…smoke gets in your eyes” – so the song goes.  In a recent set of posts the editor of CRN? attacks a youth pastor for asking a tactical ministry question: “Have you ever taught a dedicated lesson to your whole group on stealing or have you limited it to when it comes up in other contexts” – [my paraphrase].

The point of the fire and smoke metaphor is emotion can cloud your judgment.  I hope this has happened to the Editor at CRN?, either that or this post is premeditated deception.  Those are the two options I came up with; either the editor is purposefully (pun intended) twisting and misrepresenting what was written in the pastor’s blog, or his/her disdain for anything Saddleback has so clouded the mind that clarity of thought and true discernment is no longer possible.  When your heat is on fire smoke gets in your eyes.

The title of the post shows the deception or confusion: Saddleback Youth Pastor Uncertain If He Should Teach Against Stealing.  A casual reading of the title might make you think that Joshua Griffin, youth pastor at Saddleback, is uncertain whether or not stealing is a sin, or if this sin should be taught against.  In the article itself the editor asks “Has Youth Pastor Josh ever heard of the Ten Commandments?!?”  And goes on to scold him since “Apparently the Biblical mandate against stealing was not enough to convince Youth Pastor Josh from Saddleback Church that stealing should be addressed to the whole ministry.”

Of course, a simple reading of the original blog, which is only one paragraph long immediattly dispels any issue.  It is simply a question of tactics in teaching… nothing more.

This is either a case of gross misunderstanding (smoke in eye) or a gross case of pure deception… for the sake of the editor and the cause of Christ, I hope it’s the former.

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, December 3rd, 2008 at 11:23 am and is filed under Blogging, Editor, Hypocrisy, PD/SS. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.
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32 Comments(+Add)

1   Phil Miller    http://pmwords.blogspot.com
December 3rd, 2008 at 11:38 am

The “editor” is either a liar or a moron, or some combination of both. Seriously, since when is the decision whether to preach on a specific topic or not the barometer on our feelings on that topic. My pastor hasn’t preached on incest since I’ve been at his church, so he must not realize that incest is a sin according the editor.

Really, these people confirm to me everyday that they are more and more out of touch with reality.

2   Neil    
December 3rd, 2008 at 11:42 am

We often speak of “charitable reading” – which is just giving the writer the benefit of any doubt when you read them… in this case you do not even need to be charitable when reading the original blog. You only need to understand English and be honest.

3   Chris L    http://www.fishingtheabyss.com/
December 3rd, 2008 at 11:43 am

My comment on Josh’s blog:

It looks like you’ve drawn the ire of the Armchair Discernment “Ministry” (ADM) crowd of Chris R/Ingrid Schleuter/Ken Silva. Before you take anything they say seriously, you might want to consider that the only thing you could do in their eyes that would be commendable would be to leave Saddleback and denounce it as a compromising pit of lukewarm mash, spewed forth from the mouth of Jesus. I’m sure you’ve met the type, and hopefully you’ve already learned how to tune out such Pharisees in modernist garb…

Taken in context, I understand your question to be “with only a limited number of formal teaching opportunities in a year, should one of those opportunities be solely focused on the topic of ’stealing’?” From observing the youth culture (at least here in the midwest), I’d say it would probably be worthwhile.

A few years ago, my wife taught a lesson to our HS youth group on this topic (without announcing the topic beforehand). In preparation, she asked the teens to bring CD’s of their favorite music to the Sunday evening youth meeting the following week. Of course, pretty much every kid showed up with a stack of CD’s. I don’t remember the actual stat, but well over half of the CD’s were burned copies (for which the original owner was not the teen), and some of the kids’ entire collections were illegal. This became a perfect “teaching moment”, and for at least one of the kids I talked to recently, was a lesson well-remembered years later…

4   Chris L    http://www.fishingtheabyss.com/
December 3rd, 2008 at 11:43 am

The “editor” is either a liar or a moron, or some combination of both.

I’ll take (C) for the win…

5   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
December 3rd, 2008 at 11:44 am

I am beginning a series on stealing using Abby Hoffman’s book as a syllabus -

Steal This Book

I refer you to my former statement. If Rick Warren discovered a cure for cancer some would accuse him of profiteering. I am thinking of writing a series entitled -

“In Search of Christ in Christianity”

6   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
December 3rd, 2008 at 11:52 am

“My pastor hasn’t preached on incest since I’ve been at his church, so he must not realize that incest is a sin according the editor.”

Your pastor is a compromising miscreant and should resign, or at least present himself before the Counsel of ODMs for penance and cleansing.

7   Mike    
December 3rd, 2008 at 11:54 am

Couldn’t agree with you more Neil! It was saddening and disturbing to see Josh’s words twisted like that yesterday.

8   Brendt    http://csaproductions.com/blog/
December 3rd, 2008 at 12:12 pm

Neil: “I hope it’s the former.”

I hope you aren’t holding your breath, dude.

9   Pastorboy    http://crninfo.wordpress.com
December 3rd, 2008 at 12:22 pm

I think that the youth leader is always wise to address sin because the ten commandments are a great mirror to see how we fall short of God’s standards.

Chris L, excellent lesson. When I am preaching, I use that example as far as cheating and downloading music. It is AMAZING how many people steal music on the internet.

What a great teaching moment! 1 Corinthians 6:9-10! And that is what some of you were….!

10   nc    
December 3rd, 2008 at 12:29 pm

These people are wearing burqas over an intellectual straitjacket.

I think my head is going to explode.

Sometimes I wish people would start doing unfair expose’ pieces on these people’s own churches, just to give them a taste…

but it wouldn’t do any good…

they’d see it as “persecution for righteousness” and, even worse, it would make you no better than they.

I wonder if the “editor” this time is Chris P again. We all know how he likes to play God.

11   nc    
December 3rd, 2008 at 12:31 pm


can you at least see that, with respect to the post, the “editor” is being incredibly unfair?

12   Neil    
December 3rd, 2008 at 12:34 pm

PB – I agree that it is always wise to address sin, but that is not the issue here… the issue is a question of how.

NC – As much as I dislike Chris P.’s perspective, let’s not drag him in with baiting comments. OK?

13   Pastorboy    http://crninfo.wordpress.com
December 3rd, 2008 at 12:37 pm


I think Chris L. had a great idea.

How I would do it? I would look at the whole moral law of God. It is the best thing we can teach our kids. If they get that, then they will know why they need God’s grace, and they will also know how to live!

14   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
December 3rd, 2008 at 12:40 pm

“I think Chris L. had a great idea. ”

John, take a deep breath please. After marrying Zan, his greatest idea, Chris ran out of great ideas.

15   nc    
December 3rd, 2008 at 1:45 pm

You’re right, Neil.

We wouldn’t want to help fuel their resentments.

16   nc    
December 3rd, 2008 at 1:47 pm

Question for those who tend to agree with the ADM’s:

Was this recent “Editor” post fair?

Yes or No?

Simple question…

17   amy    
December 3rd, 2008 at 2:06 pm

Thanks for writing this. I agree with what you are saying and think that you did a great job of giving whoever the editor of the site is the benefit of the doubt. Personally I would tend to think that this is a case of emotion clouding judgement than deliberate deception.

But whatever the case the only right thing to do with this article would be for the writer to apologize for writing it. The way I understand it, it is untrue. It is slander.

I would think actually that a youth pastor at a large church like Saddleback would have some kids who would have a problem with “regular stealing” like shoplifting, etc. But it might not be the kind of thing a pastor would know right away, especially if the kids in his youth group seem like they have everything they need.

The way I would understand the article looking at it in the context of kids I know, would be of a pastor thinking, “Hum, stealing, well, sure my kids don’t have a problem with stealing.” That is because we often think of stealing as being shoplifting or breaking into someone’s homes or taking something out of someone’s backpacks. I believe there are kids in lots of areas that don’t have problems with those things.

But, as two different people mentioned here, illegally burning CD’s and cheating are both stealing, and those are both common among Christian kids.

18   Neil    
December 3rd, 2008 at 2:35 pm


I know we have seen Ingrid apologize and do a retration at her SOL site once (that I know of)… but I know of no such precedent from the unnamed at CR?N (placinf the ? on “research” – as in “Reasearch?”). Therefore, I do not expect the editor to own up to being either wrong or deceptive.

19   johnnyb    
December 3rd, 2008 at 3:48 pm

What a joke….from the usual suspects of course.

Perhaps we should not blame Saddleback for Josh’s “problem” but his education at ultra-conservative Pillsbury College or his pastor dad’s great respect of Ingrid’s hero, John MacArthur.

Or maybe just the yellow “journalism” of a bitter, hateful man who claims to be a Christ-follower without exhibiting the fruits of such in his continual dishonesty and vitriol towards others.

PS. I know both Josh and his dad. I can say without a doubt they are both upstanding men.

20   johnnyb    
December 3rd, 2008 at 11:16 pm

Below is a quote from Chris Rosebrough in response to my encouragement that he tell Silva he should delete the post on his blog about the youth pastor at Saddleback as it is obvious taken out of context and sensationalist and my charge that Silva and Ingrid often make attacks, taken out of context or in blatant error but provide no mechanism to respond with another side or point of view. What think ye?


……As for having Ken remove the post from CRN that you find to be unfair toward Josh… I don’t need to ask Ken. I could remove that post myself if I wanted to (I write for CRN from time to time). But, I am not going to do that. The reason why is because I believe in freedom of speech and believe that the internet is a marketplace of ideas.

Earlier you complained about the fact that some discernment websites don’t allow comments. I believe that blogs are essentially vehicles for people to express their comments and opinions about issues that they think and feel strongly about. To remove that post would be equivalent to silencing or censoring someone’s opinion (which in my opinion is far more problematic than not allowing comments on your site)

You may not like nor agree with that blog post, that is your prerogative. But I would be far more enriched and edified by you sharing your opinion as to why you disagree with that post. Conversations, dialogue and even debate can be very beneficial for learning and growing. Why? Because all of us are sinful and broken. None of is God and none of us has all the answers. Well thought out critiques oftentimes show us the holes and weaknesses in our own thinking and can give us answers to problems that we may not have even known that we have.

Proverbs says it this way Do not reprove a scoffer, lest he hate you, Reprove a wise man, and he will love you. (Prov 9:8)

Rather than bristle when someone critiques and reproves us, we ought to instead measure the critiques and learn and grow from them because by doing so we actually become wiser.

21   nc    
December 3rd, 2008 at 11:26 pm

I don’t think it should be removed. The post should be left up and then updated or have a follow up post that retracts the charge and repents of the scolding.

Another thing…

where, oh where, can people enter into dialogue, conversation, etc. to “grow” with the intellectual abortion that is CRN?

Oh, yeah.

No where.

Although…it is good to see that Chris R is becoming more emergent….I mean, such rhetoric about the value of dialogue sounds like what the EC has been saying all along.

22   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
December 4th, 2008 at 12:06 am

“I believe in freedom of speech and believe that the internet is a marketplace of ideas.”

Or the marketplace of lies and misrepresentations. Remember, the policy is “if I thought it was true” is all that matters. If Rick Warren, Rob Bell, and the gay community should die tomorrow, what in the world would the ODMs post about?

They do not have enough “Jesus” posts to fill that void!

How many ODMs does it take to change a light bulb?

Answer: None, they can see just fine without any light.

23   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
December 4th, 2008 at 12:12 am

BTW – God says you should not steal, and that include STEALING another man’s integrity. Perhaps the editor needs a Sunday School lesson himself.

24   Chris L    http://www.fishingtheabyss.com/
December 4th, 2008 at 12:39 am

What think ye?

I think it takes a whole lot of chutzpah for Chris R to lecture someone on making factually questionable statements…

…kind of like Fred Phelps lecturing John Piper on civil discourse…

25   Chad    http://www.chadholtz.wordpress.com
December 4th, 2008 at 7:13 am

“I believe in freedom of speech and believe that the internet is a marketplace of ideas.”

LOL! This is a joke, right? This is the same guy that has deleted my comments on his blog time and time again?

tooooo funny

26   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
December 4th, 2008 at 7:39 am

Hubris + Hypocrisy =


I listened to some guy explaining away the common and clear understanding of Jn.3:16 on CRN. He says “whosover” means only those who believe, not a universal offer. And of course he uses the original language differently than other Greek scholars which means that you can only understand the gospel if you understand Koine Greek (correctly also). Poor farmer Jones is flat out of luck. Of course Jesus drawing ALL men to Himself also means only that miniscule band of chosen few.

It must be so uncomfortable to have to explain away the glory of the cross by limiting God’s redemptive offer of love to a comparative handful, not to mention the glee that they exhibit while standing in undeserved grace themselves. There are certainly important doctrinal issues, however a Christianity that is overwhelmingly a continuing doctrinal dissertation is a cold and algebraic religion more suited for redundant “at the gate” dicussions than powerful and practical exhibitions of God’s redemptive love.

And to have an entire ministry whose expressed purpose is to report on and make snide remarks about others is profoundly unchristian. I liken it to reporting continually of the destruction of Hurricane Katrina from a myriad of perspectives, complete with invectives and hyperbole, but never lifting a finger to help those drowning in its waters.

Still searching for Christ in Christianity.

27   Chad    http://www.chadholtz.wordpress.com
December 4th, 2008 at 9:02 am

Well spoken, Rick.

however a Christianity that is overwhelmingly a continuing doctrinal dissertation is a cold and algebraic religion more suited for redundant “at the gate” dicussions than powerful and practical exhibitions of God’s redemptive love.

There was a theologically loaded snippet on The Daily Show last night. Did anyone catch it?
Stewart was showing clips from Bush’s exit interviews with Gibson and at one point Gibson asks Bush what he will do in retirement as he is only 62.
Bush says that he has always thought it interesting if people who went into retirement would do something with their lives like help fight malaria or AIDS. That would be an “interesting thing to do,” he says.
Cut to Stewart.
The audience is giggling but Stewart cuts them off. Give him a break, he says. This may be a very noble gesture on the part of our lame duck president, Stewart suggests.
Cut back to Bush.
“I didn’t say it is something I will do. I just find it an intriguing possibility.”
Cut to Stewart.
WHAT???!!! Stewart wonders: Yes, intriguing….Like walking up to a homeless man and saying, “It would be really interesting to give you thousands of dollars right now in your time of need. I am not going to, but it is intriguing, isn’t it?”
Stewart: I’m reeeeallly gonna miss this guy!

After I finished laughing I thought to myself: What a powerful indictment this is on the Church.

28   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
December 4th, 2008 at 10:11 am

Picture two men walking carrying large bags of fresh groceries. As they pass a homeless and hungry man, they begin to argue over the condition of the homeless man.

Man #1 – “Believe me, he is beyond help.

Man #2 – No he isn’t, he can still be hel;ped.

#1 – No, and God doesn’t want him helped.

#2 – God wants everyone helped.

#1 – I’ll tell you what, let’s go home and write a post on this, that is real religion. Leave the poor and the fatherless to the liberals.

29   Neil    
December 4th, 2008 at 11:42 am


I think the exchange you posted by Stewart is a fine example of why I cannot stomach the show, nor that attitude… Bush suggested that he was considering what good he could do after retirement and he was mocked for it. So what if he said it was “intriguing” – that only means he is not committed to THAT particular possibility.

Stewart’s comeback about the homeless guy was asinine. It is a disgrace how peons mock the President and it pisses me off to no end!

I have been thoroughly disappointed with Bush as a President, but Stewart’s exchange above shows he lacks complete understanding of the President and a complete lack of respect for anything but his rating.


30   Neil    
December 4th, 2008 at 11:45 am

As for the post, I agree it should not be removed. And no one was suggesting censorship, that is an emotional strawman, what was suggested was Silva remove his own post since it is so obviously wrong.

But I agree with NC, it should remain, but be updated with a correction and a mia culpa


31   Chad    http://www.chadholtz.wordpress.com
December 4th, 2008 at 11:59 am

By tomorrow that clip should be available on the website. You should watch it. This was classic Bush humor.
By the way, The Daily Show is not there for news but comedy (but often it is profound comedy). They dish it out to both sides. Bush just happens to give them plenty of helpings.

32   Chad    http://www.chadholtz.wordpress.com
December 4th, 2008 at 4:36 pm

Here are the thoughts I tried to convey above but not as well as I would have liked.

Doing Theology with The Daily Show