Why do younger evangelicals put happiness and popularity over morality and truth?

Here’s an interesting post by Mark Tooley in the American Spectator.

Excerpt:

A new generation of evangelical elites is imploring evangelicals to step back from the culture wars. Mostly they want to escape polarizing strong stances on same-sex marriage and abortion, and perhaps also contentious church-state issues, like the Obamacare contraceptive mandate.

Purportedly the evangelical church is failing to reach young, upwardly mobile professionals because evangelicals, who now broadly comprise perhaps one third of all Americans, are seen as reactionary and hateful. On their college campuses, at their coffee shops, and in their yoga classes, among other venues, some outspoken hip young evangelicals want a new public image for their faith.

[…]A popular young evangelical blogger echoing Merritt’s theme is Rachel Evans, who conveniently grew up in the Tennessee small town famous for the Scopes Monkey Trial. Her 2010 book was Evolving in Monkey Town: How a Girl Who Knew All the Answers Learned to Ask the Questions. “We are tired of the culture wars,” she explained in a recent interview. “We are tired of politics.” Lamenting the church’s preoccupation with “shame and guilt,” she urged evangelicals to reconsider their opposition to same-sex unions.

The post has a nice history of how evangelicals have always been involved in moral and political issues, and it’s worth reading. But I want to make a different point below.

What’s at the root of this movement to back away from moral issues? Here’s what I think is the problem. When you advocate for moral causes like protecting the unborn, or school choice, or freeing the slaves, a bunch of people are not going to like you. Christians in the time of Jesus knew that being bold about their Christian convictions would make a lot of people think bad things about them – they expected it. But young evangelicals have gotten the idea that being a Christian should not involve any sort of unhappiness and unpopularity. They wouldn’t have learned this from the Bible, because the Bible emphasizes suffering and unpopularity as part of the normal Christian life. It is their experience of church (and the hedonistic culture around them) that is likely to reinforce that view.

What young evangelicals learn in many churches is that religion is something that is centered on the Bible and the church building – it is not something that flows into real life. They learn that you can’t find out anything about God from the Big Bang, the DNA, the fossil record, or even from the peer-reviewed research on abortion, divorce, or gay marriage. They learn from the Bible that helping the poor is good, but then they never pick up an economic textbook to see which economic system really helps the poor. What you learn about in church is that religion is private and has no connection to reality whatsoever. This fits in with their view that Christianity should make them happy, because they’ve learned that it doesn’t involve any studying to connect the Bible to the real world.

What follows from having a view that Christianity only lives in the Bible and church, and not out there in the real world of telescopes and microscopes? Well, most young evangelicals interpret what their pastor is telling them as “our flavor of ice cream” or “our cultural preference”. They don’t link Christianity to the real world, they don’t think that it’s true for everyone. They think that you just accept what the Bible says on faith, and that’s all. No reasons can be given to non-Christians outside of just asking them to accept the Bible. Younger evangelicals believe that there are no facts that confirm or disprove Christianity – it’s just a blind belief. Young evangelicals think that their faith doesn’t have to be complemented with careful study of how things work in the real world.

What is the result of this anti-intellectual compartmentalization of faith? The result is that young evangelicals will balk at the idea of telling someone that they are going to Hell if they don’t believe in Jesus. They will balk at the idea that feminism is to blame for the destruction of the family. They will balk at the idea that the best way to help the poor is to push for free market capitalism. They will balk at the idea that it is wrong to kill unborn children. They will balk at the idea that disarmament and pacifism embolden terrorists and tyrants to attack peace-loving people. They will balk at the idea that traditional marriage is better for society and children. They will balk at the idea that man-made catastrophic global warming is not supported by science. They lack courage because they first lack knowledge. They don’t know how to make the case using hard evidence. They don’t learn that hard evidence is important in church.

If the purpose of religion is to have happy feelings and be liked, then studying the real world to find out whether the Bible is true is bad religion. If religion is divorced from reality, then it’s just a personal preference influenced by how a person was raised. No young evangelical is going to lift a finger to take bold moral stands if they think their worldview is just one option among many – like the flavors of ice cream in the frozen section of the grocery store. They have to know that what they are saying is true – then they will be bold. An example: there was a time when people believed that God did not create the first living cell, because it was just a simple lump of protoplasm that could easily come about by accident. Now we know better, and we can boldly make the case for intelligent design based on hard evidence – if we put in the time to study the evidence. And it is the same for everything – from theological claims, to moral claims, to social claims, to economic claims, to foreign policy claims. It doesn’t matter if people call you names when you have the facts to support unpopular claims, and that’s why public, authentic Christianity is built on facts. Non-Christians being offended by your claims doesn’t change the way the world is.

We have to turn away from our own ignorance, laziness and cowardice if we hope to have the ability to stand up for our beliefs in public. Christianity is not about being happy and feeling good and being liked by others. In a society that is increasingly secular and relativistic, studying outside the Bible necessarily precedes an authentic Christian life. There is no shortcut. We might have been able to get away with fideism 50 years ago, but not anymore. Not now.

66 thoughts on “Why do younger evangelicals put happiness and popularity over morality and truth?”

  1. I would encourage everyone to send for a copy of “Tortured for Christ”, available from The Voice of the Martyrs @ http://www.persecution.com. The author, Rev. Richard Wurmbrand, was a survivor of the communist takeover of Romania. He incitefully depicts communism (and it’s many faces of fascism, prgressivism) as antichristian tyranny of the highest order. He graphically points out that the church leaders who tried to “fit in” caused the greatest persecutions to the church.

    Yes, we must be involved in rational political discussion. But, as the book also loudly pointed out, the hate of the world for Christianity, as expressed in all antichristian movements and lifestyles, can only be overcome by the love of Christ. The more our enemies scream at us, the more we need to quietly preach the gospel. Militancy is certainly not the way to change things, but appeasement is certainly not the way either. We must engage, but not with rhetoric and arms, instead, with the more powerful sword of the Spirit. Time to get out the ammo — the Bible.

    Like

  2. I agree with that comment – it is the love of Christ that constrains us. People are more easily won by love and compassion than denunciation – as long as there is no compromising on truth.
    Interestingly enough, persecution purifies the Church, in that those whose faith is superficial, will fall away (as in the parable of the sower and the seed). In the comfort and affluence of the Western world, Christian faith is often superficial and hedonistic, partly due to “feel-good” teaching that tickles the ears.
    In China, Christianity has spread despite persecution. I’m trying to remember – I think it was Elisabeth Elliott who said that young people need something to believe in that is not only worth living for, but worth dying for. So many young people don’t have a real goal or purpose in life, and they’ve been seduced by humanism and moral relativism. As happened in my life, I pray that the time will come when they realise there must be more to life. However, it is the Holy Spirit who draws them and ploughs the soil of their hearts, bringing the necessary revelation, conviction, repentance and surrender to Christ, when they hear the Biblical Gospel, in God’s timing.

    Like

  3. Good article. Agree totally. But I would say that they lack the courage because they lack the conviction. In Singapore, the young evangelists know but many just tickle ears. Any anti gay campaigns have been shot down by sadly even other Christians.

    Like

  4. ” They lack courage because they first lack knowledge.”

    This is so true. But you are also onto something very serious with your comments just above this, about how Christianity has been turned (by some) into a sort of a ticket to permanent joy, success, and perfect everything. This of course flies directly in the face of what the Bible tells us—that we will be hated and despised, even by our own family members—for the sake of Christ and adhering to what He commands us. Call me crazy, but the Word-Faith/Best Life types have much to answer for as well for portraying Christian life this way.

    But yes, the lack of knowledge and cold, hard data hurts as well. It’s very difficult to make a stand when you don’t have anything backing you up other than “the Bible says”…and sometimes, not even that.

    Like

    1. I know. I was taking flak today from my secular science-fiction reading computer science co-workers. Several of them at once picking on me for being Christian. But what they were saying was how excited I get when I talk about Christian things, not any of my factual claims. They know better than that! They were asking me why I say “Oh my gosh” and “Flibbertigibbet” and “Fiddlesticks” at work instead of real curse words, too. I’m different and they all know it. I don’t mind.

      Like

  5. I guess I fit the category of young evangelical. I will say that you have made some good points that I will chew on a bit, but I have a few points that I would like to make. First, your paragraph about balking at etc… This seems like the stance of the republican/conservative party, not necessarily the Kingdom of God.

    First, the turn or burn philosophy used by many evangelists promotes a convert looking for fire insurance, not a deep dedicated relationship. Just because you aren’t afraid to tell someone they are going to hell, doesn’t mean they will listen to you.

    Secondly, I have a serious problem with your statement with disarmament and pacifism. I would like you to make a new testament Biblical argument for any type of war/ retaliation. Vengeance is mine said the Lord. Love your enemies, do good to those who persecute you.

    I could probably write a whole other article called, “Why do older evangelicals put politics, morality, and truth over grace and love” In Corinthians it says ABOVE ALL, put on love. If we don’t love the people we tell are going to Hell, they aren’t going to care. If we don’t love the Mother contemplating abortion, they aren’t going to care. If we don’t love the homosexual couple that came to our Church, they aren’t going to care. Love is refusing to Judge. It is ascribing unsurpassed worth to another at cost to ourselves. I they were worth Christ dying for, then they are worthy of my love.

    Like

    1. You are right that we are called to love others above all else. But you make a false dichotomy between truth and love. What you don’t seem to understand is that love isn’t the same thing as acceptance or an emotional ooey-gooey feeling of liking someone. Love means wanting what is best for someone and acting on that desire. That desire to help must be informed by truth or it acts amiss. Thus, it is more loving to tell someone the truth and try to influence them to do the right thing than to affirm them in their destructive behaviors.

      So, for example, loving the woman contemplating abortion includes not only providing a listening ear and offering baby clothes, but telling her the truth that abortion kills a living human being and is wrong. Loving a homosexual includes not only being kind, but telling them the truth that homosexual acts are morally wrong as well as physically and emotionally destructive.

      It is not loving to allow people to engage in or continue in destructive behaviors (whether physically, emotionally, or spiritually destructive). You wouldn’t consider it loving to simply affirm an alcohol with liver disease in his alcoholism and let him keep drinking himself to death. You wouldn’t consider it loving to allow a blind man to walk off a cliff without telling him of the abyss in front of him. Neither is it loving to allow people to continue in sin, which is killing them spiritually.

      Like

      1. I would say that my definition of love is ascribing worth to others at cost to yourself. In my opinion when you lead off with a person’s sin you immediately push them away. They don’t care what you have to say about their life, all they see is an accuser. Which is exactly what the Bible calls Satan. I am not saying that abortion, homosexuality, or fornication are not sins. They are sins, but I just don’t see it as my place to speak those things into their life, unless they ask. The gospel and Holy Spirit can work on these people while they are still sinners, just like it worked in and through us. The only reason you are choosing these things to point out is because you are not guilty of these, and they are political.

        You say all the things I wouldn’t consider loving. One that you missed, is to condemn a person as a sinner/ homosexual/ divorcee/ abortion patient and completely isolate them from the Church and from the Gospel. That is truly unloving.

        You can not help people know truth, without being in a relationship. Mass diagnosing sin to the masses pushes people out of the Church.

        Like

        1. The Bible, and Jesus’ own example, is very much in favor of making judgments and calling sins sins:
          https://winteryknight.wordpress.com/2010/01/31/did-jesus-really-teach-that-it-is-wrong-to-judge-others/

          In any case, your entire position is self-refuting. You are judging me for judging others. You are saying that it’s wrong for people to say that anything is wrong. You are doing the very thing that you are condemning. Your view commits suicide – it is self-refuting.

          So you’re view is that it’s wrong to say that sinful behaviors are actually sinful.

          Fine. Let’s make a list of a few of the things you don’t object to, then:

          – promoting gay marriage which deprives a child of her biological mother or biological father
          – performing abortions on born alive children for profit
          – performing abortions on unborn children because they are the wrong sex
          – owning slaves, which is still done to this day in some Muslim countries
          – the unprovoked invasion of peaceful South Korea by North Korea
          – the unprovoked invasion of peaceful Kuwait by Iraq
          – sex-trafficking of minors
          – weakening marriage by refusing to condemn no-fault divorce laws
          – promoting fatherlessness by subsidizing women with welfare who choose to have sex before they are married
          – raising the minimum wage, so that younger, minority workers (especially) cannot find work
          – opposing voucher programs that would provide poor, minority children with a quality education
          – running up the debt from 8 trillion to 17 trillion, so that young people are enslaved by debts incurred by their parents

          These are just a few policies/actions that you won’t condemn.

          I think that you need to read the Bible (for the first time) and refresh yourself on what Christianity is actually about. You want to feel good and have people like you. That’s why you refuse to condemn evil. But that’s nowhere in the Bible. It’s your view, but it’s not Biblical, and it’s not Christian.

          Like

  6. Josh, here’s a partial Biblical argument for self-defense (whether it be for a defensive war or personal self-defense) from Matthew 26: 52 “Put your sword back in its place,” Jesus said to him, “for all who draw the sword will die by the sword…” You might say that the second part of this verse says no war or self-defense whatsoever, but it merely says that if we use the sword all the time (live by it), then, yes, we will die by it. But, look at the first part of this verse (and do make sure that I am not taking this out of context by reading the entire chapter). Jesus tells Peter to put his sword back in its place, not to throw it away or cast it into the lake of fire, but back in its place. What is its place? Obviously, it is back in its sheath, where it (as well as another sword in the party apparently) has clearly been for at least some period of time and probably the entire ministry.

    Now, the sword was the gun of its day. You did not approach an able swordsman casually, planning an attack with even several people, because someone was going to pay, and an able swordsman could dispatch several unarmed people very quickly and brutally. Clearly Peter was quite adept with his sword (see verse 51), but the big question you have to ask and answer is this: Why did Jesus allow one (and probably two) of His disciples to carry a sword in His party during His ministry? If swords (and by extension, guns and weapons of war in general) were evil (as liberal theology suggests, notwithstanding the fact that objects can’t be evil), would Jesus have allowed His disciples to carry them? What purpose can you imagine for Jesus doing this?

    Did Jesus allow His disciples to carry medical tools for aborting babies? How about medical devices for converting men into women and vice versa? (I guess the sword might work, huh? :-)) Why swords? The obvious answer is for self-defense, especially in light of the fact that Peter slowed Jesus’ path to the Cross, and yet Jesus told him to keep his sword (put it back in its place).

    Obviously, other passages will suffice and support this, and Wayne Grudem does a much better job of explaining this than I do. But, the facts are undeniable: Jesus allowed one or two of His disciples to carry (and keep!) an instrument of self-defense, and that proves that personal self-defense and the defense of a country are consistent with the New Testament. Unless you are saying that Jesus violated God’s Will by allowing His disciples to carry swords?

    None of this conflicts, BTW, with turning the other cheek when we are personally insulted or even persecuted in a physical sense. But, does a Loving God really think it is loving for us to stand by while our loved ones or fellow countrymen are being harmed / killed? If an OWS type approached your Mom (or wife or daughter) and started beating them up, do you lovingly tell the victim to turn the other cheek? Because if so, then you are not demonstrating much love towards the victim, and God is Love after all. And since the Bible tells us that we men need to be protectors (providers and spiritual leaders), are we fulfilling that Biblical role if we stand by and allow that?

    Like

    1. Luke 22:36-38 36And He said to them, “But now, whoever has a money belt is to take it along, likewise also a bag, and whoever has no sword is to sell his coat and buy one. 37″For I tell you that this which is written must be fulfilled in Me, ‘AND HE WAS NUMBERED WITH TRANSGRESSORS’; for that which refers to Me has its fulfillment.” 38They said, “Lord, look, here are two swords.” And He said to them, “It is enough.”

      Luke 22:50:51 50 And one of them struck the slave of the high priest and cut off his right ear. 51But Jesus answered and said, “Stop! No more of this.” And He touched his ear and healed him.

      The same account, but in Luke. It appears to me that you are doing an awful lot of speculation as to what it means to put the sword back in it’s place. I simply do not believe that is what the text is saying, and it does not square with the rest of the Biblical teaching. If Christ was going to advocate self defense he wouldn’t have changed the Old Testament teaching of an eye for an eye.

      If you read above, it clearly states that they needed swords to fulfill a prophesy. The prophesy is specifically found in Isaiah 53:12. So that Christ would be numbered with the transgressors, and finally arrested. That seems like enough reason for them to be carrying them. Especially, when Peter uses the sword Jesus rebukes him for doing so. He says “Stop! No more of this.” And then on top of it he heals the man’s ear. One of the men that came to arrest him!!! Repay evil with good. Christ is living the example in one of the most violent accounts, prior to the crucifixion.

      The obvious answer is not for self defense, but for prophesy fulfillment.

      “Jesus allowed one or two of His disciples to carry (and keep!) an instrument of self-defense, and that proves that personal self-defense and the defense of a country are consistent with the New Testament. Unless you are saying that Jesus violated God’s Will by allowing His disciples to carry swords?”

      I would say that your conclusion far outreaches the weight and words of the text. You would advocate for nations attacking nations, and people retaliating against other people, on the basis an interpretation that is quite a stretch. All based on the fact that Christ said to put the sword back in its place. Maybe, Christ meant the permanent place of the sword is in the sheath. It a situation like this we must reflect on the whole of the Biblical teaching, and I believe you can not find that conclusion to be valid.

      As to your final paragraph. I am not saying stand by. I am saying stop them, but don’t retaliate with violence. Grab them, hold them back, distract them, call authorities, do anything you can but don’t repay violence with violence. Love your enemy, do good to those who persecute you, never repay evil for evil, if someone takes your shirt, give him your coat also. These are in the Bible. Strike back against the Romans /OWS/Muslim/Homosexual/atheist who persecutes you is not.

      Like

      1. Right, so you were in favor of standing idly by while the Nazis were killing every single Jew in Europe. That’s your view. You have no objection to the Holocaust, and would have done nothing to stop it, for fear of being viewed as “unloving” by the Nazis. That’s your view.

        For a more Biblical view, we have theologian Wayne Grudem:
        https://winteryknight.wordpress.com/2013/04/21/wayne-grudem-explains-what-the-bible-says-about-self-defense-2/

        Like

        1. Dietrich Bonhoeffer was part of a failed attempt to assassinate Hitler. When it failed and Hitler lived through the ordeal, he took it as a sign from “God” that his mission was heavenly ordained. This resulted in Hitler continuing his mission with more and more fervor. It amplified the rate of his extermination of the Jews. I am saying that violence is outside the will of God, and sometimes has effects that we can’t comprehend.

          Also, I am saying where do we draw the line? When are we supposed to love our enemies and when are we supposed to kill them?

          Like

          1. Yes, so again, you disagree with Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and you would prefer that Hitler continue his genocide against Jews unimpeded. I am glad that we are getting the real implications of your views out out there. So you are in disagreement with Bonhoeffer, Grudem, Sproul and Edwards. How about Wilberforce who opposes slavery? Well, you don’t want to condemn slavers as sinful, either. How about John Piper who opposes abortion? Well, you don’t want to condemn abortionists as sinful, either. How about Pope John Paul who opposed communism? Well you don’t want to condemn the communist purges that killed millions of people, either.

            Let’s just re-cap some of the things which you don’t condemn, because you oppose judging:

            – promoting gay marriage which deprives a child of her biological mother or biological father
            – performing abortions on born alive children for profit
            – performing abortions on unborn children because they are the wrong sex for profit
            – owning slaves, which is still done to this day in some Muslim countries
            – the unprovoked invasion of peaceful South Korea by North Korea
            – the unprovoked invasion of peaceful Kuwait by Iraq
            – sex-trafficking of minors
            – weakening marriage by refusing to condemn no-fault divorce laws
            – promoting fatherlessness by subsidizing women with welfare who choose to have sex before they are married
            – raising the minimum wage, so that younger, minority workers (especially) cannot find work
            – opposing voucher programs that would provide poor, minority children with a quality education
            – running up the debt from 8 trillion to 17 trillion, so that young people are enslaved by debts incurred by their parents

            We have a pretty good list of theologians that you disagree with already. Any other theologians you care to judge and condemn, so that people who are doing evil won’t feel bad about what they are doing?

            Like

          2. I have already stated that I will call all of those things sin. Along with, greed, gluttony, bearing false witness, coveting, stealing…etc. None of which are any worse than any others when it comes to our position before God. Many speak out violently against the sins that they don’t personally struggle with, but show contempt when they are called a sinner. Christ died for all sinners, of which I am the worst.

            Again you keep referring to the theologians and their views, but you yourself seem to neglect the teaching of the Bible. I condemn abortion in the same way Christ condemned Peter cutting off the ear of the man coming to arrest him. Just because violence is the only answer for a civilization to maintain power, does not mean that it is the Will or Kingdom of God. It is easy to Idolize ideas like freedom, liberty, and capitalism in place of the Kingdom of God, but this Kingdom does not need those things. The Kingdom of God is much bigger than those things.

            You are picking and choosing the sins you want to be sins. You are refusing to admit that Bible says not to be violent, and that the Bible says not to Judge. Are these lesser sins? I will freely admit that the sins you listed are in fact sins, and travesties, and against God’s will. I am not sure how all your political rhetoric fits in, but I am sure we could discuss those issues as well.

            Like

  7. Josh, I think it is pretty clear that if are take our model from Jesus, he always spoke the TRUTH IN LOVE. He did point out sin (see John 4) or where he said some very judgmental things:

    Regarding the eternal destiny of people, Jesus said to his fellow countrymen, “Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for unless you believe that I am He, you will die in your sins” (John 8:24).

    3. For the status of those who are presently rejecting Him, Jesus said “He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God” (John 3:18).

    The point is that we do nobody any favors if we don’t speak the truth and point out the sin. Now if we are living in the same sin we are pointing out, then yes, that would violate what Jesus says in Matthew 7 about judging. But otherwise, we end up hurting people by not discussing the sin.

    Obviously, the goal is always restoration/forgiveness. If someone who was gay asked me if I think it is sin, I would say yes I do. It is no greater than any other sin, but it is sin and it could destroy them. So I would tell them I do love them but they can’t expect God’s blessing on a lifestyle that is not best for them.

    We need to submit our emotions/feelings to the truth.

    Like

    1. I respect what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 5. I don’t think that it’s permissible to shun or condemn non-Christians on a personal level for not acting like Christians. But when non-Christians ask me what is right and wrong as a matter of policy, I do tell them as lovingly as possible, and then supply them with evidence outside the Bible to convince them about why the Bible’s moral views are rational.

      In short, I do speak out against evil policies and evil actions, but I don’t attack people personally for doing them unless they are claiming to be Christians. People who claim to be Christians can be confronted personally about what they are doing, I think. My source for that is 1 Corinthians 5, again. As you say, the goal is always restoration/forgiveness.

      Like

    2. Two things to keep in mind. First, when Christ spoke the Truth in Love, he could see the heart of the person he was talking to. We can not do this, therefore our surface view of what is going on in their life is just that a surface view. Unless, they let us on the inside, we have no idea where their heart is at.

      Secondly, sharing the gospel requires very little calling a sin a sin, and a lot of expressing the grace God affords to all sinners, of which I am the worst.

      Like

      1. Well, in that case I guess Jonathan Edwards is doing things completely wrong, then:
        http://www.ccel.org/ccel/edwards/sermons.sinners.html

        First Wayne Grudem, now Jonathan Edwards. These theologians obviously know nothing about what the Bible says, since they disagree with you.

        Not only that, but you are actually telling us, now, that we should not be imitators of Christ.

        I guess that R.C. Sproul is wrong, too, since he urges Christians to imitate Christ right here:
        http://www.ligonier.org/learn/devotionals/the-imitation-of-christ/

        Like

        1. As far as being imitators of Christ, I am all for it. We are limited in the fact that we can not in fact be God himself. This being the case it limits the amount of information we have about others. That is why we limit judgement. We should treat our sin as though it is a plank in our eye, while we treat other’s sin as though it is a dust particle in theirs. It seems preposterous to remove another’s dust particle while we have a log of our own to deal with.

          I will appeal to a higher authority as well. Paul.

          14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position.[c] Do not be conceited.

          17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19 Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,”[d] says the Lord. 20 On the contrary:

          “If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
          if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
          In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”[e]
          21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

          Like

      2. It’s true that Christ could see the heart of the people he spoke to and we cannot. However, it is NOT true that we have no idea what their heart is like. We don’t have the ability to see the heart directly as Jesus did, but we can deduce their heart condition from their actions to at least a significant degree.

        Mar 7:20-23 “And he said, ‘That which cometh out of the man, that defileth the man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: All these evil things come from within, and defile the man.'” According to Jesus’ own words, when wicked behaviors are present, they come from a wicked heart.

        We also know that the apostles (who were human) made pronouncements about the hearts of others from their actions (e.g. Acts 8:21). Thus, it is obviously not wrong to do so. We also know from the Bible that all people have a wicked bent to their hearts (Romans 3:10, Jeremiah 17:9). There is nothing in the Bible to indicate that we are totally clueless about the hearts of others and should thus keep silent about sin.

        I disagree with your statement that sharing the gospel involves “very little calling sin a sin.” For people who already recognize their sinfulness, it is an unnecessary step. The Holy Spirit has already convicted them and they know they are not right with God. For many of the people in Paul’s ministry (heathen gentiles), this was the case and he simply had to tell them how to receive forgiveness. But for those who don’t see their own sinfulness, they aren’t ready to receive salvation. They don’t see a need for it until they see their own guilt before a holy God. This was the case for the majority of the Jews in the time of the early church. They saw themselves as the righteous people of God, not dirty sinners like the Gentiles. And thus the response of Jesus and his followers was to call them out in their sin. Jesus in particular was quite harsh with the religious leaders who pridefully considered themselves righteous and saw no need for repentance.

        The apostles, likewise, pointed out sins quite directly. Peter, for example, told his Jewish audience at Pentecost quite harshly that they were guilty of murdering Jesus (Acts 2:36). And it was at this exact point, when he pointed out their guilt in the matter, that it says they were “pricked in their heart” and asked what they should do to be saved. This pattern is continued throughout the early church.

        The message of the gospel is not just the good news that Jesus saves, but the truth that all are sinful and need salvation. You can’t have the gospel without both of these parts. Without the need for salvation being evident to the sinful, the news of Christ’s atonement is irrelevant to them and usually quite offensive (“How dare we presume to tell them how to be saved when they don’t need saving?”). Those who know they are dead in sin are grateful and happy to hear how they can be saved and accept it eagerly. Thus, it is often necessary to “get them lost” before we can get them saved – i.e. lead them to the understanding that they need salvation first and then present how to be saved.

        Like

        1. After reading your post I tend to agree with you. Maybe when sharing the Gospel, this is in fact THE time to call a sin a sin. Although I believe our words carry more weight when we associate ourselves as a sinner as well. For we obviously were all sinners, and all still continue to sin. Maybe the problem is when we just proclaim the sins of the world, and don’t share the Gospel. Just some thoughts.

          Like

          1. I agree that calling sin sin is appropriate when sharing the gospel. However, that is not necessarily the ONLY time to do so. We need not always till the soil, plant, and water all at the same time. Sometimes people can only absorb so much.

            I believe that being salt and light in our world involves not only personal testimony and one-on-one witnessing, but calling our culture back to a knowledge of God’s standards for humanity. That means pointing out sins as sins – in a general sense as well as in particular cases.

            Of course, we need wisdom to know how and when to do this most effectively. Bluntly telling a post-abortive woman in pain that she is murderer is probably not the most effective method. But neither is it effective to ignore her sin and pretend that murdering unborn children is okay in order to make her feel better. Making her feel better isn’t the goal. Bringing her to repentance and a saving faith in Christ is the goal. And at some point in that process she must see herself as sinful and in need of salvation.

            The question is how best to go about bringing that knowledge of sinfulness to people without driving them away. Neither extreme (blunt and heartless condemnation or carte blanche acceptance) will accomplish this – nor are either of these approaches Biblical. The proper method is to uphold the standards of God, unapologetically call sin sin, and yet do so gently and lovingly while affirming concern for the individual’s soul. We should be like a doctor who explains that this might hurt for awhile, but it is necessary in order to heal the patient.

            On a cultural level, we need to affirm the standards of God in order to bring cultural awareness. A culture in which no standards are acknowledged is a culture full of individuals who do not recognize their need for salvation. This means a longer and harder road to salvation for them. Having a cultural awareness of God’s standards (and thus what constitutes sin) means that people more readily recognize and feel guilt for their sin, making them more receptive to the gospel. Not only that, but since people tend to not like the feeling of guilt, you also, as a nice by-product, tend to get a society with lower crime and fewer social ills when destructive behaviors (i.e. sins) are seen as such.

            Like

      3. Josh, what do you think of the phrase “love the sinner, hate the sin?” I have had a number of young evangelicals tell me that they despise this phrase. I always ask them which one they prefer then: “love the sinner, love the sin;” “hate the sinner, hate the sin;” or “hate the sinner, love the sin?” You seem to gravitate toward the first alternative in the list, no? I actually had one young evangelical tell me that they had trouble with the word “wrong” when it was ascribed to behavior. That was why she didn’t like any of the options – in her mind, “wrong” meant “sin.” That’s what it means to me as well, in a moral sense of course, but I am not afraid of the word. Nor am I afraid of the word “hate.” I hate injustice, don’t you?

        BTW, when you talk about stopping the person who is attacking your mother, wife, or daughter, you say “stop them, but don’t retaliate with violence.” What if it takes violence to stop them? Are you just going to ask them nicely and hope they comply? :-) And are you really saying that the Christian response after Pearl Harbor was to do nothing? What do you think of Christians serving in the military?

        Like

        1. One thing to note is that it is impossible to truly love a sinner unless you hate their sin. Sin destroys. If one is to love someone, they must hate that which destroys them. In order to love a cancer patient, one must hate the cancer. In order to love an addict, one must hate their addiction. In order to love a victim, one must hate the evil done to them. And in order to love a sinner, one must hate their sin. To try to simultaneously accept a person and the thing that is destroying them is contradictory. You can only truly love and accept one or the other. To accept what destroys them is to hate the person.

          Like

        2. I hate sin and I also hate injustice. The phrase love the sinner, hate the sin doesn’t bother me either. I agree that we should hate the sin. We should be careful not to hate the sin in others life more than we hate the sin in our own. My questions is why are we proclaiming the sins we hate to the world? Does this bring people into a relationship with Christ? What is the end goal, to rid the world of sin, or the fill the world with highly devoted followers of Christ? I believe if our mission is the latter, we will come closer to accomplishing the former.

          Like

  8. Gotta love whiny little hypocrites like Josh. They’re what’s holding the church back. Especially this “Jesus knew the heart.”

    Well that excludes me from following Jesus’s example at all since not only can I not speak out in sin, I cannot also do the good that I am supposed to do in imitation of Christ because, well, Jesus knew the heart of the people!

    Like

    1. First, I am not whining about anything. Second, Jesus did know the heart of the people he was talking to, and I do not. I do know that any person I speak to is a sinner, and not one of them will be saved without the grace of God. I also know that any one of their sins is not any worse than any one of mine. I have come to understand that Christ covers my sin with his sacrifice, and that is the most important part. I still struggle with sin, but by the work of the Holy Spirit and help from brothers and sisters in Christ, I am working on ridding myself of the sins in my life. This is the process of sanctification.

      Like

      1. Yeah. You are. You’re whining about treatment you think isn’t right.

        Second, Jesus did know the heart, but Paul didn’t. John didn’t. The early church fathers didn’t. Go take a look at how each of them spoke to their opponents. If you say you can’t rebuke someone like Jesus because you don’t know their heart, neither can you love like Jesus for the same reason.

        As for Paul being a higher standard, Paul was quite forceful in what he said. This was the Paul that had someone struck blind and mocked the superapostles in 2 Cor. 12 and said he wished the circumcision crowd would go the whole way and emasculate themselves.

        And with regards to the gospel, when you tell it to people, you are going to offend them and point out their sin. I urge you also to consider some NT scholarship on the gospel. It’s much more than just the forgiveness of sins, as important as that is.

        Like

        1. Should we remove all sin before we receive grace, or do we receive grace and through this gift we remove our sin? The truth is a person that isn’t in a relationship with Christ, doesn’t care what sin is. How can accusing non-Christians of sin bring people into a relationship with Christ? The idea of sin offends a lot of people, but we can present it in a way that is a lot less offensive. I believe we can make the Gospel desirable, you seem to think the Gospel is always going to offend. I say we should be very careful that it is the Gospel offending, and not us.

          Like

          1. The idea of sin is supposed to offend people. Until they are offended at their own sin, they don’t see a need for true salvation. Remember that salvation isn’t just adding Jesus to your life to make you happy. It’s clinging to Him as your only hope because you know you are condemned before a holy God. The ONLY reason the true gospel is desirable is that people MUST see themselves as wicked, condemned, and headed for destruction – and then see that Jesus provides the only way of escape. Then they will want Him and the salvation He provides. If you skip the part about how they are sinful, and portray Jesus as simply a good idea or a nice addition to their life, that is NOT the gospel. Sure, it not offensive, but it isn’t effective or true. Nor will it produce true Christians. Such a feel-good false gospel produces what I call “social Christians” – those who talk about God and go to church because they see it as what “nice” people do. That’s not Christianity. God will say to these people, who haven’t repented of their sin and truly turned to Him, that He never knew them. In the meantime, you have given them false hope through your false, unoffensive gospel that requires no repentance and perhaps prevented them from truly coming to Christ.

            Like

          2. If they don’t care what sin is, how will you tell them about a savior? In essence, there is some truth. If the only message we give is forgiveness, well Jews already thought they had that. Greeks and Romans didn’t care. Forgiveness is second. What must be told first is that Christ is King. After that, then they are told that they have wronged the king and that is sin.

            Furthermore, to call an action wrong is not the same as to label it with the religious terminology of sin. Even atheists can believe in right and wrong without believing in sin. If you are to argue in the moral culture of the day, you must say some actions are wrong and some actions are right and if an action is wrong, it is up to you to stand against it.

            Like

          3. I guess when I speak of judgement I am referring to people creating a hierarchy of sins, when God did not do this. An example would be the perception that homosexuality is worse than say gluttony. This is not true. I do not need a person to acknowledge all their sins to come into a relationship with Christ, but once they have received the Holy Spirit their sanctification can begin and they can truly work through obedience towards holiness. By their own effort, a person can not get themselves any closer to God. Legislating sin is not going to make a more righteous culture, because one sin has infinitely removed each person from God. Only spreading Christ through a culture can truly make it more righteous.

            Like

          4. Actually, the common idea that all sins are exactly equal is false and unBiblical. All sin separates from God (because any sin makes you less holy than God’s standard of perfection), but not all sins have equal effects and not all sins receive the same condemnation. Homosexual acts are definitely worse than gluttony. Adultery is worse than lust. Murder is worse than hatred or coveting. Of course, God looks at the heart, but that doesn’t mean that He doesn’t also take into account actions and their effects on others. In fact, Jesus specifically pointed out that causing someone who believes in Him to stumble receives an especially harsh punishment (Matt. 18:6). There are also a number of places where the Bible refers to a “greater sin” or greater punishment for some sins or of sins “unto death” or “not unto death” (e.g. John 19:11, I John 5:16-17).

            Thus, the Bible does, in fact, teach a hierarchy of sins. Some sins are specifically referred to as being committed by those of a reprobate mind (Romans 1) or that those commit them will not inherit the Kingdom of God (I Cor. 6:9-10, Galatians 5:19-21). Some sins are listed as those God hates (Proverbs 6:16-19). You may notice that some sins, however, do not make any of those lists. The Bible teaches that some sins are only committed by those who are at war with God and headed for destruction. So, while those of us who are Christians may sin from time to time (and we should not excuse that), that is not the same thing as someone living in perpetual rebellion against God.

            Like

          5. Josh may not be willing to use force, but as a married man, I can say if anyone wants to go after my wife, it will be over my dead body, literally. When we were dating, she had someone who had a crush on her in school stalking her with his phone calling her regularly. She gave me his number. That took care of that. Eventually, we got to the point of his Dad calling us and apologizing for how his son was acting.

            Also, not all sins are the same. There is the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. The one who handed Jesus over to Pilate is guilty of a greater sin. Sexual sins are different as a sexual sin is against one’s own body. There are degrees of sin.

            Also, we are not legislating sin. Some might say you can’t legislate morality. Nonsense! Morality is the only thing you can legislate! The purpose of society is to have people enable each other to be good and that’s done through laws. We do legislate some “sins.” We legislate against murder and theft for instance and in a court of law, perjury.

            Well, if Josh won’t stand up for his own mother, I need not dare ask if he’d stand up for Christ. The answer is obvious.

            Like

  9. Amen!
    I am a young Confession christian, and I no longer consider myself an evangelical due to call the crap that is in it, everything from Brian McLaren to Word of Faith teachers; it’s awful. I ashamed of my generation as well. I can’t imagine them being the new leaders of this world as you right note, they don’t have knowledge.

    Like

    1. Trent, PLEASE do not be ashamed of your generation, be ashamed of mine. I am the exact same age as the anti-Christian president in office, to the day. My generation is the one that took a simmering-on-low post-modern relativism and made it boiling hot in the educational, media, public square, and church institutions. Your generation had to find its way out of the spiritual mess we created. Be not ashamed.

      Your generation is showing up for pro-life rallies in numbers unheard of since Roe V. Wade. They are speaking truth to the evil anti-Christian and abortion holocaust authorities in control, and they are returning to the Bible in numbers unseen during my generation (and many before it) – which mocked the Bible and Christians. They are wearing provocative Christian shirts as one witnessing tool and, in many but not all cases, responding to the resulting attacks with grace and love AND truth. Your gen IS spreading the Gospel – let’s just make sure it’s the FULL Gospel and not a post-modern version.

      They are also heavily involved in missions work, although the quality could always be better, as it should be more Gospel focused and less “look at me – I went to Uganda, fixed a house, and got my picture in the church bulletin!” oriented. (For example, if we treat the physical needs of unbelievers without presenting the Gospel – which always includes the bad news of sin BTW – then aren’t we just making them comfortable on earth only to be very uncomfortable for Eternity? We can do both, so let’s start with the Gospel.)

      Yes, there are the OWS types and Obama worshippers in your generation, but every generation is being divided into sheep and goats. Please be thankful that your generation can be the revival generation, as long as they don’t get too comfortable in a feel-good, politically correct, men as wimps, feministic, “spiritual” sense. God’s Blessings to you and your generation!

      Like

  10. Josh, I’m still waiting on your reply to what you do when your Mom is being beat up and the OWS thug won’t stop when you ask him nicely? How do you handle that situation without resorting to physical violence? Do you see that being loving toward the OWS thug by not responding is being VERY unloving toward your Mom? (But, I know it would be “judgmental” of you to tell that OWS thug that what he is doing is wrong, much less to stop him from doing it.)

    This has a good analogy in the abortion scenario. Being very “loving” toward the pregnant mom by giving her the “choice of convenience” turns out to be VERY unloving toward the innocent defenseless baby in the womb – who God put there BTW so that the mom WOULD protect him or her.

    And it turns out that giving women the “choice” to kill their babies in the womb actually turns out to be VERY unloving toward the women as well! (There is something like a 77% suicide attempt rate for women who have had abortions, not to mention a litany of other physical and mental destructiveness – obviously deep down they know the sin they committed. But, let’s share that sin with them openly, OK, so they don’t have to dig down so deeply? Let’s show them that love – even if it is hard for us to do and doesn’t make them or us feel good. :-))

    Also, I am waiting on what you think is the correct Christian response to Pearl Harbor – or 9-11 for that matter? Do you see perhaps that being “loving” toward the Japanese (after Pearl harbor) or terrorists (after 9-11) just might be unloving toward one’s fellow countrymen and neighbors?

    Like

    1. I will address your example of someone beating my Mother. First, I can not say that I would not intervene with violence. I can for certain say, that if I did, it would go against the clear and undeniable teaching of Jesus Christ. This person would certainly be my enemy, and I could certainly not be loving them by punching them out, or shooting them.

      You tend to think that non-violence means doing nothing. Pacifism and Passivism is not the same thing. Martin Luther King Jr. is a great example of Pacifism. He spoke boldly against injustice, but never retaliated with violence.

      As to your abortion questions. We actually had a friend that was pregnant with a child she didn’t want. We talked with her about her options. We offered to take her to the clinic to get the baby and her checked out. After a lot of prayer and discussion my wife and I offered to adopt the baby. All of these actions tell this person that we care for her, and we think that abortion is the wrong thing to do. Unfortunately, she did not take us up on the offer. My wife and I were devastated. Fortunately, through all of this we are still very good friends with this woman and continue to use opportunities to share Jesus with her.

      Could I have said, “I can’t believe you are even thinking about having an abortion, do you know that it is a sin to do so? Not only that but God sends sinners to Hell. You should turn to God, not have an abortion, and raise this baby.”? Yes I could have, but I think that tact is important when you are trying to convince someone that this is wrong. This would have certainly alienated this person, and we would not be able to continue to minister to them and hopefully through the help of the Holy Spirit win them to Christ.

      As to Pearl Harbor I would say you live by the sword and you die by the sword. The US is attacked by Japan, so we do the only logical thing counter attack. We end up dropping two atomic bombs and kill roughly 225,000 people in Nagasaki and Hiroshima. These include civilians, mothers, children, and soldiers. This does not even include the carpet bombing that was done in Tokyo killing even more. Does this look like Christ going to cross, praying that God would forgive the men driving stakes into his hands? I don’t think so. It is not logical to turn the other cheek, or repay evil with good, or give your coat to a man that just took your shirt. But, God uses the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and the weak things of the world to shame the strong.

      I believe the correct Christian response is to help and heal the victims of the attacks on 9/11, Pearl Harbor, Nagasaki, Hiroshima, Iraq, and in Afghanistan. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood Ephesians 6:12.

      One of my biggest problems with your 9/11 and Pearl Harbor references is you seem to think USA=Kingdom of God. This is not true. As a Christian I am to act like an alien in a foreign land. I choose not to be in the military, because my personal conviction is that my Lord has called me to non-violence. If a person reads the New Testament and comes to a different conclusion then good for them. I believe they should follow their convictions to where Christ has called them. I just think the blanket statement that God wanted the US to retaliate is unbiblical.

      My final point that I will make is this. If we are going to legislate the Bible, please make a push to outlaw greed and gluttony as these are sins that much of this country is plagued with. More Americans are plagued with these sins than homosexuality and abortion combined. And yet it seems we don’t hear the vocal conservative Christians preaching this from the moutain tops. Why is this? Sin is Sin. Don’t have a double standard, God doesn’t.

      I would still like to hear if you think that when Jesus told John to put his sword back in its place that meant self defense, even when the account in Luke totally refutes that.

      Like

      1. Josh, I have to say that you REALLY do surprise me. How bold and courageous of you to reply “I cannot say that I would not intervene with violence” on behalf of your OWN mother! Now, THAT is really standing up for your Mom – what definitiveness! :-) Please tell her that – you might, you might not, intervene for her sake. I would love to hear her reply. Tell your wife that as well. How “loving” of you toward those that God requires you to protect. The Bible says to place the enemies of God above your brothers and sisters – even your Mom – after all, right?

        On the abortion question, I commend you for offering to adopt. However, you kind of proved my point. Your loving, non-judgmental approach failed. Perhaps try the alternative next time – it just might get through to a hardened heart, as I have seen. Remember, these young women have been brainwashed by the Left to really believe that murdering their own babies is a legitimate “choice.” (In which case, what Hitler did to the Jews was a legitimate choice as well. After all, it was fully legal!) You just might have to cut through that brainwashing, Josh, with some tough love – like Jesus showed in the temple!

        And real Christian men have to speak up for the defenseless, don’t they, as protectors? Are we really to stand by silently? Is that what the Bible has taught you about manhood – to become a spiritual woman?

        Again, you do an excellent job of “turn the other cheek” in your war example, but you fail to address the clear circumstances where “love your enemy” means “hate your neighbor.”

        Now we get to the crux of the issue: you have a problem with legislating the Bible. I am assuming that you mean “you can’t legislate morality.” But, you are sorely mistaken: morality is legislated every single day in this country and others: the question is whose morality – God’s or Satan’s? So, it really IS “nice” of you to stand quietly by while immorality is legislated and not have the guts to stand up and speak out against it. What a cushy “Christian” life you lead! How are the coffee and doughnuts after your service?

        Comparing greed and gluttony to the destructiveness of homosexuality and abortion really is sick, Josh. Greed is surely found in every man’s heart, but abortion and homosexual behavior are destructive acts. Yes, they are all sins, but please.

        You are confusing self-defense with taking personal vengeance, Josh.

        In Luke 22:36-38, after Jesus tells His disciples to buy two swords, He says “It is enough” in response the disciples having carried out His request. There is no hint in Scripture that Jesus was rebuking His disciples for carrying out His command. Are you telling me that Jesus commanded His disciples to sin in order that Scripture might be fulfilled? In that case, are you not saying that God commands sin – He is the Author of sin? Is that possible?

        When a policeman defends the public against violence, is that what God wants or is it against Jesus? It seems to me that without policemen (and soldiers), greater suffering takes place, not less. How again is the Gospel advanced through anarchy? (Notice that I am NOT asking how the Gospel is advanced through persecution – that is a different subject altogether.) Does the Bible condemn or encourage governments? What about John 15:13 – is that only about Jesus or is it about us as well? If “lay down” is passive, then how does that help your friends – or your Mom? Again, I must recommend Wayne Grudem’s book on Politics and the Bible.

        Finally, I give an empirical argument. What has happened to violent crime in every city and every country that has enacted strict gun control laws? I hope you know the answer. Is it loving to you as a Christian to see Chicago have a such a high murder rate, just so you can feel good about their strict gun laws? Is that loving our neighbor, Josh? Because, it seems to me that your interpretation of what is going on in Luke is at odds with other parts of the Bible about loving our neighbor as ourselves. And, that goes back to your Mom: do you love her as much as you love the OWS thug who won’t stop beating her?

        Like

        1. I did post the Harvard University study by Joyce Lee Malcolm about the UK’s violent crime rate doubling in the fours years after they banned handguns in 1997:

          https://winteryknight.wordpress.com/2012/12/17/violent-crime-rate-more-than-doubled-in-the-four-years-after-the-1997-uk-gun-ban/

          Here is an article from Thomas Sowell, who has a PhD in economics from UCLA and is now at the Hoover Institute at Stanford University, in which he explains how the pacifism of the French and British emboldened Hitler to start World War 2, because he felt that there was nothing he could do that would draw an armed response:
          http://www.creators.com/conservative/thomas-sowell/morally-paralyzed.html

          Also, the delayed response by France and Britain made Hitler HARDER to defeat. Let him who desires peace prepare for war, because preparation for war DETERS aggression from tyrants. No nation ever invaded a country that was well-prepared to rebuff their aggression.

          Like

        2. First, I want to say that most of the debate on this site has been extremely respectful, and I actually really enjoy this. I know that we disagree, and I want to affirm that I believe our disagreements are ones between two Bible believing Christians, and non of these points puts either of us outside the camp of Christ.

          First, non-violence does not mean do nothing. It means do not use violence as retaliation. Restraint in my opinion is not violence. Lets take the example of what would you do if your grown son whom you love dearly, was attempting to attack your wife who you also love dearly. What would you do? If I was in this situation I would try everything in my power to stop my son, but I would not retaliate with violence. I would grab him, pin him down, tie him up, but I would not beat him. I love both of these people dearly and wouldn’t want either of them to come to harm.

          I was called out earlier on this board about not encouraging people to be imitators of Christ. Christ took all the violence of the cross and died for us while we were still his enemies. If you want to be an imitator of Christ, do what he did. Surly he had as much reason as anyone to call down legions of angels to take vengeance, but yet he died for you and me. John 15:13 says laying down your life. I believe this is for us as well, and Christ was the example. I don’t recall him doing so using violence whatsoever. He definitely didn’t defend himself.

          It seems that everyone here continues to refer to logic and thinks that Jesus couldn’t have possibly meant what he said about loving your enemies. In the entire New Testament there is not one teaching for violence. There are many teaching against violence. In fact the teaching of the Bible was so clear against violence that there was not one known person in the first 300 years of the Church that thought Christ took the logical stance of violence for self defense. The early Church was completely pacifist. This is why you see all the Martyrs during these years. It isn’t until Constantine that violence even becomes a part of the Church, coincidentally this is also the first time that the Church makes a worldly power grab.

          Read all these verses and tell me that Christ and the New Testament teachers violence of any kind.
          Matthew 5:3-12, Matthew 5:38-42, Matthew 5:43-46, Matthew 16:24-26, Matthew 26:50-53, Luke 3:14, Luke 6:27-37, John 18:36, Romans 12:17-21, Romans 14:17-19, Ephesians 2:14-18, Ephesians 5:1-2, Ephesians 6:12, Hebrews 12:14, James 3:17-4:1, I Peter 2:21-24, I Peter 3:8-17.

          If you can explain away all of these then I don’t know what to say.

          Christ tells his diciples to carry a sword, and never tells them to use it. He isn’t telling them to sin, he is telling them to carry it so it appears he is with the “transgressors.” He rebukes Peter after he uses it without his permission, and reconciles the damage Peter does. The swords place is in the sheath, and is never to be used.

          If you think gluttony is less damaging to culture than homosexuality and abortion, consider that 1-4 deaths in the United States is from heart disease. That is 600,000 people a year. Guess what one of the major causes of heart disease is? Obesity. All sin when taken to the extreme leads to death. Gluttony just does this much faster than other sins.

          If you don’t think gluttony is as bad of a sin as some sexual sins, maybe we should outlaw premarital sex. It is morally wrong. Definitely pornography should be outlawed, but still no outrage over these. Why not create laws against them? Why not outlaw divorce unless they can prove marital infidelity. This is as destructive to the home as any of the things you mentioned. You pick and choose your morality. You say you use the Bible, but you choose what you judge to be worse for society.

          As to your argument about gun control. The ends do not justify the means. A city filled with people living in peace could eventually lead to the same thing. We just choose the easier, more practical way in our society. I personally don’t believe this is the way Christ called us to.

          Like

          1. Love the assertion about explaining away passages. That assumes your interpretation is right. Well let’s look at them.

            Matthew 5:3-12,

            Let’s see. Most of these have nothing do with the subject. They all inspire us to be like God who, by the way, is pretty violent in the OT, and perhaps you might say like Jesus who is gentle and meek and mild and comes in Revelation with a sword in righteousness to judge and make war and slays the beast and….wait. That’s not meek and mild.

            How about the peacemakers? Okay. Simple enough. If someone comes after my wife, they are breaking the peace. If I end up stopping them, I have restored peace.

            Matthew 5:38-42,

            *Yawn* You know turning the other cheek is about an insult one receives in the private sphere. It’s not about an open attack in the public sphere. Go look at Matthew 23. Jesus didn’t exactly turn the other cheek there did he?

            Matthew 5:43-46,

            If this is your standard then might I ask, do you support the prison system at all? After all, if you love your enemies, surely you won’t put them in jail! Love means to seek the good of them and if someone is on the path of evil, stopping them is loving them.

            Matthew 16:24-26,

            Thank you for pulling up a passage that has nothing to do with it. It assumes that if you follow Jesus, you won’t do exactly the behavior under question.

            Matthew 26:50-53,

            Drawing a general from a particular, exactly what you condemned about the usage of Luke 22. In this case, it was not wise to respond since Jesus had told them what was coming and to respond when seriously outnumbered would be suicidal. There were probably about 200 people there. You think three guys could fight them off?

            Luke 3:14,

            Notice he never told soldiers to quit the army. He told them to be content with their pay.

            Luke 6:27-37,

            This is like the sermon on the mount and already answered.

            John 18:36,

            Good grief. Jesus’s whole message is that He is the rightful king of this world. He’s saying the world will not become the Kingdom of God by military might. No one is saying that here either. No one is saying “Use the sword to spread the gospel!”

            Romans 12:17-21,

            Assuming that stopping an evil person is evil. Odd logic indeed. Also, it says insofar as it is possible. If it is not possible, you must do something about it. Note this largely extends to the private sphere and not the public sphere.

            Romans 14:17-19,

            Yes. Let’s do what leads to peace!

            So if someone is hurting my wife, the way to bring peace is to stop them! The way to continue discord is to do nothing.

            Ephesians 2:14-18,

            This is about peace with God. Not earthly peace.

            Ephesians 5:1-2,

            Question begging again. It assumes the way of love is to do it your way. What’s loving about letting innocent people suffer?

            Ephesians 6:12,

            Paul’s talking about spiritual struggles in this passage. He is not ignorant of physical struggles.

            Hebrews 12:14,

            Make every effort to live at peace. Agreed. And if someone isn’t for peace, you have to deal with them somehow so more people can enjoy peace.

            James 3:17-4:1,

            The second part is talking about battling temptation. Not physical battle. As for peace-loving, I sure am! That’s why I want to eliminate people when they violate that peace.

            I Peter 2:21-24,

            This is talking about insults in the private sphere. It’s not talking about open attack in the public sphere.

            I Peter 3:8-17.

            Again, this is talking about insults and shaming. It’s not talking about physical attacks.

            Here are a couple of sources for you:

            http://www.tektonics.org/lp/noswords.html

            http://christianthinktank.com/violentx.html

            Like

          2. I’ve addressed your other issues in a separate posting below, but I wish to focus solely on your statement about gun control. You said above that the sin with the sword did not occur until Peter used the sword. But, you are for gun control, which means you believe that the sin actually occurs upon possession of the sword / gun. If this is so, then you must also believe that Jesus commanded sin when He told His disciples to acquire the sword (gun of that age). But, since you don’t believe that Jesus commands sin (I agree!), you cannot use the Bible to establish a position in favor of gun control. In fact, the entirety of the Bible, including these verses, certainly seems to lead the other way.

            We have common ground however. We are both against murder – those laws are already on the books, except for innocent unborn babies of course. We disagree on the sometimes necessary physical and legal defense of the weak and helpless and on possession of weapons of said defense.

            I believe that liberalism, couched in a false Biblical worldview, leads to society preying on the weak, helpless, and defenseless through rampant abortion (roughly the same number of babies murdered in a single year in America as the total number of American soldiers killed, not murdered, in all the wars of America since her inception), euthanasia, increased poverty, destruction of the dignity of the poor and minorities, destruction of the family, destruction of religious liberty, etc. I believe that the empirical scientific data collected over history bears this out, and I believe that the past 5 years have been a terrifically sad testimony to support this conclusion.

            Like

          3. The use of gun control is just idiocy. If someone really thinks gun control laws work, I have a better solution.

            Don’t have gun control laws. Have “murder control laws.” That way, no one will ever commit murder again. Have “Theft control laws” and “rape control laws” as well. Heck. I just put up something outside of my house that says “This house is a crime-free zone” and that means my wife and I can rest easy at night.

            If you think that sounds asinine, then you can understand why to the rest of us, the same principle applied to guns sounds the same way.

            Like

          4. I just wanted to quickly state that I am not for gun control, I am just against the use of guns for violence. I don’t think it is a sin to carry a piece of steel that has the potential to kill, I just think using it in an attempt to kill is a sin. I am a gun owner myself and use them for target shooting and hunting.

            Like

      2. There is a big difference between “legislating the Bible” and legislating against things that are both wrong and harmful to society. I only advocate the latter. In other words, it is not enough for something to be wrong according to the Bible. In order to ban something in a secular society, it should also be either a violation of inalienable rights or harmful to society as a whole. Not all sins are equal – especially in their effects on others and on society. Thus, not all sins should be banned by law.

        There are plenty of things that are wrong according to the Bible which should not be illegal. Greed, lust, and coveting come to mind. How would you enforce a ban on evil thoughts anyway? Gluttony is another. It may be wrong to habitually overeat, but it is not government’s business to decide for someone what and how much they may eat.

        Other sins, however, should be made illegal because they cause harm to others. Since government’s purpose is to protect the people and their rights, banning behaviors that harm others or their property or that harm society as a whole is part of government’s rightful job. Abortion is one of these things that should be illegal. Abortion kills an innocent human being and should not be allowed any more than any other kind of murder. There are other examples that I could give as well.

        Advocating for government to ban such harmful behaviors is both in keeping with the Bible and with common sense. Conservative Christians are not making these stands on the basis of the Bible alone, even though these stands are in keeping with Biblical morality. Thus, your suggestion that we should advocate for a ban on gluttony if we advocate for a ban on abortion is illogical and shows a deep misunderstanding of the rationale behind making law.

        Like

        1. I agree with you about abortion. I am not sure how a secular society makes the argument against Gay marriage. I am guessing how is affects the family dynamic, but then we could also attempt to outlaw divorce too, as we can see that this really destroys homes as well.

          Like

          1. Wintery’s post, which he linked for you, is a good intro to the secular argument against gay marriage. He and I are also both against no-fault divorce and would like to see that banned. Not only do gay marriage and no-fault divorce make the family, the basic building block of society, less stable, but they directly harm children – the most vulnerable among us.

            Like

          2. Yes the goal of supporting or opposing certain policies is to promote the good and no fault divorce is another thing that I oppose because it us bad for children and society.

            Like

          3. This is some good research. Thanks. More to chew on. I think I would tend to agree with you on both of those points as well.

            Like

  11. Josh, I really, and respectfully, think that when you read the Bible and you see “don’t judge,” you are mis-interpreting this as we should not judge behavior. But, we make hundred of behavioral judgments each day. (it would be hard to survive otherwise.) Are we really supposed to not discern between right and wrong? How can we follow Jesus under that use of “don’t judge?”

    You brought up MLK in a previous posting. Did MLK really have a right to criticize racism (under your worldview) if the adultery log in his eye was present? I think he did, but you seem to be saying he didn’t. Your interpretation of “don’t judge” in the Bible is self-refuting, because you are making a judgment about fellow believers not sticking to it, and are, thus, violating your own interpretation of that phrase.

    When you “restrain” someone, you are using physical force. You are engaging in the defense of your wife at the sacrifice of your son’s feelings, and you just might injure him in the process. Defense of the weak or defenseless is a good manly thing. We would rather defend by speaking out, but sometimes we have to (reluctantly, never joyfully) step up and use the physical strength that God gave us men for a reason.

    Now, when Obama puts me in jail for being a Christian (that day is coming :-)), and orders the torture, I can assure you that it will be a joy for me to suffer for Jesus. I will give them my other cheek when they have beaten the first one. I will beg the Good Lord to forgive my persecutors. But, as long as the Holy Spirit keeps my voice, I will be witnessing to them the truth of their sins, Jesus Love, and The Father’s saving Grace. I will be trying to reach them, even though it won’t make it easy on me, and they won’t want to hear it at all. In fact, they will beat me worse for telling them the truth. So, I 100% agree with you Josh, in that scenario. In that case, we are suffering literally for Jesus.

    But, when your Mom is being beat up by a lunatic, she’s not suffering for Jesus. She is suffering for being weak and defenseless. In that situation, we men should respond with the loving option – which means getting physical and using the protective gifts God gave us, assuming talking doesn’t work of course, as it often doesn’t – whether it’s a small personal situation or a nation’s leaders who took an oath (on the Bible, no less, at least for awhile longer anyway) to protect the citizens of their country.

    On the truth side, let’s be sure to tell the women contemplating abortion that it is 100% wrong for them to hire an assassin to murder their baby. If they have any kind of Christian background, let’s be sure that they understand that abortion is Satan’s idea to attack the Image of God at His earliest stages of development, and we really do not need to be doing Satan’s bidding. Let’s give them all the information regarding what the baby’s developmental stage is like, what happens from the baby’s perspective (there will be blood!) during a surgical or chemical warfare killing, the incredible damage done to the woman – physically, emotionally, spiritually, relationally – both in the short term and the long term, especially after she wakes up to what she has actually done. And let’s beg them to let us drive them to a pregnancy crisis center where these women can get a free ultrasound and more information.

    After the truth, let’s offer them graceful alternatives, as you and your wife so beautifully did. And, let’s not say something incredibly stupid like “I feel your pain” or “this must be a tough decision for you” – both of which condone the option of actuating incredibly serious sinful behavior that plays into Satan’s hands. (What’s wrong with saying “you can’t murder your baby, you just can’t?”) Let’s give them the Biblical, scientific, logical, and emotional arguments against abortion. (Randy Alcorn has some of the better Biblical arguments IMO.) And, let’s do these things even if it means these women hate us and never talk to us again – even if it’s our own daughter or wife. The defenseless baby’s life is worth that, right? Jesus has a special place in His Heart for the little ones, no? And Jesus has a special place in His Heart for us guys who place God and His principles over being liked.

    It is OK to give someone the truth and not be liked by them. Isn’t that what Jesus did, after all?

    Like

  12. One final comment to your excellent posting, WK, and to the great comments on both sides of this issue: based on what I read in the 4 Gospels and the Book of Acts, I wonder if we can actually call ourselves disciples of Jesus if we go for months or years without being called intolerant, offensive, bigoted, hateful, extremist, etc?

    If we are not being hated by the world, then that clearly violates Jesus’ Own words, not to mention the actual experiences of Jesus Himself and that of the early Church. If unbelievers are happy with us and with what we are saying, what does that say about us?

    If we are not being salty and abrasive, just what “gospel” do we claim we are spreading in fulfillment of the Great Commission?

    Like

    1. Galatians 5:22-23
      22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith,[a] 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such things there is no law.

      This seems like the opposite of the list you have made. I think the real question is how do we oppose sin, but come away looking and at the deepest level living like this. They are fruit of the Spirit after all.

      Colossians 4:5-6
      5 Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. 6 Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.

      Where does grace fit into the scheme of things?

      Like

        1. I don’t think he replied to the long list of policies and positions that I said should be judged either. I think I’ll stop approving his comments until he does.
          So it’s not just the Bible verses, it’s the stuff from the real world that he is not responding to.

          Like

      1. Josh, grace sits right next to truth – always. But, we still have to include truth. What about being salt (abrasive) and light (truth), including in the verse you gave? Do you think that Jesus violated your Galatians quote when He was in the temple and when He had to wake His disciples up? He didn’t seem very patient. :-) What about the early church in all of Acts? Why was it persecuted, in your opinion – because they were always patient and gentle, or because the truth they presented was so highly offensive?

        I get called the (negative) things on my list by unbelievers all the time. It is not because I AM those things, it is because it is important for unbelievers to believe that I am those things – in order to deny the Truth of Jesus that I am giving them. And Jesus said this would happen – IF we are authentic. [Matthew 5:11] God knows that I am not those horrible things I get called – the opinions of those who hate Jesus is not important to me – nor should it be for you.

        See, Josh, the early church and Jesus Himself were called all sorts of things that they weren’t – right? Christians are lied about routinely by unbelievers, and in some cases, believers.

        Is it possible, Josh, that in order to keep one foot in the “world,” you have sacrificed truth at the expense of grace – and you are cherry-picking verses in contradiction to the entire message of the Bible? This seems to me to be where much of the church is going. Consequently, atheism is on the rise, and the West is dying or dead in a Christian sense – not to mention the sad lack of influence of Christianity on the culture. Do you think accepting the grace of “tolerance” (and thus not delivering the offensive truth) might be the reason for this?

        BTW, no one here is suggesting that we behave in an anti-Christian way when delivering the truth. But, if the Gospel you are presenting is not offensive to many of your listeners, I have to assume that it is either not an authentic Gospel or not a full Gospel. Or, it is different in some other way from the Gospel presented by Jesus and the early church – who received the full venom from unbelievers.

        Like

        1. Keep in mind that the chapter in Galatians 5 is the same one where Paul said he wished the circumcision crowd would go the whole way and emasculate themselves.

          Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s