ARE YOU LOOKING AT THE
There is a growing tendency for people to wear sunglasses with varying colour tints. People who use such coloured lens can see just about everything, of course, but everything which they see is 'interpreted' by the colour of the glass/lens; So everything they see has a certain complexion, or hue, placed upon it and their eyes are forced to interpret things only through that hue, or colour. This mostly works quite fine (although, I am told, one can quickly get fed up with it), but sometimes the brain fails to immediately interpret something which appears in an unaccustomed shade, and confusion occurs; moreover, 'blind spots' can occur, which is why such spectacles are not usually recommended for driving.
I know a very sweet lady. The lady has been raised in a highly Calvinistic background and (because it has become so ingrained) she can now only view the gospel through Calvinistic-coloured glasses! Once I said to her,
'Perhaps it would be helpful for your understanding if you occasionally viewed the gospel through different lenses so you could understand how some others view it; that's going to increase your empathy for them. After all, you could always put your Calvinistic glasses back on again later!'
But she is completely unable to do it – it has just become too ingrained. When she attempts to do so she immediately becomes spiritually dislexic; she becomes confused about certain words of Scripture; the words have always been there, of course, but they had not previously been part of her focus!
Coloured spectacles give everything in life a certain shade. Effectively, one becomes blind to certain other colours. This can be compared to viewing the Gospel only through one's earliest and strongest influences.
Others wear Arminian-coloured lenses, still others wear legalistic lenses, to them, law is everything - if they take off their tinted lenses, they too become confused and spiritually dislexic. Liberal Christians wear glasses of a liberal shade; for these people Jesus was our good example, He did not literally die in order to save us for we are saved anyway, and all religions are a pathway to God (presumably even Buddhism although it does not believe in a personal God). There are also (I am quite convinced) believers who view everything through charismatic-tinted lenses. I have pointed out certain Scriptures to some of these people and they are genuinely stunned since they never knew such Scriptures existed! The focus or shade through which they had previously viewed everything, meant that certain Scriptures had lied within a 'blind spot' and they had been invisible to them! Yes, there are also Roman Catholic-tinted lenses and undoubtedly others too.
My advice to such people is always the same:
Take off your coloured lenses and view the Holy Bible as it was always meant to be viewed: WITHOUT doctrinal assumptions and presuppositions! Let none of us be so inclined to say things like:
'But I was raised a baptist so I would always explain it this way.....'
The very sweet Calvinist lady I referred to earlier, fears for me; she has a real problem in understanding that parts of Calvinism can be challenged without also challenging the gospel itself. Occasionally she sends me little messages and these messages always use certain Scriptures and these Scriptures are always tinted in a very Calvinistic hue. There are certain Scriptures which this lady is never going to quote because they are just not part of her focus! Now personally I believe that Calvin was more correct than Arminius in those things which separated them, but I also think that – as terms – Calvinism and Arminianism are divisive; there are true believers in both camps. Lets celebrate that instead of continually looking for differences between true believers!
Many take real joy in my determination to expose teachings which are simply unbiblical. Yes, there are certain things which we must brand as heretical! (See my article Where We May Agree to Differ; And Where We Should Defend the Truth!), but there are other areas where the Holy Bible does not allow itself to be drawn, or where certain Scriptures are capable of more than one explanation. We should allow differences of opinion in these areas without going to war against each other! Yet some who rejoice at our exposures of clearly false teachings want me to stand firmly within Calvinism. Yes, in some areas I am very close to Calvin, but I find errors in the later Calvin-ism and certainly within hyper-Calvinism and I must warn here too; nevertheless I warn most seriously about serious error, the sort one finds within the cults and sects.
But if I am asked questions in those areas which have clearly been part of Christian teaching (for instance, views on the millenium and on Arminianism/Calvinism), I will answer and give what I consider to be biblical truth in those areas too, but I do it more gently. I take a 'Here is what I believe to be biblical teaching, but if you disagree with me that is fine' view.
Recently a self-confessed theological Arminian attacked me about my article Once Saved, Always Saved? even though I try hard not to get involved in the traditional polarity of opinion on this issue and simply point out (to the best of my knowledge) what is the best explanation of biblical teaching. The article is a very long way from being Hyper-Calvinist yet that is exactly what my accuser stated in his very irate e mail. This shows, of course, that some find it almost impossible to remove their tinted lenses!
I once heard of a man who had a serious vision problem and he really had to wear contact lens with a certain tint, there was no other way around it. Can't recall now what hue the tint was, but he had to live with it. After about a year however he had a corrective operation. He was relieved and overjoyed that after the operation his vision was corrected and he no longer had to wear the coloured lenses; now – at last – he saw colours as God intended them to be seen. A very kind e mailer has sent me this man's comments following the restoration of his normal eyesight:
'What a joy! Now at last I can again see as the good Lord intended me to see! Look at the flowers! Look at the countryside! Before I only saw dimly and through a color which I came to see as natural color, but now I am reminded that the good Lord did not make any mistakes with his colors – they are incredible!! I was becoming satisfied with something which was less than perfect and I did not know what I had been missing but now I really see!!'
Brothers and Sisters in Christ, it can
be the same for you and me too! Don't look any longer at the Holy
Scriptures through your most favored denominational colours! What
did God really intend us to understand from His Word? Cast
aside denominational presuppositions and assumptions. Lets let
the Word of God alone be our authority!
Because we have learned a view of the Scriptures from a small child, or from our local church, or from the seminary we intended, or because its the view which most of our friends hold, does not make it right!!
'Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.' (Acts 17:11, NIV).
What I Am Not Saying...
Please don't misunderstand. I am not here advocating 'restorationism' or anything new or odd, or in any sense cult-like; we cannot entirely disregard the learning of the great men of the gospel of the past, including people like Wesley, Whitehead and Spurgeon and many others (I would be the last to say so), but we must understand that God expects us to be utterly faithful to Holy Scripture, not to any man or to any denomination! We may indeed challenge theologians, but not sacred Scripture, not gospel truth.
So lets take off those tinted glasses, however familiar and comfortable we may be with them! This is the approach which UK Apologetics and Museltof Countercult and Apologetics advocates.
Robin Brace, 2005.
MUSELTOF COUNTERCULT AND APOLOGETICS UK