Perhaps nothing is more engrained in culture than the fireman saving the trapped woman in the burning building, an image repeating itself over and over through the years. As seen during 9/11, life imitates art as heroes entered buildings they knew were unsafe to enter. Yet they did it anyway, and when asked about it, you get the aw-schucks “just doing my job, ma’am” response.
Yet what happens when a brave fireman actually does what we expect them to do, what the essence of their character is? The end isn’t exactly like the fictional story.
First, here’s the real account about the fireman and the burning building.
Describing what he did next, Cheney said, “I take a quick breath, rip my helmet off, give her the mask – it’s on positive pressure, which means it just blows smoke away from her – and I just say, ‘Let’s go.’”
Jackson said, “I felt myself going down the steps, and then all of the sudden I felt something on my face.”
Cheney carried her down the stairs and outside to safety, risking his own life.
“If I was worried about that, I wouldn’t be here, and neither would any of these guys that I work with,” Cheney said. “That’s what we do. That’s who we are.”
Of course, no good deed goes unpunished, because as the hero fireman lay in a hospital bed, he receives a visit from a “top fire department administrator” … to wish him well for a speedy recovery? To present him a medal? Not exactly, as he was told “that wasn’t very smart.” Wow.
Crazy? Things have changed. Life is no longer what we knew just a few years ago as traditional scenes disappear. I’ve known firemen and EMTs, and (without speaking for them) I think they’d agree — it’s what they love, it’s their job, it’s their character.
But things have changed — can sanity be returned?
Check Valves — The One-Way Street
You can no longer assume life will continue as it has. At certain points in history, a point of no return is passed — WWI, WWII, the creation of atomic weapons. Once those events occurred, there’s no going back.
Intended to prevent back-flow, a check valve only allows flow one-way, and more importantly, doesn’t allow flow to return to its origin.
The problem comes from people believing if you hunker down, you can get through it and return to what you’re familiar with, but life doesn’t work that way once we’ve gone through a check valve.
Many people didn’t experience pre WWII society, so that analogy might be a bit strange. Today it’s Obamacare — and whether you’re for or against it, it’s a check valve; returning to healthcare the way it was won’t be possible. Radical changers are coming, and we can’t go back. Your medical choices, the ability to get care, how and what you’ll pay for it — those are all check valves.
You can’t hunker down and hope the previous system will return. We’ve passed through a check valve.
The Church Check Valve
Check valves exist in the church as well. Unfortunately the church will split as Paul told Timothy.
For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. (2 Timothy 4:3–4)
It might be social justice, post-this, emerging-that, purpose something, church growth, or some other buzzword, but the church will split into two groups — those holding a Bible-believing position, and those not.
If you follow popular fads blowing through the church, you know one common element — “re-interpreting” the Bible for today.
That’s a check valve. Once you travel down that path, there’s little chance of coming back, only on to the next movement and buzzword, all devoid of God.
If a “program” comes into your church, it’s probably bad. Why? Anything replacing God’s Word can’t be superior to it. It doesn’t matter if they call it social justice, emerging, growth, post-that, or some other buzzword. They all take you away from God’s Word.
They have to, by definition, because they replace verse by verse study of God’s Word with whatever the flavor-of-the-month book is. When did the Word of God become insufficient? And if it is sufficient, why spend so much time on buzzword philosophy?
Many people like to be called Christian, without actually being Christian. Thus they’ll be easy pickings for every apostate heresy coming down the track.
Many people might not believe the casting off of Biblical Christianity isn’t mainstream; not only is it mainstream, some boldly boast they’re doing it! From Amazon’s page on the book “Saving Jesus from the Church: How to Stop Worshiping Christ and Start Following Jesus” you’ll find the following:
From One of America’s Leading Pastors, a Bold Call to Restore Christianity’s True Mission: Following Jesus … Taking the best of biblical scholarship, Meyers recasts core Christian concepts in an effort to save Christianity from its obsession with personal salvation. …
… and containing gems like:
- Chapter One — Jesus the teacher, not the savior.
- Chapter Three — The Cross as Futility, not Forgiveness.
- Chapter Five — Original Blessing, not Original Sin.
… and in the Prologue (page 6 of Amazon’s Look Inside):
I have never believed in the virgin birth as a biological fact, the blood atonement … as the foreordained mission of Jesus, the bodily resurrection as the only way to understand Easter … and I am the pastor of a church that does not define Christianity this way either.
So if you deny the virgin birth, the understanding of Easter as the resurrection, the cross as not Jesus’ mission (and likely the inerrancy of the Bible as well), what is Christian about what remains? As Atheist Christopher Hitchens said:
I would say that if you don’t believe that Jesus of Nazareth was the Christ and Messiah, and that he rose again from the dead and by his sacrifice our sins are forgiven, you’re really not in any meaningful sense a Christian.
Whenever you see a phase like taking the best of modern scholarship you know you’re in trouble.
It should go without saying, but we’re not talking about minor points (pre-trib/post-trib, Bible translations, calvinism, etc) — but the defining foundations of Christianity. Majoring in the minors is never a good idea and leads to church division, but the question remains: how much of Christianity can be denied, but still call it Christian? Virgin birth? Inerrancy of the Bible? Resurrection of Christ?
How much foundational doctrine can be discarded before what’s left is no longer Christianity?
When you hear nonsense like the best of modern scholarship, buzzwords like social justice, common good, collective salvation, growth-this, emerging-that, ideas like re-interpreting the Bible for modern times, and more, it’s a good tip those people are not using the Bible.
They may use the same vocabulary as orthodox Christianity, but terms like Jesus, sin, Gospel, salvation do not mean the same, and are not discussing Biblical Christianity, but some alternate philosophy in place of it.