Monday, October 20, 2008

Bumper Sticker Theology

Ok. To start off with, this may offend some people. I myself, have used some of these catchphrases in the past, and regret it. I don't want people to get the wrong idea, and think that I'm attacking people who use these phrases. Rather, I'd like to think that I'm offering them a challenge. I don't personally think, that the following sayings are Biblical (in the context in which they are said). They're "pop-Christian" sayings which cause more confusion than clarifying anything. If any of these sayings are common in your own vocabulary, please consider the problems with them and what they evoke. I realize that most people use phrases they heard others use, and so forth, but let's not do something just because someone we know does it. Let's do something because it's accurate and right. Here are some catchphrases:

"Ask Jesus into your heart!"

This statement is totally inaccurate. The verses "It is no longer I that live, but Christ living in me" (Gal. 2:20) and "Behold, I stand at the door and knock" (Rev. 3:20) are taken out of context and misappropriated in support of "asking Jesus into your heart." When Paul said Christ lived in him, he meant that he had sacrificed his will to Christ. Rev. 3:20 was written to a group of Christians, so it doesn't refer to salvation but to allowing God to do His will in you. This statement has been turned into a phrase to support a false gospel in some instances (That if you somehow ask Jesus into you're heart at a particular moment you're now saved). There is no "magical" phrase which saves you. Jesus saves you. You must repent and have faith, not "Ask Jesus into your heart."

"Christianity is all about loving the sinner, and hating the sin."

This is another statement which I believe is extremely inaccurate. Is this really what Christianity is about? What did David mean when he said, "Do I not hate those who hate you, O Lord, and abhor those who rise up against you?" in Psalm 139:21. Separating the sin from the sinner is not something God does. He doesn't send the sin to hell does he? Of course not! God sends the sinner there. Can you hate and love something at the same time? Yes you can. They aren't diametrically opposed. You can desire for justice to be carried out on those who disobey without repentance, while at the same time, hoping that they will repent.

"There's a God-shaped hole in your heart that only Jesus can fill."

Plain and simply- NO THERE'S NOT! What Bible verse is this based on? Many popular Christian "evangelists" and authors use this term. To just give one example: Greg Laurie- "We each have a hole in our heart, a spiritual vacuum deep within our soul - a 'God-shaped blank.' Possessions won't fill this hole, nor will success. Relationships alone cannot satisfy this emptiness, and morality, in and of itself, falls miserably short of occupying this space. In fact, even religion cannot fill the void in our heart." Ok, so why is this wrong? Well first of all, using this as a draw card for salvation, is borderline heresy in my opinion. You come to Christ because you're a sinner, He paid your price, and you are repentant. NOT BECAUSE YOU ARE LONELY OR UNSATISFIED WITH YOUR LIFE! Preaching this message creates false converts (See Hell's Best Kept Secret by Ray Comfort). Scripture says, "they are filled with all unrighteousness" (Romans 1:29). "The hearts of the sons of men are full of evil" (Ecclesiastes 9:3), and they have an evil spirit working in them (Ephesians 2:2). False assurance is certainly given, when a void that doesn't exist is supposedly filled.

"Christianity isn't a religion, it's a relationship!"

I understand what people mean when they say this. They are trying to say, "In Christianity, we focus on having a relationship with God, rather than working for salvation." I only wish they would say that, instead of "It's not a religion, it's a relationship!" Christians keep trying to redefine what religion means, so they can be "cool" and not "old fashioned..." cuz we all know "religion" is an old fashion word, and "relationship" is culturally just way cooler. Give me a break. Christianity is a religion. It's true religion. What does the book of James say about this?
"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. This is pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father, to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world." - James 1:26-27
As we can see, James contrasts true and false religion. Christianity is true religion, all other religions are false. Let's not try to redefine things in order to look cool.

"You aren't supposed to be comfortable in your Christianity."
In a sense, no you aren't. From a worldly standpoint we aren't to be sitting at home doing nothing, and not using our spiritual gifts. However, there is a godly peace which accompanies those who do his will.
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
- Philip. 4:6-7
Therefore, I believe there is a comfort in Christianity. The Holy Spirit is even called "the comforter" by Jesus. It's just not a worldly comfort.

"Salvation is a free gift."

While this statement is accurate in a sense, it gives a wrong perception. It has come to mean something that cannot be supported scripturally. Salvation is freely available, yes, but it could cost you everything that you have and are. If salvation is free, why did Christ say, "If anyone desires to follow me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me" (Luke 9:23)? It looks to me like salvation requires you to crucify your own selfish desires daily and trust God to know what is best for you. I'm not supporting a works-based view of salvation. We are saved by grace through faith, and that not of ourselves. But if our lives don't reflect the change, then have we really received God's grace?
Yes, anyone can have salvation. But most people aren't willing to make the sacrifice required to receive it. Let's not provide one side of the coin (salvation being freely available), without showing the other (a sacrifice being required on the part of the sinner...not to earn it, but rather to affirm ones faith in it). This phrase can be beneficial if used in context, but it seldom is used that way.