Sunday, August 3, 2008

I thought I would share another letter I have recently sent to a Christian couple we love and seek to serve. It highlights a problem which is becoming more and more evident.

Interestingly, during the great historic periods of revival, the same issue, which I’m attempting to address in the letter, became very evident amongst those who claimed orthodoxy. Thankfully God takes no notice of those who seem very adept at casting stones at those who have been moved by Him to shake up the status quo. As a result, we can now read of the amazing works of God during those days.

We ought always to keep Gamaliel’s advice in mind, “Therefore, in the present case I advise you: Leave these men alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God.”

Dear Brother and Sister ABCD,

There was a criminal man named Jack, who bore the same name as yourself, ABDC, who spent most of his life in a constant battle with the law. It also happened that I attended school with fellow named Bruce, who also shared your name, ABCD, but who was a spiteful little twerp and seemed to enjoy causing trouble, even if it meant creating a falsehood to achieve his ends.

For me, as a Christian, to judge all, who share the name ABCD, by these two, would be completely unjust and out of character for anyone who was a true disciple of Christ.

Think how offensive it would be to my friend, and brother in Christ, Charley ABCD, if, not knowing him I had formed the opinion from the evidence of the two ABCDs mentioned above that , “All ABCDs are simply no good. They are crooks and trouble-makers.”

That’s exactly how offensive it is to our Lord when we judge any group of people, of whom we have no intimate knowledge, and paint them ALL, some who are our genuine brethren, as well as His brethren, with the same broad brush. Mostly this is done on the basis of what someone else said about them.

If my wife and I had taken notice of what was said about Charley and his wife, who happen to have the name ABCD, they would not be invited into our home, and we would not want to be seen in their company. Also, if we had not accepted them, taking no notice of the prejudice of what others were saying, we would be deprived of their friendship and fellowship.

No matter where information comes from, it is simply NOT a true statement to say that ABCDs are no good. The same applies with the different groups who claim to be Christian, for instance, a relatively new expression of Christianity. “The Newies”, who claim to be followers of Jesus Christ, and believe the orthodox evangelical understanding of salvation. It is simply NOT correct to say that, "all Newies are not what they claim" (that’s also certainly true of many orthodox evangelicals and denominationalists, etc.), nor is it correct to say that “Newies” are leading people into an heretical religion (that’s also certainly true of many orthodox evangelicals and denominationalists, etc.), or to make similar blanket, criticism or derogatory statements.

Do you personally KNOW any so-called “Newies”? I do! I think they are mistaken in some things, but the ones I know, ARE my brethren in Christ, trusting in the same finished work of the same Jesus Christ, as you and I are, AND disagreeing vehemently with the works oriented doctrines of the heretical religion. Have you read their writings, widely enough to personally know, what they are teaching, and that the label you have given them fits of them ALL? I have, and I know that, in general, it doesn’t.

If I was really looking for things to criticize, I could find one or two things which I would question, or say differently, but there is no heresy there, and they certainly disagree with the heretical religion you have concerns about.

It’s very enlightening to discover that some of the “Newies” are, doctrinally, very orthodox evangelical Christians; some even holding to one or another of the famous orthodox evangelical statements of faith. A few have leadership which has relinquished the dubious trappings of ordination to simply be part of the Body of Christ, and who preach a Christ honoring, God glorifying Gospel message and show no fear in speaking up against the perversions of the faith.

If I wanted to give myself a label other than a disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ (and I don’t), I wouldn’t be ashamed to wear the tag, “Newie”, as an honorable one, and I would preach and teach the very same Christ centered message as I always have.

I will not allow another person, no matter how judgmental, or clerical, or religiously acceptable, to cloud my discernment according to the Scriptures, or my spiritual integrity, no matter how well thought of they are
( Brother and Sister ABCD! Some of your critics were well placed in “spiritual” circles).

As with any teaching from Scripture I hear or read, so too with my assessment of people, I intend to be a Berean, and search out the truth for myself.

During the 2nd World War there was a slogan which simply said, “Loose Lips, Sinks Ships”. It was a warning that unwise conversation and ignorant gossip could give the enemy an edge against the allies, and cause the death of many.

Amongst Christians, Loose Lips Ruin Lives, and often wound those for whom Christ died, causing them to fear any more contact with Christians! My wife and I have felt the uninformed dagger of gossip and know the consequences.

The enemy rejoices as he sees the wounds and separation caused by such uncaring, unloving, un-Christ-like behavior.

I'm sure you would agree with James when he said,"If anyone thinks himself to be religious, and yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this man's religion is worthless", "The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell."

We wouldn't trust the words of a blasphemer, or those who consistently spout obscenities. How then can we act the part of one who would attack the good name and reputation of another, often with the malicious intent of turning others from them. Slander has a way of rebounding on the slanderer, no matter how we try to religiously legitimize it.

Your Brother in Christ,