Archive for April 3rd, 2008

UPDATE: See the first comment from April 5. Richard Abanes quotes a response that he got from Steve Blackwell regarding rudeness.  Hats off to you, Mr Blackwell — your statements are the most asinine, convoluted, anti-Biblical, unChrist-like thing that I have ever seen, and make all ideas that “inspired” this post pale greatly in comparison.

This is actually a follow-up to this post. I was originally going to just put it in as an update to that post, but the idea started growing. Run for your lives!

While one silly assertion was enough to show me that Why We’re Not Emergent (By Two Guys Who Should Be) [sic] wasn’t worth my time/money, Dan Kimball waded through it and put up some thoughts here. (I guess a book in which you are one of the topics is somewhat required reading.)

If you haven’t read Dan’s post already, wanna know what the overwhelming theme was? Taking criticism graciously, actually listening to it, seeing if there is truth to be found there, and (if so) applying the truth to your life.

OK, now I’m about to use a very dirty four-letter word. I think it’s necessary to the context, but I just wanted to warn you.

One might actually get the impression from Dan’s post that he was being … (here it is, brace yourself)NICE.

Of all the criticisms that I hear from the anti-emergents and their ilk, the argument that folks that disagree with them are “too nice” is the one that amazes and disturbs me the most. Sometimes the statement is direct; sometimes a bit oblique, but the underlying message is clear.

Case in point: Recently, I was involved in an online conversation in which an anti-emergent said something very ungracious. I called him on it, and his response was a sarcastic assurance that he heard my “heart-rending plea for unity”. Were we in the same room, I would not have been the least bit surprised if he had patted me on the head.

And therein lies the bigger issue. I chose to illustrate this post with a picture of Mr Rogers quite purposefully. For those in my generation and younger, who grew up watching Mr Rogers’ Neighborhood, the man certainly taught us to be nice. But far too many people have relegated niceness to that show’s demographic, as though that attribute was something that we eventually out-grew.

Yes, we hear your “heart-rending plea for unity”. Now run along, and let the grown-ups talk.

Are there times when we should not be “nice”? Certainly. Look at any one of Jesus’ confrontations with the Pharisees for an example. Or the un-KJV-sanitized version of what Paul was referring to when he said “cut themselves off” (Galatians 5:11-12).

Is it possible to sometimes try to be “too nice”? Certainly. I am reminded of Mark Driscoll’s comment when he was examining some people’s unwillingness to give any kind of input on certain topics (even ones that God made clear) by saying that “someone might get hurt”. Driscoll’s response? “Well, now you’ve just hurt God.”

But somewhere along the way, the thinking has become, “when I argue my point, the other person states that I’m ‘not being nice’, therefore (since I have no need to listen to critical input), ‘being nice’ is something that is to be avoided like the plague.”

By this “logic”:

  • Since I sometimes disagree with the political moves that the NAACP makes, I should shoot the next black person that I see.
  • Since charges of anti-Semitism among Christians are often specious, I should become a skinhead.
  • Since some of the stances of NOW are ridiculous, I should beat my wife.

Ridiculous? Certainly. Is it the logical extension of this thinking? Just as certainly.

Want to do the exact opposite as your “enemy”? Well, I have it under good authority that Brian McLaren never goes to church naked.

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… if you’re not contextualizing the way I contextualize then you’re sinning.

We assume he was wearing a suit while he wrote it to show how serious he is about it.

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From here:

After reading nearly five thousand blog posts from the Reformed blogosphere, I have no doubt that the Reformed, while stridently unified by Calvinistic theology though and far from being uniform in matters like baptism, can be described and critiqued as a diverse, but recognizable, movement. You might be a Reformed Christian: if you listen to Bob Kauflin, Caedmon’s Call, and Max Mclean’s reading of the ESV Bible (sometimes at work), use sermon illustrations from Pilgrim’s Progress, drink orange juice to the glory of God in the morning and wine highly diluted with water in the evenings, and always use the cheapest PC laptop you can find; if your reading list consists primarily of John Piper, Wayne Grudem, John MacArthur, D.A. Carson, Ligon Duncon, R.C. Sproul, Jerry Bridges, Mark Driscoll, Paul Helm, Rick Phillips, Phillip Ryken and James White (not to mention Mohler, Dever, Mahaney, etc.) and your sparring partners include Bill Hybels, Rick Warren, Brian McLaren, or that guy who wrote The Message Bible; if your idea of quintessential Christian discipleship is John Calvin, John Owen, Jonathan Edwards, or just anyone named John; if you don’t like Al Gore or the liberal media or big government or Christians who vote Democrat or “contemplative Christianity”; if your political concerns are gay marriage and abortion and not so much poverty, AIDS, the economy, pre-emptive war policies, racism, and especially global warming; if you are into the Puritans, Van Til, or the Westminster Confession; if you like to talk about how Augustine and Aquinas believed in the “sovereignty of God” but gloss ove their Catholic convictions about justification; if you sleep tight at night assured of your salvation because you KNOW you are one of God’s elect; if you see the Bible as a storehouse of facts and divinely revealed propositions that can systematized into a body of truth that doesn’t have to reckon with reason, experience, or science and never be seen as collection of works written by human authors that share in the story of God’s redemption; if you know the inerrant truth and believe it inerrantly; if you’ve ever been creeped out by a church that appreciates art, architecture, sculpture, icons, and has a crucifix hanging on the wall; if you loathe words like “story”, “narrative”, “relational”, “community”, and “loving” and use words like “Doctrines of Grace”, “heresy”, “glory”, “glorious”, “God-centered”, “God-entranced”, and “supremacy”; if you grew up in a home that appreciated Billy Graham that in retrospect seemed too Arminian, man-centered, and seeker-sensitive; if you subjugate women to men in all levels of ministry, prioritize blogging over evangelism, and like your theology “robust” instead of “feminized”; if you see your conservative theology having no divide from conservative politics; if you want to stop dating the church and start practicing church discipline; if you long for a community that is confessional, historic, and traditional like a rock or an anchor; if you believe love gets in the way of doctrine; if you believe God wants to save everyone but damns a lot of them before they did anything good or bad, that they deserve their punishment for sins that they were prepared for; if you believe God’s love for everyone has a little to do with his Son dying on the Cross and more to do with allowing them to enjoy the benefits of creation; if you believe following Jesus is all about believing the right things but not really about living the right way; if it really bugs you when people talk about “spiritual formation” instead of justification; if you disdain topical preaching; if you use the word “expository” as a code word for “preaching through Romans”—if all or most of this tortuously long sentence describes you, then you might be a Reformed Christian.

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