. I actually believe the NLT is a really fine translation. I use it more and more all the time.
7. I don’t believe that thinking Biblically means you are an expert on every detail in the Bible. No…overdosing on Bible study can make you pretty useless in many situations.
8. I believe the exalting of “verse by verse” preaching is a lot of flag waving. There’s a much better case for preaching large segments of scripture- like chapters and entire books- and for topical preaching.
9. I believe it’s God’s Word, but I really struggle with some of the crazy stuff in Leviticus, especially when it’s done to women.
10. I have no problem with female preachers or pastors. The relevant passages are in the category of cultural accommodation (i.e. similar to the passages on slavery), and I’m nowhere close to being convinced by the arguments for male primacy some come up with from Genesis.
11. I’m going to be in trouble now: I believe the blindness towards the general bias against women and the actual mistreatment of women is a failure in evangelicalism that far outweighs the issue of racism. Evangelicalism has a lot of men who respect and love women as Christ did, but it also has a massive amount of men who don’t like women, disrespect and mistreat them.
12. I don’t believe there’s all that much good about institutional Christianity. It exists, has to exist and always will exist, but Jesus started a movement, not an institution. (And definitely not a business or a club.) Christianity is a cross-cultural, evangelistic, church planting movement. It’s all about taking the Gospel to individuals and cultures first, then practicing what it means to be Christians in whatever context we live. I can be pretty annoying about this.
13. I’d like everyone- infant baptizers and children baptizers- to own up to the fact that evangelism has badly suffered because we baptize children. Even if you believe it’s right, you still have to contend with the effect all of this has had on evangelism. (In fact, refusing to own up to our lack of evangelistic focus is a primary problem with theological types.) And no, it doesn’t have to be that way, but you figure it out.
14. I believe in an educated ministry, but I don’t see much reason for traditional seminary. It’s expensive and inefficient to a fault. We need mentoring, apprenticing, church-centered programs, etc. The seminary product is about to become the buggy whip of evangelicalism.
15. I believe people who have left the faith have a lot of useful things to say to us, and we need to listen. We also ought to apologize and make a lot of things right. We’ve heard and driven off millions of people, and then we’ve mostly blamed them.
16. I believe too much technology has screwed up preaching to the point of a three alarm fire. We need Bible preachers with very basic communication skills, not cool guys with gadgets. We have been stupidly naive about how much technology has helped us communicate the Gospel. Remember “the medium is the message?” Well….that’s apparently quite true. I don’t believe that the world’s technogeeks and marketers have the wisdom we need for preaching, teaching and applying the Gospel. The Gospel is not about a product or a brand. Carson on I Corinthians. That’s what I’m talking about.
17. I believe evangelicals have a fetish of wanting preachers to know everything and to tell them what to do. In fact, when the Washington Post said, years ago, that evangelicals were “…easily led,” they were more right than wrong. I’m not into the Roman Catholic view of church authority, but among what group of Christians are you more likely to be told during the sermon what to think about politics, economics, child-raising, science, psychology, literature, entertainment and education? Who’s more likely to have a series of 300 Life Principles that tell you everything including where to buy your vitamins? Yeah, that’s right. Everyone say “Baaa.”
18. I believe in creation by God, but I’m not a young earth creationist. I’d really rather you try to sell me Amway or insurance than try to change my mind on that one.
19. I believe that while Protestants are right on the issue of grace in salvation, at the level of how we practice the faith we’re actually far more sympathetic to the other team than we admit, and if we actually advertised what the reformers cooked up in the Reformation, a lot of Protestants would take the bus back to Rome in the morning. The grace of God in the Gospel is radical, revolutionary and not at all compatible with entrenched religious interests and power plays. If its control of a system you want, Gospel grace is going to blow up your lab.
20. I believe the Biblical position is the pro-life position, but endless proclamations of abortion rhetoric make me wonder what’s actually going on here? Without backing off my pro-life convictions at all, I can’t honestly say that evangelicals are consistently and practically pro-life on all the issues where the sacredness of life is at stake. If pro-life is the Word, then be a doer, not just a hearer, writer or talker.
21. Moralistic busy-bodies, censors and bullies don’t impress me as actually having anything to do with Christianity.
22. I don’t believe Christians are supposed to keep a Sabbath day.
23. I believe tithing was old covenant and really has no place in the teaching of Christian stewardship today. (He adds in the comments on his blog that “Tithing is an old covenant religious law, fulfilled and done away with in the new covenant. It was actually considerably more complex than a tenth, and was for the maintaining of the priesthood and the temple, which we no longer have because Jesus has fulfilled both.There are no commands to tithe in the new testament at all. The new covenant teaches that we give as the Holy Spirit leads and enables.Institutional churches have used this concept to manipulate church members for years. I was brought up under a kind of prosperity Gospel teaching that used Malachi- and old testament book about funding the temple- to convince people to give to the local church a mandatory 10%………Tithing is deeply ingrained in evangelicalism and has been the foundation of lots of abusive, manipulative episodes. It’s also the foundation of the prosperity mindset for millions of evangelicals. We need to tell the truth on this one. I think many ministers do and more will, but we’ll have to say “GASP” what our ancestors said was wrong.”)
24. The whole concept of revival seems like a confused mess to me. A bit of truth in there, but mostly it’s a lot of tradition and manipulation.
25. I don’t believe anything in the field of sensational Biblical archaeology: chariot wheels in the Red Sea, for example. I’m big on archaeology, but after I fell for the James Ossuary, I’m very skeptical.
& David adds –
26. I don’t believe in the effectiveness of a just saying a ’sinners prayer’ to get an individual into heaven.
I’ve heard preachers give an ‘altar call’, see some people respond, then say “that’s x more people in heaven & x less in hell”. What rubbish. Paul tells us to guard our salvation, to run a good race & make sure we make it to the end, to work out our faith with fear & trembling. Matt 25 says we will face judgement based on how we have treated the needy. Saying a ‘sinners prayer’ doesn’t automatically change a persons life – it isn’t a ‘get into heaven free’ card in the great monopoly game of life. (Note the IM agrees – he says in his blog comments “The sinner’s prayer is not Biblical and has nothing to do with becoming a Christian. It’s a piece of evangelical manipulation. We are saved by living faith in all that God is for us in Jesus as expressed in the Gospel. There’s no “prayer” that makes that happen. It’s the work of the Spirit in an individual life.”)
27. I don’t believe that those who aren’t ‘saved’ on earth (by typical evangelical standards) will all suffer eternally/permanently in hell with no chance of redemption.
……If people are only saved on earth via the standard evangelical ways, then overall God, whose “will is that none should perish” seems to have done a terrible job – probably only 5-20% of people who have ever lived were ’saved’ (by evangelical standards’ meaning that 80-95% of those people who God loves will be suffering permanently in hell
Normally God punishes people for their own good – ie so that it will lead to redemption, or so that they stop causing problems for other people. Eternal punishment in hell doesn’t have either of these results – it can only be retributive (permanent retribution for temporal sin).
Brian Mclaren in “The Last Word & the Word After That” paints a picture of christians having a party with Jesus upstairs (heaven), while in the basement (hell) the un-saved (including many of our loved ones) are suffering horribly with no hope of escape. I add to this some numbers – 5-20% upstairs, 80-95% downstairs. This makes it hard for those upstairs to enjoy the party (knowing their loved ones are suffering). Also …. I hope the Jesus I follow would go downstairs to do something to help those he loves but are suffering … I might even go with him if i could give any assistance
28. Preaching, as it is practiced in churches these days is extra-biblical. Typically is is a poor form of communication/teaching, and creates dependence.
Heck – I’ve said this before.