I knew better. I should have gone with my first instinct. But I didn’t.
Several Decembers ago I was summoned for jury duty in Walker County, Georgia. Overhearing other prospective jurors engaged in various religious and low-level theological debates, I vowed to myself to remain quiet and not get involved in these discussions. For most of the morning I kept to my plan.
Not long before lunch my opinion was solicited by the ring-leader of the discussion group – an un-schooled, self-proclaimed Baptist “preacher”. Apparently he had taken note earleir in the day when a judge made mention that I was a Presbyterian minister.
“Do you believe in the doctine of Once-Saved-Always-Saved?”
Trying to minimize my words, I replied:
“I believe most of what you mean by that, though I am not comfortable calling it by that name.”
“What do you mean?”, he asked.
“I believe the Bible teaches eternal security for the believer. I just think that describing the doctrine as you did a moment ago leaves an impression of cheap grace.”
I am not sure he understood what I was actually saying, but apparently he was satisfied. He even seemed to sense a kindred spirit. He nodded his head approvingly.
Then he asked:
“Why d’ya think so many people deny this doctrine?”
Here is where I started down the wrong road:
“I suspect because people don’t bother to read the one source that defines doctrinal positions (- the Bible)”, I replied a little too flippantly and smuggly.
Again, my answer apparently satisfied him. Again he nodded his approval. Then he observed:
“Yep. People are tryin’ to take God and his Word out of ev’ry-thang. It’s just like people tryin’ to take Christ out’a Christmas. Santa Claus instead’a Jesus. And all these signs that say Merry X-mas… They’re tryin’ to X-out Jesus.”
(Here is the height of my error. Having been lulled into feeling comfortable by the eager reception of my previous simplistic responses…) I interjected:
“O, no. That is not x-ing out Jesus from Christmas. The letter “X” is the symbol of Christ, taken from the Greek letter “Chi”, the first letter for Christ in Greek.”
Silence, followed by a shaking head instead of a nodding noggin. Finally, still shaking his head, he told me:
“You are educated beyond usefulness“
Then he walked away.
Like I said, I should have stuck with my original plan. I should have remained quiet, done my time, and gone home. But since I didn’t, I guess I had it coming.
This old memory came to mind when I read a post by R.C. Sproul on the Ligonier blog: Why is X Used? I am glad to have someone of Sproul’s stature covering my back. But two new questions come to mind:
- What are the chances that guy will read Sproul’s post?
- Where were you, R.C., on that day years ago?!