Double Standards on Knowledge
I do not like the stereotypical salesman because he relies on my lack of knowledge to get me to purchase his product or service. He makes claims that have no basis in reality, no source, and are architected to appeal to my feelings—without allowing my intellect time enough to see the disparity with reality. Statements like, “You have to drive it—feel it—and then we’ll figure out a way to make it work financially,” are whispered into my ear so that I make how I feel about the product of disproportionately greater weight than what I can afford or what might be best for my particular life situation.
I do not like the stereotypical corporate marketer because she relies on baseless claims about a company’s position in a sea of nebulous, subjective data. Statements like, “The leading provider of <insert extremely specific service that only this company offers>,” are wrought with the intention to sound like there are hundreds of others who have tried and failed to compete with this company. Yet, when the research is requested, there isn’t any. The marketer has carefully crafted a statement that cannot be proved (or disproved).
I do not like the stereotypical, sleazy lawyer because he abandons either the letter of the law or the spirit of the law in order to violate the other. By carefully poring over a particular legal document, he may find that there is the infamous “loophole” which allows his client to slip through the fingers of the law intended to stop such clients from attaining biased favor, excessive power, or a corporate monopoly. Alternatively, he may appeal to the supposed spirit of the law in order to persuade a judge to weaken the legislative enforcement of the law.
I do not like the stereotypical politician because she makes statements purely for their value of attracting constituents. The famous Bill Murray quip from Ghostbusters comes to mind: “You will have saved the lives of millions of registered voters”, because even pop culture is free to satire the oft-purposely-overlooked flaws of human greed for power and prestige.
These are not unique feelings that only I have. These are held by many people—even those whose political, religious, and corporate views are entirely different from mine (even Hollywood’s liberals!).
Let’s apply these now to Christian pastors. How about we apply it to YOUR pastor? How about we apply it to MY pastor? Think of the following important points (distilled from the above):
Does your pastor:
- Make claims that have no basis?
- Make claims that have no source?
- Tell you that your feelings are more important than Scripture?
- Tell you that your experiences trump anything else?
- Make broad, sweeping statements that *sound* biblical but are not in Scripture?
- Evade the clear definition of certain biblical passages because they are not “loving”?
- Evade the clear definition of certain biblical passages because they are not “inclusive”?
- Preach things that are comfortable for everybody?
- Preach things that avoid hard and divisive truths?
These are all things that are unacceptable to us in other areas (as noted at the start of this entry). Yet, when it comes to biblical preaching and biblical pastoring, we are suddenly reticent to point out the clear problems of which we are so very aware in these other areas of life!
We must cease to have such a double-standard on knowledge. Moreover, we must cease to lack knowledge, since our culture has long been headed in a direction that belies anti-intellectualism in many areas (not just Christianity).
Study the Scriptures. Check what your pastor says against what God’s Word clearly says. There is no excuse at the throne of judgment; if we do not know Christ, we will be cast into the eternal torment that we all deserve. In other words: this is not a trifle—it is the most important thing.