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Arguably the Best Argument against Christianity

April 29, 2016

I’m a pastor, so you might be surprised to see me dishing out arguments against the faith I preach every Sunday… And that’s not really my purpose. I just want to vent my frustration with a particular problem with the Christian church, and in my opinion, this is by far the best argument against it.

I’m talking about division and disunity, and the fact that separate branches of the Church can end up calling each other heretics, even though they both proclaim Jesus. That can’t be right!

This lament was brought on by the discovery a couple of days ago that some evangelicals consider Bethel Church (Redding, California) heretical – claiming they mix New Age / occult concepts into their theology, and their Jesus isn’t the Jesus of the Bible. Others endorse their ministry of healing and miracles as obviously part of what God is doing today. Who is right? They can’t be both heretics and anointed by God!

Quite a few (if not most) churches believe in supernatural healing, but quite a few others don’t. Some (like Bethel) say God wants to heal everyone, and that it’s wrong to say God uses illnesses and suffering for his purposes. Others claim that on the contrary, it’s that belief that is heretical…

Or what about people falling over when prayed for in church – is it the Holy Spirit or an unholy spirit that is at work? One thing is certain: it can’t be both – but how do I know which it is, when there are godly men and women on either side of that divide?

Here’s my problem: if Bethel is heretical, then a large number of well-meaning, Bible-believing Christians are deceived and deluded into idolatrous worship and involvement with evil spirits. If they are ministering in the power of the Spirit, why don’t more of us experience similar things? And what about those sincere Christians who refuse to believe that this could possibly be from God – if they are wrong, are they not in danger of unwittingly blaspheming against the Spirit?

Israel is another stressful issue. There are Christians who are convinced that the creation of the state of Israel and the ongoing regathering of Jews to the Promised Land is a mighty move of God, prophesied in the Old Testament and confirmed by prophetic words and various kinds of miracles. Others are equally convinced that God has nothing to do with today’s state of Israel, and all OT prophecies about a “return” were fulfilled when Israel returned from Babylon some 2500 years ago.

Whoever is right, a large part of the Christian church is seriously mistaken about what God is doing in the world today:

If the “pro-Israel” party are right, those who disagree are denying that God is doing something he is in fact doing, and ignoring something they should probably be supporting. On the other hand, if the “Israel sceptics” are right, false prophecies are being presented as words from God, and Christian money is being wasted on an endeavour that isn’t part of God’s plan.

In either case, lots of genuine, honest followers of Jesus are deceived. This seriously disturbs me. God seems to allow his children to get important things seriously wrong, and I don’t understand it. Why doesn’t the Holy Spirit create a stronger and deeper unity amongst those who proclaim Jesus as their Lord and Saviour?

I realise that the pat answer is that “some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits” (1 Tim 4:1) and we should just “stick to the Bible”; obviously that’s what I always try to do. But that doesn’t really answer my question: why isn’t it clear to all Spirit-filled, Bible-believing Christians what constitutes “abandoning the faith”?

I’m very disturbed by the thought that churches and Christians might be so seriously misguided and mistaken that they are not actually part of God’s true Church, which would mean that their members are actually unsaved, despite calling on the name of Jesus for salvation. If that’s the case, how do I know that I’m not equally mistaken in my “balanced” evangelicalism? Who can then be sure that they are saved?

I would like to conclude by stating that I believe anyone who believes that Jesus the Son of God died for their sins and rose from the dead is saved, regardless of how wrong they are on other issues. But even if that is so, my question remains: why does God allow his people to get things so terribly wrong, to the point of following deceiving spirits?

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From → Christianity, Faith, Jesus

One Comment
  1. Very valid questions, ones to which I do not have the answer. But what we do know is that God gives us a will and we are tasked with training our minds to follow the Spirit. Getting things right and wrong are part of the walk. But we have assurance that if we have faith in Jesus, it is a sign that the Spirit is living in us and we are sealed. I think much of the controversies out there are over things that are unimportant. Not unimportant in that God cares nothing abut them or that we shouldn’t endeavor to discover the truth of them, just that divisions form over things that miss Christ. I’ve seen churches broken apart over a woman being allowed to speak in it. Is there a right and wrong answer? Probably. But the resulting division is of the devil not God. I had a guy comment on one of my posts about salvation, and though both of us are Christians and have Christian blogs, I had to keep calling him down on his hostile spirit. God doesn’t give us the answers to everything, and some answers He gives but we miss the truth, but if He made us do it all according to His will, wouldn’t we be unsatisfactory worshipers?

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