Triumphalist Self-Affirming Theology: “God Is On My Side, So Screw Everyone Else!”



A lot of times I get this crazy table-flipping empowerment from Christian blogs and sermons that tell me “I’m above all this” and “You go accept yourself” and “Forget what anyone else thinks” and “They’re holding you back” and “Screw the haters!” — when underneath there’s an insidious hidden language that’s really saying, “You are God’s favorite and everyone else is just against you.”

This sort of bizarre, cult-like, categorical thinking always appeals to my flesh, and I fall for it.

I suppose I can understand it, because certainly there are a lot of haters and we’d be wise to filter out false voices.  But I think we’re often too scared to hear criticism, too lazy to discern what is right, and too prideful to consider when we’re wrong — so we toss out any “opposition” and continually affirm ourselves as the most important person in the room.  We use words like “enemy” and “strongholds” and “negativity” when just maybe God is actually trying to rebuke us from serious error.

All this egotistical theology is disguised as inspiration and it works for a few seconds. But the end result is a self-applauding, me-versus-you, superiority complex that shuts down any disagreements or honest questions.  I’ve hung out with groups like this, and I want to be gracious here: but it was always disgusting. 

Maybe I’m undermining my own point by saying so, but I really just hurt for them.  They could not see the destructive divisions they were causing.  If a sermon wasn’t up to par, then instant mockery.  If a Christian’s faith looked different at all, then immediate ridicule.  If it was a megachurch, then constant hate. 

 

It’s tough to please a triumphalist attitude, because the second you disagree, you’re just a hater.  As long as you agree, you’re a “friend” and “you really know me” and “no one else gets a say.”

But I remember in Galatians 2, Paul opposed Peter to his face.  There’s no indication that Peter and Paul were friends.  Paul was formerly a Christian-murdering terrorist while Peter had been with Jesus for all three years of his ministry and had just begun his first megachurch — so Peter really had no reason to listen to Paul. 

Instead, Peter repented of his own wrong in front of his own church.  He listened, NOT because Paul was a friend, but because Paul was right.  Peter could’ve easily said, “God is on my side and you’re just a jealous little hater” — but Peter was not butt-hurt about the whole thing.

Peter did not use “God’s unconditional love” as a one-sided argument in defense of his own position.  Because Peter remembered: God loves Paul too, and God loves everyone, and other people can be right, and very often we need others to see our blind spots and set us on the truth again.

 

If you are blocking out other people in your life because they’ve said some conflicting opinions, it’s very much worth looking into again. 

You can keep saying “It’s between me and God” and you can keep plugging your ears, but that will only hurt you.  It will only damage the church.

I’m not saying we need to receive every voice as having the same value.  You do have a right to encouragement.  Of course there are some haters.  God really does unconditionally love you. BUT: I hope we can have enough thoughtfulness to consider that our theology is not an isolated ivory tower of favoritism. 

It’s worth taking the extra time and effort to hear the other side of things, to consider the unfamiliar, to examine the unpleasant.  Together we might learn there is really only one who gets it right all the time, and we cling to Him.


— J.S.

11 thoughts on “Triumphalist Self-Affirming Theology: “God Is On My Side, So Screw Everyone Else!”

  1. We often take the criticism from others as them trying to bring us down. I see this all the time in education. As a teacher I am observed by my principals three times a year. I try to see them as growth points in profession, but often others see them as principals coming down in them. As Christians, we are called to be like Peter, who by the way before Pentecost did not take criticism very well, and look at it as an opportunity to grow.

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    1. That’s a very healthy attitude and I’m glad you receive it that way. While it’s true there are certainly “haters” in every profession, we can still grow from them. Plus God is on their side too. Thanks for sharing, my friend.

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  2. Without a teachable spirit, we’re in deep weeds! I went through this phase on my way out of abusive relationships. After being beaten down so long, it was heady to discover that I had ~power~!

    I’m thankful that God didn’t leave me there. He gave ample opportunities for me to get knocked down a peg or two – back to the foot of the cross where the ground is level and all are equally loved!

    Thanks for this great post. I enjoyed it very much. (Thanks for bringing this one to my attention, Rick A.!)

    \o/

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    1. Thank God for delivering you. Have you shared this testimony before?

      I agree: With great doctrine comes the risk of abusing power. And thanks again for your insightful comments!

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  3. My career was taken away by just this very thing. While I long for them to “see with their eyes” I have to remember that to forgive them I must live the hard truth that in God’s economy they owe ME nothing. They stand before God. And I do fear for those who act as God. They are playing power games with eternal matters.
    That said, this post is important. I pray that it will sink in, not just for the “figured it out mostly” folk, but for the subjects of the post as well. What rejoicing there would be in heaven over one who found their way!
    Peace

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    1. Yes. Sometimes when I write these things, it’s easy to assume that it’s for someone else — but I’m preaching to myself, and I hope others know it is for them and not the guy next to them. As you said, power plays don’t work in God’s Kingdom, most especially with ourselves.

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      1. As a person that just received closure from God, I am thankful that you have written this. The measure of faith, is for certain a diverse thing. It would be awesome to remain in touch with you some kind of way, perhaps by email. Please be in prayer about it. Love in Christ…

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