Archive for the 'In Tone and Character' Category

Most of us are, at various times, susceptible to using rhetoric that is inflammatory, illogical, careless, rude, or divisive.  This waywardness of the tongue (or typing, as it were) is often found in the presence of impatience, hastiness, defensiveness, passion, anger, pain, and a variety of other (often negative) thoughts, feelings and emotions.  Sometimes, however, it can simply be a failure in communication.  I had a college professor who would tell us that some questions are unanswerable because the question is faulty.  “Do you still beat your wife?” is a yes or no question that I personally cannot answer with a yes or a no because I have never beaten my wife.  We are sometimes prone to asking questions and making statements like this as well.  We like things to be either/or.

I have been somewhat surprised at the conversations that have been taking place on CRN.Info over the past couple of days.  The norm around here has been typical of many relationships in our lives, which involve 4 ways in which we respond to what others around us say: 1) we agree with them, 2) we ignore them, 3) we get upset with them, but agree to disagree, or 4) we fight it out.  Each response has its place; but sometimes I forget the value of the fourth one (fighting it out) when done in grace, respect, and forgiveness because it is so often done out of a heart and mind clouded by the previously mentioned attitutdes.  When we are willing and committed to fight it out (not fight for the sake of fighting) in the community of God, our hearts and minds, our very selves are challenged and stretched to grow.

What we say and how we say it can direct a conversation, but it can also redeem a conversation.  My desire has been to avoid asking questions (and making statements) that are fueled by ignorance, faulty thinking, and/or strong emotions.  This has led me of late to talk a lot less (often about even important matters).  But I suppose that if those things never came out, we’d all be agreeing with and ignoring each other.  Healthy, functional relationships rely on the ability to disagree and even argue, knowing that when all is said and done, we’re all growing to become like Christ.  Hopefully I can begin to listen all the time, and speak up when it matters.

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Q: Why are Southern Baptists opposed to pre-marital sex?
A: Because it leads to dancing.

If you are now or have ever been a member of an SBC church (like I was at one time), you’ve probably heard that joke.

Sadly, for some, it’s not a joke, but rather another in a long line of (1) focusing on the wrong thing, (2) elevating opinion/preference to the level of doctrine, and (3) drawing definitive conclusions that have little or no basis in reality.

Such is the case for Mary Kassian in her criticism of William P Young’s The Shack.  Now, I am by no means a fan of the book.  It contains some (at best) questionable theology, has a troubling back-story, and many of its more strident fans often can’t seem to decide which genre it is in.

If you aren’t familiar with the book, Kassian’s criticism largely revolves around the fact that God the Father appears as a black woman named Papa.  Criticisms regarding this issue are numerous and have ranged from concern that Young has crossed a line to emphatic assertion that Young is promoting “goddess worship”.

It is fairly clear that what Young was probably trying to accomplish was to shake up the reader’s image of God, addressing the unfortunate issue that we have often created Him in our image, particularly in Western culture.  Unfortunately, Young’s attempt falls flat in that he trades in one humanly recognizable (and ill-conceived) image for another.  (Put another way, while it is true that God is not Wilford Brimley, He’s not Aunt Jemima, either.)

Setting aside the myriad negative motives that Kassian ascribes to Young, it would appear that she doesn’t even think that an assertion of goddess worship promotion is strong enough. Alluding to a mid-80s sculpture of a female Christ hanging on a cross, Kassian claims:

If you [don't think that The Shack contains terribly wrong concepts about God], then you’re well on your way to accepting the image of the Christa on the cross. In a few years, you’ll be hanging her up in your church.

No cautions that the wrong concepts could lead to other problems.  Rather, absolute and definitive statements of what will, without question, happen.  Do not pass GO.  Do not collect $200.  (Somebody call God and tell him that Kassian said He isn’t sovereign anymore.)

The only comment that I’ll make about her very next sentence (”I don’t think I’m overstating the case”) is to allude to gunplay, aquatic creatures, and large cylindrical containers made of wood.

Kassian’s criticism is not only over-the-top, but in some cases, just as theologically bad as — if not worse than — the book she is criticizing.  As part of her overall context of examining the imaging of God, she states (emphasis hers):

In the Old Testament, God instructed his people to reject female goddess images and images of God as a bi-sexual or a dual-sexual Baal/Ashtoreth-type collaboration. God hated this imagery so much that he had his people destroy it and all those who promoted it.

Combining these statements with others peppered throughout the article, Kassian comes dangerously close to (if not outright) implying that God’s main problem with Baal/Ashtoreth wasn’t the whole false god thing, but simply that those who worshiped Baal/Ashtoreth had imaged God wrong.  This is the same lousy logic that says that the Allah that Muslims worship is the same entity/person as Jehovah.

I have, on numerous occasions, cited my dismay with those that espouse an idea and then search the Scriptures for support of that idea (see also, “cart before the horse”).  But at least such eisegesis is only a misapplication of the text.  It’s sad that Kassian apparently feels that, in order to criticize the re-imaging of God, she must engage in the re-imaging of His Word.

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(or Ingrid never ran over my puppy)

OK, people, time for a level-set.

It would appear that the (irrelevant and inaccurate) references to this site in the meta of Tim Challies’ post the other day have garnered us some new readers.  To them I say “Welcome”.  This post is actually in response to “pre-Challies” readers of this blog who seem to have missed something.  Before you new folks make the honest mistake of ascribing to the same misconception, maybe we ought to clear it up (again).

Many of the veteran detractors of this site routinely state that the purpose of this blog is to spew hatred against a select few.

The Greek word for such a viewpoint is “skubala“.  A (very) rough English translation would be “baloney”.

Some time ago, Chris Lyons (with input from other contributors here) wrote Our Mission, detailing what this blog is all about.  Chris outlines six guidelines for this blog, only one of which deals with the addressing of points in which we disagree with those that write the various watchblogs out there.  In fact, Chris calls this “the lowliest” of these six tasks.

Even if we throw several bones to the skubala-merchants and ignore the existence of the other five tasks, their viewpoint is still inaccurate.  Which brings me to the point of the title of this post.

I don’t hate Ken or Ingrid or Chris R or PB.  Regardless of the mutuality of the sentiment, I consider them all Christian siblings of mine.

Now, admittedly, I do hate theological error — very much so — especially when it is presented at the expense of others.  And this is what I write against.  This is why I am here.  The fact that it often happens to be presented by one or more of the afore-mentioned people (that I allegedly hate) is either purely coincidental or cited as an example.  While I sometimes cross the line, I do my best to remember that my anger is not directed at them, but at the error that they are presenting and the damage that it can do to others.

Sidenote: I do find it rather telling that one of the most vocal (and oft-repeated) accusations against Tim Challies’ post was that he didn’t “name names”.  The fact that he didn’t screams that his “beef” was with a concept, not a person.  Such writing demands that the reader not simply write Tim off as a “hater”, but actually determine if the points he made are applicable to themselves.  (Or at least gripe about the fact that he didn’t “name names”.)

As Chris noted about himself recently, I used to wield a weed-eater indiscriminately, too.  But God worked on my heart, both directly and through others, to see my sin.  My purpose here is to try to be the “others” for someone else.  Not as someone who has arrived, but as someone that’s been to a few “places” that you’re better off avoiding.

For you new(er) folks here, please be warned — the veteran dissenters on this site will state unequivocally that I am lying and what I have written here is not the true nature of what’s in my heart.  They will most likely misappropriate the first half of Matthew 7:16 as proof-text of their ability to read my heart.  These are people who apparently ignore passages such as 1 Samuel 16:7.  By tacitly stating that they are God (by the measure of this latter verse), they are committing nothing short of blasphemy.  I would ask that you think for yourselves, rather than take the word of a blasphemer.

Maybe even use a little discernment.

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How easy is it to stand on moral high ground and shout insults to those not doing as well as us? How easy is it to use the truth of the Bible as a battle axe against those who do not conform to our standards? Until… we catch a glimpse of ourselves in that mirror…

We decided to have an “experience service” this year with Easter with an altered version of the Stations of the Cross. One of the stations consists of a cross with a mirror next to it. The idea is to see yourself as one of the criminals crucified next to Jesus. As we were setting it up yesterday I stood in front of it with my dirty work clothes and it hit me… I am that criminal… dirty in sin… not worthy to be called a Christian (little Christ). The fact that Jesus wants me… that is just Amazing Grace!

Jesus wants you too…

An excerpted from a message by Matt Chandler at DG’s pastors conference. I found it here.

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NOTE: This is a post I published last night on my personal blog.  I had decided to only publish it there (where my readers tend to be almost exclusively the friendly type), but since then I’ve had a few responses and some additional life events which have led me to change my mind.

One event, in particular, tipped my change of mind – I found out that a friend of mine from college took his life a few weeks ago.  I don’t know if depression was a factor, but from what details I could find, it appeared to be that way (which it is in a high % of adult suicides).  As such, I decided to post this here on .Info, as the readership is much wider, and the chance of someone going through something similar is greater – and one of the most important things to learn is that you’re not alone, and that you need to talk to others when you’re going through something like this…

Blessings,

Chris

sad doggieI know I’ve mentioned this in the past, but I don’t think I’ve ever centered an article on it. For (at least) the past ten years or so, I’ve struggled with seasonal depression that (almost like clockwork) hits like a wave during February/March, sometimes lingering on into April. Over the years, I’ve found different ways of dealing with it, though I just really wish it would go away.

The Feeling of Depression

In trying to describe how it feels when it comes on, it is like I am no longer able to process any strong emotions. I know how to act like I’m feeling them (ex-theatre major), but it’s just not there. I’m also fairly sure that if you’re close enough to look me in the eye, you might pick up that I’m faking it, but I try to prevent that from happening.

Imagine that you’ve got wool gloves taped to your hands, steamed eyeglasses, ear muffs, a mostly-functional nose-clip, and cotton-mouth. Now, imagine walking around like that 24/7 for about a month or two. Now, apply that to your emotions, and you might be getting the idea.

You wish you could feel, and you try to feel, but no matter how much you act like you feel, the feeling just doesn’t come. Time slows down to a crawl, which just leads to impatience and frustration, which slows it down all the more. You wonder if it is unresolved (or non-convicted) sin in your life, usually convinced that it is. If anyone’s to blame, it’s got to be you, you think…

Some Additional Down-Sides

This looks how I sometimes feelOne of the downsides of this feeling is that guilt tends to pile up pretty quickly – no matter what you do. You really don’t want to tell anyone how you feel, because you know it will bring them down – and you don’t want to be a downer to everyone else. (FYI: This is probably the fourth draft of this article, and I’m still not sure I’ll hit “Publish”.)

You’re also not really looking for an outpouring of sympathy, especially if you realize (as I do) how good you’ve got life – a wife, four kids, two dogs, a good job, a great church family, some talent at what you enjoy doing. And as you realize how good you have it, your guilt at feeling depressed just compounds the feeling. In your head, you are greatly troubled by the plight of those less fortunate, your heart bleeds for them, but the feeling of powerlessness frustrates you all the more.

You feel lonely, even if you’re surrounded by people, and all the more guilty if someone figures you out. Because you’re feeling so impatient with the passing of time, you tend to feel distant and you likely are somewhat irritable or aloof when people talk to you, even though you might feel on the verge of tears (since it would be such a relief if they actually would flow w/o any help from you).

One thing I’ve learned from those much wiser than me, who I’ve let in on this secret, is that probably the most important thing to your healing is just naming it and telling someone else about it. Before I did this, I found myself doing and saying things that I knew were wrong/insensitive/risky just to see if I could somehow force myself to feel.

If I could only get someone to yell at me, I might respond in kind and actually feel angry! But that doesn’t work. It only makes others mad and you, and drives you deeper down.

If I could only get someone to love me more, I might feel it break through. But that only lead to frustration, strained relationships and a loss of love.

If I could only escape into my own world, I might love it there. But that only leads to more loneliness and isolation.

If I could only increase the risk & excitement in my life, I might actually feel deeply excited. But it only hurts the ones I love and risks things that ought not be risked.

If I could only end it all… but that’s not a good solution, either. It would just be selfishness and an expansion of the callousness I come to feel. (For the record, kind reader, I was only there once, before I began to heal).

“If I could only” … only leads to more pain, more lonliness, and more loss of feeling.

So what has worked?

For me, admitting it to those close to me has brought a sense of relief. By talking to them about it, we become closer. They don’t always say the right things, or helpful things, but in the process, you start to learn that you’re not unloved.

Rich's feetFinding others who struggle with depression has been a boon to me, because you start to learn that you’re not alone – even if you might feel like it. (If I do publish this, it will likely be so that if someone out there also feels like this, they’ll know they’re not alone.) That feeling of having a kindred spirit doesn’t necessarily make the feeling (or lack of feeling) go away, but it makes bearing it a little lighter.

Admitting it to God (sometimes harder than admitting it to friends) is hard, and giving it to Him (when I’ve been able to do it, which I don’t think has happened yet here in 2009) allows you to become close, but it’s oh, so scary. So scary. At least for me. That loss of control? I want to own it, and I don’t want to give it up. It’s just not always in me to let it go. It’s the gap between knowing what’s good for you and being able to do what’s good for you. Kind of like following the doc’s advice to exercise more and eat less.

In some ways, I am reminded of Rich Mullins’ paraphrase of Psalm 139 -

Where could I go, where could I run
Even if I found the strength to fly
And if I rose on the wings of the dawn
And crashed through the corner of the sky
If I sailed past the edge of the sea
Even if I made my bed in Hell
Still there You would find me

‘Cause nothing is beyond You
You stand beyond the reach
Of our vain imaginations
Our misguided piety
The heavens stretch to hold You
And deep cries out to deep
Singing that nothing is beyond You
Nothing is beyond You

Time cannot contain You
You fill eternity
Sin can never stain You
Death has lost its sting

And I cannot explain the way You came to love me
Except to say that nothing is beyond You
Nothing is beyond You

If I should shrink back from the light
So I can sink into the dark
If I take cover and I close my eyes
Even then You would see my heart

And You’d cut through all my pain and rage
The darkness is not dark to You
And night’s as bright as day

Nothing is beyond You
You stand beyond the reach
Of our vain imaginations
Our misguided piety
The heavens stretch to hold You
And deep cries out to deep
Singing that nothing is beyond You
Nothing is beyond You

And time cannot contain You
You fill eternity
Sin can never stain You
And death has lost its sting

And I cannot explain the way You came to love me
Except to say that nothing is beyond You
Nothing is beyond You
Nothing is beyond You

It’s a Process

Some of you who’ve known me for years know that I used to do a bit of composing, and that I’d play the piano for hours a day. I still keep up well enough to play for my church community’s worship each week, but it’s been years since I’ve been able to write music. It’s like a switch flipped some time ago, and even in the good times, that well of feeling from which I pulled tunes, tears and tomes of lyrics was boarded over.

I don’t know if it will ever be un-boarded, but I have learned to be thankful with what I have, to love those who love me, and to care about those who don’t.

But I still, so often, truly feel powerless.

The one area that has ignited that spark I once felt comes from the sense of injustice I feel when I see Christian brothers and sisters attacked unjustly, particularly by those within the church (who ought to know better). It is that spark that led me to approach some other writers with similar feelings about this injustice and to start doing something about it.

In some ways, this experience has reminded me of Galatians 6:

Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. If anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else, for each one should carry his own load.

It is a balance – being gentle with those struggling with pain and sin, and helping them to carry their burden. Not thinking too much of yourself. Avoiding comparisons with how someone does it so much better than you do (or the opposite). And, over time, learning to carry your load, so that you can help others carry theirs.

Today

This year, in some ways, is better than other years – I recognize the feeling, and I’ve been able to be open about it. I’ve actually felt like writing about it, and I’m contemplating (for real) hitting “publish” (and if you’re reading this, I must have done so).

The numbness came, right on schedule, in February, but it was not as bad as before after speaking a little bit about it at the Great Banquet at my church. It’s funny, but a crisis at work happened about the same time, and I received a lot of positive feedback for maintaining a level head in the crisis. So, I can actually count this struggle as something beneficial when the time is right, I guess.

The full wave hit last week, right when my wife was leaving to help care for her mother (who broke her knee – please pray for her!) out in Colorado. But I talked to her about it, and she’s been calling me to encourage me.

I’ve written about it – and at least imagined publishing it – hoping I might be able to help someone else, and that, in doing so, I might feel healing in return.

I’m still working on giving it up to God. And to be completely frank, it is not going really well. I know I need to, but I don’t really know what it looks like, and I’ve forgotten (I think) how it feels to do so.

When my daughter, Aria, had open heart surgery 9 years ago, God granted me a sense of peace that it was all in His hands. I knew there was not a thing I could do, so it was all going to be up to Him to take care of. And I felt at peace.

But when I’m the ‘patient’, I can’t/won’t give it up to the Great Physician with any ease. I’ve got bottomless pools of “blame” and “the need for control” that are so hard to swim across without drowning. Can He take care of it? I’m sure He can.

Do I have enough humility – will I be able to deal with the loss of pride – to not take care of this on my own?

I hope so.

But I’m just not there yet…

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Dogs and cats sleeping together - mass hysteria!A friend of mine sent me this recently:

_________

Anyone who has spent any amount of time in a church or in the Christian blogosphere knows that the body of Christ is easily divided over many issues, some of which are hardly worth arguing over much less dividing over. Christ Himself recognized how easily His bride would turn on herself, and prayed for her in John 17:

“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you.

Paul, too, was concerned over the potential for division in the very churches he had planted. In Ephesians 4 he writes:

Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.

All too often we have seen within various internet battlegrounds unity being the first thing shattered through the drawing of battle lines between emergent and Reformed bloggers. Perhaps, the unity of the Bride and Body of Christ can be at least a little less tattered if we focus on what those two groups have in common, rather than the differences.

Let’s start with Reformed preacher, theologian and all around influencer of Reformed Christians everywhere John Piper who writes:

So my take on this prophetic word is that the scare will probably do good for a lot of people. The Bible is a scary book. And the future that is coming on unbelievers is scary beyond anything any preacher could conjure up.

But my own effort to be discerning says: Stick with the Bible, David. It is scary enough.

Next let’s move onto emergent hipster and communicator Tony Jones who writes:

I am quite convinced that the Bible is a subversive text, that it constantly undermines our assumptions, transgresses our boundaries, and subverts our comforts. This may sound like academic mumbo-jumbo, but I really mean it. I think the Bible is a [...] scary book

What’s fascinating about both of these quotes from two movers and shakers (that’s a small s for the discerning individuals among us) writing from what seems like opposite ends of the spectrums is that both are writing from almost exactly the same place. Both Tony Jones and John Piper are reacting to people who they believe are misusing the Bible. Both are concerned that the people they are writing about are missing the message of scripture and both are concerned that the scriptures are delivering a message of the utmost importance.

Perhaps, if these two often opposing groups of Christians would focus on what they have in common, the truth of the scriptures, we would see a little more of the effort Paul wrote about that will result in the unity of the Spirit, rather than the divisiveness that so often defines the relationship between these two groups of brothers and sisters.

______________

I think he makes some very good points here.  I would wholeheartedly endorse his sentiment…

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Since the very beginning of this blog, we’ve been pretty firm in our “no comments are deleted” policy, with only a couple minor exceptions (with neither an attempt to silence/whitewash voices).  However, it’s becoming apparent that we need to add a little bit more to the way we’ve been managing this.

Some general observations/policies (for those unfamiliar) on this topic:

1) First-time commenters are automatically moderated until their first comment is approved.  We often run down IP addresses and match against some other sources to verify who someone is (or is not), and whether they’ve commented on this blog (or other blogs) before under different names/aliases.

2) For some people, relative anonymity is important (i.e. preventing people from tracking down personal/ID information and misusing it) and understandable.  As such, we do not demand full names.

3) “Moderation” (which puts comments into a queue for delayed approval) is used, rather sparingly for commenters who almost exclusively post items which:

* are consistently  nasty
* are consistently derogatory w/ little/no OP relevance
* ignore warnings on personal attacks against other commenters
* consistently ignore requests from CRN.Info writers

Ch-ch-ch-changes

With these in mind, we’re currently examining some changes in commenting policy (while keeping the “no comments are deleted” policy, as-is). Here are the proposed changes:

1) Commenters who wish to retain relative anonymity may continue to do so.  All that we ask is that you have a valid email address with your sign-in (which is only visible to CRN.Info writers) OR that you have the name of a CRN.Info writer who can verify your identity contained in the email field.  [example: We at least one commenter who is a single female and is concerned with her safety, and only one of our writers knows here and vouches for her as a commenter)]  If you have a regularly maintained blog that you’ve established, that’s good enough, as well.

2) We expect all regular commenters to maintain ONE name/alias by which they post (Example: We know who nc is, and he’s always nc).  If, for some reason (for instance, the overabundance of Chris’s and Nathan’s) you need to change in the future, just clear it with us so that we can keep track of you.

3) We expect that the ONE name/alias by which a commenter posts is not, in itself, purposely offensive or derrogatory toward another commenter/group/pastor/etc.

Comments/Commenters outside of these guidelines will be put in a moderation queue if, after a grace period, things aren’t rectified.

Personally, I hate doing stuff like this – particularly when it’s just a couple of folks currently at issue.  However, this seems to pop up every few months, so we might as well put it out for discussion and act upon it.

Thoughts? Additions?  Subtractions? Division/Multiplication?

Shalom

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An observation from the mailbag (along w/ my own thoughts):

One ADM writes:

I have observed a strange thing. Churches will spend time and money on the most shockingly moronic videos of their pastors engaging in things like shaking their fannies into the camera (a memorable church-produced “Christmas” video) and worse. The videos are posted on YouTube, available to the entire world. Some of them are up for more than a year. Then, when I post a link to this infamy on Slice to demonstrate the shambolic state of evangelicalism, there is a sudden embarrassed rush to hide the videos as “private”, or to remove the videos altogether. One church just kept editing out the comments from Slice readers who pointed out the disgraceful behavior of a so-called “pastor.” Why is this? Are these people suddenly overcome by something called shame?

Observations:

1) She overlooked another possibility. No one wants to deal with her or her readers. Its easier to pull a video down than to talk to the unpleasant Slice of Laodicea hordes. That’s something to be really proud of.

2) She also overlooked that many Christians have an ability apparently missing from her gene pool – the ability to laugh at themselves.

3) Shame is an unhealthy byproduct of guilt, both of which are derived from sin. The last time I checked, producing sub-par-quality art (or high-quality silliness) was not enumerated in a list of biblical sins. Rather, acting peaceably w/ brothers & sisters IS something desired, and thus, the churches who pull down/privatize videos and erase anti-Christian vitriol (from other Christians) are following Christ’s example far more than the harpies and vultures who’ve ascended from the Sludge of Laodicea to stab them in the back…

And more bitter slicing:

it is difficult to imagine that Christianity used to produce some of the finest minds in the world. The brilliance of men like John Owen and Jonathan Edwards who submitted their minds to the Lordship of Jesus Christ, continues to shine down through the centuries. Harvard and Yale were at one time Christian institutions, dedicated to the Gospel and developing minds to the glory of God.

Fast forward to 2009 and the rotting corpse of Western Christianity. This buffoonery is what now fills churches today—the entire idiotic scene inspired by a children’s cartoon of singing and dancing vegetables. Infantalism rules, literacy is dead, and God-given intellects are dead, suffocated under years of video game playing, movie and television watching. Hard to believe that Christians used to produce books like “Bondage of the Will”, and translations of the Scriptures from the original languages. Today, pastors and church laity are reading “graphic novel” (comic book) versions of the Bible because they struggle to grasp anything beyond a one syllable word.

Observations:

1) Where to even begin? Apparently historical criticism was not taught in the Milwaukee schools years ago, as the writer cannot seem to discern cultural shifts from theological shifts to save her life. Moaning that the digital age doesn’t meet the success criteria of the print age – and that this is, somehow, a theological issue is more pathetic and sad than frustrating. The shift from modernist print means of communication to post-modernist visual means is a cultural one, that no amount of “spiritual maturity” (neither the author’s definition, nor the actual definition) will “cure”. Which begs the question – must one convert to modernism before one can legitimately accept Jesus? Apparently, one shrill voice believes so…

2) Buffoonery is in the eye of the beholder. Personally, I find much of Christian Talk Radio to fit the bill of “buffoonery” and irrelevancy than a YouTube video parodying VeggieTales – the key difference being that the folks in the video are purposely acting a certain way to reach a certain audience, whereas many in CTR are buffoons without purpose or method to their madness.

3) We’ve covered Manga and Graphic Novels before, but perhaps it should once again be underscored how silly and stupid the screeching about this form of art/communication is. Graphic novels have become an effective means of storytelling in modern culture. Much like translating the scriptures from a hodge-podge of Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek and Latin documents into English, translating the scriptures from words into pictures is not going to be a perfect translation – however – it takes the most important story we have to tell and puts it into a format that can best be understood by a certain audience of people. So again, must we convert the “illiterate” pagan from visual media to written media before they can be converted to Jesus?

To sum it all up, it just seems that the shrewish nattering from Laodicea is primarily an elitist, snobbish, country-club view of Christianity – far more in danger of missing Christ in this world and the next – that the targets of its poison-tounged diatribes.

But all hope is not lost.

Even Saul, on his walk to Damascus, was converted from a slanderer and persecutor of Christians and Christ to a living testament to the ability of the Messiah to change hearts and minds…

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Bill Mounce has written a Eph 2:49" href="http://www.koinoniablog.net/2009/02/eph-429-and-blogs.html" target="_blank">great post over at the Koinonia blog about our speech and anger.  He has some deep and well thought through insights and applications that apply to all of us.  Here’s a snippet, but if you have the time, go read the whole thing:

One of the patterns that I have noticed is that we often are justified in our anger, and that anger vents itself in ungodly language that clearly violates the clear teaching of Scripture. But because our anger is so strong, and our justification so deep, we feel that not only are we justified to speak in corrupting and graceless ways, but that we have some sort of divine mandate to do so. It would be wrong, we reason, to speak any other way.

I have often commented to myself (and those around me) that gossip, slander, and critical speech are the native tongue in the church.

We see this expressed in different ways among ADM’s and the writers here, and we might be inclined to see the errors of others, but I’d like to encourage you to think about your own responses to other people when you get angry.

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We know God loves, gets angry, even expresses jealousy… these are all anthropomorphic emotions attributed to our God and Father. But this post over at Slice of Laodicea makes me wonder – does our Father also experience embarrassment? If he does, it’s this kind of behavior in his name that must elicit that emotion.

Whatever our thoughts may be toward Ted Haggard… whatever one may think about his opinions expressed in the media or elsewhere. The rant by Ingrid Schlueter is beyond bad, it’s beyond wrong, it’s beyond an embarrassment to the Gospel she tries to defend – in short; this rant is no service to God. It is an embarrassment. Ingrid’s self-righteous rage is embarrassing in its nastiness, its unChristlike tenor, as well as her mixing of theology and politics.

When Ingrid opens a rant with “Ted Haggard is now speaking out against the “Christian Right”. (That’s gay code language for Bible-believing Christians.)” she immediately tips her hand, a hand that shows her lack of biblical discernment. The “Christian Right” is not tantamount to “Bible-believing Christians.” There is no doubt the Christian Right is made up of Bible-believing Christians, but to speak against, disagree with, and even distance oneself from a political organization is not to distance oneself from the Bible. Ingrid has done this before when she elevated an economic principle to that of biblical status.

But this is just Ingrid assuming the Gospel includes membership in a particular political party. She becomes a true embarrassment in the manner in which she berates a fallen brother in Christ… disagree with him if you like… but such hatred for another member of the Body of Christ is unconscionable. It’s an old cliché, and a politically incorrect analogy, but in Ingrid’s case it’s fitting- the Christian Army is the only army that shoots its own wounded… nice shot Ingrid.

It is not my intent to defend Haggard, nor his opinions as expressed in the Christian Post. That said, to publicly address a brother in Christ by telling him to “find a nice dark corner where you can explore your “complex sexuality” and your deviancy…” – calling him “a sociopath who must have attention, adulation and constant ego-stoking” – these are not the methods of Christ… I’d got so far as to say they grieve the Father.

I do agree with Ingrid Schlueter on one point. The sooner this kind of faux Christianity ends, the better for the cause of Truth” – so Ingrid, for the cause of truth and more so for the sake of the Kingdom… please stop.

[HT: Rick Frueh]

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