Who is on the Lord’s side?
If you are my age or older, or if you go to a church that believes in singing only old hymns, you probably know that phrase is from, well, an old hymn. I’ve always felt the question was rather odd. It seems we have two choices here. Am I on God’s side? Or Satan’s side? Hmmm…God? Or Satan? I think I will go with God. It certainly seems the wiser choice.
Yet the question keeps getting asked over and over. Somebody somewhere touts a position that he or she confidently declares to be God’s side and challenges us all to follow. The implication is clear, if you disagree with me, you disagree with the God of the Bible. For example, I’ve read the works of a man who, in his own words, is an “authority on Biblical manhood.” I am serious, he actually claims that title but I’ve chosen not to link to him because more often than not it seems to me that he spouts sheer nonsense. Which would, of course, make him believe that I’ve chosen the wrong side. But he is just one of countless people who have staked out their “Biblical” ground and called it God’s side.
Earlier this week I wrote about a well-known Bible scholar who confidently declared that Charismatics were following demons, not the Holy Spirit. Equally well-known Biblical scholars who happen to be Charismatic declared him wrong. Who is right? Well, each is sure they are 100% Biblical but they can’t agree. How do we discover God’s side?
But it gets worse. This week I read a thoughtful article by Southern Baptist Russell Moore urging his fellow Baptists to set aside the political culture war approach to issues they care about. This came on the heels of another thoughtful article by Southern Baptist Albert Mohler citing a speech given at BYU urging Mormon’s to fight the “clear and present danger” in society by doubling down on the culture war. In his speech he makes clear that, while he doesn’t believe Mormons are going to heaven with him, he feels they need to be ready to go to jail with him. Which of these Baptist theologians is right? Is on God’s side?
And on it goes. This week Mark Driscoll came out strongly against Christian pacifists, confidently declaring that “Jesus is not a pansy…” I spent some time looking for evidence that there are Christian pacifists out there who think Jesus is a pansy but came up empty. If you know of such an article, please send me the link. In any event, I am challenged to be on God’s side because in the end “Some of those whose blood will flow as high as the bit in a horse’s mouth for 184 miles will be those who…wrongly teach that Jesus was a pacifist.”
I could probably find more examples of this sort of stuff but my typing fingers, both of them, are getting tired. The list of people who tell me I must agree with them, not only on every theological issue but also how to respond to them, is endless. Dire warnings of failing to be on God’s side abound. What is the danger of this endless squabble? Here are a few:
– It makes us look like disagreeable idiots. If all we do is shoot darts are each other how can we expect to appeal to those outside the internal warfare?
– It undermines the concept of an inerrant Bible. How stupid do we look when we shout that the Bible is the inspired Word of God but can’t agree on what it teaches?
– It stomps on grace. To me, grace is the trump card in Christianity. It declares the absolute love of God, recognizes the sinfulness of man, and gives us our only sure hope for reconciliation. It is by showing grace to each other and to the world, above all else, that we can demonstrate the love of Christ.
Or, I suppose we can just sit here singing that we are on the Lord’s side.