Amen?

August 01, 2007

It often seems that Christians use the word "amen" at inappropriate times. Because of the religious significance attached to the word, its meaning is more than just "I agree." Instead, it is the offering of agreement based on spiritual insights and perhaps even making an embedded prayer for the statement to be true. I shudder when I am at a denominational meeting and people start shouting "amen" during political debates. It seems so inappropriate to attempt to sanctify a harsh rhetorical attack on a Christian brother or sister.

Don Hinkle, editor of the Missouri Baptist Convention's publication The Pathway, provides an example of an inappropriate use of the word "amen" in his column this week. Writing his usual misinformation about the MBC's lawsuit against Christian ministries, he quotes from the MBC's attorney Michael Whitehead. Hinkle ends the column with this:

"Now we proceed to trial," Whitehead concluded in his letter.

To that Missouri Baptists shout: "Amen!"
Really? He wants Christians to shout "amen" about a trial between Christians? I thought maybe Missouri Baptists should shout "amen" to a call to evangelize the state or take care of the "least of these." The lawsuit has already resulted in the waste of millions of dollars of ministry money and has greatly hurt the Christian witness of Baptists in Missouri, and a trial will only exasperate these problems.

In I Corinthians 6, Paul did not shout "amen" about lawsuits between Christians. Instead, he wrote this:
The very fact that you have lawsuits among you means you have been completely defeated already.
So please excuse me if I'm not in a mood for shouting "amen!"

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