Archive for the 'Commenting' Category

In the opening verses of Joshua 22 the Reubenites, the Gadites and the half-tribe of Manasseh are commissioned by Joshua and sent on their way.  They have chosen to live on the opposite side of the Jordon from the rest of Israel.  So the Reubenites, the Gadites and the half-tribe of Manasseh left the Israelites at Shiloh in Canaan to return to Gilead, their own land, which they had acquired in accordance with the command of the LORD through Moses (v. 9).  When they returned to their land they built an imposing altar there by the Jordan (v.10).

This did not sit well with the remaining tribes.  In fact, the whole assembly of Israel gathered at Shiloh to go to war against them (v. 12).  OK, they didn’t like this – but war?  Was this really offensive enough to kill a brother?  Apparently it was, since altars were used to worship pagan gods and any worship of the God of Israel must be done in the tabernacle (cf. Lev. 17).

But before attacking them and leveling out justice, some decided to question them.  They sent a guy named Phinehas and a few leaders and  asked them how could they could break faith with the God of Israel like this?  How could they turn away from the LORD and build yourselves an altar in rebellion against him now? (v.13).  Legitimate questions – no doubt.

They responded quite definitively:

21Then Reuben, Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh replied to the heads of the clans of Israel: 22 “The Mighty One, God, the LORD! The Mighty One, God, the LORD! He knows! And let Israel know! If this has been in rebellion or disobedience to the LORD, do not spare us this day. 23 If we have built our own altar to turn away from the LORD and to offer burnt offerings and grain offerings, or to sacrifice fellowship offerings on it, may the LORD himself call us to account.

24 “No! We did it for fear that some day your descendants might say to ours, ‘What do you have to do with the LORD, the God of Israel? 25 The LORD has made the Jordan a boundary between us and you—you Reubenites and Gadites! You have no share in the LORD.’ So your descendants might cause ours to stop fearing the LORD.

26 “That is why we said, ‘Let us get ready and build an altar—but not for burnt offerings or sacrifices.’ 27 On the contrary, it is to be a witness between us and you and the generations that follow, that we will worship the LORD at his sanctuary with our burnt offerings, sacrifices and fellowship offerings. Then in the future your descendants will not be able to say to ours, ‘You have no share in the LORD.’

28 “And we said, ‘If they ever say this to us, or to our descendants, we will answer: Look at the replica of the LORD’s altar, which our ancestors built, not for burnt offerings and sacrifices, but as a witness between us and you.’

29 “Far be it from us to rebel against the LORD and turn away from him today by building an altar for burnt offerings, grain offerings and sacrifices, other than the altar of the LORD our God that stands before his tabernacle.”

When Phinehas and the leaders of the community heard what Reuben, Gad and Manasseh had to say, they were pleased (v 30).  They were glad to hear the report and praised God.  And they talked no more about going to war against them.(v. 33).

Now, let us imagine what this would look like if Phinehas and the leaders each had a blog.  And let’s assume each were self-appointed watchman set on pointing out any way in which the tribes of Israel strayed from the fold – whether or not the straying violated God’s Law – or just their cultural preferences.

If that were the case, Phinehas may have indeed believed the Reuben, Gad and Manasseh and even reported this to the Israelites and praised God.  But the others were not so sure. They would blog and comment on each others blogs saying:

I do not believe they are being honest about their comments.

I do not deny they are still faithful, but I want to see fruit before I believe them.

I asked them about pagan altars, and they dodged my question with postmodern jargon like “For us it is to be a witness between us and you and the generations that follow…” – Why can’t they give a straight answer?

Others would chide  and mock Phinehas for meeting with them… saying only those with something to hide meet with enemies of Israel.

And so, even after the answers were given and the truth proclaimed… even after the issue should have been settled… it would fester in their watchful minds.

Why?  Because it is always easier and certainly more self-rewarding to assume the worst about people.  To point at other and say “They are different, therefore they are inferior” or “I want proof… proof based on my criteria.”  Or maybe just to say: “I do not like them, therefore I do not believe they are being honest.”

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“Judge not, that you be not judged. 2 For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. – Jesus (according to Matthew 7).

Recently a group I am part of studied these verses and the surrounding context.  It is quite possible that this excerpt from Jesus’ sermon is one of the most oft quoted and oft misquoted of his proverbial sayings.  Contrary to our cultural pressure; it is obvious from the context that Jesus is not making an absolute prohibition against judging others.  It is equally clear that Jesus is calling for judgments that are fair, informed, and free of hypocrisy.

Shortly after this study I came across a new entry into the Museum of Idolatry.  It is a posting of a video… offered without comment, explanation, nor objection.  It carries the simple title: Marriage Dance?. The comments in response to the posting are but three, yet they acutely illustrate Jesus’ concerns about judging.

The posting and comments exemplify the insatiable need felt by many within the Body of Christ to judge others without restraint, without context, without relationship, and without a proper understanding of culture, and from a decided ethnocentric point of view.  In short – they judge by a standard they would never want applied to them.  They judge by a selfish standard of their own creation.

The dance is offered as an “artifact of apostasy”  - an example of “the Great Apostasy that is sweeping through the “Christian” Church.”  The misuse of 2 Thessalonians in this context will not be pursued, what will be asked is why the posting is entitled “Marriage Dance?”  What purpose does the question mark play? What is being questioned; there marriage status, their ability to dance?

The real travesty plays out in the three short comments.  The comments display and incredible lack of cultural insight and abundance of ethnocentrism – of improper judging.

Comment:

I couldn’t watch the whole thing, I turned it off before 2 mins were up. What is this doing in a church service? How is it edifying our Savior? I’m sorry but I would have walked out if I was there in person. The only good thing I have to say, it that at least they were married to each other (I hope). Still, not the thing to be showing in church!

It’s unfortunate this person cannot appreciate the manner in which people who are different from him/her express themselves to God.  Marriage was created by God.  The marriage covenant is one of the grander illustrations of the Trinitarian nature of our God… it also serve as an illustration for the relationship between our Savior and his Church.  Therefore, this dance could edify our Savior because it celebrates marriage.  And just why is this not appropriate for church?  How do you know it was a worship service?  Or is dance always inappropriate within a space used for worship?

Dance has a rich heritage in the African culture and nothing in Scripture prohibits it as an expression of God’s greatness.  The description of the video itself (which I suspect the commenter did not bother to research) gave the reason for the dance – “Married couples minister in dance: Giving thanks and honor to God for the blessing of marriage.”  Apparently thanks can only be given to God in a way that is culturally acceptable to Shar.

In response to this comment came:

You are so right, this is what is wrong with the churches today. It is suppose to be worship of the Most high God, not lifting up of the flesh.

Married couples giving thanks and honor to God for the blessing of marriage through dance is what is wrong with the churches today?  Seriously?  Again, no rationale is given as to why this is wrong, just the declaration that it is.  Though Floyd does add one clear objection – it lifted up the flesh.  This is an interesting (and rather cliché) objection. Since the Most High God created the flesh, created marriage, created the physical and spiritual bond… how is celebrating that “fleshly”  - in the improper sense.  Particularly when done in a tasteful manner.  Nothing in this video was inappropriately suggestive, or erotic.  Makes me wonder how Floyd would respond to… oh… say the Song of Solomon.  Talk about lifting up the flesh!

The final comment agreed:

Even worse than the obviously inappropriate, human-centered dance, is all the womens’ voices I hear cat calling in the background; makes me understand why Paul said women should be silent in the assembly. Boy, was he right.

This one made me laugh.  “Human (or man) – centered” is another cliché that is so over used it has become meaningless.  It’s basically code for “Anything I dislike.”  But Melba also shows a lack of understanding of the audience’s response.  No one was making cat calls.  They simply responded audibly to what they were seeing.

The bottom line is these comments show how easy it is to take our own cultural standards and assume them to be biblical… to impose on others the same cultural (as opposed to biblical) standards we hold… to assume the way we do things is the only biblical was to do things… to judge others who are different as inappropriate, as an examples of apostasy, as sinful – not on biblical standards, but upon personal preferences.

Appendices to address expected objections:

A – I am not accusing anyone of hypocrisy.  I do not know the poster or those who commented.  Nor do I intend to fully defend the Marriage Dance.  In fact, one could have come up with all sorts of biblical/legitimate objections to the theology and practice of a UCC church.

B – I found the dance posted twice on YouTube (here and here).  Each posting gives one line to describe the video.  They are “The Married Couples Dance Ministry of trinity united church of christ in chicago dance to BabyFace” and “Married couples minister in dance: Giving thanks and honor to God for the blessing of marriage.”  Neither video gave the context of the dance.

C – The issue here is not one of race, and certainly not racism.  The issue is judging others without the facts and from a false premise.

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Ephesians 2:4-6 (NKJV – emphasis mine) — But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together …

I have noted before on my blog that legalism mocks God’s grace. If we are raised in a home that doesn’t perform “worldly” externals, and all Christianity is about is not doing those “worldly” externals, then God hasn’t really saved us from much — we weren’t dead in our trespasses; we just had the sniffles.

A couple weeks ago, Neil wrote about labels, and how they can be helpful at times — and downright useless and silly at other times. The latter issue was the larger portion of his post and (although he didn’t initially identify it at the time of the writing), I was one of the people that he wrote about who had been incorrectly and unfairly labeled. (He later went back and filled readers in on who the label-ers were. ‘Twas a hop, skip, and jump from there to figure out who the label-ees were.)

Unfortunately, for any “fact-checkers” out there, the background of my incident can’t be accurately checked, as the moderators of the site on which I was labeled chose to conveniently excise large parts of the exchange in which either (a) I made a strong point or (b) they looked foolish in retrospect. But that’s not why I’m writing this, anyway …

I was attempting to answer the question “Is Francis Chan emergent?” by noting that the important question was not whether or not someone had attached a label to Chan, but whether or not what he teaches/writes is the truth. As the questioner appeared to truly be researching Chan, but coming up empty, I pointed her to a couple of book reviews and a brief (and, for me, convicting) video by Chan.

(For what extremely little it was worth, one of the book reviews included a quote from Chan that pretty much answered her irrelevant question.)

Having just made the point that the issue was truth (not labels), the very next comment — by a moderator, no less — asked me if I was emergent. Quite frankly, I was stunned at how incredibly and thoroughly he had missed my entire point. I felt like tapping the mic and asking, “Is this thing on?”

I temporarily evaded the question, as it was no more relevant for me than it was for Chan. However, after a while, it became obvious that I was never going to get that point through, even though I repeated it numerous times in different ways. So I just (metaphorically) threw up my hands and answered their question. I worked off a list of teachers/writers that one of my accusers had provided, and (I’m sure to their utter shock) largely agreed with their stances on these men.

But then I “messed up” and dragged God into the conversation (what was I thinking?):

Bottom line though: While none of those men are on my bookshelf, I do not think God incapable of using them to speak truth to me.

The responses to this statement (all of my others “disappeared”) made things abundantly clear — they were so utterly focused on these men, that they totally (dis)missed God. One can only come to the conclusion that they do think God incapable of using those men.

There was even a great, though certainly unintended, illustration of this. One of the moderators has an image in his signature line — riffing off of President Obama’s “Hope” slogan — that says “Hopeless” (complete with the same logo in the “O” as was in the original). While no fan of the president by a long shot, I have to note that this image says infinitely more about the moderator’s view of God than his view of the president.

I ran across a post on another blog today about some truly horrific people — murderers, drunkards, adulterers, pimps, prostitutes — the scum of the earth. Oddly, they’re all characters cited in Genesis, many of whom were greatly used by God. And some of them don’t even have the “good” testimonies of how they did all that bad stuff before they met God, and walked the straight and narrow ever since.

The phrase “another gospel” (riffing off Galatians 1) has been perverted in its overuse to mean “that with which we do not agree”. And, to be sure, I saw that phrase used often in the discussions surrounding Chan and others. But to claim (even indirectly) that God is incapable of using anyone requires not only the ignoring of large portions of Scripture, but an outright mockery of God’s grace and the heart of the gospel message.

That, my friends, is truly “another gospel”.

Galatians 1:9 (NKJV – emphasis mine) — As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed.

Don’t blame me — I didn’t say it.

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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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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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(Note: This is not an indictment of the commenter that I reference here.  Several folks here and on similar and dissimilar blogs — myself included — have been guilty of the same thing.  This is an “if the shoe fits” observation.)

Earlier today, Jerry put up the first part of a multi-part post reviewing Rob Bell’s latest book, Jesus Wants to Save Christians.  Being the lightning rod that Bell is ’round these here parts, I fully expected the comment thread to degenerate quickly, and I wasn’t let down.

The third comment expressed disappointment that supposedly (according to the commenter) “those who have not read the book do not qualify for this thread”.  Jerry wrote over 1400 words, none of which (apparently) provided any ammunition for Bell to be crapped on.

So according to this commenter, Jerry just wasted his breath, because no ammo means no point in having a discussion.

God help us.

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Friends,

Rather than merely update my previous post on Julie Neidlinger’s essay, I’d like to offer here just a couple of comments concerning something that really bothered me in the comments and replies. It was this: Some felt it necessary to compare Julie’s essay, that is, the content of the essay, to Ingrid Schleuter’s writing or commentary on such same subjects. I’m writing this as a perfect apology for everything that Julie wrote even though, to be sure, I have great sympathy for much of what she said. I am writing, however, to dispel this notion that her work, in this essay, is comparable to Ingrid’s. I have re-read the essay again and I have a least seven reasons why I think Julie’s essay differed and, as such, why it appealed to me. (PS–this post is not about Ingrid per se. It is about the comments that I read from several who said that Julie’s essay was like Ingrid’s in tone and content. Please don’t make this an ‘I hate Ingrid rant’ because that is not what it is. Also, I am not ‘on Julie’s side.’ I am on my own side, partially, defending why I found Julie’s article appealing in the first place.–jerry)

First, Julie actually visited (or had a long standing friendship) with the church she mentions in the first line of her essay. Julie was not sitting back, looking in from a distance, scrutinizing the efforts of the church in an attempt to blister them for being heretics. She didn’t go surfing the web ‘looking for a baby Jesus under the trash’ (Bono). Julie went and worshiped with those people (more than once?); Ingrid does not. That is a huge, huge difference in my book.

Second, Julie did not condemn to hell those she disagreed with, call them apostate, consider them unorthodox, write exposes about the preacher’s heretical teaching, or anything of that sort. She said, quite specifically, “I don’t blame the church; it is my own inability to fit that literally forced me to leave. I don’t really doubt their sincerity, and that many people…etc.” I might take exception to the line ‘I’ve even found, in the past, a few sermons to be interesting,’ but that’s not Julie; that’s me. (That is, as a preacher, I would be highly offended if someone referred to my sermons as merely ‘interesting.’ :) ) Uh, do I need to actually state what Ingrid (and others like her, do?)

Third, Julie did not act as if her angst was necessarily theological. It may have had theological underpinnings; or not. But Julie was rather clear through the article that her angst had more to do with her own preferences than anything else, maybe even a little home-sickness. This could have bee gleaned by most from the first three paragraphs alone, but it is also scattered throughout. Ingrid, on the other hand, frequently offers up complaints that are decidedly NOT theological, but disguised as such when really they are nothing more than her preferences. Again, huge difference.

Fourth, Julie did not blame the pastor/preacher. “I don’t know that the minister was wrong, though I think he was in some things he said. I am sure parents appreciate the ability to leave…etc…but it annoyed me” (my emphasis.) I appreciated, as a minister, that Julie had the nerve to not place all the burden squarely on the back of the preacher. With Ingrid, that is not nearly ever the case. And maybe there is some justification to Ingrid doing so sometimes, but not always. At some point the congregation full of people needs to assume some of that weight.

Fifth, Julie is not opposed to all things modern. “I’m not going to be one of those starched-collar Christians who, based on personal preference, say that this is a sign we’re going to hell in a handbasket and that all things are wrong unless they are done as they were done with the Puritans.” Isn’t this a huge, major-league, huge difference between Julie and Ingrid? Ingrid is opposed on the grounds of being opposed. Julie is opposed on the grounds that so much of it seems contrived.

Sixth, Ingrid would never, I mean never, quote Kurt Cobain to make a point. Julie would, and did. For that alone Julie get’s bonus points.

Seventh, Julie provided a solution to her problem with the church: She left. This is not what Ingrid (or other AMD types) would do. First, they wouldn’t go to begin with, and, second, they would continue to rail against the church forever and a day thus perhaps robbing some of hope, others of joy, still others of purpose, and perhaps ruining a pastor’s reputation along the way. Julie was feeling angsty so she left. OK. Maybe she was a bit sensitive. OK. Maybe she was being a girl. OK. Who cares? She had a complaint. She voiced it. Some agree and some do not. Julie’s essay was not in any way, shape or form like something Ingrid (or others like her) would publish. Ingrid (and others like her) rarely, if ever, offers solutions to what she sees as (sometimes) valid criticisms. She just criticizes.

From what I can tell, Julie had maybe three complaints and, I happen to think they are valid. In no particular order, 1) fakery/phoniness/lame-trying-to-fit-in-ness/faux trendiness/sameness/faux-coolness from pastors. I agree–it’s like everyone is trying their hardest to look in like Mark Driscoll or Rob Bell physically the way so many pastors are trying to ‘look like’ Rick Warren theologically. Perhaps what Julie wants is for someone to, I don’t know, be themselves? Did you notice how many times the word ‘fake’ or a synonym for ‘fake’ was used?

2) Imaturity among Christian men. Fellas, and ladies, I gotta be honest with you: She’s got a point. One of the best things I did in life was to go to Bible college already married and live with my wife. Talk about having to grow up fast! It was like four more years of high school with all the gossipy who’s dating who and who’s hating who and blah, blah, let’s stay up until four AM playing games and drinking Jolt Cola. I don’t think this is about Julie’s ‘dating-angst’ as some seem to think, but rather about what has been fostered among our men in the church by not encouraging and demanding that they grow up in their faith.

3) Manipulative and trite sermons. This is at the feet of the pastor and I agree. Much of what passes itself off as preaching in today’s church cannot possibly provide hope, courage, or strength to people like ‘Julie’ or people like ‘me.’ It sounds trite and manipulative. It sounds like the preacher doesn’t trust that the congregation can handle a) hearing, b) learning about, c) applying deep theological concepts. So we have to dumb it down. This is her point, I think, about ‘children’s’ church; we are not raising children to be children, but adults. Why dumb it down, for children or adults? I happen to agree with her whole-heartedly. Give the people something eat.

OK. I think that’s about all I want to say. Please remember, this is my impression of her post. I’m not trying to psycho-analyze Julie. I’m interacting with her post and defending the post against those insidious ‘this sounds like Ingrid and so why do you like it and not Ingrid’s?’ complaints that I saw in the comment thread of my OP on the subject. It is amazing that most of this, again, could have been discerned from reading the first three paragraphs of Julie’s post. Have a grand day everyone.

jerry

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Over at Apprising Ministries, Ken Silva responds to a letter from a reader. Here are a few excerpts that are quite telling of his attitude when it comes to his status

The following is based on an unsolicited email I received here at Apprising Ministries. Please understand that I do not think any pastor-teacher is above reproach [insert typical Emerging Church whining here], etc. [emphasis mine]
What I wish to bring out is how easy, and I’ll argue arrogant as well, it is for people to simply disregard the teaching of someone like myself who has been studying the fields of apologetics, Comparative Religion and evangelizing non-Christian cults for 21 years….

You said: “I was very surprised to see your negative views on Christian meditation in the article CHRISTIAN MEDITATION WITH MANTRA: DOM JOHN MAIN.” So let me put it another way: I am very surprised to see you so quick in attempting to instruct someone like me whom Jesus has called as one of His pastor-teachers. [emphasis mine]

My dad always told me that you could tell alot about someone based on how they respond to correction or constructive criticism. This correspondence to Apprising was in no way instructional or a harsh rebuke. It sounded like an honest reader that was trying to understand where Silva was coming from. Most of the email was actually the reader asking him questions. But, Ken strikes back with his lofty credentials and how a man of his status should not be quickly instructed. How did Silva know that this reader had not spend some time looking at the Apprising articles and made an educated and simply inquisitive inquiry. On top of that, he sends such mixed statements: no pastor is above reproach, but people should not instruct someone who is a pastor-teacher in this manner.

Anyhow, this all too telling of the attitude of both Apprising and CRN:
We are educated, anointed and experienced, therefore we get to criticize whoever we want, whenever we want. And, you better not say anything about it.

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Posts like this make me profoundly sad. In fact, it makes me wonder if this author really can know the peace and grace of Christ (I’m not suggestion this person is outside of Christ, only that they’ve not realized the work that Jesus accomplished between us and God). 

This post is not meant to be a criticism of the opinions expressed about Driscoll (we’ve rehashed that conversation dozens of times, though it does seem odd the author would criticize Driscoll without actually reading the book itself).  Rather, I want to address the assumptions made by the author about the relationship between us and God, and I want to do so because it seems lately that I’ve been seeing these assumptions made by Christians in many different streams of theological thought. 

Consider the following statements, which are representative of the piece:

Scripture says we are to fear HIM:

He destroys the HOLINESS and FEAR for Christ Jesus. There is nothing worth taking from Driscoll’s pig stye to sift through and find truth. Go to Scripture and find the pristine reverence for Christ, held up above all people and all of Creation, set apart as Master, Righteous One, and without spot or blemish, never acting like the pigs, dogs, and vipers of His day.

There is nothing, absolutely nothing in this piece that speak of the intimacy we have with Jesus.  Nothing in it speaks of the great love that God has for us. 

Consider, for example, the consistent and overwhelming use of the metaphor of God as father.  It is so overwhelming that when Jesus is asked by his disciples how to pray he begins with "Our father in heaven".  Or consider that Christ is consistently pictured as the bridegroom of the church, which is the exact comparison Jesus uses for himself when his disciples’ actions are being compared to that of the Pharisees.  We also have the description of Jesus as older brother, and we are called adopted sons into the family of God. 

The descriptions of God I get from many Christians, and this article in particular is far from the familiarity and intimacy of a brother, father, or husband, instead God is pictured as this unapproachable, unreasonable, petty tyrant who is looking to punish anyone who forgot to dot an I or cross a T.

Its almost like verses such as:

“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!
Luke 13.34

Have been forgotten.

Ultimately, theology such as the one represented in this article is a Christless theology because Christ is our mediator.  His work is the work that created the easy familiarity of brother, husband and father with God.  The only way that God is an ineffable, unapproachable deity is if Christ’s work didn’t work. 

And if you think this Christless theology is confined to an obscure blog dedicated to re-publishing, and re-hashing the same old critiques against Driscoll, I invite you to read this group of comments.  Here’s some highlights:

Ultimately we (all people) live under the threat of eternal death if we worship improperly, do we not?

The Bible does not say God is “love, love, love.” It does say, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty.”

Great reminder that we are not approaching "the man upstairs" but the King of glory!

Read the rest of this entry »

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(Note: I’m not a fan of either of these presidential candidates — nor any of them, for that matter. So I’m not interested in a political discussion. The political realm just happens to be where this example lies.)

In Monday night’s Democratic debate, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama got testy with each other. There was one exchange though, that gave me a serious case of déjà vu:

Obama: I was helping unemployed workers on the streets of Chicago when you were a corporate lawyer sitting on the board at Wal-Mart.

Clinton: I was fighting against misguided Republican policies when you were practicing law and representing your contributor … in his slum landlord business in inner city Chicago.

See the difference? Obama claimed to be working with actual people. Conversely, for Clinton, the important thing was to be anti-Republican, (apparently, the highest calling that any human being can aspire to).

Then I got a flashback.

A bit over a year ago, I wrote an email to one of the group-written incarnations of Slice asking why my comments kept getting un-approved, despite the fact that they were civil and not particularly strident. I contrasted my comments to stuff like:

RICK WARREN IS NOT A CHRISTIAN!

– and –

Houston will be a desert before I accept a liar, a slanderer, a self-promoting name-dropper, and a blasphemer of the Holy Spirit as a brother in Christ. (regarding Warren)

I marveled that such anti-Biblical skubala was permitted on a site on which comments were carefully screened.

Put down your coffee before you read the next sentence. I don’t want to be responsible for the spit-take all over your computer screen.

The response that I received was that comments at Slice were not carefully screened. Rather, the only comments that were disallowed were apologists for the emerging church and Rick Warren, and comments that were truly malicious.

Since my actual point was totally ignored (the anti-Biblical nature of some comments), I re-iterated it again. The response that I got this time stated that even guessing who is saved is unbiblical.

I responded that I was glad that this was her stance, pointed out that this was not the stance of all the writers at Slice, and then asked the following:

Does this mean that you place a higher priority on being anti-emergent and anti-Warren than on being pro-Biblical?

“Surprisingly”, I didn’t receive a response to that note.

Sure, being pro-Biblical will inherently mean that we’ll be “anti” some stuff. But the latter follows the former. Talk about getting the cart before the dead horse that you’ve been beating.

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