(Please see my post about Levels of Wrongness.)

I mentioned Andy Naselli in my last post. I regard him as an authority on the biblical view of the Conscience. He (and many other respected theologians) define Strong and Weak Christians this way:

Strong Christians: Those who feel that the Bible says a certain act is not sinful – and they are right.
Weak Christians: Those who feel that the Bible says a certain act is sinful – and they are wrong.
Note: Both the Strong and Weak Christian are attempting to live by the Bible – i.e. they aren’t disregarding what it says.

I agree with these definitions – but I think they yield imbalances in our thoughts about those who disagree with us.

Consider the following chart (click on it to see it bigger).

StrongWeak1Please notice – nowhere in this grid do I think I’m a weak Christian. If I think an act is biblically sinful and you don’t, I think I’m right and the strong and weak paradigm doesn’t fit. So Romans 14 largely doesn’t apply.

Also note that, generally speaking, that is the only situation where I’m most likely to have negative emotions. If (1) we agree, then everything is fine, and if (2) I don’t think it’s sinful and you do, then that’s fine, you’re just more strict that me – go live your life like that, no big deal.

But if I think it’s sinful and you don’t, well, I might feel distrust, or fear – or I might feel threatened.

And obviously in both cases negative emotions are turned up if people start trying to enforce their different views.

But let’s think about a person’s views about what is sin compared to the Bible

StrongWeak2Again, in none of these situation am I a weak Christian. This is because no one ever thinks they are a weak Christian. Either I’m a strong Christian, or I’m a biblically strict Christian, or I’m an unbiblical Christian (or a non-Christian). This is probably one reason why Paul spends most of his time speaking to strong Christians.

The third chart is about a person’s opinions and his actions.

StrongWeak3One thing I’ll point out here is the uncertainty. I believe that very few physical acts are inherently sinful or unsinful. It doesn’t matter what your view of the biblical stance is on any issue, all acts can be done in a sinful way.

But in the grid above, the situation most fraught with danger is where you think an act is not sinful, and you do it – because there are so many situations where you can do harm with that act. This is almost certainly another reason why Paul spend so much of his writing dealing with this situation.

Let the actor beware.

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