Learning From Interacting With Critics Of Gabe Hughes

Pastor Gabe Hughes recently posted an item on Twitter that resulted in a temporary (I hope) suspension from the platform. Here’s a screenshot of his “offensive” Tweet:

The WWUTT account posted the screenshot to inform Gabe’s followers of the ban. Many comments ensued to express support for Gabe and disgust at Twitter’s censorship. Of course, I agree with those comments, and pray that they will encourage him. Obviously he wrote it to highlight the spiritual pandemic that has infected Western culture for the last several decades — a pandemic that even mature Christians ignore. Kudos to Gabe for risking his Twitter account in order to speak truth!

One comment, however, accused Pastor Gabe of violating (or deliberately ignoring) Twitter’s Terms of Service. Her accusation intrigued me, particularly since I sometimes post tweets standing against most of those sins. I wondered how much freedom Twitter gives Christians to express Biblical points of view. Her response didn’t exactly surprise me (given her profile), but it reminded me that people who defend LBGTQ tenets don’t always use good logic in their argumentation.

Consider this screenshot that she sent to me:

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“The World Is Watching” — An Excuse To Compromise Or A Reason To Be Obedient?

“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.

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We Can Provoke In Wrong Ways, But Also In Right Ways

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:

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When Righteous Anger Becomes Self-Righteous

Discernment ministry often gets maligned. Sometimes the criticisms overstate the problem, causing people to think discernment is intrinsically wrong. We can overreact to the abuses, allowing ourselves to disdain everyone who dares to call out a false teacher.

Notice the acknowledgment that abuses exist within discernment ministries. Several self-proclaimed discernment ministries have degenerated into portals of gossip and slander, dedicated to ruining the reputations of anyone they deem to be in error. As a result of their sin, some people have learned to view all discernment ministries and bloggers with suspicion.

Usually, the critics of discernment ministries conclude that discernment in and of itself is intrinsically bad. Although they started out rightly challenging discernment bloggers, they now categorically dismiss any blogger who speaks out against false teaching.

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People Prefer Extremes

Swan Boats at Boston’s Public Garden

Ecclesiates is a difficult little book. I grasp its main meaning, but many of its particulars leave me scratching my head. For example:

15 I have seen everything during my lifetime of futility; there is a righteous man who perishes in his righteousness and there is a wicked man who prolongs his life in his wickedness. 16 Do not be excessively righteous and do not be overly wise. Why should you ruin yourself? 17 Do not be excessively wicked and do not be a fool. Why should you die before your time? 18 It is good that you grasp one thing and also not let go of the other; for the one who fears God comes forth with both of them. ~~Ecclesiastes 7:15-18 (NASB)

I’ve been thinking about verses 16-17 lately because I’ve foolishly gotten into two arguments on Twitter lately. (Yeah, I should know better.) In both cases, I believed people were taking extreme positions, and I thought I should bring a more moderate perspective.

So I have an inflated ego. Hardly a news flash.

As I’ve reflected on my behavior, and perhaps the behavior of the women arguing with me, I noticed something about arguments that I’d forgotten. When people challenge each other, both parties tend to double down and move toward opposite extremes.

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Offend People With Clear Scriptural Principles, Not With Peripheral Issues

Bandwagon covered with multiple American flags -- tinted turquoise

Many evangelicals, even within the Reformed camp, have been influenced by worldly ideas and philosophies lately. That’s not good. At the very least, the causes they embrace distract them from the Gospel. And such distraction severely weakens their effectiveness for their kingdom.

The apostle Paul spoke to this point in his first epistle to the Corinthians:

For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. ~~1 Corinthians 2:3 (NASB)

Generally, these evangelicals espouse liberal ideologies: feminism, social justice, environmentalism and so forth. We do well to admonish these people (some of whom really do know Christ) that their causes usually contradict the clear teachings of Scripture. Lovingly, we should restore their focus to the Gospel, and to a proper handling of God’s Word.

In correcting liberal ideologies of other evangelicals, however, perhaps those of us with more conservative leanings should evaluate whether or not we also let our causes distract us. I know I’ve sometimes struggled with the temptation to let discernment ministry take my attention away from proclaiming the Gospel.

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Is It Okay For Me To Say “I Told You So”?

This past weekend, a pastor friend of mine posted the following on his Facebook page:

They said it would not affect me, my family or friends.They said it was none of my business. They said it would not negatively impact our society. But…Now it’s legalized. Now it’s flaunted in commercials, on the television, and in the movies. Now those screaming tolerance are intolerant of any who oppose. Now it’s affecting our health care costs, schools and everything in between. Now it’s demoralizing and seeking to redefine the family. Now it’s attacking men and demonizing men for being men. But…Now, as always, is the time to stand for Truth. Now is the time to live out righteousness, holiness and justice. Now is the time to promote all that is wholesome, good and moral. Now is the time!

Of course he wrote these words in reference to same sex marriage, which has opened a Pandora’s Box of anarchy throughout Western civilization. As you can see, however, the rebellion goes far beyond LBGTQ issues. The ideological left is successfully dismantling every aspect of Judeo-Christian values in America and in other countries.

Most evangelicals thought Trump’s presidency would slow the deterioration. Admittedly, part of me thought so too. But the last few months have pretty much destroyed that fantasy. In fact, the unbridled hatred of President Trump has probably poured gas on the fire. Defying conservative values has become a mandate for academia and Mainstream Media.

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Frustrations Of A Christian Female Blogger (Probably Not The Frustrations You’d Expect)

Pink flowers

Normally, professing Christian women chafe at the idea of limiting their teaching ministry to other women and small children. They follow the world in insisting that we have a contribution to make to the whole church, and that our female perspective must be heard. As they see it, the Word of God cannot be fully represented without the female voice.

Huh?

Where does Scripture ever say such a bizarre thing? If the Word of God is breathed out by the Holy Spirit (2 Timothy 3:16), why would a female perspective be necessary? Shouldn’t we scratch our heads in bewilderment at the suggestion that men need to hear female voices before they can fully understand what the Bible says?

I can’t help wondering if some men — even Reformed men — have started buying into the idea that female voices need to join the conversation. Logging on to my Twitter Notifications today, I found two tweets by Reformed men, proudly proclaiming that they read The Outspoken TULIP.

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He Could Have Decimated The Entire System

Really, no one needs my opinion on the death of George Floyd. Nor does anyone need me to comment on the protests that have sprung up around the United States in response to his death. I suppose such a blog post would get plenty of views (and probably a good amount of comments), so I’m not doing myself any favors by deciding to keep my opinions to myself. Most bloggers know that addressing “hot topics” generate more readers.

The Word of God warns against needless controversies and the unnecessary expression of opinions. Chris Hohnholz and Richard Story of Voice Of Reason Radio did a sobering podcast this past weekend explaining the importance of holding our tongues during times like this. They appeal to a wide variety of Scriptures admonishing Christians to be circumspect with our words.

Their podcast prompted me to think about using my blog to remind women that we don’t always have to right the wrongs of our culture. Without argument, our nation (as well as other nations throughout the world) increasingly demonstrate intentional rebellion against the Most High God. But it may not follow that He calls us to avenge every injustice.

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Twitter Food Fights And Servants Of Christ

Her grin caused her nose to crinkle as she declared, “I love a good fight!” Probably not the wisest comment to make while discipling eight women in a Tuesday morning Bible Study, but we all laughed along with her. We knew her well enough to know she indeed liked a lively debate and took a little pride in her argumentation skills.

At the time, I felt a bit liberated by her offhand remark. Of course, I would have been careful in making any similar proclamation, and I think I’d feel a twinge of conviction if I ever admitted such a thing.

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