Beliefs should be followed or rejected
"I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot...So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew thee out of my mouth." Revelation 3:15,16
Since my first column was published back before Christmas, I have met with much resistance. Dozens of conscientious, faithful Christians have called me on the phone, anxious to convince me that I've misunderstood the Bible. More dozens of hostile, self-proclaimed Christians call me, sputtering drunken obscenities and trying to explain why it is alright for them to drink and fornicate.
As a result, I will be using today's column to answer my critics and clarify my purposes. I get the same few objections again and again, so I want to answer them.
Many people have questioned my motives. I have been dismissed as being simply a misogynist. Even further, a number of people have accused me of being motivated by sexual frustration. This last argument, especially, doesn't make sense to me. As many cheap, slutty women as there are around campus giving it away, a prostitute would probably have trouble making a living. Why any guy wanting to fornicate would have trouble finding a partner in sin is beyond me.
These are good examples of "ad hominem" arguments, that is "to the person" arguments attacking my character, while conveniently ignoring my ideas. This type of argument doesn't get you anywhere. It is just an excuse for not taking me seriously.
Some people are willing to say anything about me, anything but think about what I am saying. This is because I am right, and these people are angry with me for putting them on the spot by pointing it out.
There was a time when I was a sinner, but then I accepted Christ. When I was in high school and still living for this world, I drank beer and chased babes, and I enjoyed it.
But then I thought about the things I had heard all my life about Jesus being nailed to a cross for my sins. I read the Bible, and let God into my heart. Jesus, the blameless, took my sins upon himself on Calvary, and offered me eternal life in a city of gold. All he asked was that I give up sin and give allegiance to him. After Jesus died for my sins I could have no objections to changing my ways; the old man of sin was dead. I try to follow God's scripture, yet people accuse me of being motivated by mere sexual frustration. I can only be amused by their desperate search for any excuse for their own wickedness and inconsistency.
A common answer to my call for Christian integrity is the proclamation of faith as supreme: "I believe in Christ, but I still get drunk and screw around, but it's alright. It's what's in my heart that counts."
Sorry, Chuck, but that doesn't get you off the hook. "For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also. (James 2:26)" Hebrews 10:26,27 also is relevant here, "For if we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation." Enough said.
An argument I have heard several times against my statements on the role of women is the reform argument. This states that Biblical status of women is a great step up from their previous status as pure chattel, and that this is a sign that God wants us to keep reforming until women achieve equal status.
This view might be reasonable for an atheistic sociologist, but not for a Christian. If you don't accept the Bible as God's perfect statement, it might be reasonable to take this type of position. However, if you accept the Bible, you should notice II Timothy 3:16,17, "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works." If it says it in the scripture, it stands permanently as written.
People who make the reform argument can talk till they are blue in the face, but they can't argue it based on scripture, they have to add words to the Bible, putting them in God's mouth. This is, to say the least, highly presumptuous. To see where this gets you, see Revelations 22:18,19.
The last argument I have heard frequently, the great excuse, is to say, "That is just your interpretation." This would mean that the Bible doesn't objectively say anything concrete. It is a wild card; it says you can make the Bible mean whatever you want it to. It makes a mockery of God, and his word.
They say I should ignore II Timothy 3:16, and not use the Bible for reproof and correction. They are wrong, scripturally.
There are things in the Bible that are open to different interpretations, and things that are not. I don't demand that everyone interpret the Bible exactly as I do. If someone wants to argue against my understanding of the 10-headed beast from Revelation, I accept it. This is just an honest intellectual difference. But if you insist that God didn't mean that wives should obey their husbands, you willfully ignore Ephesians 5 and many other scriptures, and you risk judgment. The words are clear. God is clear. There are no excuses.
You can ignore the Word, but you can't ignore the consequences. You can put the Bible from your mind. You can berate God's servants. You can curse me. But if you find yourself burning in the pit intended for the devil and his angels, you'll say, "Why, why, why didn't I pay attention to Al Barger." The time to pay attention to what you believe is now.
It is unusual for me to quote rock music lyrics, but I heard one this weekend that applies. I was thinking about this column while eating at Pizza Hut, when the group Fixx came on the radio. I took it as a little help from the Lord in making my point: "Why don't they do what they say, say what they mean? One thing leads to another." My point exactly.
Either accept the Bible and follow it through, or reject it. It is a package deal. It is truly hypocritical and self-centered to cut apart God's word, accepting the parts that are convenient and rejecting those that are inconvenient. Either the Bible is the word of God, or it is a pile of manure. Either/or. Make up your mind. Whatever you do, though, don't be a lukewarm Christian. Accept the consequences of your beliefs.
The things I say in this column come from the Bible, not from me. The Book means what it says, not necessarily what we want it to.
Albert Barger, a junior majoring in political science, psychology, and journalism, writes "God and Country" weekly for The Daily News. His views do not necessarily represent those of The Daily News or Ball State University.
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