For years, Christian writers forced pens to bleed ink on the subject of false teachers. They warned, they begged people to be ready, they called out the false teachers, and they repeated the whole thing. We often nod, hum a hymn, and don’t give it much thought.
Let me put some meat on those bones.
At church, we are rightly warned about those wool-wearing wolves but we never think of them as already here, among us, teeth bared. We mention them in a nebulous sort of way, waving our arms in that direction over yonder, but most of us never stop and wonder if they’re sitting next to us, smiling and saying “amen” during the sermon. Or maybe, arms raised, leading the singing. Or possibly, speaking, behind the pulpit.
A friend of mine, Jewish by birth, told me he was off to visit family during Passover. Unsure if I knew the history of the holiday, he told me how the Jews were slaves of Pharaoh and was rescued by God via a bunch of miracles. Then he added, “it’s all lies, anyway. Holidays are just an excuse for families to see each other.”
It got me thinking about how people seriously misdiagnose the motivations of true Christianity.
An excuse for family get-togethers? A way for people to be good to each other? Just another religion on a spectrum of beliefs?
Today, “fellowship” is a weird word. If you’ve been paying attention, you might’ve heard it in Hollywood: the Fellowship of the Ring. More often though, it’s a church word, even if it just Christian-speak for something else.
You might hear it in reference to some time at church, maybe between meetings, or perhaps on a Saturday evening, when Christians get together over snacks, coffee, a meal, a game, or a movie. Sometimes you hear some folk talking about their time hanging out with Christian friends at the golf course, saying “We had some good fellowship yesterday.” Once, a guy described to me his date from the previous night as “fellowship”. Scare quotes not intended.
It seems Christians call hanging out with unbelievers “being with friends”; if only Christians are involved it’s “fellowship”.
Some Christians, feeling that something is off, try to patch it up. Instead of a hangout time, they’ll set aside a special time. Since, they figure, koinonia (fellowship in Greek, if you care about original languages) means holding things in common with a spirit of unity then we need to grow to love each other—and that means liking one another. These special meetings will allow people to grow in knowledge and spiritual support of one another. See my rant about small groups.
I recently watched a debate, aired from the Answers in Genesis Creation Museum in Kentucky, between Ken Ham (degreed in Applied Science with an emphasis in Environmental Biology) and Bill Nye (degreed as a Mechanical Engineer and pupil of Carl Sagan). The topic for the debate was “Is Creation a viable model of origins in today’s modern scientific era?” This is important.
To make his case, Bill Nye would have to show that creationism is not a viable model at all; Ken Ham would have to show that creationism is just as viable as any model because the scientist is working in God’s world.
Mind you, right off the bat, I’m surprised that Bill Nye would agree to this topic. Any debater would simply have to show that there was no inconsistency between science and any creationist religion to win the debate.
Indeed, Bill Nye, during the Q and A session, admits that there is absolutely no inconsistency between modern science and the belief in a creator God. He does make claims about how you don’t need God for the process of evolution (calling it a process that leads to complexity from the bottom up instead of a process that leads to complexity from the top-down) but he admits no inconsistency.
On that ground, Nye would have lost the debate.
Unfortunately, from the start, the debate had nothing to do with the debate topic. Indeed, the topic strayed so far that proponents (on either side) would clamor that their position won.