REBUTTAL – PART 2: 10 Beliefs Christians Have That Really Mess Us Up

JoAnna Wahlund - Rebuttal Part 2

\"JoAnna

This is a continuation of my rebuttal to the article “10 Beliefs Christians Have that Really Mess Us Up.” You can read Part I here.

Belief #6 – The World Is Going To Get Worse And Worse Before Jesus Returns

Drysdale says: This one is pretty funny. Or at least it would be if it wasn’t so prevalent and damaging to the body of Christ and the world around us! The church today seems to be hellbent (no pun intended) on seeing the world “go to hell”. The stats are in and no matter what the Christians might say the world is unanimous… things are getting better in every area of life. There has never been a better time to be alive on the Earth than today. […]

My response: I can agree that the world has made great strides in some respects, but certainly not in others. Religious freedom, for example, is rapidly declining, and certain immoral behaviors have become accepted as normal, to the point that some Christians are losing their jobs and livelihoods for politely declining to participate in and celebrate events that they find morally objectionable.

I don\’t see why Drysdale is so puzzled as to where Christians are getting the belief that the end times will be ushered in by increasing global calamities, because Scripture says as much; for example: “For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be. And if those days had not been shortened, no human being would be saved; but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened.”  (Matthew 24:21-22)

Belief #7 -Thinking Everyone Should Agree With You

Drysdale says: If you are the type of person that can’t be around people who disagree you are going to have a bad time. In fact, you are probably already having a bad time. There isn’t a person on the planet you will agree with 100%. If you know of such a person you just haven’t gotten to know them well enough yet! Doing life with those who disagree with us is inevitable, we can’t avoid it so we had better learn to do it! Not only that, you need to embrace differing opinions as a good thing. It’s in the relationship with different people that we are sharpened, we learn new things, discover our blind-spots and help others discover theirs. […]

My response: I can agree with him to a point. I certainly don\’t think that everyone can or will agree with me. There are many aspects of Catholicism, as well as the secular world (e.g., politics), which are matters of prudential judgment upon which Catholics can legitimately disagree (as long as the underlying doctrinal principles are upheld).

But then there\’s the problem mentioned above, where “not agreeing” has escalated to harassing, hounding, and attempting to pass laws to force people out of business, simply because their disagreement is being (wrongly) equated to hateful intolerance. See, for example, Brandon Eich or Sister Jane Dominic Laurel. This is bullying, plain and simple, and it must be confronted and condemned, even if you then get accused of “thinking everyone should agree with you.” I don\’t expect everyone to agree with me – I just want to be extended the same amount of tolerance that I\’m expected to extend in return.

Belief #8 – Thinking You Need To Have All The Answers

Drysdale says: I don’t know about you but I’m a recovering know-it-all. I’m the most opinionated guy I know. Even if I don’t know about a topic I’ll be quick to pick a side and argue it to the death. While I’m a lot more mellow these days and have let a lot of that side of me fall to the wayside – I still have my moments. Learning to be humble, teachable and say “I don’t know” is a huge life skill to learn. It helps us grow, connects us with people on a more meaningful level (nobody likes a no-it-all) and it stops the spread of bad theology! (I’d say a huge amount of bad theology was born because someone wasn’t willing to say “I don’t know”. This causes us to have to come up with the best thing we can think of at the time.) Learning to live in mystery and say – “I don’t know about that. What do you think?” is one of the biggest steps towards maturity you can take. As Socrates said – “When I was young, I knew everything but now I know nothing.” Learn to be humble and admit we don’t have all the answers. Peace comes from leaning on His understanding, not ours.

My response: I can\’t quibble too much with this one because I mostly agree. That being said, one caveat is that I\’ve yet to find a question that some saint or doctor of the Church or learned theologian hasn\’t at least attempted to answer. That\’s why I\’m glad there\’s 2,000 years of consistent Church teaching to back me up when I\’m discussing my faith with others. I may not have all the answers but I know a Church that does (even if it\’s a struggle to understand those answers). And while I absolutely agree that there\’s no shame in saying, “I don\’t know,” there\’s also no shame in studying your faith so that you can give a reason for the hope that is in you (cf. 1 Peter 3:15).

Belief #9 – Believing That Your Sin Somehow Causes God To Separate From You

Drysdale says: Few things are more stupid than believing God can’t look upon sin. I mean, that would leave God very little to look at since the fall! If Jesus taught us anything it was that God has no problem being around sinners. He chooses to love them where they are, amidst all their faults and failures. We most certainly don’t want to have sin in our lives. We have been made righteous, our nature in Christ is to bring forth righteous fruit. So don’t think I’m saying that it’s good to sin, or that we should turn a blind eye to it. However, in our lives, if and when it occurs we need to know that it in no way separates us from God. We have to learn to trust that God is bigger than sin and fully dealt with it on the cross. 

My response: What Drysdale is missing here is that God doesn\’t separate from us when we sin – we choose to separate ourselves from Him when we make the choice to sin. He allows us to make that choice out of respect for our free will, but He also patiently waits for our repentance and our return to him. That\’s what makes the parable of the Prodigal Son so beautiful. In that story, the father did not choose to separate himself from his son; rather, his son made the choice to separate. The father stands as a representation of God, joyfully welcoming the wayward sinner – who chose to sin and who chose to repent – back into his embrace. As the Catechism says in paragraph 1864, paraphrasing St. John Paul II, “There are no limits to the mercy of God, but anyone who deliberately refuses to accept his mercy by repenting, rejects the forgiveness of his sins and the salvation offered by the Holy Spirit.”

Thankfully, Jesus also established the Sacrament of Reconciliation so that we can reconcile ourselves to God and do penance for our sins.

Belief #10 – Thinking God Will Punish You If You Don’t Tithe

Drysdale says: The amount of people who think that they will come under a curse if they don’t give 10% to their local church every week scares me! Christ became a curse so that we could be delivered from the curse completely! We are blessed in Him and as it says in Numbers – “What God has blessed no man can curse”. And yet, all over the world, church leaders are telling their congregations that they will be cursed if they don’t conduct their finances in a certain way. Here’s the deal, we are Christians, we are in God’s image and likeness… of course we want to give. But God does not want us to give under compulsion! Certainly not because we might be cursed if we don’t! He wants us to give freely and generously because we are givers by nature.

My response: This is another point upon which we are mostly in agreement. Ten-percent of one\’s gross income is a good guideline for tithing, but it\’s not a mandate. Furthermore, one can also tithe time and talent in addition to (or maybe instead of) treasure, and one does not have to tithe only to one\’s parish (although it is a good idea to do so!).

At the same time, this is an area in which many Catholic parishes struggle – they need to pay utilities, staff, educational resources, etc., which is incredibly difficult to do if parishioners are only dropping $1 in the collection basket each week.

In general, the best advice on this topic comes from Scripture: “So I thought it necessary to encourage the brothers to go on ahead to you and arrange in advance for your promised gift [donation], so that in this way it might be ready as a bountiful gift and not as an exaction. Consider this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each must do as already determined without sadness or compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. Moreover, God is able to make every grace abundant for you, so that in all things, always having all you need, you may have an abundance for every good work.” (2 Corinthians 9:5-8)

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Personal prayer request: My daughter, Elanor, is receiving the Sacraments of Holy Eucharist and Confirmation this Saturday, May 3. Will you say a prayer for her, perhaps while asking for the intercession of Blessed Imelda Lambertini as well as her confirmation saint, the Blessed Virgin Mary? Thank you!

© 2014. JoAnna Wahlund. All rights reserved.

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16 thoughts on “REBUTTAL – PART 2: 10 Beliefs Christians Have That Really Mess Us Up”

  1. I guess we all believe that we need agreement – that is until we are 35. Take my ex-wife ….. PLEASE! (it’s been annulled).
    all the answers: Last year in the middle of an electronics repair, one worker talked of the Catholic Church and its errors, expecting an answer from me. My answer was that I was not an apologist for the church and I believe what i know to be true. He shut up.

  2. Pingback: Mind & Heart: On Not Losing Hope - BigPulpit.com

  3. JoAnna, thanks for this wonderful article. I agree completely! Your theological statements are rock solid. Praying for Elanor!

  4. Gosh, his point #9 is just perplexing. He keeps saying we shouldn’t turn a blind eye to sin, and that we don’t want sin in our lives… but never says why? It seems that in his mind, Christians may sin and sin with impunity. So, what’s the big deal? Of course, his premise flies in the face of Scripture itself, as the New Testament writers warn Christians of sin again and again, and again. Somehow he skipped those parts of the Bible I guess.

  5. “Religious freedom, for example, is rapidly declining, and certain immoral behaviors have become accepted as normal, to the point that some Christians are losing their jobs and livelihoods for politely declining to participate in and celebrate events that they find morally objectionable.” writes the author.

    I seriously object to the allegations of this statement. First, the references in the linked article are to lawsuits against people who denied a “public accommodation” or service to a gay couple. (1) It is never permissible in a democratic society to intentionally discriminate against a protected class of people …law prohibits discrimination based upon gender, religion, nationality, race or disability. You cannot no matter what your reason deny another human being their civil rights. It’s against the law in the U.S. (2) If religious freedom were extended to denying a protected class their civil right, then would it be permissible to deny non-catholic a venue or service because Catholic don’t recognize their marriage as valid, deny two pagans, two Muslims, two… anything but what the Catholic Church considers a valid marriage a service or wedding venue. You have a public business, you serve all the public, especially protected classes of people. Churches are exempt…that’s religious freedom; a business is not a church.
    Also my son is a spastic quad…..many churches are not wheelchair accessible nor are there pew cutouts for the placement of a chair, nor sign language interpreters for the deaf, etc. Churches violate my son’s civil rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in many, many ways…but that’s ok because houses of worship are exempt from ADA requirements. That’s religious freedom. You can discriminate in your “house”. Please…..

    1. So, Phil, you believe a Jewish print shop owner should be forced to print signs for KKK rallies? Kosher delis must sell bacon?

      What you would realize if you actually read about the cases in question is that no one was refused service because they were gay. Many of the business owners in question happily serve gay customers. However, what they objected to was being forced to participate in an EVENT — a gay “wedding” — just as they would oppose being forced to participate in, for example, the wedding of a man and his pillow or another inanimate object. Refusing to participate in and celebrate an immoral event is much different from refusing service to someone based on their state of being.

    2. Well, bacon is not a civil right? And Jewish people are not the target of the KKK, but black people are…the KKK are not a protected group and the only civil rights they have are ones that deal with free speech (within limitations, like cannot provoke criminal actions)….your comparisons limp.
      Gay customers are free to marry in legally in 17 states and therein their rights to marry are protected as civil rights….it’s only a matter of time till all states recognize gay marriage per court orders.
      How about my comment about houses of worship discriminating against severely disabled? That ok? I always get concerned when only part of an objection is addressed.

    3. Marriage isn’t a civil right, either. If it was, then there would be no restrictions on it — siblings could marry, for example, and polygamists could have more than one wife.

      Do you think that business owners should be forced to participate in polygamist weddings?

      If my comparison is so “limp,” why can’t you rebut it? A KKK member could claim that the KKK is his religion, and therefore a print shop owner (Jewish or black — yes, the KKK targets BOTH! They also target Catholics…) refusing to print signs for his rally is religious discrimination.

      What about a gay print shop owner refusing to print signs for the Westboro Baptist Church? Wrong, in your opinion?

      What about a gay stylist refusing to style the hair of an anti-SSM politician?

      Re: houses of worship, I responded to that off-topic diatribe on my last post in which you ranted about it, so you can see my comments (as well as other responses) there. But it’s irrelevant to the topic at hand.

    4. Marriage is a civil right..

      Recognized federal civil rights law in the United States is grounded in the U.S. Constitution as interpreted by the Supreme Court. By this standard, marriage has long been established as a civil right.

      The operative constitutional text is section 1 of the Fourteenth Amendment, which was ratified in 1868. The relevant passages read as follows:

      No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

      The U.S. Supreme Court first applied this standard to marriage in Loving v. Virginia (1967), where it struck down a Virginia law banning interracial marriage. As Chief Justice Earl Warren wrote for the majority:

      The freedom to marry has long been recognized as one of the vital personal rights essential to the orderly pursuit of happiness by free men …

      To deny this fundamental freedom on so unsupportable a basis as the racial classifications embodied in these statutes, classifications so directly subversive of the principle of equality at the heart of the Fourteenth Amendment, is surely to deprive all the State’s citizens of liberty without due process of law. The Fourteenth Amendment requires that the freedom of choice to marry not be restricted by invidious racial discriminations. Under our Constitution, the freedom to marry, or not marry, a person of another race resides with the individual and cannot be infringed by the State.

      With respect to printing signs…”speech” even if vile is protected by the first amendment…so, there could be a case for a civil rights violation made in your examples.

      It is important to preserve the distinction between a “civil right” and a “protected class of people.”

      Is “ranting” a wrong?

    5. And yet, there are many who do not have the freedom to marry. Siblings, parents and children, polygamists, children, etc. Are those people being denied their civil rights?

      “The Fourteenth Amendment requires that the freedom of choice to marry not be restricted by invidious racial discriminations.” Last time I checked, being gay wasn’t a race. And you do realize that the Catholic Church was a strong proponent for allowing interracial marriage, I hope?

      People are free to get married in states where it’s legal, btw. But they shouldn’t be able to force business to participate in their weddings for ANY reason. A Jewish baker shouldn’t be forced to make a baptism cake for a Catholic baby’s baptism, either. The free exercise of religion is also part of the constitution.

      Again, you really need to read this: http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2014/03/refusing-to-photograph-a-gay-wedding-isnt-hateful/284224/

      Ranting is irrelevant and pointless.

    6. The crux of the matter is this: what is marriage? Marriage unites a man and a woman and any children born of their union. That is what it is and that is what it does. Marriage is not the public recognition of a committed relationship between two adults for their fulfillment, which is what same-sex “marriage” necessarily is. It’s not about failing to extend the same rights to people with same-sex attractions. In order for same-sex “marriage” to exist, there would have to be a redefinition of marriage.

    7. Your response is quite confusing in your response, sir. You speak with an authority which is not yours. You conflate sacramental matrimony and civil marriage. What you say may be true in the Catholic Church; not even all Christian churches ascribe to your definition.
      17 States have legalized gay marriage….that is the law and many others will follow. Roman Catholic matrimony is a sacrament which does not bless gay marriage. You cannot impose Catholic definitions on civil society and processes, That is the reason for a separation of Church and state; to prevent religions from imposing views on the state.
      I acknowledge the RC Church’ position but it is not the position of the 17 states that legalized marriage of same sex couples and the additional states which recognize civil unions.
      54% of Catholics approve of gay marriage and the number is growing. Orthodox Catholics should believe what they feel is right but not attempt to impose their definition on civil society…civil society makes no attempt to compel Catholics to marry gays in their Churches.

    8. portlandCatholic

      First of all, the KKK has targeted Jews in the past, so it is not a “limp” comparison. Please do an ignorance-check before you air your thoughts. Second of all, the enactment of a law does not, by itself, make that law just. Abortion is legal in this country (God help us!)–that doesn’t make the act of abortion morally right.

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