The Doctrine of Middleism
One of the most intriguing aspects of my life is the fact that I get to work with many young people on a regular basis. This experience allows me to have a unique front-row seat as to what is influencing those of my own generation and younger. In my analysis, perhaps one of the greatest threats to this group is the doctrine of Middleism. That teaching which asserts Christians should be neither conservative, nor leftist, but somewhere in the middle. It is a doctrine whose adherents often will say biblical clarity exists in the spiritual realm, but as it pertains to all things political, just ride the middle fence. Adherents to this viewpoint see no need to apply Christianity to education nor for believers to love their neighbor by taking strong stances upon Scripture in cultural battles. Don’t fight too hard for one side or the other on an important issue, just try to run the fine line in the middle. Middleism believes Christ’s resurrection has great impact for Bible study and worship service, but not for every sphere of life.
Perhaps it was best evidenced when in a meeting, I heard a pastor say other ministers should simply go amongst their congregation, find out all perspectives on masks, then go take the middle position. This concept will often be applied to various political and cultural debates around issues like Critical Race Theory and the Social Justice movement as a whole. Now, to be sure, if you are talking about something such as the way to cook a steak, I prefer neither raw nor well done, but somewhere in the middle. When it comes to a good bowl of soup, I don’t want it to be scorching hot, nor lukewarm, but right in between the two. However, saying Christians should merely take the middle ground on political, cultural, and societal issues forgets one very important foundational concept of Christianity. That particular concept is that Christ is the resurrected Lord, has all authority, and has spoken decisively in the Scripture, which pertains to all of life. Therefore, my foundation for life is not to poll the population and figure out where the middle ground is, but to run to Scripture and firmly hold to the truth regardless of the cost. Middleism subtly tries to rob Christ of His authority by pushing Scripture’s teaching into the corner of what it believes to be merely spiritual issues. According to this stance, Christ’s Lordship does not touch political or cultural battles, so believers are called to take the middle position. However, Biblical Christianity submits to Christ in everything!
The Dangerous Appeal of Middleism
Now, in my personal observation, I believe the strong appeal of Middleism for many is the general concept of not wanting to be offensive. You see, most folks who hold to the middle ground just do so of for the sake of possessing a concern of not wanting to offend others by holding to a firm position. That fact is why you will often see them understanding a truth like homosexuality is a sin, but then lack clarity when calling a homosexual to repent. In their hearts and minds, they only want to give offense because of issues they believe pertain exclusively to the centrality of the Gospel message.
Yet, there is a fundamental flaw in this particular position which must be highlighted. The Gospel message not only proclaims Christ as our Prophet who declares the truth, and as our Priest who redeems us, but also as the King overall. In other words, a Gospel that fails to see Christ as King is a truncated Gospel. The essential part of proclaiming the Gospel message is telling sinners they must repent of their sins, place faith in Christ, and bow before Him as the Lord. Gospel proclamation issues the command to submit to King Jesus. How does that have bearing for my critique of Middleism on political and cultural issues? Here is the point, Christ is the King over earthly authorities. As such, the Christian does not seek to take a middle position for the sake of being in the middle. Instead, we run to the Word of God and proclaim its truth. To submit to the Lord in a person’s so-called spiritual life while not honoring Him as Lord in the political realms evidences a false view of Christ’s authority. The Old Testament prophesied to the reality that kings and rulers of the earth will bow before the Son of God. Isaiah 49:7 makes this fact clear:
“Thus says the Lord, the Redeemer of Israel and his Holy One, to one deeply despised, abhorred by the nation, the servant of rulers: ‘Kings shall see and arise; princes, and they shall prostrate themselves; because of the Lord, who is faithful, the Holy One of Israel, who has chosen you.’”
So, when considering political issues, I could simply take the middle position for the sake of being in the middle if Jesus Christ was not Lord. However, because He is Lord, I am bound as a Christian to submit to His teaching in all of life. Therefore, when considering masks, vaccines, governmental issues, family, education, CRT, or whatever else, the question is not what is the middle position. The question is what has Christ said in His Word? What principles and guidelines can I apply? How should I view this subject in honor to Him for His glory? Fundamentally, I am opposed to vaccine and mask mandates, not because of some sort of personal opinion I developed on my own, but because my allegiance is to Christ, and He has revealed the proper exercise of authority. Mandating masks and vaccines is not the duty of the government, therefore, I will not hold to the middle position on this issue, I will call the government to obey their duty before Christ as those who will be judged by Him.
A Challenge To My Middleist Friends
Now, perhaps you are someone reading this article who has held to the doctrine of Middleism. I know many such folks, so it is reasonable to believe some of you might come across this particular post. My plea to you is simply to honor Christ as Lord not only in your life on Sunday but also in your life on Monday through Saturday. Do not simply seek to submit your so-called “spiritual doctrine” to Christ and then ride the middle ground of the culture on everything else. My friend, if you are taking that, then your positions will change as often as the culture does, which at this point is pretty much a daily occurrence. Instead, come to the true source of wisdom and knowledge, which is God’s Word. You cannot serve two masters, Christ is worthy of full commitment and demands you exclusive allegiance (Matthew 6:24). Don’t practice neutrality in any realm, seek to glorify Christ as King in every sphere of life. Seek His Word, know His ways, and follow them with joy. Holding to a firm position does not somehow make you an inherently devious person bent on smacking people over the head with the massive wooden board known as your doctrinal positions. No, it actually gives you the opportunity to love others. You love a homosexual by calling them to repentance because they will face Christ as judge being sentenced to eternal hell apart from knowing Him savingly. You love a civil magistrate by pleading with them to fulfill their duties as a servant of God because they will stand before Christ and give an account. Holding biblically firm positions does not automatically mean you lack grace or charity, rather it provides the foundation for sharing truth, showing love, and walking humbly before God and others.
So, to all my friends practicing Middleism, my humble plea is to stop. Cast that idea aside and delight in the richness of a fully orbed biblical theology. Submit in all of your thinking to the Lord Jesus Christ, and He shall strengthen you to walk in His wisdom. Take every thought captive to obey Christ, love Him with all of who you are, and seek to love others by applying biblical truth in all of life. Because Scripture, not the middle ground of popular opinion, is our ultimate foundation, let us then run to it and stand firm upon it in every realm of life!