It’s the Siamese twin of “exceptionism.” Find a principle or method of applying said principle and you’ll find both extremism and exceptionism. It seems as though nothing is exempt.
It starts quite innocently. Someone mentions something like “love keeps no record of wrongs.” The moment it is spoken it seems as though someone is waiting around ready to pounce and say, “You can’t just forget when someone has done something wrong!”
And the debate rages. The exceptionists will point out that once something is in our minds or hearts, it is there. We’re supposed to be discerning. We’re supposed…
It continues with a million variations.
This is where others try to focus on what scripture does say rather than what it doesn’t. “We don’t keep a record of wrongs. Period. We can’t ignore this passage just because we don’t like what it says. We need to trust the Lord that He knows what He’s saying when He says not to do this.”
Enter, the extremists. Now these folks are kind of interesting. They make up two camps. The philosophers and the do-ers. The philosophers take everything to “logical conclusions” as proof of why scripture can’t mean what it says. “Well, if we don’t keep a record of wrongs, then when someone with a history of stealing from us asks to come over while we’re out of town, we must say yes because we would to anyone else- even though we know it is a temptation to them and that they will probably steal from us again.” They’ll mock and ridicule the concept of “keeping no record of wrongs” as they live in their enlightened worlds where wisdom is allowed unlike that poor sect of Christendom who foolishly adhere to “keeping no record of wrongs.”
The do-ers, tend to just do. They just live it as best as they can, and yes, it’s usually with a limited scope. They see that they aren’t to keep a record of wrongs and they don’t. They continually stuff back any memory of someone’s wrongdoing so as not to allow it to influnce their actions or opinions. The result is often less than satisfactory and they can’t quite understand why. They’re being obedient. These people are often the “black and white” thinkers of this world- those people who forget that the world is made up of vibrant colors as well as black, white, and gray.
Of course, you have the average Joes. They read the verse, take it into context with not tempting brothers to stumble, being prudent, discerning, and all the other commands of scripture- taking the whole counsel of Scripture at once, and apply it as best as they can. Sometimes this means they don’t say yes to some people, sometimes this means they don’t allow their own hurts from the past to affect their relationship with a repentant sinner, and sometimes this means they don’t know what to do but they try.
The problem is, the balanced ‘average Joes’ tend to get mentally lumped into one of those other extremist catagories. Average Joes tend to just state their beliefs in “black and white” even if they apply them with a wide colored brush. This is where much misunderstanding and frustration arises. They don’t believe it’s a theoretical quagmire and they don’t believe it is always black and white but they’re treated as though they do.
I’ve seen this happen with almost every “hot topic” out there.
- Home Education
- Child Training
- Titus 2:3-5
- Turning the other cheek
You name a hot topic, and I can almost guarantee that a lot of average Joes will state what sounds like an extremist “party line.” This is because their minds already know they apply it with a balance that they pray is rooted in wisdom. Exceptionism tends to whittle commands of scripture down to mere suggestions so they don’t like to get roped into discussions about the “exceptions to the rule.”
It’d be really nice if people could discuss topics like submission, patriarchy, feminism, and the like without feeling like common sense will be sharpened into a whittling knife.