I’ve been watching some fascinating discussion on the internet over the last 7-10 days. I’ve come to a conclusion. Too many people, too many “christians” believe the Holy Spirit is dead. It’s the only reasonable explanation for what I’ve seen. The internet is a funny place. It is one heck of a tool for good, but like any tool it is also a tool for evil. If you have an axe to grind, if no one would actually hire you to be their pastor, then just buy a 9.99 webpage, set it up and your off. You can start out criticizing the “big boys and girls.” You know Rick Warren, Joel Olsteen, John Ortberg, Doug Pagitt, etc. After you’re done with them you can go after a guy pastoring a little church in the middle of nowhere because you don’t like how he does outreach. If you’re lucky he’ll do something really bad, like be a friend of sinners. Don’t believe me? Just search for blogs that call themselves ministries and you’ll find thousands. Some even set up boards, and make up fancy schmancy titles, it’s amazing!!! There are people that talk about being “internet apologist,” which I guess means that they don’t do any apologizing in real life.
Some will decry anyone female questioning them because they are a “pastor-teacher” but will snuggle up next to another ministry that is dominated by a woman. I suppose that proves the old saying, “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.”
It’s not just these Online Discernment Ministries (ODM) that believe the Holy Spirit has died. It’s every day rank and file Christians too. Don’t believe me? Ok, what about gambling? Is that a sin? How about alcohol consumption? Sooner or later, I’m sure I could bring up a social issue where many would decide that anyone who disagreed with them was apostate. This is why I bring up the ODM’s because for sure they have created a rhetoric that is unhelpful. Some of my favorites go on and on about how a church isn’t the “real church” of God because they have a New Year’s Eve party. Now, I’m willing to bet that some of you reading this thought, “Well, I’m against parties like that, especially in the church! That is sin.” Here’s the thing, you can hold that view. I disagree with you, and I know we can’t both be right but you can hold that view. I want to ask a serious question, does my salvation get questioned because I disagree with you? In way too many instances it is the first thing questioned. This is why I think that many who claim Christ believe the Holy Spirit is dead. No longer, do we agree to respectfully disagree and allow the Holy Spirit room to convict someone who disagrees with us. We try, convict, and execute all based on our standard.
Do me a favor, think back fifteen years. Is there anything you believed back then, that you don’t today? Is there anything that you thought was sin back then, that now you think differently on? Now ask yourself if there is anyone that you tried to get to conform to that belief fifteen years ago? Did it damage the relationship? Was it worth it?
The other night I was talking about this with a friend of mine and she said that she thought it was wrong because it involved spending money in a way that wasn’t “best.” I told her I agree that for some it can lead to that and I asked “Well, what about this situation?” (Please note I’m not going to tell you the specifics because they don’t matter, it’s a principal I’m driving at) She responded to me, “Well, that’s different because it’s only one time a year.” Of course I responded, “Well, what if someone only does the original offending activity once a year?”
Did you see what happened? Now, there’s degrees and protocol and something that is exactly the same is now somehow different. We all have our pet sins that we like to slam others for. I think it probably makes God wan to puke.
I have to ask, what is the purpose of the Holy Spirit? Is it not to convict a believer of their sin? Is it not to show us the error of our ways? I’m not saying this is the only job of the Holy Spirit but it is one of them, right? Where in Scripture does it say that God needs our help convicting others? Where in Scripture does it say that God needs us to write nasty posts about other Christians ranting and shrieking about them being apostate? Isn’t it God who decides that?
Don’t go running to Paul and Peter either, they had a relationship. I’m not saying we shouldn’t call sin, sin or call errors into question. Where are matters of conviction? Where is the grace to disagree without making cowardly hit pieces on your webpage? Has the church really come to the place where some would have us say that John Wesley is in Hell because he believed in free will?
Show me the verse that says we will be known as disciples of Christ by our reformed doctrine! Show me the verse that says we will be known as disciples of Christ because we don’t dance, or smoke a cigar, or drink a glass of Wine! Show me the verse that says, we have to preach from a high up pulpit! Show me the verses that say we have to have church three times a week! I want to see them! Show me the verses that say we should wear a certain pattern of clothes on Sunday.
It’s amazing to watch. Don’t wear pants (if you’re a female), don’t get a tattoo, don’t have hair over your collar, don’t listen to music that might involve dancing. Who has bewitched us!!!
Now look, if you hold to some of these beliefs, I’m not saying you shouldn’t. I’m asking why do too many say that others have to. Usually this involves people on both sides of theses issues. Too often we take a matter of personal preference and turn it into some sort of litmus test for salvation.
Seriously, which is worse; to cuss or to call someone apostate–not because they don’t preach the gospel but because they have a New Year’s Eve Party with a glass of champagne?
My problem is I can show you the verses where we are told the litmus test of our faith is how well we love other people. Even people who are wrong, and are caught up in sin. I am the first to admit that I need to do better at this. I am called to love people, the Holy Spirit convicts. Why don’t we consider a lack of love to be the test of apostasy?
What happened to the Holy Spirit? When did He die? Who killed Her?