The Haters: Hobby Horse Christians

For this entry into our "haters" series, I am not focusing on any particular group or belief. Instead, I am focusing on a particular attitude. Some Christians like to take a non-essential matter and make it their hobby horse / pet issue. They become experts on one particular issue and stand on a soap box, declaring wrath and judgment on anyone who disagrees with them on their special issue. Hell, fire, and brimstone on you for teaching that the "sons of God" in Genesis 6 were fallen angels! May God have mercy on your soul for teaching a pretribulational rapture! You are a damnable heretic for saying that the disciple whom Jesus loved was the Apostle John! Sadly, those statements are not exaggerations.

I just don't get it. Don't people have better things to do with their time? Aren't there far more important things we should devote our lives to? Maybe the fact that we are asked about such an extremely broad range of topics is why we are able to stay away from hobby horses. We have strong opinions and unyielding positions on a lot of subjects. But we never condemn people to hell for disagreeing with us on non-essential issues. There are many other Christian websites we use for research purposes. While we disagree with some of them on various issues, we do not dismiss the value of their entire ministry due to disagreements on ancillary topics. Perhaps that is what makes hobby horse Christians so frustrating to deal with. We literally have people say, "I used to love your site, and I agree with you on every issue other than ______. But, since you are wrong on this issue, I cannot trust you on anything else."

There are issues worth dividing over. There are doctrines that are non-negotiable. Examples would be the deity of Christ, salvation by grace through faith alone, the Trinity, Jesus as the only way of salvation, and the Bible as the inspired Word of God. If we must have doctrinal hobby horses, those are the topics we should choose. As interesting, and sometimes important, as side issues can be, we should not dedicate our lives to studying the timing of the seventh seal in Revelation, whether or not Luke 16:19-31 is a parable, or if Paul was the author of Hebrews.

We should all be majoring on the majors and minoring on the minors. And, we all should learn to show grace and kindness when we disagree, especially on non-essential matters (see 1 Peter 3:15). So, please get off that soap box, use that hobby horse for firewood, and drop off that pet issue at the pound.

S. Michael Houdmann

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The Haters: Hobby Horse Christians