03 August, 2008

Tim Keller on the Problem of Fanatics

We all know them. Many of us, in our immaturity, have been them. But, why, when Christians are being fanatical, do they choose judgment over charity? It is rare to hear that someone is too gracious or too loving or too Christlike. Often we are too sinful to see it.

Lord, let the world see a Church that reflects you instead of the flesh.

Think of the people you consider fanatical. They're overbearing, self-righteous, opinionated, insensitive, and harsh. Why? It's not because they are too Christian but because they are not Christian enough. They are fanatically zealous and courageous, but they are not fanatically humble, sensitive, loving, empathetic, forgiving, or understanding- as Christ was... They emulate the Jesus of the whips in the temple, but not the Jesus who said, 'Let him who is without sin cast the first stone'. What strikes us as overly fanatical is actually a failure to be fully committed to Christ and the Gospel. -Tim Keller


Droll Flood said...

Fanatic, fanatical, fanatically?
A straight forward definition for clarity's sake please!

Nathan Eshelman. Living a life unto the glory of Jesus Christ. said...

The OED states:
Of persons, their actions, attributes, etc.: Characterized, influenced, or prompted by excessive and mistaken enthusiasm, esp. in religious matters.

The quote came from Tim Keller's Reason For God. He is answering non Christians objections to Christianity. So in context, the use of 'fanatic' has to be understood as coming from a non Christian viewing someone who is
'overly zealous' for their faith- but it comes out in a harsh judgmental way.

Droll Flood said...

The disciple's zeal oft far out-strips his masters. Ought we call fire down from heaven?
Zeal without knowledge isn't good. Neither is knowledge without zeal.
Check out the etymology on enthusiast, Nate. It is more in the vein of a bezerker...

Nathan Eshelman. Living a life unto the glory of Jesus Christ. said...

Fanatic is the same way- basically, it is someone who is a maniac obsessed with religion (but not practicing biblical Christianity).

It reminds me of when this guy called Shawn and my apartment back in the day seeing if we wanted to take the youth to Acquire the fire. He told Shawn that our kids would be zealous and enthusiastic when they returned. Shawn answered that God wanted the youth to be sober with a sound mind!


Mark said...

Great quote! The ESV translates Romans 12:10 as "outdo one another in showing honor". Even if that's not true to the Greek (I honestly don't know), we'd all do well to be fanatical in obeying Romans 12.

Nathan Eshelman. Living a life unto the glory of Jesus Christ. said...

The Greek word is 'proegomai' and means to show the way or to lead the way or to go before in doing.

BTW, why are you using the EVIL Standard Version? ;)

Good addition Mark.