Sunday, July 3, 2011
During my time as a military police officer in the Army, I attended the long range rifle course. This course is the prerequisite course to become a sniper, which before my disability, was one of my aspirations. As part of the course, we were required to learn about sniper and counter-sniper operations and tactics.
One of the first things you learn in this course is that once a sniper is in a concealed position, he should do everything possible to keep from revealing his position to the enemy. The snipers job is to reduce the strength of the enemy, by drawing soldiers out of their secure positions and shooting them down. Of course the best target for snipers is the officers and leaders of the troops, but if it is possible to take out some foot soldiers without compromising their cover, then they are happy to do that as well. Snipers use all kinds of ruses, fires, nuisance firing, grenades, and booby traps to draw their enemies out into the open where they become easy targets.
So why am I posting about snipers on a ministry blog? In recent months I have encountered several people who behave in much the same way as a sniper. They have many different names for themselves, but mostly their purpose is to find anyone who has a blog that teaches theology different than their own and to take shots at the people there. Much like the sniper in the above scenario, they do not reveal their own spiritual positions, but use ruses and deception to draw the blog posters out and then blast them with their spiritual sniper rifles. When is is not possible to get the blog owners (officers) to reveal their positions and expose themselves to the sniper fire, the sniper then moves to those bloggers who undoubtedly will come to the defense of their friend the blog owner. Attempting to draw one of the foot soldiers out of his cover and thus weaken the "enemy".
I think that the most troubling thing about these spiritual snipers is that they really do in every possible way view people with different theology as the enemy. Even when a they teach the same faith, in the same God and Saviour, even those on the same side of debates can be seen to act in this way. My own experience with the "free grace"/"Lordship salvation" controversy is rife with examples of this. At first the different free grace camps were allied with each other against the Lordship crowd, but in time, they began to attack each other. Bloggers allied with the FGA came to GES allied blogs and attacked the bloggers as Heretics and "false teachers", often not revealing their true intentions until they launched their sniping attacks.
So whose side are we on.
I have come to understand from personal experience, as well as from careful study of many passages that God is willing to use even people with radically flawed theology to fulfill His eternal mission of redemption. I have seen unquestionable conversions that came from Oral Roberts, from alcoholics anonymous, from pentecostal churches, and even from the Catholic church. While I do not agree with the theology of these groups, I know that God has worked in spite of their flawed teachings. I also have seen God save people through the ministry of Southern Baptist churches steeped in the theology of works salvation, and universalist churches who really had no theology at all.
My point I guess is that I am not really called to declare myself a hunter of false teachers and set up my sniping position outside of the other Christian camps that may not have all the same beliefs as me. I am called to be a minister of reconciliation, a person who brings those around me closer to their originally created purpose, relationship with God through Christ. I cannot effectively be helping to reconcile those around me to Christ if I am busy sniping away at them and weakening those who should be my allies.
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