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Theological Dart Throwing

There is an effort in your world to injure you, to diminish your faith in God, and to damage your belief in Christ as your Savior. Whether this effort to diminish your faith is intentional or accidental is not the issue of this essay. The issue of this essay is not the intent of the dart thrower's but the tactics and arguments used by them.

Make no mistake they are throwing poisoned tipped darts at those of us who are Christian believers. They are not throwing darts at each other. The dart throwers are quick to pick the splinters out of our eyes, even when they are totally blind themselves. The dart throwers make it incredibly difficult to love them because they use our openness and caring to draw us in, set us up, only to delight in knocking us down. Remember that we are engaged in a spiritual war. In this war, they are in attack mode, while we should never be in a mode to attack them. We are to attack their behavior and their moral failings. Yet, we must understand one very clear method of the dart thrower. They will interpret that every attack upon their moral failings as an attack against them in a personal way. Everything we do, is, and will be, used against us. Here are some of their theological darts and an expose' regarding their attacks.

Once Saved Always Saved

The dart throwers love to bring this matter up. Whether you adhere to this theology is not of importance in this essay. What is important is that you understand fully the actions of God, and see the realities of salvation. The word we use to describe a sinner who has repented and accepted Christ is the word "saved". The word "saved" is not, and should not be, a reminder we write to ourselves on a sticky note and paste on our forehead. The saved person is not saved by placing or hanging a sandwich board over themselves with the word "saved" painted on it. The dart throwers minimize the "once saved always saved" theological position by relegating salvation to a label an individual affixes to themselves. The dart throwers also like to find examples of persons who claim salvation who then go on to lead a continually sin-filled life. To defend against this "once saved always saved" dart, we must show others that salvation is an act of God's love and mercy. We must witness to others that we can do nothing to deserve or merit God's saving grace that saves us. We must always show others that our salvation is possessed by us only by our willingness to surrender our life to Christ. It is important to remember that a truly and totally surrendered life to Christ cannot be taken back because the old life is gone. You have heard of persons who claim they have been saved many times at church, revival services, or in various church settings. The dart throwing skeptics, agnostics, and atheists find their ammunition not in persons who truly surrendered their all for Christ but from those persons who wrote "saved" on a sticky note and stuck the note on their forehead. When the first gust of wind blows, the sticky note falls off and the person has to go back and get another note at the next opportunity. Claiming salvation does not make it so.

Those Who Have Not Heard Of Christ Will Not Be Saved

This dart is used to try to demonstrate that God is not loving, kind, and merciful. If you buy the spoken or unspoken premise that those who have not heard of Christ are doomed then the dart thrower can make the case that God does not love is, is not kind, is not caring, and is not merciful. What the dart thrower is trying to do is find a reason not to believe in Christ themselves as well as find reasons for others not to believe. Since God is, according to this dart thrower, always waiting and always wanting to burn everyone, especially the sinners who have not heard of Christ, God can be mocked. The dart throwers adroitly avoid confronting the mercy of Christ hanging on the Cross and uttering the words "Father forgive them for they know not what they do" (Luke 23:34).

Another variation of the dart throwers attempt to injure is to minimize and mock Christ's words "by me". Notice in Matthew 7:21 Jesus uses the word "only". Dart throwers often like to take the word "only" from verse 21 and insert the word "only" in John 10:9 to misquote John 10:9 to read "only by me if any man". The dart throwers also like to totally minimize the meaning of John 14:6. When all spiritual content of John 14:6 is removed we do see how a hateful and vengeful God is ready to enforce this spiritual law devoid of spiritual content, compassion, and love. However, God is love, not hate. In this context, as in all others, God is the ultimate judge of who is righteous and who is not.

Matthew 7:21"Not everyone who says to me, `Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. (NIV)

John10:9 I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture. (NIV)

John 14:6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. (KJV)

John 14:6 Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7 If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him." (NIV)

You Do Your Thing, I'll Do Mine
Live And Let Live

We can rewrite the above quotes by the dart throwers into what the dart thrower actually means. What the dart throwers actually mean is "You do your Christian thing, and I'll do my less than or un-Christian sin thing". We must not be deceived by the dart thrower's appeal to freedom to live as they want. Yes, every person is free to do as they please but in this reality, we cannot live without laws. Laws are written and enforced because people commit sins. We have local, state, federal, and now international laws. We also have moral or spiritual laws. Everyone is free to do anything he or she pleases, and can be as immoral as they want or sin as much as they want. However, in this world, there are consequences. What the dart throwers really want and really do is to attack us because we are anti-sin. The dart throwers accuse us of being anti-freedom by saying we want to impose our moral code on their behavior. Yes, we do want to impose our moral code on others if they are child molesters, wife or husband beaters, drunk drivers, thieves, embezzlers, rapists, murders, terrorists, and all other kinds of persons who would destroy the lives of others. In the end, even the dart throwers want us to impose our moral code on the destroyers of lives. The dart thrower can rape, plunder, steal and beg us to let him or her live and let live. Yet, if someone comes into the home of the dart thrower to rape, plunder, and steal, living and let living is suddenly not such a good idea. What the dart thrower wants most of all is to live a sin-filled life and not to have to resist temptation or follow a moral code that calls for resisting sinful acts. No matter how many arguments the dart thrower puts up, the bottom line for him or her is that these persons want the freedom to sin with no penalty. Unfortunately, there is always a penalty for sinful acts. Unfortunately, for the other people in the life of the sinful dart thrower, there is a penalty for them too. A child whose mother or father commits sinful acts, even in private, pays a heavy emotional, spiritual, and intellectual price.

The Random Thought, Incoherent Attack, And Half-truth

The darkness espoused by the dart thrower, benign as they might want to make the darkness sound, this darkness must be sustained by half-truths or full blown lies. In attacking Christians, the use of the half-truth is used quite often to intimidate, mock, or injure. An example of the use of the half-truth is the use of former TV evangelist Jim Baker as an example of one of us. The dart throwers delight in citing Baker's downfall. The full truth of Jim Baker's story is that he repented of his wrongdoing and wrote a book entitled "I Was Wrong".

If the dart thrower knows that they cannot attack us on any kind of moral high ground, they will go incoherent in making arguments against us. In citing the case for legalizing marijuana, the dart thrower will say things as "Everyone does it or wants to do it". This is not a coherent thought.

The dart thrower will attack us for opposing their sinful life and call us mean spirited, cruel, unkind, and uncaring.

Conclusion

What are we to do? We are to love them. No matter how much they might attack us, mock us, persecute us, or defame us, we are to love them unconditionally. Will we win their souls? In a few cases, yes. The conscience of the dart thrower is often vacant. Some of them have little conscience left. However, what conscience they do have we must try to nurture. Always, always, always, we must try to witness to them about Christ's redeeming love.

 

 

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Scripture quotations marked (NIV) are taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations marked (RSV) are taken from the HOLY BIBLE, Revised Standard Version of the Bible, Copyright © 1952 [2nd edition, 1971] by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


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Shepherd's Care Ministries author and webmaster, Rev. Patrick Kelly, is affiliated through ministerial ordination with Church of God Ministries, Anderson IN 46018