Joe started an interesting meme: Evangelist Changing: 5 Deeply De-Christian Doctrines Meme which I discovered through Eddie’s blog  Deeply De-Christianised Doctrines « Kouya Chronicle

Peter Kirk has tagged me with a meme that states: list 5 doctrines that are taught within the Christian church that you believe to be deeply de-Christian.

Among those who have already participated are:
Gentle Wisdom» Blog Archive » Deeply De-Christian Doctrines

St. Aidan to Abbey Manor: ‘5 Deeply De-Christian Doctrines’

clayboy » The Deeply De-Christian Doctrine meme

De-fending the de-Christian | lingamish

Lingamish suggests that “If you’re a reader of this blog consider yourself tagged.” So, I consider myself  tagged and will contribute some thoughts on this topic. However, I am not necessarily listing real doctrines but ways of thinking that I believe to exist in many Christian circles but are not necessarily biblical.

1) Some cultures are more Christian than others: this is along similar lines as Eddie’s “Christians in one country or region are better than others” but not quite the same. The colonial attitude is unfortunately still alive – it assumes that Western cultures and Christianity are nearly identical. Therefore in case of doubt, the local culture must be wrong and unbiblical. For some it is hard to imagine that they got it right, even before becoming believers, and we might have gotten it wrong.

2) Bible Idolatry: the book called “God’s Word” is sometimes considered God’s only Word and often becomes more important than the author himself and my relationship with him. We forget that the Bible is only a means to an end – a deeper relationship with our creator.

3) Perfectionism: we are supposed to become more or less perfect soon after our conversion. If it does not work, I need to at least pretend; put on the Sunday smile before going to church. This is one of my more recent insights – we are called to become more and more Christ-like and this is NOT identical with being perfect but a matter of maturity. It’s hard to shake off a perfectionist upbringing and learning to understand that rules are not more important than relationships – “For I desire mercy, not sacrifice.”

4) Having the right information solves all problems: as long as I have the right information (=get enough training, do enough Bible study), I can use my will and make the right decisions. Conversion and faith are a matter of the will. Legalism and judgmentalism are the logical result when you think that that ideas and choices are key to being a Christian and making us into the right kind of person. This means when you know God’s Word, you are able to decide in every situation what’s God’s will for yourself and others. No need to ask God. Or so many people seem to think. Unfortunately, there are lots of people who have all the right information and still make the wrong choices.

4a) Right theology is more important than character transformation: even though the theological part is only one point of many and the last in the list for the qualification of elders, it is often treated as the most important one when choosing a pastor or elder, to the detriment of other points that the Bible seems to consider more important.

5) Our mind is more important for spiritual living than the body: this mind-body dichotomy is rooted in a medieval psychology that is long outdated and no longer tenable in view of more recent psychology and brain science, but Western theology still subscribes to this view. Will and spirit were seen as spiritual and important, while the body and emotions were seen as fallen and therefore unable to please God. Today we know that will and spirit are very much linked to our body.

The last three points I owe largely to teachings by Dr. Jim Wilder, especially his recent webinar series on “Why Western Christianity Failed.”

EDIT: Oops – I forgot to tag others. Let’s see if the following people will take up the challenge: Dr. Mouw, Rombo, Marti, Tim and Wess.

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8 thoughts on “Deeply De-Christian Doctrines (meme)

  1. Hmm… interesting. I wish I had more time today to comment, but so true. Just came out of a church service yesterday that showed almost all of those all at once.

  2. I love No.2.
    I think this is one of the biggest problems in evangelical Christianity.
    Love your blog by the way. Just discovered it because of the meme.

  3. “Deeply De-Christian Doctrines (meme)” War is an acceptable means for Christians to further their aims:
    The Early Christian Church
    Conscientiously Opposed
    To Military Service
    A. General Historical Perspective

    “The rise of Christianity led to a rapid growth of conscientious objection. According to A. Harnack, C.J. Cadoux, and G.J. Herring, the most eminent students of the problem, few if any Christians served in the Roman Army during the first century and a half A.D.; and even in the third century there were Christian conscientious objectors.”
    Gentile free and freed men who were Christians would thus hardly ever be called upon to serve.”
    Nevertheless, it seems evident that definite attempts were made to conscript Christians for military service: “Celsus (about 178 A.D.) thought it necessary to appeal to the Christians as a body to help the Emperor zealously, to cooperate with him in maintaining justice, and to fight for him, if he should call upon them to do so, both in the ranks and in positions of military command. He argued that, if all did as they did, the Emperor would be deserted, and his realm fall prey to savages and barbarians.”
    Harnack’s conclusion is that no Christian would become a soldier after baptism at least up to the time of Marcus Aurelius, say about A.D. 170 (Militia Christi, p. 4). After that time, signs of compromise became increasingly evident, but the pacifist trend continues strong right up into the fourth century.”

    “During its first three centuries of existence, the Christian church was opposed to war and other forms of violence. Christian opposition to war early expanded into a denial of the rightness of all coercive action on the part of the civil power. Thus arose that form of conscientious objection which has been designated as political non-participation.”

    “For years many Christians regarded service in the army as inconsistent with their profession. Some held that for them all bloodshed, whether as soldiers or executioners, was unlawful.”

    “During a considerable period after the death of Christ, it is certain…that his followers believed He had forbidden war, and that, in consequence of this belief, many of them refused to engage in it, whatever were the consequences, whether reproach, or imprisonment, or death. These facts are indisputable: ‘It is as easy,’ says a learned writer of the 17th century, ‘to obscure the sun at midday, as to deny that the primitive Christians renounced all revenge and war.’ Of all the Christian writers of the second century, there is not one who notices the subject, who does not hold it to be unlawful for a Christian to bear arms.”

  4. I cringe sometimes in church. Having just lived through what we’ve lived through in this church…. I know what it is like.

    So we had had a video series on “counseling” for addictions. But addictions is loosely termed. Anyway, Sunday was the discussion time. They discussed this method and that method and when do we know we use this or when do we use that, and what track do we……?

    I sat listening… It was as if they were trying to solve a mathematical equation. When do we use this formula and when that?

    So I asked it – I will get in trouble one day – “Ok, I know I missed the videos while I was gone, but I am wondering when and where the Spirit of God comes into the picture here? When do we start to ask Him for leading and guidance in the matter?”

    Ummm…. silence…. um…. well… that would be a good thing to do, yes…. at the beginning, I guess….

    And being very Biblical people, someone suggested to see what the Scriptures said on the matter.

    ummm….. well….. James says if you lack wisdom to ask of God.

    I sat there a little shocked. Is that the best you can do?!

    But they were delighted with that. Yes! Ask for wisdom. Now, moving on……

    Since when is God a thing? Since when is the leading of the Spirit of the Living God in us the same as simply wisdom?

    But they were back to their formulas. Back to figuring out how we should balance our lives with not saying too much about our own sins so we don’t “condone sin” but admitting it enough to “encourage others” that they too can become better without appearing to be “too perfect”.

    I checked out… and began to memorize another Psalm. Yeah, maybe I’m into the word of God problem…. no… I just know that what I have in my head is easily available to God and me when we talk and we walk, drive, scrub floors, and live life.

    It saddened me, though. Deeply sad.

  5. @leRoy – I fully agree, Peter Kirk has already included that in his list. http://www.gentlewisdom.org.uk/?p=1498
    @Ellie – You are right, it is very sad. I think it all boils down to the problem that we forgot that being a believer is a matter of relationship, not of programs, structures, rules, formulas, etc. thinking we can figure things out without our creator.
    I don’t think memorizing scripture is necessarily wrong – it all depends what you expect it to do for you. The memorizing in itself won’t change you (make you a better person) but as you say it can help you as a frame of reference in your relationship and talks with God.

    1. Hmmm… lots to think about. I saw this on Eddie’s Kouya Chronicle, too, and wondered what I would put on the list. Will take a stab at it and see where it goes! Thanks for the ‘tag’!

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