Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Doctrinal Desensitizing

Desensitize: to make emotionally insensitive or callous specif : to extinguish an emotional response (as of fear, anxiety, or guilt) to stimuli that formerly induced it — (Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, 11th ed.)

Paul said, "Bad company ruins good morals" (1 Cor. 15:33, ESV).

Television has displayed so much profanity, fornication, adultery, violence, deception, crime, addiction, and abuse that many people believe that it is the norm. As a nation, America is slowly desensitizing to moral sin.

The courtrooms, the media, and the schools have so silenced Christianity that many believe God should never have a voice in anything. When Christians are portrayed they should be seen as hypocrites, idiots or extremists. America is slowly desensitizing to commitment to Christ as Lord.

God still opposes those who turn morality and truth upside down (Isa. 5:20ff.) Desensitizing is one of the devil's methods of bringing about corruption. If the devil can get you over feeling guilty about sin, he can get you to do anything.

Bad people who want moral change find ways to mock and disparage what they oppose. Their witty blasphemy of what is good desensitizes the naive. This is true of moral desensitization, but it is also true of doctrinal desensitization. Doctrinal desensitization is a process that takes place when people who once believed the truth feel no guilt about abandoning it.

Doctrinal desensitization comes from these things: (1) making fun of the godly and right views; (2) quietly introducing the corrupting practice to the young who have not yet come to understand fully the truth; (3) making it fashionable to despise what is right by labeling and stereotyping; (4) creating doubt in the word of God and its teaching; (5) making heroes out of doctrinal dissidents; and (6) disseminating inaccurate information (or teaching error).

Here are some examples of desensitization and misinformation with an answer in the parenthesis:
  • Baptism can mean wash, so it's wrong to say that one has to be immersed to be baptized. "Legalists" demand immersion. (When you can't answer an argument, just call your opponent a name. Immersion was the uniform practice of the early church in Christian baptism.)
  • Psallo and psalmos can only refer to instrumental songs, since David played the harp. (It doesn't seem to matter that for hundreds of years the regular worship of synagogue included psalloing psalmoi with the use of any instrument.)
  • The reason for baptism doesn't matter as long as a person is obeying the Lord. (Of course, one has to wonder if obedience to the Lord includes denying what the Lord says. Does a person who denies baptism is for the forgiveness of sins obey the Lord in baptism, or does he obey a false teaching?)
  • We can worship any way we want to as long as we are not in the assembly. Jesus didn't die over the instrument issue. (So that makes using a piano in the classroom and a guitar in your youth gatherings okay? That makes calling Christian musical worship a concert okay? It seems to me that if people are not willing to obey the Lord everyday and everywhere, they are still disobedient. Being outside the assembly doesn't turn disobedience into obedience. Ephesians 5:19 and Colossians 3:16 refer to our musical worship not only on Sunday but everyday and in every group setting.)
  • Acts 20:7 is talking about Saturday night. (Is it? Did the people of Troas operate on Jewish time? Did the Gentile Luke far away from Israel obeserve Jewish or Roman time? Could this not have been Sunday night instead? See John 20:19.)
  • If we don't loosen up and do things people expect out of church, we won't ever grow. Don't you love the souls of people? (The church doesn't belong to people; the church belongs only to the Lord. Jesus is the only King and the only one who has a right to rule the church. It is not loving or obedient to give in to popular demand rather than to listen to the words of the Lord--1 Samuel 15; Matthew 7:21-27. We love souls by telling them the truth, not by allowing them to believe error.)

Callous people are past feeling guilt. They not only willfully ignore (deliberately overlook, ESV) the truth (2 Pet. 3:5) but also like the devil keep the truth from reaching the ears of those who are young and naive in the faith (Luke 8:11-13). It is manifestly true that many young people among us have never heard the debates over the distintive nature of the church, baptism, or instrumental music. It is no wonder they are so easily persuaded to follow error!

The answer to this process of desensitization is a sincere study of the truth and a heart given to God's will rather than to popular desires. Preachers must be willing to speak the truth in love. We must not fear the rude name-calling of progressives; they are speaking out of their own nature. Callous people don't care whom they call names or whom they run off from their churches. The best thing they can do is show how callous they are to the truth; then we will know them for what they are.

Let us fill our hearts with commitment to the Lord and beware of wolves.



Paula Harrington said...


I appreciate this post. This is so true of the media, however, I have never thought about doctrinal dessensitization before now. I agree with you on all points.

Thanks for this post.


JP Manzi said...

Good post Phil, a good read and something to think about.