Monday, July 30, 2012

Why Can't Liberal Folks Just Get It?

Inconsistency is bothersome.

Over the last couple of weeks, the president and COO of Chick-fil-A, Dan Cathy, has taken considerable flack from liberals regarding a statement he made during a radio interview, namely that legalizing same-sex marriage is “inviting God’s judgment on our nation.”

To be sure, Cathy does support traditional marriage as the biblical definition of the family unit, and Chick-fil-A’s charitable arm, the WinShape Foundation, does donate to organizations promoting traditional family units (see Alan Noble's detailed post about “the Chick-fi-Asco”).

And yet, regardless of where you fall within the spectrum of same-sex marriage approval (or disapproval); regardless of where you fall within the spectrum of considering active homosexual behavior to be sinful (or not); what is bothersome is inconsistent behavior.

Specifically, not a few liberal biblical scholars have announced that they will no longer eat at Chick-fil-A because of their “intolerance” towards marriage equality.

Have they forgotten the Oreo cookie?

If they have, or, if you have, the rainbow-colored Oreo cookie made an appearance several weeks ago supporting gay pride, and liberal biblical scholars applauded.

But why is it acceptable for Kraft (the parent company of Nabisco who makes Oreo cookies) to express their convictions with a rainbow-colored cookie, and yet unacceptable for Dan Cathy, or Chick-fil-A, to express their convictions during a radio interview?

Inconsistency ad abundantiam.

Why is one form of expression appropriate and the other inappropriate? Because one is being “intolerant?” Which side is being “intolerant?”

This torrent of disdain that has swirled around a fast-food chain using their freedom to express their convictions (which is, in fact, the same type of freedom that the self-proclaimed “champions of equality and tolerance” wish to preserve for pro-homosexual convictions), this raging against the “theologically conservative propaganda machine”, is nothing more than a demonstration of liberal intolerance.

James White tweeted earlier this week that being inclusive really “means exclusively the liberal left’s views. If you are inclusive, you exclude everyone else!”

He could not be more right.

Is it not inconsistent for these “champions of equality and tolerance” to applaud the “coming out” of the Oreo cookie, but frown upon the statements made by Dan Cathy supporting traditional marriage?

Where is the equality in that?

Friday, July 27, 2012

Friday's Funny

I came across this video while I was looking for Rob Bell's new video on "Rediscovering Wonder".

Regardless of what you thought of Rob's bookLove Wins, you have to admit that this is hilarious!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Don't Judge Me, Bro!

There are two things that contemporary people (or at least contemporary Americans) love: social media and autonomy. And what is frequently interesting, and sometimes unnerving, is when those two loves are coupled together. Often enough, this coupling is fleshed out (through Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, blogs, etc.) in three words:

Don’t judge me!

These three words are regularly used as the ultimate trump card in any discussion with opposing viewpoints.

Don’t judge me!

Autonomy at its best…

We all want to be the king (or queen) of our own little kingdom, completely sovereign over our affairs with no one to tell us otherwise (and definitely no one to tell us that we might be wrong).

We see Christians telling other Christians to stop being judgmental (to those within and without Christendom); we see non-Christians telling Christians to stop being judgmental (to those within and without Christendom). Frankly, it’s rampant.

But where is this coming from? What is the basis?

Most people, if not all (i.e., those within and without Christendom), look to Matthew 7:1 as the proof-text for affirming anti-judgmentalism (of course, it’s much easier to sledgehammer someone else with this text than it is to apply it to ourselves…).

I am going to quote Kevin DeYoung at length, because I cannot say it any better:

Judgmentalism is not the same as making judgments. The same Jesus who said “do not judge” in Matthew 7:1calls his opponents dogs and pigs in Matthew 7:6. Paul pronounces an anathema on those who preach a false gospel (Gal. 1:8). Disagreement among professing Christians is not a plague on the church. In fact, it is sometimes necessary. The whole Bible is full of evaluation and encourages the faithful to be discerning and make their own evaluations. What’s tricky is that some fights are stupid, and some judgments are unfair and judgmental. But this must be proven, not assumed…Strong language and forceful arguments are appropriate.

In other words, you can make judgments.

You do make judgments.


In fact, when Jesus tells us to “judge not, that you be not judged,” he follows that with “for with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you.” Jesus indicates that you should be cautious when you judge because this same judgment you render will be rendered to you.

Do not be afraid to evaluate.

But remember that when you evaluate, God is going to evaluate you with that same criteria.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

A Simple Request to Rachel Held Evans

Rachel Held Evans is an eminent Evangelical blogger. She is a skilled writer, a courageous thinker, a charitable arguer, and, most importantly, a Christian. Although we disagree on certain points of exegesis and praxis, she is an individual whose talents and abilities should be recognized and appreciated.

Of course we know that, often enough, glowing acknowledgements are connected to some type of “but.”

In this instance, my “but” comes in the form of a request; namely, that Held Evans would be willing to call out and rebuke her readers and followers for the comments they make and the attitudes they demonstrate with as much tenacity as she does to those she disagrees with (and, eventually writes about).

To be sure, this is an issue on either side of any exegetical, theological, or cultural argument. However, what is bothersome is that those who align themselves with conservative exegesis and theology (e.g., Calvinists, complementarians, etc.) are often heavily critiqued for their so-called arrogant and aloof attitudes, whereas those providing the critique (the self-proclaimed “champions of equality”) are often given a free-pass despite demonstrating attitudes that are analogous to those they are critiquing.

In part, this request comes from the recent foofaraw surrounding Jared C. Wilson’s post about the modern celebration of perverted sexual authority/submission due to the recent success of 50 Shades of Grey. Held Evans responded, but it was not her response that left me frustrated, rather it was those commenting.

Although there were several worthwhile exchanges and comments, and, again, recognizing that vitriol can come from either side of an argument, those commenting on her posts (not just this one in particular) often resort to ad hominem and hasty generalization, which are fallacies no thinker wants to be guilty of.

So, again, here is my request (and this time it is not just to Held Evans):

Please check yourself and your readers. If you comment, ask yourself whether Jesus would submit that ad hominem attack. If you blog, do not be afraid to call out and rebuke your readers when necessary. Your readers visit (and read) your blog because they think you have something worthwhile to say (even if they might not always agree with you); but your allegiance is not ultimately to your readers, it is to Jesus.

P.S. For those scratching their heads, wondering what is going on, be sure to click the above links as well as those following to catch up on the responses and commentary surrounding said foofaraw: Doug Wilson responds, Doug Wilson's daughter, Bekah, defends her dad, J. R. Daniel Kirk responds, Morgan Guyton has one question, Michael Bird has sex with his wife not to her, and Scot McKnight wants it taken down.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Friday's Funny

A lesson on morality from our friends Calvin and Hobbes:

Monday, July 9, 2012

The Christian and Alcohol

Alcohol (and the consumption thereof) is a major point of division amongst Evangelical Christians.

Over the past few years, as I have deliberated about alcohol (and the consumption thereof), and as I have talked with Christian peers, I have noticed an interesting trend. Specifically, those raised in “Christian” families tend to express their “freedom in Christ” and their desire to “redeem” alcohol, whereas those raised in secular families seem to be more wary (of course, no specific quantitative study was completed for verification – rather, this is simply a general observation).

For instance, my parents and I disagree on alcohol (and the consumption thereof).

My parents, raised in what I will simply term “non-Evangelical families,” had the difficult task of not only working out their own salvation, but also pointing our family to King Jesus. Part of this task included the decision to be completely abstinent from alcohol (as opposed to their pre-conversion lifestyles); therefore, we did not have alcohol in our home, nor have I ever seen my parents consume alcohol. To be sure, I owe much to my parents for praying, struggling, guiding, and disciplining me throughout my upbringing. And yet, as I enter adulthood, as I attempt to “make my faith my own,” I have come to disagree with them on this point of Christian praxis.

Several years ago, my family was sitting around a campfire and the topic of alcohol came up. Sparing you the details, my mother indicated that the main problem with Christians consuming alcohol is that you do not want to be liable for causing a brother or sister in Christ to stumble.

I have heard this argument before. I am sure you have too.

In fact, this argument left me so uneasy that I decided to write my seminary capstone paper around this issue.

My conclusion?

Paul’s point in Romans 14 – 15 is that if you are less scrupulous you ought not persuade your more scrupulous brother into doing something outside of his faith context. Conversely, if you are more scrupulous you ought not judge the less scrupulous for being such.

In other words, if you believe you can drink alcohol to the glory of God (1 Cor 10:31), please do not attempt to persuade your brother into also drinking alcohol if it is outside of his faith context. For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin (Rom 14:23). Conversely, if drinking alcohol makes you operate outside of your faith context, then simply do not drink alcohol. However, remember that it is not your place to scornfully judge your brother (not least his Christian status) for the freedom he experiences. God is our judge, and we will all give an account before him (Rom 14:4, 12).

With that said, a few ruminations on alcohol:

First, alcohol (i.e., the substance) is not sinful.

Second, I am convinced that drinking alcohol is also not sinful. For clarity’s sake, “drinking” alcohol is quite different than being “drunk” on alcohol. This is a distinction that needs to be made.

Therefore, what can be sinful is the heart attitude behind this action (or inaction).

In short, do not persuade when you should not, and do not judge when you should not.

P.S. If you are interested in reading my paper in full, you can email me at to request a copy.

P.S.S. Preston Sprinkle has a couple of interesting blog posts about alcohol.

Monday, July 2, 2012

The Problem with Numbers

I get really nervous when people start throwing around numbers.

“Our attendance was 602 last Sunday!”

“We baptized 17 people tonight!”

“We have had 296 salvation responses this weekend!”

So often, we can appeal to numbers as the measurement of success.  Sure, numbers can be one of the ingredients of success, although I am not sure we should use it as the sine qua non of success. Most Evangelicals, and probably even most non-Evangelicals, would disagree with the core tenets of Joel Osteen Ministries, and yet, he has the largest church in America.

43,000 people.

More people come to Osteen’s church than live in Wylie, Texas.

Obviously Osteen is doing something right.

But how do we define “right?”

Is it his toothy-grin, or his mullet, or his feel-good prosperity gospel?

I am not sure; however, I am sure that we should not be comfortable using numbers to measure the success of our “gospel-saturated, Christ-centered, missionally-driven” churches, if we are not, at the same time, willing to give Osteen that same opportunity.

So, maybe next time you want to use numbers as a measurement of success for your church or ministry…don’t.