Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing

My buddy asked me to talk on her blog about the recent news of Jack Schaap getting into trouble, and it has got me wanting to talk a little bit about the Church. If you didn’t know, Jack Schaap was pastor of a big church in Indiana and he was caught fooling around with a teenaged girl. Bad news though it may be, I wasn’t particularly surprised to hear it. He has had quite a track record of inappropriate remarks and misogyny over the years that he has been in charge of that church. I am truly saddened for the people who are going through this, but I am especially saddened by the way things like this reflect on Christianity.

I’ve read many news sources and internet conversations in which people have pointed to the faith as a distinct source of corruption, and although the term “Christian” gets used a lot by groups and individuals, I think it’s important to distinguish real Christianity from people who just use it as a social category. That label “Christian” is an adjectival name for a person who acts like “Christ.” Someone who follows Christ is a Christian. That’s it. We don’t say that every piece of psychology is Freudian, only statements or beliefs that follow the teachings of Sigmund Freud. We don’t call every person from South America Uruguayan, only the ones who are actually from Uruguay. Similarly, we should not call every sort of religious person with a Christian-like background in the USA a “Christian.”

You’re a Christian if you follow Christ. By definition, this can’t be an incidental part of your life or an inheritance; it’s a conscious choice. You can’t just claim the label and go around living a life that is completely unlike Christ. This type of thing is rampant in the USA right now, and it’s no wonder so many people pretending to be Christian are making the faith look toxic.

Now, I know that it’s also possible to vacilate in your opinions and be still genuine in your beliefs, and I am NOT trying to say that a person isn’t a Christian if they slip up once in a while. (That kinda thing is a whole different problem in itself.) What I AM saying is that just getting a job in a church does not a make person automatically a follower of Christ. Just because a man says he is a Christian is not enough to actually make him a follower of the teachings and life of Jesus. It’s just not.

When you base your communication with people on critism and name calling, you’re not acting like Christ. Biblically speaking we have no record of him using harsh language with people (unless they were the crooked religious leaders), and I think it’s safe to take that and say it is Christ-like to use respectful, kind language when we speak to people. If you can’t talk to someone about their behaviour without being nasty or hurtful, you’re not being a Christian. Westborough can call themselves whatever they want, but they’re not acting like Christ, and they’re not talking like Christ. That’s not Christian. They’re not a Christian church.

Similarly, just because Jesus was compassionate is no reason to claim that his life exuded tolerance. Jesus was honest about practical behaviors that were not Godly. If you’re going around telling people that the message of Christianity is love and tolerance, I’m not trying to be rude, but that isn’t what Jesus taught. You’re not emulating Christ, you’re emulating one facet of his behavior. It’s not Christian. It’s nice to be nice, but Christ taught that “sin” was a real thing. If you don’t believe that, okay, but you’re not a Christian.

I am a firm believer in moderation, and I dislike taking a dogmatic approach to spiritual issues, but, I love being a Christian. I enjoy learning about God and knowing him, and I find it very troubling that people like me are told that tolerance is the same thing as kindness and exclusivitiy of any sort is equated with hate speech. This faith is a relationship with God, not a psychological cancer, or a tool for cruelty and social power. All the richness of living peacably with others and enjoying spiritual completeness is shouldered to the side when people like Jack Schaap come out publicly spewing evil in the name Christendom.

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6 Comments »

  1. Seth Meyers Said:

    So, are you saying Schaap isn’t going to be in Heaven?

    1 Cor. 6:9-11 does seem to identify him as an unbeliever. But then if we speak that way about him we need to use that text consistently with all others who live a life of known, unrepentant sin.

    • kirinjirafa Said:

      “So, are you saying Schaap isn’t going to be in Heaven?”

      ew… well, now that’s really between him and God, but i will say that by watching his life, i have no reason to think he has a relationship with God.

  2. zebranay Said:

    Good article Kirinjirafa!

    • kirinjirafa Said:

      thank you, zebranay 🙂

  3. Rachel Said:

    I agree with you tototally, things like this happen all the time in what is known as the “Church” and this really is the sad commentary on the ultimate battle for true Christians who are trying to live out life quietly and peacefully in an attempt to be harmless as doves and wise as serpents…this is what makes us divided and it hurts us……. in the Bible, aren’t there many examples of God showing himself strong when the odds seemed against Him…that is what it’s all about…God’s power through the sincere Believer….I have family members who will not attend church because of the “hypocrisy” in the “Church” sadly they don’t realize that being a Christian is a relationship with Christ and not some membership…maybe you could give me your thoughts on two questions I have for you…
    Define Baptist?
    What is wrong with being a dogmatist? (shouldn’t we know what we believe and why?)
    Let’s go mind running!!

    • kirinjirafa Said:

      “I have family members who will not attend church because of the ‘hypocrisy’ in the ‘Church’” Tell me about it! And really, I can understand their point in that regard and sympathize with them. Nobody wants to listen to a person claim to have a pipeline to the mind of God when that same person is acting like a pig. The problem is when we turn around and reject Christ because we fail to dissociate HIM from something rotten that a person did claiming his name.
      Define Baptist! Well, well. That’s quite an animal. Or rather, a whole taxonomy- I would define a Baptist very very loosely as a person who generally adheres to a set of Baptist dogmas (there’s that word again) like (but not necessarily including, but not limited to) the virgin birth of Christ, the efficacy of Christ’s atonement alone for Salvation from sin, the reality of Hell and Heaven, um… what are some other good standards? The independence of the local church, and the plenary verbal inspiration of Scripture are a couple others. I know that good people differ, and many would fight to the death about what constitutes a “Baptist” and what doesn’t, but I would say that a person who claims the Baptist distinctives is in. Even if he doesn’t actually believe or follow them all. That’s just my opinion, I’m not saying that the Baptist distinctives are right or wrong, and I am DEFINITELY NOT talking about a person who has relationship with God. I’m not talking about a “saved” person. I’m talking about a religious label.

      What’s wrong with being dogmatic? Well, I agree that it’s good to know what you think and believe it boldly. However, “dogmas” are sets of preconceived beliefs. Pre-packaged thought patterns and microwave ready answers. They may not be wrong, but the dogmatic approach to a thoughtful problem frequently involves a lack of objectivity. The dogmatic approach is the one that goes to the Scriptures knowing already what the beliefs are, searching only for support. Dogmas, in my opinion, should be responses, not motivators. There’s nothing wrong with having firm beliefs, and speaking boldly on them. There is, however, something wrong with being arrogant, self-entitled, and cock-sure, and THIS is very often a result of dogmatic arguments. Like what this past paragraph was- very dogmatic. I am dogmatically against dogmatism… I think I better stop now before I drown in the vortex of my own circular logic…


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