Thursday, October 10, 2013

Beware the Opposite Syndrome

The Opposite Syndrome is something we all have to avoid. It's a theological and ecclesiological illness that can attack and sicken any of us. If we are not on guard, it has the potential to render all our church-related decision making predictable and pointless.

What is the Opposite Syndrome? It's a condition that causes a Christian to make decisions, come to conclusions, and/or take actions simply because they are the opposite of what others have done. This condition in particular impacts those believers who embrace simple/church/organic church principles. Too often these folks slide into decisions simply because they are opposite of what they see in the institutional church.

Some examples:

-Rejecting human leadership because the institution embraces multiple levels of human leadership.
-Ignoring giving to the church (the body) because the institution collect tithes and offerings.
-Meeting only in homes because the institution gets together in huge buildings.
-Rejecting any form of monologue teaching because the institution loves monologue sermons.
-Keeping families together at all times because the institution separates by age.
-Abhorring programs because the institution thrives on them.
-Ignoring the relevance of church history because the institution cherishes it.

These are just a few examples. There are many, many more.

My concern is that many of us who are trying to follow the biblical model for church life are, in fact, failing to do so. Some of this failure stems from how we make decisions. Because it is easy to do, we fall into the trap of just doing the opposite of what we see in institutional churches. A much wiser course of action is searching the scriptures to find out what we should do. This, of course, is what we say we do all the time. However, we know better. Sometimes we take the easy way out.

What can we do about this? My suggestion is that, as much as is possible, we simply ignore what we see occurring in institutional churches. When it comes to any issue let's turn a blind eye. Then we need to open our bibles and diligently search. We may find, much to our surprise, that we should end up doing some things much like institutional churches already do. In many ways we won't. Regardless, let's try to always let scripture drive our decision making.

Beware the Opposite Syndrome. It's a real danger that can wreak havoc in the simple church.


Randi Jo :) said...

aka being negative or reactionary. Thanks Alan Knox for helping me with this. Never want to gather reactionary.... but truly want to gather because what I am FOR - Him, His Church! :)

Arthur Sido said...

I call the baby with the bathwater syndrome....

Aussie John said...


There was an Australian author who wrote under the nom de plume of Nino Culotta.

He wrote a book about the immigrant view of Australians, it was called "They're a Weird Mob".

The title fits the Opposite Syndrome, with the addition of Rom.3:23.

Eric said...

Randi Jo,

Sometimes it can be difficult to remember that many, many of our brothers and sisters in Christ gather in institutional ways. God wants us united with them. We must be for them not against them. It certainly isn't always easy.

Eric said...


That's a good way of describing it. It's just too easy to fall in that trap.

Eric said...


How easy it is to look to others (even when we disagree with them) instead of looking to scripture. Sin is certainly an ugly thing.

Anonymous said...

Aussie John. I have that book somewhere, interesting read.

I think we need to be constantly reflectively reforming under God. You made some great points here. Thanks.