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December 31, 2012

Comments

I think this is a good bit on how to address certain situations with tact. Attacking someone's beliefs isn't necessarily bad, but it has to be done with the right motives and with the right attitude and tone. For example, if someone believes something contrary to Scripture but still claims to be a Christian, then it's not right for someone to take potshots at them just to prove a point or to play "I got you, ha!". Instead, it should be done with humility and with a view toward exhorting them.

Also, I think there is this idea today that any "conflict" or "confrontation" is by definition bad because we're supposed to live at peace with everyone, and so if someone believes something different that you, then the best course is just to agree to disagree and attribute it to different interpretations of the Bible.

I may be wrong but I think a lot of it stems from Romans 14, where Paul writes to refrain from quarreling over "disputable matters" or "doubtful things". So, very clearly there are disputable matters; but there is also an implication that there are indisputable matters, and Paul doesn't say were are to refrain from quarrelling over those. In fact, the Scripture teaches we are to stand up and call out anything that infringes on that which is indisputable.

So, what is indisputable? Well, I think Paul makes it clear in 1 Cor. 15:

Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.

For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.

Anything that infringes on this and other similar passages ("confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead", etc.) should be confronted with an attitude such as Greg displays for us.

So what infringes on this? What infringes on a person's ability or belief that Jesus is Lord and God raised him from the dead? I would say the "big ticket" doctrines come into play here, which I think is what Greg was getting at. I think it's incumbent on anyone who claims to be a Christian to do some serious Bible study on these and figure out how they relate to confessing Jesus as Lord and believing that God raised him from the dead.

Anyway, to sum up, Paul writes in Galatians 1:

But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse!

That's some pretty powerful stuff, and something I think has fallen by the wayside in this wishy-washy Christian culture we live in today (at least in America).

What a timely post! This exact situation came up for me with a new colleague at work. Even though we both identified ourselves as Christians, after a short (tactical) conversation as prescribed, it became evident we were worlds apart. Our conversations have a much clearer starting point now without my assumptions fogging up my lenses. Clarity before understanding! Thanks Greg.

These are all helpful questions.

But the problem I see nowadays is that even among genuine Christians, it is no longer socially acceptable to question the views of others on anything, because that is "judging" and unloving.

This is a problem not just in the culture at large, but even in the church as a whole. If someone claims to be a Christian, we're supposed to just accept it at face value, even when further examination shows that they may not be Christians at all, or they may have some unbiblical views about important aspects of the faith or about certain issues.

Any sort of attempt at correction - no matter how kindly done - is now considered being arrogant.

I, for one, am glad that it is god who gets to define whether or not I am a Christian, not Greg.

Those are are good ideas but I think the heaven and hell one is a horrible example. Classical Christianity has not always taught about eternal torment vs eternal paradise. For the first 500 years of Christianity, there was all different opinions on this. Some believed Jesus would save everyone at the end of the ages, some believed the unsaved would perish, and others believed you would be eternally tormented conscientiously forever. All 3 opinions existed back then by large groups.

Even if eternal torment is correct, nowhere in scripture is a Christian defined by their belief on the afterlife, so that is a silly thing to bring up. There are much more pressing issues than that and that would be a horrible way to figure out who is a christian and who isn't. The fact of WHO IS JESUS and BECAUSE OF JESUS, DO YOU LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF seem to be the most important 2.

@ brgulker

Don' think Greg is making the claim anywhere in his vid that he decides who is/isn't a Christian. He is simply addressing the issue that not everyone who says they are is one and there are some tell tale signs such as disagreements over core orthodox Christian doctrines.

What do you do with Jesus' warning in the sermon on the mount when Jesus warns to beware of wolves in sheep's clothing? Or Paul's admonition in Galatians 1 that if someone preaches a different gospel that person is accursed?

Clearly with all the different Jesuses and gospels being thrown around they can't all be correct.

@ brgulker

To follow up with what Neal had to say, I would further clarify that we know the definition of a Christian. It's not someone's personal opinion, which you seem to infer is what Greg is insinuating in the video. Rather, the Bible identifies what a Christian is for us. A Christian is someone who has accepted Christ as their Savior, someone who has put their trust in Christ to pay for their sins. The problem comes from people that identify themselves as 'Christian' but do so because they grew up in a particular household or church. Maybe they think they're Christian simply because they were told they were.

Growing up, I was told I was 'Lutheran'. We didn't attend Lutheran services. I didn't grow up going to a Lutheran church. My parents simply identified me as 'Lutheran'. I thought I was a Christian growing up, but in reality, I wasn't a 'Christian' until I accepted Christ for myself.

Greg's video serves an important purpose. I've seen people that identify as 'Christians' do, say and teach things that are in direct opposition to the teachings of scripture. That can cause damage to people who think these folks speak the truth simply because they call themselves Christians. They can also bring bad press to Christ's message, and in some cases are distorting that message in a harmful way, potentially leading people away from a true knowledge of Christ.

Depending on the situation, not only may it be important to know why someone really considers themselves a Christian simply to help clarify their position, it may also be critical to correct a misconception they may have about what being a Christian really means. Someone's eternal destination may be at stake.

Jason-

The mere fact that you can find three or a dozen opinions held by large numbers of nominal Christians in the past does exactly nothing to suggest that any of those views is orthodox-ish.

A lot of people alive at the same time as the human Santa Claus did not believe in the Trinity. Saint Nick himself was a strident opponent of these people. The non-Trinitarians in Nicholas' time were not Christians. Their modern day fellow travelers (e.g., the Jehovah's Witnesses) are similarly not Christian.

Christianity is what it is and not something else. If you want to know what it is, start with the Apostle's, Nicene and Athanasian Creeds. (Granted, you might not be able to stop there.)

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