2 Corinthians 11:4 For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the Spirit you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough.
I have said this many times, but it bears repeating many times. “Religion can be manipulative.”
Let me define manipulation to you: To skillfully, especially in an unfair manner: in some process of treatment or performance: to change to suit one's purpose or advantage.
Here is the problem. Strong personalities will have strong opinions on matters of faith and practice. This can be a good thing if the character of the leader is Godly and has a heart that pursues God. This person can be a great asset to the kingdom, and would never use personality as a tool to achieve a goal.
I have experienced strong pastors who have decided there was a need to build a new building and used their persuasive personality to get it done. Or, I have known Christian leaders who come into meetings with a predetermined plan and persuade the members of that meeting to vote in accordance with that plan. Leadership can be persuasive, but it should never manipulate to get its own way. This works theologically as well. We may personally believe in a doctrine we are passionate about and will go to the mat to defend it. Here are some of those theological hot spots:
1. The timing of the Rapture
2. The Holy Spirit and spiritual gifts
3. The once saved always saved
4. Women in ministry
5. Worship styles
It is easy to take a position on these issues and have strong opinions and miss the point altogether. Recently I did a podcast on the idea that God can support two positions at one time. The Jewish idea of block theology is where opposites are equal.
Block theology can be defined as such: “Two things can be contradictory and true at the same time.”
In three places in Romans alone, the Apostle Paul says that we are saved by faith alone without works. (Romans 3:20, 28; 5:1) But when we turn to James 2:25 we read, “A man is justified by works, and not by faith only.” (James 2:24) Well which is it? It is both. In Greek thinking (which is how the Western world thinks), this is a sequential linear process. If this is true, then it leads to this conclusion. In Hebraic thinking two opposites, like the example above, can also be true. When it comes to the theme of once saved always saved or one can lose salvation, I would argue they are both true. You are secure in Christ, but you still have a free will to decide your fate. We don't process things like this in our culture, and we certainly don't process this in the church. People attend churches whose theology best matches theirs. This idea comes out again when we think of God as love. Yes, He is love, but He is also a judge, so both are true.
Proverbs 18:17 The first to speak in court sounds right until the cross-examination begins.
When religious views dictate to us a specific idea based upon a specific doctrine that claims that it is the only way God can interact with us, I would be cautious. One of the more obvious examples of this is when people will claim God will take His Church from the earth prior to the great tribulation, which is His wrath on the earth. They claim that believers are not destined to experience His wrath, so the obvious conclusion is that the Church is gone. Yes, maybe, but when we promote a timeline on when God will perform an act such as the Rapture of the church, we place ourselves into a position of secret knowledge because we don’t know. At best it is all speculation, but it is not taught that way. It is taught as if this is the only option God has, and that is not true. Is it possible? Perhaps. Is it an absolute certainty? No.
Here again, is where the Hebraic ‘block’ theology can help us. Could both be right? Could the emphasis on a pre-tribulation Rapture be helpful to prepare us? I would say yes. However, could a post-tribulation viewpoint prepare us as well? Again, I would say yes. Both could prepare us to know God will take us home whether it’s before or after the great tribulation. Now, some of you may think this is just a compromised viewpoint, and I would disagree. The point of the Rapture isn’t when it happens but more about us being ready. The timing could be critical for us to escape God’s wrath, but if not taken out of God’s wrath He will protect us … plus the destruction of the world may make us stronger and more effective in helping people know God in the midst of literally all hell breaking loose.
This blog isn’t about promoting a certain point of view … it just tries to make you think beyond a scripted religious teaching to get at the truth. Two opposites could be both right, and we have to acknowledge that. I think it broadens our appreciation for a God who takes two opposing views and unites them in Him. It’s something to think about.
Challenging the Culture with Truth … Larry Kutzler
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