I think most of us who find ourselves here can identify with both the Berean and the Outcast. I was pondering the idea...do Bereans become Outcasts? Or do Outcasts become Bereans?
Be·re·an noun \bəˈrēən\
In the bible, the Bereans were the people who lived in the city of Berea (present day northern Greece).
Easton's Bible Dictionary describes Berea as:
“A city of Macedonia to which Paul with Silas and Timotheus went when persecuted at Thessalonica (Acts 17:10, 13), and from which also he was compelled to withdraw, when he fled to the sea-coast and thence sailed to Athens (14, 15). Sopater, one of Paul's companions belonged to this city, and his conversion probably took place at this time (Acts 20:4). It is now called Verria.”
In Acts 17:11-13 , Luke writes:
And the people of Berea were more open-minded than those in Thessalonica, and they listened eagerly to Paul’s message. They searched the Scriptures day after day to see if Paul and Silas were teaching the truth. As a result, many Jews believed, as did many of the prominent Greek women and men. But when some Jews in Thessalonica learned that Paul was preaching the word of God in Berea, they went there and stirred up trouble. (NLT)
A Berean is simply a Christian that compares EVERYTHING they are taught to the Bible as the final authority.
Characteristics of the Berean:
- She/he is eager for the Word of God (synonyms of eager: crazy, desirous, enthusiastic, excited, greedy, hungry, pumped, raring, thirsty, voracious)
- He/she searches the scriptures daily (Doesn’t rely only on others for learning)
- She/he uses discernment (He/she is not influenced by fame, prestige or influence of the preacher or leader, only the word, and judges things according to that standard)
- He/she believes the Word, and influences others to believe the truth (v. 12)
- She/he is willing to suffer for the faith (v. 13 and see below)
I recently read this old post, More Roles in a Toxic Faith System – Enabler, Victim, and Outcast, at The Wartburg Watch about the role of “The Outcast” in the book Toxic Faith by Stephen Arteburn and Jack Felton.
Outcast noun \out-kast\
Dictionary.com defines outcast as:
- "a person who is rejected or cast out, as from home orsociety: In the beginning the area was settled by outcasts,adventurers, and felons.
- a homeless wanderer; vagabond.
- rejected matter; refuse."
The Outcast (quoted from TWW which quoted the book):
The people who stand up for what is right and challenge the system lose their jobs, friends, and church. They become lone voices in the wilderness, crying out for change that will not come as long as the persecutor dictates power, the co-conspirators manipulate the system, the enablers allow it to continue, and the victims fall in line with blind faith. When outcasts surface, they are identified as TROUBLEMAKERS and pushed out of the system as soon as possible." (p. 201)
Characteristics of the Outcast: (p. 203)
- Is not a religious addict
- Does not possess a toxic faith
- Willingly stands alone
- Stands up for what is right
- Is willing to be rejected by others in the toxic-faith system
- Can discern right from wrong
- Commits to leaders having integrity
- Refuses to be victimized by false teaching and lack of integrity
- Speaks out for truth
- Usually loses a job within a toxic organization over concern for it
- Suffers rejection by friends after challenging the leadership of those in the toxic-faith system
- Often is treated as a leper
- Is begged by others in the toxic-faith system to support the persecutor
- Endures shame for actions
- Refuses to respect or be manipulated by those in the toxic-faith system
- Sees the truth and acts on it even if it produces great personal pain
- Interprets reality for self
- Is motivated to protect people from spiritual fraud
- Is very dedicated to God and the people who seek a relationship with him
- Commands respect of others for courage
"In a toxic faith system, no one is allowed to disagree. If they ever try to speak out, they are labeled as complainers, negative thinkers, and not team players. "Loyalty is equated with blind faith and complete agreement with the leader". (p. 202)
"Outcasts who challenge the delusion of the system are discredited immediately. The toxic-faith system creates a lose-lose situation where the outcasts must give up perceptions of reality or be willing to face complete rejection. Abandonment becomes the reward for trying to correct the ministry.
Outcasts can interpret reality for themselves. Even when their perception of reality contradicts that of hundreds and thousands of followers, they can clearly see the problems and press for solutions to those problems. Outcasts are unimpressed by position or personhood. They love God and want to protect his people and his institutions from spiritual fraud.
Those who are so dedicated to God have little difficulty seeing others' dedication to ego and empires. Yet they are forced to suffer for what they see because they refuse to watch people live a lie and abuse others. No toxic-faith system can handle this keen insight and dedication to truth. They must place their jobs and the church they love on the altar of sacrifice as they are forced to move on to a place free of toxic faith." (p. 202)
I personally believe it can go either way. My husband was a Berean first, and because he refused to submit to teaching that was not in line with the Word, he became the Outcast. I think for me, it happened simultaneously! As I began to question, I began to search the scriptures (Berean-ish), and soon became the Outcast as well. I am forever grateful! It is one of the most valuable life lessons I have ever learned, and I am a different (perhaps better) person because of it.
The authors of Toxic Faith offer this hope for us Berean-Outcasts:
"God honors those who are willing to sacrifice their comfort on the altar of what is right. God has a special place in his heart for the heroes of a toxic-faith system. Those who stand up for God and tell the world the emperor has no clothes will receive their reward sooner or later." (p. 202)