Thursday, 6 May 2010

Thinking Thursday: Deceptive Questions

I have been reading some very popular books by Brian D McLaren, a trilogy called 'A New Kind of Christian.' In these books he proposes a new way of looking at Christianity and being a Christian. The books are written as novels, detailing discussions between an unhappy pastor named Daniel and various other people with unorthodox views, particularly an ex-pastor turned science teacher called Neil.

The format lifts the thinking beyond dry exposition into a very moving story which draws you in and arouses your sympathy for Daniel. In this way, the drama and emotion can easily bypass the reader's judgement, and allow ideas to be absorbed without critical consideration. That is why I stopped and went back through each of the books and identified some of the ideas which gave cause for concern.

As I look at these over the next few weeks I want to encourage you not only to think about these questions, but to sharpen your thinking to look out for deceptive questions you may find elsewhere. Here is the first sample:

From 'A New Kind of Christian' p.185:
The way conservative Christians talk about "personal salvation" seems to me to try to persuade by exclusion. In other words, the argument says, "You, the 'unsaved', are on the outside and I'm on the inside. I'll tell you how to get inside if you want." I think we would be more in line with the spirit of the gospel if we invite by inclusion, saying, "God loves you. God accepts you. Are you ready to accept your acceptance and live in reconciliation with God?"

This sounds like the old "God loves you and has a plan for your life", without the mention of sin and repentance. The old saying 'God hates the sin but loves the sinner' is not really right, because in many places in the Bible it says that God hates the sinner because of his sin.
Ps.5:5 The arrogant cannot stand in your presence; you hate all who do wrong.
Ps.31:23 The Lord preserves the faithful, but the proud he pays back in full.
Pr.6:16 There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies and a man who stirs up dissention among brothers.

It also says in scripture that God is not willing that any man should perish, but also that there is only one way to be saved. 'Accepting God's acceptance' is not it.