Message to Evangelical Christian teachers
Sneering is a sin. Don’t do it.
Please don’t sneer at the different beliefs of other Christians. .
It breaks my heart to hear Christian radio preachers and internet bloggers use a snotty or sneering tone when discussing the doctrinal positions of other Christians. This may come as a surprise to you but people do come to different opinions honestly. Not all differences of opinion are because your opponents lack spiritual insight or Biblical knowledge. You know in Matthew where Jesus says that if you say to someone “thou fool” you are in danger of Hell Fire. It was to the doctrinal sneerers of the day, among others, to whom he was speaking. When you call someone a fool you are assuming a level of knowledge and intelligence high above the other person. You are, in short, being prideful and as should be obvious – pride leads straight to Hell.
Pride is the problem and humility is the solution. We evangelicals like to think that pride is a High Church problem. True we don’t tend to be proud of our social standing like High Church people – And we tend to know better than to be proud of our righteousness. But we still tend to be proud of our right-belief-eousness. Pride in right-belief-eousness is no better than the other prides.
Think about it, even God says “come let us reason together”. How can anyone assume a level of insight higher above another person than God has above us? Also, Jesus taught with authority but he was God. He inspired the writers of the Old Testament; He knew what they were really saying. Since none of us are God everything we say about scripture should start with a caveat such as “I could be wrong but this is how I understand it.”
In defense of bad behavior on the part of Christian doctrinalists.
Having said not to sneer and called sneering a sin, in the spirit of Christian love and understanding, I feel obliged to defend the bad behavior of Christian doctrinalists. It’s a hard temptation to resist. On top of the natural human tendency toward pride there is another vector. As a rule people like to do things that they are good at. It is a God-given feed back loop so that we can get joy from our activities and get even better at the things we do well. A person who studies scripture probably likes it and probably is also good at it. After awhile a person who studies scripture begins to feel the confidence of any master craftsman and probably genuinely thinks that everyone who disagrees with them just isn’t as skilled. Now we know which athletes are more skilled than others and which surgeons and accountants but we have no way of proving which theologians. For a normal human, reality places a restraint on their pride but not so Bible studiers. That is why we need to restrain ourselves.
I may be wrong about this but I can’t help but think that Jesus is a little embarrassed by our behavior. I acknowledge that anyone who died hanging naked on a cross might be immune to embarrassment but I think maybe he is still, then again, maybe I’m just projecting my feelings on to Jesus because I’m so embarrassed.