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 | 2023+



27 Sat (1) 11am Commencement speaker at R. University, (2) ~3pm+ time w/ V/AR+
29 Mon (1) 9:30am VT prayer, (2) 3pm mtg DerCh - Mississauga
30 Tue (1) 10am ph call (AA), (2) 5:30pm video mtg (IsTan), (3) 8pm neighbourhood prayer mtg

1 Thu (1) 11:30am Zoom mtg (LM), (2) 4pm mtg (VS,KBr)
2 Fri (1) 10:30am ph call (PVDW; SL w/ boys; ~J working)
3 Sat SL w/ boys and MG
5 Mon (1) 9:30am VT prayer mtg, (2) 2pm Europe call, (3) 5pm mtg/walk (YM)
6 Tue (1) 11:30am lunch (GD) - St. Jacobs, (2) 4pm mtg (AF) - Cambridge, (3) 7:30pm worship night
9 Fri ~J's b'day
10 Sat North Bay trip
13 Tue 11am mtg (DAy) (~J school trip w/ ~Co | text BD)
14 Wed 9:30am time w/ BD
15 Thu 4:30pm video mtg (Paul T.)
16 Fri (1) 9am video med appt, (2) 15-km run (Prayer Journey "warm-up")
17 Sat Prayer Journey (my own: 50km GTA bike-ride; Jessie's: 5KM) and speaking at GTA after-party
23-25 Fri-Sat poss. SL
26 Mon 2pm Europe monthly call
29 ... July 7 Thu-Fri poss. holiday in Arkansas

... 7 Thu-Fri poss. holiday in Arkansas
~8-17 SA+ in Toronto; P/H Bell likely visiting too
15 Sat aft+ baptism (Saj; NaB may be coming)
17-21 Mon-Fri Kids Kapers camp
24 Mon 2:45pm med. appt
26 Wed (1) 11am video mtg (SM), (2) 3pm Zoom mtg (SMa,SB), (3) 7pm ~J speaking at Greenhouse/Zoe - UofT downtown
27 Thu 10am video MVT board mtg
31 Mon 3:05pm med. appt
July/Aug CCWM board mtg / AGM

2 Wed 11am video mtg (SM+)
6-12 Sun-Fri Cottage w/ O/DN+ and UB/AC - Windermere; plus Muskoka
19 Sat poss. ~J fam beach day - Brighton area
25-29 Fri-Tue MoveIn staff retreat - southern Ontario

Sep 21 Thu - MVT board mtg
Sep 23 Sat poss. date of GV memorial
Sep 24 Sun ~Ch's b'day
Sep ~26-28 Poss. time in Lushnjë, Albania
Sep 29 - Oct 6 MoveIn Europe Conference+ - Durrës, Albania
Oct 21 Sat poss./unlikely date of GV memorial
Oct 21-27 Dollar-a-Day week
Early Nov Poss. fundraising event - Niagara
Nov-Jan Poss. time in India - Goa; Philippines - Manila+; Indonesia - Jakarta/Bali; LA/San Diego