Friday, April 11, 2008

Try a Little Test for Truth

“Pastor, what do you think about . . . ?” Questions come along from time to time, often about the latest book or religious fad or the hottest preacher on television or the latest twist on spirituality in a popular movie or the most recent religious fanatic in the news.

“Drew, I’ve been praying the prayer of Jabez and it’s changed my life.”
“I just got back from a Joyce Meyer conference. It was awesome.”
“Pastor, have you read Joel Osteen’s book?”
“Is Mel Gibson really a Christian?”
“I’ve been reading that new book, ‘The Secret’. What’s your take on it?”
“Was Mary Magdalene really at the Last Supper?”

Usually those that ask me have already made up their own minds. They’re looking to me for some confirmation, some affirmation that their enthusiasm or skepticism is warranted.

Now, I don’t claim to be the source of all truth and I don’t want to be too negative. But, let me suggest some general principles to apply, some rules of thumb to keep in mind as you listen or watch or read whatever is “the latest thing.” Try this little test:

  • If the main thing seems to be getting God to back your agenda, rather than you getting on God’s agenda, somebody is way off base.
  • If God is described as being more interested in bumping up your tax bracket rather than feeding the hungry and caring for the needy, somebody has missed the point entirely.
  • If a greater emphasis is placed upon your comfort and convenience rather than your character and commitment, somebody has misunderstood the nature of discipleship.
  • If it is suggested that your fulfillment and meaning are found externally in your circumstances rather than internally in your faith, somebody has bought into the lies of our culture.
  • If whatever you are hearing or reading causes you to obsess more about yourself and your wants and to focus less on the needs of others, somebody has ignored the clear teaching and example of Jesus.
  • If it is implied that suffering and hardships only come to those with weak faith and negative attitudes, somebody is guilty of biblical ignorance, bad theology, and indirect cruelty.
  • If the main preacher or personality submits to no personal oversight or accountability, stay tuned for somebody’s much publicized fall.
  • If an extravagant, materialistic lifestyle is modeled by the main leader, preacher, or author, somebody is far from the mind and heart of God.
  • And finally, just because a product is marketed and sold in a “Christian” bookstore or website, do not assume it is based on sound Christian teaching. In many cases somebody is more interested in making money than communicating truth.

There you have it - a simple test to help you separate truth from half truth, the Gospel from a knock-off, some cheap substitute for the real thing. Hope it helps. And as they used to say on Hill Street Blues, “Let’s be careful out there.” Don’t let somebody get the best of you.

3 comments:

Brandon Wallace said...

Great test Drew...it reminds me to always follow my own heart and trust in Gods word. I never understood the need to have to "understand"or be able to "explain" everything that isn't tangible, instead of simply having faith. I heard a great man say, "God is great..all of the time". That's all the explanation I need.

God bless you Brother Drew

Brandon

James Hill, Jr. said...

Well said, Uncle Drew. I just may have to add your blog to my RSS feed. (Oh, and let's be honest...I'll probably steal some of your best phrases from this post :) )

Grace and peace,
James

Jim Hill said...

I agree with my son, these are some good thoughts for evaluating the world around us. I am keeping up with your blog. Thanks.