Despite the obvious Monty Pythonism in the title, we are not here to discuss very nice, not-too-tall shrubberies.
“NIH” in the title of this article is the abbreviation for “Not Invented Here.” It’s a flavor of the groupthink form of cognitive bias. Those who suffer from groupthink in general display an inherent distrust of and/or hostility towards any product, behavior, belief, opinion, or event not conforming to their group’s preconceptions and prejudices. NIH builds on that, assuming because the groupthinkers didn’t come up with a particular idea, it cannot possibly be philosophically valid, morally correct, or religiously orthodox.
Members of such groups become so militant it becomes their credo, their “religion” if you will. Taken to its logical end, it can lead such folks to kill all perceived opponents in the name of their “true religion.” Such murderous militancy has evidenced itself in Naziism, Marxism, and Islam (low-hanging fruit when it comes to exemplars), but has occurred more times throughout human history than I could possibly recount here for reasons of both time and space.
Groupthink’s current weapon is the “cancel culture” behavior pervasive in modern-day political and religious discourse. Their premise is any opinions, beliefs, and/or behaviors contrary to their own standards of “rightness” are so reprehensible/repugnant they must do everything within their power to stifle/remove any perceived opposing influence from the marketplace of ideas because, gosh darn it, our rightness is self-evident! So instead of burning their perceived opponents at the stake, they make concerted efforts to either bully them into submission or marginalize them in the marketplace of ideas by attempting to destroy their reputation, credibility, social standing, and livelihood. As Doc Brown said in Back to the Future, “Erased from existence!”
Tragically, Christendom, the organized expression of Christianity in the earth, suffers from a pandemic of NIH these days. While many Christ-followers lament how cancel culture is currently wielded as a weapon of persecution against the cause of Christ, truthfully we — not the world system — invented the concept.
We see NIH constantly evidenced on so-called “Christian” social media: God moves in a new way which does not conform to a group’s preconceived interpretations of Scripture and the social-media effluent hits the oscillating air circulation device. Entire social-media groups/pages are devoted to this kind of behavior while posturing themselves as “defenders of the faith.”
Please note I am making a clearcut distinction here between:
- What the Scriptures actually say and;
- What folks think they say when filtered through their religious traditions, background, experiences, and prejudices.
Just so I cannot be accused of burying the lead, let me be perfectly clear:
- Any teaching/philosophy/doctrine failing to conform to the letter and spirit of God’s written Word is error at best, outright heresy at worst, pure and simple, no exceptions, no equivocation. Heresy is sin, period, end of story.
- Any teaching/philosophy/doctrine failing to conform to the letter and spirit of our personal interpretation of the Scriptures is simply a bunch of folks displaying the incredibly bad form of dissenting with our cherished opinions. Such disagreements never approach the realm of sin until/unless we allow ourselves to indulge in strife, division, schisms, backbiting, gossip, slander, persecution, or other sins of the flesh when dealing with those displaying the temerity of taking issue with our particular school of doctrine.
Who among you is wise and intelligent? Let him by his good conduct show his [good] deeds with the gentleness and humility of true wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not be arrogant, and [as a result] be in defiance of the truth. This [superficial] wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly (secular), natural (unspiritual), even demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder [unrest, rebellion] and every evil thing and morally degrading practice. But the wisdom from above is first pure [morally and spiritually undefiled], then peace-loving [courteous, considerate], gentle, reasonable [and willing to listen], full of compassion and good fruits. It is unwavering, without [self-righteous] hypocrisy [and self-serving guile]. And the seed whose fruit is righteousness (spiritual maturity) is sown in peace by those who make peace [by actively encouraging goodwill between individuals].James 3:13-18 AMP (emphasis mine)
From Verse 17 emphasized above, we can safely draw an fascinating, yet sobering, conclusion: such divisiveness masquerades as wisdom. Satan thereafter arranges to continuously provide such folks with more and more “factual” gasoline to fuel the fires of their envy, resentment, and arrogance.
True humility is nowhere in sight, no matter how humble NIH adherents may try to come across or how renowned they may be theologically. Their foundation assumption is, “If God were really moving, he’d do it through/to us in conformity with our cherished tenets just like He did in times past, not among those weirdos.”
The tragedy of such a stance is this: their attitude is the very reason why God chose to move through those “weirdos” in the first place. We see this selfsame scenario played out throughout the gospels between Jesus and the Pharisees and Sadducees, the religious establishment of that day. Our Jesus spent a great deal of time, words, and effort sticking pins in their hot-air-filled religious balloons.
Ad Infinitum, Ad Nauseam
Sadly, not much has changed over the intervening 2 millennia.
The perpetual cycle we see repeated throughout church history is this:
- God shakes things up by moving strongly in/through a group of outsiders (the new guard) because the institutionalized religious establishment (the old guard) has become moribund, corrupt, insular, legalistic, and/or intolerant.
- The old guard persecutes the new guard, labeling them as “heretics.”
- Despite that, the new guard thrives anyway — because after all, it was God Who initiated the whole thing in the first place — and revitalizes God’s people.
- The old guard fades into insignificance as the new guard achieves critical mass and cultural supremacy within Christendom.
- Over a period of years, the new guard gradually institutionalizes, becoming moribund, corrupt, insular, legalistic, and/or intolerant, thereby becoming a new “old guard.”
- Rinse and repeat.
Why Revivals Fizzle
Why does this perpetual cycle continue? The answer is extremely simple yet incredibly profound: the seeds of every revival’s demise are baked into the cake.
Here’s what I mean: the only perfect church operating anywhere in the universe is located on one of God’s streets of gold in heaven, attended only by perfected and sinless resurrected believers gathered around His throne in perpetual adoration.
Down here? Not so much!
Such perfection eludes all earthly churches because each and every one of them is attended and governed by flawed human beings with varying degrees of sanctification (that would be us), no matter how diligently we try to crucify our flesh (or not!) to serve our loving and holy Lord. As the old Pogo cartoon said, “We have met the enemy — and he is us!”
6 Crucial Questions
I wish with all my heart all this fleshly behavior could be permanently corrected through everyone simply reading this article and repenting. Yeah, right! That could happen! (Hey, cut me some slack; we’re all delusional at one time or another!)
All seriousness aside, the best I can hope and pray for is that this article will, as renowned apologist Greg Koukl puts it, “put a stone in their shoe.” This means I pray the concepts I’m discussing here will make some folks sufficiently uncomfortable and irritated that they’ll pull out their hole card and take a long, hard look at the condition of their heart, asking themselves the following questions:
- Who am I regarding as “less-than” theologically?
- What precisely is my beef with them?
- Are my perceptions of them correct? Have I heard enough of what is actually being taught in context to make an accurate assessment? Or are my opinions based upon straw-man arguments constructed by their opponents from cherry-picked sound-bites?
- Are my own underlying preconceptions/assumptions valid?
- How do both my and their positions hold up against the Scriptures rightly divided?
- Are my own motives pure? Why are those people so irritating to me?
(See there? I’m pretty good at this being irritating stuff; just ask my wife, if you still have questions on this!).
These are the selfsame questions I have to ask myself as I navigate how to express what I believe the Holy Spirit is prompting me to write about.
I constantly have to check my doctrine, my attitudes, and my love walk as I write articles here to avoid falling into that selfsame trap from the other side of the “divide” of whatever controversial issue I confront here. I honestly admit the Holy Spirit has had to correct me on this more than a few times. Only once have I ever violated my self-imposed rule of not calling out members of the opposing side by name. But my motives in that case were to clearly document what they are specifically saying in an objectively verifiable way, rather than to drag them through the mud as they are wont to do with those they oppose.
Pastor Bill Johnson & Bethel
Case in point: over the past few years I’ve heard a bunch of negative comments concerning Bethel’s Bill Johnson in Redding, California. Until recently, I had held him at arm’s length for several years as a result. My maiden listen to a Bill Johnson sermon was his first message he delivered after his wife died of cancer recently. Since he teaches divine healing and has healing miracles occur frequently in his church, I was intrigued about how he would handle that traumatic life event both personally and doctrinally. Why? Because how one responds to such tragedies demonstrates their true character, their true theology, their true relationship with the Lord. I was fascinated to discover him preaching several concepts I have repeatedly presented here at Miscellaneous Ramblings. Truthfully, he and I are very much on the same page theologically, kindred spirits if you will.
As of this writing, I have logged well over 60 hours of listening to his messages on YouTube since then. During all that time, I have never once encountered a doctrinal error of any magnitude, large or small. The wisdom the Holy Spirit has imparted to this man is profound.
You would do well to listen to him.
Now some of you possibly just got offended and no longer want to read my stuff. That’s OK. My dialing back the Truth to avoid offending you would be an act of cowardice on my part.
I treasure those of you who have trusted me enough to read my scribblings here. That being said, I would rather have a few readers of boldly proclaimed unvarnished truth than a million readers of spiritual pablum watered down to avoid offending them.
Thanks for reading!