Pride

Only by pride cometh contention: but with the well advised is wisdom. (Proverbs 13:10)

Pride is not all bad. There is nothing wrong with having a “dignified sense of what is due to oneself or one’s position or character,” i.e., “self-respect; self-esteem.”[1] It took almost five years to build, but I was proud of the 1/60th-scale model of Noah’s Ark that I built for ICR, and I get a sense of pride when people come by and admire it. There is nothing wrong with that kind of pride. If you think about it, God demonstrated that kind of pride at the end of each day of creation when He declared everything “good.” Then on the final day of creation, He declared it all “very good” (Genesis 1:31).

However, pride is wrong when it becomes “a high or inordinate opinion of one’s dignity, importance, merit, or superiority, whether as cherished in the mind or as displayed in bearing, conduct, etc.” [2] The Bible says, “The wicked, through the pride of his countenance, will not seek after God: God is not in all his thoughts” (Psalm 10:4).

Recently, I was saddened when this kind of pride was demonstrated in a very public way by one Christian against another. If I named the parties involved, many of my readers would know them both, as they are both well known in the “creationist” community. I personally know and love both of these men, so the fact that one is attacking the other is disappointing, to say the least. I have been disappointed by many people in my life, and I am certain this will not be the last time. That something like this should happen does not surprise me, but because I know both men so well, the attack of one upon the other is especially heartbreaking.

I will not detail the particulars of the attack otherwise, but I will invent fictitious names for ease of reading. The proud one I will call “Sky” and his victim I will name “Adam.” Both Sky and Adam are highly trained scientists albeit in very different disciplines. Both Sky and Adam are professing Christians, and both are excellent Bible scholars. Adam is “earthy” and humble in his demeanor. Although he is very well educated and experienced in his profession, he sees his achievements as gifts from God to be used in service to God. Sky tends to be full of himself and proud of his academic achievements. As a result, he holds tenaciously to his opinions which are always right in his own eyes. He also likes to associate himself with others holding similar views of themselves, who are, in other words, prideful.

Some of Sky’s “associates” boast degrees related to those in Adam’s field of training. They criticize Adam for attempting to alter some scientific language to give greater credit to the Creator rather than attributing creation to an act of nature. These associates prefer the language of evolutionists because they fear that adopting “Creator friendly” language will make them appear more “unscientific” to their secular peers even though creationists have little hope of being respected by secular scientists.

Sky’s star-status has dimmed of late, so, perhaps to bolster waning popularity, he verbally attacked Adam by name in a popular science journal to discredit him. His ad hominem attack made no sense considering he knows nothing of Adam’s field of expertise. Because Sky’s associates disagree with Adam’s “new language,” and because Sky fancies himself a peerless debater, he assumed the task of tearing down his friends’ nemesis – and this is a Christian brother.

I have seen this kind of pride in academic and church circles. Academians, especially those with doctoral degrees, spend years developing their ideas. It takes many long years of study and research to earn a doctoral degree. The challenge often involves coming up with a new, never-before-thought-of idea and develop that idea into a doctoral dissertation. When completed, the doctoral candidate must defend his/her dissertation before a panel of “doctors.” The challenge is not an easy one, so it easy to see why the successful candidate might become prideful. Getting a Ph.D. is a great achievement, and a certain amount of pride is well-deserved and understandable.

However, what happens later on when someone challenges that cherished idea with the possibility of being proven wrong? The wrong kind of pride will fight for that idea whether it be right or wrong. The right kind of pride that carries along with it a sense of humility accepts the challenge and the possibility of being proven wrong in order to learn an even better way.

I fear for my brother Sky and his associates. The Bible says, “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall” (Proverbs 16:18). “A man’s pride shall bring him low: but honour shall uphold the humble in spirit” (Proverbs 29:23). The Lord “hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts” (Luke 1:51b). “The LORD will destroy the house of the proud” (Proverbs 15:25a). “God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble” (James 4:6; 1 Peter 5:5).

I know my brother Adam. He is a man of gentle spirit and a kind heart. I pray that God will grant him the wherewithal to absorb this attack without retaliation. (I know that in an honest debate, Adam can shred Sky to pieces.) “Better it is to be of an humble spirit with the lowly, than to divide the spoil with the proud” (Proverbs 16:19). It is a shame that things like this happen within a community of believers – very sad. “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!” (Psalm 133:1) – if not in this life, for certain in the next. In that day all pride shall be consumed. “For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the LORD of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch” (Malachi 4:1).

Notes:


[1]  Definition of “pride” – https://www.dictionary.com/browse/pride

[2]  Ibid.

 

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