False Moderation

Moderation in loving God and people is not a virtue. A middle way between God’s commands and heathen ways is not the way.

Certainly non-essentials exist, but they are non-essentials not because they are unimportant: they are secondary because there are higher, more self-sufficient truths, just as there are higher, more self-sufficient actions that are more done for their own sake than others are. Such truths are the ones about God’s character and about man’s depraved character and need for salvation. These are what we call essentials:

In essentials unity, in non-essentials liberty, in all things charity. (Augustine of Hippo)

Yes, these truths are the most essential to having a worldview that reflects what’s actually true, not just what we want to believe. However, these truths can and must bring to bear on our lives. There are few things of real import about which we can claim to be agnostic. We can perhaps refuse to know, or refuse to find out, or refuse to recognize, but in our actions, even if we say we do not know, we act one way or another as if we do know.

Some choices are binary. We choose to do something, or we choose not to. Not caring to put in the work to know which one is right is not caring to know what God wants for us. If I dismiss an issue as something debated and disagreed about among believers, then let the prevailing culture dictate what I decide to do about it, I show not humility about the truth but arrogance and idolatry: that because people disagree — not necessarily because God’s will is unclear — I decide that I have the right to consider it a waste of time to try to find out honestly. This is what I believe many of us actually do when we speak or act as if moderation is the highest good of society.

Such an attitude may lead us to agnostic but intentional wickedness, and lots of it. The God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel had His people carried away into captivity under the Assyrians and then under the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar. He had decadent Babylon fall to Persia. He had Rome fall to hordes of Germanic tribes to the north. This same God has toppled the wicked Xia dynasty king Jie and the wicked Shang dynasty king Zhou. Century after century He has swept away wicked kingdoms and empires.

We cannot think we are any holier than the heathen Romans. We are far from righteous, as far as we are from the righteous, holy God of heaven and earth. If altars to heaven in ancient China were the embodiment of a state’s welfare, our altars have been toppled, and yet we live our lives unmindful of the peril in which we stand.

What hangs in the balance? Our desire to live according to the way of God. We cannot sing songs in church about our “passion” for Him, even be emotionally overcome by the Lord’s love for us, and then ignore an issue because it’s a non-essential. Our liberty is for submission to Him who delivered us from sin, not merely from the penalty of sin but the necessity of a corrupt nature that continues to commit sin.

Cogito, Credo, Petam

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