Friday, September 3, 2010

A Conviction Against Convictions/

Perhaps the most prolific non-biblical concepts in Christianity today is the so-called “conviction.”

Although, I assume that everyone knows what I mean by this, I will explain it a bit. A “conviction” is a personal belief that God does not want you to do something which is not necessarily wrong in itself, not wrong for others to do, nor forbidden in Scripture.

It is my opinion that “convictions” are the biggest crock even imported into Christianity. As I have observed and evaluated people’s so-called “convictions,” I find them to be little more than a not-so-subtle form of will-worship that fosters self-righteousness and judgmentalism.

In the first place, I am not aware of anyone having a “conviction” against doing something they actually liked. This in itself is highly suspicious. I remember a woman who had an unreasonably strong “conviction” about listening to Christian rock music. The crazy thing was, she hated rock music of any variety even before she was a Christian. She had simply found a way to baptize her personal taste and use it as a way to magnify herself in her own mind. She was more holy and spiritual than these worldly bums at church simply because she had decided that her personal taste was holier than theirs. Frankly, I can’t understand how anyone in the world could enjoy Country Western music; I do not however, assume that this is a great spiritual quality about me which shows my Christian maturity over other believers. That seems as ridiculous as deciding that 7-Up is holier than Sprite.

The drinking of alcoholic beverages is probably the most common subject of these so-called “convictions.” And even there, I have yet to meet someone with this “conviction” who would actually drink if it weren’t for this “conviction.” The “conviction” assumes that something is sinful for you, but how can this be? Where do we find in Scripture the idea that something may be sinful for one person, but acceptable for someone else? Even the people who advocate abstaining from alcoholic beverages realize that although Scripture prohibits drunkenness, it does not actually prohibit drinking a beverage that contains alcohol. Personally, I do not drink, but that is because I can’t get past the smell. When I hear someone recount their “conviction” about drinking alcohol, it is always cast in language that suggests their spiritually maturity and superiority over those who indulge in their “freedom.”

What is this but the Pharisee’s prayer revisited? Paul declares, “Why is my liberty judged of another man's conscience? (1 Cor. 10:29).

This is an example of the “apparent wisdom” Paul speaks of in Colossians 2:23, which does not restrain sin. Indeed it begets pride and self-righteousness. Once you think that there is something you do that makes you to differ from another, you are in serious trouble (1 Cor. 4:7).

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