My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Written in 2000 and addressing current issues, this small booklet is a bit dated, but makes an important point. Christians need to give one another liberty to differ on matters not addressed by the Bible.
It’s a crucial and biblical distinction. To judge one outside God’s will when God has not done so, just because we are more used to something, is a serious sin. The secular version of this in woke and cancel culture thrives today on the toxic feeling of self-righteousness.
The author makes the simple point well, but omits two crucial nuances:
1. Some ethical and cultural practices are fine or not, depending on the circumstances, as Paul explained in 1 Corinthians 8 and Romans 14. Eating meat sacrificed to an idol isn’t flatly fine, no matter what. It depends if one with a tender conscience is with you. Some practices, while we are free to do them or not, still need some thought to discern God’s will.
2. Many issues are in between the author’s 2 categories of a) a clear “Thou shalt not” from God in the Bible, and b) a morally neutral preference. I might even say on most ethical questions we face, the best question isn’t “Does the Bible speak to this?” but “HOW does the Bible speak to this?” since it addresses almost everything in some way. (Even current issues that we are convinced are new and foreign to the Bible, like transgenderism, are addressed in principles such as stewardship of the body and how He made us male and female.) To put it another way, much of life is in, not the follow-the-rule area, but in the wisdom area: “what is the wiser thing to do here? Option x would be fine and good, but option y is better, and option z is better yet.” For example, the author puts music worship style in the morally neutral preference category, but I think some music is more edifying than other kinds, especially in worship. Some worship music is atrocious, other types are okay to sing, but there is better stuff out there.
This gets complicated, and Christians are notorious, the author points out, for casting stones at each other when they disagree over mere preferences. It gets trickier when I point out that the music you sing might stand some improvement, or not be the wisest or most edifying choice. Can one make that judgment without sinning? I KNOW the one criticized usually feels judged and sinned against. Yet, I haven’t said they are sinning, though I am asserting they are being less wise than they could be.
I just don’t want to see important discussion of issues squelched by someone playing the Christian Liberty trump card. We are to use our liberty in Christ to pursue truth, goodness and beauty for the Lord. That means having our preferences challenged by someone who disagrees, and may have a better way to walk the walk of faith.
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