Slope Lube


From Wikipedia’s list of logical fallacies:

Slippery slope: argument states that a relatively small first step inevitably leads to a chain of related events culminating in some significant impact

If my own life and the experiences of the last nearly 47 years are any indication, as much as people want to call slippery slope a fallacy, Slippery slopeI’ve seen very few cases where whatever was heading down the slope reversed course. One could argue that civil rights are in much better shape than they were when I was a child of the 1960s, but most everything, especially in pop culture, whirls to the bottom of the downward spiral.

I wrote earlier this week (“The Money God“) about yet another voter proposition in Ohio arguing for casinos. It seems every other year for the past 20 we’ve encountered one of these darned things, and every time it gets closer to passing. That relentless chipping away…

One of the most pressing arguments this time around in favor of the casinos is “Indiana has them, and so do other states.” I find this tactic amusing, as it falls into the category of moms everywhere yelling, “Well, just ‘cuz Jimmy got a shotgun doesn’t mean you should have one too!” Any ad that trumpets that Indiana is stealing Ohioans’ money—cold, hard cash that Ohio itself could be stealing from Ohioans—is about as slippery slope as it gets.

So we get our casinos. And legalized drugs, prostitution, homosexual marriage, euthanasia, bestiality, and so on are at the hilltop gate waiting for their own race to the bottom.

Someone should have told the Holy Spirit He was committing a logical fallacy when He encouraged the Apostle Paul to write this:

A little leaven leavens the whole lump.
—Galatians 5:9

Or this:

…evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.
—2 Timothy 3:13

I’ve read a few things by Christians lately arguing that Halloween ain’t so bad. Well, that may have been true back in the 1960s, but a trip to the local Halloween chain store today will have you wondering whether it’s owned by H.R. Giger and Larry Flynt. One 6-year old running around as a zombie drenched in fake blood and the “bedsheet ghost” of not-so-long ago seems like a relic from the pages of Little House on the Prairie. Halloween 2025—well, it’s hard for me to imagine what kind of ghoulish, occultic bacchanal that might be given the astounding amount of grease on the hillside already.

The Church is not exempt.

No matter where we stand on the issue of the ordination of women in the Church, the result is the ordination of homosexuals.

No matter what we might think about psychology, the synthesis of it and the Bible only further taints our contemporary theology.

No matter how we feel about modern Bible translations, the latest ones always seem “dumber” and less reliable than the ones before.

No matter what we think of megachurches with satellite branches driven by widescreen TVs, the result is a loss of genuine Christian community.

No matter what our opinions on capitalism and its ability to raise standards of living might be, we now treat God and the Church as commodities.

I’ve written Cerulean Sanctum for more than six years now. I could probably write another hundred “no matters…” for today’s list. But what I want to write about more than anything else is that someone, somewhere who is resisting the downhill slide. I want to hear more stories of Christians who washed the slope clean of grease rather than added more lubrication.

So if you would like to add a slippery slope example that just rots your insides, then please do. But also give us a story that ends not in the valley but standing atop the pinnacle of hope.

God knows we need to be hearing more of those positive stories in the days ahead.

16 thoughts on “Slope Lube

  1. Not to be pessimistic or faithless, but don’t you think the natural ground Christians stand on in this world is tilted a bit regardless of what we do? Though inwardly new, outwardly we still carry that baggage which is subject to the natural pull of gravitation. The overall momentum of the church through the ages has been down, it seems to me. If not for those seasons of revival along the way that boosted us back up the slope a bit, I think we would have went over the edge long ago.

    Please, don’t get me wrong, I’m not advocating complacency, or embracing syncretism but I’m also not looking for perfection this side of eternity (not that you are). How do we live with reality of broken vessels while still encouraging them to be filled with Spirit and stretch upward?

    • slw,

      I don’t think the trend has to be down. The Reformation proved that.

      What bothers me is that Christians seem unable to make simple discernment calls. It’s like whatever the Bible says not to do is just a suggestion. And even when the Bible is not explicit, how hard is to to see (in the one case I provided above) that casinos are not the answer to the problems of the state of Ohio or the state of Ohioans’ souls?

      As far as stretching, I like what James says on this:

      Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.
      —James 1:27

      Slippery slope pretty much ensures the latter half of hat doesn’t happen. And if the latter half doesn’t happen, then neither does the former.

      • Do you think the Reformation truly met the measure of restoration? It seems to me a far cry from the book of Acts. It was just a boost up the slope a piece, not an actual step up or even sideways, not true progress from the real starting line. At this point in time so far downstream, what’s the difference between a good Catholic and a good UCC member? I think I have to agree with Don, the church is, unfortunately, at her best (and the best she will ever be) where she is young and persecuted.

        Nevertheless, we should strengthen the things that remain and trust God to sustain us. Perhaps there will be another [true] revival before the night comes and no one can work.

  2. Don

    Unless true revival comes, and God’s hand prevents us from continuing down the slippery slope, I think that the die has already been cast for Christianity in the Western World. I think that where we see the positive news coming from is where the church may be the most persecuted, yet is where all of the growth is occurring – South America, Africa and China, just to name a few.

  3. Re: Halloween: I think the introduction of technology has sped the downward slide. When a friend asked me why people today seem worse than in years past, I said sinners are the same since when man fell. But technology — TV, cable, Internet — introduces to people methods of sin which they might not have considered on their own.

    • Poet,

      Perfectly reasonable statement. I feel that way myself. I think that technology in general has not been as good for us as we think. I know that community is not what it should be (as in those satellite churches where you watch a pastor in a projector screen).

      • Tech is in many ways like our tower of babel – keep our most smart people selfishly working against each other, and we kind of muddle along in evil. Bring them together across the globe to become the corporate rulers of the world, and we’re building a tower to take heaven. With our broken nature, the bigger an organization or plan we make, the more sin’s deep ruts in it show.

  4. Diane R

    I never thought I would say this after being a Christian for over 46 years now, but as I study the younger evangelical church and the thinking of our younger adults, I keep being led onto the path of Marxist thinking. I guess that isn’t surprising since most of the postmodern philosophers (the main ones are and were French) were Marxists. My question is–how in the world did we get there?? Do our young really have an understanding of Marxism and its consequences? My answer would probably be the same as many things you’ve written here about church education for our youth? What in the world have we been teaching them?? Well, when the church segregates our youth from the rest of us….welcome to the slippery slope of postmodern thinking.

  5. Chris

    Your recent posts and links back to related posts, especially “We had a choice, and we chose money” reminded me of something God made very real to me in a very frank manner a few years ago. I had been using the search for truth (the resolution of which was always in the future somewhere) as an excuse to put off obedience to God in the now. The word that came to me was that He expected me to live the truth of the Gospel that I did know, and to do it now.

    That changed much for me individually but thanks to your posts, K.P. Yohannan’s book, and other sources, I can no longer ignore that there is much wrong with American Christianity of which I am a part of and partly responsible for. I prayed about it, pointed out to God the immense mountain of difficulty in changing within my environment. And once again, God made it very real to me that I was to live out the Gospel that I do know and pointed out the smallest pebble for me to start with. It was no bigger than the widow’s mite.

    I’m frightened and yet have this tiny bubble of joy. I love my God and want to follow Christ. Thank you for your obedience to God.

  6. Keith Brenton

    I’d disagree gently with you on the ordination of women directly leading to the ordination of homosexuals. Women are women by God’s choice. Homosexuals are homosexuals by their own choice. Being a woman or a man is not a sin. Choosing to live out a homosexual lifestyle is a sin.

    Christ chose women to share the gospel of His resurrection with men; He did not forbid the woman of Sychar from wondering who He was with all her neighbors.

    Where many have gone wrong in ordaining homosexuals is not slipping down a slope but jumping off the precipice at whose choice was involved in the sexuality of the candidate.

    • I don’t believe in the “ordination of women.” I do believe that women should teach women; men should teach men; and the wife of a pastor is Mrs. Pastor. That said, I do listen to women teaching, and a large part of my discipleship was undertaken by women. 🙂

      The slippery slope that leads to gay ordination is the organizational structure of the typical denomination. The rank and file, who more or less hue to a literal interpretation of God’s Word, tend to stay out of denominational politics. Those who want “change” work their way up the ladder and insinuate themselves into regional voting blocs. Not enough of the rank and file can muster the will to throw out gays who want to take over, so the denomination is slowly devoured.

      I find it ironic, too, that the list of sins in Romans culminates in gay sin, but the rank and file in churches aren’t willing to do something about “lesser sins”. When gays come along, then they want to draw the line and say, “No more!”

    • Keith,

      You and I agree on the statement you made about the distinction between women and homosexuals. The problem is that a lot of other people can’t make that same distinction. And the arguments they used in favor of women are the same arguments they used in favor of homosexuals. In other words, it’s those other folks who don’t seem to be getting it.

  7. I agree totally with the slipper slope thing. I understand why it’s a “logical fallacy”, but it sure seems to be “real world” true!

    As a psychologist who goes to a megachurch, I’d just say two things 🙂

    1. Psychology does a brilliant job of explaining human behavior. The problem is, we can only base our research on a “broken” model. We can only study people who are fallen, and therefore psychology can never get to the “deep truths” as CS Lewis might say.

    2. I attend a megachurch of approximately 15,000 people. And I have never experienced better, more intimate, and more real community in my life. It’s not the size of the church that matters – it’s what the church teaches and values that counts.

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