Thursday, March 19, 2015


It was parody song genius Weird Al Yankovich who said it best:

"All you need to understand is everything you know is wrong."

I've always been one to stand for his beliefs while respecting other opinions. I honestly do not mind if someone challenges my philosophy, because a) the truth has nothing to fear and b) I might just learn something I do not know, thus giving me the opportunity to adjust my beliefs and be the better for it.  Mostly, I could hold to my views because I knew there were like-minded people who also held the same views.

But there is a phenomenon sweeping through American Christianity that has more in common with Weird Al's song than my own stand on the truth. For lack of a better term, it's the "Everything You Know Is Wrong Syndrome." And what is surprising is its source. We as Bible-believing Christians expect our beliefs to be put down by the atheist, the skeptic, or the far-left theological/social liberal, but many of today's contrary voices are coming from within the evangelical culture itself. Otherwise good, knowledgeable, legitimate proponents of conservative Christianity are taking up positions contrary to what is often believed within those circles.

"OH, come on, Timotheous!" you may say. "There have always been various views on, say, the rapture. What makes your view right and all the others wrong?"

That's a very good question.  And if those who want to discuss the rapture, whether it's pre-trib, mid-trib, post-trib or even if there is a trib or if everything is post-millennial, want to sit down with their Bibles and notes and discuss it, I'm all for it. Over the years, I have enjoyed, yeah and verily thrived, on such dialogues. In the end, I never changed my esteemed colleagues' views, nor did they change mine. But we both gained a greater understanding and appreciation of the other's position.

But within the "Everything You Know is Wrong Syndrome," the rapture debate goes something like this: "The pre-trib rapture is a late invention of the church and not a single reputable Bible scholar holds to it."  In other words, you may be in one of those churches where you were taught that there was a pre-trib rapture, but...everything you know is wrong!" End of discussion, debate, dialogue, examination, and so on.

Another example is origins. For some time, it was pretty much a given that evangelical Christians believed in the Genesis account of creation as opposed to evolution. Even those who adopted "accommodation" views (gap theory, day-age theory, and so on) were still convinced that it was God, not random chance, that ultimately brought the universe into existence. But lately, the buzz is that reading an actual week-long creation into the first chapter of the Bible is actually inconsistent with what the Bible really says. Genesis 1 and 2 is simply a metaphorical story that really has nothing to do with origins. You may believe that God created the world in six days, but...everything you know is wrong! While we're used to the secular scientific community and media saying that to evangelicals, it's a little disheartening to hear evangelicals saying it to other evangelicals.

Theological issues, moral issues, and even practical issues are all being summarily dismissed under the syndrome. For example, if you are a pastor, you may think that part of your calling is to bring a sermon. But, according to some very good people I admire and respect,...everything you know is wrong! The sermon is irrelevant, outmoded, and dead (open mic Q & A, anyone?).

So why is there this growing shift among church people to revise long held stands? I think in the case of the sermon, it's an honest and sincere attempt to help equip God's people more effectively. I don't think eliminating the sermon is the way to do it, but at least we can agree on the need and the goal. We can discuss the matter at length, but if the attitude is "everything you know is wrong," then the dialogue ceases.

In some instances, particularly with moral issues, the world has been successful with brow-beating Christians with labels such as "ignorant," "narrow-minded," and even "bigoted."  So who really wants to be stuck with those labels? I want my worldly friends to say, "Yeah, he's a Christian, but he's so open-minded and tolerant."  I want to sit with the cool kids, so I'm going to adopt their point-of-view, even if it means cutting down my fellow believers.

There are other reasons for the "Everything You Know is Wrong Syndrome."  Sadly, some Christians are lazy and uninformed (yeah, that's harsh) and so they don't know enough about their own belief systems to take a stand.  I think other evangelicals are just tired of fighting. I think in this case, the critics are right: we've sometimes fought the wrong battles in the wrong way. In our quest to hate the sin and love the sinner, we've ended up being against everything and not figuring out just what it means to love.. We've come up with pat answers to hard questions and left some hurt people in our wake. And when those who struggle with sin, wrestle with doubt, or suffer with issues leave the church, we react in surprise.  So in our quest to not hurt anybody or not offend anybody or not diminish anybody, we allow ourselves a way out and end up abandoning the views we've long held.

There's got to be another way. I'm going to periodically address some of these issues, not as an "expert," but as a fellow traveler.  But my motivation is a simple one: can someone maintain an evangelical, Bible-believing Christian faith and still engage the issues which so many categorize as "everything you know is wrong?" I'm going to try. And I may end up ticking everyone off. But if I can get people talking again, maybe we can figure some of this out together.

I have a list of items, and I would like to hear your suggestions as well, plus any comments as we go along. But as always, please remember to keep your comments respectful and clean, or else I will exercise the power of the delete button!