Presumption not Faith

Presumption not Faith April 7, 2020

From stories like these (here, here, and here), one could credibly assert that certain parts of the Christian church (evangelical/fundamentalist/Pentecostal) and their pastoral leadership are guilty of theological malpractice.

While we might shake our heads at the profound ignorance and lack of wisdom displayed by the people in these stories, we should remember they are simply navigating by what their pastors and leaders are teaching them. As for the pastors in these stories, their seminary professors or the sources of their education (whatever they might be) are also guilty of theological malpractice.

These people seem to think they are walking by faith and a confidence in scripture.  They are sadly mistaken. They are walking by presumption and a confidence in bad theology. What’s worse, they then become a danger to themselves and their neighbor. Further, they give the Christian faith a black eye and prove a horrible witness.

In St. Luke’s account of the temptation of Jesus, we read:

And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness for forty days, being tempted by the devil…

And he [the devil] took him to Jerusalem and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, for it is written,

“‘He will command his angels concerning you, to guard you,’ and “‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.’”

And Jesus answered him, “It is said, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’” -Luke 4:1-13

What the people in the stories already noted are doing is not exercising faith but putting God to the test. I can claim the blood of Christ over me and invoke Psalm 91:3 all I want, and that still doesn’t mean I should walk in front of a train or get around someone with COVID 19.

God expects us to exercise common sense, reason, and to avail ourselves of the best science and medical advice in such situations. The people in these stories reveal a deep disrespect for God gifts, whether their own intelligence and powers of reason or those of other people—people (Christian or not) who know a lot more about this stuff than they do.

They also show an egregious selfishness and lack of love for their neighbor.  Even using their own logic, we see such.  You say you are covered by the blood? You say you are protected by the Bible? What, then, about your non-Christian neighbor?  If you invite them to your church, or they see your indifference and imitate it, and infect each other, what then?  Happy?

Evangelical pastors, teachers, leaders, and theologians: Do your job. Along with 81% of white evangelicals voting for Trump, this may the next biggest fail on your part as far as teaching sound theology to your people. Epic fail all the way round. Further, it is going to get people killed.

The bloviating, chest-thumping strut we see on the part of some pockets of the evangelical/fundamentalist world, wherein they wear their confidence like a dunce cap—thinking they are immune, is not faith.  It is a proud presumption and testing of God.  Unlike Jesus, they are listening to the wrong voices and throwing themselves and their neighbor into harm’s way.

My previous post was about our need for love right now. Some might not see love being displayed in this post. I disagree. If this presumption on the part of other Christians doesn’t make us angry, doesn’t make us want to speak up, then we neither love them nor the ones they are hurting.

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