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Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Popular in this life - useless after death?

The good Doctor
In recent times books have come out which cast a critical eye on some of the great Christian leaders of the 20th C. For example, there is a new one about Dr Martin Lloyd-Jones, the great Welsh preacher of Westminster Chapel London which tries to view him "warts and all".

But these new biographies are generating  lots of heat. Those who were ardent followers of "the Doctor" are up in arms about anything negative. Others who never knew him and have only read his books are far less bothered about such criticism, and appreciate a biography that is more in line with the honesty of the Bible's treatment of great believers (i.e. "warts and all").

(For myself, when the first 2-tome biography came out in the 1980s, I gave up half way through volume 1 because it sounded as if the man was a saint who had never done anything wrong - and there is only One Sinless Man I will recognise. Volume 2 remains unread and gathers dust to this very day. This in spite of my great admiration of this very great saint of God.)

"Critical Distance" is the term used to describe the passage of time needed to properly evaluate a life: you can't write a proper biography in the lifetime of the person because there is just too much prejudice and guru-itis around.

Upside Down Christianity
There is surely something wrong with guru-itis. When the Bible's great saints were alive, they were not honoured or feted, instead they were despised, hated and misunderstood. They freely acknowledged themselves to be sinners - the chief of sinners in one case. Because they spoke truth that cut every which way, no-one liked them. Paul was hated in his day, and so you will find were all great Christians. It's only after they are dead that they are loved!

So we have this strange contradiction: Bible 'saints' are hated while alive, and esteemed afterwards. Modern 'great saints' are loved while they are alive......

Why?

Could it be that today's greats are refusing to say the unpalatable things that God wants them to say? Could it be that for the sake of getting  followers on their twitter accounts, they dish out easy truth and hide the difficult stuff? Refusing to tackle the idols of our day?

It seems to me that a warning bell ought to go off when any Christian leader is 'popular'. We ought to ask why such a strange thing? Instead of following them, it ought to make us suspicious of them.

Could the golden rules be:
  •      Popular in this life - useless after death
  •      Unpopular in this life - enduring usefulness "though dead, still speaking"

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