Ligon Duncan on the Non-Negotiables of the Gospel

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  • Friday, April 27, 2007

    Religious Fanaticism

    RELIGIOUS FANATICISM is a topic of interest in the press and will continue to be so. This is good and Christians should not only welcome this topic of interest in the press and in conversation, but take every opportunity to address the subject as often and as long as people want to talk about it.

    Yes, I know that when it comes to religious fanaticism, many are quick to point to the Crusades, or to the Spanish Inquisition, etc., but this is all the more reason for Christians to speak to the subject, not to set the record clear … for the record speaks for itself, but to set the truth before others that they might possess not only mature discernment and judgment, but come to understand the unique distinction belonging to Christianity in that it is the only belief system where fanaticism (or adhering to, or being obedient to, or becoming more and more committed in and to the faith) not only results in greater good for the individual but for society as well.

    You ask “But what about the Crusades, the Spanish Inquisition, the Salem Witch Trials, etc.?” ....

    The truth is that when one uses discernment, separates the various issues involved in the situations named, and not only possesses sound biblical understanding but compares the issues with the true teaching of the Scripture, one quickly finds that every abuse or wrongdoing resulted from either misunderstanding, mishandling, or misapplication of the Scripture, even when it was carried out in the name of the Scripture, or Christianity itself.

    The truth of the matter though is that becoming a true fanatic of the truth Christian faith and religion leads one toward conforming more and more to Christ and to the highest ideals, principles, and practices of life as set forth in the Scripture, something that not only leads to truth and personal holiness, but also the good of one’s fellow man and society.

    This is true only of Christianity!

    All other religions and belief systems, if carried out fanatically (or consistently and persistently) not only would fail to display the characteristics and attributes that Christianity does (including the unity, purity, peace, and edification), but would ultimately bring about either a combination of darkness, denial, deceit, desertion, despair, destruction, and death, either in the physical or spiritual realm.

    For example, utilitarians ultimately must deny the truth (or all the factors involved) or ditch purity at some level in order to always result in or increase the happiness (or utility) of a person or the “average happiness of a society”.

    Muslims, who hold that that infidels are to be sought out and made to submit or be killed show their hand.

    Secular humanists who seek to redefine the human condition when it comes to sin, unlike some other fanatics who abuse by heaping false guilt on individuals, go in the other direction by denying the guilt that belongs to man, and thereby harms the individual by not only causing misunderstanding, confusion, conflict, or denial, but keeps them from understanding and acknowledging their greatest need, which is redemption and forgiveness leading to righteousness and eternal life.

    Think about an atheist who lives consistently with his belief that man has no purpose or ultimate accountability (or is just free to come up with his own purpose, whatever that may be). Even those atheists who believe that the freedom of man to believe as he will, who believes the preservation, propagation and advancement of humanity is the ultimate goal, etc., where does that leave the expressions of others who believe differently, what does mean when it comes to one whose teachings are in their opinion in sharp contrast to that goal, etc.?

    The list could go on… but this much is clear: The world today, caused by alarm due to potential threats to their physical bodies and lives, are concerned about fanaticism on ONE level; but when one’s eyes are opened to understand fanaticism as it relates not only to physical harm and abuse, but to EVERY other sphere of life as well, there is only one belief system that leads to godliness and light (consisting of all goodness, righteousness and truth) and that is found solely in the purity and committed practice of Christianity.

    Why, O Christians, do we shy away, from those subjects that lead directly to the exclusive beauty and provisions of Christ? May we do so no longer, but magnify his truth and righteousness, that the world may come to see Him, and submit to his glory!

    (And perhaps, it's a good thing, there aren't more fanatics in this world ...
    though on another level, it's also true that people do live in conformity with their beliefs to the extent they are allowed and feel free and beneficial to do so.)

    Fanaticism is not just hijacking a religion, or living out a bad religion or one which does harm to others, fanaticism can include anything that people are passionate about and seek to serve; but this much we know: while much of the emphasis centers on Islam and perhaps Christianity, it's NOT limited to these!


    jazzycat said...

    The historical record of the positive effects of Christianity on civilization is impressive. Liberty, freedom, education (especially higher education), science, hospitals, and mercy ministries are a few of the positive results of Christianity. Dr. D. James Kennedy in his book “What if Jesus had never been born” highlights the positive contributions that society enjoys because of Christianity. You are right that we should be prepared to defend against the ill informed and foolish attacks that secular humanists level against Christianity.

    Swordbearer said...

    That's one of the greatest forms of worship when we can attribute to God what belongs to and come only from him, and both rejoice in and proclaim the glory, truth, and blessings associated with his name!

    Praise be to God for all that we have received from him!