Balanced Growth

Articles in the LOOKOUT section of this website span a number of decades and are re-published on behalf of Adrian van Leen for research purposes. Original dates are being added to articles so as to place them in their correct historical setting(s). Adrian has endeavoured to be as fair and accurate as possible at the time of the original writing, but please note that the original article information may no longer reflect the subsequent or current actions, values, beliefs, positions, opinions, teachings or policies held by individuals, groups and/or organisations referred to in the original published article at the time of writing. As people change and move on, the same often applies to related Internet links; some links referred to in articles may have been changed or may no longer be available online.

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In 1967 David R. Smith suggested in the preface of his book, Some Light on Queer Christians , that there would be people ’unaware of the way in which extremist Christian groups are working on the minds of people in various church circles today…’ He went on to state that ’From every hand, and from most countries of the world, tales are being relayed about the latest eccentricities practised by our own generation of Queer Christians.’

He explained what he meant with his book title: ’when I use…my term Queer Christians, I equate it with words such as eccentric, questionable, suspect and odd…In other words, a Queer Christian is, by my definition, a church-attending person who speaks as if he is a genuine believer, but who, because of his behaviour, doctrine, style of worship, attitude to others, and approach to God and God’s Word is different, strange, eccentric, questionable and odd.’

Smith also added: ’The Queer Christian is not a progressive, he is a trouble maker.He cannot be described as a reformer, since he does not abide by the Scriptures only.It is more apt to say that he is a revolutionary. The Queer Christian relies upon his own opinions and his claimed “inner guidance”, contending with all comers, and sneers at the pleas of the scholar.He lacks compassion and charity, seeking only to “lord it” over any who will become subservient to him…The Queer Christian is marked by his own particular fanaticism, be he a zealot or naturally reserved…’

The chapters of his book reveal the peculiarities and problems of a variety of ’Queer Christians’ (to use Smith’s term — what we would refer to as Extreme Christian Fringe Group members or leaders).

Smith deals with the following ’peculiarities:

1.   Peculiarities Arising from False Teaching

2.   Peculiarities Arising from Misinterpretations

3.   Peculiarities Arising in Worship

4.   Peculiarities Arising in Communal Life

5.   Peculiarities Originating in the Senses

6.   Peculiarities Originating in the Conscience

7.   Peculiarities Originating in theMind and Ego

8.   Peculiarities Caused by Women Preachers

9.   Peculiarities Caused bySatan

Apart from Smith’s use of the word ’Queer’ — which today has a very different general usage and meaning to the way Smith used it — the issues that David Smith dealt with, and the comments he made, are as relevant (if not even more so) today as when he first made them.

In more recent times, Philip Baker, senior pastor at Riverview Church in Western Australia , has written a book, WEIRD Christians I Have Met (1997), which raises some similar issues to the earlier book by David Smith.

Philip Baker explains: ’There is a subtle balance between normal Christianity, with its appreciation of diversity, and that which is erroneous, misleading and ultimately damaging.’He seeks to help readers, ’to distinguish between the diverse and the dangerous, the wonderful and the weird.’

He believes that, ’the number one reason why many will not consider the claims of Christ is because they have encountered Christians…or should I say, “weird Christians”.’   He states that his purpose is, ’to champion basic Christianity and highlight the dangers of misapplied theology and out of balance believers.’

Both these authors are concerned with revealing the dangers of ’unbalanced’ Christianity, which is often the result of lack of balanced biblical growth and maturity in the lives of believers.

It is NOT a new problem.

While normal physical growth is automatic — helped or hindered by diet, rest and recreation or their lack — spiritual growth is a matter of personal choice. There are real problems and dangers in remaining a baby — baby Christians become problems to themselves and others.

Consider:HEB 5:11 - 6:3

We have much to say about this, but it is hard to explain because you are slow to learn. In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil. Therefore let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God, instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. And God permitting, we will do so.

And EPH 4:11 - 16

It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.

We learn about Jesus’ growth and development in a balanced way from LK 2:51 - 52

Then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. But his mother treasured all these things in her heart. And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and men.

Grow in Grace

READ Acts 15:6-11;Romans 6:11-14; Ephesians 2:1-10.

Importance of Prayer

READ Daniel 6:1-10; Matthew 6:5-13;Mark14:32-38;1 Peter 5:5-7.

Read and study the Bible

READ Psalm 119:9-16;Hebrews 4:12-13; Ephesians 6:10-18;2 Timothy 3:10-17.

Develop the Fruit of the Spirit

READ Galatians 5:16-26.

Keep well informed — read widely and wisely

Paul was well read - e.g. READ Acts chapter 17.

Accept and care for yourself and appreciate diversity

READ Mark 12:29-33; Ephesians 5:25-33;1 Corinthians 6:18-20.

Participate in the Fellowship of Faith

READ Romans 12:3-21; 1 Corinthians 12:1-31; Hebrews 10:19-25.

Worship with others

READ Psalm 95; Psalm 100; Romans12:1-2.

Live out your faith in active service

READ Matthew 25:31-46.

Share your faith

READ Romans 10:1-15; 1 Peter 3:13-16.

There are numerous other scriptures that apply to the 10 points above — see if you can find relevant and related passages and prayerfully/carefully consider their significance for your life, and how you can apply them

2PE 3:17 - 18Therefore, dear friends, since you already know this, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of lawless men and fall from your secure position. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen.

(The above material was used at the winter camp of Overseas Christian Fellowship of University students from Curtin and WA Universities - with the ten points above being further developed by Lookout Director, WA van Leen.)

(From TACL Vol 23 #4 May-July 2002)