16 February 2012

Asking (and answering) the wrong question

by Dan Phillips

Often a lot of good folks' good time is wasted in responding to the wrong question, to no good result.

Among Christians, I see this most frequently and specifically when someone robustly affirms the sufficiency of Scripture with nary a squish. Few things flush out the false paradigms today more surely than really-really believing that God really-really has said all that needs saying for our day.

For instance, if you announce, "I believe Scripture tells us absolutely everything we need to know about the will of God," someone is going to retort "That sounds like deism," or "That leaves out the ministry of the Holy Spirit."

Or if you say, "Prayer is you talking to God. God talking to you is prophecy. Today, God talks to us in the Bible, period," you will hear "How is that a relationship? Where's the Holy Spirit in that?"

And usually, people who aren't me (and there are so many of them! bless their hearts!) will patiently try to respond at interminable length and — here's they key word — will defend the Biblical position, shore up and repair the damage done by the challenger's premise.

As you might have guessed, I have a different sort of response, and it goes something like this: Well, then...
  1. If the Bible teaches Deism, then by all means let's all of us be Deists!
  2. If the Bible leaves out the Holy Spirit, by all means let's all of us leave out the Holy Spirit!
  3. If the Bible tells us we don't have a relationship with God, then by all means let's all of us not have a relationship with God!
Shocking? If any of the questions is cited above resonated with you, I sure hope so. See, in that case, here's your problem: you came up with a paradigm, you applied it to the Bible and to God, and then you demanded that God (and any who try to speak in His name) snap to your paradigm. You forgot who's the Master, and who's the slave.

So, when someone affirmed the Bible's teaching, and the Bible's teaching clashed with your paradigm (which you may or may not have cadged from the Bible), you smacked the Bible's teaching with the implications of your paradigm. It didn't fit your ideas, your model; so it had to change.

That's a serious problem. Don't you see that? No? Ask yourself: what does the Bible call it when we fashion an image of God (literal or conceptual) and worship that image? "Ohhh," you say. Yep: that's a step in the direction of idolatry.

Let me try to be even pointeder. You said, in effect, "I know what a relationship is: one person talks straight into the other person's ear, then the other person responds straight into the first person's ear. The other person doesn't just write stuff down and say 'There, look at that, it'll tell you what you need to know.' I know that is what a relationship is. Therefore, that must be what it's like to have a relationship with God!"

And there you went. No matter what the Bible teaches about having a relationship with God.

Or you said, "I know what 'spirit' is, it's a mystical ineffable Something that mysteriously moves in a fluttery, non-rational manner, in our feelings and hunches and such. So that's what the Holy Spirit must be like. And since it is the Holy Spirit who gives feelings and hunches and low-grade semi-revelations and ineffable senses of God's nearness, to deny any of that is to deny the work of the Spirit."

And there you went. No matter what the Bible teaches about the person and work of the Holy Spirit.

Or you said, "Deism is where God isn't giving some kind of constant flow of direct personal kinda-revelation anymore. Deism is bad. Therefore, denying that God gives some kind of direct personal kinda-revelation is Deism, and it's bad."

And there you went. No matter what the Bible teaches about the power and life and majesty and completeness and perfection of the Word of God, and its role in the believer's life.

The problem here, then, is asking the wrong question because of a mistaken premise. So we answer the question, but do not address the premise — and we just end up playing Whack-a-Mole. What we need to do is to roll grenade into one of those holes and bring the whole thing down, so God's truth can replace it.

So with this latter example, above. The premise is, "Unless God dribbles mumbly semi-revelation directly into my quivering ear, He's dead and inactive and we don't have a relationship." Rather than defensively try to answer such questions, instead we should say "Where is your authority for that understanding of 'relationship'? Specifically, where is your Biblical authority for that model of our normal relationship with God?"

To take another popular area of faithlessness that enjoys more respect than it should: "I know what dignity means, and I know that for women to have dignity, they must be able to do A, B and C." So we take that premise to the Bible, and (depending on what formalities of faith remain) come up with a rationale for either disregarding or disfiguring the parts that don't fit our premise. The problem, once again, is the premise, and a Genesis 3-like unwillingness to allow God to define what is and is not feminine dignity.

With all such misbased, badly-premised challenges to Biblical faith and life, we should take the premise to the Bible and brutalize it (and its adherents) for non-compliance. Remember: faith is embracing God's Word (Gen. 15:1, 6; Rom. 10:17), lack of faith is sin (Rom. 14:23), and sin is to be put to howling, shrieking death (Rom. 8:13) — not negotiated with and treated as an honored guest.

Because anyone who studies God's Word with any seriousness soon sees that the Bible has a higher view of the Holy Spirit than these leaky canoneers have. The Bible represents that He did a simply boffo job in providing a perfectly adequate, dynamic, living and sufficient revelation in Scripture. And He expects us to study, learn, understand, believe, and live it. And He thinks that will keep us plenty busy.

And if we don't want to be prayerless Deists who quench the Spirit and have no relationship to God, we will believe Him.

(PS — for related thoughts, I warned over a half-decade ago about the Delight and de danger of de metaphor.)

Dan Phillips's signature

105 comments:

DJP said...

The Whack-a-mole imagery was put into my mind by a Tweet from Sye Ten Varfenklavemann; I adapted it to an application slightly different from his, but agree with him as well.

Michael R. Jones said...

Dan:

First day in hermeneutics we learned: "It's all about the presuppositions and preunderstandings" This is why Socrates was always asking questions: to get to the underlying premises and pre-understandings.

My experience is that you oftentimes do not even have to make a positive case, you simply have to ask the right questions and the leaky canoneer will do himself in.

DJP said...

Good point. Our Lord's example certainly commends the course of the well-aimed question.

Kevin Zuber said...

Very Good Dan!
You have identified a common feature in the thinking of many in the church which has led to much mischief in doctrine and practice.

For instance, without reflection many (who are "Chalcedonian" but eschew all "creeds"--hence cannot identify what I mean by "Chalcedonian") will say they affirm Christ is fully God and fully man and they will affirm that they get that "from the Bible"; yet they will wonder how it is that Jesus can say He doesn't know the hour of His own return (Matt 24:36). But their problem is they think they (somehow) already know--somehow they have a self-generated "paradigm" of-- "how" a God-man would "know things" ("do things," etc.) and that doesn't square with Jesus not knowing things -- 'cuz, ya know, He's God and He knows all things!
The solution is to let the Bible tell us not only that Jesus Christ is fully God and fully man BUT let it tell us "how that works"--and here's how! He can say (from His human nature) "Even I don't know the hour of the Return of the Son." That's "how" the hypostatic union works!

It's as you say, thinking WE know HOW Christ IS God-man we come up with odd (non-biblical) solutions to the problem that only comes from not paying attention to WHAT the Bible says.

Another instance, fallen humans don't know what God's love is / would do unless we read that in Scripture-- hence Rob Bell's idea of "God's love" (being his paradigm of what he thinks God's love" is or ought to be) leads him into error.
I'm just saying what you identify here causes all sorts of other aberrations.
It's one aspect of the problem of "human epistemological autonomy" trumping simple, clear dependence on the Word of God.

DJP said...

That's right, Kevin.

As I've had opportunity to stress in some radio interviews, that's in part what the book is about. A lot of the problems we see are results of incomplete (or nonexistent) conversions. Conversion is the result of the clash of two warring worldviews and the victory of God's over ours. When you see someone who still assumes he basically has it all together, but will allow God to make suggestions here and there, you see an incomplete conversion.

Let me hasten to add that we're all at our best "incompletely converted" - but the answer is to go back to basics over and over and over again, always willing to suspect our hearts in the light of God's word.

Kevin Zuber said...

DJP ". . . "we're all at our best "incompletely converted""

Amen! I'm reminded of the need for humility daily! PTL

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Is there wisdom in building bridges to irreformable leaky canoneers?

If not, not. If so, how should the bridge be constructed?

Sir Brass said...

/me hands Dan the bunker-busting, flamming hammer of doom and logical thinking.

NOW you can enjoy that game of Whack-A-Bad-Doctrine (or was it "Whack-A-Mole"?)

Enjoy :)

Btw, great article. Spot on. On all 9 whack-a-mole-holes... at once.

CCinTn said...

We as a people love to have our grids that we filter things through in life don’t we? And it is so easy for us to justify ourselves in this regard. When we approach scripture with a grid in place I fear we have already set ourselves up for problems.

An example would be that we can approach scripture from a principlizing viewpoint and try to distill all of scripture into nice principles to live by. While there are indeed principles that exist in God’s word, we can begin walking in a landmine field when we take that grid to be our paradigm of how we ‘understand’ all of scripture, especially when we try to understand what the Bible has to ‘say’ about things that aren’t in there, stem cell research for example. We approach scripture with our grid in place that the Bible provides principles to live by and we try to have it speak in areas or ways that God not intend. We want to find ways of getting the Bible to apply to our grid rather than understanding that we need to apply ourselves to what scripture teaches.

This post perfectly complements your prior posts on hearing from God. For me you really explain how we need to check our grids at the door and let scripture speak for itself. The Bereans may have had their ‘grid’ in place when they heard Paul preach but they went back and searched diligently to see what scripture had to say for itself rather than what they thought scripture ought to be saying. I’m I correctly understanding the point of your post?

It’s kinda like how when Neo was finally able to really ‘see’ the matrix as it really was. He wasn’t blinded by all the presuppositions that kept him from seeing things as they were. Not that we need to ‘free our minds’ but that we should be transformed by the renewing of our minds (Rom 12:2)

Robert said...

Eisegesis vs. exegesis. One is wrong and one is right. God tells us in Scipture that He looks to those who approach Scripture in humility...with fear and trembling and a contrite heart (Isaiah 66:2). It is hard to have a contrite heart when you come to read Scripture with an agenda in mind...unless that agenda is to see what God says and not see how what God says can be meant to say what we think.

Tom said...

The issue, of course, is that when asked where they come up with their understanding of how God works, they will point you to passages of Scripture and stories in the Bible where God did exactly (or, to them, exactly) what they exepect Him to do today.

Then we're back to a proper interpretation of Scripture, and when they don't want to spend the time and effort to do that, they will utter, "well, that's what that passage means to you, but that's not what it means to me." Or, "that's just your interpretation of that passage."

Not sure, you're progressed much in the conversation.

DJP said...

Yep. Some of the leaps-forward in my Christian life came after I realized that something I "just knew" was true, wasn't.

For instance: five-point Calvinism clashed with The Four Spiritual Laws which, to my mind, was the Gospel. So it was a perversion of the Gospel. Therefore, five-point Calvinism was a perversion of the Gospel.

Then someday something sent me back to the evangelistic preaching of the apostles, to see whether they preached The Four Spiritual Laws.

Oopsie.

DJP said...

No human power can truly open a truly closed mind. Sometimes questions can be more useful than a battery of assertions, however.

To "but God spoke words to people that didn't get written down in the Bible," one might respond, "So, you assume that anything that happened once to someone in the Bible should be expected to happen regularly to everyone for all time?"

CCinTn said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rhology said...

pointeder

Yet another reason to read DJP faithfully.

Robert said...

DJP,

The least one could hope for with those questions is that people actually own the implications of what they say/believe. The most we can hope for is that they see these implications and then repent of them in light of the conviction of the Holy Spirit in light of what Scripture says.

stratagem said...

I have a practical application question for anyone who may wish to help me: When I run into someone who says "I feel the Lord is telling me to go into full-time ministry," should I say "no He isn't, you're just deciding to go into full-time ministry" or something like that? This isn't academic; I've heard this sort of thing said many times.

IOW, should it be handled in the same way we said was the right way to handle someone who says he got a word from the Lord?

Anyone got any insights into that?

Daryl said...

strat,

This is how I see it. That guy wants to and is interested in and may have a gifting for, preaching (or whatever).

But that guy isn't called, unless someone...calls.

If I may, I'd use the venerable DJP as my example.

Desire? Absolutely!
Ability? Duh! Yes!
Willingness? Of course!

Called? Unless someone has contacted him since the last time he's mentioned that no one had, nope. Not at the moment.

Perhaps I'm wrong (would anyone be surprised?) but I think that's biblical and safe.

trogdor said...

I'd say probing a little would be warranted, for his own protection. If he's saying it as lazy shorthand for "I've got the skillz/desire/etc for vocational ministry", it can't hurt to get him to start speaking and thinking in those terms. To help protect him from disillusionment when things get tough, to make him aware of the baggage that kind of language brings before he encounters it in ministry, etc.

On the other hand, if he actually means that he is receiving verbal instructions from the Almighty to pursue a particular course of ministry, well, it's always good to know when disaster is about to strike.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

I fully agree that this is a great post with sound, rather irrefutable arguments.

Given that, is "leaky canoneering" a first-order, second-order, or later-order doctrinal issue? Is it salvific? Is it worth breaking fellowship and communion over?

Suppose you meet a leaky canoneer. You ask questions that should bust his/her paradigm and presuppositions. It doesn't work. It looks like s/he is an irreformable leaky canoneer. However, you know that s/he has the Gospel right and is a genuine disciple and follower of Christ.

What do you do then?

Tom Chantry said...

Strat,

I don't know whether Dan will agree with this fully or not, but here's an approach:

God calls people to church office (vocational or otherwise) through His church. If His church is being at all biblical they call officers through prayerful application of biblical criteria, so this is hardly a new category of extra-biblical revelation, either.

Now, the person who says, "I feel like I'm being called" might be redirected to the more biblical category of "aspiring to the office of overseer" (I Timothy 3:1). But in order for that to be a call, the church must become involved. You might ask that person, "What do those in authority over you right now say? do they agree that you have gifts in that direction? Then perhaps this is God calling you." In the end, though, no one knows that he is called to the ministry until a church says, "You - you're our pastor." At that point, God, through the prayerful application of biblical principles within His church, has called. If it never happens, well, he still "desired a noble task," and that's not all bad!

Tom Chantry said...

Interesting approach, Dan, and I think I appreciate it. I'm probably one of those blessed-in-heart persons who's not you who would respond interminably. But your way isn't bad. Perhaps it depends on the situation.

stratagem said...

Thanks for the input, folks. So to paraphrase, the answer is that it's not some feeling inside that is indicative of a calling, it's an actual call (phone call, letter, conversation) from an actual church body that is the evidence of a legitimate calling. That is not something I would have even thought of, although it totally makes sense once you say it.
This answer also sheds lots of light on why so many churches that are founded by their pastors are so far off-base. Their calling came from themselves, perhaps?

Tom Chantry said...

@Strat,

Bingo!

Scooter said...

What I like about these posts is the fragrance of wisdom about them. THis post is another tool to add to the toolbox of wisdom. You need them all for a variety of purposes, from answering the good questions and questioning the bad ones.

Then someday something sent me back to the evangelistic preaching of the apostles, to see whether they preached The Four Spiritual Laws.

Oopsie.


Wow, that's my story to the letter, except replace "someone" with the Pyro blog. :-)

Robert said...

OK...I'm going to show my ignorance here. What are The Four Spiritual Laws?

P. Trey Rhodes said...

It has been my experience (now, i wonder if that can ever be a good thing) that those who default to the "Spirit" in their decision-making, will most often go against the truth of Word of God. Doesn't it beg the question, if we hear the "Spirit" speak to us outside of Scripture, are we not making that thought, feeling, or unction equal to the Word of God? Wouldn't it, therefore, have to be equal to Scripture since God the Spirit would've spoken it thus making it His Word?
We must always fall before the lordship of our God as His Word speaks. Otherwise, is not the measure of truth being constantly re-calibrated to every spiritual whim?

Robert said...

P. Trey,

I'd actually say that such people make that thought, feeling, or unction more authoritative than Scripture...especially when it goes against the clear teaching of Scripture.

Tom Chantry said...

So much bad theology could be headed off by good catechesis.

Westminster Shorter Catechism, Question 2: What rule hath God given to direct us how we may glorify and enjoy him? Answer: The Word of God, which is contained in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, is the only rule to direct us how we may glorify and enjoy him.

Or, if your kids are younger:

Catechism for Young Children, Question 14: Where do you learn how to love and obey God? Answer: In the Bible alone.

DJP said...

Yep. Trey. And what you're saying hearkens back to this post, as well.

P. Trey Rhodes said...

Sorry I missed that one. Read it and affirm. Thanks for holding up the standard!

DJP said...

Great minds think alike, Trey.

(To which the proper countersign is "Fools seldom differ.")

(c:

stratagem said...

Robert - the Four Spiritual Laws was a shorthand way of explaining the Gospel that was popular in the 1970s and still is used by some. I think it was popularized by Campus Crusade.
If I remember correctly, the first one was "God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life," which for the most part is a falsehood (that is, most people think "wonderful" as being a happy and trouble-free life, which is definitely not something promised in the Bible).
I'm sure if you google the four spiritual laws you will find them. Just promise that you'll critically examine them once you do!

mikeb said...

Strat and Tom Chantry,

Regarding the call to full time ministry, many have spoken of both an internal and external call. Yet it seems both are directed by Scripture. The internal call by reading/studying/teaching Scripture, the external call but the church body applying the Scriptural teaching on gifts and qualifications for an elder.

stratagem said...

mikeb - thanks, but isn't the reading/studying/teaching Scripture also an external call, not an internal one? It comes from outside (the Word) and not from inside a person.

Tom Chantry said...

@ MikeB,

I've always felt that the language of internal/external calling, while intended in a good way initially, is open for abuse. I try to keep it to the language of I Timothy 1:3 - a matter of aspiring and desiring. In other words, you've got to want to do it. Is that an internal call? I don't know. That desire had to come from somewhere. Is it from God? Yes, in the providential (as opposed to revelational) sense. But it isn't enough without what is historically called "the external call."

Darlene said...

With all such misbased, badly-premised challenges to Biblical faith and life, we should take the premise to the Bible and brutalize it (and its adherents) for non-compliance.

Brutalize its adherents? Brutalize the people as well as the "badly-premised challenges"? Are you sure you don't want to amend that sort of language? You do know the definition of brutality, I assume. And you do know what treating someone with brutality would mean, I assume. Are you sure that is the kind of behavior appropriate for a Christian?

Scott Barber said...

We also have to remember the role of tradition in our reading of the text. We all have them, so it is important to recognize them, so we can see by their light. I really like C.S Lewis' analogy of the map: that the fathers have gone before us, seeing by the light of Christ, and had drawn a map by which we may more clearly understand the scriptures.

Darlene said...

Now you can enjoy that game of Whack-A-Bad-Doctrine (or was it "Whack-A-Mole"?)

Yeah, thrust 'em through with the sword 'n' all that. Yeah, that's the kind of love God speaks about - annihilate your enemies, mates. Crush 'em to the ground, pulverize them to ash.

Ben said...

Tom Chantry:

And from the Westminster Confession of Faith,

The supreme Judge, by which all controversies of religion are to be determined, and all decrees of councils, opinions of ancient writers, doctrines of men, and private spirits, are to be examined, and in whose sentence we are to rest, can be no other but the Holy Spirit speaking in the Scripture (I x)

No driving a wedge between the Spirit and the Word for those men.

Sir Aaron said...

Robert:

Here you go.
http://www.campuscrusade.com/fourlawseng.htm

stratagem said...

Darlene - you must have a really hard time understanding political candidates when they are talking about smashing their opponents, clobbering them, and so on. 'Cause we all know they are making literal physical threats.

Sir Aaron said...

@Darlene:

Surely you've played Whac-A-Mole? Maybe not because there is no sword or pulverizing involved.

stratagem said...

You might be able to learn a thing or two by watching this guy:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AkbTOY6aC_8

Darlene said...

"Then someday something sent me back to the evangelistic preaching of the apostles, to see whether they preached The Four Spiritual Laws.

Oopsie."


Mr. Phillips, some folks throughout the course of human history have deduced differently and arrive at disparate conclusions than Five Point Calvinism. These particular folk are Christians who have likewise been indwelt with the Holy Spirit and present conceivable, trustworthy evidence contrary to Calvin and his followers.

Tom said...

"No driving a wedge between the Spirit and the Word for those men."

Correct. So, then, we can assume that when the Holy Spirit speaks (it? he?) will never contradict the Word in saying or action, and that if someone says that the Holy Spirit told them to do something contradictory to the Word we should then assume that they are either lying or don't know the Bible sufficiently?
Going further with this, can we also assume that if the Spirit speaks through Scripture, we should read and trust Scripture more and and seek and trust ecstatic experiences less?

mikeb said...

stratagem, you could say it that way, but is not the historical way it has been discussed.

Tom Chantry, it is certainly open for abuse today with all the charismania going on. I would accept your definition of "aspiration", with the additional caveat that the inner desire be so strong he cannot see himself wanting to do any other vocation. "Aspiring to" would be for any overseer/elder, but to dedicate one's full time and effort to "laboring in the Word" seems to indicate a stronger desire.

Aaron Snell said...

Darlene,

There's enemies, and then there's enemies.

Enemies #1: "You have heard that it was said, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you" (Matt 5:43-44)

Enemies #2: "We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ, and we are ready to punish all disobedience, whenever your obedience is complete." (2 Corinthians 10:5-6


Do you see the difference? Did you notice that it was "Whack-a-DOCTRINE"?

Tom Chantry said...

Are you sure that is the kind of behavior appropriate for a Christian?

This, from someone with nothing to say except how terrible Calvinists are, and who hangs out daily at a Calvinist blog so that she can say it.

Aaron Snell said...

Darlene,

Dan's point was that the Four Spiritual Laws were NOT the evangelistic preaching of the apostles, and he had to chenge his views as a consequence. Do you disagree with his point?



By the way, it there a petiton one can sign in protest of the new word verification????

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Darlene,

I asked this question above:

"is "leaky canoneering" a first-order, second-order, or later-order doctrinal issue? Is it salvific? Is it worth breaking fellowship and communion over?

Suppose you meet a leaky canoneer. You ask questions that should bust his/her paradigm and presuppositions. It doesn't work. It looks like s/he is an irreformable leaky canoneer. However, you know that s/he has the Gospel right and is a genuine disciple and follower of Christ.

What do you do then?"

Analogously, suppose you meet a 5 Point Calvinist. You ask questions that should bust his/her paradigm and presuppositions. It doesn't work. It looks like s/he is an irreformable 5 Point Calvinist. However, you know that s/he has the Gospel right and is a genuine disciple and follower of Christ.

What do you do then?"

Aaron Snell said...

Just so everyone knows:

Franks post from yesterday won't let you see the comments above 200 (and there are some) unless you comment yourself. Blogger seems to be a bit wonky.

Tom Chantry said...

I commented myself, and still couldn't see the posts past 200. Blogger's changes seem a bit premature and ill-considered.

Aaron Snell said...

Mary Elizabeth got back to you there, Tom. I hope you can see it, somehow.

Darlene said...

"Darlene, you must have a really hard time understanding political candidates when they are talking about smashing their opponents, clobbering them, and so on. 'Cause we all know they are making literal physical threats."

A political candidate does not a Christian make. We are not to imitate those who endeavor to win some political office, even at the expense of insulting and denigrating their fellow contestants. Who gives a hoot for the behavior of politicians when we are speaking of the behavior and language of Christians? Hmmm...so we are to metaphorically brutalize those adherents who have "misbased, badly-premised challenges to Biblical faith and life."??? How exactly does that work? And if one is not actually brutalizing the person/adherent, then why make the distinction between the "premise" and "its adherents?"

This reminds me of those who are wont to attack the messenger in addition to the message. Is it not sufficient to remedy wrong views and avoid derogatory, belittling remarks toward persons? After all, the object is to convince and persuade one's interlocutors, is it not?

Aaron Snell said...

I just tried it again, and commenting got me to the 200+ page. But I'm using Explorer, and I think you're using Fireforx, right?

Aaron Snell said...

*Firefox. Fireforx sounds painful.

Deb W. said...

Or you said, "I know what 'spirit' is, it's a mystical ineffable Something that mysteriously moves in a fluttery, non-rational manner, in our feelings and hunches and such."

Oh, do you mean like Christianity has a "masculine feel"? We certainly can't argue with that kind of Spirit-led eisegesis can we now? :-)

Darlene said...

This, from someone with nothing to say except how terrible Calvinists are, and who hangs out daily at a Calvinist blog so that she can say it.

Ah, Tom c'mon now. I thought it was only the female gender that regards offenses emotionally. Nothing to say? How terrible Calvinists are? When and where have I said such things? I may not adhere to Calvinism, or the Tulip, or the Doctrines of Grace...but I have often derived benefit from reading C.H. Spurgeon, and have made favorable comments right here at the Pyro blog in this regard to him, bless his memory!

As far as hanging out at this Calvinist blog daily...well - it isn't daily, but it is in bunches. You know, I'm away for a few days then I get the hankering to come back. What can I say? Maybe I'm a prospective convert. Or maybe I'm just doing a case study on Calvinists. Or maybe both. :-)

But Tom, you might want to interact with me a bit more kindly. After all, I might be one of those down the line that becomes convinced by your theology. And all because I encountered a kindly Calvinist and not the mad-dog type.

Oh, and that mad-dog expression came straight from a Calvinist pastor friend of mine. He's been very patient with me over the years.

stratagem said...

Is attacking the message but not the messenger Biblical? Or modern?

But besides that, I was not talking about politicians, I was talking about the symbolic use of language by anyone. Yes I do think you and Ben the Over-literal Dermestid Beetle do have some traits in common.

Darlene said...

Analogously, suppose you meet a 5 Point Calvinist. You ask questions that should bust his/her paradigm and presuppositions. It doesn't work. It looks like s/he is an irreformable 5 Point Calvinist. However, you know that s/he has the Gospel right and is a genuine disciple and follower of Christ.

What do you do then?


TUAD, I love them as Christ would have me love them. I mean that sincerely.

And such is my plight and I suffer it willingly. All jesting aside, my closest and dearest friends are Calvinists. I saw them leave their former confessions of faith to embrace the teachings of Mr. Calvin and his followers. Ah...we have had many late-night discussions only to conclude that we would "agree to disagree."

I just couldn't abide A.W. Pink's "The Attributes of God." What I mean to say is, there were some beliefs expressed by Pink of which I was unable to accede. We took a crack at it some some 12 years ago. Maybe I should revisit his writing.

Darlene said...

Aaron: I've got to re-visit those Four Spiritual Laws. It's been awhile. ISTM, I recall not too long ago that one of my Pentecostal friends brought up the subject of these laws, in a favorable light I might add.

Darlene said...

"Yes I do think you and Ben the Over-literal Dermestid Beetle do have some traits in common."

Stratagem: I take it this is NOT a compliment. No harm done. I've had worse said of me.

Sir Aaron said...

Yeah, Tom, watch your tone until after you've made the appropriate coffee invite.

jmb said...

In the past year, two people, who have each been a believer (professed, anyway) for over 30 years, told me, respectively, that Scripture isn't clear that the Holy Spirit is God, and that it's not clear that Jesus is God. (She told me, "He never says the words, 'I am God.'")

Incomplete or non-existent conversions? My guess would be yes.

I've also heard believers say that the Bible is unclear about everything except the right way to behave and that Jesus died for our sins, and that only these are important.

In all of these cases: Willed ignorance.

GrammaMack said...

About the comments over 200 on the previous post: I clicked on the heading, to get the post and the comments, and I could then advance to the ones over 200.

mike said...

hey everybody

look at me.

Thanks
I feel better

Looks wired when you dilute it down huh?

mike said...

Or
Weird

iPad spell check is not its best feature

Thomas Louw said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Thomas Louw said...

Ok Dan.

I cannot help to think this is post is in reaction to the e-mail I send you.

Thanks for answering my mail and hitting me with a bat wrapped in a pillow.

Would you explain relationship with God here and now as follows?

The Bible is all sufficient and necessary.
No new revelations are given to man in any shape or form, by feelings, visions or special word.
How does translates into relationship.

Is that the Holy Spirit applies the already revealed word God to us. I’m not saying we are blind and can’t read it but that the Holy Spirit helps us understand it and “experience” the truth in us.
Don’t get me wrong the Bible is truth no matter what we think or say.

We must recognise as you rightly said that our relationship with God is unique, not because He is a different person but, because He is God.

mike said...

Dan,
Thanks for clearly stating what should be the default process for doctrinal discussions. We all to often spend 87% of he time in the tall grass, and therefore accomplish much. Leaves room for the more eloquent or stubborn to rule the day, and wisdom is seldom found.

In math class they always taught us to reduce first, then solve. I should have thought to apply that more broadly.

Thomas Louw said...

Ok Dan.

I cannot help to think that this post is an reaction to the e-mail I send you.

Thanks for answering my mail and hitting me with a bat wrapped in a pillow.

Would you explain relationship with God here and now as follows?

The Bible is all sufficient and necessary.
No new revelations are given to man in any shape or form, by feelings, visions or a special word.

How does it translates into relationship?

That the Holy Spirit applies the already revealed word God to us. I’m not saying we are blind and can’t read it but that the Holy Spirit helps us understand it and “experience” the truth in us.
Don’t get me wrong the Bible is truth no matter what we think or say.

We must recognise as you rightly said that our relationship with God is unique, not because He is a different person but, because He is God.

Thomas Louw said...

If you want to see true relationship with Christ read this.


http://www.reformation21.org/blog/2012/02/that-lovely-lovely-man.php

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Darlene: "TUAD, I love them [5 Point Calvinists] as Christ would have me love them. I mean that sincerely."

Thanks. That's good.

Analogously, a Complete Canoneer should genuinely love a Leaky Canoneer as Christ loves Leaky Canoneers. And that love includes disagreement that oftentimes
remains unresolved.

You can do Whack-a-Mole on each other in the name of truth in love and at the end of the day still regard each other as brother and sister in Christ.

And that's the World-Tilting Body of Christ.

DJP said...

Thomas, your email was in no way in my thoughts as I wrote this, but if it's helpful, I'm glad. This is just the natural progression of a number of posts I've done, as I continue to try to focus in on things that keep popping up here and there as one affirms the Bible's self-witness. And yes, I think what you're saying here is a true reflection of what I also see. Scripture is never a "dead letter" to a believer. It is the personal word of God; they are the personal words of God, to His children. They're living and active, Spirit-given, and form the basis for a vital relationship.

DJP said...

Ooh, Mike; nicely-put. Reduce first, then solve. I like it. Thanks!

Robert said...

Thanks for that link Aaron. There is some good stuff in there, but this kinda bugs me:

The arrows illustrate that man is continually trying to reach God and the abundant life through his own efforts, such as a good life, philosophy, or religion
-but he inevitably fails.


We read in Romans 3 that nobody seeks for God. And there are plenty of people in the world who will gladly tell you they don't like God or the Bible.

And then there is the whole "say this prayer and you'll be saved" thing at the end. Maybe there is something more involved that goes on with this...I certainly hope that somebody is actually talking people through this and not just tellign them to read it and pray the prayer.

Robert said...

Regarding getting past the 200 comments, if you open the post instead of commenting from the main page, then you can see all of the newer comments.

stratagem said...

Darlene

My comment about Ben the Overliteral Dermestid Beetle (see youtube) is neither a compliment nor an insult - it is an observation that you are so intent on pummelling Dan that you have suspended your ability to understand the common use of metaphorical language. If I have to spell it out for you, you don't understand that in the context he used it, "brutalize" had nothing to do with physical abuse. Other common examples might be "scored some points" does not always refer to a ballgame, "whack a mole" has nothing to do with a carnival game or with literally smacking someone over the head with a large mallet, and so on.
So if you don't understand these common tools of the English language, I'm not surprised you've been called worse because you must be terribly misunderstanding nearly everyone around you. Or, you're just desperate to attack them.

Scooter said...

Robert:

There's a lot that can be critiqued, such as the reversal of God's love and sin, which flip-flops the flow of Romans. The phrase "abundant life" carries so much baggage and ambiguity that unpacking would take awhile.

Darlene said...

So if you don't understand these common tools of the English language...

Dear Strat: I have a Degree in Education and specifically in English and History. I've taught both these subjects on a high school level.

I'm not surprised that you've been called worse...

Ah, here Strat you missed my point entirely, which is understandable given the milieu in cyberspace. I thought that beetle reference was an insult. Now as it turns out, it wasn't after all. Thank you! Nonetheless, I have been insulted on various occasions, having no connection whatsoever to an ineptitude as regards the use of the English language.

you must be terribly misunderstanding nearly everyone around you...

It does happen on occasion, but I certainly hope not as much as you may be alluding to here.

Or you're just desperate to attack them.

Heaven forbid, I would like to think not. But I'm not yet perfected and sometimes my wretched heart gets the best of me. Thank God for His mercy!

Stratagem, I think you and some others here missed the meaning I was attempting to convey in critiquing the language Mr. Phillips used. Apparently I need to work on my communication skills, especially in the arena of the Internet.

Many blessings to you on this day. May you be acutely aware of His presence.

stratagem said...

Darlene
Having a degree in something is a poor defense against having demonstrated a misunderstanding of it, generally speaking. In fact, you ought to be held to a higher standard.

But I sense you can now see that you've been too literal, so I'll let it rest there. Have a nice day.

michelle said...

Hi Darlene - I am trying to figure out what it is about Dan's language that is so upsetting. I think Aaron Snell's comment at 2:28 kind of sums it up - the tearing down - dare I say, pulverizing - of any idea, thought or lofty imagination that seeks to exalt itself above God.

When I read Paul and Peter's treatment of people spreading false doctrine in the church, Dan's language pales in comparison (have you read Galatians 5:12 lately?). The apostles were not warm and fuzzy about how they described people who promoted false doctrine. They were "brutal" if you will in the language they used to describe the teacher and the teaching he promoted.

General Soren said...

Good post. I'm not always sure I agree with you guys, but that's actually the reason I read this blog.

It may be relevant to add that the reason some people, myself included, are resistant to adopting certain doctrines is less that their not supported Biblically, but that in a very real sense, knowing simply that Doctrine X is correct isn't enough.

I need to know how to apply Doctrine X to my life. How it changing my stance on Doctrine X affects my behavior as I go through my day tomorrow.

And what a changed stance on Doctrine X means about the way I've been living previously.

It's all well and good to pin some dude to the wall with a well-supported doctrinal statement and convince him he's wrong, but if it just stops there, that's not enough.

(begin example)

He needs to know how to apply the new paradigm to his life. Maybe he's a guy who's well-used to asking God for advice throughout his day, and has really felt that it has been Providential to do so.

(end example)

So if he's been wrong, then what does he do now, and how does he reconcile the way he did things?

Correct doctrine is only the first step, and we CANNOT allow ourselves to slack off in the application of it to our lives.

Just my $.02.

-Soren

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

General Soren: "It's all well and good to pin some dude to the wall with a well-supported doctrinal statement and convince him he's wrong, but if it just stops there, that's not enough."

I'll keep the 2 cents. I think about the idea of "Winning the Argument and Winning the Person." Sometimes you win the argument, but the person (a fellow Christian) is not won over. What then?

Eg., I'm for Inerrancy, Complementarianism, and Creationism. I'm against Errantists, Egalitarians, and Evolutionists (theistic). I whack those moles over the head all the time in the name of truth-in-love. They call me a brother-in-Christ, and sometimes I don't think someone is a brother or sister in Christ. It's tough.

Darlene said...

Michelle: Let me cut to the chase. Suffice it to say that I belong to a different church culture, if you will. I know that language is a bit deficient, but I'm lacking in the ability to speak more clearly and precisely at the moment.

With that said, I'm quite used to congregating within various Christian circles, due to the number of friends and family that belong to all sorts if denominations. So, while I may be familiar with a certain abruptness, a certain caustic, biting delivery, I cannot in good conscience, nor from all that I have come to know of Christ, condone such a delivery in most situations. I prefer to err on the side of mercy rather than judgment and harshness. At one time I preferred the latter to the harm of many dear souls. Lord have mercy on me!

I have observed that there are certain kinds of Evangelicals who (for whatever reason), tend toward being rough around the edges in their delivery. I've witnessed it often, take a mental note of it, and choose not to take that approach. Perhaps it is because of my previous experience in having tried that method and found it lacking. Actually, more than lacking - detrimental would be more accurate.

In the end, we must all answer to Christ for what we have done in the body, good or ill. May He have mercy upon us all!

Darlene said...

I need to know how to apply Doctrine X to my life. How it changing my stance on Doctrine X affects my behavior as I go through my day tomorrow.

General Soren: I understand, and would add how Doctrine X affects my behavior from minute to minute, hour to hour, day to day - in all times and all places. It is this very idea here of which you speak that prevents me from being an Evangelical. I have come to deeply appreciate, on a level that words fail at the moment, the teachings and doctrines of my church precisely because of the effect they have upon my heart, upon my desire to please Christ and love my neighbor as myself. When I put into practice what I have learned from my Christian tradition, I marvel at the Lord Jesus working within me, changing my hardened heart, softening my rough edges (making those rough places plane), increasing my love for the Holy Trinity and all with whom I come in contact.

May Christ be at work within each of us as we journey to the Heavenly Jerusalem.

trogdor said...

Yeah, OK, I'll be the bad guy. There seems to be more than a little Genesis 3 in this latest side discussion of "what's in it for me to believe the truth?"

Just stop and think about the implications of the question. God's Word clearly teaches X. I have been believing not-X. Well, can someone tell me if it's going to be an improvement for me to change to believing X?

Do you see the implication? This question is suggesting that my untruth might be just as good as - or even better than - God's truth! That goes beyond "Did God really say..." to "OK, God said, but why should I care?"

If God created us, and loves us, and knows what is best for us, and clearly tells us in scripture, then it is always, unquestionably, beyond dispute, better for us. Period.

Now it may not always be possible to clearly articulate the benefits. Sometimes you'll believe and do for a long time before you can clearly understand why it's better. Sometimes the benefits can only be seen through battle scars.

At its core, Christianity is believing God, and believing that He knows best. "Oh hey, that's great that you say that, God, but why should I care?" is not likely to go well.

General Soren said...

Trogdor:

My point wasn't simply that it's a question of "is it better?" but often "How do I do this?"

Now, there are a lot of doctrinal positions that legitimate believers, with scriptural backing on both sides, have simply agreed to disagree on. Some of those may simply come down to a personal choice between Passage Y and Passage Z.

Or they may be doctrinal stances that I've never seen an application for, like the various stances on the millenial reign or the Rapture.

BUT, what I meant was the doctrines that necessarily and invariably affect the daily Christian life, such as the example given.

It's not unreasonable to think that someone may look at cessationism (or whatever) and go "OK, so it's legit. But since I do not know *HOW* to *BE* that, I'll still be what I was."

I'm *never* going to phrase things in a "if it's better for me, then maybe I'll obey". I'm a firm believer that if God says it, you obey (to the best of your understanding) first, and worry about the cost, consequences, and everything else later, if ever.

(I'm two years into training for a career in missions that I first went into simply because the Book of Jonah terrified me into obedience. Now it's something I really believe in, but it wasn't at the start.)

But if I don't know how to do something, then it's pretty hard for me to do it, even if I firmly and totally believe it's the only right course of action.

Doctrine without application is academic.

No burnination intended, brother.

Penn Tomassetti said...

Wow and amen. My wife just read this entire post to me, Dan. Thank you for taking the time to write that down and get it out here on the web where we can all read it and share it.

Deb W. said...

Dan wrote: "Or you said, 'I know what 'spirit' is, it's a mystical ineffable Something that mysteriously moves in a fluttery, non-rational manner, in our feelings and hunches and such.'"

My somewhat tongue in cheek, but at the same time very serious and relevant comment:
Oh, do you mean like "Christianity has a masculine 'feel'"? We certainly can't argue with that kind of Spirit-led eisegesis can we now? :-)

Fess up or keep ignoring me. Your choice.

mike said...

Darlene,
you pop in and immediately make sure that every one notices that you showed up, thanks we would have never wanted to not notice you.
then as you begin to explain why you started out with the nattering nabobs of negativism, i thought "great, the occupy pyro people are here". you made it clear that you speak to and for them many and varied, and the 5 point rough talking unloving 1% need to hear your voice.
then it got awesome. you state often that you believe the scriptures to be all that any of us might think they are, and then several commentors send you examples from the scriptures that support this very activity that you decry, and your response is, "i spend much time with many people of many varying beliefs, and much more polished sensitivities, and i know that back at our drum circle, what Dan said would probably be hurtful or at the very least politically incorrect.
So, you show up and make an example of the very thing that Dan has posted about here.

mike said...

really Deb,

Fess up or keep ignoring me. Your choice.

those are the only options available? so you are right about this thing, everyone knows it, so the only action that could exist are admit it, or hide.

Deb W. said...

mike,
Sure, someone could actually engage the issue I have tried to bring up. That would be another option. But since I figure that is not going to happen, you're correct, I didn't consider that an option.

Fess up, engage, or ignore... Better?

DJP said...

Deb W. — it might be helpful to you and others to refresh yourself on the blog rules, posted in the sidebar and at more length here. Particularly note #1 in the latter post.

Sometimes it is a kindness not to respond to a comment.

You say "fess up." Presumably you are addressing me. If you think your remark is in any way on-topic, then you must be accusing me of being John Piper writing under an alias, and urging me to confess to the truth of the matter.

Except that I'm not.

Leaving your comment off-topic. You might feel impelled to insist that it is on-topic; however, since I'm not John Piper, and since I did write this post (and presumably know what it is and isn't about), and since I did not author the words you have some issue with, I think probably my judgment is likelier to apply here.

Darlene said...

Dear Mike,

I'm having a difficult time understanding what exactly it is you are attempting to get across to me. Perhaps I'm just obtuse. Whatever the case, I think we are communicating on different planes, because I've missed your point, and you've done the same with me. It happens on the Internet all the time.

Nonetheless, have a blessed Lord's Day tomorrow. Christ is our Peace.

SamWise said...

I have seen this show up most often in discussions about what the first affirmations of the creeds state, "I believe in God the Father, Maker of Heaven and Earth..."

How many have abandoned God as "Maker" for some false usurper who somehow co-opted time and chance to produce order? The Fathers challenged the error of their day with these affirmations.

This side of 19th century, many have jumped over the first affirmations to irrationally hold onto the other affirmations.

Yet, as DJP has elegantly pointed out, without understanding our own zeitgeist, we tend to read into scripture and select out what we like as if we were at a smorgasbord.

We should be aware that our own day already disbelieves in God as Maker. We need to start as God as Maker, Sovereign, and LORD.

Jeri Tanner said...

"So much bad theology could be headed off by good catechesis." Isn't that our best hope for all this mess, that a generation of parents who weren't catechized will catechize their children! I just read this last night from David Wells: "...our churches should be catechizing because this kind of teaching, especially of our young, preserves doctrine. Biblical doctrine is what makes the church the church. We are stumbling in passing on the doctrinal core of the faith, and that goes to the heart of the church’s weakness today."

michelle said...

Darlene - I'm gonna take a stab at what Mike was trying to say to you. I'll use my comments to you as an example.

In my comments, I compared Dan's choice of words to the way in which Paul and Peter addressed false teachers and their false teaching. I pointed to a rather blunt statement Paul uses in Galatians to speak about the Judaizers he was fighting against. I could have kept going with example after example from Paul - especially from his letters to Timothy - as well as Peter, who was just as blunt. Jude ranks right up there with them. When you read these men and how they spoke of people who were ravaging the church with false teaching, throwing people into confusion and messing with the eternal well-being of the precious people of God, they were - well - uncharitible of you will. And they leave Dan in the dust in terms of harshness.

The actual scriptural reference that was given, nor the scriptures that were alluded to, were not addressed in your response. You spoke from personal experience. Which is quite ironic, given the subject matter of this post.

Have I ever stuck my foot in my mouth when seeking to speak truth into a situation? Absoulutely. Does that mean I should stop doing it? Absolutely not! Instead, I should seek wisdom and discernment from the Lord to be gracious but firm. To know when to speak and when to shut up. Depending on the Lord to help me speak in a manner that displays love, even when I have to say hard things. Dan is very gracious in this post - but he is firm.

Sometimes the most loving thing you can do is give someone the truth straight with no chaser. The history of this blog and Dan's personal blog demonstrates that he has spoken these words in myriad ways over the course of many years. This is not his first foray in to this subject matter. The state of affairs in American Christianity today calls for a little straight talk, and I applaud the Pyros for their courage in speaking it.

Darlene said...

Michelle,

Thank you for taking the time to respond to me. I will do my best to give a cogent response in return.

As per your second paragraph, I get it. You're referencing certain passages of Scripture to emphasize the necessity of sharp rebuke. I am quite certain that one could add copious Scripture passages in addition to yours to prove the point that, indeed there are those prophets, teachers, and otherwise holy fools in the Bible who rebuke great swaths of humanity. One can also point to those Scriptures where God commanded his servants to kill large portions of humanity as well.

With that said, we in the 21st C. have the advantage of observing the history of the last two millenia. The actions of some Christians (from various camps) reveal their incompetence in interpreting Scripture from the spirit of wisdom. Something caused them to act out of accordance with Christ even though they claimed the Scriptures to be their guide. Yet, we can say most assuredly that Christ would not have approved of violence toward human beings done in His name.

Fast forward to present day. There are those who wear Scripture signs on their persons, shouting at the passersby in the public square. They deem themselves to be like the prophet Isaiah, St. Paul, or John the Baptist. They, too, claim Scripture in the defense of their actions. One might cast some doubt in their direction, especially if one has experienced being on the receiving end of such prognostications.

You went on to explain in experiential fashion of your own failings in speaking the truth in a particular situation. However, you conclude that failure in this area does not preclude speaking the truth when it is necessary. I would concur. However, I would add a caveat such as: the method and manner in how one speaks the truth, to whom one speaks the truth, the timing of when that truth is spoken, the words used, and whether or not a particular person is called to speak a particular truth are of the utmost significance. The by-product of being severe in nature and irresponsible in one's actions can have eternal consequences.

Many deeming themselves to be a Bible character have done more harm than good. While they may have thought they were an Isaiah, or a John the Baptist, or a St. Paul, in actuality they were fooled - self-deceived. Some particular ingredient of which these prophets and saints possessed was unknown and alien to them.

mike said...

Darlene,
you wrote much that no one would disagree with, that also had nothing whatsoever to do with Dan's original post, and/ or your first several comments.

so yes, people have done great harm by misusing scripture, almost surprised that you did not mention Jim Jones and David Karesh by name.

then you wrote

However, I would add a caveat such as: the method and manner in how one speaks the truth, to whom one speaks the truth, the timing of when that truth is spoken, the words used, and whether or not a particular person is called to speak a particular truth are of the utmost significance. The by-product of being severe in nature and irresponsible in one's actions can have eternal consequences.

by any chance can you back that statement up with scripture?
because otherwise you simply stated that you catch more flies with honey than vinegar, and by that axiom Jesus Christ himself was at best an ineffective and insensitive communicator, and almost possibly some are doomed to eternal damnation because he was at times confrontational.

I get that you have some issues with the 5 pointers and your perception of their arrogance, but is a God so small that He is hamstrung by human rudeness and sensitivities a God worth worship?

sure any person who has been the recipient of the transforming love and grace of The creator God should not run a muck hitting others with hard bound bibles, but is that really what you thought you saw here? is that the terrible wrong that you set out to right?

Michelle,
thank you for taking what was a slightly exasperated comment and thoughtfully restating it. i probably do not deserve the effort, but i do appreciate it regardless.

Darlene said...

Mike,

I detect a certain attitude that's difficult to put into words (blame it on the Internet & the lack of body language, voice inflection, eye contact, etc.) that makes me a bit gun-shy to respond to you. Perhaps my perception is incorrect, in which case I am thankful.

As regards your second paragraph, in whatever profession or walk of life one finds themselves, it is just as important to know how to avoid the pitfalls by learning what doesn't work, as much as it is to be informed of the best course of action needed to be taken. To be aware of the failings of misusing Scripture are of utmost importance because frankly, it's been done quite often for over 2,000 years now. In recent times it seems to be done with even greater regularity.

You proceeded to quote my caveat with a follow-up question: by any chance can you back that statement up with scripture?

Just as there are places in Proverbs where we are instructed to respond in a particular manner, AND immediately afterward the instruction is converse in nature, I opt not to give Scripture references. You may deduce from this anything you like, but I can most assuredly say it has nothing to do with my inability to quote Scripture.

i.e.- I have taken note that on this particular blog many comments have been unaccompanied by Scripture quotes. Often the case is that things are implicitly understood and therefore Scripture quotes are unnecessary. If you require Scripture quotes for my caveat, me thinks we are talking past each other, on different planes if you will (as I originally stated in my first response to you).

because otherwise you simply stated that you catch more flies with honey than vinegar

Simply? Really? Again, if that's what you deduced from my caveat, you have misunderstood me and our communication is sorely lacking.

and by that axiom Jesus Christ was at best an ineffective and insensitive communicator, and almost possibly some are doomed to eternal damnation because he was at times confrontational.

This is a non sequitur - an illogical conclusion. What we've got here is a failure to communicate. Taken from the 1967 film "Cool Hand Luke."

I get that you have issues with the 5 pointers and your perception of their arrogance,...

Arrogance isn't necessarily the central issue although it may come into play, and the matter at hand isn't restricted to 5 pointers.

but is a God so small that He is hamstrung by human rudeness and sensitivities a God worth worship?

Hmmm...let me get this right. You ask if God can be made powerless by our ineffectiveness in communication - even if that communication is "rude" and "insensitive?" And if so, is He worth being worshipped? I ask, is our behavior of no consequence and insignificant because God is omnipotent? Your question is irrelevant as regards our discussion.

...should not run a muck hitting others with hard bound bibles, but is that really what you thought you saw here? is that the terrible wrong that you set out to right?

Mike, as I have said previously, you and I are on different planes. You're interpretation of my comments is misunderstood. Perhaps I am lacking in my communication skills - I'll grant that. I'll posit that this misunderstanding might be connected to our adoption of contrasting ethos. Whatever the case, me thinks we have arrived at an impasse. Such things happen.

I will conclude with some sober words from our Lord Jesus Christ, "I tell you, on the day of judgment men will render account for every careless word they utter; for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned."

Lord Jesus, have mercy on each one of us! Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal have mercy on us!

mike said...

Darlene,
I will bow to your assessment of an impasse on all things past, and chalk it up to whatever is mutually acceptable.

I would like to lightly comment on your last paragraph if I may though.

I would be the poster child of all fools if I do not bow verbally and physically to those words from our Lord and Savior.
But I might ask, are we so sure he was speaking solely or even mostly about the tone, rudeness, or attitude by which we speak. Is it not possible that it is the truth of our words that He was most concerned with.

I will conclude our exchange with a hypothetical situation.

Sone youngsters are floating blissfully down a creek on a summer day. As they are passing under a bridge, a local farmer who is aware of a waterfall just around the next bend calls out to them to abandon the tubes, and get out of the water or they will surely perish at the falls just moments ahead.
As they do not heed his call, he begins to increase the volume and urgency in his call, until it becomes what is not considered polite or comfortable.

Is he being in any unloving?

The thing i struggle with, is that while we live in an increasingly fallen world, I hear more calls to quiet the earnest and sincere call of God from those who are more concerned with perceived tonal violations than with the ungodliness that they decry.

We are all broken and simple humans who are powerless to make or do any good or perfect thing in the eyes of a Holy God outside of His help and work. I just see far more fear offending sinful men (of whom I am one) than offending a righteous and Holy God.

It can never be the messenger, it must always be the message, although of course it cannot be delivered sinfully.

Darlene said...

Mike,

I just don't have it in me to go on with this. As I said, I believe we are at an impasse. Forgive me if I have offended you.

The Polemic said...

This was good! Thanks for this clear articulation Dan. I will keep a copy of this post at hand the next time (probably sometime today) I cross paths with someone guilty of the aforementioned fallacious Bible-submit-to-my-paradigm-thinking!

Riaan.