Archive for the 'Misuse of Scripture' Category

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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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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And at times, our problem too:

Dogmatism As Christian theologians we are likewise faced with the temptation toward dogmatism.  We run the risk of confusing one specific model of reality with reality itself or one theological system with truth itself, thereby ‘canonizing’ a particular theological construct or a specific theologian.  Because all systems are models of reality, we must maintain a stance of openness to other models, aware of the tentativeness and incompleteness of all systems.  In the final analysis, theology is a human enterprise, helpful for the task of the church, to be sure, but a human construct nevertheless.

- Theology for the Community of God by Stanley J. Grenz, 13.

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Todd Friel simultaneously struck out and hit a grand slam the other day. The strikeout was by putting 2 and 2 together and getting 13.72349; the home run was in crystallizing one of the biggest flaws of ADM thinking in just a couple minutes.

On his TV show, Friel joined the OCRPIJNGWHTDHTFSTC* Society to dump on Rick Warren’s prayer at President Obama’s inauguration. Early in his prayer, Warren said:

And You are the compassionate and merciful one

Friel then said, “In fairness, [I] wanna take a look at Psalm 145:8″ and the verse was put up on the screen:

The LORD is gracious and merciful; Slow to anger and great in lovingkindness.

He then said, “In fairness, that may have been Psalm 145:8, although it’s not quite Psalm 145:8; it was different.”

(Gee, that’s twice that he’s said “in fairness”.  Methinks the TV host doth protest too much.)

How, according to Friel, was it different?  It turns out that most of the chapters in the Koran start by saying:

You are compassionate and merciful

Friel then states that this is “the exact phrase that Rick Warren used”.  Um no, Todd it isn’t.  To paraphrase you, “it’s not quite the Koran; it was different.”  The words “And”, “the” and “one” do not appear in the Koran.  Now I realize that this is nit-picking, but not any more than what Friel was doing by saying it wasn’t “quite Psalm 145:8″.

But hey, just because Friel picks nits, let’s not sink to that level.  What seems not to occur to him is that maybe Warren was simply stating a fact that happens to be similar to a Scripture verse and also happens to be similar to something in the Koran.

At least, I would hope that Friel would agree that God is compassionate and merciful.

In other words, maybe Warren wasn’t quoting anything.  See Todd, there’s this thing that some Christians do, where their speech is infused with references and allusions to things found in Scripture, but they’re not quoting it.  This is what happens to some people when their faith constitutes their entire life and isn’t relegated to a few hours a week.  (I’m not saying that none of that is applicable to you, but it does strike me as odd that the concept is so incredibly foreign to you.)

Friel went on to state that Warren twisted two other Scriptures when he prayed:

and we know today that Dr King and a great cloud of witnesses are shouting in heaven

Yeah, “cloud of witnesses” is a familiar phrase.  But Friel states that Warren was quoting (and twisting) Hebrews 12:1 and Luke 15:10 (a major stretch) to come up with that sentence.  While I am personally unclear regarding the dead’s cognizance of human activity on earth, again we go back to the fact that maybe Warren wasn’t quoting anything.

But here’s the kicker, and how it’s indicative of ADM thinking.  In just a few minutes of video, Friel says the following phrases (some emphases are mine, but many are actually his):

  • that may have been
  • I don’t think
  • I guess only Rick Warren knows
  • seems to be quoting
  • I guess we’ll find out in eternity
  • I think what he’s doing there
  • I also think
  • maybe that’s what he meant
  • I think he basically

That’s a whole bucketload of uncertainty.  In fact, so much so that I have to question the point of even discussing it.  Yet he presents this information with so much certainty and pseudo-authority that it’s clear that he, personally, is uncertain of nothing, and the viewer shouldn’t be either.  He takes some coincidences, mixes in a lot of assumptions, and gives the viewer an (allegedly) undeniable conclusion.  This is the very foundation upon which “discernment” (as practiced by ADMs — not to be confused with actual discernment) is built.

A few other issues of note:

  1. In criticizing Warren’s reference to praying “in the name of the One Who changed my life”, Friel certainly holds in significant derision the concept of salvation being a life-changing experience.  Was it not that way for you, Todd?
  2. Don’t even get me started on Friel’s condescending laughs and sighs.
  3. Most error contains a good bit of truth; “a little leaven” and all that.  So to state that someone who said something that appears in the Koran is quoting (or even referencing) the Koran is ludicrous.
    • “This was more than I could understand.” — There, I’ve just “quoted” Mein Kampf at greater length than Warren allegedly quoted the Koran.
  4. In trying to bolster his “argument” of Warren being spiritually inclusive by (allegedly) quoting the Koran, Friel refers to the “Jewish shema”.  Funny, but every Christian Bible that I’ve seen has Deuteronomy in it.  By referring to the shema as Jewish, Friel denies the constancy and consistency of God.  I doubt that he actually believes that the God of the Old Testament is different from the God of the New Testament; but that’s the misinformation that he purports by that allegation.

There is one thing to credit to Friel, though.  The link to this video was on Slice and it opened by saying “As only he can” (referring to Friel).  And apparently that is so.  In contrast to the ADMs, when Friel starts retrieving certainties and conclusions from bodily orifices, at least he admits to his uncertainty.  Sorta.

* OCRPIJNGWHTDHTFSTC = “Oh, crap; Rick prayed in Jesus’ name; guess we’ll have to dig harder to find something to criticize”

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(the question is, “Faith in what?”) *

About a week ago, Jerry noted SoL’s praise of this Joseph Farah article regarding Rick Warren’s acceptance of an invitation to pray at president-elect Obama’s inauguration. Jerry’s post was primarily regarding the SoL article; mine is primarily regarding Farah’s article.

I won’t bother addressing the infantile (and self-defeating) nature of citing Obama’s middle name (been there, done that), nor will I do anything more than note Farah’s snarkiness via the overuse of quotation marks.  Suffice it to say that his style stinks (and not just because he makes the silly Hitler reference); I’m more interested in the substance.

OK, one small sidenote that isn’t that substantive. At one point, Farah refers to Rick Warren as “a brother in the Lord”. Given the fact that — in the days when SoL allowed moderated comments — several commenters definitively stated that Warren was not a Christian, and were never chastised for such blasphemy, it’s somewhat surprising that Ingrid would praise such an article.

Let me state, up front, that I agree with Farah that Obama’s policies regarding abortion are evil.  I state this based on his record and his actions, not the drivel that his pro-life supporters fell for.  It is Farah’s belief of what actions should be taken in response to these policies (and the twisting of Scripture to “support” his attitude) that I have a problem with.

Farah admits that “we are commanded to pray for our leaders” (how generous of him).  But he immediately follows this by stating:

But there is no suggestion in the Bible that we are ever to be used as political pawns by praying at their events – especially when they are promoting the wholesale slaughter of innocent human beings.

I have three problems with this statement.

1. Even as Captain Cynicism, I find this statement incredibly cynical.  Granted, being immersed in the muck of politics would garner cynicism in Will Rogers.  But when that cynicism starts bleeding over into your faith, there’s a problem.

2. Somewhat related to that, Farah shows a very limited and pathetic view of prayer.  Even if the motives of Obama (or whoever on his staff invited Warren) are 100% impure, and they simply want to use Warren, this is prayer we are talking about.  Ya know, communication with God.  What kind of wuss does Farah think God is, that Obama’s motives trump that?

3. I will give Farah this much — there’s not a “suggestion” in Scripture — there’s an outright command from Jesus Himself.  In Matthew 5:41, Jesus tells us:

And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two.

The background on what Jesus refers to here is pretty straight-forward.  In Jesus’ day, a Roman soldier could legally compel any Jew to walk with him for a mile and carry the soldier’s pack (or whatever other burden the soldier had).  Jesus said that if such a fate befell one of His listeners, he should walk a mile more than he was legally obligated to go.

So let’s break this down.  A representative of the government forces you to do something that benefits you in no way and benefits him immensely, and Jesus commands you to go even further.  But if a representative of the government asks you to do something that you ought to be doing anyway, and he is doing so to garner benefit for himself, then Farah commands you not to do it.

Farah closes his article by saying:

It’s time for Rick Warren to decide whether he stands with the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob or if he stands with the world and his “friend,” Barack Hussein Obama.

I would say that it’s time for Warren (and everyone else) to decide whether he stands with Jesus or with Joseph Farah.

Me, I’m going with Jesus on this one.

* I was going to title this “Sola Scriptura, my ass”, but I didn’t want to have to pay Jerry the royalties.

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It’s an interesting thing the internet. I love that we can share ideas, thoughts, and dialogue. I’m also a big fan of being able to use the internet and blogs in particular to share the love of Christ. Sometimes I wonder what an uniformed not-Christian might think if they read this:

John the Baptist didn’t whimper around about “praying for those in authority” like Rick Warren has, as cover for self-promotion and thinly veiled political ambition. John the Baptist rebuked King Herod for his adultery. Then again, he lost his head for it. There is no danger of Rick Warren losing his head for what he’s about to do. Three resounding cheers to Joseph Farah for publicly stating the obvious about Warren’s fawning sycophancy of Barack Obama. He begins his letter with this excellent sentence: [...]

I didn’t realize that President-elect Obama had committed adultery. I didn’t realize the USA advocated chopping off anyone’s head. I didn’t realize preachers were only called to pray for those with whom they agreed. I didn’t realize that Joseph Farah was a moral majority who had any authority over the daily schedule of Rick Warren. I didn’t realize it was against the law or Scripture for Rick Warren to have political ambition (not that I’m saying he does; who cares?) You know, the more these ADM’s write against certain folks, the more I find myself siding with certain folks. These people need to get real jobs.

You know, the author of this is correct. John the Baptizer didn’t whimper about about such things as ‘praying for those in authority.’ Why on earth would we want to do that? However, Paul did.

I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone— 2for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. 3This is good, and pleases God our Savior, 4who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. 5For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 6who gave himself as a ransom for all men—the testimony given in its proper time. 7And for this purpose I was appointed a herald and an apostle—I am telling the truth, I am not lying—and a teacher of the true faith to the Gentiles. 8I want men everywhere to lift up holy hands in prayer, without anger or disputing. (1 Timothy 2:1-8)

Hmmm….who should we listen to…the one who doesn’t seem to know Scripture (or at least only remembers the parts they desire to remember) or the Scripture?

Sola Scriptura my ass. More like ‘Sola the Scripture I Wish to Remember’. Or Sola Joseph Farah. I wonder what will happen to us if we don’t pray for Pres-elect Obama? God have mercy!

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I keep reading this mantra from certain online prophets: Sola Scriptura. You know, I have read my Bible and I have yet to come across the phrase Sola Scriptura. Be that as it may. I will, for the sake of the argument, concede that Sola Scriptura carries some weight and therefore affirm its validity.

So I’m reading this load of crap over at AM. I was intrigued because over and over again the author, my friend, Pastor-Teacher Ken Silva keeps throwing out this phrase Sola Scriptura–8 times on the page if I counted correctly. Amazing, I thought. Here’s someone who is really living up to what they believe, practicing what they preach. Then I read a little more closely and was shocked at what I saw as the ‘essay’ developed. You might be shocked too at this startling revelation:

  • Dr. Walter Martin, The Cult of Liberalism circa 1985 (8 mentions)
  • Charles Spurgeon, the Prince of Preachers, At the Master’s Feet, December 4 (1 mention)
  • great 60’s pop philosopher Bob Dylan (1 mention)
  • Washington Irving (1 mention ‘Rip Van Winkle’)
  • Rob Bell (37 mentions)
  • Jesus (14 mentions, mostly in quotes of other people)

Well, I found exactly three verses of Scripture in this post. I found 5 paragraphs from Wally Martin, 3 paragraphs from Chucky Spurgeon, and one quote from ‘the great’ Bob Dylan–the only worthwhile part of the post and, to be sure, an inclusion that Bob Dylan would surely be unhappy to acknowledge. No, Pastor-Teacher Silva, the times they are not a changin’. Why do you think Paul wrote that when he did? He was concerned about preachers even then.

OK. It appears that Pastor Silva does not actually practice what he preaches. He doesn’t believe in Sola Scriptura, a man made invention found nowhere in the Scripture.

Just a couple of questions for Pastor Silva as I wrap up this missive.

1. If in fact this is ’spiritual warfare’ as you described in the first several paragraphs of your, uh, ‘work’, then why on earth do you spend so much of the time you are supposed to be redeeming waging war against the flesh and blood? Our battle, Scripture says, is not against flesh and blood. So why are you so determined to ruin people’s lives, reputations, etc?  Is your God not big enough to handle is own church, his own body? You cannot continue claiming that Christ has called you to this work and that you are only doing what he told you when you do nothing even remotely resembling the work of Christ. He said, love one another. Even when James and John wanted to call down lightning Jesus refused to give them permission. You are no prophet sir, you are no martyr, and I seriously question whether or not you understand the Scripture you throw around like so much flak.

2. If “The Tip Of The Evangelical Iceberg Of Apostasy Has Been Visible For Many Years Now” then why do you end your ‘post’ by quoting that ‘the times they are a changing’? It seems to me it cannot be both. Are you saying things are getting better?

3. You say in your post, and I quote: “Every Minister Of The Gospel Of Christ Is Accountable To The Body Of Christ.” We have two problems here. First, ‘every minister’ means what? Seems to me that Scripture says we are all a ‘kingdom’ and a ‘priesthood.’ The modern idea of the localized minister is foreign to the Scripture you claim as your authority. I checked the NASB, NIV, ESV and the words ‘every minister’ never occur together (I also checked for ‘preacher,’ ‘worker,’ ‘workman,’ ‘approved,’ and ‘pastor’ in all three versions these words are virtually non-existent as to what you are claiming). In fact, it appears that the English word ‘minister’ appears twice, maybe three times in Romans (depending upon which translation you check) and that is all (Romans 13:4, 15:16, 27) I did find this:

Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand. (Romans 14:4)

The word ‘accountable’ appears only one time (ESV, NASB, NIV) and has nothing to do whatsoever with your claims to congregational supervision. Pastor Silva, are you acquainted with the Scripture? Can you show me where in Scripture a localized church minister in any modern or ancient sense was ever held accountable to the congregation, to the Body of Christ beyond his own local congregation or even within his own local congregation? Was it that way for Moses? Was it that way for David? Was it that way for Joshua? Timothy? Titus?

The second problem we have is this: Who are you to make the call for accountability? Even if we agree that Rob Bell, for example, is accountable to the body of Christ at large (and we don’t), who are you to lead that charge? Are you saying you have more authority over Rob Bell than do his own elders? Are you saying that you have more Scriptural authority than his own congregation to which you do not belong and contribute nothing? Your quotation of 1 Timothy 4:2 gives you absolutely no authority to call him out at all. My God man. Even David, anointed of the Lord, would not lift his hand against Saul even though everyone knew that Saul was on his way out of the castle.

Pastor Silva, I don’t know what you are a pastor of, but I have serious doubts about the legitimacy your ‘ministry’ and I have even more serious questions about your motivation. And the fact that you do it so anonymously does not aid your cause. Maybe you should concern yourself with your local congregation a little more and with others a little less.


Sorry for this intrusion, I just noticed that there was a search limit applied when I conducted my searches of the words I noted above. I did a re-check of those words and found the following Scripture:

“Keep reminding them of these things. Warn them before God against quarreling about words; it is of no value, and only ruins those who listen. 15Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:14-15).

Neither do we go beyond our limits by boasting of work done by others. Our hope is that, as your faith continues to grow, our area of activity among you will greatly expand, 16so that we can preach the gospel in the regions beyond you. For we do not want to boast about work already done in another man’s territory. 17But, “Let him who boasts boast in the Lord. 18For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends” (2 Corinthians 10:15-18).

I’m sorry for the misinformation above, but as you can see, there doesn’t seem to be any real danger caused by my mistake. jerry

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I have encountered a number of verses that ADM’s and their ilk ignore, or at least insist that my understanding of the verse is woefully incorrect, and then mis-apply another verse to “prove” their “point”.

1) My stomach is particularly turned when certain scamps tacitly claim to be God and even go so (blasphemously) far as to declare who will and who will not go to heaven.  But quote 1 Samuel 16:7 to them:

… for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.

perhaps with a reminder that they are a man, and not God, and they ignore you and stand by their claims.  Or they’ll twist Luke 6:44 (”every tree is known by its fruit”) into some divine carte blanche for them to pass judgment on anything and everything.

2) Or hear them carping about methodology of which they don’t approve and remind them of 1 Corinthians 9:22:

I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.

You’ll be told that “that’s not what Paul meant”.  And, of course, they have the insight to know exactly what some guy who’s been dead for 1900 years meant.  Didn’t you learn anything from #1?

3) Note the ungracious manner in which they “address” an issue, and quote Galatians 6:1:

Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted.

Rarely is this one ever even responded to.  (The exception being the laughable misapplication of Titus 3:9 that I noted in my last post.)

4) But it occurs to me that there’s another verse that they ignore, and ironically it’s one of their favorites — or at least would seem to be, with as often as they whip it out (emphasis mine):

2 Timothy 4:3-4 — For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers;  and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.

This passage is, of course, applied to every teacher with whom the ADMs disagree and to those who support any 3 words that those teachers ever said or wrote.

But for some, it’s just as applicable in reverse.  If your desire is to gorge yourself on incessant slams on certain teachers (or worse yet, you build an entire “ministry” around such slams), perhaps you’re identifying the counterfeit by studying it too much, and not studying the truth enough.

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me, on a good dayADM Policy:  If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.  If it is broke, don’t fix it.  Just point it out.

You know how, when shopping in a store, if you actually need help, you can never find an employee; but if you’re fine, they come crawling out of the woodwork?  I’ve yet to find a solution to the problem, but I have figured out how to alleviate the frustration a bit.  When asked, “Can I help you?” (which is only when I don’t need help), I respond, “They tell me that I’m beyond help.”  It amuses me, sometimes the employee laughs too, and (if not) it’s always fun to mess with someone who talks as though they’re reading a script and doesn’t really give a rat’s glutes about you.

Well, apparently they (who say I’m beyond help) are right.  Or at least, so would say an ADM owner.

I’m not going to name the person, and will take pains to genericize the issue so as not to make it easy to figure out.  I will give the person a pseudonym — Patrick — and I will note that (surprise, surprise) the issue was regarding the “Emerging church”.  But the exact identity/issue is not particularly relevant, especially given the fact that I’ve encountered the same kind of spirit in many ADMs.

I recently came across a post by Patrick whose main point stood in direct opposition to an argument used by others of his ilk against a statement I have made on several occasions.  Actually, it’s inaccurate to state that this was it’s main point — it was the headline, and was obliquely referenced a number of times — but there was no evidence, links, or information supporting that point.  There were, admittedly, 8 links in the article, but none supporting the point.

I sent Patrick an email noting both the dissonance between his “point” and that of others, and also the lack of information on how he arrived at that point.  His response, though somewhat brief, contained all of the following:

  • absolute non-sequitur
  • statements that only bolstered my issue
  • gross over-generalizations  (What?  About Emerging?  No, never.)
  • insight into the inner workings of others’ hearts  (What?  From an ADM?  No, never.)
  • snarky and facetious uses of terminology used by some Emerging leaders
  • a statement that his point was “quite obvious” to him
  • an accusation that I hadn’t provided proof that his main “point” was incorrect (!!!)

This last one really threw me for a loop.  Patrick makes a definitive public statement, I ask him for evidence, and he states that I haven’t provided evidence to the contrary.  But let’s not dwell on that — it makes my hair bleed.

Having sufficiently evaded/ignored my actual questions better than any politician could dream of doing, he closed his note with “Thanks for playing”.

Trying to drag the conversation back into the same area code as my point, I sent him another note, clarifying my questions, claiming honest ignorance over what was “quite obvious” to him, and (to what extent possible) responding to the points in his email.  Riffing off his “Thanks for playing”, I closed my note with “Thus beginneth round 2″.

I received a reply stating that there would be no round 2.  I asked why, and he replied that it was pointless. I (admittedly, sarcastically) responded with what seemed to be his interpretation of Galatians 6:1 :

Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, unless you deem it pointless.

His response was “Titus 3:9″ which reads:

But avoid foolish disputes, genealogies, contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and useless.

Never mind that the context of this verse is false teaching and church discipline, not questions.  If you don’t want to talk to someone anymore because you consider them a fool, just whip out this verse.

I’m glad God didn’t give up on me that easily.

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Some thoughts for all of us from Matthew provided by Michael J. Wilkins in his NIV Application Commentary (pp. 761-768). For those in leadership positions, especially preaching, I recommend reading the whole of the content from that section of Wilkins commentary.

I believe that we as Christian leaders may be more like the Pharisees than we want to admit. I don’t say this in a totally negative way, for the Pharisees had many good things about them: their personal godliness, their commitment to the Scripture, their belief in a coming Messiah and in a resurrection, afterlife, and spirit world, their leadership role in the synagogue, their desire to be separate from the sin of this world. We should all relate to those characteristics.

Nevertheless, one of the most humbling aspects of reading the Gospels (Matthew in particular) is recognizing that many of the criticisms that Jesus lodges against the Pharisees can also be lodged against us. This is especially true of Christian leaders. We have seen how Jesus pointed out many troublesome, indeed sinful, characteristics: pride, public showmanship, one-upmanship, bull-headedness, politicizing of one’s position, and, of course, hypocrisy.

  1. Live by example God’s message of grace (23:1-4)
  2. Earn respect and honor, don’t demand them (23:5-7)
  3. Wear titles lightly that point to God (23:8-10)
  4. Serve God’s people to empower them to advance the kingdom of God (23:11-12)
  5. Be a signpost to the doorway to the kingdom (23:13)
  6. Make converts to the kingdom, not to yourself (23:15)
  7. Maintain personal accountability (23:16-22)
  8. Major on the majors of the kingdom (23:23-24)
  9. Promote motives for leadership-ministry from the inside out (23:25-26)
  10. Develop personal identity as a leader from the inside out (23:27-28)
  11. Choose carefully the traditions you will represent (23:29-32)
  12. Listen to God’s other messengers, because leadership has stricter condemnation (23:33-36)
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