Eight Ways to Lose Your Influence in Theology

This is a great thought from Michael Patton copied from his blog – Pen and Parchment

Here are a few ways that you increase your chances to illegitimize your influence in the marketplace of ideas.

1. Be Imbalanced: Militantly focus on a particular non-essential issue. Whether it be in defense of a particular Bible translation or a particular view of the end times, make it your purpose to push for the necessity of the acceptance of something that is not part of the historic Christian faith. Oh, and be passionately relentless about it.

2. Overstate your case: Always use phrases like “That is the stupidest thing I have ever heard” or “Nothing could be clearer.” That way your audience knows that you have never really studied the issue. While your goal is to distance a false position from one that is true, you have really just separated yourself from having a true impact.

3. Misrepresent your opponents: This is often called a “straw man.” It is where you represent your opponent in the worst possible light, bringing up their worst arguments and making them very easy to dismantle. This shows your fear of looking your opponents directly in the eyes.

4. Obscure the options: Act as if your belief is the only option out there. Don’t ever let those under you know that there are others who disagree or that there are even any other positions. If you do, make it sound as if they are flat-earthers and preemptively spoil the well, making them look really stupid.

5. Get defensive: When someone challenges you or your position, become militantly defensive or demeaning. A good thing to do is to immediately attack the person who is challenging you. This is called an ad hominem or “to the man.” When you do this, you don’t engage their arguments, but you become defensive and attack the person. Call the person a liar. That is a good one. It’s not that they just have come to the wrong conclusion, but that they are definitely a liar.

6. Lack of grace: Sure the Bible talks about gentleness and respect in defending your faith, but we can ignore that when the person holds to really bad doctrine. Immediately respond with the opposite of gentleness and grace: harshness and judgment. It is the Christian thing to do. Act as if you are the way you are because of your own righteousness.

7. Be perpetually non-committal: Be in fear of what others will think. Be in fear of being offensive. Call it grace, call it tolerance, call it whatever, but don’t ever take any definite stand. In every situation be timid, walk on theological eggshells, and never ever, ever act as if your view is the right view to the exclusion of others. Qualify everything you say with “this is just my opinion” or “to me.”

8. Define yourself by what you are against. Rejoice when someone goes astray because now you have something to do. Be an attack dog for God and the watchdog for the bride of Christ. Go on heresy hunts, never looking to your own failures, but day and night, night and day, bring attention to the apostasy out there. Good news does not bring publicity, so only focus on the bad. Someone gone astray? Open for business!

9. Label everyone. Try to control people by placing them in predetermined circles. Label them as Evangelicals, Fundamentalist, Liberals, Emergers and the lik . . . Wait, I like this one. Scratch it.

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