Wrongheaded Humility

G.k. Chesterton, in his seminal book Orthodoxy, wrote:

What we suffer from today is humility in the wrong place. Modesty has moved from the organ of ambition. Modesty has settled on the organ of conviction; where it was never meant to be. A man was meant to be doubtful about himself, but undoubting about the truth; this has been exactly reversed. Nowadays the part of a man that a man does assert is exactly the part he ought not to assert — himself. The part he doubts is the part he ought not to doubt — the Divine Reason…

What Chesterton saw in 1908 has not changed in 2005, but instead, at least in my opinion, has gotten much worse. Today ambition is unbridled and conviction is considered prejudice and few are there who show any.

Conviction [the state of being convinced or a fixed or strong belief] has become a dirty word. We are to be open minded and humble about our beliefs, seeing the value in other’s positions, ready for dialogue, understanding that while our convictions may be true for us, they are not true for everyone else, so we cannot assert the rightness or correctness of our position.

Poppycock. Paul tells Timothy what is the duty of all those in leadership in the Church of Jesus Christ:

Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. 2 Timothy 4:2

Yes, be humble when it comes to ambition and arrogance, but not when it comes to standing for the truth of God in Christ Jesus, our Lord. Jesus is not “a way, a truth, and a life” but “the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6) and there is no other name under heaven by which men can be saved except his. Demonstrate conviction Christian and stand and contend for the faith once delivered unto the saints (Jude 3b).

In the movie Chariots of Fire, Eric Lidel is asked to be muscular Christian, to combine his Christian witness with his athletic prowess. Eric did not lack conviction, but today that kind of firmness and taking a stand on your beliefs is seen as extremism and is condemned. Barry Goldwater, the former Senator from Arizona and Presidential candidate in 1964, once said

Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice. Moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.

To my Christian brothers and sisters I would paraphrase Mr. Goldwater’s famous statement with

Extremism in the defense of the faith of Christ is no vice. Modesty in the pursuit of saving souls is no virtue.

It is time for us to abandon our wrongheaded humility and to stand up for the truth of the Gospel, in season and out of season, in all times and in all places, whether unpopular to others or embarrissing to us. Remember, we should always be humble about ourselves, but never about the truth of Jesus Christ.

Onward Christian, onward.

  4 comments for “Wrongheaded Humility

  1. Politickal Animal
    April 16, 2005 at 8:34 am

    Well crafted point; well-said. Thanks.

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  3. April 20, 2005 at 2:09 pm

    I don’t think the evil about which you speak is humility at all. Rather, such attitudes towards one’s own faith would be better described as insecurity. Modern relativism sows seeds of doubt and insecurity; Christians who fail to stand for the Truth of Christ most often do so out of insecurity, or false humility.

    There’s a difference in being insecure in the truth of one’s faith, and being humble in recognizing it is not our place to convince others that they accept it to be so. The former turns one into a rudderless ship, tossed about by whatever ideas buffet them lately; the latter causes one to recognize everyone’s freedom to choose to be wrong. Christ’s Truth will always be true, regardless of who or how many choose to accept it.

    I would enjoy reading your comments on my Christian Carnival submission this week – “A Humble Dogma” – which more fully explains where I’m coming from on this topic.

    God Bless,
    Lance

  4. April 20, 2005 at 3:33 pm

    I love the Christian Carnival. It makes me go back and visit old friends and leads me to new ones. This is a great topic, especially for those of us who are shy. I’ve heard it referred to as “false humility” and there is no doubt it is insecurity, but this is where conviction comes in. The more i am convicted, the less insecure I become. This is why I love Bible prophecy. It gives me an inkling of just how big God is and how true He is to His word and promises. It has given me a boldness that at least I can use in my blog if not so much in my close encounters. : ( Praying for each other to have boldness in the Spirit…yep, that would be good.

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