Weblog: Emil Turner | Arkansas Baptist State Convention
Weblog: Emil Turner
Vice Masquerading as Virtue
In the early 7th century an Irish monk wrote the Aipgitir Chrabaid or “Alphabet of Devotion”. This book would have been used in monasteries in Ireland and would have worked its way into sermon material for monks and itinerant preachers. It is one of the earliest documents in the Irish language. One section is powerfully relevant today.
“It is proper that we do not let vices beguile us in the guise of the virtues”, wrote Colman mac Beognai. Bulls-eye! Counterfeit virtue is circulating widely. This monk wrote that:
* Laziness (laxity) takes the disguise of compassion. Doing nothing looks more holy than opposing sin. We can always say we are “waiting on the Lord”.
* Severity takes the guise of righteousness. Being mean is a poor substitute for being holy.
* Fear takes the guise of humility. We are not humble if fear makes us act that way.
* Stinginess takes the guise of caution and moderation. No one wants to be known as stingy, so we’d rather be thought of as cautious and careful with our money.
* Wastefulness takes the guise of generosity. Real generosity occurs only with what remains after you’ve met obligations.
* Anger takes the guise of “zeal for the Lord”. If a person is always upset and angry about what others are doing, keep your distance.
* Instability takes the guise of flexibility. When you have no convictions about what you are doing, it is easy to be flexible.
What is impressive about this brief essay of medieval Christianity is that it is so relevant today. Counterfeit holiness is external and not internal, and often appears to be more religious than genuine holiness.
Holiness comes from the heart. And God is never fooled about it.