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Biblical authority

On keeping your religious opinions to yourself…

Through talking with Christians it is often insinuated that we need be quieter and keep our beliefs to ourselves as to not cause unneeded quarrel.  They often quote verses that talk about not judging others, looking at the plank in our own eyes, and casting the first stone if you are without sin.  Although these are all perfectly applicable scriptures, I think the interpretation that we should NEVER speak up to others and keep our faith to ourselves is incorrect in light of other scriptures.  I don’t think there is anything wrong with interpreting scriptures, but I think the number one rule in doing so is to be sure your personal interpretation aligns with all other scriptures.

The first major problem I see with thinking that we should keep our faith to ourselves and never “preach” to others is the obvious Biblical call and example of missionary work.  Jesus told us to go into “all the world” spreading the news.  You can’t minister to someone else without technically inferring that they are a sinner.  If you think we are never to offend anyone with our beliefs, then missionary work is out of the question.  You are free to hold this position, but it is obviously not compatible with the Bible.  Now it just depends on how willing you are to go against the word of God to hold to your position!

Now, that first point should cause a person to change their opinion, but if not; here are some more verses that are extremely difficult to reconcile with that position:

2 Timothy 3:16 (NIV) – “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.”

1 Peter 3:15 (NIV) – “But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect”

Colossians 4:6 (NIV) – “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.”  –  (‘salt’ being the key word here)

Matthew 18: 15-20 gives us an undeniable layout of how one should confront a known sinner, from the lips of Jesus himself –   

 If your brother sins go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother.  But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that by the mouth of two or three witnesses every fact may be confirmed.  If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church

Also keep in mind that whenever Jesus was challenged on an issue, the first thing he did was quote scripture constantly saying “it is written”.  He verified that scripture is extremely important in defending our faith.  Eventually he was put to death for these radical stances.  Apparently he was not afraid of offending others, and if the word of God is true and trustworthy – neither should we. 

The thing is we are all sinners.  Yes, we are not to go around judging others and constantly calling people out on their sinners while we are yet sinners ourselves, but that does not mean we should remain silent and keep our amazing grace to ourselves!  If this is your interpretation of Christianity, perhaps you need to meditate on the verses above, as well as consider your stance on missionary work, and the example of Christ himself.  God bless.

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About Tim

http://www.gracewithsalt.com

Discussion

8 thoughts on “On keeping your religious opinions to yourself…

  1. I agree. But this should be balanced against Augustine’s warning:

    “Usually, even a non-Christian knows something about the earth, the heavens, and the other elements of this world, about the motion and orbit of the stars and even their size and relative positions, about the predictable eclipses of the sun and moon, the cycles of the years and the seasons, about the kinds of animals, shrubs, stones, and so forth, and this knowledge he hold to as being certain from reason and experience. Now, it is a disgraceful and dangerous thing for an infidel to hear a Christian, presumably giving the meaning of Holy Scripture, talking nonsense on these topics; and we should take all means to prevent such an embarrassing situation, in which people show up vast ignorance in a Christian and laugh it to scorn. The shame is not so much that an ignorant individual is derided, but that people outside the household of faith think our sacred writers held such opinions, and, to the great loss of those for whose salvation we toil, the writers of our Scripture are criticized and rejected as unlearned men. If they find a Christian mistaken in a field which they themselves know well and hear him maintaining his foolish opinions about our books, how are they going to believe those books in matters concerning the resurrection of the dead, the hope of eternal life, and the kingdom of heaven, when they think their pages are full of falsehoods and on facts which they themselves have learnt from experience and the light of reason? Reckless and incompetent expounders of Holy Scripture bring untold trouble and sorrow on their wiser brethren when they are caught in one of their mischievous false opinions and are taken to task by those who are not bound by the authority of our sacred books. For then, to defend their utterly foolish and obviously untrue statements, they will try to call upon Holy Scripture for proof and even recite from memory many passages which they think support their position, although they understand neither what they say nor the things about which they make assertion.”

    Not that Christians should never talk about science–but only to make sure we understand it well before we do. 😛

    Posted by joecoder7 | June 25, 2012, 5:47 pm
  2. I think it’s important to spread the news obviously, but how we’re doing it needs to be carefully looked at. Jesus told us not to judge others, so we shouldn’t. God’s the only one who can judge fairly anyway. If people want to know what to believe, they ask. I don’t think it’s right to give out an unprovoked sermon to people who don’t want to hear it. Not only will it do no good, it will make your religion look bad. If you’re trying to draw more people towards your beliefs, making yourself look bad is the worst thing you can do. Secondly, the focus shouldn’t be on what they’re doing wrong. It should be about love. That’s god’s main focus anyway. If you’re going to preach to somebody, tell them about how god loves them no matter what they’ve done or who they are. Telling them they’re sinning or that they’re doing wrong will just draw them away. They can learn what they’ve been doing wrong for themselves, you just need to show them god’s love to start with, to get them interested in exploring deeper. That being said, the best way to show god’s love is to just be a great example of it. If you are able to be an example of Jesus’s influence in your life, people will notice. It’s simply the best way to get people to see what kind of difference following Jesus can make. You can’t force anybody to believe what you believe. They have to come to those decisions for themselves. So you should find a way to present your beliefs and your religion in the best way possible, to make it look like something they would want to look into, not something they fear or something they are ashamed to be associated with. Being judgmental turns people away. Preaching a literal interpretation of genesis makes you look scientifically ignorant. And preaching an anti gay message makes people hate Christianity with a passion. It’s fine to have the beliefs you have, but you need to consider whether preaching about them helps or hurts your cause.

    Posted by Andy Gilleand | June 25, 2012, 7:23 pm
    • You are seeming to say that we should only respond when asked, but that doesn’t seem to align with Jesus’s commandment to preach to ALL nations. How do you reconcile that? Yes, I agree there is definitly a way to preach without constantly condeming. But just like I said even preaching to someone that “they need Jesus” implies they are a lost, sinner who is going to hell. The condemnation is unavoidable in any type of evangelism. My literal interpretation of Genesis and stance on homosexuality would definitly not be an opening message to someone, that message is directed at a very specific audience – normally those who are already Christians but compromise the scriptures with their beliefs (IMO).

      Posted by Tim | June 25, 2012, 7:35 pm
      • I think you can preach to all nations while only preaching to those who ask. For that I’m specifically talking active preaching, like with words and scripture and all that. Otherwise you can preach without words by being a great example of how Christ changed your life. If you’re a good enough example, people will notice, and it might influence them to consider their beliefs, or even ask you about it. I also agree that “you need Jesus” is not a good way to put it, as it does sound judgmental. There are other ways.

        Also, even if you’re only preaching your controversial opinions to other christians, you are turning them away as well. Some christians will see what you post, and be appalled by Christianity. Either that, or they will take your posts as “believe this or you’re not really a christian” and since they can’t allow themselves to believe how you believe, it forces them to abandon their beliefs entirely. So because of how controversial your beliefs are, preaching them can be very dangerous, not only for your own reputation, but for the reputation of Christianity as a whole. These are the topics that are so controversial that people have made their minds up about them. You’re not going to convince anybody otherwise. So you just end up making yourself and Christianity look worse because of it. I prefer preaching what matters most, and leaving the more controversial topics and allow people to come up with their own conclusions.

        Posted by Andy Gilleand | June 25, 2012, 8:32 pm
        • > think you can preach to all nations while only preaching to those who ask

          Well, I think that is an extremely loose interpretation of the great commission, and violated by Jesus and his disciple’s own examples.

          >you can preach without words by being a great example of how Christ changed your life

          Absolutly. I agree. That is a must at all times.

          >if you’re only preaching your controversial opinions to other christians

          Well, this post right here had nothing to do with my “controversial opinions”.

          >believe this or you’re not really a christian

          I’ve never said that. I have said if you don’t hold to my interpretation then your beliefs are inconsistent. But no matter what interpretation you hold as to the age of the earth you are saved. I just feel your testimony is tattered by your inconsistencies.

          >forces them to abandon their beliefs entirely

          Well, that’s not the goal at all. The goal is to expose inconsistencies and build a stronger testimony and more defendable faith. Of course I can’t control others reactions.

          >allow people to come up with their own conclusions

          And this is what a bulk of our churches do, and they are successful … why? Because of course – people don’t like to be told what to do and what not to do! Oooh – I can go to a church where they just teach love and acceptance of everything under the sun… sign me up! The Bible doesn’t work like that. Jesus is exclusive. He says there is “one way” and if someone is out of line to “call them out” on it. He did, and his disciples did.

          As a seasoned Christian I sometimes get tired of the same old-same old sermons about “loving our neihbor” and “God is love” and “salvation”. I know that stuff. I was at a point in my life where I needed more substance. Then I learned from school about teaching “in the milieu”. Basically means teaching things that actually affect people on a day by day basis. The things I stand up for are things that affect Christians and have been cited as major reasons why people leave Christianity. The only way to combat that is to stand up and say “don’t leave, we have answers for those issues, answers that don’t require compromising scripture”.

          Posted by Tim | June 25, 2012, 9:12 pm
          • >Well, this post right here had nothing to do with my “controversial opinions”.

            I thought it was relevant, as you’re talking about the issue of preaching to people who don’t want to hear it, and I think it’s very relevant that you continue to preach things on this blog that many people, including christians, don’t want to hear.

            >I’ve never said that. I have said if you don’t hold to my interpretation then your beliefs are inconsistent.

            In your opinion. I’ve already stated with very good reason how it’s not inconsistent. You can take that or leave it, but you can’t just flat out assert that certain beliefs are inconsistent with the rest of the bible. You can state that you believe they might be, but these things are controversial for a reason. Christians can not come up with a collective consensus on them. Both sides believe what they believe, and believe they have reasons for why their beliefs are consistent with the bible. It all depends on how you interpret the scripture. Because there is no consensus on the issue, I find it’s best to leave those particular issues for people to decide what they believe on their own. There’s plenty of other things in the bible to talk about.

            >Well, that’s not the goal at all.

            Well that’s what’s happening. If your message drives more people away than it attracts, you’re doing something wrong.

            Posted by Andy Gilleand | June 25, 2012, 9:29 pm
  3. I should add that it’s perfectly fine to talk about the controversial issues when they’re asked about. I just don’t think they’re a good idea to bring up or preach about considering they’re more likely to turn people away from religion than attract them.

    Posted by Andy Gilleand | June 25, 2012, 9:34 pm

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