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Standards and Fences

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Standards and Fences

There are many today who like to equate having standards and guidelines as a form of legalism or Phariseeism and as contrary to the grace of God working in a person's life. The end of this equation is that anyone who advocates that others adopt standards in their lives to help keep themselves from falling into a particular sin is "adding to the Scripture" and is teaching for doctrine the commandments of men.

It seems interesting to me that the ones who I most often interact with on this type of conversation are people who have previously been in Fundamentalism, usually of the more extreme variety. It seems to me that there must be something in leaving the extremes that tends to move you towards the opposite extreme.

In one recent conversation on this topic, one individual commented (not to me) that "You don't have a supernatural religion, therefore you can't keep your thoughts pure without ‘going beyond what is written.'" Another an individual commented that "standards are a human-based solution to a deadness so profound that only God can change it" and "Standards promoters feel it is important to have faith, the correct doctrine, and the Triune Deity, but instead of actually having these things, they may only image (sic - I assume he meant imagine) that they do. The commands and wisdom of the Scriptures must be shored up where necessary by fences and rules. The Pharisees believed in this way..."

So, if I follow this reasoning, the following things are true about those who believe that having and maintaining standards can be a good thing.

1. They do not have a supernatural religion, but a fake religion.
2. Standards are "going beyond what is written" because you can't keep yourself pure with that fake religion.
3. Standards are the result of a profound deadness.
4. Standards promoters do not have faith, correct doctrine or the Triune Deity, just think they do.
5. Standards promoters do not believe in the sufficiency of Scripture.
6. Standards promoters are following the path of the Pharisees.

The reality, of course, is that numbers 1, 3, & 4 (at least are all the same thing) - those who believe in having, keeping, and encouraging others in the area of standards are lost.

I recognize that there are many groups out there who believe that keeping their standards are what makes or keeps them holy. Sadly, those individuals are severely mistaken. We do not merit grace, it is the gift of God. However, there is a large difference between having, keeping and encouraging standards and believing that it is those standards that make me right with God.

I am married. As a result of being married, there are some things that I will not do because I love my wife. There are some guidelines that I have set up so that I will not displease her (even though I am sure that there are plenty of other areas where I do displease her). I follow these things because I love Missy and I do not want to displease her, not because I believe that keeping those guidelines is all I need in order to keep my relationship with Missy what it should be.

Not only are having appropriate guidelines and standards helpful from a practical standpoint, they are also consistent with Biblical teaching about these things.

For instance, the Apostle Paul writes in Romans 13:14,

But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.

It seems to me that in order to fulfill that admonition, one must have an understanding of what types of things provide for our flesh so that we can avoid making provision for it.

Even more pointedly, Jesus Christ Himself seems to give a radical view of the seriousness of setting up fences so that we do not fall.

Notice these words of Jesus Christ,
Matthew 5:28 But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.
29 And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.
30 And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.

It seems strange to me that when someone argues, "If having unfiltered internet access causes thee to look after a woman to lust, thou shouldest get a filter on your internet rather than persist in that sin" they are viewed as being legalistic and having a false religion, when Christ says "pluck out the eye" if it causes you to stumble or "cut off that hand" if doing so will keep you from going down this pathway to sin.

Now, I recognize that the "non-standards" people will argue that "well, you are not Christ", but it seems to me that the principle from Christ is still applicable - if there is something we can do that keeps us away from those temptations (e.g. erecting a standard or a practice to avoid the problem - or "cutting off our hand"), then surely this is a wise and prudent thing to do.

Just my thoughts,

Frank

File under - Christianity, Fundamentalism

1 comments:

Andy Rupert said...

That was good, Frank. I've not had time to respond to the statements made as of yet. A busy schedule and the curent lack of internet at the church office has limited my blogging to the evenings. So, thanks for posting a reply to these problematic ideas.