Friday, June 05, 2009

Boy, you don't know nothing. Mighty Mouse is a cartoon. Superman's a real guy. There's no way a cartoon could beat up a real guy.

We continue with our series based on The 10 Dumbest Things Christians Do, by Mark Atteberry. The following are some notes from my Sunday school lesson at Providence Church.

DUMB MOVE #4: Speaking above the Level of Our Knowledge

There are some more obvious sins, but what about the sneakier ones?

We all know it is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt. But how often do we speak from our ignorance, above the level of our knowledge?

“A seasoned scholar will often speak humbly, acknowledging that the things he doesn’t know far outnumber the things he does. But a fool will recklessly spew rumors, hearsay, and speculation like it’s gospel.”

It seems to me part of the problem is that people want certainty more than truth, but that's a post for another time.

“Liars, gossips, and caustic critics are always seen as troublemakers, while a person who speaks above the level of his knowledge is often a good-hearted soul with the best of intentions.”

Our tongues can get us into all kinds of trouble (James 3:1-12). So, we should be quick to hear, but slow to speak and slow to anger. (James 1:19)

But, and perhaps ironically, “… people who don’t have a clue what they’re talking about never seem to lack confidence.”

Remember, the Hippocratic Oath: "First, do no harm." In speaking to other Christians, even if we can't be of help (Eph 4:29), we must first, do no harm.

4 Temptations to resist to avoid so we don't speak above the level of our knowledge:

1. Temptation to Analyze People

We are particularly prone to assume motives, even in the marriage relationship, thereby suffering from negative interpretation.

“… only God is wise enough (and fair enough) to make judgments regarding another person’s deepest secrets and private motives.”

2. Temptation to Explain Suffering
“For some reason, when we see suffering, we feel compelled to try to explain it.”

Remember when Jesus was asked, who sinned so that the man was born blind? Their faulty assumption was that suffering was a result of sin.

There were a plethora of explanations offered for 9/11. In my sermon the following Sunday, I made the following statement: "We as Christians and myself as a preacher of the Word are called upon to do exegesis of the Bible, not current events. It’s always very dangerous to read the Bible in one hand and a copy of the newspaper in the other."

Sadly, many who have experienced a miscarriage have been told they were being punished because of some sin in their lives.

Remember Job’s friends? What should they have done? (cf. Rom 12:15 ~ Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.)

“The reason why it’s pointless to try to explain suffering is because it isn’t always the result of sin. Sometimes it’s the result of faithfulness. And the purpose of it isn’t always to punish. It can also be intended to strengthen.”

3. Temptation to Spread Rumors

“The next time a juicy rumor comes your way, picture an open spigot with sin gushing forth. And then consider that your response will be a crank of that spigot’s handle to either the left or the right.”

4. Temptation to Believe Everything You Hear

What’s the danger? People act on faulty information. Even in a church folks can give more credence to a false rumor heard through the grapevine, as opposed to listening to the leadership says or bothering to find out if the rumor is true.

For example, I had a dear family that left the church because they were told there was going to be a church split. I told them there wasn't anything of the sort, but the left nonetheless. We did not have a split.

Before you believe and/or act on some things, make due diligence to determine their veracity.

How do you send or receive the message that you're speaking above the level of your knowledge? Atteberry suggests taking the “Apollos Approach,” quietly pulling another aside for instruction and/or correction. (Acts 18:24-26)

Discussion Questions:
  1. With regard to the first temptation, how would you Christianize the following proverb: “Never criticize a man until you've walked a mile in his moccasins”?
  2. What were some of the reasons given to explain the suffering of 9/11? How might some of them have been spoken beyond the advocate’s level of knowledge?
  3. What is at stake with an incorrect explanation of suffering? In other words, why should we avoid that temptation as Atteberry suggests?
  4. Why do we enjoy spreading rumors? Why won’t people take the time to do research before passing along what may be false?
  5. If speaking above the level of our knowledge is the problem, what is the answer? In other words, what practical steps can be taken to not speak above the level of our knowledge?

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