Captured by the Same Spirit You Oppose

Numerous things about the Christian life amaze me. One of them has to do with a phenomenon that I’ve seen repeat itself throughout church history. I call it “being captured by the same spirit you oppose.”

I was first introduced to this idea while reading the work of a well-known sixteenth-century Reformer. He was writing about the infinite evils of inflicting violence upon his fellow Christian brethren over doctrinal disputes. This man was the leader of one of the best-known denominations during the Reformation. At the time, his group was being mercilessly persecuted by the accepted church of his day.

As I was reading his impassioned indictment against persecuting fellow members of the body of Christ, my jaw dropped in bewilderment. The reason? Because this same man and his movement were responsible for slaughtering countless numbers of Anabaptist Christians in the most cruel and gruesome ways over doctrinal differences!

What happened to this man?

He had been captured by the same spirit that he opposed. And as typically is the case, he was blissfully unaware of it.

For me, this was more than a history lesson. I’ve watched this same phenomenon happen so many times since that I’ve lost count.

From Revise Us Again by Frank Viola, author