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Friday, May 20, 2005

The Firefighter Parables #5 - The Declaration

Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed: and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost. Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.

- The First Epistle of St. Paul to the Corinthians, Chapter Twelve, Verses 3-4

That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the Scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

- The Epistle of St. Paul to the Romans, Chapter Ten, Verses 9-13

Say you are playing with your kids in the park, and you strike up a conversation with another person. You ask each other what you do for a living, and that person responds with, “I’m a firefighter.” At this point, you have to assume that the person really is a firefighter, for two reasons.

First, no one who is a firefighter would hide it. Firefighting is an honorable and respected profession – even admired. There is no logical reason for a firefighter to hide their career choice. Simply put, no firefighter is ashamed of being a firefighter. Second, we have no evidence to the contrary. While the person may be hiding their true profession of jewel thief for the time being, we don’t have any reason to doubt their statement. After all, we just met them.

Unfortunately, some people will say they are a firefighter when they are not. Why? Again, two reasons. As above, firefighting is a generally respected profession. The individual may want to either impress you or simply achieve a neutral position because, after all, who hates all firefighters? It’s a safe bet that if you tell someone you are a firefighter that you won’t earn their animosity.

Secondly, there simply are no negative consequences to just declaring you are a firefighter.

Christianity has a similar relationship with the declaration. No one who is a Christian would hide it (remember, this is a parable for the West). When asked what religion they are, no Christian would hide their faith. They may make a clarification of some portion of their denomination they are not in agreement with, or identify themselves by denomination instead of as a “Christian”, but no Christian is ashamed of being a Christian. Also, when asked in a casual conversation with someone in the park, we have to believe them when they say they are Christians.

However, there are many who will say they are Christian when they are not. Why? First, it is an acceptable thing to be in society. You are unlikely to meet a clearly negative reaction if someone asks what religion you are, and you say, “Methodist”, “Baptist”, Catholic” or “Christian”. Most will nod and smile in reaction, and perhaps a perfunctory comment if they are familiar with some detail of that denomination. In fact, if one responds with “Christian”, they are likely to receive a question asking them to clarify denomination – not that it will really affect the conversation, but it seems the thing to do.

There also are no negative consequences to claiming you are a Christian. It won’t get you fired, imprisoned, killed, or even mocked. Merely claiming to be one will not result in any negative consequences.

Thus, we have a familiar situation: All Christians declare themselves to be such, but everyone who declares themselves a Christian is not.

Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?

- The Epistle of St. James, Chapter Two, Verses 19-20

Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

- The Gospel of St. Matthew, Chapter Seven, Verses 13-23


Next Time: A Clarification and Conclusions

3 Comments:

  • Good stuff, Hammer.

    I can’t quibble with the premise you’ve set forth, but I’m in suspense. I look forward to your conclusion.

    By Blogger Robert, at 5/20/2005 04:19:00 PM  

  • That was really good, but some people would have a negative comment about Christians, probably because they had run into one who said they were and weren't LOL :)

    By Blogger Teresa, at 5/31/2005 07:06:00 PM  

  • Exactly, Teresa! As Billy Graham said, "The greatest single cause of atheism in the world today is Christians who proclaim Christ with their lips and deny him with their lifestyles. That is what an unbelieving world finds simply unbelievable." My point is that they aren't Christians at all, and we should not act as if they are!

    By Blogger Hammertime, at 6/03/2005 04:57:00 PM  

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