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  • July 11, 2014 - Reflections

    By Jean S. Horner
    The other day while walking down a corridor in a public building, I saw what appeared to be someone walking toward me. On coming closer, I found it was my own reflection in a huge mirror. For a moment it frightened me. Somehow a full-length reflection of one’s self is a startling thing. ...




Vantage Point: Straw Men

By Ken Horn
Aug. 10, 2014

Why do we feel so much more secure when we are able to make enemies or buffoons out of those who disagree with us? It’s called building straw men, and even Christians have been known to do it.

It can be done by internationally known speakers and by pastors of churches large and small. We often have more of a tendency to build a straw man when we know we are “preaching to the choir.”

And so Calvinists* build Arminian* straw men, and Arminians build Calvinist straw men. Cessationists (who believe the gifts of the Spirit have ceased) build Pentecostal straw men ... and, yes, sometimes vice versa.

We assert we know what someone believes and then tear it to shreds, when in reality the image created is not close to accurate. One phony preacher is not enough to tar every minister with the same brush.

A recent high-profile conference devoted itself to calling out the “strange fire” of Pentecost by selecting well-known bad examples as characteristic of the Movement. But exceptions are not normative.

Disputing someone’s belief requires an honest Christian to make a sincere attempt to understand the belief he or she disagrees with. This should not devolve into name-calling, misrepresentation and disunity.

Cessationists (whose position was prevalent at the conference noted) believe the gifts of the Spirit have ceased. Pentecostals see this as a serious error. But the truth is, there are cessationists who lead souls to Christ. We disagree strongly with some of their theology but affirm those who are active in evangelism.

Pentecostals believe the gifts of the Spirit are for today. While excesses can be found, the majority are moving in the power of the Spirit to reach the world for Christ.

It is disappointing when fellow evangelicals point the accusing finger of theological error our way, and refuse to accept Pentecostals and Charismatics.

We certainly would want to win them over to our understanding of Scripture and experience. But even if that is not forthcoming, let’s have a cordial Christian discussion. As the coming of the Lord draws nearer, it is more important than ever that all who love Christ work together.

Our real enemy is quite enough for us to battle. How about concentrating on him, and not on “straw men.”


*Competing Protestant theological positions

 

 

Ken Horn
Editor

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