First of all, we shouldn’t wonder whether or not persecution will come to the United States. In that respect, I guess I’ve slightly mistitled this article. It’s already started in Europe, Africa, Asia and Canada, aided and abetted by governmental reactions to COVID, Islamic terrorism and LBGTQ demands. It seems to be slowly creeping into America — I noticed this week that all my Kindle books on homosexuality have disappeared. Well, I’ve expected it for years. Only a matter of time before this blog vanishes.
Let’s go with the premise that persecution is definitely coming, and indeed that most of the world has suffered persecution since Jesus hung on the cross. My pastor once remarked that America has been an anomaly in regards to the relative acceptance Christians have enjoyed during its first four centuries. I believe that such acceptance, while it has blessed us with wonderful opportunities to proclaim the Gospel freely, may have lulled us into an attitude of entitlement. For instance, I felt cheated because Amazon pulled those books from my Kindle app, even though I knew the licensing agreement clearly states that I never actually owned them. American Christians have lost sight of the truth that persecution is the norm for true believers.
With all this in mind, we must accept persecution as an inevitable fact of life. No, we don’t have to like it, and we shouldn’t set ourselves up for it. But we should remember that Jesus warned us that persecution would come to those who follow Him.
18 “If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you. 20 Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A slave is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they kept My word, they will keep yours also. ~~John 15:18-20 (NASB95)
Leslie A has a wonderful talent for turning my brain into a five lane highway. Often, she’ll accomplish this feat by writing something that exposes a subtle sin in my life — like my television viewing choices. In those instances, I’ll initially try to ignore her points until the Holy Spirit forces me to see that He’s used her to work on my sanctification. Over the years, I’ve grown to love her blog precisely because the Lord uses it to challenge me to live in holiness.
Last week, however, the five lane highway Leslie put me on had little to do with sin on my part and everything to do with a topic I have been wrestling with since last September. Her blog post this week didn’t address the topic at all, and in fact my application of it hadn’t occurred to her. Leslie wrote A Warning (and a bit of encouragement, too!) as a response to the overall disintegration of our world. And she certainly hit the nail on the head all the way through her article!
As she wrote about the Hegelian Dialectic, lightbulbs started flashing in my head, sending me racing down all five highway lanes at once. To explain my mental traffic, let me offer a brief definition of the Hegelian Dialectic:
The Hegelian dialectic is the framework for guiding our thoughts and actions into conflicts that lead us to a predetermined solution.
The Hegelian Dialectic will pit parties into extreme, polarizing positions on a given topic until a third party can help them arrive at some sort of consensus that said third party wanted from the beginning. Essentially, it manipulates the opposing parties into seeing their mediator as a final authority. Once consensus has been achieved, dissent is not allowed.
Upon reading Leslie’s explanation of the Hegelian Dialectic, I began driving down the highway on which feminism and extreme patriarchy currently drag race.
These past two weeks, I’ve been thinking about a short post that Erin Benziger wrote in Do Not Be Surprised recently, explaining her decision to pull back from blogging for a while. You can read her entire article here, as she raises more points than I can comment on in this singular essay.
God used Erin greatly as He led me to the Doctrines of Grace, and I praise Him for allowing her to influence me in those areas. At one point, I followed her around the internet like an eager puppy. As her approach to discernment ministry evolved, I reevaluated my own understanding of Biblical discernment. I reached different conclusions about discernment blogging than Erin reached, and since then she and I have diverged on other issues. Some of her thoughts in her post on her retreat from blogging differ from my thoughts on the topic. And that’s okay. Knowing Erin, I feel confident that she would agree.
But one paragraph she wrote has challenged me in a good way regarding The Outspoken TULIP. Let me quote it, and then offer some of my responses to her perspective.
I affirm the Virgin Birth, the Deity of Christ, the Supernatural Miracles of Christ, Christ’s Atoning Death, and the Burial & Literal Resurrection of Christ. Should I be anathematized for not breaking fellowship with Egalitarians who affirm the same things?
Since she only gave me a half-hearted permission to quote her Tweet by admitting that she posted it in a public forum, I’ve decided to withhold her identity in this article. I have no interest in damaging her reputation. I want to address the content of her question, but I don’t want to make any personal attacks.
So let’s begin with her concern about being anathematized for having fellowship with Egalitarians who affirm the basic tenets of the Christian faith. I absolutely do not believe she should be anathematized! The word means to condemn someone to hell. It’s a particularly strong word. No Christian should use it lightly, and if we actually do use it, we need to be very sure that we apply it to someone who persists in grievous and unrepentant sin. So her question saddened me by making me wonder if others had condemned her for having fellowship with Egalitarians.
“The world is watching” became the unofficial motto of last month’s Annual Meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention. From what I’ve heard, the phrase hampered attempts to challenge any worldly ideas that came across the floor. In particular, it stopped any debate on Critical Race Theory. The logic went that, because the world is watching, we must take care not to offend its sensibilities. This short video from Founders Ministry explains (among other things) why these four words betray a worldliness within the SBC leadership.
But “the world is watching” didn’t originate with SBC21. When John and I were in a seeker sensitive church several years ago, we often heard them from the pulpit. At the time, I understood them to mean that, because non-Christians observe us, Christ expects us to live in ways that reflect Him. So far, so good.
So when I’ve seen those four words on social media, I’ve generally been convicted to conduct myself in a manner which honors the Lord. In disagreements, I’ve learned not to attack anyone’s character. Name calling is never permissible — Jesus occasionally employed that tactic, but He could see the hearts of the people He called names. As best I can, I want to argue with respect and kindness on social media. In that context, we certainly should bear in mind that the world is watching.
Sadly, it appears that the awareness of a watching world now means that Christians ought to accommodate worldly ideas. And I don’t think this posture is unique to the SBC, So, regardless of your church affiliation, I’d like you to think with me about the implications of the motto.
You don’t have to belong to the Southern Baptist Convention to have heard that its newly elected president, Ed Litton, preached a sermon almost word for word that outgoing SBC president J.D, Greear had previously preached. A simple Google search will verify this fact. Justin Peters put out a video showing both sermons, which you can view here. And this scandal most assuredly needs much discussion, especially because (in the words of the more liberal element of the SBC) the world is watching.
Although the concept of the watching world was used at the SBC meeting in June primarily to excuse a refusal to deal with Critical Race Theory directly, I believe more conservative Christians should turn it around. The world is indeed watching, and it sees a new SBC president who passed off another pastor’s sermon as his own. My educated guess is that the world will see this situation as evidence of Christian hypocrisy. But others have already written about that aspect of Litton’s actions, so I feel no need to join that echo chamber.
Instead, I want to apply this situation to Christian bloggers. I’d already been thinking about writing an article on the matter, and a recent email Justin Peters sent to me and a few others confirmed to me that such an article should be written.
Bloggers, my sisters, aren’t pastors. But because we supplement the ministry of pastors, we must hold ourselves to the moral and ethical standards that God expects of pastors, elders and teachers. James 3:1 states that teachers will incur a stricter judgment. Writing a Christian blog, regardless of how small a readership one has, demands moral integrity.
Increasingly, society makes clear demarcations between victims and oppressors. These demarcations fall overwhelmingly along racial lines, with white people being shamed solely because we are white. The other groups claiming victimization include women, LBGTQ people, those with disabilities and non-black ethnic groups, but right now Social Justice advocates mostly focus on tensions between white and black people.
Yes, all these groups mentioned have experienced discrimination, hatred and violence that they in no way deserved, and I don’t mean to minimize that fact. I could tell you several stories of suffering I endure because of my Cerebral Palsy. In writing this post, I in no way mean to imply that abuses never happen to members of these communities. They sometimes do. Probably not as frequently and systemically as progressives want us to believe, but let’s not overreact to Woke ideology by denying that there have been abuses.
Woke culture exaggerates these abuses, to be sure. More precisely, it exploits them. By adopting the identity of oppressed victims and labeling white male Protestants as systemic oppressors, this movement essentially tries to oppress people merely because they happen to be caucasian. And male. And cisgender. And Christian. Gracious — according to them, my husband’s only redeeming quality is his disability!
I get how the world embraces the Woke mindset. Rejecting the authority of Scripture, it demands its understanding of justice NOW! America exploited black people, and now the Woke movement demands reparations. If I left the Bible out of the equation, I might jump on the bandwagon. Maybe the disabled could also receive reparations somewhere down the line…? Doesn’t hurt to ask!
The Bible, however, presents a different response to oppression.
Although my back is a great deal better than it has been since I fractured it six months ago, I still spend a few days in bed each week. On those days, I watch YouTube videos streamed through our DVD player. (Okay, I also watch Animal Planet’s Putbulls and Parolees, but that has nothing to do with this blog post). This weekend (because Pitbulls and Parolees wasn’t on), I watched several videos from a Reformed ministry that seriously challenged my thinking in regard to two important topics: eschatology and the content of what women should teach other women.
The video on eschatology lead to another video of a sermon on the subject. My head is spinning from that one, and it will take a long time for me to process it. Just when I thought I’d landed on a position, too! Please don’t expect me to blog on eschatology any time soon — I have so much more to study on the matter before I attempt to write about it. Jesus will return to save His people and judge unbelievers. I stand on that promise without being properly educated on the particulars.
The video on women’s ministry also stretched me, but I feel far less confused as to where I agree and disagree with the lady being interviewed. The points that bothered me need to be considered, of course, but even she acknowledged that her position leaving room for debate. Gotta respect her for the humility to admit that possibility!
She began at the same foundation as I do: Scripture allows women to teach women, but not to teach men. Hallelujah — absolute solidarity on that point! And we draw from the same Biblical passage to substantiate the practice of women teaching women.
Driving me home from college every day, my mom would reach a particular on-ramp that indeed was dangerous. She firmly believed that one day someone would be killed there (to my knowledge, thankfully, her prediction hasn’t come true). I still remember her lips tightening in disdain as she muttered, “A man must have designed this!”
Actually, she muttered those words any time she encountered things that she deemed inconvenient or illogical, explaining to me and my sister that women would not make anything so complicated or dysfunctional. She taught us to degenerate men, as if the poor things simply didn’t possess the intellectual abilities that characterize women. Yes, men came in handy now and then, she conceded. But for the most part, women could manage just fine — and perhaps better — without them.
Definitely women would have designed that on-ramp better!
As we prepare for Father’s Day, and the many sermons pointing out the shortcomings of fathers, I find myself thinking about Mom’s disparaging remarks. Society pretty much echoes her sentiments. Television, movies and even comic strips routinely portray men as buffoons. At times, according to my husband (an authority on all things pertaining to Superman), even Clark Kent had occasional moments of ineptitude. I believe I can safely say that our current culture all but celebrates male bashing.
Ladies, I know we get frustrated with the men in our lives sometimes. But don’t you think that we frustrate them just as much as they frustrate us? Maybe more? And yet, our culture wastes no time in labeling them as misogynists if they dare say anything the least bit unflattering about us. This double standard has no place in Christian conversation!
James, the half-brother of the Lord, may not have written specifically about male bashing, but his passage on the tongue in Chapter 2 of his epistle definitely applies to the matter. Look at the passage with me as we consider what we say about our husbands, dads, brothers and male friends.
25 If we live by the Spirit, let’s follow the Spirit as well. 26 Let’s not become boastful, challenging one another, envying one another. ~~Galatians 5:25-26 (NASB)
We could blame social media for the increasing lack of civility in the past few years. Sadly, Christians have succumbed to the online savagely (myself included) far too often, dishonoring the Lord in our quest to win arguments. Of course, social media isn’t the true culprit here — we are! Social media just makes it easier to be nasty.
This weekend, I was in a Twitter conversation that very well could have turned ugly. By God’s grace, it didn’t. Neither of us minced words, but the Lord helped us find ways of respecting each other even as we passionately held firm to our respective positions. The Holy Spirit even helped me understand that the woman I debated was correct on an important point of her argument. My concession doesn’t mean I agree with her basic premise, mind you. But it does mean that I can treat her lovingly and with respect.
If we had allowed our conversation to degenerate into name calling and personal attacks, I don’t think I would have admitted any error on my part. I would have doubled down on efforts to vindicate myself and make her look foolish. Never mind that such efforts most likely would have only exposed an uncharitable attitude on my part. Twitter arguments usually thrive on incivility and caustic provocation.
When Christians provoke each other to anger, we demonstrate our unwillingness to follow the Spirit. Let’s look at the verses leading up to Galatians 5:25-26: