“We need to be more “Christlike” in our ways” is the call of many progressive Christians over the last decade, but this ideology has an inherent danger, and it’s finding it’s way in more and more churches/congregations.
On the heels of the Methodist decision to keep the Biblical ideas of marriage (one man & one woman), we saw many take to social media stating that this decision was not based in love. Many posts stating that certain groups were “unwelcome” in certain churches flooded the feeds and a resurgence of “Christlike” ideology began to reemerge. This is nothing new and a sentiment that we often here in progressive churches found in most of the denominations across western civilization. “We need to stop hitting people over the head with the Bible and showing them the love of Jesus,” as if the two were mutually exclusive. Basically, show love and stop speaking scripture. Well, lets look at that philosophy by taking a look at two recent articles that hit Facebook around the time of the Methodist council’s decision.
Stop being “Biblical”
I came across the first post from a friend that shared it to his feed. You can read the whole thing here, but I’ll try my best to give you the TLDR (Too Long, Didn’t Read) version.
The post made some very good points, such as:
- The term “Biblical” has been used to support horrible decisions/actions
- Verses taken out of context can be used for anything
- Slavery, subjugation of women, hate, etc., can be supported by using specific passages in the Bible
Yep, I’ll agree with all of these, the Bible, if not properly understood and properly interpreted, can be used to support just about anything, but it’s in this “agreement” that we get the lie.
“But there is a simple solution: start replacing the term ‘biblical’ with the term ‘Christlike,’ because while the Bible can be manipulated to say and mean almost anything, the words, actions, and life of Jesus aren’t as pliable.” ~Mattson, S. (2019). Not Everything ‘Biblical’ Is Christlike. Sojourners. Retrieved 5 March 2019, from https://sojo.net/articles/not-everything-biblical-christlike?fbclid=IwAR1p0LovOz86kh9oMK_MvzfqCseCNGcd8CDUcURSVQpAxZrt2M-PIeeBRIw
This specific section is what I term a “pivot point.” It’s a tactic used by many, including Satan himself in the garden of Eden (Genesis 3:1-4). Basically, a truth or agreement points is laid down alongside of a lie or opposing viewpoint. It can be subtle, but when you know what to look for, they’re easy to spot. In this brief section, the author is trying to change a paradigm, by taking scripture out of the picture when discerning truth and become more “loving.” The author goes on to state:
“What is the most Christlike way?” is a goal Christians should always be pursuing. The subtle difference from ‘biblical’ to ‘Christlike’ has radical connotations. Because instead of being centered upon a text, we’re now centering our faith on the person of Christ, which is what the Bible was intended for in the first place.”
Another pivot point that will soon go into…
“For Christianity, the litmus test should always be: Is this Christlike? Imagine all of the times were read, see, and hear the term ‘biblical’ used. Now practice changing the wording to ‘Christlike’: Would you rather your church be biblical or Christlike? Would you rather a political policy be biblical or Christlike? Would you rather someone’s actions be biblical or Christlike? Would you rather have your beliefs be the most biblical or the most Christlike? Would you prefer a life that is biblical or Christlike?”
So now we come to it subtly, and it’s very subtle; we should govern our perceptions, thoughts, and actions by a rather old, but accurate phrase “what would Jesus do?”
I dare say the above post/author was most likely inspired by this author’s post on the Methodist’s website, which can be found here. Rev. James R. McCormick seems to jump right into it with this opening paragraph:
“One must be careful in using the Bible as a source of moral standards. Throughout history, the Bible has too often been used to justify one’s own moral preferences rather than to seek God’s will about human behavior. The Bible has been quoted to support slavery and segregation. The Bible continues to be used to oppose women’s work outside the home and female ordination.” ~Commentary: ‘Be careful using the Bible’ | United Methodist News Service. (2019). United Methodist News Service. Retrieved 5 March 2019, from https://www.umnews.org/en/news/commentary-be-careful-using-the-bible?fbclid=IwAR3aEbMML7VUXGfSAZQzwjtaojRFfHOvNY_sXgCRrjUCRy_zVuIdNNEDe78
Both authors basically state the same thing, that any position, even one of pure evil, can be supported by using the Bible. Yep, I agree, but up to a point. Both authors want people to study the Bible, but only as far as it agrees with certain world views that are quite…fashionable. Both posts come to a finale with these two passages.
“Unfortunately, within much of American Christendom the Bible has replaced the person of Christ as a guiding post. Thus, the love of Jesus has been replaced with legalistic doctrines that oppress the poor, immigrants, refugees, women, children, LGBTQ+ individuals, people of color, non-Christians, and many others. Everything we think, say, and do should be filtered through the question of: Is this the most Christlike? Only through the love of Christ can the religion of “Christianity” be saved — this is the ultimate truth of the Bible.”
“Almost everyone affirms close, caring relationships between men and between women. We become concerned only when the sexual component is added. Why? All close relationships are much more than sexual. Even heterosexual marriage is about friendship, mutuality and caring. We should wrestle with the reality that close, same-sex friendships are applauded; it is only when the sexual component is added that we become concerned. Again, why? Why not have the same moral standards for same-gender relationships as for heterosexual relationships: no promiscuity, no coercion, no insensitivity. Instead, seek commitment, faithfulness, mutual sensitivity, caring and support. Who does that hurt? Instead, it treats all people as persons of equal worth, as children of God, and encouraged to enjoy mutually affirming, intimate, helpful relationships with others.”
Now, if you lean more towards a progressive view of the Bible/Christianity, they you’ll resonate with the above paragraphs and if you go to the sites, you’ll most likely come away with “what’s Robert’s problem? Does he not understand what they are trying to say?”
Um…Jesus said what now??!!!
So, what does it mean to be more “Christlike?” How would Jesus view the interpretation methods employed by “hateful Christians?” Well, let’s start with a hard truth, and that is, Jesus would tell us, all of us, to get to know Him more as well as the “love letter” (The Bible) that He inspired numerous authors to write down over the course of 1500 years. Yes, Jesus would have a problem with how some justify their actions with scripture (I coined the phrase “twisted-scripture”).
But, Jesus would not approve of gay-marriage and He want’s us to use Scripture to test everything.
If I have an idea in my head about something, the first thing I do, and it’s been working training myself to do, is test that idea against the light of scripture.
“and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.” ~2 Timothy 3:15-17
So, in a nutshell, I’m supposed to go to the owner’s manual if I have any questions/doubts about my mindset and actions. If you are thinking, “well where do I start,” well, start with Google and put alongside your questions “Bible”, “Scripture” and that’ll get you started, but nothing beats or compares to cracking the Good Book. As Christians, we are to test everything in light of scripture and sometimes that means that the things that seem and feel right might not be right. We are to be in a constant state of reprogramming (Romans 12:2) and not give in to the things around us that lie all the time (1 John 4:1-6).
Now, about Jesus…
Jesus had a lot to say about things and I will tell you this, He talked about stuff that most of the progressive Christians wouldn’t like at all. For example:
- You’re always have poor people (John 12:8)
- I’m not a peacemaker (Matthew 10:34)
- Some of you ain’t my kids (John 8:44)
…and Jesus goes on to say quite a bit more “un-Christlike” stuff that you can read here.
Oh, yeah, He really advocated church discipline (Matthew 18:15-17), even going so far as to kick people out if they didn’t straighten up.
Still want to be “Christlike?”
The idea of being “Christlike” is a good one, and one that all Christians should adopt. The articles make a lot of good points. I will say that “being Christlike” has taken on it’s own set of parameters based upon the perspective of the individual who uses that phrase. Understanding one of, if not the main foundations of Christ (I have come to do the will of my Father – John 6:38) is to understand that if we are to move to being conformed to the image of Christ (Romans 8:29-30), and that means we are to be conformed wholly, which includes doing the will of God, which is found throughout the Bible, and sadly, many people who claim to be “Christ-like” often ignore this fact.