Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Be not gullible

"Be not gullible" is not the eleventh commandment, but the Bible often warns of the folly of gullibility. Especially in the Internet age, we need to be discerning.

In his book "The Disciple's Manual," William MacDonald states that he believes Christians are gullible far too often and far too much. (People of other creeds can be gullible too, but that's not the point.) Part of the danger comes from 'spiritual language' where Christians say "God did this or that..." or "God told me..." or "I prayed and God showed me..." or "I feel it's God's will that...". Unfortunately, some people automatically assume a statement is true when it is preceded by one of these phrases. "How can I argue with God?", they say. But, in fact, God has exhorted us to test everything - because a lot of what is framed in spiritual words and references to him is simply not true. And so it actually does more to hinder God's will than further it.

We need to be open to God's doing amazing and even indescribable things. In fact, we need to expect it. But we also need to heed the Bible's many exhortations to be discerning and wise. And, while seeking to be "full of grace" as well as truth, we need to test everything against the Scriptures and the facts.

Here are some instances where I feel we need to be especially discerning (i.e., not gullible or foolish):

+ When we receive an email forward. It's amazing how much false information gets passed around in forwards. People get forwards from people they trust and assume it must be true. Let's remember that not only are many forwards inherently false, but many that started out true get altered/doctored/added to by people along the way until they become a mish-mash of nonsense (and often damaging information). One of the best ways to check if a forward is true is to look it up on, a secular and very-helpful website that researches common forwards for their credibility.

+ Before passing on an email forward. I notice that email forwards that contain lengthy "why you should forward this" diatribes get forwarded more frequently. E.g., 'If you forward this you're obviously not a good person.' Or, 'If you don't forward this, you obviously don't care.' Or, worst of all, 'Forward this to 10 friends and "we promise!" something good will happen to you!' (This is foolishness-ridden superstition.) So, before forwarding an email, (1) research the facts carefully and check the sources, (2) determine how trustworthy the source is (i.e., how it ended up in your inbox), (3) if there is a "why you should forward this" pitch (a red flag in and of itself), determine how legitimate it is, (4) ask yourself what the real value in forwarding the email is and (5) if the email passes all these tests, don't send it to too many people; choose the recipients carefully.

+ When we hear negative things about people. Passing on any negative information about anyone is almost always harmful and the wrong thing to do. It is very sad when Christians are persecuted more by Christians than those who don't follow Jesus. Sadly, this is far-too-often the case.

+ When it comes to our theology and what we believe. I wrote in a recent article, "It is not cool to dismiss or not care about 'theology.' Theology can be defined as understanding God.' It is 'reality suicide' to dismiss it because our theology forms the bedrock of everything we believe, are and do." Indeed, may the basis for our faith, our beliefs, and the motivations behind what we do be grounded in truth. May we be less like something that bobs in the ocean--going wherever the tide takes it--and more like an ocean rock that stands firm on calm days, and stormy ones.

"Test everything. Hold on to the good." - 1 Thes. 5:21
ar TORONTO, CANADA | 2022+



14 Wed (1) 4pm video mtg (SM), (2) 8pm Bible reading group
15 Thu 3pm appt (Ray)
16 Fri 4pm neighbourhood kids Christmas party
16-18 Fri-Sun Ottawa family Christmas
24 Sat Christmas eve - neighbourhood
26 - Jan ~10 Time away

... Jan ~10 Time away
12 Thu 3pm appt (Ray)
20 10am CCWM board mtg

Feb 17-20 MoveIn conference
Feb 21-24 MVT staff retreat
March poss. ministry trip to Djibouti/Cyprus
April 22-24 Sat-Mon Manitoba ministry trip
May 5 Fri CCWM board mtg (Fri)
June 17 Sat Prayer Journey