New Ethics Against Virtue
How to Cowardly Abandon All Resolve and Condemn the Teaching of Those Who Fall from Favor and Lose Popularity
After the manner of Erasmus
When the sands of time have shifted, the winds of change have altered course, and the status quo yields so that his principles are no longer held in vogue, the time has come for the Christian to compromise his beliefs, concede his standards, and abandon the ship of faith in cowardly despair.
Clearly this is the only tactful course of action to take. Can he justify continuing to adhere to an orthopraxy which the sin of prominent men have tarnished? Surely the sin of such men has tarnished their message enough to justify condemning all they taught. How would he answer his critics if he were to continue to practice a lifestyle which has now been brought under such intense scrutiny? How could he easily defend such a course of action?
When prominent figures fall from favor in the eyes of their fellow Christians, all reasonable men are responsible to renounce those teachings and separate themselves as far from the danger of association as possible. He must forget that their teachings are from the Scriptures and that the Scriptures use terms and explicitly state the principles that he formerly held to.
Some Christians may argue that the Scriptures are sufficient for governing all that relates to faith and practice — But with their singular loss of popularity who wouldn't abandon such opinions? A Christian can't hold to principles taught by men who have fallen from favor — he may be said to be associated with sinners! What would that do to his “testimony” and “influence”? A Christian can't be condemned by the world. He should seek the world's approval.
While many Christians may have at one time agreed with the theology taught by these prominent figures — some may have even quoted their teaching from the pulpit! — such scandalous association can no longer be drawn between them. They must feign ignorance of the true scope of the teaching — they must convince others that they were duped into believing such ideas — any benefits they had claimed stemmed from such doctrines must be generalized or explained away. If a Christian previously voiced assent to the teaching, or gave prestigious awards to such teachers,[ref]http://homeschoolersanonymous.wordpress.com/2014/08/31/hslda-gave-this-man-their-prestigious-lifetime-achievement-award-just-4-years-ago/[/ref] he must denounce them, and run to the safety of the next wind of doctrine[ref]Ephesians 4:14[/ref] that blows from the Christian left.
This is only fitting. How else would a Christian save face in a culture that is already apathetic to his values and beliefs? The only valid option is obvious: look at the teachings from a new perspective — one that is antithetical to his previous viewpoint. A new viewpoint that has an autonomous standard of morality and seeks to interpret the commands of God from the cultural bias of antinomianism.
With a new standard of interpretation, anything is fair game. A Christian can berate his former friends and allies in the faith; those whom he labored hard with for the work of Christ's Kingdom. He can now neglect kindness toward his friends and forsake the fear of God[ref]Job 6:14[/ref] for political expediency and cultural influence.
Betrayal is the next logical step — and why not? If one can't associate himself with the philosophies of men who have sinned, he should also publicly discredit them, preferably by claiming that he “knew” there were warning signs all along.
If logical arguments and scriptural principles of interaction with others fail, he must appeal to sympathy and emotions in a manner as culturally relevant as possible; applying the world's parameters for arguments and discussion. The ridicule he may take for adherence to the Scriptures comes at too great a cost.
Satire aside, consider God’s response: “He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds them in derision.”[ref]Psalm 2:4 ESV[/ref] This is not a new phenomena; it has been the struggle of men throughout history to hold fast to the truth. For instance, the denial of Peter:
Now Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard. And a servant girl came up to him and said, “You also were with Jesus the Galilean.” But he denied it before them all, saying, “I do not know what you mean.” And when he went out to the entrance, another servant girl saw him, and she said to the bystanders, “This man was with Jesus of Nazareth.” And again he denied it with an oath: “I do not know the man.” After a little while the bystanders came up and said to Peter, “Certainly you too are one of them, for your accent betrays you.” Then he began to invoke a curse on himself and to swear, “I do not know the man.” And immediately the rooster crowed. And Peter remembered the saying of Jesus, “Before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.” And he went out and wept bitterly. [ref]Matthew 26:69–75 ESV[/ref]
Peter denied having known Jesus and of following his teachings — teachings which he knew were trustworthy because they were taught in the Scriptures. Later he proves that he knew they were true by his own instruction to others of these teachings. Sadly, many are like Peter and waiver when their ideologies are questioned because of their association with what is quickly becoming unpopular.
We've grown so accustomed to playing follow-the-leader that when prominent proponents of our ideology fail, and we're left standing without a spokesman, we shrink at the thought of responsibly standing up for what we believe in. Our actions demonstrate that we don't know the Scriptures well enough to give a defense for our beliefs. We have not been ardent students of the Word, and therefore can't own the sentiments ourselves. In our depraved nature we will do anything to escape the embarrassment of our own stupidity — even abandoning all of our principles for temporal safety. Without resolve, we run like cowards.
But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, … their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death. [ref]Revelation 21:8 ESV[/ref] And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.[ref]1 Corinthians 6:11 ESV[/ref] So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by our spoken word or by our letter.[ref]2 Thessalonians 2:15 ESV[/ref]
“The Denial of Saint Peter” (1625) by Nicolas Tournier. Public Domain.