I have a hunch that many, many types of Christians (you can’t really categorize Christians by church affiliation any longer) have a worldview/belief system that has a rather tenuous hold on reality. That is, their particular belief system is not based on sound Biblical interpretation, even a nominal understanding of sound theology, or any consideration for the generally held positions of the church (including the historical church). I’ll even add “critical thinking” to that list.
To put it yet another way, many Christian “streams” have developed or adopted their particular dogma/worldview simply because it’s what they want to believe, with little consideration of truth. Many people will blame this phenomena on postmodernism, with it’s rejection of metanarrative, etc. However, the majority of people I am referring to would totally reject the label postmodern. In fact, it may be these people in particular that postmoderns are rebelling against, for they all claim to have a singular grasp on truth.
A prime example is the “left behind” crowd, those for whom the pre-trib rapture (or any rapture, for that matter) is paramount. Another such group is the “faith” movement and its subsidiaries. These people in particular have created a Matrix-like virtual world where reality is, in effect, immaterial.
These cultures create their own self-protection methods, similar to those used by individuals who have chosen to ignore reality. You might know people like this, who completely live within their own reality:
- They have an excuse for everything that goes wrong,
- They’re so busy talking that they effectively block all contrary information from coming in,
- There seems to be a belief that if something is said loud enough, or often enough, it is true.
It’s really quite amazing, and frustrating for those outside of the “game.” But, unless you’re deep inside the game, you’ll recognize these traits. For example (just in case you need any), take those of the “faith” persuasion:
- You didn’t get healed, it’s due to your lack of faith (or improper methods, or unconfessed sin, or whatever); it’s never that perhaps the theology has a few holes.
- There’s only preaching, never dialog; to question is to speak “doubt.”
- Preaching is continuously emphasizing your need to believe & act on your “faith”: “Just send this ministry $1,000 and you’ll see that God will repay you 100 times.”
The same techniques are used throughout the church in varying degrees, in books, radio, “Christian” TV, in Bible studies and sermons, and not just from “faith” people. I hear it all over the place, crazy talk from Christians making excuses for their lives and spouting more crazy talk to support the weird things they do. The “no faith” people (the “it’s all God’s will”) people do the same thing, as do the “prophetic” people, the “purpose-driven” people and the creationist people. It’s not creationism or prophecy or faith is wrong – it’s the kooky protectionist systems that grow around these things.
Here’s the deal in a nutshell, from Paul (the part of the “love chapter” that we normally ignore):
For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
Let’s stop talking like children, who talk crazy, foolish talk. Let’s get real. (It’s not really that bad.)
Note that I start the blog with, “I have a hunch…” I’m not talking about specific perspectives, (although I use a few examples), but rather how those perspectives are arrived at and maintained. If someone can support their position and discuss the various pro and con issues, such as Wimber did with his teachings on faith and healing, that’s great. If someone’s perspective is that comet Hale-Bopp is coming to take them away (ho-ho!) because some crazy man says so (in complete disregard of all other information), then yes, I’ll dismiss that as crazy talk.
A closed belief system, where you sit around with your fingers in your ears singing, “la la la, I can’t hear you” is, in my not so humble opinion, childish (per 1 Cor 13).
One my core beliefs is, as Paul said, “we know in part,” and I include myself; I am probably wrong, in part, about anything I may believe (including perhaps even 2+2=4). I may not know what reality is, but I’m trying to be open to it, as much as I can. That being said, I am probably fooling myself …
In looking for reality, it means trying to listen to and understand the perspectives of those that have gone before me and those around me. Hopefully, that minimizes the crazy talk. But, I have little patience for those who’s primary entergy goes into preserving their virtual reality system with no regard for “outside” information. Believing the world is flat when all the evidence supports a round Earth is simply crazy talk.
Underlying your evaluation, of course, is the assumption that you are outside the “game” and, unlike those you’ve labeled, know what “reality” is. They, of course, would tell you that you’re just playing a different game with its own set of rules, a game that you yourself want to believe in. By assuming that they are faulty in their thinking, you have conveniently built a different (kooky?) protectionist system around your own perspective, though you probably would call it “sound Biblical and critical thinking.” (By default, their perspectives cannot be.)
It may be better to simply say “Based on reflection, I think this way about that” rather than dismissing other perspectives as “crazy talk.” If Paul’s words above are true, we all talk crazy talk about God. It’s the best we’ve got for now.