Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin

Moderation – Modern Mediocrity

I often hear Christians say: “all things in moderation.” I had heard it so often that I began to think it was in the Bible. It isn’t. I have been a pastor for twenty years, a seminary graduate (Masters of Divinity with honors, toot-toot), a college graduate with a degree in Religious Studies. I have read the Bible numerous times over and assumed this familiar mantra was in the Bible. But, lo and behold, it is not there.

The logical follow up would be, well maybe then the quote isn’t in the Bible, but certainly the idea is. Moderation certainly is a Biblical virtue, is it not??? Two quotes for your digestion and contemplation:

Thomas Paine once said, “Moderation in temper is always a virtue; but moderation in principle is always a vice.”

Martin Luther King Jr. from his Letter from Birmingham Jail (April 1963):

“But though I was initially disappointed at being categorized as an extremist, as I continued to think about the matter I gradually gained a measure of satisfaction from the label. Was not Jesus an extremist for love: “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.” Was not Amos an extremist for justice: “Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever flowing stream.” Was not Paul an extremist for the Christian gospel: “I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.” Was not Martin Luther an extremist: “Here I stand; I cannot do otherwise, so help me God.” And John Bunyan: “I will stay in jail to the end of my days before I make a butchery of my conscience.” And Abraham Lincoln: “This nation cannot survive half slave and half free.” And Thomas Jefferson: “We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal . . .” So the question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be. Will we be extremists for hate or for love? Will we be extremists for the preservation of injustice or for the extension of justice? In that dramatic scene on Calvary’s hill three men were crucified. We must never forget that all three were crucified for the same crime–the crime of extremism. Two were extremists for immorality, and thus fell below their environment. The other, Jesus Christ, was an extremist for love, truth and goodness, and thereby rose above his environment. Perhaps the South, the nation and the world are in dire need of creative extremists.”

These statements were made in response to his criticisms of white moderate Christians and Jews who stood by idly watching injustice:

“I must make two honest confessions to you, my Christian and Jewish brothers. First, I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action”; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a “more convenient season.” Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will.

“Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection. I had hoped that the white moderate would understand that law and order exist for the purpose of establishing justice and that when they fail in this purpose they become the dangerously structured dams that block the flow of social progress. I had hoped that the white moderate would understand that the present tension in the South is a necessary phase of the transition from an obnoxious negative peace, in which the Negro passively accepted his unjust plight, to a substantive and positive peace, in which all men will respect the dignity and worth of human personality. Actually, we who engage in nonviolent direct action are not the creators of tension. We merely bring to the surface the hidden tension that is already alive. We bring it out in the open, where it can be seen and dealt with. Like a boil that can never be cured so long as it is covered up but must be opened with all its ugliness to the natural medicines of air and light, injustice must be exposed, with all the tension its exposure creates, to the light of human conscience and the air of national opinion before it can be cured.”

Maybe the key is picking the right thing to be extreme about.

Technorati Tags: , , , , ,

Subscribe to the TempleBlog

Top Posts

What's TheTempleBlog?

The TempleBlog started as my personal blog in October of 2006 with my first post: John Stott – it was a listing of John Stott quotes.

Now it is a different place. I mostly write about two of my convictions: Pacifism and Racism. But I also offer resources: both digital and personal. 

If you need Bible Study materials, want to take a more serious look at theology via an online course, or want to dialog with me about ministry and what I call Spiritual Construction, fill out the form here and we can connect and see where the relationship goes. 

SBK Productions

KellyBagdanov.com is your online source for Homeschooling Resources and Art History Curriculum. She also offers several unique devotionals which incorporate Art History with the Church Calendar. Check out her upcoming Christmas Devotional series which would work for individuals, families, small groups, and churches. 

More Articles

Church

What is the Church?

I miss going to church on Sunday. Our church has decided to not meet during COVID-19. We are taking what we consider to be the safe, love your neighbor approach. Other churches have chosen  a middle ground approach: modified meetings in public. Others have chosen to simply meet.  Surrounding the challenges and variations  of Sunday

Read More »
Life

Over, and Next

Sabbath thoughts inspired by Norman Lear as he was briefly interviewed on Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me. Two simple words: over and Next

Read More »