The Six Deadly Sins of Evangelicalism

May 4, 2010

Six Deadly Sins

Photo by pshutterbug (license)

You’ve heard of “the seven deadly sins” taught by Roman Catholicism? For your edification, here are The Six Deadly Sins of Evangelicalism. These not only mark you as “not one of us” β€” they call your very salvation into question:

I

Supporting gay marriage as a civil right

Laws should never be shaped by culture.

If we made Bible passages into laws, we’d be better off.

II

Affirming “practicing gays” as legitimate people

Sexual “orientation” is not a problem, as long as you remain celibate.

III

Finding middle ground with pro-choicers

There can never be any middle ground.

IV

Walking away from the institutional church

God ordained hierarchy and institutional structure.

So-called “organic” churches are just hippie Bible studies, not real churches.

V

Treating evolution as fact

It’s just a theory. They even call it a theory!

I get my facts from the Bible.

VI

Questioning substitutionary atonement
as the right story for our culture

This is the complete and perfect explanation of why Jesus went to the cross.

Don’t bother me with your alternative “theories of atonement.”

We expect non-Christians to act like heathens, so they have an excuse. But if you run into someone who commits any of these offenses while still professing to be a Christian, just use this phrase: “We are deeply concerned about you.” If you still need to make your point stronger, try sounding biblical: “It grieves my soul.”

(By contrast, here are the traditional seven: lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, envy and pride. Boy, these are wussy!)

…The sixth one has raised several questions, so I have started a new series. The first installment is Substitutionary Atonement: It’s just a theory.

Jon Reid

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As an American missionary kid who grew up in Japan, I'm a child of two cultures, while not fully belonging to either. This gives me a sightly different view of the world.

24 responses to The Six Deadly Sins of Evangelicalism

  1. hehehe…nice one Jon πŸ™‚ It’s so easy for me not to be “deeply concerned for you” now that I’m no longer pastoring. If I still were, I’d be required to soul grieve for you πŸ˜‰ That was a little satire from me in case you missed it…

  2. As I started on facebook …
    I’ll have something to say in a moment, but it took some time to understand your post (and I know you want me to write over on blogoneanother, don’t worry I’ll get to that when I say what I have to say here, then again maybe I’ll just write in both spaces the same set of paragraphs).
    I think your title through me off, to me it says the sins that evangelicals make (as in participate in and stumble over while on the path of life), but it is meant to mean a list of sins evangelicals want everyone to avoid especially if they want to ??? be considered christian by evangelicals.
    I think evangelicals deal a whole bunch with their differences with each other much too often to fall into that trap the way you think. They do have a list of minimums of belief that are very important to them and the first five issues raised are tangents of this world and don’t interfere with Christ as God, as man, as Savior, King and the perfect sacrifice. The last is the only separation from what evangelicals hold dear and wouldn’t want others to consider as OK to do. i.e. don’t search for or expect to find salvation outside of Jesus Christ.
    Now I’ve transitioned into my thoughts and I guess I should post over there what I’ve started here in facebook. … Primarily I find your first five statements hit or miss, but because they don’t determine ones salvation, should I really deal with any of them? I consider myself an evangelical. Though lightly trained (studied) on the ideology of public evangelicalism, I’m thoroughly convinced of Christ as my Savior, the importance of Him to be God and man, along with my continual reliance on Him for comfort in this fallen self, family, country and world.
    Some the issues you raise affect status and stature in the evangelical function of church governance. Not likely going to be allowed to live with sins and gain/maintain public office in authoritative church offices. Like tearing holes into church authority is not acceptable. One cannot pridefully disrupt functional unity of a church body and expect to be promoted to additional responsibilities in any church even an evangelical church. One cannot expect acceptance as a teacher of the Word while continually in a state where one covets through action or drooling what one has not been granted through the Will of God in the oversight of church.
    Well so long for now … and I didn’t even get into my thoughts on gay marriage, homosexuality or ice cream after 10pm. Now where is that scoop.

  3. Dropped by from 31DBBB. Good work on the list post.
    Just FYI… I recently visited the Creation Museum in Petersburg, KY. Great place. You should go sometime if you haven’t already been.

  4. Samia Perkins May 5, 2010 at 8:14 am

    “Questioning substitutionary atonement as the right story for our culture”
    I would like to know more about what you mean by this. Very interesting.

  5. I’m with Sami. I’ve seen you mention it in passing on previous posts. I’d love to hear why you think that seems to negatively affect communication of the gospel. Cause I kinda thought that was the whole point.

  6. Oh wait… I thought this was about evangelism.
    But the question still stands.

  7. Matt, I’m glad I am not burdening your soul.

  8. “For your Name’s sake, O Lord, pardon my guilt for it is great.”

  9. Chuck,
    It’s my understanding that the “seven deadly sins” are taught in the Catholic catechism (that is, basic instructions in the faith). These are my list of what evangelicals, perhaps inadvertently, teach as essential.
    “Don’t search for or expect to find salvation outside of Jesus Christ.” Ah, but I didn’t say that. I feel another post ahead on that one.
    And save some ice cream for me.

  10. Larry, thanks for coming by, and being part of my (second) 31DBBB journey!
    But I don’t think my kids would go with me to the Creation Museum, fearing that my annoyance with the displays would lead to a public display. πŸ™‚

  11. Samia, your wish is my command! πŸ™‚ I will explain in a coming post.

  12. Shallow,
    (Waving my hands in benediction like Salieri in the closing scene of Amadeus)
    “I absolve you. I absolve you.”

  13. Samia Perkins May 6, 2010 at 8:39 pm

    Cool, I look forward to it!

  14. Joe, while my list is about evangelICALism, in a larger context, it is about the impact on evangelism. Funny though, I’ve never blogged about substitutionary atonement before, at least not by those words. Maybe I mentioned it on Facebook? Either way, you’re an astute observer.

  15. Maria, not sure what you meant by the quote, but I love that verse.

  16. Jon,
    after some obsessive/compulsive searching (I LOVE Saturdays!)… you are right. You have never mentioned substitutional atonement on the proper blog, but in your comments section.
    Notably in the entry about Frank Zappa and evangelism, and also in a Kay Sez post about “Christians vs Christ-followers”. Both are from early January of this year.
    You can sleep peacefully tonight. πŸ™‚

  17. Jon,
    Evangelicals do like to place great importance on the Word of God as a source of teasing out God’s Will when His Divine Display is clouded by this world. So the list parallel loses some credibility (itty bitty, teenie weenie) seeing how the seven deadly sins are an actual list in the scriptures? Yes/No? Either way literary license is yours. It is your blog.
    And right, I know you didn’t say salvation could be found outside of Christ (though I do search our words together for full confidence in your belief of that). But if there is a parallel sin list for liberals to be made in a future post it would likely include a near opposite of number six.
    Preaching Christ as the ‘only way’ prevents friendship and kills any hope of an open conversation that leads someone to accepting Jesus as Messiah.
    Well, greater group of buddy’s of the liberal church, it is not evangelicals that coined that phrase, it is Christ Himself. So while much of the non-evangelical church feels free to question His Theology, I won’t. And as I was going through your post I felt it was the one area that deserved attention in evangelicalism’s defense.
    I do look forward to your further posting on substitutionary atonement and whether you will unremorsefully express Christ as Jesus.
    Love you brother, Chuck

  18. Joe,
    Wow, that new search thingy works! Yeah, I just searched my posts, not the comments.

  19. Chuck,
    I wonder if you may be missing the main point of my satire. (Hint: It’s the last paragraph, in parentheses.)
    Now I really need to write that follow-up post on substitutionary atonement! I hope I do it justice, since the pressure is on. πŸ™‚

  20. Jon
    Maybe you should add another deadly sin of evangelicalism – to echo the original seven deadly sins. Maybe you should ask your blog readers for suggestions of what the seventh deathly sin of evangelicalism should be – then make a list and get a vote going πŸ˜‰
    My suggestions to get you going – Questioning the Bible as the Word of God and belief in ‘sola scriptura’…..
    Not that I’m being deliberately controversial or anything πŸ˜‰
    Bless ya
    PS Please don’t send me hate mail – I’m only being satirical – honest :S

  21. Martin,
    I really, really tried to get to seven, just for completeness! But I can’t use that one because it’s a core belief, as opposed to a peripheral add-on.
    Plus, I only want to cite things that I have personally come to hold more loosely (especially for the sake of evangelism in post-Christian contexts). I may not be a “cultural evangelical” anymore, but I guess I’m still a “theological evangelical.”

  22. Jon,
    I & II, I’m totally with you.
    III, we need more dialog to find ground for compromise, I don’t think we’re anywhere near a place where we can compromise now. I do fully believe the notion that no one should be forced to do something against their own conscience. At least, that should be the common thought to kick-start the conversation, I think.
    IV, we had dinner with some friends who shared concerns over 501c3 rules and are now having church as a home fellowship…
    V, I have a concern about treating hunks of Genesis as allegory – who is the first real, existent person then, Abraham? Wreaks havoc with Biblical inerrancy.
    VI, This one is pretty helpful to me in understanding and explaining to others how Christ’s sacrifice is applied to us, how it works…

  23. Dana,
    Ah, so you’re half heretical! πŸ™‚ Seriously though, my point was not to draw a line of issues to say that you’re in or you’re out. It was to demonstrate that by and large, we have majored in the minors, and neglected the big things (the “wussy” traditional seven).