Saturday, July 2, 2011

The Ethic of "Opinion"

It seems that postmodern thinking has all but destroyed the belief that opinions are not self-justifying, morally neutral ideas that we are all entitled to hold without consequences. When will we learn that ideas have consequences? What we think is indelibly lived out in our lives to one degree or another. Therefore, what and how we think about life issues is important. There is no more significant question for humans than the question of God. Bound up in that question is a plethora of other vitally important questions. Answering the question of God's existence is not as simple as even some Christians like to think. We cannot say, yes God is, close up our briefcase and go home. Unless we say "THIS KIND" of God is the God that is, we have not answered the question. I am afraid there are numerous assertions about a God that exists, even made by Christians, who are wrong. The kind of God described by many professing Christians these days simply does not exist. The first chapter of Romans lays an explicit foundation for a biblical epistemology that should never be ignored. Our knowledge of God is exactly as Paul describes it in that chapter and all opposing views are wrong. If you want to know what Paul says about human beings' knowledge of God, read that chapter very carefully and very critically. You are sure to walk away with questions regarding some of the things you have been taught about evangelism, missions, and apologetics.

How we form opinions about God, life, and morality is not a behavior that is free from Christian ethics. What I mean is that we are not free to hold an opinion on an issue without subjecting that opinion to the Lordship of Christ. You have no right to formulate opinions about issues in and of yourself. I was recently told by one Christian that she was very, very liberal and that she had an open mind. I ask this question of anyone who describes themself this way: has it ever occurred to you that the practice of "forming opinions" is something that must be done within the Christian ethic if indeed you call yourself a Christian? Have you ever pondered whether or not you are forming opinions in a way that is submissive to God and to Christ? Have you bought into the American and Western idea that opinions are not subject to the Christian ethic and therefore you are free to go about forming opinions autonomously, all on your own? If you have not contemplated what "Christian opinion forming" looks like, perhaps you should begin doing so today. You are not your own. You are bought with a price. This includes your mind.

My response to the person who said they were a very, very liberal Christian with a very open mind was this: "God is so liberal and open-minded that of all the other beings in the universe, He actually thinks He is the only one that should be worshipped and served by humans. And His Son, Jesus Christ was so liberal and open minded that He actually claimed to be the one and only way to heaven." Can you imagine a Christian claiming to be very, very liberal and open minded? What is sad is that a number of people reading this blog will actually not understand why this is a problem. Frankly, I am not sure what is the bigger problem; the fact that people do this sort of thing, or the fact that people don't get why it is a problem to begin with. If you do not understand why this is a problem, then you do not even possess a basic understanding of biblical Christianity. I would urge you to read the gospel of John five times without a commentary around. Just read the words of Christ in that gospel and see if what you have learned about Christianity is consistent with what Jesus says about it. Your opinions are just as subject to the Christian ethic as the words that come out of your mouth, not to mention the way you go about living your life.

I was recently talking to a lady that I thought was a typical, conservative, bible-believing Christian. I discovered that she is not that. She attends church regularly. But her views of Scripture are very problematic. She began with a subtle attack that the Bible was just a product of men who were inspired to write these things down. I corrected her by letting her know that the men were not the objects of inspiration, but that Scripture is the product of inspiration. The men were moved by the Holy Spirit to write Scripture. She then criticized Christianity because the Bible has been used to preserve power and to oppress. (Gee, I've never heard that argument before). I responded by saying that evil men have tried to use God to retain power and oppress others. That has nothing to do with Scripture. If I use a baseball bat to kill someone, does that mean baseball should be outlawed? Does it even mean that bats should be outlawed? It isn't the bats fault or the manufacturers fault that I used it for that means. People simply don't think about their methods. We are facing a critical thinking crises in the world today. The more we entertain ourselves with Holywood programmes, the more diminshed we become in our ability to think critically. I then moved this discussion to the moral law which is where I spend most of my time when engaging people who think like this lady does. I asked her if she thought it would be wrong to cheat on her husband. Her answer took me by complete surpirse. But this is where we are going folks. She said she did not know. I then asked her if she thought it would be wrong for her husband to cheat on hear. She said she was not sure. I asked if homosexuality was wrong. She said this is what she means when she says that people use the bible to force other people to be like themselves. She asked me, "Why do people have to be like you to be cool with God?" I quickly said, they don't! They need to be like God to be cool with God. What is God like? Read the Bible. I asked her about pedophiles, knowing she would be repulsed by this "sort" of person. And she was. But she tried to be consistent. She said she did not like what they do. I asked her why not? She could not say. I then asked about Hitler. I received the same response. What about 9/11? I received the same response. She does not like this sort of behavior but she cannot say it is actually wrong. In summary, here is a person that cannot call the Holocaust or 9/11 evil. And why is that? Allow me to explain and reveal the incoherence in her thinking.

She begins with a moral conviction that it is wrong to oppress anyone for anything. She has the typical aversion to power that any minority group would have that has had to endure the injustices her minority group have (she is black). She sees how some people have used Scripture to oppress and abuse power in history and even today. She responds by questioning Scripture, not it's abusers. When she cuts off Scripture and removes it as the authority for daily practice, she unwittingly cuts off any hope of an objective moral standard by which she can make moral judgments. She now begins to slip and slide on issues as basic as adultery. She cannot say that adultery is wrong. She cannot say that arbitrary divorce is wrong. She could not even begin to articulate a purpose for marriage. She cannot say that the homosexual choice is wrong. She could not say that Hitler was evil. She could not say that pedophilia was outright evil. The best she could do was say that she did not like the behavior. She could not say that 9/11 was absolutely evil. Now, if none of these things are really evil, how can she say that it is wrong to oppress anyone and to engage in the abuse of power? Why can't she just say that she doesn't like these things, but that she cannot call them evil. That is what she did with every other evil I quizzed her about. Without realizing it, she has placed herself in a position where she has no objectively moral basis to classify the one thing that she really thinks is evil: oppression. Why is it wrong to oppress anyone? Because you don't like it? Why is it wrong to abuse power? Because you don't like it? No! It is only wrong because it is countrary to the nature of the one true God that is. If He is not, then nothing is wrong, really.

This is a perfect example of how sin blinds us. This isn't about someone really, honestly searching for a worldview that actually coheres as a system and correspond with reality. This is how sin causes us to pervert the law of God, and even God Himself, into a law of our own engineering. This woman, and millions like her want to replace God's law with their law. This leads to chaos. The radically subjective nature of morality that ensues in this kind of thinking would destroy the very fabric that holds society together. There would be no objective basis for right and wrong. Each person would do what is right in their own eyes without anyone else to hold them accountable for their evil. This lady did not even understand that her way of thinking would destroy not just our rule of law, but the very concept of any rule of law altogether. This is what happens when opinions are believed to be outside of the realm of the Christian ethic. We presume we have a right to our own opinion. We presume, as Westerners, that no one has the right to tell us what and how to think. But we are not Westerners first. We are Christians before we are anything. And as such, we are not entitled to our own opinion about anything. Every opinion of every Christian is subject to the Christian Ethic. That is my opinion.
People live what they believe; EVERYTHING else is just NOISE!

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