Two Talents

Faith-based expressions of a Christian.

Take your militancy elsewhere

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I avoid militants as much as I can, and by militants I mean dictators, despots, political zealots and so on. Within that list would also be found religious militants. Sadly, religious militants (who are almost always legalists) pollute the faith in a wide array of areas.

There exists one known as the Authorized Militant. This is the King James Only advocate who believes that the King James version of the bible (aka “Authorized Version”) is the only true and proper word of God in English. The most intense of this bunch claims it to be the only true and proper word of God in any language, with some even claiming it supersedes ancient Greek texts that differ from it. The most zealous among them also will claim that if you use another translation of the bible you are not saved. In my experiences with this crowd I have found them to not only be militant, but at least somewhat unhinged, angry, judgmental and puffed up with righteous grandeur. They engage in a jihad against any and all bible translations other than the Authorized Version.

I have weighed the arguments of this bunch, as well as the responses to their arguments and the results are that I find the King James only crowd to be not only militant, but guilty of heresy. Now, for those who use the King James for sane reasons (i.e. they simply like it, or it’s all they’ve ever used and are thus comfortable with it) I have no complaint. That’s your choice. I don’t care for the King James because it uses an archaic form of English that we do not speak today (nor have we for centuries). Because of this, many of the words in the King James are either no longer commonly used or do not mean now what they meant in the 1600’s. However, that is merely my opinion, and if yours is different we can still co-exist peacefully. Unless you are a militant King James radical, in which case we have nothing to discuss.

There exists another militant whose indignation is aimed at outward appearance. This is an area where common sense and godly discernment should prevail, but that is not always the case. The Appearance Militant believes that there are certain rules that apply at all times and across the board. For instance, women should never wear skirts that show their knees (or anything above the knee). Or that they should not wear jewelry or makeup, or otherwise accessorize themselves. There is a line that can be crossed here to be sure, but applying inflexible rules results in legalism. There are two superb posts on the Pyromaniacs blog on this topic by Frank Turk and Dan Phillips.

The Appearance Militant usually does double duty as a Fun Militant too. The Fun Militant believes it wrong, perhaps even outright sin, to engage in certain behaviors. Consuming alcohol, watching movies (the film adaptation of “Left Behind” being an exception), listening to secular music, dancing, playing cards and more are the stepping stones to hell in the minds of this crowd. Again, common sense and godly discernment should prevail here. Drunkenness is wrong, Christians shouldn’t be watching movies rife with nudity or swearing, some secular music should be avoided and certain forms of dancing are lewd and gambling is not a proper use of your finances. But it is legalism to dismiss every one of these things as inherently sinful.

I truly enjoy beer. In fact, I brew my own from time to time and even consider myself something of a beer snob. But I know where to draw the line with beer. I also enjoy secular music, even (gasp!) rock and roll. And why not? Please explain to me why “Manic Depression” by Jimi Hendrix is leading me to hell? And family gatherings often include games of Canasta or Euchre. How is that sinful?

There are too the militants who concern themselves with language. I’m not speaking of so-called “Grammar Nazis” (something I have been termed by some because of my belief in literacy) but of those Christians who take offense at any word that outrages them. The bible warns that what emanates from the mouth shows the condition of the heart, and Jesus told us to not engage in coarse language. The Language Militant takes this to extremes. They would be outraged by me telling a person they were behaving “like an ass”. Why? Because “ass” is a swear word! They fail to grasp that in that context I would be comparing someone’s behavior to a donkey (or, dare I say it…a jackass), which is to say that they are behaving with exceeding stubbornness or irrational resistance. I won’t go further with the analysis of the Language Militant because it bores me. I will offer this: if you encounter a Language Militant who uses the King James bible, ask them to read Isaiah 36:12 out loud. I suppose that would be taunting them, which is not proper Christian behavior, but it would be humorous.

Ah, humor. It is something the religious militant lacks. Religious militants seldom smile, rarely laugh and view living their faith in Jesus Christ as a deadly serious endeavor. I would never suggest that our faith is to be taken lightly, but the Christian is certainly free to enjoy life. In fact, a joyous life in Christ is one of the best means of sharing the good news. We have all known at least one Christian who always seemed to be in a good mood, was forever smiling and generally enjoyable to be around. They are a great testimony to the Lord. We have also known at least one religious militant who is dour, does not smile and is not pleasant to be around. You might even see more of the latter than the former, which would be truly sad.

Solomon, more wise than any of us, wrote Ecclesiastes. In the final chapter of the book he wrote: “The conclusion, when all has been heard, is: fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person.” That’s sound preaching. So too is this…

For whoever is joined with all the living, there is hope; surely a live dog is better than a dead lion. For the living know they will die; but the dead do not know anything, nor have they any longer a reward, for their memory is forgotten.

Indeed their love, their hate and their zeal have already perished, and they will no longer have a share in all that is done under the sun.

Go then, eat your bread in happiness and drink your wine with a cheerful heart; for God has already approved your works.

Let your clothes be white all the time, and let not oil be lacking on your head.

Enjoy life with the woman whom you love all the days of your fleeting life which He has given to you under the sun; for this is your reward in life and in your toil in which you have labored under the sun. {Ecc. 9:4-9}

Life is too short to spend it smothered in the legalism of militants.

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Written by Shawn

March 16, 2010 at 3:24 pm

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