My Grace-Full Life

5.27.22 Weekly Blog: Choice or Indoctrination?

TODAY’S SIGNATURE VERSE ••• But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear. (1 Peter 3:15 NKJV)

PRAISE & PRAYER PROMPT ••• There’s a word that’s been on my mind for the last few days: “indoctrination.” It means “the process of teaching a person or group to accept a set of beliefs uncritically.” It’s something that the Christian faith has been accused of, though I’m prepared to make an argument about why that isn’t true. 

Before we go there, though — we see indoctrination everywhere these days. The extreme left narrative claims personal freedom, but among other things, they are cherry-picking science based on personal preferences… even indoctrinating young children that they can choose gender based on feelings rather than biological facts. I promise I’m not going on another diatribe, but to demonstrate indoctrination, take, for example, a recent situation when abortion rights activist Aimee Arrambide “testified” (I use the word loosely) to the House Judiciary Committee. Congressman Mike Johnson asked Ms. Arrambide a simple question: “what point is it not okay to abort a child, what age of gestation?” Her response, “I trust all people to determine what they can and can’t do with their bodies.” As Congressman Johnson tried to get a definitive answer — this exchange continued back and forth and four times — this was the only response she could give, even as the representative probed her for clarification. It was painful to watch, and she certainly didn’t make a convincing case for the pro-choice side. But that’s what indoctrination does — it convinces someone of absolutes without the ability to articulate a “why.” Those who are indoctrinated cannot think for themselves or form a coherent argument for their position…They are left without the ability to respond to simple questions, but instead, they blindly follow the narrative with which they have been indoctrinated. 

And this is what Christians are accused of doing. To be fair — I’m not saying this has NEVER happened… every situation is different. But Biblical Christianity isn’t about indoctrination. It’s about informed choice, critical thinking, consciously following God’s will, and seeking Christian counsel.

CHOICE

When the Gospel is presented, it’s up to every individual person to make a personal choice whether they will follow Jesus Christ. Joshua 24:15b says, “Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve,” and for those who choose Jesus, Romans 10:9 gives the next steps — “that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” Faith is a personal choice all people must make for themselves. I was raised by Christian parents, but that wasn’t enough — their faith didn’t save me. It influenced me, but it was my choice to decide who I would serve — myself or the Savior. Indoctrination does not allow for choice.

CRITICAL THINKING 

It’s not about blindly following a belief without critical thinking. In fact, that idea is the opposite of what Peter said when he instructed, “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear” (1 Peter 3:15 NKJV). You can’t make a defense without some degree of critical thinking, and indoctrinated people aren’t taught to think critically.

Lest one argue that you can’t apply critical thinking without questioning, I would argue there’s a difference between asking God questions and questioning God. I do not believe that the creation has the right to question the Creator (Isaiah 45:9). However, asking questions is a part of obtaining wisdom. James 1:5 assures us of God’s generosity and says, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” Moreover, 2 Timothy 3:16-17 says, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” The Bible is designed to handle our questions — enabling us to apply critical thinking and preparing us to make a defense for our faith.

CONSCIOUSLY FOLLOW

Another argument against the idea that Christianity is a form of indoctrination is the fact that Christians must choose to consciously follow God’s will — not their own. Indoctrinated people mindlessly pursue the ideas they have been indoctrinated with. Christians, however, are in a daily battle between the will of the flesh and worldly temptation versus the personal decision to follow God’s will. 

Romans 8:5 says, “For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.” But friends — this is no small feat. The Apostle Paul wrote of his own struggles with the battle between flesh and following Christ in Romans 7:13-25 and verse 15, he encapsulated the internal battle we all wrestle with, “For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do.”

So in order to consciously follow God, we must apply instructions from Ephesians 4:22-24, “that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.”

CHRISTIAN COUNSEL

Proverbs 12:15 says, “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, But he who heeds counsel is wise.” We should seek Christian counsel, and no one offers it better than the Holy Spirit. Jesus said, “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you” (John 14:26). He should know. “Wonderful Counselor” is one of the names given to Jesus in Isaiah 9:6. So if the Wonderful Counselor endorses the counsel of the Holy Spirit, I take that as a rock-solid recommendation I should follow…

Additionally, it’s important to choose wise, godly counsel from the people we interact with. We are warned in 1 Corinthians 15:33, “Do not be deceived: ‘Evil company corrupts good habits.’”

To summarize, our faith is rooted in our decision to believe in Jesus Christ and our personal willingness to seek God’s will above our own. It’s about sharing and defending the Gospel with others and seeking the godly counsel of the Holy Spirit and other believers. There’s too much choice in the Christian life for it to be rightly accused of indoctrination.

Today, as you pray, thank our loving Heavenly Father who gave us free will — because love always allows for choice! Praise Him that He didn’t create us to be mindless followers but gave us the freedom to choose based on what Christ did for us at Calvary. Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you daily and help you pursue God’s will. And ask Him for the wisdom to always be prepared to give a defense for the Gospel.

SHARING ••• My Grace-Full Life is written by Denise Heidel. You are welcome to share anything I write, but please credit my writing and graphics accordingly. Visit www.MyGraceFullLife.com to read past blogs. Subscribe through my website to have My Grace-Full Life delivered to your email. You can unsubscribe at any time. Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture references are from the NKJV translation.

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