Sunday, January 28, 2007

Love the Brethren

Proverbs 24:17 Rejoice not when thine enemy falleth, and let not thine heart be glad when he stumbleth

I had not planned, when I started this blog, to comment on current events as many bloggers concentrate on. Recently though, I came across something that I feel the need to address. It seems that a prominent creation science evangelist by the name of Dr. Kent Hovind has been sentenced for tax evasion. I don't know many of the details of the case, except that from what I gather he had a long running battle with the IRS over whether or not his "ministry" and himself were required to pay taxes. This apparently was no small misunderstanding , as he has now been sentenced to 10 years.

But the justice, or injustice of that sentence is not what I wish to speak to. Though I have seen Dr. Hovind speak on two separate occasions, and attended one of his debates vs. an evolutionist, he is not someone whose ministry I follow closely. Dr Hovind is someone who I guess would be referred to as a fundamentalist. Doctrinally he would be toward the far end of the spectrum from me in regards to Calvinism. However, he gives every appearance that he loves the Lord, and has served him for many years to best of his ability. While I may disagree with the stand he chose to make in respect to taxes, I cannot help but admire him for dedicating his life to evangelism.

What I find most troubling about this whole story is that I came across it while reading another blog. This blogger, who will remain nameless here, wrote about Dr. Hovind's sentencing with an all too obvious glee! Reading some of the comments and following some of the links revealed this to be a quite common attitude. Now if this had been a "secular blogger" I would not have given it a second thought. Anyone who holds the theory of evolution dear would have cause to count Dr. Hovind as an enemy. But no, this was a blog that in every way presents itself as a Christian blog (which is why I was reading it in the first place). The blog author's major quarrel with Dr. Hovind appear to be that "he is a self-taught amateur" in the field of creation science. Equally as damning in the authors view, seems to be the fact that Dr. Hovind actually defends the King James version of the Bible.

Using that criteria, the author of that particular blog would likely hold me in contempt also. After all, I have no degrees or formal training in theology, and yet I have the impudence to make a feeble attempt at declaring the Gospel. Some readers may have noticed that I too use the KJV exclusively. I have even been guilty of defending the biblical account of creation both among friends and while preaching , without any scientific training beyond high school. Does that make me an enemy to some that claim to be Christians?

The above admonition that we have from the book of Proverbs obviously would not trouble most secular evolutionists. It is however, something that should cause a Christian to take pause. Most of us here in the "west" would acknowledge one such as Saddam Hussein as an "enemy." No one that I know was grieved at his execution. In fact I would say that many that I know were closer to rejoicing than to grief. According to the passage in Proverbs that is something we should guard against, although I do believe that a hearty Amen may be the proper response to the justice of his execution.

But, if you are a Christian, of whatever persuasion, do you count Kent Hovind as an enemy? This is what I find really troubling about the glee with which this Kent Hovind story was reported. 1 John 3:14 says: "We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death." So here is the kicker. If love of the brethren is one of the proofs of salvation given in the Bible, then someone needs to be concerned. I would not be so bold or so foolish as to claim that anyone who "piles on" Kent Hovind is not saved. I do not even know them personally. Neither do I know Dr. Hovind well enough to be very sure of his salvation (If misunderstanding of a bible teaching is a proof that one is not saved, then surely none of us will enter heaven; show me a man who thinks he has never been wrong on any doctrine since salvation, and I will show you a man who the Lord will soon humble.)

My question is: if you are celebrating Dr. Hovind's fall, are you bold enough to claim that he is unsaved? If so, I suggest you re-read Proverbs 24:17 above. If not, then I suggest you consider the state of your own soul in the light of 1 John 3:14. Either way, would not the proper response be to pray for Dr. Hovind?

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