I’ve observed a growing tendency among some Christians to utilize the superlative “greatest” to drive home their point when making an argument. More often than not, it seems to be used in a negative sense. Let me share a couple of illustrations that come to mind. The former Executive Director of the Missouri Baptist Convention wrote a series of four articles in The Pathway in which he made the bold claim that the greatest obstacle to evangelism in America comes from the political activism of the homosexual movement. Just on a quick reflection, I think I could easily come up with a list of many other factors that would rank far higher on the scale of obstacles to evangelism in America—-spiritual apathy of believers, fear of witnessing, lack of filling of the Holy Spirit, etc.-—than the clamor of those promoting a homosexual agenda.
As a second example, this weekend I happened to be driving my mother-in-law’s van and turned on the radio. It was tuned to a Christian talk station and I listened for about 2-3 minutes. The preacher (whose name I didn’t linger long enough to hear) was lambasting those who deny a pre-tribulation, premillenial rapture and he accused those who would undermine this belief of having committed the greatest heresy in the history of Christianity. Once again, it occurs to me that there are many beliefs far more heretical in nature than the issue of questioning a given interpretation of the Second Coming. The denial of the deity of Jesus Christ, the rejection of the Scriptures as the Word of God, and the denial of the Trinity come to mind as heretical views far more egregious than the questioning of the rapture.
My take on this is that certain Christians become fixated on issues that they elevate to a place of importance far beyond all merit and reason. The issue, whatever it may be, assumes the role of a hobby horse that the individual rides into the ground. Anyone who seeks to introduce a bit of balance into the picture and fails to appreciate the overarching role that this issue plays in the life of its proponent is swiftly accused of heresy, or at the least, of being a theological liberal. It’s a shame that well-meaning Christians should be guilty of questioning the legitimacy of another’s faith just because that person opts not to mount the hobby horse of the former. Jesus’ new commandment to love one another as He loved us too quickly gets lost in the use of such extreme superlatives and the corresponding rejection of those who take issue with the proponent’s favorite topic.