29 December 2010

Open Letter to Derek Webb, 2010

by Frank Turk

UPDATED 25 Feb 2012
Yes: hello.  Before you read this further, this post is, right now, the #2 all-time viewed post in the history of this blog.  It accounts for 1% of all traffic to this blog. And, methinks, a lot of people miss about 2/3rds of what went into the original post because it misses the detailed analysis of the original interview which posted the same day, but gets missed when someone links through to this letter only.


For the sake of that being remedied, I offer a link to the analysis right here.  Don't miss it for the sake of your our righteous indignation.
-- Frank Turk

Dear Derek Webb --

I started my (meager and non-profit) blogging career with an open letter to you about 6 years ago, and it's funny how that has come full circle as you stay on your quest to be come an artist (we'll come back to that) and I stay on my quest to, um, blog.

Over at HuffPo, Chris Stedman's interview of you has made some waves in the week after Christmas. It's really cool that, unlike the rest of us, you can get interviews with secularists and directors of inter-religious dialogue -- and I mean that sincerely even though I know it sounds sarcastic. If more people who were actually Christians could get interviewed by Chris Stedman, Chris himself would probably be better for it -- and his readers would at least be disabused by the stereotype of "Christianity" with which they are abused today.

I have to grant you something: you are right about the problem the church has in addressing the "gay" issue. I blogged about that a few years ago myself, refer to that post frequently as the topic comes up and further notes are required, and I commend that to you for context of my note to you today.

There are three things which bothered me about your talk with Mr. Stedman that I want to pass on as we approach the New Year, and I offer them to you in no particular order:

1. The Gospel

What is the Gospel, Derek? (please forgive the faux familiarity; I address you as one somewhat-public person to another) You seem to have summed it up to Mr. Stedman as, "Jesus says we are to be preemptive about how we love." Yet this is not at all how Jesus prepares people for the Gospel, nor what he seems to put at the first place for the reason God sent him, the Son, into the world.

I know someplace, somehow, you "get" this: the Son of Man was not sent to be served, but to serve, and to lay down his life as a ransom for many. He came to suffer much at the hands of the leaders of Israel and to be put to death. And he did this not as a moral example but as a sacrifice -- as the lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.

Yet your interview with HuffPo doesn't really mention that -- and maybe that's Mr. Stedman's editorial hand showing. You instead leapfrog that in this interview and go directly to "love". But this is how we know what Love is: seeing that God did something for us when we were unworthy of it. Christ died for sinners and not merely for morally-neutral people -- or worse, for people who are just moral equivalents of each other who can't see either the log in their own eye or the mote in his brother's eye.

The key note of the Gospel, Derek, is the need for it. I am well-known in this little backwater of the internet for saying that any random sinner is "just like me" -- but can I point out a difference between your approach and mine? Your approach is to say, "I'm not any worse than the least of these," and my approach is to say, "I am no better, and maybe I am worse."

The nuance there is important. From the perspective you have delivered to the readers of HuffPo, it's just a "come as you are" thing to say that men are sinful. Them's the breaks, as they say. It soft-soaps the problem of sin significantly into something you put this way: "One of the hallmarks of following Jesus is to pursue and love people who are different than we are and have different beliefs than we do, and to live our lives loving, understanding and coming into common ground with those people."

The problem with that is that Jesus didn't die to establish common ground, Derek: Jesus died because the wages of sin is death, and that's the common ground of all men of all times and all places. I may actually be worse-off than the homosexual, morally: my sins may be more wide-spread and more deeply-rooted (which is an interesting question, given your position here; again: more on that in a second). But what that does not do is mitigate the fact that the homosexual's sin is actually an offense to God from which he must repent, and not merely recognize as a different expression of self.

2. the Church

To that end, Jesus died to make the believers into the Church, right? Jesus didn't die so that we can make a moral equation up which makes Islam and Hinduism and Judaism and then the social/religious agnostics who come 'round about Him as "believers" into a happy mixed family. Jesus died so that the believers can be called out from death into life, and called out from the world to the household of God, and called out of sin and into salvation.

Readers of this blog know that I am not a perfectionist -- I don't believe that there are any Christians who are perfect morally, least of all me personally. In fact, I think one of the greatest sins in the American Christian life is the inability of so-called theologically-conservative Christians to live in community with other believers. There is a call to repentance needed there which has not yet been sounded or even rightly-framed which we English-speakers have to face up to. It smashes our idols of individuality and intellectual pride. That matter is for another day.

But that said, Christ died to call out the Church. This is an unquestionable fact of the New Testament; it's the key-note point of Paul's first letter to the Corinthians, and also the "book ends" of Paul's letter to the Romans. Somehow, if Christ died for us, we are a new people set apart from the world and it's fallenness. Right? Colossians 3? So when we make the confession that we are sinners, we are also making the confession that we ought not to be sinners. Making allowance for the sins of others so that we can "love them" is unloving because it is spiritually deadly. It completely squashes the actual Gospel in place of a new kind of legalism. Rather than seeking to find out all the ways in which we ought "not to do," we are in fact seeking out all the ways we can allow all the things we ought not to do. It's a legalism of tolerance -- which you exchange in your interview into a legalism of love. It's not love, you might say, if it doesn't include those who mutilate themselves to justify their sexual urges. It's not love, you might say, if we can't bless the sexual union of two people who are sexually identical rather than sexually compatible. It's the legalism of permissiveness, which is merely license raised to a moral imperative.

The Church cannot say such things. When it does -- and I submit to you that the conservative church does this exactly today regarding marriage and sexuality -- it is gone far afield. To have it go far into another false field for the sake of balance (which, as I take it, is your complaint) is not prophetic or artistic: it is blasphemy, and anti-Gospel.

3. The Artist

Which brings me to my final comment. Personally, I grew up in a liberal-arts environment. Then I "got saved" and spent 20 years as a Christian. I have found that there is a singular refuge for people who do not want to be held morally and philosophically culpable for the trash they flatulently expel into the common conversation. In Christian circles, it's the "prophet"; in academic circles, it's "the artist".

Back in the "old days" before you started filing complaints against the local church and Christians in general, you didn't couch yourself behind the conceit of being "an Artist". But today, that's your trip. Are you really more-qualified to make moral, political and social pronouncements than anyone else -- than pastors and qualified teacher of the Bible, for example -- now that you are "an artist"? Is it really at all reasonable let alone generous or spiritually-mature to denigrate pastors as people who don't have enough time to get spiritually informed except through CNN and blogs? I think it's a dodge you can cleverly use to escape scrutiny, and you should frankly know better. You're not some kid floating through college on his father's hard-earned dime; you're not some flattered entertainer who lives in a vacuum protected by publicists and agents and sycophants (I hope). You're in some way a self-made man who has been there, done that -- which makes your daffy diatribes against conservative Christianity, and the disguise of being an "artist", all the more unbelievable.

To say, as you have said here, that your pondering these issues trumps other views because you are an "artist" is simply adolescent. If your moral pronouncement trumps, for example, John Piper (not an artist), what if Charlton Heston says you're wrong? His artistic cred trumps yours for sure: how do you deal with it? And what if Ian McKellen then comes out and proffers yet another moral pronouncement -- does his cred trump Heston? What exactly will we do when the artist community unsurprisingly cannot speak with one voice and cannot come to a moral consensus? What will us poor non-artists do if CNN or FOX does not clear it up for us?

The answer, of course, is to put the artist in his place -- subject to God's revelation. That's the Christian answer, anyway -- settle matters of faith and practice by what God hath said -- and that, done by men of good faith who are elders and leaders in the church. But the way you have, over time, read the Bible, has become shallow and ambiguous -- which is the hallmark of pretentiousness, not artistic depth. To see Jesus as only a lover of the sinful and not a judge or even decent moral counsellor is to misread all of the book of John and all of Revelation and all of Paul's statements which begin "therefore" in the New Testament.

May we all suffer fewer artists of this sort in the future, and may you repent of it as soon as possible.

We all know you want to be a lion -- we all want to pass as cats. You want to be a big, big star; you want to be someone to believe. You want to be Bob Dylan. The problem is that you're not. You're a kid fellow from Texas who has, over 20 years, convinced himself that there is no Old Testament substantiating the New Testament; that Jesus does not fulfill that law so that in his death those who repent and believe are made a people like him. What we therefore ought to be is both enemies of sin and friends of sinners -- but I think you have missed this someplace, publicly and intentionally. My offer to you is to come back to this, which is the Christian faith and not some romantic or secularized stereotype of the actual faith.

While I have been harsh here, I hope this letter finds you well, and in the good graces of God, and with a heart inclined toward him and inclined to repent. You have said that you refuse no invitations for interviews, and I post this as an open invitation to do two things inclusively here together: [1] to post your [unedited] open reply to this letter in this space at your convenience, and [2] to also record a 60-minute interview with me on this subject which would be available here unedited on this subject to correct the record as necessary, correct my view of the interview with Stedman, and to dialog on the question of the church being in the world, on mission to lost people, but not of the world.

You can tweet me @Frank_Turk, or e-mail at frank at i-t-u-r-k dot com.

Awesome Update:

BEFORE YOU POST A COMMENT (and I do mean you personally), ask yourself this question: "Self, if my response to Frank Turk is that he should have first called Derek and had coffee with him to do the Biblical thing and not make this all like this, and I'm going to set him straight, why am I posting a comment on his blog rather than calling him? Am I just like Frank, or am I really following Jesus?"

If you can answer that question in a way that doesn't embarrass yourself, lay on, MacDuff.

--The Neighborhood Bully
Awesome Update #2:

After closing the comments and reflecting on this post, the one very obvious and glaring problem with the discussion has been the actual lack of actual discussion. For example, with the panoply of people pelting me for not contacting Derek directly to make nice with him privately over his public disapprobation (notice I got it right this time) of the church and its moral judgment, only two people have bothered to send me an e-mail about the subject to take their points off-line. TWO. And I bring it up only because I put my e-mail address and Twitter ID in the post. Finding me would have been as hard as blinking.

This describes the kind of objection that concern is -- because it apparently doesn't apply to the people who offer it. It certainly didn't apply to Derek who, rather than respond here, or respond with an e-mail, or even respond with a quick note with any clarifiers, posted drive-by tweets for three days about nameless bloggers and told people via twitter that I was specifically a body part of inglorious use.

File that with this open letter, and keep it between the ditches.

--The Neighborhood Bully





250 comments:

1 – 200 of 250   Newer›   Newest»
Matt Church said...

Frank! Exceptionally done. Having read the HuffPo article you address the issues that are of glaring concern. I will be passing this on to everyone I can. Thank you.

Trevor said...

Thanks for that Frank. I appreciate the insight you offered, which many of us simply do not possess.

Side note: any funds available for that promised Pyro hoodie? ;-)

DJP said...

Vintage Turk. Now we see whether Webb was being truthful when he said "i grant interviews with anyone. so i suppose people who don't like me don't wanna talk to me" (sic).

PS TO EVERYONE: if you like a post, click the star-rating. Otherwise trolls take it over and head it towards the basement.

Van Edwards said...

"So when we make the confession that we are sinners, we are also making the confession that we ought not to be sinners. Making allowance for the sins of others so that we can "love them" is unloving because it is spiritually deadly. It completely squashes the actual Gospel in place of a new kind of legalism."

Brother, that is brilliant. Thank you.

Joni said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
David Regier said...

Two things:

1. It's impossible to be identified in Christ if I demand to retain my indentity in Adam.

2. I guess I have to come up with another name for my lettuce, guacamole, bacon and tomato sandwich.

VcdeChagn said...

And what if Ian McClellan then comes out and proffers yet another moral pronouncement -- does his cred trump Heston?

Ummm...no.

Seriously, a brilliant piece of work (both articles). The Gospel of God (to paraphrase Romans 1:1 and to separate it from other "Good News") deals with our sin. Removing that makes it no longer the Gospel. Thanks for pointing that out so eloquently.

and DJP, definitely worth a 5 * rating

Johnny Dialectic said...

Having read the interview, I find the bulk of Frank's essay here to be an excellent, even handed analysis. Even moderate in tone. Until the end. There was no need to ascribe motives or denigrate someone personally (You want to be Bob Dylan, you're not, you're a kid from Texas...)

That last bit is out of character with the rest of the post. Up to that point, I would have thought this a well written and thought out call for Derek Webb to come on over and offer explanations. But the inclusion of personal jabs which are wholly unnecessary might explain why he won't.

My humble suggestion is that the post be updated and those bits removed. Then this would stand as an excellent analysis, and Mr. Webb might be more amenable to clarifications.

DJP said...

It should not matter, if Webb's a man of his word. He said he'll talk to anybody, not just anybody who doesn't hurt his feelings. If he objects, Frank's offered him an open forum to do so.

ethanasmith said...

Johnny,

You missed the Counting Crows reference.


Frank,

Excellent letter/article. I especially liked this line:

"The problem with that is that Jesus didn't die to establish common ground, Derek: Jesus died because the wages of sin is death, and that's the common ground of all men of all times and all places."

Frank Turk said...

Johnny: I suspect that Derek Webb listens to Counting Crows more than you do, and he will get the reference immediately. It is all the more appropriate because Derek Webb is on-record elsewhere saying specifically he'd like to be Bob Dylan.

Thanks for your suggestion. If I were to revise it at all, the word "kid" there is probably the wrong tone, and if it offends I will revise it.

Johnny Dialectic said...

I guess I'm flummoxed. I don't see why quoting Counting Crows makes the jab any more relevant or worthy. Where does Derek Webb say he wants to be a "big, big star"? If he said he "wants to be" Bob Dylan, I'd like to read that comment in context. Can you provide a link?

My only thing, Frank, is that the jab was unnecessary. It diluted, rather than strengthened, your main arguments (which are lucid).

ebayjim said...

I would like to hear (or read) Mr. Webb's definition of biblical love. His love approach doesn't seem much different than the love the world desires or offers.

Frank, I do not find your 'jab' out of place. Mr. Webb opened himself up for criticism through his statement(s) of self-importance. Since an artist has the "...luxury of being able to think through these issues..." that must make their conclusions accurate, right?

Great post; thank you.

William Watson Birch said...

What an excellent piece! It used to be that the Social Gospel was crippling the Church (not that it has disappeared). Now it's the Social Justice Gospel that is replacing the Gospel of Christ.

I resonate with Joni's comment. Webb's actions and messages appear to be more neo-Reformed than classically Reformed. Give me Classical Calvinism any day over the newly young, restless and Reformed meanderings. The former represents the Gospel far better and clearer than the latter, IMO.

God bless.

Charlie J. Ray said...

Welp, it seemeth to me that at root the problem is pelagianism. An' don't git me wrong, me being a dumb redneck an' all.... But it seems to me that pelagianism is a continuum.

Where is you on that sliding scale of pelagianism? Hopes you is on the far right:)

But you know... us damn "hyper" Calvinists just got no heart.

Charlie

http:\\reasonablechristian.blogspot.com

Cathy M. said...

This is the kind of vigorous defense of truth I come here to read. Your tone (in every word) reflects the sort of passion we should unleash on people who mess with the message.

David Regier said...

In the interview, Webb's primary definition for himself is as an artist. It is for this reason that he cannot see issues of self-definition as a problem. If we submit to Christ everything except our core identity, we will find more fellowship with those who share that idolatry (self-definition) than with those who find their identity completely in Christ.

I'm an artist too. And I'm supposed to call it as I see it too. But I'm called to see everything in Christ.

DJP said...

Do you also want to be Bob Dylan, David? Maybe do a Christmas album?

Frank Turk said...

Johnny --

Again, I appreciate your concern, and I disagree with it.

Move on.

Frank Turk said...

Just to be as cleasr as possible, the Counting Crows lyric points to Derek's conceit to be an untouchable artist. It is in-context and in-scope. The point is that he wants to be so beloved he doesn't have the problem of being common or wrong.

I'm leaving it as-is.

David Regier said...

Aaack!

Actually, I'm getting ready to record one with these fine folks:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=upCMqH97jic

Look for it next November.

Frank Turk said...

I also want to caution the readers of this blog not to fall into the other ditch which is also The Half Gospel.

philness said...

Classic case in victimology or just unskilled in the word of righteousness?

Jesus' lot in life (cup) was not an excuse for him to be lazy and nice. Jesus was totally dependent on the Father to see him through. If God can work both the will and the to do in Jesus' cup surely God can do the same in all of us sinners. But to sacrifice truth for the sake of peace and niceness will forever be unbalanced. Laying in this very stench- the church is paralyzed.

Good on Frank for sharing the stench. I smell it from time to time in my own life but thanks to God's word- for it changes me.

Chris H said...

I love two things about this piece:
1) It is unapologetic about what the Word of God says, and how that Word ought to be applied to the life of Christians, and;
2) It is devoid of sarcasm, but full of "benefit of the doubt" language without compromising [1].

Thank you, Frank, for demonstrating a great method of correcting someone publicly, but with respect and obvious love.

Dennis said...

The world says that to understand is to forgive. God says that the death of his son is the cost of forgiveness.

Solameanie said...

Frank, I like your tone. Seriously.

Frank Turk said...

I take offense that this post is bereft of sarcasm.

Jugulum said...

Ooooh, sarcasm. That's original.

DJP said...

Maybe Jon Lovitz could play The Artiste. Every time someone tries to get Biblely on what he says, he could dray am an ar-TEEST!"

Jonathan said...

Well stated. I am hoping Mr. Webb will take you up on your offer of an interview. I am greatly dismayed by the direction Webb's "spirituality" has taken him.

donsands said...

"..this is how we know what Love is: seeing that God did something for us when we were unworthy of it."

Made me think of this incredibly powerful verse:

"I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me."

"...gave Himself for me." Wow.

"He died for me;
I live for Him." -Dana Key

The Cross is the center of all truth. Jesus as our substitute; the Lamb of God, who takes our sin, and gives us His right standing with the Father, His Father, and our Father.

"Jesus didn't die so that we can make a moral equation up which makes Islam and Hinduism and Judaism and then the social/religious agnostics who come 'round about Him as "believers" into a happy mixed family." -Cent

Sounds like Brian "always perplexing" McLaren.
I hope Derek hasn't gone down the McLaren path.

Thanks for such a great post, and challenge to our brother Derek.

Mike Westfall said...

Posts like this one are the reason I lurk here.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

An edifying letter exemplifying the best of online discernment ministry.

Thanks Frank.

Steven R. Robertson said...

There were rumblings of it all the way back to I See Things Upside Down and especially in Mockingbird, but my fear with Webb is that he's misplaced the power of songs like "Wedding Dress" and the whole She Must and Shall Go Free album.

The power of that album was its gospel content, by way of a stark and sometimes biting wording. The last few albums its seemed that he's focused on being stark and biting instead of being grounded in the gospel.

Fantastic article, Frank. Very helpful. I've lurked for a while here and at DJP's; thought I'd throw in a comment.

damewood said...

Someone bought me 40 acres and it changed the way I viewed Christian music. As a recent convert in the 90s I was so excited to find music theologically rich that spoke to me personally. Since then I've always bought everything that Caedmon's and Derek Webb have produced. I admit I was ready to give up after Stockholm Syndrome. I found it to be musically uninspiring but more importantly flippant in it's tone and not Gospel centered.

I hoped that "Raising the Dead" would be a return for Caedmon's Call and Derek to the kind of Gospel infused pop/folk music that I enjoyed so much. Once again, I bought it online the first day available and was disappointed. I tweeted that I thought it was vacuous only to get blasted for my unsubstantiated opinion by none other than Derek Webb. I politely let him know that I was not musically trained but entitled to my opinion. He let me know that I should be more careful about what I say. I've listened to that album many times hoping to find something and you know what? It's vacuous. It's devoid of the most important thing I want in my Christian music, the Gospel.

It's interesting to me while groups like the Gospel Coalition are trying to focus on and highlight the Gospel we have a whole strain of Christianity lite that attempts to redefine the Gospel in a new and more palatable light. The problem is that it isn't new. The mainline churches, among others, already did it 100 years ago and we know where that went.

DJP said...

You got blasted by Webb himself?

That's weird because, you know, he just doesn't even listen to his critics.

geckholm said...

Excellent article Frank.

I still think there is a bit to admire in Derek Webb. I think he does try to live out his faith the best he can. But I also think he enjoys the notoriety he gains by his sticking of his finger in the eye of the Church. He claims to want to stand with the persecuted, but appears to in actuality either stand with those he *thinks* the church is persecuting or is standing with the world, condemning the Church and claiming to be a Christian standing on the outside. And I'm sorry, it doesn't work that way, you don't get to choose the members of your family.

I was really hoping that he would accept your invitation to an interview, but as the tweets roll on, it is evident that he has no desire to engage with you. That is disappointing.

Dave .... said...

Nice review, Frank. The artist isn't the problem as much as the beatification of the artist in the church. And in the West we like our opinions, much like the
Athenians in Acts 17. Where the church has failed is in not holding them accountable to the Truth and letting them run a muck and giving them celebrity.

If I were outspoken about some aberrant belief or practice, I'd be dealt with as an erring brother, a heretic or an unbeliever. But then again, I'm an engineer not an artist.

Sometimes I think that mystery Babylon is going to be Nashville, the Christian music sector.

Merrilee Stevenson said...

Frank, I read the interview, and read both of your posts from today. And they both were better when read a second time! At first I thought you were a bit too harsh, (and even wondered if you should have labeled the second post with "tone," knowing there would be some critics), but the reality is, that Webb's kind of rhetoric NEEDS to be scrutinized, criticized, and more importantly, he needs to be called to repentance, as you well did.

J♥Yce said...

PS TO EVERYONE: if you like a post, click the star-rating. Otherwise trolls take it over and head it towards the basement.

There is something amiss with blogger or this computer...I clicked and returned later in the day only for it to show I'd not done so. When coming back from another window, the same thing happened only the number indicated my choice was retained. So, vote early. AND thumb-on-the-scale often? ;-)

damewood said...

DJP, you are a funny man. It does however appear that Webb spends way too much time contemplating his critics and his fans.

Webb does accurately, i think, point out the church's hypocrisy when we are all too ready to condemn homosexual behavior while having a "don't ask, don't tell" policy when it comes to hetro sexual sin.

The Seeking Disciple said...

I find it ironic that "artists" such as Webb and many liberals accuse the Church of so many things: we need to be more involved with social issues, we need to reach out to homosexuals, we need to reach out to other religions, etc. but then they never do anything. It is the Church that has historically cared for the sick, promoted peace and justice, worked to transform cultures through the gospel, educate the masses, provide for peoples needs, etc. but the liberals just talk.

I have a friend who runs a homeless shelter and receives no money from the government or helps from liberals but he is seeing lives changed not through social causes or talk but through the gospel of Jesus Christ. Jesus is the one we need to preach and He alone can transform lives for eternity. The gospel is not talk but power (1 Corinthians 2:1-5).

donsands said...

"...point out the church's hypocrisy" -damewood

Could you expound on your thinking here?
Thanks.

James Joyce said...

Frank. You are a blogging artiste!

aztexan said...

Good analysis. I don't listen to CCM, so I had to Google this "Derek Webb" to get up to speed; however, I recognized the "Mr. Jones" lyrics instantly.

My question: In what sense is being "from Texas" relevant here? Bob Dylan himself is from, of all places, Minnesota. Surely you did not intend to imply that one must be born and raised in NYC, LA, London or Timbuktu if to be taken seriously as anything but a hayseed...right?

I assume the reference was a mere stylistic flourish for "texture," but in context it can easily be read as a knock on us Lone Star folk. And, interestingly, Wikipedia has Webb a native (and current resident) of Tennessee. Graduating from a Texas high school does not necessarily make one "from" Texas, regardless of one's opinion of our Countr--er, Republer--STATE. :-)

trogdor said...

You Texans sure are an overly sensitive bunch, which is I guess fitting for such a small, insignificant place.

Rachael Starke said...

Really well done Frank. Although, I hope you weren't hoping for a follow up interview at HuffPo. ;)

And Damewood, that dog won't hunt. Frank, along with many of his loyal readers, like this one, is repeatedly on the record as decrying the evangelical church's secondary sin of tolerance/blessing of heterosexual sin (particularly through easy divorce), because of it's primary sin in losing the gospel.

If the gospel according to Jesus was the central focus of Webbb's thought process on this subject in his...art - he could have found a variety of, dare I say it, creative ways to articulate it, even lovingly.

Maybe he was misquoted.

Denny Burk said...

P.S. Nice allusion to Counting Crows. They are one of my all-time favorite bands.

damewood said...

donsands-
I wasn't meaning to be cryptic. It's been my experience and I think(generalization coming) that there are lots of kids from evangelical churches that profess faith and get baptized then go off to college and fornicate like rabbits. Very little, if any, biblical pressure(ie. discipline) is used in these cases to call these kids to repentance. I have more thoughts but that's at least part of what I mean. How about how the church handles divorce?

I'm not at all defending the path that Webb has gone down.

damewood said...

Rachael-
I think you just jumped the shark. I never said anything about Frank's or anyone elses view on sexual sin of whatever stripe. To the extent that the evangelical church as a whole ignores sexual sin then there is hypocrisy there. It's a broader point about evangelical culture and to deny that it's true is foolishness.

I love Frank. Now that's in a brotherly manner but I still love him. Leaving my hunting dogs out of it.

wordsmith said...

Boy, am I out of it or what? I had no idea who Derek Webb is, other than gleaning from this post that he's evidently involved in CCM.

I haven't followed the CCM scene for close to twenty years. Apparently I haven't missed much.

Frank Turk said...

Being a Texan ought to make one more apt to reason from a down-home perspective, rather than from some high-falutin' You-Nee-Ver-See-Tee book-larnin'.

Frank Turk said...

How about how the church handles divorce indeed.

I hope you followed my link in this essay for exactly that reason.

Fred Butler said...

damewood says,
To the extent that the evangelical church as a whole ignores sexual sin then there is hypocrisy there.

What church are you talking about? Pretty much every church I have been a part of, including the wishy washy SBC ones, took sexual sin seriously. From my vantage point, I don't see any scandalous hypocrisy.

Frank Turk said...

Denny -- you need to fix your avatar.

Thomas Louw said...

Don't know who this Webb (sounds spider like)guy is but, this very frank guy sounds smart.

aztexan said...

Frank Turk said: "Being a Texan ought to make one more apt to reason from a down-home perspective, rather than from some high-falutin' You-Nee-Ver-See-Tee book-larnin'."

If only. I'll have to deploy that one next time I find myself in a heated discussion with one of the horde of Texas-born and -larned souls who see things from any but a "down-home" perspective. Somehow I doubt they will crumple under your logic, but it's worth a shot. If you can believe it, we've got a few well-respected (highfalutin, even!) yooneeversities down here, and the majority of them don't exactly - to say the least - emphasize conservative values, animal husbandry and gun safety. 'Tis a sad reality, but reality it is. How long, O Lord?

Aaron Snell said...

Tweeted 4 minutes ago from Webb:

"an "open letter" from a blogger i don't know is no more a moral imperative than it is any form of accountability. i have nothing to clarify"

The moral imperative is found in keeping your word, it seems to me.

Stefan said...

I'm so square,* but like Wordsmith and Thomas, I too had no idea who or what this was all about...until I contextualized myself.

Nevertheless, in the course of these two posts, Frank touched on some very key topics of universal applicability, so thanks for that.

*Man, it's like high school all over again. Totally outta the loop when it came to what the kool kidz were listening to.

Stefan said...

And yo, Azetexan:

I've never been to Texas, but your impassioned plea for your home state won this West Coast Canadian's heartfelt respect.

JackW said...

If he doesn’t know who Frank Turk is then he is obviously a blogophobic.

aztexan said...

Why, thankee, Stefan. A humble nod and a tip o' the Stetson to you, friend.

jamesbrett said...

Dear Mr. Turk,

I do not know you and have never read your blog before today. I, like many others it seems, arrived by way of a link to the Derek Webb cause celebre.

I do appreciate a great deal your tenor, but I hope you don't mind my saying that, frankly (no pun intended), I'd much prefer to read an interview with Adam Duritz than Mr. Webb.

I do hope you'll consider my request. Sincerely,
JamesBrett

jamesbrett said...

I've never heard of this Derek Webb character you speak of.

Picasso

jamesbrett said...

@ Picasso, neither have i. and for the record, i was looking at you, not at him.

maria

bryan parys said...

I really don't enjoy commenting on these sorts of threads, because they are not discussions--they are just a group of people who agree over a common irk, and then pat each other on the back for that agreement.

But, I must say one thing: I think it is deplorable to attack someone for identifying themselves as an artist. You know and I know that Webb doesn't use that moniker as a means toward special, pope-like communion with God. More likely, it is a word he has found that makes sense of his life experience so far, and thus he can only speak from that experience.

Most of us would give our left arm for a clear cut moniker that fulfills our life. It is why calling ourselves Christians can be deeply affirming. To say that someone's identity gives them megalomania is just low. It's like saying that someone who calls themselves a computer programmer is just doing so in order to control all computers everywhere. Or, like someone calling themselves a blogger so that they can extra-personally say anything they want, as long as it sounds like the truth (there's a verse in there, methinks).

Dialogue about perceived incongruities is wonderful, and I'm glad it's happening. But, slagging someone's experience off as misguided based on interviews is itself misguided and ignorant.

DJP said...

I think it is deplorable to attack someone for identifying themselves as an artist

It might be.

Who did that? Direct quotation?

Otherwise, I think you badly misread Frank.

Solameanie said...

Don't you have to wonder at the growing evangelical tendency to avert the eye at sin, no matter what flavor it is? We're supposed to win people to Christ by our winsome mien, but win them to what and save them from what? How can you come to a Savior when you don't realize that you need to be saved from something, and I don't mean an expanding waistline.

I've looked and looked and looked in Scripture, especially in Acts where we have some clear-cut examples of first-century evangelistic preaching. I just can't find Peter or Paul sugarcoating or overlooking sin so they don't risk offending anyone. I've even tried postmodern re-definitions of words to try and do it, and I failed badly each time. I come a mite closer using Lewis Carroll's "words mean what I want them to mean" approach, but I'm still befuddled, especially when I come upon the places where they had to lower Paul down a town wall in a basket, and where he almost got torn to bits because he made uncharitable statements about some stupid female statuette.

I'm very near wanting to do that very thing to the tone police because I really hate the sensation of nausea, and they gin it up in me each time I encounter them.

themississippimama said...

This is a most excellent post. You said many of the things rolling around in my ticked-off brain right after I read the HuffPo piece. (Interesting that HuffPo chooses Webb as the token Christian artist to interview; I doubt they could've found someone more liberal. Good for them?)

I didn't buy Caedmon's Call's latest album because of Derek's return to the band. The worshipful tone, theological maturity, and sweetness they established in the years after he left seemed to be wiped away with one album. So disappointing. It pains me not to buy an album by my all-time favorite band, but the lyrics I read showed me that they're not who they used to be.

Oh, and I got the Counting Crows reference immediately. I guess paying attention to my college radio station in the mid-90s is finally coming in handy.

Frank Turk said...

Brian:

I offer you an hour-long interview -- the one Derek Webb will not accept. I'll work out the technology and you can interview me or I can interview you.

Yours is among a plethora of complaints I have received about this post which, frankly, demonstrate that the post could not have said anything you would agree with because it is critical of Derek.

You can e-mail me, and we can audio-skype an interview/discussion, or we can do it over the phone. The only stipulations I would place on the exchange is a 60-minute time limit and that the final product be posted here on a server of my choice unedited for anyone who is interested to hear/download/consider.

Consider it because I think it will benefit both the readers of this blog and the community which, whether you accept it or not, you are a part of.

Trevor said...

"A truth Christians seem to forget online: "If your brother sins against you go and tell him his fault between you and him alone" (Mt 18:15)."

That was tweeted by Burk Parsons today. If I had to guess, he probably saw the blogging/tweeting happenings of yesterday.

Thoughts on this? It certainly brings the direction of this discussion into the nature of accountability...public/private, but I think it is certainly relevant.

(Just looking for discussion!) :-)

Frank Turk said...

Adam Duritz wants to be someone a little more funky. I can respect that.

Sha la lala lala la la la.

Frank Turk said...

My first three questions for Bryan, btw, so I'm not ambushing anyone:

1. Where do you go to church
2. How old are you
3. How long have you been serious about being a faithful follower of Jesus Christ

From there, he can ask all the questions and say anything he wants.

themississippimama said...

Trevor: Derek didn't sin against Frank, nor did Frank sin against Derek, so that verse, while entirely true, isn't applicable here.

Derek Webb, as a semi-public figure, has purported to be a Christian but has made statements in direct opposition to the worldview compelled by Scripture. And he did it on a public forum. Therefore, this is a public matter, and not one to be handled privately.

Mark J. LaCore said...

Very good post, and very interesting discussion. However, it's quite difficult to pass up the phrase from @aztexan: "from, of all places, Minnesota" in reference to Dylan! As a resident of the frozen tundra just outside the city of Dylan's birth, I found it rather humorous. Yes, even here in the north woods there occasionally arises someone with something to say that is worth listening to.

Thank you, Frank, for the courage and intelligence of your post. I really appreciate it.

Frank Turk said...

I'm going to blog about Mt 17 next week because if one more person mentions it in the context of this post I'm going to bring him before the whole church with bells on.

No offense to you, Trevor: I think you're asking honestly. But the conceit that Mt 17 is for use with people who are standing on a soap boxes in a public place saying all manner of unconscionable things, and that what they have yodeled in public needs to be taken up privately, meekly, and without general emendation of the record is twaddle.

I have spoken with Burk about this personally (from another post), and we will disagree on this -- because he is wrong. There is a form of public discourse necessary for the Church and for Christians, especially when someone is trotting on the actual definition of the Church.

Trevor said...

Cool, thanks for the thoughts Frank.

Yeah, my conscience is unresolved on the whole issue if someone does something very publicly, should they be addressed in a similar public manner, or does the Mt. 17 text insist on addressing them privately?

I can certainly see where people would fall on both sides there. I just don't know where I fall yet, and thus, am looking for the (hopefully) very biblical arguments of each side.

Looking forward to the post next week on said topic.

Joni said...

Well made distinction, themississippimama. I am increasingly aware of how often I have been (sadly) contextually illiterate when citing Scripture.

aztexan said...

Mark J. LaCore said: "Yes, even here in the north woods there occasionally arises someone with something to say that is worth listening to."

Indeed, Mark! I'm glad we are in agreement. "Bob Dylan himself is from, of all places, Minnesota," not "NYC, LA, London or Timbuktu." The fine people of Minnesota, while far from such vaunted locales, have much to contribute; and their contribution is no less admissible for the geographical distance.

In fact: Call me an ironic snob, but I'd go so far as to aver that the isolation from so-called "Civilization" (ha!) enhances the intellectual and artistic value (not to mention the authenticity and veracity) of the contributions of "hicks" from such remote outposts as Minnesota and Texas. How insufferably Texan of me! :-D

Case in point: @mississippimama. Do you not like the cut of her jib? Like it or not, sometimes it takes a Southerner. :-)

robert said...

Imagine how many orphans and widows could have been cared for with all the cognitive surplus that has been spent on this dumb letter.

aztexan said...

robert said: "Imagine how many orphans and widows could have been cared for with all the cognitive surplus that has been spent on this dumb letter."

Yes! All the liberation and socioeconomic justice that could have been doled out to the least of these! Such pursuits are, after all, the sum total of this Christianity system, right?

aztexan said...

< /sarc >

Kayla said...

I am a bit shocked to read both this letter and the comments that follow. The reason fundamentally is that I think we should strive to balance grace/love with Truth (Eph. 4:29-ff...we are commanded to use our words so that it will give grace to those who hear it; to be kind to one another, tender-hearted, etc.) And there is a way to do that while still speaking Truth, is there not??
In Derek's quest to greater love and tolerance, maybe (we don't even know for sure) he is leaving out vital, imperative Truth of the Scriptures. All the while, the tone and the words used on this blog are very much lacking love while focusing mostly on truth.

I'm not saying these are non-issues with Derek Webb. But what I am saying is that I completely disagree with the attitudes displayed here totally devoid of love and grace, and full of defense. How is that a picture of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, who provided us what we don't deserve? Instead of filling us with anger over what Derek may be lacking, should it not make our hearts broken that he is missing out on the depths of Gospel truth and consequently leading others astray? Or what is more, point our eyes toward the Lord who is sovereign over all people and can still use Derek Webb and his art to bring people to a saving knowledge of Him?? God is so much bigger than this my friends!

DJP said...

Ah yes, the Tone Police are here. Always so much easier and safer to issue blanket condemnations of strangers' invisible attitudes, as the TP do, than to do the hard work of dealing fairly and Biblically with people's visible words, as Frank does.

aztexan said...

Kayla said: "But what I am saying is that I completely disagree with the attitudes displayed here totally devoid of love and grace, and full of defense."

Example(s), please.

bryan parys said...

@DJP: the quote I found to be an attack, and not a misread: "Back in the "old days" before you started filing complaints against the local church and Christians in general, you didn't couch yourself behind the conceit of being "an Artist". But today, that's your trip. Are you really more-qualified to make moral, political and social pronouncements than anyone else -- than pastors and qualified teacher of the Bible, for example -- now that you are "an artist"?"

I don't see support in Webb's interview for the claim that he sees himself as more qualified than anyone beyond a human whose words have deeply touched, affected, and angered many.

canyonwalker said...

What is read here are really not a bunch of comments. What I see are a series of bricks and cement building and further fortifying the wall btwn the GLBT community and God. What concern is is of anyone here how and who God wants relationship with? I have done this work as a straight Christian for over five years and you "they can't come as they are!" clubbers have NO idea of the damage you have caused.
I think God is big enough to deal with same sex attraction if He dealt with all your sorry self sins. Stop being a WALL, whosoever really does mean that.
Check out my blog and in particular the VERSES tab, then the Ten Lies, Three Things, I'm a Zero and consider that MAYBE you may not know the whole heart of God.
I hear the damage EVERY day, every day from the walls many of you have so well built.
www.canyonwalkerconnections.com
Engage me, this is what I do (in GOd yes) and may only point you to posts. I do stay busy patching wounds and encouraging one step in front of another walks to people who also want God.

Dave said...

You said "In fact, I think one of the greatest sins in the American Christian life is the inability of so-called theologically-conservative Christians to live in community with other believers."

I can't imagine wanting to live in community with you. It's easy to miss the point when you're so worried about just being right. And please don't say things akin to "You are scum, but I hope you're having a good day and will become fond of repenting soon." I sure would prefer being on the receiving end of Derek's love than yours.

themississippimama said...

@aztexan It is not proper to look at the cut of a lady's jib, good sir!

I tweeted this post out to my Twitter followers, and oh boy at the Derek Webb apologists who have come out of the woodwork. Their responses can basically be summed up as such: You're a meanie who hates people and thumps a copy of the Old Testament all the time, you meanie mean thing!

Yawn.

aztexan said...

@canyonwalker: The only way your comment could have been more heart-wrenching is to have had it sung to us by Melissa Etheridge.

Really, I'm touched.

bryan parys said...

Frank:

I don't think that I should have to qualify myself to meet your standards of a Christian before I'm allowed to engage in conversation. However, since you may well view that statement as fearful self-protection, I will oblige you:

1. I am in between churches, but resonate deeply with both nondenominational and Episcopal traditions.
2. I am 28.
3. I have been a Christian since I was 10 years old, having attended a Christian elementary, middle, high school, and college. But I admit that my serious understanding of Christ has only happened in the last few years. I've always played the part, but now with verses such as John 7:53-8:11 in my soul, I find it impossible to live without Jesus.

I want to say that I am not here to argue, incite, or divide. I want to speak in love as Kayla suggests. However, your assertion that you "could not have said anything" I'd agree with b/c it's critical of Derek is further evidence of my original claim that these threads are rendered inert in the larger world because they are so inwardly-focused.

I spoke up because, dare I say it, I felt the Holy Spirit move me to it. Whether or not the results were air-tight, I do not claim.

I want to say amongst so many who seem to immediately peg me as disagreeable: I am often wrong. I seek out discussion with people who do not agree with me because I believe they (read: you) have something worthwhile to offer and expand my worldview. However, that work is sabotaged when it becomes exercises in self-talk and cronyism.

dave said...

amen kayla!

from one blogger seeking fame to an artist who has it, it seems the two of you are not that much different sir. but you gotta love the blogging world. it makes famous those who are a little bit skilled at convincing others that they are right and that their enemies are wrong.

as always, it is quite easy to make a fool of someone that you have never met and assume all sorts of evils about while sitting at your computer.

may God heal and forgive us our foolish and falsely brave, virtual world divisiveness and judgements on fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.

listen to Webb's music a bit. i'm not sure you'll find much of what you would think to be heresy. this is an interview. a conversation. read it as such, and please, re-read the scriptures you claim to know so well.

themississippimama said...

I think some of these Tone Police commenters have come here from trolling Twitter for mentions of Webb, and saw my link to your post. I recognize some of them from their hand-wringing comments to me there and their corresponding emo-hipster avatars here.

Sorry, 'bout that, Frank. I've always been a bit of a troublemaker.

Chad said...

I blogged on the "gay issue" last month here: http://movethemountains.blogspot.com/2010/11/i-dont-support-gay-rights-not-what-you.html

I tried very hard to balance our obligation to love with not compromising plain truth. I trust you all will let me know how I did.

blaine said...

Frank. You are self righteous.
That is all.

Mark | hereiblog said...

I had a twitter "conversation" with Webb last night. You can read the exchange here.

There is irony in the 'nice' name he said Frank came across as. Of course, this is just shy of calling him that name.

Webb gave criticism in his interview yet it seems for many he should receive none back. It has also been questioned why anyone should care so much about what popular people like Webb say. Well, the influential HuffPo sure cares enough to interview someone like Webb so what he says must have some significance. Unfortunately, the significance in in the realm of Christendom.

Michael Danner said...

Frank, unless I'm missing something, I think you are referring to Matthew 18:15 - 20 not Matthew 17.

It would be an interesting discussion because the church of Jesus Christ is so fragmented and diverse accountability in cases like this are difficult.

One can just say, "You aren't my pastor. You aren't a part of my church. Therefore, you have no right to hold me accountable."

There has to be a way for followers of Jesus in the public square, even though they come from different local church expressions and traditions, to dialog in a positive way around issues such as this.

Otherwise all we get is you writing an open letter, the people who believe like you telling you how right on you are and Derek not even recognizing you as someone with the right to hold him accountable.

I'm not sure what good that does except to shore up lines of division within the catholic (not Roman but universal) church. The attitude of "I'm right - he's wrong - he better repent because God's on my side" is a risky one.

bryan parys said...

Michael:

Yes--thanks for eloquently and peacefully saying what I was trying to. I get a little cross-eyed sometimes. x]

Solameanie said...

Canyon Walker,

When did the Holy Spirit become incapable of drawing people to Himself when His Word is faithfully proclaimed? The only "wall" between the "GLBT community" as you call them, and God is their sin. Should we be ugly and hateful to those caught up in that particular evil? Of course not. However, under their current definition of discourse, to even refer to their behavior as sinful is hate speech. I refuse to become a victim to such a false guilt-trip.

Jesus was certainly gentle with the woman caught in adultery, but He also told her to go her way and "sin no more."

DJP said...

This meta is an excellent argument for us requiring a reading-comprehension test before commenting.

So many of the longest and most wrought-up comments bear absolutely no impress of thoughts from what Frank actually wrote.

candy said...

Bryan, I don't think Frank has an issue with Webb being an artist. Frank used to own a Christian bookstore, so artists were his bread and butter so to speak. It is Webb himself who came across as someone who could give people a starting point to think about issues, because after all, they just watch Fox news for their information.(such bumpkins, smart but not smart enough to untangle complex issues). Do you not see the bit of criticism in his remark? It is the subtle idea that he is really much cooler than those folks who just get information from those right-wing news outlets or blogs. Here is his quote. "My wife and I are both artists. Part of the luxury of being an artist is that you not only can but kind of have a responsibility to think long and hard about things on behalf of those who might listen to your music. You can give them a jumping off point for subject matter that might be too tangled for most people in the busyness of their daily lives. I think there are a lot of smart people out there who honestly just don't have the time to think through some of these issues, and it becomes easier to watch CNN, to watch Fox News, to read some random blog and just get your answers and talking points from those kinds of places."

How can a quote like that be tolerated but Frank's concerns be criticized? Webb's interview has a thin veneer of "love" because lurking underneath is criticism towards Christians who want to stand for the integrity of the Gospel.

aztexan said...

DJP said: "This meta is an excellent argument for us requiring a reading-comprehension test before commenting. So many of the longest and most wrought-up comments bear absolutely no impress of thoughts from what Frank actually wrote."

spoken like a true bigot sir! you'd not only ban all opposing viewpoints but also screen comments based on such factors as metabolism and literacy! sir, have you no shame nor love for my homie, Jay ta tha Eezus?!? also, what do long, constipated bears or impresses have to do with this issue? i mean really, impress of what - the land of intolerance? the imperer DJP has no clothes!

ktp said...

I know that a lot of Christians are concerned with some of the things Derek says, as a lot of them are controversial. Yes, we should tell others the gospel. Yes, we should call sin out as sin. We are called to do these things. But, I also want to point out that we can be hypocrites. The world perceives us as hypocrites. And that is what a lot of Derek's music and comments point to.
 
I agree with a lot of what Derek is saying, and not necessarily with how he is saying it. But he makes a valid point: We should love others. If we engage them and develop relationships with them, they will be more willing to listen to us tell them the gospel. If we just go up to strangers and tell them "thou mustn't sin," they will hardly be willing to listen to us. This goes for any and all sinners. We can't point out a particular sin as being worse than any other, because sin is sin no matter what. There is no big sin or a little sin, it's just sin.

 

And this is what Derek is doing: he is engaging people. I don't expect to hear him tell me or the blogosphere the conversations that he has with the people he talks to. Maybe he is pointing out things to them, maybe he isn't. I don't know. But the point is that we should engage people relationally with the gospel.

 

Honestly, I wish Derek would say something to this effect. But I could also see this offending some of his friends if he did. Yes, the controversy works for him, and maybe he is happy that it does. But one thing it does is it allows us to examine ourselves. Are we hypocritical in the way that the world perceives us to be? If we all work on this individually, maybe we can change the perception. But this won't come to exist unless individuals see us individually as not being hypocrites.

 

You were extremely harsh with your third point. By definition, an artist is someone who makes their living from performing/creating some piece of art. That makes Derek an artist. A lot of "Christian artists" create a lot of art that isn't Christian, they're just love songs to Jesus. I propose that it is possible to be an artist that is a Christian. It's worth reading the lyrics to see what songs actually say. A lot of times you'll be surprised that there is no gospel there. Oh, and I'm sure Derek knows that he's not Dylan.

 

But as a final point, if we say we're Christians, let's act like we are. Just because you blog or comment on blogs does not give you the right to blindly call out someone. You do have a right to publicly question. But you can privately and lovingly call someone to repentance if you have a relationship with them. And that's why I believe Derek won't engage you publicly by the manner you've requested.

Solameanie said...

Candy,

You hit on something that bears a wider airing. People have often wondered why so many entertainers or "artists" are liberals in politics and theology. They really do view themselves as the only ones capable of compassion and integrity, and all the rest of us are the neanderthalish great unwashed. They miss the genuine compassion that is behind the Lord's sacrifice of Himself on the cross, and the true insult it is to that compassion when people insist that their sinful behavior really isn't sin in His eyes.

Frank Turk said...

See: I can go to HuffPo and say, "well, Christians may be smart, but they only get their spiritual formation from CNN and Fox (and blogs, bleh) so I have to do the heavy lifting for them because I have that kind of time. I call myself and artist." That will not make me self-righteous: it makes me an artist who can refuse public criticism for public statements.

I come to my own blog and mention that someone did this, and to do this is "self-righteous".

I like that: I like it that there is a massive double-standard which makes public criticism of public interviews categorically unacceptable.

Why would I like this, you ask?

I don't have to tell you. You're self-righteous. Besides, I have other things to do, like ministry.

Who know that post for 2006 would be such a time-tested winner?

Danny said...

@bryan parys Glad to read a little bit of dissent against this post. You're right, this is a damned echo chamber.

There are lots of irritated people here, some even 'amen-ing' the post without honestly digesting Webb's music and message.

I too take issue with your characterization of him as an artist. Having read the HuffPo article, he never justified his beliefs BECAUSE he is an artist, rather, he described one of the roles of an artist. Do you disagree with that role? That may be the case, but he is not saying the status of artist automatically elevates his message. Art is simply the quotation of an experience, and unique way of delivering thoughts and emotions. Derek is wrapping his view of the world in his art, and I can't see the particular distortion in his music that would ignite your diatribe.

I have raised an eyebrow once or twice at Webb's heavy forays into social justice that lean political, but that is Webb processing what it means to live out the Christian life, to put meat on the bone. His description of trying to move toward people, hear their stories, and share his rather than just tolerate seems very Christ-like.

I think Dennis Miller's quote is apt here, "contrarianism is creativity for the untalented." You are eloquent and exacting, and seem to have a right view of the gospel Mr. Turk, but I fail to see the fruitfulness of this post.

Here's a shot... you write this publicly rather than privately because at the end of the day when you sleep, you dine out on these amens in the comments. Your heart seems to be less about bring Derek to repentance, and more about feeling sanctimonious. It is not pretty watching you straining gnats and swallowing camels.

Frank Turk said...

BTW, I thank Challies for the sudden interest in this open letter. We don't get the real nay-sayers over here until he links us.

Tim Bertolet said...

Calling someone to task and saying they need to repent is mean-spirited, bigoted and unloving-- unless of course you are calling them to the carpet and demanding they repent of those things.

Confronting and spelling out disagreements with what someone says publicly by interpreting and parsing what they've said is uncharitable -- but knowing that Frank's tone, heart, and motives were wicked, self-righteous and uncharitable--well that's the paragon of Christ-likedness.

Gotta love the irony.

Word verification: lierc

Danny said...

BTW, I found this article (first time reader of your blog) by linking from a tweet from Webb himself. So, so much for not listening to his detractors.

Frank Turk said...

@hereiblog --

At least @DerekWebb knows what he's talking about there. I'm pleased to be recognized by an expert.

... just answering questions, dude. I'm not responsible for people understanding what I meant. Especially if they think I'm wrong.

Solameanie said...

KTP,

I think there's a bit of a caricature in what Derek was saying and in what you're saying. The majority of true believers aren't "Church Lady" types. We do have friendships and acquaintances who are unbelievers and reach out to them. The problem is, no matter how sweet you are, no one wants to hear that they are sinners bound for God's judgment unless they repent. There is no way to sugarcoat that message, and that message is ultimately what anyone who proclaims a biblical Gospel will have to deliver sooner or later. That in and of itself causes many unbelievers to recoil.

I honestly have to wonder how many people who got "churched" in these overly relationship-focused ministries have ever really repented and trusted in Christ. "Jesus loves me? Well, of COURSE He loves me. What's not to love? Repent? Me? Are you serious? How dare you insinuate I have sin in my life! You're not being very loving."

I'm exaggerating a bit to make a point, but not by much.

theologshmeolog said...

Ummm...[[apparently with head in sand?]] who is Derek Webb? I'll google his name, but in twenty five words or less who is he?
Sam Hendrickson

Tim Bertolet said...

oops, wrote that before Frank post the obvious irony.

@ktp: isn't Frank engaging people too?

Frank Turk said...

FWIW, I'm closing the comments at 200, so get your licks in.

mundiejc said...

Did you really say that there are no ethical implications to what Christ did on the Cross?

Is that what it means to be reformed... that the entire bible is read through a prism of paul through a prism of the enlightenment and John Calvin.

Reading through these comments has cemented in me a glorious distaste for neoreformed theology. I'll take a savior who willingly lays down his life at the hands of an unjust Empire proving that the Empire and principalities and powers have no clothes, and that God is truly King and calls us to lay down our lives just the same, over a God that has to have the blood of a perfect human in order for me to go into disembodied bliss.

Heretic here, I guess.

Frank Turk said...

Danny --

Yeah, linking in a tweet is listening. How broad-minded to throw out a link and then spend the rest of the day saying three things:

1. Frank's an [expletive indicating excretive body part]
2. I can't be bothered by what people say (I'm an artist)
3. I don't care if they misunderstand me. That's not up to me.

If by "listen" you mean "allow that they exist", you're right. If by "listen" you mean "hear with the intention to understand and then engage," forget it. You can't possibly be reading what was written.

Chad said...

Mr. Turk,

I'll not fault your writing, nor your intent, but based on http://stuffchristianslike.net/2010/08/3574/ , I've got to ask if you tried any other means of contacting Mr. Webb before posting your open letter? Yes, I get that you were responding publicly to a public interview, but I think it would've been much more charitable, and classy, to reach out privately first. Having said that, I don't actually know that you didn't try this. Anyway, keep striving, keep contending, for the faith that was once delivered. For myself, I'm glad that there are both people like you, and Mr. Webb, folks who have the courage of their convictions. And that the church of Jesus Christ is big enough to accommodate both. I'll leave it to God to sort out who's right, and who's wrong. I think He's capable.

Joshua said...

I think it is unfair to take what Webb said in the interview out of the context of his entire body of work. I find it rather ironic that the blogger criticizes Webb for preferring common ground to the gospel, when Webb wrote that he repents of "trading truth for false unity." I see no point in pretending to engage Webb in a theological debate without taking into consideration his entire body of work. I can pull twenty minutes of Matt Chandler talking and convince you he is a prosperity gospel preacher, but that doesn't mean it's true.

ktp said...

Solameanie,

I agree with you concerning the church ladies. The sad thing is that they do exist. I'm not advocating a sugary-sweet message trying to bring people in the door at all. People will push against it no matter what because it is what it is.

I whole-heartedly agree with your second paragraph. I grew up in the south in a "you go to church because that's what we do" culture. Fortunately, God opened my eyes to the hypocrisy of that. I think that's why a lot of derek's music resonates with me.

All I was trying to do was point out that we can get overly involved in these things. And that can lead us down paths we that we should be treading lightly.

Tim Bertolet said...

"Did you really say that there are no ethical implications to what Christ did on the Cross?"

Um... did you read anything or just do a drive by scoring a lot of cheapshot talking points?
One could say that this whole debate is about implications of what Christ did on the cross. Ethical implications of the cross--can we go on sinning so that grace may abound? No. What does real 'love for neighbor' look like?

Ethics of the kingdom include not annulling one of the least of God's commandments (Matt. 5:19) as well as mercy, peacemaking, AND repenting.

Frank Turk said...

mundiejc --

AHA! Someone who actually read both my post AND the interview AND has something reasonably-intelligent about it. Someone who is engaging!

And it only took 117 comments!

Mundie -- thanks for writing.

1. I am well-known for saying this about your question, and I did link it in the comments here (but not in the original letter). I take the fault for that, so bless you for the correction.

2. Because I frame the problem as a half-gospel question (see above link), I think it puts both sides of historic error at odds: those who only think of the Gospel as "Christ did" are not making the cut according to Paul, and those who only think of the Gospel as "therefore we ought" do not make the cut according to Jesus.

Seriously: the problem of the Pharisees is that they were "therefore we ought" people -- legalists. Just because your legalism looks like left-wing legalism doesn't make your theology better.

So the Gospel is, and must be, "Christ did, therefore we ought" so that the Church can be the Church and not a political party of either wing and also not be just another moral improvement society.

Chris died for sin, therefore we ought to be dead to sin.

Christ raised from the dead, therefore we ought to walk in newness of life.

Christ loved us (all who will believe), therefore we love one another -- with the definition of "love" including all of the Sermon on the Mount, not just the parts about feeding the poor; consider, for example, the high value target of "adultery" which Jesus frames as the lust prior to any sexual action. Christ loved us by convicting us of sin so that we would know the need for a savior.

It doesn't help that there are guys who are half-gospel on both sides. But you and I don't need to be one of them, and my view is that Derek Webb should not be one of them, either.

3. Especially when we are talking to the lost, we must keep the whole Gospel in sight. That Derek simply did not do this is not a credit to him. Someone has told me, "eh -- he was just selling records, so you have to lower your expectations." And that guy was a fan of Derek Webb who wanted to set me straight on what a virtuous fellow he is. Seriously.

Let's think about Derek's beef for a second about many people wanting to talk about the lens they are using rather than looking at the world. That's a pretty convenient metaphor for the work of the artist -- no matter how unoriginal it actually is. If one actually "sees things upside-down" (which is a way to talk about the lens and not the world, btw) and tells us what he sees but not why he sees it that way, he has not "{thought} long and hard about things on behalf of those who might listen to your music." He has only served his own need to emote or otherwise divulge his own opinions while failing to deliver 2 things: [a] offer the listener/reader a chance to engage from his perspective, which may be different, and [b] offer an actual "jumping-off point" for the reader to engage his perspective. That is, the artist has therefore rendered his expressions unintelligible.

What an ridiculous thing for someone who has "{thought} long and hard about things on behalf of those who might listen to your music" -- leave them entirely out in the cold. Perhaps CNN and FOX will help them.

So while I empathize with your concern here, and agree with it in theory, I apply it to this specific situation and the professional trajectory of this person in question with some gusto. There are certainly ethical implications of the Gospel -- but they do not hang in space like etherial snow flakes. And they have wider implications that just "be nice and quiet."

Thanks for asking.

themississippimama said...

Just realized that Webb himself re-tweeted my tweet linking to this blog post, without ever replying to me himself. As a result, his sycophants have laid out a vigorous yet ultimately weak attack against me.

Funny how he engages in the same behavior his apologists smack Frank Turk around for doing: responding publicly and not privately. Convenient for him.

ktp said...

@Tim,

I'll quote something that my husband says a lot: there is a way to lovingly disagree with and engage people in an edifying way. Blogs are almost never that way.

I'm not a regular reader of this site, but was linked here from twitter and from challies. So I cannot intelligently respond to your comment.

amycourts said...

I'm wondering what you do with the foundational commandment Christ offered us, the commandment which supersedes and trumps every other command, the commandment on which everything else we do as Believers hangs:

"You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength; and the second is like it, that you love your neighbor as yourself."

The work of Christ was never meant to be taken upon the shoulders of men. His work is to save; our work is to Love.

After reading Derek's multiple interviews (including the one mentioned herein), it seems that's his point: Love trumps all.

I'm at a loss as to how the Gospel of Christ - His life, death, and resurrection on behalf of the sinner - is unclear in his statements, and why therefore you believed it necessary to clue him in.

Frank Turk said...

Chad --

I am going to respond to your question in detail in a moment, but can I ask you for a clarification? In what way specifically is my Open Letter like the one references in that blog post?

People say "name one" when they think someone is off the mark, but I have a friend who is an author/artist in comics who says, "name three" because anyone can come up with one objection, however untenable.

So my request is "name a coupla ways in which my open letter is like the one in that blog post." 2 or 3 specific examples would be good -- places where my post is like the "so over the top and hateful" screed Jon Acuff decries in his post.

I'm interested because you are not the first person to link me there, and I think the philosophical connection between what Acuff is talking about and what I did is simply unfound.

Is it really just because I started the note, "Dear Derek Webb"? Is that really a moral ditch?

Rachael Starke said...

Wow.

The irony of people getting all caught up about the lack of gospel in this post, vs. the "gospel" in Webb's interview, is stunning, and really, really depressing.

I'm off to put away Christmas things to some Shai Linne (The Atonement) - who, BTW, recently spoke at Mark Dever's church on Christians and Art. You can find the talk on iTunes. Might make for a refreshing intellectual/spiritual palate cleanser, or at least a helpful, encouraging contrast.

Fred Butler said...

Canyon Walker writes,

What is read here are really not a bunch of comments. What I see are a series of bricks and cement building and further fortifying the wall btwn the GLBT community and God.

Ah yes. IT is always the Christians who take God's Bible as a serious, infallible Revelation who are building brick walls because we don't affirm the sexual lifestyle of homosexuals. Never are the homosexuals the wall builders because of their unrepentant disobedience to God's holiness. Because they are some special community that transcends any biblical criticisms.

Continuing,
Check out my blog and in particular the VERSES tab, then the Ten Lies, Three Things, I'm a Zero and consider that MAYBE you may not know the whole heart of God.

I did check it out and you present the same warmed over tripe I have read from every individual who wants to twist what God so plainly has revealed and re-interpret it to accommodate homosexual sin.

What you need to do is actually engage the counter-exegesis of what you have presented and consider that perhaps you are mistaken. I too have written extensively on what the Bible says about homosexuality. You can read it HERE

Instead of whining to us that we are big meanies, maybe you should actually engage with what we have said and why.

Frank Turk said...

@ktp:

But interview at HuffPo are decent forum to say anything, yes? Or does the door swing both ways?

I'm curious why DW's statements at HuffPo are not subject to reproach but mine are subject to everything from name-calling (thx, DW) to lectures from (this is not a reference to you personally; don't know you) kids who have never held a full-time job and have never been responsible for anyone else spiritually.

Matthew said...

I don't think Webb was putting himself on a pedestal with the artist comments. Maybe he said some things in former interviews, but in this one he was simply recognizing the responsibility to think deep and hard about what he writes so that those who listen will form their own opinions. As an artist (whether you like it or not) he does have influence, at least he is recognizing that responsibility. But to negate what someone says because he/she is an artist is just preposterous. You don't like Webb because of his religious stances, not because he's an artist. That last paragraph is uncalled for, even if you are right. You're making jabs at his livelihood and career. Very Christlike...

And that was just the opening question! It makes it look like you were biased before you even got to the subject of the interview. I haven't read your blog before, and I don't think I will again. Sorry.

Shawn said...

credocat
This article is a perfect example of close-minded, prideful, judgemental, and perverted Christianity.

You who are casting stones like to think you have it all figured out and have the right to judge others for simply being honest about themselves and where they are in their walk. It's not your business to judge and pick apart someone's opinions because yours are different.

People like Frank here are the reason I cannot be a Christian. I'm glad the Jesus in history did not seem to be such a close minded and hateful bigot. In fact, alot of the words I'm seeing on this page remind me of the Pharisees who always condemned Jesus for "breaking their laws" like picking grain on the Sabbath or associating with prostitutes.

I will not be visiting this page again because I am not here to debate. I just wish you could see you are not such a light in the world as you think.

Mike Westfall said...

Man, I want to comment here, but I'm afraid that by the time I get my thoughts organized and typed up, whatever I'm responding to will be thirty comments up and irrelevant...

Frank Turk said...

Chad --

You wrote:

[QUOTE]
I'll not fault your writing, nor your intent, but based on http://stuffchristianslike.net/2010/08/3574/ , I've got to ask if you tried any other means of contacting Mr. Webb before posting your open letter?
[/QUOTE]

Nope. It didn't occur to me.

Let me say this as specifically as possible: it did occur to me that the reconciliation police would turn out to hammer this post, and demand that I call Derek Webb to ask him, "Derek, why exactly do you think being an artist can make you soft on the question of sin -- except, of course, the sins of the conservative church?" That some people are this, um, under-experienced in the way public discourse can and should be conducted does not influence me into taking their under-informed opinions.

[QUOTE]
Yes, I get that you were responding publicly to a public interview, but I think it would've been much more charitable, and classy, to reach out privately first.
[/QUOTE]

Let me also say this as clearly as possible: if you think Derek Webb was inclined to take my phone call, think again. To him, I'm just an @$$4073 who blogs -- he said as much on Twitter yesterday.

For those who can't or won't work out the moral calculus there, follow me a second: a person selling records by offering secular interviews who calls the whole America Christian church spiritually lazy (and perhaps spiritually-backrupt, depending on how you read his statements about how broke our reaction to homosexual activism is) is utterly justified to offer public, unconditional, unnuanced, and un-vetted criticism of people he has never met, and pre-judge those who will criticize him without every once trying himself to go "classy" (as you say), but to respond in a merely-public way to him, using secular sources to make my point (the Counting Crows lyric is perfect because of what that song actually says about the question for relevance) and also his own words, I have literally become the object of moral approbation from anyone under 30 who has had sexual identity issues and listens to Derek Webb.

I did't do anything uncharitable or unclassy, unless blogging is itself that by default. The irony, I think, is that what I did not do is call DW out as a heretic who needs to be drummed out of the church, or call him an unbeliever, or question his salvation. What I did in fact was to say: I hope this letter finds you well, and in the good graces of God, and with a heart inclined toward him and inclined to repent. And I gave him an open field in which to voice his actual concerns with my complaints and to also talk to me personally, but publicly, on this subject.

Isn't it strange that he has made it clear that such a thing is utterly impossible -- he would never bother to respond to me as a critic and a blogger and an [expletive]?

Where's the charity and classy in that?

[QUOTE]
Having said that, I don't actually know that you didn't try this. Anyway, keep striving, keep contending, for the faith that was once delivered. For myself, I'm glad that there are both people like you, and Mr. Webb, folks who have the courage of their convictions. And that the church of Jesus Christ is big enough to accommodate both. I'll leave it to God to sort out who's right, and who's wrong. I think He's capable.
[/QUOTE]

I like confidence in God's sovereignty and His good providence for all things. I think maybe you need to think more clearly about the ordinary means by which this is actually worked out in the world, and in Scripture.

Thanks for your question and for taking the issue seriously.

Dustin Britt said...

Frank, this comment will no doubt get lost in the sea of other comments you'll receive. But I do want to share my voice here nonetheless. I think you suppose Mr. Webb to counter the gospel in a way that he does not. He gets the gospel - and that is not hard to see. Rather than countering the gospel, he is pointing out the depths of it that we many times overlook in our own brokenness and humanity. It seems that as Christians, we often times can forget our first love and get ourselves wrapped up in the subtleties of theology and ridding the sin in our own lives and the culture around us. Sin is sin, but Jesus dealt with it in a way unnatural and hard to understand. He came because we could not and cannot rid ourselves of the sin that entangles our every breath. He stood up for prostitutes and met with the demon possessed. Jesus was considered worthy of being murdered when he showed up amongst the religious of his day - and he clearly states that if he was considered a devil, so will his followers ('...if the head of the household is called Beelzebub, how much more the members of his household'). The message of Jesus can be offensive to those who do not want to admit their own brokenness, and I think it can also offend us as we spend longer amounts of time within the confines of religion. I am disappointed to read your comments here and feel as though you have not been fair nor very kind toward Derek. You're entitled to have an opinion - but I wish you'd have thought better before you called Derek out publicly the way you did.

mikeantonio26 said...

Wow! Very interesting. Quite an amazing blog and list of comments.

I didn't realize stoning (in a digital sense) still existed; other than in societies that implement Sharia law.

Trevor said...

This thread is getting painful.

mundiejc said...

Re: Half gospel question

Its easy to categorize people into camps, but I don't think your definitions are a good starting place.

For me, I don't believe that "therefore we ought" has to do with legalism (and from my understanding, the the Enlightenment understanding of the Pharisees theology wasn't one of straight up legalism. The law was not bad, it was given to God's people so they would become a light to the nations... it was given so that they would have true life. But the same powers and dominions that are working against creation took hold of the law and made it work against God's purposes.

And I feel like that does happen in Christianity sometimes, and we do call it a legalism of sorts... but I don't see Jesus saying "I'm gonna make it a lot easier for you to go to heaven or be saved" (or whatever your preferred terminology/theology may be)

Jesus called us to something more intense, yet freeing. He summed up the 10 commandments with love the lord your God and love your neighbor as yourself. And he called us to not just love our neighbor, or the people that look and act like us, but to love those that society marginalizes... even when doing so means our own death.

So... this all boils down to what our definition of justification and salvation are. I know something mysterious happens in the atonement... I don't understand it, but clearly there is a spiritual dimension to it as well as an ethical one. But I view salvation as being transformed into the image of God... or better yet, the kind of humanity he created us to be. This is hard... and it comes through discipline and the Spirit and it rebukes legalism, which says I need to get a bunch of ridiculous laws right as well as cheap grace (that getting saved is just a get out of hell free card and has nothing to do with the here and now).

Being saved brings freedom and joy, but it also brings suffering and death. This is the upside down we're talking about. A Kingdom that doesn't seek power or prestige but loving all, even the unlovable, and even when it means rejection from society (absorbing the violence of humanity unjustly to "save" those who rightly deserve it. Sounds like the ethical implications of the Cross)

Anyway... I have work to do. But glad you appreciated my response. Since I feel like I have a good idea where Derek is coming from, I'd say you should try to have an actual off the record conversation with him about it.

And speaking for myself... I feel like the homosexuality issue may be one of progressive revelation... and at the very least, we need to relook at the discussions of homosexuality as part of the biblical narrative and determine if what the bible is condemning is what we're currently faced with.

matt m. said...

"It's not love, you might say, if it doesn't include those who mutilate themselves to justify their sexual urges. It's not love, you might say, if we can't bless the sexual union of two people who are sexually identical rather than sexually compatible."

I'd appreciate it greatly if you could clarify these remarks - who exactly are you referring to when you say "those who mutilate themselves to justify their sexual urges?" Homosexuals? Transsexuals? Both? And what do you mean by "the sexual union" - intercourse? Certainly you're not referring to marriage as "the sexual union," are you?

Thank you very much for your time and your thoughts.

mundiejc said...

Re: Half gospel question

Its easy to categorize people into camps, but I don't think your definitions are a good starting place.

For me, I don't believe that "therefore we ought" has to do with legalism (and from my understanding, the the Enlightenment understanding of the Pharisees theology wasn't one of straight up legalism. The law was not bad, it was given to God's people so they would become a light to the nations... it was given so that they would have true life. But the same powers and dominions that are working against creation took hold of the law and made it work against God's purposes.

And I feel like that does happen in Christianity sometimes, and we do call it a legalism of sorts... but I don't see Jesus saying "I'm gonna make it a lot easier for you to go to heaven or be saved" (or whatever your preferred terminology/theology may be)

Jesus called us to something more intense, yet freeing. He summed up the 10 commandments with love the lord your God and love your neighbor as yourself. And he called us to not just love our neighbor, or the people that look and act like us, but to love those that society marginalizes... even when doing so means our own death.

So... this all boils down to what our definition of justification and salvation are. I know something mysterious happens in the atonement... I don't understand it, but clearly there is a spiritual dimension to it as well as an ethical one. But I view salvation as being transformed into the image of God... or better yet, the kind of humanity he created us to be. This is hard... and it comes through discipline and the Spirit and it rebukes legalism, which says I need to get a bunch of ridiculous laws right as well as cheap grace (that getting saved is just a get out of hell free card and has nothing to do with the here and now).

Being saved brings freedom and joy, but it also brings suffering and death. This is the upside down we're talking about. A Kingdom that doesn't seek power or prestige but loving all, even the unlovable, and even when it means rejection from society (absorbing the violence of humanity unjustly to "save" those who rightly deserve it. Sounds like the ethical implications of the Cross)

Anyway... I have work to do. But glad you appreciated my response. Since I feel like I have a good idea where Derek is coming from, I'd say you should try to have an actual off the record conversation with him about it.

And speaking for myself... I feel like the homosexuality issue may be one of progressive revelation... and at the very least, we need to relook at the discussions of homosexuality as part of the biblical narrative and determine if what the bible is condemning is what we're currently faced with.

Dan Julian said...

I agree that a lot of Webb's comments display a lack of wisdom about art and the role of an artist. He can fix that with further study and thought. I'm not a fan of his music--it's just not my style. That said, the moral center of his interview seems to lie in this quote:

Whether your moral response to the gay issue is that it is perfectly permissible in the eyes of the Bible, or that it is totally reprehensible, your interpersonal response should be absolutely no different to gay people. The response, by the way, is love.

@Frank - What do you find problematic with this statement? It seems to me to be true regardless of what issue you insert. Our interpersonal response to gay people, to thieves, to liars, to gossips, to murderers.

I don't think--reading Webb's rambling comments--that he defined love as "approval of sinful behavior." In fact, he repeatedly referred to the condemnation of sinful behavior as something to be done, and then he added his caveat--that it be done in a loving manner. This seems to me to be much like Paul's instructions in Eph 4; we must speak the truth in love.

Side note: I thought it was an interesting jab at post-modernism that Webb argued that we are a part of a meta-narrative.

Frank Turk said...

Dustin -- Your comments deserve closer attention, and my thanks for being actually engaged even though you disagree.

[QUOTE]
Frank, this comment will no doubt get lost in the sea of other comments you'll receive. But I do want to share my voice here nonetheless. I think you suppose Mr. Webb to counter the gospel in a way that he does not. He gets the gospel - and that is not hard to see.
[/QUOTE]

You need to make sure you don;t miss that I said this specifically in the open letter: "I know someplace, somehow, you "get" this: the Son of Man was not sent to be served, but to serve, and to lay down his life as a ransom for many. He came to suffer much at the hands of the leaders of Israel and to be put to death. And he did this not as a moral example but as a sacrifice -- as the lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world."

While it is important to deal with what Derek actually said, we have to deal with what I said, too. Please consider it.

[QUOTE]
Rather than countering the gospel, he is pointing out the depths of it that we many times overlook in our own brokenness and humanity. It seems that as Christians, we often times can forget our first love and get ourselves wrapped up in the subtleties of theology and ridding the sin in our own lives and the culture around us. Sin is sin, but Jesus dealt with it in a way unnatural and hard to understand.
[/QUOTE]

Yes -- and amen to this and the rest of what you said in your comment about how Jesus dealt with sin. One of the most poignant moments of "The House Show" (and I have a copy of the original master before the reissue/recall because I am an evil ex-Christian shopkeeper) is when Derek makes the point that Paul was accused by some of antinomian theology and being a lawless person because of the way he preached the Gospel. That is, as everything Derek says, right -- but half right. If we look at Paul receiving this complaint against himself, what he does not say is, "Well, those guys are load-mules, and I don't care if I am misunderstood."

What Paul does in fact say when this comes up is this: So what do we do? Keep on sinning so God can keep on forgiving? I should hope not! If we've left the country where sin is sovereign, how can we still live in our old house there? Or didn't you realize we packed up and left there for good? That is what happened in baptism. When we went under the water, we left the old country of sin behind; when we came up out of the water, we entered into the new country of grace—a new life in a new land!

And that's the version from The Message. The actual translation is much more forceful, much more clear that the problem of sin is a problem and not merely a context.

Derek is, as I tweeted on Monday, half-right. But he jumps the shark when he can't say about sin, "I should hope not!" or more forcefully, "May it never be!" He instead runs into the shelter of confessing to be a sinner himself and just not able (or is it not willing? Are we Calvinists or Arminians?) to participate in a why which (as Peterson says) "we packed up and left there for good".

[more]

Frank Turk said...

[con't]

[QUOTE]
He came because we could not and cannot rid ourselves of the sin that entangles our every breath. He stood up for prostitutes and met with the demon possessed. Jesus was considered worthy of being murdered when he showed up amongst the religious of his day - and he clearly states that if he was considered a devil, so will his followers ('...if the head of the household is called Beelzebub, how much more the members of his household').
[/QUOTE]

Now the reason I broke your lovely doxology there up was that last sentence -- which is a very unfortunate reading of what Jesus meant and what context that comes in. I think you mean Mat 10, where Jesus warns of persecution -- but what is he sending the Disciples out to do? Matthew says it is to proclaim that the Kingdom of God is at hand.

If you ask the people I have talked to in the last 2 days, that means, "Jesus has come to make all things new." But this is in Matthew, who has already said in Mat 3 that the message of the Kingdom is John's message: "Repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand."

They will be persecuted for doing what John did -- even if they are substantiated by the signs that the Kingdom has come (miracles). Jesus does not there say that they will be persecuted for telling the adulterers that they can be loved without any questions.

Let's make sure we do what the Bible does and not more or less when it comes to understanding the words of Christ.

[QUOTE]
The message of Jesus can be offensive to those who do not want to admit their own brokenness, and I think it can also offend us as we spend longer amounts of time within the confines of religion. I am disappointed to read your comments here and feel as though you have not been fair nor very kind toward Derek. You're entitled to have an opinion - but I wish you'd have thought better before you called Derek out publicly the way you did.
[/QUOTE]

Well, unfortunately I'm not an artist. I'm a husband and father. I have spiritual responsibilities in my home and my church. I work for a living and struggle daily to talk to lost people about my faith between the moments we work hard together to make a living together. And in that environment, when someone else who doesn't know me and mine makes a blanket statement about me and mine which is half-true -- think hard on that, Chad: Derek's comments in that interview are almost entirely half true, which is simply a nice way to say half false -- I think it's utterly legitimate to respond as publicly as the accusation was made.

Here's another thing to ponder here: in 6 years of blogging, I have made some mistakes. Not just the inane typos I can escape, but actual, factual errors about people for which there was public outcry. I have also made public statements that were too much -- I have cussed in public, and I have crafted invective which went too far.

In those matters, I am on-record to apologize in clear-throated form: I was wrong. I apologize. Please forgive me. No "If I offended…" qualifiers; no "because you asked me…" mitigators. When I have floated a blog biscuit, I have plainly and sincerely apologized. I can assemble the links if you need substantiation.

There is no record of Derek Webb ever considering that his offenses are plainly wrong, or being even gracious (let alone humble or actually contrite enough) to publish a public apology for offending anyone.

Either he has a perfect record (which, I think, you have to agree [given your argument about sinful us] is unlikely) or he has some other matter to attend to. I leave it to you to consider that and wonder if perhaps there is something not being weighed by his defenders in this matter.

Thanks again, and God bless.

ktp said...

Frank,

I never said his comments weren't subject to reproach, or that I agreed with everything he said. Let me be clear: I am not a fanboy. I say these things for specific reasons and in light of conversations I've had with others in the past. Obviously I can't go into the full details here, and especially without permission of the other parties.

What I believe would be a better idea: sit down and have a drink with Derek. Get to know him and see what he's saying on an individual level. Yes, a lot of his comments are controversial and raise eyebrows. But maybe he's trying to poke at the religious people too? I also don't see the namecalling you refer to. And I still say that your third point was uncalled for.

Honestly, this entire thread has gotten out of hand, and I wish that I hadn't become as involved in it as I've been. If anyone wants to respond to me personally, that's fine, but I request it be through email. I'm sorry if I have offended anyone. Just please be courteous to other commenters and to Derek. We're all (hopefully) on the same team.

Frank Turk said...

Dan Julian --

As I said in the letter, his definition of love lacks clarity.

Do we love the sinner like we love ice cream? That's one kind of love, isn't it?

He says we should love the sinner "with open arms" in another place in this interview. Maybe he means "like we love ice cream".

What I infer from the rest of his interview -- specifically his autobiographical confession I included in the "notes" post to substantiate my view -- is that he doesn't mean "like ice cream," but he also doesn't mean "like James and Paul say to love." For example, James says, "My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins." There's no inclination in Webb's comments that James' advice about "bringing back from [moral] wandering" is part of "love".

That ought to trouble someone besides me.

Frank Turk said...

Matt M:

Because you understood me exactly, I don't think I need to clarify.

If you want to lecture me about those who are in the tiny minority of true "Hermaphrodite" (about 1/70,000 have this genetic condition, or 0.014 % of the population), then let's talk factually about that rather than try to say that all surgical/hormonal procedures used to change the appearance of one sex to another are both legitimate and therapeutic.

Please continue.

Frank Turk said...

ktp:

His schedule is going to be full. I suspect that if he started getting requests for coffee from critics, he'd stop producing records.

Besides: he has time to tweet snark back. What would he do with his free time if people didn't blog about him?

Seriously.

Frank Turk said...

mundiejc:

I worry about you because you think Jesus was really a great moral teacher rather than the actual savior of the world.

That's not the Gospel.

Please find the Gospel.

Frank Turk said...

mikeantonio --

I know, right? Who knew that people who say that they really want to love more would come out an stone a blogger like me for saying that love without repentance is hollow and legalistic?

I'm glad someone is reading this stuff and making clear-mnded assessments of the situation.

Lucas Hitch said...

I feel as if it's important to view the motives of either argument.

1. Derek Webb is criticizing the saved in defense of the lost.

2. Frank is criticizing the saved to uh... defend the saved theology?

At the end of the day it doesn't come down to a theological debate, it comes down to reaching the lost. Truth alone doesn't reach the lost, and certainly doesn't attract the lost. Love attracts the lost in order to hopefully bring them to truth.

If you ask me which I'd rather see in the Huff Post, I'd go with love. Either way you look at it, you have to thank Webb, cause his article, while not as effective as Frank may have liked, is causing the lost to seek love, and when they walk through your doors to find it, i pray you're truth doesn't slap them in the face before they get to see your love. With the tone of this blog, i might have to pray pretty hard for that one

Frank Turk said...

Bryan -- sorry to take so long to get back to you. Lost of people looking for help today, and I'm only one guy.

[QUOTE]
I don't think that I should have to qualify myself to meet your standards of a Christian before I'm allowed to engage in conversation. However, since you may well view that statement as fearful self-protection, I will oblige you:
[/QUOTE]

Well, thanks for humoring me anyway. My 3 questions are only to establish context since I have a 6-year record here on-line and a 20-year record in local churches, and this is the first time I've met you.

Because we're having a conversation, right? Getting to know you -- I can't buy you coffee, but I can at least try to get where you are coming from.

[QUOTE]
1. I am in between churches, but resonate deeply with both nondenominational and Episcopal traditions.
2. I am 28.
3. I have been a Christian since I was 10 years old, having attended a Christian elementary, middle, high school, and college. But I admit that my serious understanding of Christ has only happened in the last few years. I've always played the part, but now with verses such as John 7:53-8:11 in my soul, I find it impossible to live without Jesus.
[/QUOTE]

OK -- 18 years in the church, but not all of them "serious"; not really a local church guy but a fan of church in some sense. At least you're honest about where you're at. That's good stuff.

[QUOTE]
I want to say that I am not here to argue, incite, or divide. I want to speak in love as Kayla suggests. However, your assertion that you "could not have said anything" I'd agree with b/c it's critical of Derek is further evidence of my original claim that these threads are rendered inert in the larger world because they are so inwardly-focused.
[/QUOTE]

Unlike Derek's interview. Right? Derek's interview is much more helpful.

My question is, "in what way?"

[QUOTE]
I spoke up because, dare I say it, I felt the Holy Spirit move me to it. Whether or not the results were air-tight, I do not claim.

I want to say amongst so many who seem to immediately peg me as disagreeable: I am often wrong. I seek out discussion with people who do not agree with me because I believe they (read: you) have something worthwhile to offer and expand my worldview. However, that work is sabotaged when it becomes exercises in self-talk and cronyism.
[/QUOTE]

Perfect. Do you Skype? I'd love to connect via Skype and record the audio, with a time limit of 60 minutes. You can moderate; I'll record and upload. No edits to the audio.

Let's do the interview Derek won't do.

mundiejc said...

"mundiejc:

I worry about you because you think Jesus was really a great moral teacher rather than the actual savior of the world.

That's not the Gospel.

Please find the Gospel."

What would we do without the reformed, knowing in its entirety what the gospel is?

I assume you know that "gospel" isn't a word that jesus and the disciples came up with, and that it was used by the pagan governments and empires of the time referring to empire type things.

I do believe the gospel. I believe that Jesus death was some sort of atonement for the brokeness of the world, either some metaphysical wiping clean of the sin slate, or I think, a better understanding is God's representing to humanity that he has forgiven them... that God himself would take on our diseases, our violence, and our hatred, and not respond in violent judgement because he loves us that much.

I believe that Jesus death showed us his ethic and his resurrection vindicates that ethic that is "foolishness to those who are perishing but to those who are being saved is is the power of God". And Jesus resurrection is the beginnings of the restoration of creation and a call to all of us to repent of the false narratives of empire and power and domination and sin that destroy God's good creation and turn to God's grand narrative of reconcilliation where the lion and lamb lay down together, where war ceases and the shalom of God reigns. We are to live as if the reign of God has come in full even though creation is still groaning for that day. That is salvation. God has reconcilled us to himself and therefore we live reconcilled to the world in pronouncement of the day that is to come.

He who has ears, let him hear.

Mark | hereiblog said...

"Frickle frackle frobble rap frap frabbalap! Yassin sassin snazzum frazzum!" - Yosemite Sam.

Just getting my licks in. :)

Fred Butler said...

Lucas writes,
Truth alone doesn't reach the lost, and certainly doesn't attract the lost. Love attracts the lost in order to hopefully bring them to truth.

Okay. The truth is that sodomy, no matter if it is practiced between two loving, committed men or women, is sin before a holy God. It must be repented of and renounced or be judged eternally by God's just wrath. Only Christ can save a homosexual from this penalty and change his or her heart so he or she will no longer seek the carnal fulfillment of same-sex sin.

So tell me Lucas: Is it "loving" to tell them this truth, or to continue accommodating their sin because we want to be perceived as being nice?

candy said...

The Gospel is simple. We are sinners in need of a Savior. What does love look like? Different things to different people. It can be gentle, or it can be tough. I doubt there is one Christian who is going to slap someone in the face with truth when they walk through the doors, but will instead meet them in their need. I get tired of insipid definitions of love without regarding that sometimes people need a good hard look at themselves to understand the depths of their sin. It ain't pretty but it is love.

Randy said...

In my mind, Derek is at fault more for the things he didn't say than for the things he actually said. He also probably doesn't go far enough by ultimately pointing to the gospel. That being said, there are things that we as Christians need to hear and pray about.
The issue of loving people preemptively is a very good point. Jesus did that in his interactions with people. Jesus first defending the adulterous woman against the religious people (which I hope is what Derek is getting at with his talk about lines in the sand), and then he addresses her sin. I believe Derek makes a valid point by saying that we need to form relationships with people whose lifestyle does not reflect Christ.

I really wish he would have gone further by bringing the conversation back to the gospel and our need for it. Then again, maybe he did and it got edited out by the writer. I personally hate to see the gospel assumed and not emphasized, which is what appears to be the case here, but I also believe that we need to receive the truth in what he is saying as our brother in Christ before pointing out his shortcomings (speck vs. tree).
I have only ever bought one Caedmon's Call CD and only listened to a couple of tracks from it before forgetting about or losing it, so I hope that gives me a little bit of credibility here.
The issues he brought up address our position as obstacles to the gospel. I think scripture is pretty clear that we need to avoid offending unbelievers at all costs, so that they can either be offended by Jesus or embrace him. That does not mean speaking the truth about what the Bible says about homosexuality, but it also doesn't mean that we have any right to address homosexuals in any manner that Jesus would not have done in addressing sinners.

Several people have brought up how self-important either Derek Webb or Frank Turk come across as here. My response to this is of course they do. They're both sinners. We all think our perspective is better and more true than anyone else's, however subtle this belief may be. That's why we get so upset when people don't agree with what we have to say. What we need to do is continue to preach the gospel to ourselves and to one another. We never get beyond our need for the gospel. Though we have been justified, we are still being sanctified by the power of the gospel.

Frank Turk said...

Hi Lucas!

[QUOTE]
I feel as if it's important to view the motives of either argument.

1. Derek Webb is criticizing the saved in defense of the lost.

2. Frank is criticizing the saved to uh... defend the saved theology?
[/QUOTE]

That's awesome -- Derek, who does not care if he is understood, is interpreted as generously as possible; Frank, who is seeking to understand Derek and see him repent if he is doing what Frank thinks he is doing, is just yammering about theology.

Here's how I'd phrase [2], if you're interested, Lucas:

2. Frank is concerned that Derek is criticizing the saved to the lost so that the lost do not feel like sin is an issue.

In fact, Frank actually said that, Lucas. Look here:

The problem with that is that Jesus didn't die to establish common ground, Derek: Jesus died because the wages of sin is death, and that's the common ground of all men of all times and all places. I may actually be worse-off than the homosexual, morally: my sins may be more wide-spread and more deeply-rooted (which is an interesting question, given your position here; again: more on that in a second). But what that does not do is mitigate the fact that the homosexual's sin is actually an offense to God from which he must repent, and not merely recognize as a different expression of self.

That's what Frank is doing. He's wily like that -- saying exactly what he means so that he can be understood.

[QUOTE]
At the end of the day it doesn't come down to a theological debate, it comes down to reaching the lost. Truth alone doesn't reach the lost, and certainly doesn't attract the lost. Love attracts the lost in order to hopefully bring them to truth.
[/QUOTE]

As Jabba the Hutt said, "O HO HO HO!"

I like it that love and truth are actually at odds now as we seek to defend Derek Webb. That's actually not Biblical, but I'm glad you say it out loud.

That helps align everyone's expectations.

[QUOTE]
If you ask me which I'd rather see in the Huff Post, I'd go with love. Either way you look at it, you have to thank Webb, cause his article, while not as effective as Frank may have liked, is causing the lost to seek love, and when they walk through your doors to find it, i pray you're truth doesn't slap them in the face before they get to see your love. With the tone of this blog, i might have to pray pretty hard for that one
[/QUOTE]

Lucas, I was rather glib to point out to Chad, above, that Derek's definition of love here is rather sketchy. Rather than play the ice cream card on you, I have two questions for which you probably have a ready answer:

1. Do you honestly think "the lost" are not looking for "love" right now?

2. Either way you answer [1], do they mean "love" the way Derek mean "love" in this post -- and if so, why would they need jesus to get what they are looking for?

Looking forward to your continued contributions in this thread.

Stefan said...

After 36 years as a fairly liberal non-believer and 4 years as a conservative Christian, I've been on both sides of this fence.

And over and over again, it comes down to this: I'm a sinner, and so are you, and so is that guy over there; and we all need Jesus Christ, who came not to be served but to serve, to give His life as a ransom for many, and to redeem us from slavery to sin.

(This comment is addressed to no one in particular, but to all of us, including me.)

Frank Turk said...

only 54 comments until I shut down the thread. Get your stuff in before it's too late!

Aaron Snell said...

mundiejc,

"What would we do without the reformed, knowing in its entirety what the gospel is?"

Oh, come on now. This is not helpful at all. You think the gospel is something specific. Frank thinks the gospel is something specific.

matt m. said...

Frank- I did not understand you, that's why I asked for clarification. Homosexuals and transexuals are entirely different - so which are you speaking about when you mention "mutilation"? The main topic of debate here seems to be homosexuality, but I fail to see how homosexuality has anything to do with mutilating one's body, and if you're trying to imply that homosexuals deal with the same gender issues as transexuals do - if you're trying to imply that homosexual men desire to become women and homosexual women desire to become men - then you're deeply and unfortunately confused about issues of gender and sexuality. If this isn't what you're trying to imply, then clarify what it is you are in fact trying to say, as I asked you to do in my original comment - don't give me your condescension and act like my question isn't really a question.

Chris H said...

As I slog through these 152 comments, I find myself wishing there was some sort of record of Jesus' life and teaching - something maybe written by witnesses to conversations He had with various teachers and leaders of the time. Then, we could all go and take a gander at this record and figure out just how Jesus interacted with people who sinned; was He all, "that's alright, just try your best," or was He all, "Stop sinning because God hates it?"

And it would especially helpful if we could compare and contrast Jesus' teachings with some sort of Law that God handed down before Jesus came to walk the Earth. It would be even more helpful if Jesus ever mentioned this Law, and how His teachings interact with it.

Ever wish there was something like that? Then we could read it and even learn from God, and maybe - just maybe, if this record was sharp and impacting like some sort of two-edged sword - even become more like Christ in our pursuit of holiness, and our sense of "style."

Frank Turk said...

mundiejc:

Tugging on the chained "reformed" is ostentatious, but not in any way intimidating or furthering your point.

You have a specific problem: you think that the Christian faith is not defined by Christ but by a practice. The problem is that this practice is evident in every set of moral teaching among mankind. If you think that is untrue, please give at least two examples of places where the Christian moral ethic is not repeated in another religion. For example, almsgiving is a universally-accepted moral good. It is not distinctly Christian.

Why would we say that Christianity is then is any way unique? That is: why be "Christian"? I think your view -- and if it is Derek's view, the view in that interview (I suspect he is credally misaligned with you) -- cannot answer this question except as a matter of taste rather than ontological necessity.

mundiejc said...

@Aaron

That was in direct response to Franks pretentious "Please find the gospel" comment.

We may disagree about theological issues, but I in no way believe he hasn't found the gospel.

Yet - in three comments, he concludes that I am not a Christian. Which, back to my first post, is why I can't imagine anyone following the neoreformed God based on the holier than thou I have it all figured out attitudes of so many of its adherents. (notice, not all, but many)

Frank Turk said...

Matt M --

Tell that to the people who have grouped them as "LGBT". I didn't invent that label: they did.

DJP said...

Fred Butler

Okay. The truth is that sodomy, no matter if it is practiced between two loving, committed men or women, is sin before a holy God. It must be repented of and renounced or be judged eternally by God's just wrath. Only Christ can save a homosexual from this penalty and change his or her heart so he or she will no longer seek the carnal fulfillment of same-sex sin.

So tell me Lucas: Is it "loving" to tell them this truth, or to continue accommodating their sin because we want to be perceived as being nice?


Ding ding ding ding. I want to see those two paragraphs memorized by everyone, so that every time someone goes mooshy on this particular fad-sin, someone can administrate this dose of reality.

Frank Turk said...

I'm off to the store. If we roll 200 while I am gone, I'll bump the limit to 300.

Rock on.

themississippimama said...

Oh, good grief:

http://twitter.com/joelyoshonis/status/20569337085562880

Trevor said...

Chris H,

I see what you did there. ;-)

Frank,

Requesting permission to use the phrase "blog biscuit". That gave me a chuckle. You could say I "Laughed Out Loud".

Ok, I'm done with *not* contributing to this thread. :-P

Lucas Hitch said...

Perhaps i didn't clarify enough. I never said anything about ignoring sin. Or negating truth.

Ears won't listen to truth until they're opened by love. With no effort to show love FIRST and foremost, it becomes the lazy man's gospel, for its much easier to analyze diagnose and proclaim truth than it is to love someone go beside someone and listen to someone's story, to THEN lead them to truth.

Which way are you coming off? I think that was bluntly displayed in the earlier post of the girl who couldn't convert to christianity, not because she didn't see it as truth... but because all she saw was judgement

Frank Turk said...

mundiejc --

Well, when you think Jesus as a moral teacher is the point rather than something which would make Christianity unique and distinct from all other religions, I worry.

matt m. said...

Frank- I'm extremely shocked and concerned that you think that way. Transsexuals are grouped along with gays, lesbians and bisexuals in the "LGBT" grouping because all groups are oppressed due to sexuality and gender-related issues; not because each group is the same. If I were you, and if you want to be taken even the least bit seriously by any member of what is commonly referred to as the "LGBT" population - gay men, gay women, bisexual men or women, transexual men or women, or even men or women who are questioning their sexuality (as the population is sometimes referred to as "LGBTQ" with the "Q" standing for "questioning") - I would do some research into what exactly it means to identify as gay, compared to what it means to identify as transexual. You're only demonstrating your profound ignorance by writing this much - and furthermore, answering questions - about an issue for which you don't even have basic knowledge, for which you don't even understand basic terminology. You are doing a terrible disservice to God and to the Christian community by pretending you are at all qualified to have an opinion - much less a Christlike opinion - on a subject you clearly know nothing about.

mundiejc said...

Frank:

I keep hammering on the reformed thing, because its only the reformed who believe they have figured out the entire mystery of atonement, and believe you must understand it all as well in order to be counted as faithful, and I feel like that mindset has a lot to do with this outrage. If Derek hadn't become a musical god for the reformed believers in the late 90s early 2000s, we probably wouldn't be having this conversation.


That being said - what do I think that Christianity offers that is different that isn't discussed in other religions in some manner? I'm not sure why that's a valid question... I didn't know it was an important part of Christianity to compare and contrast ethics, but again, I believe that Jesus is God's son and that he's the prism by which we understand the heart and mind of God. I don't think any other religions claim that about Jesus.

I believe that Jesus was resurrected... not sure that's taught anywhere else.

As for ethics... sure you've got instances of "almsgiving" though I'm not certain you see any other religious leaders promoting giving away all you have to the poor. But regardless... is the fact that other religions have co-opted part of Christian ethical teaching saying that those things are irrelevent? Or maybe that the Spirit works for Righteousness/Justice in ways that we don't understand (and won't, if we refuse to see) I distinctly remember Jesus saying "not in all israel have I seen a faith such as this"

Again... I've answered your question, but hold to the idea that its bogus and off topic.

What's more on topic is your condescending tone with regards to my salvation based on a couple of comments on a blog.

Chad said...

Just so we're clear: I get what the Bible says about men lying with men, and women with women, how that's an abomination. But where exactly, do the Scriptures come right out and say that a husband and wife "shalt not engageth in anal intercourseth?" Now hear me: I'm neither defending, nor condoning, this practice. What I am getting at is that, like the issue of masturbation, there is no clear-cut scriptural command on this, but rather principles that must be applied. So let's not put words in the Bible's mouth ad it were. Hebrews says that "the bed is undefiled," yes, but elsewhere it says "all things are lawful, but not all are beneficial." Point being that we need to exercise our God-given common sense, and realize that that area of the body was not designed for that activity. I'm not here going to debate that doing so within the context of marriage is, or is not, sin, but as with anything else that we do, there are consequences, and health risks. It is my estimation that it's something best left alone. Other Jesus-loving people may well come to a different conclusion. Let each be convinced in their own heart, and have a clear conscience before God.

Stefan said...

Mundie:

The difference is that Christianity alone affirms that God gave up Himself to die on the Cross for our sins.

At the heart of the Gospel is not something we do, but something God did. What we do as Christians follows as a consequence of that, but it is not a condition to being saved.

Regarding views of the Atonement, every branch of Christianity has views on it. Reformers are not exclusive in claiming to understand it, and mediaeval Catholics were working it out before Calvin came along.

Also, God have mercy on any Calvinist who claims that you have to understand Calvinism to be saved.

candy said...

Ummm Chad...Don't you think it might be better to stay on topic?

mikeantonio26 said...

@Frank

First off, I was talking about the stoning of Derek Webb...not yours.

Second, you quoted James 5:19-20 about restoring one who has wandered from the faith. This is true and Matthew 18:15 says you should also do it between the two of you (i.e. in private).

My intent is not to put you on blast here, but to those reading this blog and list of comments, it is not through shoving scripture in people's faces that's going to lead them to repentance (one of the ways many churches today have failed miserably) but through the words that Paul writes in 2 Cor 7:10 "Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death."

In other words pointing a gun of truth against somebody's skull and then pulling the trigger is not going to lead them to repentance. Instead, the love of God to reach out to undeserving sinners and love them where they're at will lead to change.

But then again, what do I know? I'm just a former addict saved by grace.

Lewis said...

is this conversation one big distraction from what's really important?

as a Christ follower, I want for those who live in this world without hope or love to know the heart of my heavenly Father: a heart that accepts and loves unconditionally...in a way that we really can't comprehend.

what does it say about this love when we, as Christian brothers and sisters, can't even handle each other in a compassionate manner? the gospel is not about being right or wrong. it's not about holding each others feet to the theological fire. it's about living, loving and forgiving beyond what is humanly possible. literally. Jesus taught us about the heart of one transformed by the love of God. a transformed heart that can genuinely care about anyone, anytime, anywhere.

how am i to convince someone that this love is real when we feel the need to publicly drag each other through the mud in a not-so-compassionate kind of way?

if being right overshadows grace and love...is it really worth it?

Tim Bertolet said...

@mundijc:

Read Arminius or Wesley much? Or any pre-modern theologian for that matter?

Even more, there is a difference between saying that a mystery has been sufficiently revealed in God's Word and saying it forever remains a wondrous thing. There is equally a difference between saying God has sufficiently revealed to men what we need to know and saying God has revealed to us all that he knows about a particular topic.

Fred Butler said...

Lucas writes
Ears won't listen to truth until they're opened by love.

What exactly does that mean? How is what I would tell two practicing homosexuals who are lovingly committed to each other NOT loving? How exactly would you, Lucas Hitch, show love in this situation?

Biblically speaking, ears won't listen because they are deafened by sin. Only the truth of what God has revealed as it is applied by the regenerating work of the spirit will truly open the sinner's ear.

Fred Butler said...

Lewis writes,
I want for those who live in this world without hope or love to know the heart of my heavenly Father: a heart that accepts and loves unconditionally...in a way that we really can't comprehend.

Okay. So does this heavenly Father, after accepting the hopeless, sinning homosexual unconditionally, tell that homosexual to repent of his homosexual lusts and be sanctified in the Spirit so that his heart is transformed and changed so his sexual orientation is now oriented in the direction God created men to be oriented? Or does he just pat him on the head and allow him to be comfortable in his sin?

Tim Bertolet said...

Just to further what Frank Turk said about love and common ground, I found this tweet by Christopher Stedman:
"(2 of 2) I'm not a Christian, but @derekwebb's message is one that should resonate with us all -- love is more important than difference."

With respect to the word love, I think the words of Inigo Montoya apply: "You keep on using that word, but I do think it means what you think it means."

(1) God's love does create a people who are a new creation and called out [i.e. difference]

(2) Christian love is ground in God's love which is displayed in Christ being set forth as propitiation. And, propitiation is necessary because of God's holiness.

(3) This of course gets us back to the whole repenting of sins, which far to many see as 'unloving'. The offense of the cross is not merely that Christ died--but the reason that he died--to save sinners like us. Calling others to repent too is not unloving because "Christ came to save sinners, of which I am the worst."

We all like it when people see Jesus as loving, but do they really know the depths of his love without hearing his call to repent of ALL sin.

mundiejc said...

Stefan

I don't disagree at all that God gave himself up to be killed by humanity and in the process delegitimized the principalities in powers and simultaneously judged humanity... showing us that when we make ourselves Gods and want to be in control of our destinies, we'll even kill God himself.

I think that's a pretty big statement and important image of what happened on Calvary. God came to us, to the world we built, the world we try to control, and preached what God intended us to be, and we killed God.

That's judgement and salvation there. Judgement in showing us the evil of which we are capable and culpable, and salvation in that God, instead of destroying us all was willing to let us kill him, with words of forgiveness that "we don't know what we're doing".

That's powerful. And that's the God that I follow, precisely because I as well as the world are broken, and the person that did that is in the process of, and will eventually, put it back to rights.

And just for kicks and giggles... my word verification right now, no joke, is "trany"

candy said...

Tim. You copied this on your comment "Just to further what Frank Turk said about love and common ground, I found this tweet by Christopher Stedman:
"(2 of 2) I'm not a Christian, but @derekwebb's message is one that should resonate with us all -- love is more important than difference."

There is one of the problems. The Bible says that the world will hate us just like it hated Him. The world does not like our message of his love because our message states that we are to repent. That an unbeliever responds to Derek Webb's article in such a fashion should concern us. Obviously the Gospel was not clear enough in that interview.

Solameanie said...

Shawn, I'm afraid you don't know much about the Jesus of the Bible or history either.

Tim Bertolet said...

@Candy,
I would just add that we need to be careful that we do have good deeds that the unbeliever will observe and be able to give glory to God for at Christ's return (1 Peter 2:12).

Preaching the gospel will stir up hatred, but let's make sure they hate us for the right things too. I have encountered people who have a perverse delight in inciting hate because they know how to through a proverbial grenade into the room with the right hot button issue--then they justify their bad behavior with a "well they hated Jesus too."

Frank Turk said...

As we continue with the gag reel here, just a quick thanks to everyone reading this post and this thread who have personally called me to set up coffee so we could talk through this one-on-one because that's the way we do it.

Stay classy. ;-)

Frank Turk said...

Lewis:

I am sure you have better things to do, like ministry.

Frank Turk said...

mikeantonio --

In that case, please indicate where Derek was "stoned" in any sense -- including the metaphorical sense of being actually abolished from good company with no hope for redemption.

I think you didn't read my post at all and are using your own bad preconception of what is and isn't true to post here. That's a different kind of "stoned", and I hope I am wrong that you are that kind.

Lewis said...

couldn't have this been avoided if you would've had a one on one conversation with Derek? even if that wasn't possible, it would've avoided all this arguing...most of it for no good reason...

???

Frank Turk said...

I think that the funniest part of Randy's comment is that he think I'm upset. I actually haven't had this big a laugh in ages, so thanks for the New Year's treat, y'all. I said explicitly that there were three things "which bothered me" in Derek's interview, and I listed them. I am bothered -- but as this wears on I'm actually amused that someone who doesn't care if he's misunderstood spends this much time railing against those who allegedly misunderstand him - especially in light of his alleged confession of being a sinful guy, too.

I think the most serious part is where he says we need to go back to the actual gospel and the need for it. Notice that this is my first concern in the open letter.

Notice and consider it.

Frank Turk said...

OK, OK. 250 and not one comment more than that.

candy said...

Tim...I totally agree, and hope that is not how I came across. I want the emphasis to be that He calls us to forsake ourselves and follow Him. Sometimes that means life can be a bit uncomfortable as we let loose what we may have gripped tightly as a part of our identity, and we only do that by his grace. Like Jim Elliot stated, "He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose." We, of course, attempt to show others the richness in Christ, but in doing so, must still point out that they, of neccessity, must lose something of themselves in order to gain His riches. How is simply softpeddling their lifestyles, (as some seem to suggest love looks like) in order to woo them, ultimately for their good?

Frank Turk said...

Matt M. --

I'm shocked that it's shocking. I didn't invent the grouping -- and I don't think it's legitimate in the least. If "LGBT" stood for "Lying Greedy Blasphemous Traitors" it would not be legitimate as a way to mitigate or align the matter.

The LGBT community invented the label and now is freaked out that people use it. When they make up their collective mind about whether or not it's a true community of equal moral significance and virtue, then they can come to the table with how they have been misrepresented.

Until then, I am not interested in debating the term. It's not my term. My term is "fornicators" -- and it crosses sexual orientation lines and draws the line at marriage as prescribed by the Bible. We can us the word "fornicators" so the hetero non-monogamous and the adulterers can get in on the moral outrage if they feel inclined.

Does that help?

Frank Turk said...

Lewis --

Why did you call me to avoid this public arguing? No convenient, or a reason actually morally-supportable?

Lucas Hitch said...

Frank I'm so glad you asked!

I have homosexual friends. I prayed about how to reach them. I hung out with them. Listened to the music they wanted to listen to. Joked with them, talked to them and treated them like any other friend of mine. As the night went on, they avoided all Christians. Both of them knew about Christianity, and I'm assuming both of them could tell me all about the truth of the bible.

Was clarifying the truth to them necessary? Why do you think they avoided Christians? Because they knew that if there was a God, that they would go to hell, and because Christians somehow thought that that message alone somehow demonstrated a Christians love for them, they had that message pounded home to them with about as much tact as a drive by shooting.

I spent the evening hanging out with them. I found out that both of them had been abused by their dad. One of them told me his mom wished he'd never been born and if his younger sister ends up gay, she'd cut her uterus out with a spoon because it couldn't ever produce anything straight. They joked about it. Suddenly this huge facade melted away and they didn't become homosexuals in my eyes...they became hurt kids who had everyone associated with Christianity judge, abuse (their parents claimed Christianity) and mistreat them.

The truth is, the truth for them was twisted into so much pain, that any truth they might hear would put more alienation and damage to their already damaged heart.

That night they asked me why I wanted to hang out with them. I told them it was because I loved Jesus and because I honestly wanted to hang out with them...not for brownie points upstairs...but cause I cared about them. They couldn't understand it. They thought that the fact I was a Christian was all the more reason for me not to want to hang out with them.

Love is the only thing that is going to help them. Love was the difference between the so called christians that they refused to hang out with that night...and me.

Love first. Open their hearts. Then let the truth set them free.

Eric said...

Lucas,

Have you gotten to the point where you tell them the truth yet?

matt m. said...

Frank- No one that I've personally encountered in my life is "freaked out" when someone uses the term LGBT. However, the term does not stand for one group of people - it stands for a community of different groups of people, and it's very offensive that you're not taking the time to understand that, within the broad LGBT community, there are several different groups, each with different struggles and different identities. They only come together because they're discriminated against in the same ways by society.

Jesus got to know the people He encountered on a personal basis, He treated everyone as a unique individual with his or her own unique struggles; He didn't come up with excuses about how he wasn't going to bother with a certain group of people until they "make up their collective mind about whether or not it's a true community of equal moral significance and virtue." You're not communicating compassion or love in any form by refusing to learn about these people, and about how they're different from one another - by acting as if they all might as well be the exact same person with the exact same life since they identify themselves as members of the LGBT community, you're only communicating ignorance. Is that really what you want to communicate?

Fred Butler said...

Lucas

Nice anecdote. I am sure you would do the same thing with a heterosexual guy who is involved as an actor in the porn industry. However, at some point, once you all hang out and listen to some music and sip coffee, his sexual sin must be confronted by the Word of God. Is it loving to tell him his involvement with multiple women in porn films is an abomination to God and he will be rightly judged if he does not repent, turn to Christ for salvation, and stop his flamboyant sexual sin?

How is it any different with a homosexual involved in similar sexual perversion?

Frank Turk said...

...199...

Frank Turk said...

Matt --

You're the one who freaked out.

I know you didn't read my post -- are you reading your own comments?

Mike Westfall said...

If people of different groups don't want to be conflated with each other, then why do they all identify themselves with "the" LGBT community?

They are all the same, on some level. It's not just a bunch of groups of people who are uniting because they are being "discriminated" against. The scope is a lot narrower than that.

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