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Real True

March 1, 2015

One of the interesting side issues as the world grapples with what to do about ISIS is the debate as to whether Isis is “real true” Islam.  Most Muslims, horrified by what they are seeing, want to deny that the ISIS version of their faith represents real true Islam.  President Obama also supports that view, his Republican opponents do not.

For the most part I see that discussion as an intra-Islamic theological debate that has little or nothing to say to what should be done next.  Because I have had some good friends who are Muslim I know that they, and the vast majority of Muslims, want nothing more than to live “quiet and peaceable lives.”  Were it not for the seriousness of the problem of ISIS I’d laugh at the way so many American pundits are giving their expert opinions on an issue they know nothing about.

While we have managed to avoid anything close to a Christian version of ISIS the question as to who is, and is not, a “real true” Christian is one of our favorite pastimes.  For centuries Christians have had furious debates about who is a real true believer.  Or, more accurately, have been tossing accusations that those other guys are not real true Christians.

In the present age the ease of communication, a time where guys like me can sit in their kitchens sipping coffee and send messages to the world, the real true Christian debate has been greatly magnified.  But even more, the proliferation of experts claiming to speak for the real true faith has grown.  Everyone has their favorite rock star theologian.

It seems that the prevailing belief is that there are a few, just a few, real true Christians out there.  The experts tell us that the majority of people who call themselves Christians are nothing more than liberal imposters.  The problem is that for every expert warning us about this calamity there is another expert telling us that expert #1 is the actual imposter.

I read this article at the website of Grace To You, the ministry of John MacArthur, and it seems there is a Genesis Crisis.  Apparently several dastardly people who are not “real true Christians” are trying to get you and me to deny the Word of God, or at the very least, MacArthur’s reading of Genesis 1-3.  This, we are told, is a crisis because “in an important sense, everything Scripture says about our salvation through Jesus Christ hinges on the literal truth of what Genesis 1–3 teaches about Adam’s creation and fall. There is no more pivotal passage of Scripture.”

Just who are these horrific villains?  Obviously they can’t be real true Christians, because they are trying to steal our salvation from us.  The article names three of them – N.T. Wright, Tim Keller, and Bruce Waltke.

Sigh.  Does anyone else see the irony that this accusation is posted on a web site called “Grace to You?”

I wish we could call a moratorium on the hunt for those who are not “real true Christians,” if for no other reason than that Jesus said this is not our job.  (Matthew 13:24-30).  But I doubt that this hunt will stop; there will always be self-appointed border police at the alleged boundaries of real true Christianity.

But that doesn’t mean we have to listen to them.  It doesn’t mean that we can’t chuckle at their boundaries as we watch other watchdogs building boundaries to exclude them.  For now, here is my rule of thumb:

I will probably not learn anything about the substance and beauty of our faith by listening to those who are focused on deciding on who is not a real true Christian.  In fact, they may be the least reliable examples of what real true Christianity looks like.

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From → Christianity

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