By Bruce Cooper
A common definition for the word “dilemma” is an usually undesirable or unpleasant choice. And as one reads through God’s Holy Word, you’re going to eventually run into numerous situations where as Christians, we are going to be called, in accordance with God’s Holy Word, to react in one way and not another. And these choices we are called to make, involve not only when we are called to make them, but also on whom we are to make them, plus where we to are to make them and why we are to make them, and finally what we are to make them on. There are many examples but to keep this relatively short, I will only name three.
- Not returning evil for evil is one. 1 Peter 3:9 and many other Scriptures refer.
2. Making righteous and non-hypocritical judgments is another. Matthew 7:5 and many other Scriptures refer.
3. Rebuking unsound doctrine is also another. Titus 1:9 and many other Scriptures refer.
The dilemma aspect comes into play when what God asks us to do, comes in conflict with what we may feel uncomfortable with (hence undesirable or unpleasant), or it may deal with a subject matter to which we have an inadequate understanding. To properly apply the “when”, “whom”, “where”, “why”, and “what” aspects, we need to be thoroughly conversant with all (the whole counsel) of guidance God gives us in His Holy Word on a given subject.
Becoming thoroughly conversant with the whole counsel of what God gives us, on a given subject, takes considerable time and dedication in studying and weighing all of His Holy Word. Many can’t be bothered doing that or ignore what God Word says when it disagrees with their preferences. That’s molding God into our image, not allowing His Word to mold us into His.
Many take short cuts, and take a singular Scripture verse and build their self-validated actions (or non-actions) on that particular verse and ignore all the others. “Judge not that you be not judged” (Matthew 7:1) is a case in point. Unrighteous or hypocritical judgment is not condoned, but righteous and non-hypocritical judgment is required. That is also where those five, “when”, “whom”, “where”, “why”, and “what” aspects come into play.
Disregard for sound doctrine and it’s weighted importance throughout God’s Holy Word is another dilemma that many don’t feel comfortable dealing with, and subsequently go with the growing main stream of secular and even some now Christian evangelical thinking, that says focus on what brings us together and put aside that which divides us. I would agree if that is what God’s Word says we are to do, but it doesn’t. In fact, God’s Word steadfastly supports the upholding of sound doctrine, the continual contending of the faith once given and asks us to rebuke those who would promote a different gospel or unsound doctrine. Unpopular, yes, but I don’t see any Scripture that validates removing these mandates. Man’s popular or accommodating thinking does not negate God’s guidance as provided in His Holy Word, although many seem to think that it does.
Yes, making these decisions can put us into a dilemma situation because it often times is uncomfortable, and the necessity of challenging unsound doctrines is not normally deemed as “enjoyable”. Yet, we do all seek unity with other professing Christians, but not at the expense of God’s truth. When Jesus tells us that no one, comes to the Father except through Him (John 14:6), that is an exclusive statement and any “Christian” church that teaches otherwise is in grievous error. And if we support or endorse the church that teaches and promotes this teaching, that other religions and even atheists will be welcomed into God’s Kingdom, then we also are in grievous error. You simply cannot have it both ways. God’s Word does not give us that option, that I am aware of.
The same logic follows with regard to the teaching of Church ordained sacramental self merit as a requirement for salvation. Salvation is a gift from God. The 5 Solas came out of the Protestant Reformation. Read up on what brought about the Protestant Reformation. The division that came about was not minor, and these same divisions identified then, remain even more so entrenched today. Once again, you can’t have it both ways, you can’t be both a wolf, sanctioning unsound essential Christian doctrine, and a sheep, defending sound essential Christian doctrine, at the same time, but God’s word tells us that some will surely try. Building bridges of unity does not validate tearing down the walls of the sheepfold and welcoming everyone in, irrespective of their beliefs or non-beliefs. Sanctification is not like a sweater, that one can put on and take off at will, when it suits our purposes. Those are earthly human concepts and not God’s. And no, we are not all God’s children. (Credit goes to David Ettinger)
The responsibility we all have been given to defend the faith and refute doctrine, that is not sound, is not a passive directive; it requires all of us to take considerate action. And therein is the dilemma, do we step forward and voice our concerns or do we just let it passively go unchallenged?
I am 77 years old. This body and mind of mine is getting weary. I used to have sufficient energy and the mental agility to challenge and question, when something was brought across my path that violated what I felt God’s Word clearly teaches. That energy is quickly depleting and the mental where with all isn’t doing that great either, but when confronted with a clear violation of God’s guidance, I will still enter the fray, albeit reluctantly. I know going in that the tide is against me, I know going in that there will be criticism and misunderstanding. I earnestly try to focus on the issue and not the person, and refuse to attack the character of the individual with whom I am interacting. Sometimes I am more successful at that, than others. And yes, I am acutely aware of my own shortfalls and insufficiencies, which greatly assist me in the manner in which I interact with others. But I also am far from perfect, and sometimes, beyond my best intentions, my imperfections show.
The thing is, speaking out on these issues that cross our paths, is what we as Christians, according to God’s Holy Word, are called to do. I am but one grain of sand on a long wide beach that goes on as far as I can see. Far too few grains of sand are speaking out and taking a stand. No, it isn’t fun but God’s Word says it is necessary and that’s good enough for me. How about you?
Worthy is the Lamb! Blessings!
Bruce Cooper became a Christian in his twenties and remembers as a new Christian he had a thousand and one questions. One of the objectives for his blog is to provide answers to many of the questions that he originally had. You’ll note that he has a “Christian Resources” page, and a “Defending Your Faith 101” page. These pages, plus others, are made available to provide the many facets of Christian Apologetics. Bruce, by definition, is just an ordinary Christian layperson and his blog is the result of his conviction, that Christians should know why they believe and what they believe. Studying the many facets of Christian Apologetics helps him build on that conviction.
Bruce served 35 years in the Canadian Armed Forces. Upon retirement from CAF he worked another 18 years in private industry as an Information Technology (IT) Network Administrator, and a Certified Google Apps Deployment Specialist. He retired at the age of 70 and now works part time with the Canadian Corps of Commissionaires.
Bruce, A.K.A. Papa, and his wife Peggy live in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Their five children are grown and have gifted them with 7 wonderful grandchildren.
Worthy is the Lamb! Blessings!