The pagans of this world, God’s world, exist in a paradoxical relationship with the saints of the Old Testament, New Testament, and modern times. On occasion, far too rarely, the saints of God, the saved, the elect, act like they are suppose to and truly outshine the pagans of the world, which they are suppose to do all the time. But the scorecard of the saints in this regard is not impressive and is unlikely to change since many current “Christian leaders” that possess the pulpits and TV ministries of the USA only ridicule the idea that God might remember, by name, those who deserted their posts in his service and failed to show up for his work in this world. Moreover, since the conviction of the early Protestant Reformers about the necessity of transformed lives has often been lost on their later namesakes, the poor performance of the elect often goes unnoticed or, if observed, swept under the carpet.
It is really pretty simple to highlight the pervasiveness of egregious sin in the current Christian community, it is like the idiomatic “shooting fish in a barrel.” In this post, however, I want to point out a few episodes where the Lord himself tells the elect that their pagan neighbors sometimes score higher on the “RQ” (Religious Quotient) exam than the saints do. Of course IQ (Intelligence Quotient), EQ (Emotional Quotient), and SQ (Social Quotient) can be very important, but they are all mere rubbish if the saints cannot first pass the RQ exam.
Question 01 Should a religion keep changing the god/s it worships?
Pagans answer-No, how stupid would that be!! (Jer. 2:9-12)
Saints answer–Yes, if it is politically helpful or you lack courage as a nation.
Correct Answer NO! Pagans 1; Saints 0
Question 02 Should a religious community allow sexual perversion like incest?
Pagan answer-No, even we pagans know better than that!! (1 Cor. 5:1)
Saints answer-Well, maybe; sure, why not? Yes.
Correct Answer NO! Pagans 2; Saints 0
Question 03 Should Christians ever tell the truth about how corrupt the surrounding culture is?
Pagan answer-Yes, if your fellow citizens are “liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons,” then it is fine to say so occasionally. (Titus 1:12)
Saints answer-No! What kind of backward, intolerant, misanthrope are you? You trying to run off ever possible visitor for the next 5 years? NO!
Correct Answer YES! Pagans 3; Saints 0
Let me leave you with a RQ challenge from the pagan world in which John lived. The famous Roman philosopher Seneca has been a favorite Roman philospher for many later Christian authors and theologians. John Calvin, for example, wrote his first published book on Seneca’s work entitled De Clementia rather than on a book of the Bible. In a letter to a friend who was a Roman governor Seneca warns about how desensitized and cruel one can become by watching activities that promote such. Seneca becomes transparent and admits how unhealthy his thinking becomes after visiting the arena during gladiator combat. In Letter 7 to his friend Lucilius Junior he writes,
But nothing is so damaging to good character as the habit of lounging at the games; for then it is that vice steals subtly upon one through the avenue of pleasure. What do you think I mean? I mean that I come home more greedy, more ambitious, more voluptuous, and even more cruel and inhuman . . . .
Hardly a surprise that Seneca feels this way when he sits with others at the games who enjoy the murder and cruelty. While humans are being butchered, they shout,
“Kill him! Lash him! Burn him; Why does he meet the sword in so cowardly a way? Why does he strike so feebly? . . . Whip him to meet his wounds! Let them receive blow for blow, with chests bare and exposed to the stroke!”
And when the games stop for the intermission, Seneca continues, they announce: “A little throatcutting in the meantime, so that there may still be something going on!”
Compared to some contemporary believers whose TV and movie diets expose them to every conceivable evil, inhumanity, and perversion on the planet, Seneca’s aversion to viewing brutality might just give him a higher RQ score than some modern Christians would get.
7 thoughts on “God’s Knowledge Bowl, Pagans 3––Saints 0”
Here's another one: is it okay to let another man think your wife is available and let him take her into his harem to save your neck? Abaraham, yes; Abimelek, no. (Gen. 20:9)
Thanks for the additional example! I am sure there must be others also.
Dr. Oster! Now you're prooftexting culture! (I know, I know; I'll always be a heretic. Besides, the pagans are evidently better at theological QC – therefore, God evidently wants us to be pagan.)KIDDING. (Mostly.)I miss your classes and talking to you about all the things you think I'm wrong about. ^_^ (And I mean that quite sincerely. It's an honour to talk to you,whether we agree or disagree.) I'm off causing theological havoc in other places right now, but next time I make it to Memphis, we should grab coffee or lunch or other time-appropriate refreshment.
Quiara, Would love to get a cup of coffee; just give me some advance notice and I will do my very best to get with you. I would enjoy it and summer is clearly easier than Fall-Spring semester.I am glad you keep visiting the blog!
I have the blog in an RSS reader, so I can keep up with it all the time. I really enjoy it. I'll be traveling with a domestic mission until December. I don't know if we'll hit Memphis or not. I'm meeting them in Dallas for the next leg of the journey and we're headed north and west from there. It's an amazing group.(I'm spending my 33rd year as a nomadic preacher! I've read about something like that before… ^_~)It's good to read your writing. I definitely miss your classes and you perspective on this. I hope the migraines are more in check. Mine seem to be, for the most part, but botox injections are looking more and more likely. (I don't want to lose my expressive eyebrows, but that's a small price for not feeling like someone is rearranging my facial bones for fun.)Take care. I look forward to reading more in the future.
I can only speak for my North American context but it seems the real problem behind the problems is that one can be a Christian and yet not share the same beliefs and values that Jesus lived his life by. Of course, this does not seem to be anything new to Christianity. The pages of the New Testament are filled with "gospel" as the writers utilize that narrative to shape the life of each Christian community.Grace and Peace,K. Rex Butts
"Full of sin, our age has defiled first the marriage bed, then our children and our homes; springing from such a source, the stream of disaster has overflowed both people and nation. — Horace, Odes 3.6Marriage is to be held in honor among all, and the marriage bed is to be undefiled; for fornicators and adulterers God will judge. — Hebrews 13:4