Monday, June 29, 2009


I was about Jr. High age when I first walked up to a pinball machine, dropped in a coin and started trying to score enough points to keep playing. I found I enjoyed the game and over the years have occasionally returned to a machine to spend a few, fun minutes competing.

I remember my surprise, though, when I first stood to the side and watched somebody masterful play. With deft touch, great players could just about make that machine stand on its side without the cursed "Tilt" lighting up. It seemed that I simply shifted my weight from one foot to the other and the whole screen would go blank as I watched the ball drop meekly out of my sight.

As a follower of Christ and as a pastor, I often see something go "Tilt" in the world of Christianity. For instance, there's the Bible study material a friend wanted me to look over. The more I read it, the more I felt my own internal "Tilt" light coming on. The problem was not so much in the doctrinal views espoused by the writer as by the authoritarian way they were presented. I get very cautious any time someone comes along with their pet interpretation of Scripture and communicates that no other view but theirs is right.

"Do you realize that scholars have studied the Scriptures over the centuries and arrived at different interpretations than this author?" I added, "Do you know that each of them backs their view with Scripture?" My friend was somewhat surprised to discover this and I'm not sure how this information will affect his use of the material.

Another "Tilt" situation happened just recently. I received an email from another state in which I was told about a Christian young lady who has grown very interested -- almost "I do" interested -- in a Christian young man whom her dad has found unacceptable. Someone wrote to ask me how to help this young couple navigate this situation.

I gave standard answers about how to approach the matter and, hopefully, reconcile the matter in a way that will be good for all. Then I found out more information. It seems the young lady is from a church that has set itself up as the end authority in every part of life. Their views run counter to almost every evangelical church in the world, but they have set themselves up as a small remnant who are right while everyone else is wrong. The only way the young man can ever be approved is to fall lockstep into their ranks.


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