Biblical Putdowns & Trump Cards

While most online Christian interactions don’t end up at: “well, Hitler believed that too!” (Reductio ad Hitlerum) many times they are just as close with Christians using acceptable “putdowns” from Scripture. What are these? They are usually sayings of Jesus ripped from their context. For example:

“Well, I would discuss this further but I don’t want to throw my pearls before swine”

or

“Jesus said there would be wolves in sheeps clothing and you are looking rather wolfy.”|

These are acceptable, verbal uses of the Sword of the Spirit in many Christian circles but the real question is…are they? Let’s take a look:

(1) Pearls Before Swine

“Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you.” (Matthew 7:6 ESV)

Pigs and dogs were scavengers during Jesus’s day and would have been considered unclean to Jews (I’d argue cats should be in here as well). They were outsider animals that Jesus used as analogy for those who are antagonistic or outside of the faith. The pearl is the gospel. Jesus makes clear that a Christian should be slow to judge (7:1-5) any person who is not in Christ but there are sometimes when a Christian should back away and not invest emotional/spiritual energy with someone. Notice that this saying is not applied to other Christian believers.

(2) Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing

“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?” (Matthew 7:15-16 ESV)

Jesus calls for Christians to not judge hastily but to also be discerning when it comes to prophets who come in the believers midst. Key word there is prophets.  Or those who claim to be a prophet. Also notice that it talks about fruit inspection of the person in question and that it matches up to the words they speak. It does not say that a person should be judged on the miraculous. Someone may have great wonders following their lives but that does not equal Christian maturity.

(3) Whitewashed Tombs 

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness. So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.” (Matthew 23:27-28 ESV)

Jesus is addressing the Pharisees and Scribes for being hypocritical. Jesus is making a judgment on them (see, judging is okay) as he points out the disconnect between their outward actions and their inward state. He does not say that outward righteousness is bad but that outward righteousness is empty without the inward. Again, he is speaking to Pharisees and Scribes. Not believers. A believer who is filled with the Spirit cannot be inwardly dead because he is born again.

 (4) Deliver to Satan

“you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 5:5 ESV)

Satan’s realm in Scripture is another name for the earth (Luke 4:5-6; Ephesians 2:2). This man was to be cast out of the church not for punishment sake but to eventually be restored to the church. This man was consciously committing sexual sin that was outwardly expressed in the church since they all knew about it. Even though those involved were consenting adults there was no toleration for their sin if they did not repent. Loving the sinner meant allowing him to live the life he had chosen outside of the church.

(5) Holy Spirit Teaches Me

“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” (John 14:26 ESV)

The Bible makes clear that the Holy Spirit aides believers in their spiritual walk (Romans 8:14; Galatians 5:16,18) but this is not at the expense of knowledge/wisdom. This specific verse is quoted many times at the expense of human knowledge when in context it is talking specifically to the disciples about the writings of the Scriptures. Something that no longer happens today. I usually like to retort when someone says this passage with Revelation which says not to add or subtract one letter from the Scripture because when someone uses this passage in a discussion that is what they are doing.

How about you? What other some other Christian putdowns and trump cards you’ve experienced?

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Han Shot First Theological Fallacy

It is now an infamous moment in any Star Wars fan mind. In 1997 Star Wars was rereleased to the big screen with new scenes, polished (some never seen) which promised a new but familiar experience. I don’t think George Lucas expected the outrage over just one scene:

In the new addition of Star Wars, Greedo (the green guy) shoots first and Han Solo fires the killing shot almost immediately after him. The problem? In the original edition Han shot first while Greedo did not shoot at all:

George Lucas explained the changes were justified because he wanted children to understand that Han had no choice but to shoot Greedo. It was self defense and not an act of Han Solo being…Han Solo. How Greedo could have missed at point blank range? (Waves hand) Forgetta ’bout it!

I recently was involved in a discussion with someone who claimed their theological system of dealing with salvation (soteriology) was the original soteriology of the apostles. In response I typed “Han Shot First.” They knew the reference but did not understand my point in using it. I explained what I have now dubbed the Han Shot First Theological Fallacy (HSFTF):

“falsely stating your theological belief was first when its origins are much later then you ascribe to them.”

The person I was having a discussion with enjoyed my reference and understood it for the most part. The Force was strong with him. So I give you this gift to use freely in your theological discussions. Because, let’s face it, most of the people you might argue theology with are theological nerds as well as regular nerds.