Can Christians Learn from non-Christians?
Can any Good Come from Harry Potter?Harry Potter is "pagan" in the sense of classical mythology, but with mythic elements taken from more than just the Greek and Roman cultures.
The debate throughout Church history was not over whether Christians should dabble in the occult (that is clearly forbidden), but whether Christians should read non-christian (i.e. pagan) literature (which might contain occult references since some pagans do practice it). To this day, there are Christian circles where only literature written by Christians is considered acceptable reading. (And Christians like C.S. Lewis and J.R.R.Tolkein don't count because their stories have witches and wizards.) Forgive me if I address any in such circles that might be reading. This will be painfully obvious to some, and perhaps disturbing for others.
In a real (though probably not deliberate) sense, this (Christian stuff only) is a denial of essential doctrine. Before the Fall, Genesis tells us that "God looked on everything He had made, and saw that it was very good." Man was created in the image of God. As Calvin puts it, after the Fall, "the image of God is effaced but not erased." So, to claim that man can permanently overcome the evil inclinations of our hearts by natural means is an error, and as foolish as claiming that we can overcome entropy. (Perpetual motion machines, anyone?) But to say that the unconverted (non-christian) is incapable of any good at all is equally an error, and just as foolish.
The idea is as impractical as it is doctrinally unsound. "Man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart." We can look and listen and make judgements, but only God knows the true state of a persons heart. How are you going to know whether the author of a book is truly converted (started by God on the process of overcoming spiritual entropy/death)? Furthermore, sanctification (the process of reversing spiritual entropy with the supernatural help of God's Spirit) is a long process. How long after a person is converted must you wait before their works are safe to read? Surely, when a new convert makes mistakes, you give them grace (cut them some slack), "for love covers a multitude of sins". The Apostle Paul calls for the same grace to the unconverted. We are not to associate with or even eat with a man who claims to be Christian but is immoral. However, the same does not apply to the unconverted (I Cor 5).
And why stop at reading? Must all products you consume be produced only
by Christians? Is an unsaved pagan incapable of making a good
sandwich? The Apostle Paul said, "All things are permissible, but
not all things are helpful." If the sandwich looks yummy, but the
kitchen looks like it would likely flunk a Health inspection, you
should probably pass on the sandwich. If you have diabetes, you
should pass on the candy. If certain literature is making your
walk with God more difficult, you should avoid it. But that
doesn't mean that others might not benefit from it.
Posted 1/19/2006 at 6:32 PM
Thursday January 19, 2006