How to Cowardly Abandon All Resolve and Condemn the Teaching of Those Who Fall from Favor and Lose Popularity

After the manner of Erasmus

When the sands of time have shifted, the winds of change have altered course, and the status quo yields so that his principles are no longer held in vogue, the time has come for the Christian to compromise his beliefs, concede his standards, and abandon the ship of faith in cowardly despair.

Clearly this is the only tactful course of action to take. Can he justify continuing to adhere to an orthopraxy which the sin of prominent men have tarnished? Surely the sin of such men has tarnished their message enough to justify condemning all they taught. How would he answer his critics if he were to continue to practice a lifestyle which has now been brought under such intense scrutiny? How could he easily defend such a course of action?

When prominent figures fall from favor in the eyes of their fellow Christians, all reasonable men are responsible to renounce those teachings and separate themselves as far from the danger of association as possible. He must forget that their teachings are from the Scriptures and that the Scriptures use terms and explicitly state the principles that he formerly held to.

Some Christians may argue that the Scriptures are sufficient for governing all that relates to faith and practice — But with their singular loss of popularity who wouldn’t abandon such opinions? A Christian can’t hold to principles taught by men who have fallen from favor — he may be said to be associated with sinners! What would that do to his “testimony” and “influence”? A Christian can’t be condemned by the world. He should seek the world’s approval.

While many Christians may have at one time agreed with the theology taught by these prominent figures — some may have even quoted their teaching from the pulpit! — such scandalous association can no longer be drawn between them. They must feign ignorance of the true scope of the teaching — they must convince others that they were duped into believing such ideas — any benefits they had claimed stemmed from such doctrines must be generalized or explained away. If a Christian previously voiced assent to the teaching, or gave prestigious awards to such teachers,1http://homeschoolersanonymous.wordpress.com/2014/08/31/hslda-gave-this-man-their-prestigious-lifetime-achievement-award-just-4-years-ago/ he must denounce them, and run to the safety of the next wind of doctrine2Ephesians 4:14 that blows from the Christian left.

This is only fitting. How else would a Christian save face in a culture that is already apathetic to his values and beliefs? The only valid option is obvious: look at the teachings from a new perspective — one that is antithetical to his previous viewpoint. A new viewpoint that has an autonomous standard of morality and seeks to interpret the commands of God from the cultural bias of antinomianism.

With a new standard of interpretation, anything is fair game. A Christian can berate his former friends and allies in the faith; those whom he labored hard with for the work of Christ’s Kingdom. He can now neglect kindness toward his friends and forsake the fear of God3Job 6:14 for political expediency and cultural influence.

Betrayal is the next logical step — and why not? If one can’t associate himself with the philosophies of men who have sinned, he should also publicly discredit them, preferably by claiming that he “knew” there were warning signs all along.

If logical arguments and scriptural principles of interaction with others fail, he must appeal to sympathy and emotions in a manner as culturally relevant as possible; applying the world’s parameters for arguments and discussion. The ridicule he may take for adherence to the Scriptures comes at too great a cost.

Satire aside, consider God’s response: “He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds them in derision.”4Psalm 2:4 ESV This is not a new phenomena; it has been the struggle of men throughout history to hold fast to the truth. For instance, the denial of Peter:

Now Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard. And a servant girl came up to him and said, “You also were with Jesus the Galilean.” But he denied it before them all, saying, “I do not know what you mean.” And when he went out to the entrance, another servant girl saw him, and she said to the bystanders, “This man was with Jesus of Nazareth.” And again he denied it with an oath: “I do not know the man.” After a little while the bystanders came up and said to Peter, “Certainly you too are one of them, for your accent betrays you.” Then he began to invoke a curse on himself and to swear, “I do not know the man.” And immediately the rooster crowed. And Peter remembered the saying of Jesus, “Before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.” And he went out and wept bitterly. 5Matthew 26:69–75 ESV

Peter denied having known Jesus and of following his teachings — teachings which he knew were trustworthy because they were taught in the Scriptures. Later he proves that he knew they were true by his own instruction to others of these teachings. Sadly, many are like Peter and waiver when their ideologies are questioned because of their association with what is quickly becoming unpopular.

We’ve grown so accustomed to playing follow-the-leader that when prominent proponents of our ideology fail, and we’re left standing without a spokesman, we shrink at the thought of responsibly standing up for what we believe in. Our actions demonstrate that we don’t know the Scriptures well enough to give a defense for our beliefs. We have not been ardent students of the Word, and therefore can’t own the sentiments ourselves. In our depraved nature we will do anything to escape the embarrassment of our own stupidity — even abandoning all of our principles for temporal safety. Without resolve, we run like cowards.

But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, … their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death. 6Revelation 21:8 ESV And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.71 Corinthians 6:11 ESV So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by our spoken word or by our letter.82 Thessalonians 2:15 ESV

The Denial of Saint Peter” (1625) by Nicolas Tournier. Public Domain.

Footnotes   [ + ]

1. http://homeschoolersanonymous.wordpress.com/2014/08/31/hslda-gave-this-man-their-prestigious-lifetime-achievement-award-just-4-years-ago/
2. Ephesians 4:14
3. Job 6:14
4. Psalm 2:4 ESV
5. Matthew 26:69–75 ESV
6. Revelation 21:8 ESV
7. 1 Corinthians 6:11 ESV
8. 2 Thessalonians 2:15 ESV

3 thoughts on “New Ethics Against Virtue

  1. Why do you say Farris has abandoned previously held beliefs? Did he ever affirm in the past the things he now denies? Wasn’t his support of Gothard and Phillips merely for the sake of general homeschooling values, avoiding their more controversial ideas? I am doubting that he ever believed or even intended to imply belief in them.

  2. Caleb, my comments aren’t focused primarily on Mr. Farris and his beliefs, but upon the actions of the broader Christian community and their general response to those who lose popularity. Many Christians have supported Mr. Gothard, Phillips, and men with similar doctrinal understanding (which isn’t limited to “patriarchy”) when they were the primary and popular proponents of the biblical family. But now that such men fall from popularity, these Christians who previously supported them and claimed friendships with them have abandoned them to their fate and try to distance themselves from the more “controversial” teachings when the time is inconvenient for them to be associated with the issues. HSLDA didn’t publicly criticize the teachings of Doug Phillips when he was actively supporting their work and recommending their services to the homeschool community. It’s only after his reputation has changed that he voices public dissent with specific teachings — and in a truly incredible straw-man argument to boot!

    My primary concern is that people stand honorably on the teachings of the Scriptures; that they know what they believe and own it themselves. Being blown about by every whim of opinion that flies at them from a status update on a social media website is not the way to persevere in a Christian walk or to bear a godly testimony.

    And we can’t berate those who we called our friends when it becomes inconvenient to be associated with them. Christians should have more of a backbone than to abandon their allies in the Kingdom of God when the fighting gets rough.

  3. I see. With that clarified, I completely agree with your article, Kurtis. Concerning Farris, it might be said that his long silence was too much like an endorsement, so that his recent “emergence” is an apostasy-in-word, if I might put it that way. Your article doubtless was triggered by the exemplary nature of his actions, which typified what many more have been doing with Gothard’s and Phillips’s teachings.

    But you said it perfectly here: “We’ve grown so accustomed to playing follow-the-leader that when prominent proponents of our ideology fail, and we’re left standing without a spokesman, we shrink at the thought of responsibly standing up for what we believe in.” Following a teaching without biblical reason has been such a serious, even destructive, problem. People who justly seek, almost with desperation, a countercultural answer to the challenges of family life have cast their trust in men rather than God, and now they must reckon with their own deadly mistake, when the men they followed prove what sinful mortals they always were. I firmly believe that the instability that man-based belief brings into the home is the primary cause for the widespread apostasy among young homeschoolers.

    The call to live by the word of God alone is needed more than ever. Keep it up, brother.

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