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God causes all things to work together for good, for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose...

Throughout my life, in all its ups and downs, this has been the one constant truth I can confess.
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« A Darwinian Nightmare | Main | This Is MY Kind of Navy »

April 30, 2007


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I think, as you know, that I have had the "no true Scotsman" fallacy dropped on me any one of a number of times. Y'know, I post something angry about Fred Phelps and people say, "Oh, he's not a true Christian." And then they quote some part of the Bible that says that behavior like Phelp's is bad, but on Phelp's website he has lots of quotations that support his position.

Or are you not talking about people like Fred "God hates fags" Phelps? Because, as far as I can tell, he doesn't blaspheme in the Holy Spirit's name, believes in the Apostle's Creed and things of that nature.

I think that if you base what a "true Christian" is on statements of faith, you're going to run into the same problem you're having, now. (Because, after all, what defines a Christian now is a statement of faith.) It is my feeling if you want to create a "true Christian" movement, it would have to be based on deeds, not faith.

I also think that'd be impossible. The worst you could do, after all, is kick someone out of your church -- and then they'd just go start their own, calling themselves Christians and denouncing the people who threw them out of the other church. I think we've all seen this happen. ;)

Christians have just as much right to be idiots as non-Christians.

I hold no common cause with Fred & their methods. I also don't hold with bombing abortion clinics. However there is a difference between the two. Fred & his crew, as far as I know, have not resorted to violence. As long as they do so, strictly speaking, a case can be made that they are not absolutely out of theological bounds to be called Christian.

Romans 9 tells us that "Jacob have I loved, Esau I have hated." Theologically there is a case for God hating all unrepentant sinners - those who do evil and call it good most of all, something that Fred & his crew may be failing to note.

Fred & crew are guilty of myopia. God hates unrepentant homosexuals in the same way he hates unrepentant liars and unrepentant adulterers, and unrepentant gossips. The standards are pretty high.

So, all I am saying is that I pretty much ignore folks like Fred on both sides of the picket lines. I ignored the Homosexual pickets in San Francisco when they made the news a couple of weeks back.

Like I said - there are enough idiots on both side of the argument to go around. The only hope we have is for people of principle to speak fairly and respectfully about the issues. I happen to think it is possible.

OK, then, where does the line get drawn? I mean, I'm actually not particularly worried about Christians who are, say, murderers or arsonists. The law will take care of them, after all. So, I'm wondering -- if Phelps and his crew don't quality as people falsely proclaiming Christianity -- what does qualify? Is it only when a Christian descends into violence that it is clear they're preaching falsely?

And what violence counts? Does proclaiming war count? Or the execution of criminals? Does a state have the power to transform violence into acceptable by Christianity?

Re; o, I'm wondering -- if Phelps and his crew don't quality as people falsely proclaiming Christianity -- what does qualify? Is it only when a Christian descends into violence that it is clear they're preaching falsely?

Two main headings distinguish a Christian from a Non-Christian: orthodox profession of faith & a life style consistent with that profession.

Under the latter heading - the major feature is not sinlessness but repentance which leads to change. The so-called thief on the cross (probably a murderer or terrorist) was accepted by Christ into His Kingdom, not because he was sinless but because he repented.

Christianity is about God's grace to unworthy sinners. It is not about earning our way into heaven by doing good things and avoiding evil things. When rightly explained, as Paul says, the natural question arises - Should I sin more that grace may abound more? The answer is no but it is not a trivial question.

With regard to your primary point though... when a person dons the Christian label and professes to follow Christ, then the major distinguishing characteristic ought to be humility in the face of their own sin. This is where folks like Phelps, IMO, fall short.

I believe homosexual practices are sinful and therefore to be repented of by those who are inclined in that direction. We do not differentiate between those who need to repent of that sin and those who need to repent of adultery, pornography, pedophilia, spouse abuse, or any of a thousand other egregious behaviors.

A person can be a Christian and yet justly be punished for behavior inconsistent with that Christianity. A man who kills in a fit of passion and in true remorse repents of that sin may very well be sentenced to death and yet remain a Christian.

So, long answer - the point that distinguishes "true" Christians from those who are not is a humility before their own sin. Sometimes pride takes a while to break and if it is significant enough can lead to excommunication - whatever the sin that prompted it.

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