Pharisees, leprous Samaritans, and other bloggers.

This post may not win me friends, and it may only make the sport of loathing me (and this blog) all the more attractive, but I am compelled to address a problem within the Christian internet community; a problem that doesn’t appear to show signs of ending anytime soon.

The problem I am speaking of is the increasing (and unnecessary) condescension and personal attacks from upper class Christians of the blogging world directed toward their lower class brothers and sisters.

This unsightly pock mark on the face of the Christian blogging world has risen to an alarming level and ignoring it –or hoping that it will soon run its course—simply won’t alleviate the problem. In this post I will be brutally honest (risking possible verbal retaliation and smears) but I hope and pray my words will be received in the spirit in which they are intended and will not actually contribute to the already inflamed derision among the caste system of Christian bloggers.

If anyone is offended by what may appear as an overly harsh rebuke or admonition (or some tongue-in-cheek), I apologize in advance, as my intent is not to offend, but the situation has boiled to such a level that pulling punches will serve no good in my appeal to see an end to this disadvantageous behavior.

I am also not deluded into believing my words will persuade all parties involved, but I do pray that it will cause at least a few of the combatants to pause and reflect on just how poorly attitudes and behaviors have gotten lately. I also pray that those involved will repent for the damage already done and then join me in calling a truce in this war among brethren.

To be fair.

I must begin by conceding that there are in fact some very angry, argumentative, and combative Christian bloggers out there who really need to reconsider the reason they blog. These bloggers (which comprise a very small minority) would do the cause of Christ and the gospel a service if they would consider taking a sabbatical to reevaluate their current spiritual state. (I have already addressed this issue in my previous post Caustic Calvinists.)

The fact is, these acidic bloggers are not representative of every Christian blogger out there who happens to find themselves outside the gates of the upper echelons of the blogging food chain, and I reject the efforts by some to lump all lower class apologist bloggers together as part of the seething minority.

But this post is not about them. This post is about the elitists who paint all inferior bloggers in cyberspace with the same broad brush as the few caustic bloggers.

My observations.

In my estimation most Christian bloggers fall into two main categories:

1). The hierarchical internet popes who see themselves as the only class of bloggers that are worthy, able, and enlightened enough to defend the faith and address the problems within the church.

To be analogous, I liken this growing elitist mentality to the Pharisees–not in the malicious way that critics apply the term as a way to stifle their opponents in a debate–but in the sense that, like the Pharisees, these bloggers strongly present themselves as the only ones worthy to deal with religious matters. All other bloggers are just not at the spiritual, educational, and intellectual level necessary to blog as the elites are, and thus, all other Christian bloggers would do best to leave the temple grounds and take their laptops with them.

2). The rest of the Christian aplogetics blogging world falls into the other category. These low-level mavens of the blogging world are what I analogously (and affectionately) refer to as the dreaded leprous Samaritans, those unclean pariahs not even worthy to blog alongside their premier blogging counterparts.

These oftentimes sincere and faithful bloggers are commonly referred to by their elitist superiors by the pejorative terms “watchbloggers” and “ODMs” (online discernment ministries), names strategically employed to marginalize them and their worthless contributions. The professionals view these gentile bloggers with utter contempt and–given the opportunity–would likely have those unkempt, vile dogs of cyberspace censured (if not tarred, feathered, flogged, and burned at the stake).

Friendly fire.

It’s true that not every menial blogger has been to seminary; it’s true that not every blogging serf has a master’s degree; it’s true that not every lower class blogger has had a book published; it’s true that not every peasant blogger has the greatest of depth in theological understanding; it’s true that not every amateur blogger has the following year booked up with speaking engagements around the nation, but does this mean that these grunts in the trenches of the battlefield have no right to exercise their freedom of speech as they write about the gospel, the faith, and their convictions, simply because they don’t say it exactly in the manner that the upper crust in the blogging world would?

Do these amateur bloggers really deserve all the loathing, condescension, and rancid vitriol that they’ve been increasingly receiving from these elites?

If we’re all truly in Christ then we’re all in this truth war together, but when the generals begin turning their cannons on the ground troops, the cause of Christ is sullied.

When the world gazes upon the bloody and battered mass of wounded warriors (many of which eventually succumb to the injuries inflicted on them by their comrades), the unbelieving snicker at us as they slip deeper into their self-assurance that all this friendly fire is simply more “proof” of the utter failure and futility of Christianity. Because, after all, Jesus said that the world would know that we are His disciples by the love we have for one another. Unfortunately the world sees anything but this type of evidence when they visit some Christian blogs.

Ironically, oftentimes the subpar bloggers that the elite loathe the most are the ones who are linking to their sites, recommending their books, and posting their sermons.

The common goals of those in the truth war.

Aren’t we all unified under the same Lord with the same shared purpose of  glorifying God, spreading the gospel, and defending the faith from those who have crept in unnoticed?

All Christians are undeniably in this truth war (even if most professing Christians prefer to avoid controversies). And in spite of the seemingly vast chasm affixed between the upper-crust bloggers and their inferiorly-viewed lower-crust bloggers, they share much in common. Here, for your consideration, are just some of the commonalities that these two tiers of bloggers share:

- Both camps believe in the essentials of the Christian faith.

- Both camps believe in defending these essentials from the wolves who seek to subvert them.

- Both camps have a righteous indignation for false teachers that lead the sheep astray.

- Both camps have a passion to share the gospel of Jesus Christ (the only means of salvation) to a lost and dying world.

- Both camps adhere to the God-glorifying Doctrines of Grace.

- Both camps rejoice, take comfort in, and proclaim the sovereignty of God over His creation.

- Both camps believe in the perspicuity and divine origin of the Scriptures.

- Both camps believe the Bible doesn’t contain the Word of God but is the Word of God.

- Both camps proclaim the Solas of the Reformation.

- Both camps have placed their trust in the Lord Jesus Christ as the propitiation for their sins.

In other words, both camps are comprised of actual, literal brothers and sisters in the Lord, members of Christ’s body, fellow Christians. And each of these bottom dwelling Christian bloggers that are loathed, smeared, dragged through the mud, and demeaned by other Christian bloggers are dear souls that have been redeemed by the precious shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. Forget not that those you deride are the Lord’s beloved bride, and will be sharing a seat at the table of the Lord’s marriage feast with you.

Enough is enough.

To the ostentatious bloggers of grandiose superiority, I am calling for a stop to this madness of public ridicule of fellow Christians who are in the same war fighting the same battles. Quit viewing them as too unsophisticated and unworthy to blog because their polemic is not to the same degree of eloquence or level of loftiness that you possess. I urge the generals to bear this in mind before their next public evisceration of a foot soldier on their theological bayonets of contempt.

Jehovah’s Witnesses are quietly opening new Kingdom Halls, Rome is quietly baptizing new converts, Mormons are quietly gaining more approval and legitimacy in the arena of public opinion, Emergents and liberals are quietly subverting the gospel, the anti-theists are quietly publishing more books questioning the existence of God, and Muslims are quietly planning their next mass-casualty attack in the name of Allah. And all of this is happening while the ones who hold the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ—the very gospel these souls trapped in their growing false religions so desperately need to hear—are  preoccupied in a pretentious battle of who’s allowed to blog or not.

Oh, how this is all to our shame!

The beginning of strife is like letting out water,
so abandon the quarrel before it breaks out.

Proverbs 17:14

44 thoughts on “Pharisees, leprous Samaritans, and other bloggers.

  1. Wow. Well, you should try being a lowly commenter one time and find yourself ex communicated like a scoundral and heretic. I was banned from watchmanscry (and yes they are ban crazy!) with no ability to contact the many friends I had made… When I tried to reason with owner, he shut me down like I was some whore on main street. He gave me absolutely no respect.
    Bottom line I have found is this, ‘where words are many, sin is not absent’. I can hear the love in your heart and agree with you. It would behoove us to be much more loving and compassionate. I was on another persons blog a couple years ago. This owner allowed comments. I asked a simple question. The response I got was so sarcastic and caustic that I have never gone back. And what is sad is the guy had some really cool research that I would have enjoyed delving into more. But he had a very pharisee ish type prideful attitude.
    I am old and I’ve been around the block with all kinds of churches and doctrines. I am not stupid. I don’t have a blog although people have told me I should have one. I know the LORD said that HE would hold teachers more accountable, so I take that pretty seriously. When teachers/preachers, bloggers, cannot be asked questions or cannot be questioned, than I write them off as dangerous. Period. And there are too many out there that believe they are above questioning. One forum owner complains quite frequently about how difficult it is to keep up the forum. Um, if GOD is not giving you the grace to do it, shut it down. Because the way I see it, people are already so disconnected. The church becomes more disconnected on line….
    Just my thoughts,
    Peace in KING JESUS name,
    Deirdre

  2. I must admit that although I understand what you are saying…I don’t know of what you are exactly referring…I may not be familiar with all the blogs/bloggers that you speak of. I’m glad I don’t see it, as I would be awfully frustrated with it…how right you are…all Christians are “fighting” for a common cause **the salvation of souls**…we should be encouraging one another, admonishing gently and work together to share the Gospel. Your last paragraph, especially, rings so true…and should humble anyone who reads it!
    Kindly,
    Katy

  3. Been a victim. I am a pre-trib, pre-mill dispensationalist. I am sort of Reformed but have a different endtime view but as far as salvation goes, I am a Calvinist. Whew!! That said, I guess what I really am is a Biblicist. Well, you can imagine what kind of a reception I have received on some blogs. Been called a troll a few times and laughed at and ignored etc.
    People can be really mean and it hurts your feelings even though you don’t really know them.
    And this is from brothers and sisters in Christ. Once, because I said I was a Calvinist they said I was a heretic. And said Calvin was a murderer. One good thing, though, you can just quit the site.
    It is so funny(not really) that Christians can be involved in this kind of behaviour just to make themselves look like Bible scholars.
    Anyway…… I think Pilgrim is right!!! I appreciate the reminder.
    Humbly,
    pam

  4. Another excellent article, Pilgrim. As with your “Caustic Calvinists,” you are hitting the nail right on the proverbial head. Some of the nastiness I get for exposing the false teachings of peoples’ favorites is shocking coming from Christians.

  5. Too many people gain some level of celebrity status and begin to believe their fans. This can happen within a mega-church or with public speaking & writing. They can then begin to think more highly of themselves than they ought. This leads to the condescending remarks to the little people. It ought not to be.

  6. As a former blogger and broadcaster for many years, I want to thank you for writing these words. You wrote the truth. I could write a book about what I experienced at the hands of these elite bully-boys of the discernment blog world. The swaggering pride, the lack of conscience, the personal viciousness, the cruelty, the political machinations that characterize these men caused me to literally crawl away after thug treatment at their hands. Worst of all, I saw that the next tier down bloggers refused to extend a hand of support or in any way decry my treatment because they all had something to lose. They were afraid of becoming targets themselves for speaking out, and they feared losing their little piece of the action.

    It is all sinful disobedience to God’s Word. Doctrine is only part of the picture. The loveless, Christless, conscienceless big shots who left me as roadkill after years of work for the Lord carry on today as though nothing ever happened. I am thankful that we serve a Lord who treated women with kindness and respect and who was merciful and full of grace. These Big Names who go from conference to conference to book contract to blog post to Twitter to Facebook and back again are burned out shells spiritually. They are personally ambitious and they are filled with pride. They need to get off Twitter and Facebook and their blogs and get on their faces before the Lord. He is judging his church because so many of the prophets themselves are profane and sinful. They have NO love. They leave spiritual rape victims by the side of the road, but are back on Twitter posting as they walk away. Just like the Pharisees who left the bleeding victim to die. I have encountered some Good Samaritans thankfully who have shown the true love of Christ. Thank you, Pilgrim, for this excellent, excellent post. You are the only one I’ve ever seen with the courage to address this.

  7. Just one more thought if I may. If it were not for someone asking me questions when I was a practicing Catholic, I don’t think I would have come into a deeper relationship with the LORD. And since then I’ve tried to be a Berean and ask, delve, research. It’s good too. I would have never thought in a million years that we would stop celebrating christmas but here we are! I think what we should do as believers is allow people to grow, allow the questions to be asked, allow people to evolve so to speak. Otherwise we become the very institution we rant against…If “it” is not love, than it matters now how much research or how popular somone is amen?
    Pam, welcome! Hello! And peace in JESUS name to you all!
    Deirdre

  8. Speaking only for myself (a hopelessly Caustic Calvinist), I must say my ire has little to do with my own “pride” and much more to do with general frustration at the perpetually willful, unrepentant, arrogant – even boastful – IGNORANCE of so many *alleged* “Christians” today. Never before has so much good information been so readily available for study and digestion by hungry Christians; but so many people who claim to love and serve God simply refuse to educate themselves. Then they turn around and play the wounded brother or the persecuted martyr when someone with a clue slaps them down online.

    I’ll stop being angry and caustic when real Christians can agree what a real Christian is. So long as I find myself drowning in an ocean of Arminians, Catholics, Emergents, Liberals, Ecumenicals, Mormons and other such self-deceived unregenerates, so long will I continue to raise the watchman’s call for deliberate separation from all such. And I won’t be “nice” about it. Being “nice” and “tolerant” – keeping “polite disagreement” with heretics at a whisper whilst being careful “not to major on the minors” – has, in a few short generations, put the visible church in the disgraceful state it’s in. Shame on the drowsy and gutless shepherds responsible for this!

  9. The new calvinists have worked hard to earn their reputations as illustrated by AZ Texan. I have a son who just converted to Roman Catholicism. He is 24 and when he was younger used to read many Reformed authors. He got online and for several years got exposed to the young, reckless and “reformed” crowd who enjoyed cage fighting to the Greater Glory of God. He was sickened by what he experienced and witnessed first hand. It went far beyond being “caustic.” These were blood sports where demented, faceless Internet warriors using 17th century guys as facebook profile pics who chased others around with a Five-pronged pitchfork. He wants nothing to do with it now as he was horribly wounded. He is no pansy with his feelings on his sleeve. He simply saw NOTHING OF JESUS CHRIST in the conduct of these men who claimed to be doctrinally correct and who breezily consigned any other believer with a difference to the eternal fires of hell. And don’t tell me that if you love someone, you’ll warn them they’re wrong. If your jackboots are stomping on their face, don’t expect them to believe you or listen to you. You warn AND you show real love. Like Jesus. Got that?

  10. Dear AZTexan,
    A soft answer turns away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger. Pr 15:1 and
    2 Cor 4:10 We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.
    I am a ‘real’ Christian who has not stopped growing and learning in Christ. I am guessing that if you are Calvinistic in your views than you also go to a Presbyterian church? If so, why do you folks celebrate xmas and eoster when these are clearly ‘baptized’ pagan holidays from the very institution you abhor? Why infant baptism? I say, if you are going to do some, go all the way. If not, then as a Christian who is filled with the Holy Spirit (and the fruits there of being patience, love, kindness, longsuffering….) you are obligated to give your brethren room to grow, room to make mistakes, room to learn. I certainly don’t yell at my kids to read their history and I do not become angry with them when the don’t understand their math. It is the Holy Spirit that makes us understand the Words of Scripture.

  11. Agreed Former. Pilgrim’s previous posts outline how we in the Christian blogging community have done more harm than good when we refuse to speak the truth in love. True love for the lost/unregenerate is that which compassionately, but boldly proclaims the truth. We don’t fear offending people, because the Word will offend, but we do not go out of our way to offend and then do a victory dance because we got the unregenerate angry. Such angry blogging is what has helped the cause of the “upper crust” folks to feel like we have little to contribute to the discussion. We don’t need to cater to their whims, but just lovingly and boldly proclaim Christ and Him crucified. Let us also be careful not to become bitter and snarky with the upper crust, lest we be guilty of the same offense.

  12. FB-NR: Shame about your son.

    Deirdre: I’m not a Presbyterian and I don’t celebrate holidays. As for the rest of your comment, the difference between us is that you assume (erroneously, naively in my estimation) who are “your brethren” to whom we’re supposed to give all this “room.” Question-begging.

  13. AZTexan said:

    “Speaking only for myself (a hopelessly Caustic Calvinist), I must say”

    1Cor 3:3-4 For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men? For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal?

  14. Wonderful article Pilgrim, and very, very, very much needed I might ad. I spend less and less time on blogs because of the venom spewed out if you differ in your views than the reformed. As you know, this is why I no longer contribute to DefCon.
    I have found those who hold to a reformed, a-mil, calvinistic view to be the most intolerant, unloving, condescending of all brethren. What happened to the command to love one another, think of others as better than yourself, strive for unity, overlooking offenses, etc.?
    I have been blessed by you PIlgrim, and most of what I have read at DefCon is very edifying.
    However, we all need to remember we are all at different levels in our walk and should never lord over others our views or knowledge, for knowledge can puff up, and honestly seems to do so quite a bit within the reformed camp.

    May the Lord richly bless you brother as you strive for what we should all be striving for…unity. Instead of debating one another, should we not be taking the gospel to the nations, praying for one another, and crying out for the lost?

  15. 1st Corinthians 2:14–The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.

    John 14:17–“even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him.”

    The lost cannot understand the truth because God has not opened their blinded eyes. Yet there are many snarkers and snipers in the blogosphere who would upbraid a blind man for tripping over the curb because he couldn’t see it in broad daylight.

  16. AZTexan,

    I just wanted to say that I am new to the Calvinistic thought. After watching the Amazing Grace film about Calvinism and reading here at DefCon, I have learned much. Without the patient answering of questions that people have done for me….who knows when I would have come to the truth of this.
    I completely understand standing up for Truth but doing so as Paul said:

    Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.
    And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him. ~Col. 3:16-17

    Continue to teach others….singing with grace in your heart!
    Kindly,
    Katy

  17. Thank you for writing this post.

    I have picked up on some of what you are writing about. I have seen some of the upper and more elite bloggers use condescension in regards to the more lowly brothers that haven’t achieved status and popularity just the same as they have achieved. I have mostly refrained from commenting on this matter out of fear. I’m somewhat ignorant of everything that goes on in the blogging community so I’m always left with the impression that there may be a multitude of bloggers that truly deserve rebuking. At the same time, however, I almost wonder if I wouldn’t also be classified as a member of the blogging community that would also be in the cross hairs of comments and concerns that are addressed accordingly. I don’t consider my self a discernment blogger per se but with the ambiguity that’s put into play sometimes when addressing these matters, I”m left confused and a little disoriented.

    If my writing contains doctrinal errors and or I’m being blasphemous or committing any other type of heresy, then by all means rebuke and correct me in love the same as Christ would have us to act. If, however, the major objection to my blogging is because I didn’t go to seminary or that I lack pastorship over a brick and mortar church, then it is to my understanding it may be your vanity that you have a problem with other than my credentials. As long as I feel that I’m called to do what I do then I will continue to do so and it is to my understanding, it is well within my Christian liberty to do so.

    As brothers and sisters in Christ, we are all called to fight the good fight and to bicker among ourselves over something like these matters, in my opinion, is a distraction from our duties that we have been called to carry out. If my superior Christian brother needs to correct me, then perhaps he should humble himself and do so in a loving manner and leave the condescension at the door. Too many times do I read words that say that they are said out of love and instead wreak of condescension and belittlement. Let us encourage our brothers and cease in efforts to extinguish the flame that exudes light.

    May it all be for His glory,
    W.

  18. Thanks for the hello, Deirdre!
    Uh-oh, I see some of what Pilgrim is talking about starting to happen. I hold doctrine high and would not want to succumb to unity at all costs. But, in our zeal, let’s not do to others what has been done to those of us in this conversation. You catch more flies with honey! I’m not talking about compromise and I don’t think that there are non-essentials in Scripture, it is all essential to me(don’t blast me), but I do believe that Truth can be spoken in love. There are ways to inform people without destroying them. They usually don’t see you as loving but as mean -spirited .God is the One who saves, regenerating His people. He allows us the privilege of participating in His work by proclaiming it to others. Winning the argument for the sake of winning is just wrong. I don’t see that anywhere in Scripture. It is pretty hard to badger and belittle people and then walk away and profess it to be all for God’s glory.
    And I truly do submit this, humbly.
    pam

  19. fleebabylon: Caustic does not necessarily equal carnal. And even if it did, it just might take a few “caustic” Calvinists to re-draw the lines where they belong and call the old boundaries to the attention of the lost world, including the deluded masses who today pass themselves off as “chris-chuns.” The nicey-nice crowd have, for the past 200 years or more, done an abysmal job of defining and defending the faith; the church visible is a dilapidated nuthouse and the lunatics are in charge.

    fourpointer: Right you are! My biggest bone of contention is that in our evil day the blind man is called “chris-chun, a brother in the Lord!” and his unregenerate blindness “a difference of opinion in nonessential points of doctrine” which will surely be resolved if we just leave him alone and give him “room to mature in the Lord.” Before you know it, our “brother” the blind goat is in a leadership position – a deacon, elder, teacher, professor, pastor – and he is “blindly” standing atop a high hill – or lecture platform, or pulpit – scattering handfuls of tare kernels to the winds, all the while laughing like a psychopath (see my analogy above) at the watchmen sleeping on the wall.

  20. AZTexan:

    Yes, we certainly live in a day when so many professing Christians evidently have no clue what it means to follow Christ according to His Word. Apostasy, heresy, blasphemy, idolatry, blind leading blind, hero worship, peer pressure, etc. is epidemic in Evangelifishism. But one can re-draw the lines of the old boundaries without being caustic, personally offensive, or with a chip on one’s shoulder. It is no more love to berate, verbally abuse, belittle and insult the deceived soul than it is to cower from giving them the truth for fear they may dislike us. Which is why the effectual preacher is one who is a mere conduit through which the Holy Spirit can do the work on the listener, rather than the loud, obnoxious, proud sword-swinging bully..

  21. 1st Peter 3:15 (NASB)–but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence.

    ‘Nuff said.

  22. Very good article and very much needed. There is far too much time spent by those who conisder THEMSELVES the upper echelon of “Christian” blogging touting their intellectual prowess, their titles (Pastor-Teacher etc etc), and the books that they have written soley for the purpose of beating other Christian bloggers on the head!

    They tend to become what they are supposed to be blogging against! Hopefully they will bury their ego’s long enough for some self examination!

  23. That obviously applies to people who are asking sincerely with a willingness to hear and learn. And I’m obviously not referring to those people above.

    ‘Nuff said, I hope yet doubt.

  24. DavidW
    I totally agree. The problem is that amongst the old boundaries in dispute are the lines of demarcation between what you propose and my (according to you) “loud, obnoxious, proud sword-swinging bully.” It is my opinion that the old lines fall somewhere much closer to my side of the debate than you realize…or care to admit. That, I believe, is the crux of our disagreement.

    However, even the caustic-est of Calvinists are known to be wrong on occasion, though the poor souls perceive it not. :-)

  25. That obviously applies to people who are asking sincerely with a willingness to hear and learn.

    Sounds like a little bit of reading into the text. In fact, here is more of that passage, just for context.

    1st Peter 3:14-17–But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you are blessed. “And do not be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled.” But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed. For it is better, if it is the will of God, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.

    Doesn’t sound like these are people who are “asking sincerely.” Actually sounds like Peter is saying just the opposite–that these are evil people who are doing the asking.

  26. Those who defame and revile are not the ones doing the asking. They are put to shame by the testimony of those who asked sincerely and received a meek answer.

    And of course evil people are doing the asking. Evil people are giving the meek answer, too! “There is none good but God,” etc.

  27. AZTexan:

    Just so we’re clear, I wasn’t accusing you, or inferring, that you are a “loud, obnoxious, proud sword-swinging bully”, but my point was to draw a distinction between being a vessel through which God can work, and being an unloving and unbiblical “apologist” (again, not a personal attack on you). I have, very regrettably on occasion, behaved rather caustic myself, for which I seek the Lord’s forgiveness. I am in agreement with you that the “old boundaries” which God has set for His Church have been moved (and if you have kept up with my comments on many threads, I have been very adamantly opposed to this, particularly in regard to Apostasy, heresy, blasphemy, and idolatry.). But if we are truly of Christ, our will must be in full submission to how the Lord directs us to behave, both toward the deceived and the deceiver. Our godly testimony of being a living sacrifice bears more weight than many realize.

  28. Pilgrim,

    Thank you for this post. I am aware of some “elite” apologist sites who speak of us “little guys” as you’ve described. Yet the Lord chose mostly unlearned men to be His first representatives to the world. May the Lord encourage His own, of whatever position in life, to speak boldly His Truth regardless of what any “elitists” may think or say.

  29. DavidW, we’re getting closer. Now, was or was not Simon Magus deceived and a deceiver? And was he gently rebuked with all meekness and such? How about the Pharisees – how was their error answered? What did Paul say of the Judaizers – something about the removal of certain organs, wasn’t it? Must have been a meek and sweet mutilation he had in mind.

    Are you following me?

  30. AZTexan,

    In answer to your question, if we look at the entire story of Simon the magician (assuming this is the Simon Magus you are referring to), he was definitely deceived, impressed with the power that he saw the other apostles had, desiring their power to impart the Holy Ghost to others. His rebuke was not from a reactionary Peter in his flesh (whacking off ears like he did on the night the Lord was betrayed), but from a Spirit-controlled Peter who discerned that Simon’s problem was that he was not truly repentant but had bitterness issues and was still enslaved to sin. And therefore had no business wanting to be a part of “this ministry” (apostolic). Truth. But not vindictively or abusively delivered. The former “Lord, shall we call fire down from heaven and consume them” attitude (which Jesus rebuked) was nowhere seen by those after the Holy Spirit indwelt them.

    Jesus overturned tables in the Temple (but after all, it was His house). He also called the Pharisees a brood of vipers. But how are we commanded to behave? I’d start by referring back to the commands fourpointer quoted just above from God’s Word. We can’t be picking and choosing what we see from extraordinary examples (particularly when many of those were necessary for the pure formation of the infant Church), and using those as a pretext for across the board behavior to the exclusion of specific commands in His Word.

  31. Just want to add one small thought here as I have not actually given my own comments on this post which is excellent. My dad used to tell me all the time,

    “Son, your position might be right, but it does no good to others if your disposition is wrong. Two wrongs never make it right.”

  32. Interesting conclusions.Too many who name the Name of Christ wreak of arrogance. This arrogance can be seen before a word is uttered or written by how they present themselves to their prospective hearers. If this arrogance goes unchecked it is a good indication that the person is lost. Maybe doctrinally correct to the last jot and tittle, but still lost. Since when are there “classes” of believers? Pilgram, I know your were being facetious, but the fact remains that all too many think this is the case. Are not all the redeemed heirs according to the promise? No longer slave or free? No longer the special, chosen nation of Israel or those totally ignorant of God and His Word, the Greeks? One’s visability in the body of Christ is of no importance, but the assigned function is of great importance. What if your assigned function was that of a kidney or the liver? Not much visibility there, but the human body would not last long without both. Think of it, continually removing poison so that the rest of the body may live. Not too attractive, but it must be done. Thinking of John the Baptist now. He was relentless in pointing out sin to the unbelievers and nay-sayers—cost him his head. Would you label him “unloving”? mean-spirited? Jesus took it a few steps further by not only declaring the wickedness of the unbelievers, but damning them to their fate in the lake of fire. Anyone want to call Him on this? So what is love? Making someone feel good about themselves? God is love and He has yet to make me feel good about myself on any level-how about you? Suppose your son or daughter was about to make the most disastrous decision yet in their young life, would you tell them to “do as you think best” or would you tell them the consequences of their bad choice? If the former, you do not love your child! So be encouraged to continue to speak the truth. If someone accuses you of being “unloving” or “mean-spirited” it’s probably because you struck a nerve, and if that is the case do not back off! When I get out of line (when, not if) the Holy Spirit is quit capable of fixing my problem.

  33. There is a blurring of the lines in some of the comments here between the prophet’s job, and the Christian’s. John the Baptist was a prophet, and as such, had his ministry to Israel much as the other Old Testament prophets, and specific to His particular call. Jesus came as Prophet, Priest and King, and as God and righteous Judge, has the authority to act in a manner He has sovereignly determined. It is inconsistent and unbiblical to ignore the commands we are given regarding apologetics (giving a defense of the faith with gentleness and in love, seeking to be at peace with all men), and to instead have a “win-a-fight”, punch-you-in-the-nose attitude, citing the prophets, (or Jesus acting in His sovereign Lordship), as examples. The Apostle Paul was also very direct in his warnings, but one must consider He was drawing distinctions and setting a standard of sound doctrine for the fledgling early Church. Rather than abusive to individuals, he was predominantly stern against heretical/unbiblical groups and philosophies.

    Though I disagree with an elitist attitude, and I stand with everything Pilgrim has said here regarding that, I can see what can give rise to it. Those who, either with underlying anger issues, or with a desire to defend what they believe, come out swinging at everyone who disagrees with them (rather than defending the truths of God’s word by the Scriptures), have given apologetics bloggers a very bad name. It’s no wonder some would see this as counterproductive to representing Christ to the world, and rise up to do a more “congenial”, more intellectual job of defending the faith, with impressive debate and rhetorical skills in a calm, calculated manner. Setting a “higher standard” of apologetics, if you will. Though well-intended, the problem (other than the risk of relying on one’s own skills rather than the power of God’s Word) comes in when those who do not follow their example, or who articulate less “congenially”, are stigmatized as “less worthy”, or unworthy, to attempt apologetics until they can do so in a more polished, more professional manner (preferably with references from other elites). Thus they hinder, tacitly or flagrantly, the “common” Christian from being used by God to be His instrument for defending His truth in a manner consistent with the Scriptures, yet with his own unique gifts.

  34. David W. you have been right from the beginning of this post. Love your last post, keeping Scripture in context determining its meaning.
    pam

  35. More interesting conclusions. So, DavidW, just who is to be our biblical example that we should imitate? According to you Paul’s Mars Hill address would be acceptable, but how about when he withstood Peter face to face for Peter’s hypocrisy toward the Gentiles? Yes or no? Maybe Stephen would work, but just up until the time he angered the Jews to the point that it got him stoned. Tradition has it that Peter was crucified up side down (by request), according to your post he would have done better and more to advance the Kingdom of Christ by not making his murderers so angry. Making someone angry is NOT the goal, earnestly contending for the faith is. Does it bother you when anyone speaks ill of our Lord? I know that it does. It bothered Jesus too, but is that the part of Him that you would not allow to be imitated? Just who is our example, please? Since when is not making someone angry the criteria for our speech and conduct in the world? If that is the case then no real Christian could ever speak again! If not hurting someone’s feelings is the prime and motivating factor in our dealings with the lost world, then we have doomed them to hell. I hear the phrase “speak the truth in love” and we have thrown so much water on it that it now means “tell someone what they want to hear, lest you make them angry”. Speaking the truth IS love. If you refuse to tell someone what they need to hear, how are you loving them? We all need to rethink our outlook on this, because for too long the truth has suffered at the expense feelings (ours and theirs). If I didn’t care about you, David, as a member of the Body of Christ, I would never have posted here in the first place.

  36. Greetings Darrel,

    The truth of God’s word WILL make those angry who are hostile to God, so when we present God’s truth, even in love and gentleness, people will still become angry due to the spiritual battle involved, and turn that anger upon us who preach His truth. We can’t help that. What we can, and must, do is conduct ourselves in a non-fleshly, non-abusive, non-combative manner, and let the power of God’s Word do the work. Defending the faith is, after all, a spiritual battle, not an intellectual battle (I’m not saying intellect is not involved), and certainly not a personal one.

    In regard to your reference to Paul and Peter, I see absolutely nothing abusive or unloving on Paul’s rebuke of Peter. He merely laid out the truth of the matter that Peter was in error, and why. And Peter, a man yielded to the Spirit, accepted the rebuke as truth, and repented ( not retaliating with a salvo of searing accusations at Paul).

    Regarding your statement: “Tradition has it that Peter was crucified up side down (by request), according to your post he would have done better and more to advance the Kingdom of Christ by not making his murderers so angry.” I honestly don’t know where you got that, since I never said anything of the kind.

    “Making someone angry is NOT the goal, earnestly contending for the faith is.” Agreed. And in doing so, we contend lawfully according to how we are commanded in God’s Word.

    “Does it bother you when anyone speaks ill of our Lord? I know that it does. It bothered Jesus too, but is that the part of Him that you would not allow to be imitated?” Not sure exactly what you mean here. We are already told how Jesus responded. When reviled, he reviled not back. When accused, He did not defend Himself. When beaten and crucified, He said “Father forgive them”. Again, the attitude of calling fire down from heaven to consume others was verbalized by the apostles (before Pentecost), yet rebuked by Jesus.

    “Since when is not making someone angry the criteria for our speech and conduct in the world?” I hope I’ve already answered that in the first paragraph above. Our conduct is our responsibility, how someone receives and processes the truth of God’s Word that we give them is not our responsibility.

    “If not hurting someone’s feelings is the prime and motivating factor in our dealings with the lost world, then we have doomed them to hell.” Again, I don’t know where you got this from what I said.

    “I hear the phrase “speak the truth in love” and we have thrown so much water on it that it now means “tell someone what they want to hear, lest you make them angry”. Speaking the truth IS love. If you refuse to tell someone what they need to hear, how are you loving them?”

    I totally agree with you on that, Darrel.

    It appears you’ve misunderstood much of what I said. Please understand I am not advocating cowardice, nor compromise, nor watering down the truth for fear of offending, nor being silent for fear of hurting someone’s feelings. What I am saying is that there has been much abusive, offensive, bludgeoning others with an attitude of conquering and bloodlust in the name of “apologetics” or “defending” God’s truth, which is NOT what we see displayed by any of the Apostles or other Spirit-indwelt men of God in the New Testament. God’s truth, boldly spoken, as we see displayed in the early church, did not contain the fleshly fruit of vindictiveness, spitefullness, or vitriolic personal attacks.

    As for your question, “just who is our example?”, I think the more critical question should be: “how should we view the examples we are given in Scripture in light of the whole of God’s word”.

    Thank you for your honest inquiry, Darrel. I hope this brought more clarity to what I’ve been saying.. And I encourage you to boldly speak God’s truth in love and gentleness.

  37. Thanks, David, most especially for the third to last paragraph. On that we are in complete agreement nor do I advocate otherwise. It’s always hard to carry on a conversation in typed words, and much easier in person. We’re not that far apart—if at all. In case we don’t meet this side of heaven, I’ll see you at the Marriage Supper of the Lamb!

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