die-facebookSometimes, evangelical Christians do more harm than good on Facebook.

Under the veil of “taking a stand” for our values, I fear we are letting loose all kinds of dishonoring, uncharitable speech. We need to stop.

The Cause of Frustration

I understand the frustration of conservative Christians who sense that the values we once shared with the dominant culture are slipping away. Things have changed. We’ve gone from being the moral majority to a minority – and sometimes we feel beleaguered. We come across examples of social ostracism or we hear about the legal challenges Christians face when they fail to compromise. It’s frustrating to watch the brokenness of Washington, D.C, as politicians in both parties seem more concerned about their prospects for reelection than the people they represent.

Evangelicals are having to learn how to be a distinct minority – people who must make a case for our values in the public square rather than simply assuming others share our views. We will soon be known for beliefs that are out of step with contemporary society. So be it. The Church has been in this situation many times before.

The question before us is this: Will we be known for honor?

Conduct Yourself with Honor

The Apostle Peter’s letter was written to “exiles,” believers facing persecution far greater than any of us Americans have ever seen. These Christians were living under a tyrannical government far worse than any bureaucrat in a D.C. office. Yet Peter instructed believers to live honorably among others (1 Peter 2:11-17). The “others” refer to those who are not “in Christ.”

The word “conduct” appears thirteen times in the Bible, and eight of those times are in Peter’s letters. It’s safe to say, Peter cared about how our conduct was viewed by outsiders.

Now, the fact that Peter says we should live honorably among others means we must indeed be among the lost. Some evangelicals, weary of partisan bickering and political posturing from their Christian friends, are ready to throw up their hands and avoid political engagement altogether. I understand that sentiment, but failing to be present or involved in any meaningful sense in a democratic republic would be to forfeit the stewardship we’ve been given. There is no retreat here.

The question is not if but how we will be involved. It’s a change of posture, not political persuasion.

I like the way John Piper puts it:

“Being exiles does not mean being cynical. It does not mean being indifferent or uninvolved. The salt of the earth does not mock rotting meat. Where it can, it saves and seasons. And where it can’t, it weeps. And the light of the world does not withdraw, saying “good riddance” to godless darkness. It labors to illuminate. But not dominate.”

Slander Shouldn’t Stick

We also ought to live and speak in such a way that slander is untrue and charges of hypocrisy don’t stick.

When people claim that pro-lifers are only concerned about the unborn, and not little children or hurting mothers, we ought to be able to say, “Not true” and have the care of thousands of Christians behind us to prove it. Our good works ought to silence the ignorance of people who would slander us in foolishness (1 Peter 2:15).

Honor Everyone

But here’s where it gets hard. We are to honor everyone, Peter said. Even the emperor (1 Peter 2:17). Yes, the bloodthirsty, sexual maniac on Caesar’s throne must receive honor from Christians suffering under the thumb of a dictatorship.

Please don’t tell me Obama is worse than Nero.

Paul backs Peter up, telling us to outdo one another in showing honor (Romans 12:10).

The Honor Filter

So, instead of just putting up internet filters so we can control what comes into our computers, perhaps we should put up an “honor filter” that will help us control what goes out of our computers. Consider what questions an “honor filter” we could ask of our Facebook and Twitter statuses.

  • Is my point of view offered with respect to those who disagree?
  • Do I assume the best of those who are my political opponents?
  • Does it look like I am raging against injustice or against people made in God’s image?
  • Am I showing honor when reviled or slandered?

For the Christian, it’s not about winning a culture war. We win through how we engage our neighbors. Our honor should be on full display… even on Facebook.

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78 thoughts on “Does Your Facebook Rant “Honor Everyone?””

  1. Martha says:

    Thank you for writing this! I have tried to say that, and even ended up in a Facebook “tiff” over it because I haven’t been able (yet) to say it without being a jerk.

    1. David C says:

      Haha….I’ve been in the same position. I’ve tried making this argument on my facebook page before, but ended up being called a legalistic nit-picker and had a 50 comment back and forth battle about the unbiblical nature of slandering people over political or ethical subjects.

  2. j james says:

    This is really good. Definitely a helpful criticism of the social media climate. I also wonder what responsibility blog moderators have when it comes to ensuring that honorable discourse is taking place on their sites between believers. There are many articles on the TGC site I’d love to recommend but some of them (not all) have such embarrassing comment threads that I choose not to share them. Is there a way to allow passion and civil criticism without unhelpful sarcasm and rude personal attacks? Or am I overly sensitive and is that too much censorship? Would love to hear some opinions!

  3. taco says:

    So that time I told a Christian that his conspiracy theory video about reptilian aliens taking over the Vatican was insane and unhelpful to dealing with the real problems of the Roman Catholic Church was a-ok?

    1. Karlito Ricardo says:

      Pahahahahahahahahahahah!!!!! YES!!! I love me some Reptilian Shapeshifters…

  4. Joani says:

    Very helpful, insightful post! We need a constant reminder of who we represent in all that we do… including social media. We definitely seem to feel the freedom to post things that we wouldn’t necessarily say face to face. Thanks for encouragement!

  5. Charlie says:

    A sad aspect of Christians ranting on social media is the amount of ad hominem, sarcastic or not, attacks. “You go on mission trips because you want to have a vacation while showing everyone you’re so super spiritual,” “You don’t go on mission trips, you must not care about missions,” “You support Ron Paul, you must think homosexuality is okay,” “You support Santurom because you hate gays and Muslims,” “You’re criticizing the Noah film, you must not have faith because you don’t like defending it or feeling threatened,” etc. More time is spent on Facebook mocking the methodology of other Christians than actually preaching the message. A daily review of Scriptures dealing with the use of the tongue is good before getting online. Show grace as well as preach it.

    1. Paul says:

      Clark, I feel your temptation to rage against one made in God’s image, but we have been told our struggle is not against flesh and blood. They’re not the enemy, brother, as much as I forget that!

      1. Paul says:

        Sorry, Charlie, wrong comment!

  6. Clark Dunlap says:

    Does it look like I am raging against injustice or against people made in God’s image?
    Good advice but really hard to do when the subject is abortion and people are giddy with the thought of women’s liberation at the expense of the horrible deaths of babies in the womb. Easier if the subject is process theology or Open Theism.
    But when the knife is at the throat of the innocent, I just might rage against the one made in God’s image holding the knife.

    1. Joani says:

      Hi Clark, just wanted to share a word from someone who also has a heart for the unborn & innocent: Even Jesus said, “Father forgive them, for they not what they do…” spoken as the most innocent of all was being murdered. We all can find ourselves speaking in a way that it is unhelpful esp when it comes to something that is passionately driven from our heart. But the question remains, is the rage helpful for others to have sight when they are blinded? (Ref: Luke 23; Matt 13)

      I’m somewhat of a firecracker, so this is something I have been trying to learn more each day how to live out. :)

    2. Paul says:

      Clark, I feel your temptation to rage against one made in God’s image, but we have been told our struggle is not against flesh and blood. They’re not the enemy, brother, as much as I forget that!

    3. Melody says:

      So who do you think is holding a knife against the throat of the unborn? Women with a pro-choice opinion? Or do you have an abortion doctor on your friend list?

      I have pro-choice women on my list. When they post something stupid. I don’t comment. But it doesn’t stop me from posting things I believe in like one of Joe Carter’s blog on Nine Things to know about the subject. You might educate someone that doesn’t know much and so not actually set in their opinion. But the people that already have a opinion, only the Holy Spirit is going to change that, not you.

  7. Nate says:

    I agree with Trevin that we need to have honorable speech online as well as in our interactions with others. But we also have to remember that calling a liar a liar is not dishonorable, or racist, or bigoted, or intolerant.
    I don’t mean to suggest that Trevin is saying to give up true (I don’t believe he is) but we need to watch against the tendency to stop standing for true because someone is offended. You can speak honorable to someone and find they still are offended by you and the truth that you speak.

  8. Amanda says:

    I agree completely…..BUT our message offends. So even when Truth is told (in love) or sternly “they will be offended because they were offended by HIM”…….

    1. Ryan says:

      Yes, but it’s not the message of Christianity that is offending people, is it? It’s the anti-Obama rants, the wailing over the slippery slope of gay marriage, the anger towards universal healthcare, etc etc.

      1. Melody says:

        No there are people that are angered by sharing anything that has to do with the Christian faith. I have one on my facebook that puts horrible hateful links against Christians, homeschoolers, anything faith related. The person doesn’t comment on my stuff but what is the point of posting that stuff on their wall? Who is it aimed at? What is more, why are they so obsessed with what believers think?
        Fairly sure they are conservative politically too. Can’t stereotype atheists.

  9. Alanna says:

    The real question is intent. Why would you post that picture of an aborted baby? Is it to incite anger and/or action amongst your Christian friends? Is it to upset the few non-Christian friends you have on facebook? Is it to prove a point? Is it to wound? Do you hope that a woman on your facebook will see it, and despite the iffy intent, suddenly turn from her evil sinful ways, repent, and become a Christian all because you posted that picture? Is it to justify your own feelings on the matter? Would you randomly walk around with a picture of a dead baby and start showing it to all your friends, family, and co-workers with only a sentence or two (or maybe none) to explain why you think it is necessary to show them something rather horrific. Honestly, I would apply this logic to anything and if you wouldn’t do it someone in real life than perhaps you should consider refraining on facebook. For my part, I simply block those kind of people from my facebook feed. After a while the Obamacare rants, abortion pics, share for a prayer memes, and other such trite get to be too much. When in doubt, show love.

    1. Trey says:

      The same could have been said about those who during the abolition movement showed pictures of the backs of slaves that had been whipped so badly and frequently the wounds had scabbed over permanently. I would have walked around with that picture because people needed to see the reality of what slavery was. You say the real question is intent, but do you ask each person who posts such things what their intent is or just automatically block them because you’ve assumed their intent? Or is it that because you wouldn’t do it you don’t think others should?

    2. Jane says:

      Alanna,

      First let me say that I have never posted a picture of an aborted baby on my fb page. However, many years ago Melanie Green and her organization Americans Against Abortion sent a letter to my home. I opened that letter and at the age of 13 I looked at those pictures. It was at that very moment that I became a life long advocate for the unborn. Those little feet spoke volumes to me. I think I needed to see the horror.
      A big part of the reason Americans lost the will to win in Vietnam was due to the pictures and film reels that came home from the front lines.
      Another example of exposing the depravity of man to daylight is the pictures of mass graves and starving survivors of the German concentration camps.
      I’ve never posted any of those pictures either, but they do have their place in the American conscience, don’t you think?

    3. Melody says:

      Alanna

      Except for the people that you are superior to and block?

      I will confess in block people that I think are crazy scary and ones that say bizarre legalistic things that make me want to scream at them. I realize that I am applying a technological fix that probably reflects my intolerance in real life. Is that Christ-like love? Or just love for those I feel it is easier to love.

      It’s still blocking those we don’t love so not a good example of being loving. And it’s still judging people that we consider ourselves superior in some way.

  10. Brent says:

    Funny. I was thinking there are too many pansy-tailed conservative Christians who are not being forceful enough in their speech to get through to the post-modern mind.

    We need less appeasement and more hard lines. Grace is to be shown, but not to the point that those who are dead wrong only feel that they have a different opinion. They need to feel the deadness of their wrongness. To paraphrase Spurgeon, the most unloving thing we can do is to allow them to continue in their current line of thinking without being directly and emphatically challenged.

  11. Amy says:

    Thank you so much for writing this. This is something that has burdened my heart for some time and an issue that I wrote of on my own blog a while back.

    For those who disagree: I just wonder why. No where does this article suggest shirking from the duty to speak the truth in love. It is just calling us to be honorable and above reproach in what we post. Sarcasm, “yelling” in posts (i.e., “I CANT BELIEVE WHAT AN IDIOT SO AND SO IS”), etc., is not speaking the truth in love or being above reproach in what we post.

    Anyone interested can check out what I wrote a while back on the matter: “What Does Your Facebook Page Say About Your Heart?” http://www.amyestuart.com/?p=64

  12. Julie says:

    Thank you. If the pharisees had blogged, the number of their followers would have been significant. I’m saddened by so many believers’ postures (and often my posture) of arrogance, entitelement, and lack of interest or compassion toward those who are different. I wrote this last week – same song, different line.

    http://greenertrees.net/2013/11/19/mini-me/

  13. alli says:

    Heres the problem if (anyone even reads this) you refer to Obama like hes your puppy or your ‘homebody’ and not your president OUR president.
    why because you dont know him, perhaps his age, im not quite sure but My father is African and english and looks like barack obama, if i referred to him by his last name with no honor or distain the way that many many evangelicals who speak to each other as if its a secret ‘club’ and we all have to ‘endure’ the person in the white house who doesnt look or think like me..if i spoke to my father that way i might be kicked out of the house. I dont refer to Bush in that manner or even politicians younger then me. If you are wondering what that has to do with this post think about it…then think some more. Maybe then youll have the answer.

    1. Melody says:

      As a woman none of the presidents have ever looked like me but that is besides the point. I would never vote on someone based on such a stupid coincidence though obviously there are plenty of people of EVERY color that do just that. Though people didn’t get accused of it every time they voiced an opinion before this administration. It’s the quickest way to make people discount you when you make that accusation.

      As for the rest of your comment I’m a little confused. Are you complaining about people not using their title when referring to them? Because you didn’t. What exactly do you mean?

  14. Rocky G says:

    I disagree with this extreme position too… Both the Christian who says: GO TO HELL YOU FILTHY SINNNNAAARRRR!!!!! and the Christian who is so passive it’s almost like he doesn’t care about truth… are wrong…

    I think most evangelicals are far to tame in their rebukes of ungodly positions… you need to show respect to the PERSON, but not to the opinion… Remember that Christians have Jesus living inside them and he went berserko with his whip in the temple… ;) The apostle Paul could also give a ripping rebuke… Peter, Stephen… they could all let fly verbally… I think we’ve lost that in milquetoast evangelical churches… :)

    1. Ryan says:

      I would actually say we’ve got too much of it. The problem is that we cannot authoritatively dismiss a theological position. We have the Bible, yes – but even if the Bible is infallible, our interpretation of it is not, and many of what we consider to be “ungodly positions” were arrived at by people who genuinely sought the truth of Scripture and who, for all we know, might have a better handle on the truth than we do.

      The maxim I stand by is this: On virtually every position I hold, there has been at some point a brother or sister in Christ who is more educated than I, more intelligent than I, more well-versed in the Scriptures than I, and more in love with God than I who would disagree. Does this mean I’m wrong? Not necessarily. Does this mean that I should not contend for what I believe to be true? No. However, thinking this way has caused me to set aside foolish notions of being some sort of TrueChristian tasked with rebuking the “false teachings” of people who interpret the Scripture differently from me.

      The more you live, the more you learn, and the more you dialogue, the more you realize that most opposing theological positions have a solid Scriptural and logical basis to them. Now, I’m no relativist – I don’t mean to suggest that all these positions are true, or even equally valid. However, I am suggesting that patient dialogue will always be more constructive than fiery rebuke. Yes, Jesus often gave such rebukes, but until you or I become the Son of God or one of His apostles, and receive the wisdom such a position entails, I would strongly recommend against it.

      In other words, in every conversation and on every topic, take very seriously the possibility that the other person could be right and you wrong.

  15. AndyM says:

    I abandoned FB over a year ago. It brought out the jerk in me, and I saw far too many others being jerks there as well.

    The final nail for me was when i posted a fairly innocuous comment in response to a post one of our elders had put up. I don’t know if it related to gay marriage or the new atheists. I got a roasting from him for seemingly putting his relationship back a decade with his unbelieving brother. It was bad enough getting hammered by atheist friends but when you are getting friendly fire from those who are meant to be looking after you, it’s time to bail.

    Far too readily we will say online and from behind a keyboard what we’d never say in person, and that shines through the sinful nature far too clearly.

  16. Ken says:

    Selflessness is not a hallmark of Facebook. In fact, that trait is often in direct conflict with what Facebook or Twitter or whatever has become. It often a forum for narcissistic self-interest that does not often invite the opinions of others unless those opinions are in agreement.

    I left Facebook a year and a half ago and I am very glad I did. Now I have forums like this in which to express myself. Wait, that would only move the location of the rant and not deal with the cause of the rant; me and self interest. Being gracious is much easier for some than others. Facebook allows for instant unveiling of deep thoughtful discourse or instantaneous venting of self-centered presupposition. It provides a venue where folks can say whatever they want regardless of whether of not they even know what they are talking about.

    Sometimes we are very passionate about a given subject and we do not invite dissension or discussion. We lack gentleness, genuine love, and grace. We fail to model Christ likeness yet we expect it from others. The points outlined above are very valuable but we need to not only apply them to our behavior but they must be an expression of who we are.

    1. Melody says:

      Were you being narcissistic or was everyone else and you couldn’t stand it?

      I like these forums because they keep my brain from atrophy but they do not keep me in touch with my elderly relatives halfway across the country. They don’t allow me to see friends from the past and pics of their kids. They don’t allow me to see loving praise of someone that has passed on recently. Or when a friend is having a rough day with work or kids.

      If more people would view a person’s page as their living room they might be more thoughtful about how they respond to a post. Or if they thought about all the friends on their list and where they are personally in their faith walk that would help. More to the point, remember the ones that you added without knowing very well and think about them too. Is your life a testimony or an annoyance. You are always going to annoy someone so you can’t over think it either.

      1. krisakson says:

        I must admit that when I first was introduced to FB I thought it was a great way to reconnect etc with folks from my past. Over time I began to realize that posts (by others) were often self focused. This was true of the “frequent flyers” who felt compelled to fill others in on their lives while never wanting to know what was happening with others. Sometimes FB reminds me of the seagulls in the movie, “Finding Nemo” announcing in chorus, “Mine, mine, mine.”

        Admittedly, I have no problem being me-centered if I am not careful and so, not being a part of a forum that is me-based is a good thing.

        While FB has some positive points, the negative, in my opinion, far out weigh them. However, I have seen some wildly ungracious arrogant behavior in a “pastoral setting” that makes FB look pretty tame.

        Personally, I despise disrespectful bombastic conduct and from what I see in scripture, it flies in the face of godly behavior. When the Lord rebuked someone it was almost always a Scribe or a Pharisee and always for arrogance and unbelief of the truth they were charged with protecting and proclaiming.

        We are charged to proclaim the truth in love. Selfless, humble, and unswerving.

    2. David C says:

      Ken, I applaud you for getting rid of Facebook. Not that it makes you more holy, but because of the conviction that you acted upon. And you’re are completely correct when you say “Selflessness is not a hallmark of Facebook,” and it’s rather annoying really. Everyone thinks they have the best perspective on everything and if you don’t see it their way then there must be something wrong with you, and they are now a missionary to all those who don’t see things their way. The forums are the same way though. I’m sure you’ve noticed. For some reason I can’t stay away from the forums here because I love to read what people think, but at the same time I wonder if it’s doing me more harm than good? Even among our brethren, there is sometimes a severe lack in grace, mercy, and peace.

      1. krisakson says:

        See my response to Melody :)

  17. Nathan W. says:

    Maybe the best approach is not to consider how to post differently, but to not post at all?

    1. Melody says:

      Because speaking to people is just too problematic? Or because it is more holy not to have a Facebook?

  18. george canady says:

    Thanks Trevin for this post. I once read an E-mail from a prominant reformed pastor’s wife referring to facebook as “wastebook”. Even though I don’t use facebook, I thought that a little harsh. As to we Evangelicals learning to be a minority, I might plug in “The Black Church” in the last line of the third paragraph of your article.

  19. Linda Halfacre says:

    Well done, Trevin!

  20. RobertF says:

    “We are to honor everyone, Peter said. Even the emperor … Please don’t tell me Obama is worse than Nero”.

    Trevin, what you forget is that the political context is not analogous.

    Obama is our employee, he’s not an emperor, so it is sloppy exegesis on your part to apply that portion of that verse to this situation. Since the verse previously says “everyone” you don’t need to reference that part. Not sure why you would do that.

    And although there should be nothing nasty or irrelevant when criticizing Obama (such as appearance, name calling, etc.), when his actions show him to be a liar, dishonest, deceptive and attempting to undermine the Constitution, there’s nothing wrong with stating that in the strongest possible terms.

    1. David C says:

      Robert, biblical government is all about serving the people in carrying out justice. Even Nero was supposed to, in this sense, be an employee of the people. But the fact was, he, as well as Obama, are our leaders. Leadership is service afterall, biblically speaking. Right now you’re just fighting a battle of semantics and it is not really producing fruit. Obama is our leader regardless of what we do or do not agree with. We don’t have to support whatever he does. it’s not like Paul expected Christians to support Nero taking advantage of and killing Christians. We don’t have to support Obama with the countless disagreements Christians have with him. We are still responsible to give him his due. There are other alternatives that Christians can legally take advantage of, such as Christian sharing systems as alternatives to Obamacare, that are legally acceptable under the affordable care act. Doing so is a way we can actively NOT support abortion or birth control pills. We can fight other ways as well. But you can do all the word-swapping you want, but you can’t get around our biblical duty to honor.

      1. RobertF says:

        David, I’m not sure we are really disagreeing about anything here with regards to how to treat Obama. You say it’s ok not to support him, so I take it you are ok with criticizing him strongly, or even acting to impeach him if his actions merit those things? And we act thus without stooping to all the nastiness and name calling that are typical of Jon Stewart, David Letterman or Martin Bashir. In other words, treat him with the same decency we would treat anyone else. That is all the “due” he should get. Again, I sense we probably agree here.

        But I don’t agree that this is merely a matter of semantic quibbling. Nero/Caesar/the empereor was regarded as a god. Nero could not be impeached or compelled to obey term limits or a document such as the Constitution. He had no obligations to the people he ruled over. So there is no analogy between that system and ours, and it is to that system that the Bible refers in passages such as “render unto Caesar” or in Romans 13 where it talks about God ordained authorities.

        So it’s not that I am engaging in word swapping, rather you and Trevin are conflating completely different concepts of government and then misapplying certain passages in misleading ways as a result. We must not let the desire to have an applicable passage for our situation cause us to misconstrue our political situation. That is just laziness: instead of thinking through our unique situation (which didn’t exist in the first century), we’d rather just pull a verse out of context even if it doesn’t apply. We should not be thinking of our political leaders as emperors or gods. There is a real danger there. We must apply other Biblical principles and passages.

        For instance, of course Paul didn’t expect Christians to *like* persecution, but he *did* expect them to use/invoke whatever rights they had, as when he himself invoked his Roman citizenship to escape wrongful imprisonment. We have the right to free speech, free press, and to have elected officials who obey the Constitution, and Paul would be perfectly OK with us exercising those rights as far as possible. It is only leftist hypocrites like Brian McLaren and Jim Wallis who want to convince conservatives that they must accept whatever liberal government does, while they themselves are more politically active than anyone.

        Please don’t fall for it. The meme “conservative Christians can’t be involved in politics” is a con. Of course that shouldn’t be our one obsession, but for love of neighbor we need to exercise what rights and powers that we have for better government, even if that means going against our elected officials. Leadership *is* service, but again, you are conflating an ideal of how Christians ought to lead, with passages about how to treat Roman authorities. I doubt Paul (Rom 13) or Peter thought that Nero was really constrained by Christian parameters, and it certainly makes no sense to elevate someone who does not possess the powers of an emperor (like our elected officials) to that estimation in our thinking, merely to have a passage to apply to him.
        [/rant]

        1. David C says:

          Robert, What you’re doing is dangerous as well. By saying “then is not a perfect representation of now, so we can’t apply anything in the passage from then to now” is a very dangerous game to play and the end result is liberalism, and many “christians” use the same tactics to support homosexual marriage. Of course there is a difference, but who do you think Paul and Jesus were talking to when they were expressing truth about a believer’s relationship to government? People who wanted any excuse possible to rid themselves of bad government whether physically through revolution or at very least mentally (which is what most conservatives today do. Sit back in our office chair, complain online, sign petitions online, but really do nothing and merely snowball a hostile attitude toward our leaders). Are we looking to the bible to justify our carnal hearts? You seem to find it easy enough to apply Paul’s teaching when he evoked rights and such. I’m all for impeaching Obama, and if a president before the 2000’s did the things he did he would probably already have been impreached. Today’s generation is too lazy to see that done though. One of the modern government’s best allies is the internet – better to have people vent their concerns on the internet than through channels that can actually get something done. but what I’m saying is that yes, we can recognize the wrong in modern government. BUT it is also our responsibility to give government their due. Perhaps a follow up article could articulate what exactly the government IS due, and what is NOT their due. In either case, our heart must not must hate and animosity. Should we not pray for our leaders? If we cannot bring ourselves to 1. pray for Obama and current government and 2. pray for their redemption rather than demise, perhaps we should consider whether or not we are just covering up our carnality with claims to “liberty.”

          1. RobertF says:

            Yes. I am very well aware of that danger, where liberals try to read all sorts of extraneous conditions into the texts they don’t like in order to say they don’t apply. Yes, we must not be carnal, in the sense of pinning our hopes on human institutions like government instead of on God. It’s just that the rhetoric (as with Martin Bashir openly said about Sarah Palin: I won’t repeat it here: just google it if you are curious) has me deeply worried. I can’t believe it’s come to this. How can Bashir and others act so openly despicable like this? We should not have any hope things will get better, but we should still do what we can.

          2. Melody says:

            Some people have a teachable heart and others do not. This is all wasted breath. They will never be willing to submit in the way that Christ did because they are Americans and Americans are ordained with RIGHTS by men that enslaved other men, counted women as property and sent disease infested blankets over to the Indians because they were heathens to be killed off.

            The fact that Jesus said to take gospel to all the nations, not to go kill them wouldn’t give God any reason to discipline this nation. We are like Hophni and Phinehas. Trying to drag God around to our battles expecting Him to come through even though we are disobedient to real battle we have been charged with.

          3. RobertF says:

            “Americans are ordained with RIGHTS by men that enslaved other men”

            Actually, I think the Declaration of Independence and John Locke got it right: we are endowed by our Creator with *unalienable* rights: life, liberty, property.

            I think of the OT laws/commandments instituted to guarantee these rights, as well as Paul in Acts when he invoked his Roman citizenship rather than suffer gratuitous punishment. You must not impose a false dichotomy between submission and exercising ones’ rights. The reason people had to submit to Rome in the 1st century is because they had no rights.

        2. Melody says:

          If your identity is in Christ then that is your identity. All things come second and on down the list. You have the right to have an abortion according to this country. And you have a right to marry a man in some states too. Obviously an true identity in Christ should restrict that regardless of what our “rights” say in this government.

          Jesus gave us the duty to carry the gospel out to everyone. Making our life goal and concerns to get someone fired (impeached) is an obsession that I wouldn’t want to over take my heart. Though I’m sure I will get some political label for voicing a belief in Christ above all else. Anyone that knows me though knows that I don’t hesitate to post about abortion and human trafficking. I don’t shy away from talking about things that God would find abominable including not appreciating how much we have.

          1. RobertF says:

            If he abuses his authority with executive orders, then for everyone’s sake (ie. love of neighbor) he should be impeached, for the good of all.

    2. Melody says:

      Yes our government is for the people by the people but you cannot say that Obama is your employee. We have a system set up that hires government employees like police officers and then we are to submit to the fact that they are the entrusted with enforcing our laws. I see the argument that they work for us whenever someone wants to be abusive towards them. They are not under us. They are our equals except when they are on duty then we are under them. By being citizens of this country we have agreed to this system. If we don’t like it then we can run for office and try and change it or move to another country.
      So by voting for Barack Obama, we, or the majority so to speak, have agreed to have him be over us. We are ruled by the laws that he and congress put in place.

      You may think you decide who the president is but God says otherwise- Daniel 2:20-21
      Blessed be the name of God forever and ever,
      to whom belong wisdom and might.
      He changes times and seasons;
      he removes kings and sets up kings;
      he gives wisdom to the wise
      and knowledge to those who have understanding

      1 Peter 2:13-19 Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution (Or every institution ordained for people),whether it be to the emperor(or king)as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good.For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.
      Servants, be subject to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the unjust. For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly.

      1. RobertF says:

        “Yes our government is for the people by the people but you cannot say that Obama is your employee.”

        Obiously he’s not my personal employee, but his authority is subservient to the Constitution and to the electorate. In that sense he is our employee, completely different from the Roman Emperor.

        “We have a system set up that hires government employees like police officers and then we are to submit to the fact that they are the entrusted with enforcing our laws.”

        We are submitting to laws that were ultimately enacted by us, the people. If the police officers disobey those laws, they are the ones who must submit and be punished. Again, there is no analogy to the political context of the first century.

        “I see the argument that they work for us whenever someone wants to be abusive towards them.”

        Or as a timely reminder when they are being abusive to us.

        “They are not under us. They are our equals except when they are on duty then we are under them.”

        They are under us in the sense they can be kicked out for disobeying the laws that are enacted by our will. When they are on duty, they merely enforce the laws that we have imposed on ourselves. They are not an unconstrained authority like a king or emperor who rules by military might and stories of being semi-divine.

        “By being citizens of this country we have agreed to this system. If we don’t like it then we can run for office and try and change it or move to another country.”

        If leftists don’t like the fact that people have inalienable rights and government is constrained by the Constitution, they can move to Venezuela or Cuba.

        “So by voting for Barack Obama, we, or the majority so to speak, have agreed to have him be over us.”

        But only because his job is to act as our proxy, since we don’t have the time to go over every law. We temporarily delegate authority. That is a necessary evil, but it is not coercive, unrestrained authority.

        “We are ruled by the laws that he and congress put in place.”

        Not if they violate our inalienable rights or fall outside the powers explicitly delegated to the Federal government in the Constitution. Then they are abusing the proxy authority that is delegated to them.

        “You may think you decide who the president is but God says otherwise”

        You are begging the question by assuming that the President is a king. Do you really think that? A king can have his enemies thrown in the dungeon. Do you think Obama has or should have the power to throw, say, Mark Steyn in prison for no reason at all?

        I’m sorry, but I think the reverse of your interpretation is true. He removes kings and sets up kings, ie. he causes the electorate to shift one way at times, and in another direction at other times.

        You are shirking your duty if you ignore the fact that our form of government has no analog in OT or NT times. We cannot use passages that, although they refer clearly to governments in those times, refer to a completely different form of government.
        It would be like saying that if a man’s brother died he was *obliged* to marry his brother’s widow, simply because the law of Levirate marriage was customary in the OT.

        “Servants, be subject to your masters”. I’d reverse that in the case of this administration: “Congress, President, admit you lied to the people who lost their coverage with ACA, and obey their will. Be subject to your electorate”. Why is that so crazy?

        1. Melody says:

          Are you denying that God put Obama in that authority position?

          1. RobertF says:

            In the Reformed sense that God ordains whatsoever comes to pass. Everything that happens happens with his foreknowledge and because of his sustaining power. But we shouldn’t be resigned to suffering under Obama if he goes to far, and given the use of the IRS, ACA, I think we’ve reached a limit. This is adiaphora, though, I just think we are not constrained by the verse like in Daniel that we need to think of him as a king and resign ourselves to this situation.

        2. Melody says:

          You are way too caught up in your “rights” on this earth to see the bigger picture.

  21. Alien & Stranger says:

    Thanks for this. I must admit that profane anti-theists who post expletive-laden vitriol on friends’ Timeline faith posts really get my goat. My Christian friends nobly think they are somehow going to win their anti-theist “friends” to Christ. At times I have corrected the anti-theists when they spout a whole lot of Dawkins-style anti-Christian propaganda, which I’ve learned only invites more vitriol directed at me (even though I have at times pointed out my former state of spiritual blindness as a liberal agnostic – I have not forgotten what I once was). I’ve also learned that no-one’s views are changed through interchanges on the internet (i.e. FB and comment threads), and in fact attitudes just harden as the dialogue escalates, so now I mostly refrain from comment. I’ve decided it’s better to pray for the anti-theists than “shipwreck” my witness. There are people who are better able than I to manifest grace and speak the truth with love.

    1. Melody says:

      It’s not about convincing them. It’s about the people that have questions, that read what is there and never post anything. You cannot let a lie stand but you have to be loving because it is a spiritual battle too. You can’t let the silent ones read only lies. You have to stand for the truth. Trevin Wax stands for truth.

      The whole point is that whatever you put out there is permanent and there are people seeing you and reading you that you are not even aware of. People think of it like it’s a private conversation and it’s not.
      The elder that put something up and then expected people to know not to comment on it was being ridiculous. He doesn’t understand how it works either. I know better than to post anything political because I have family members that really dislike the current administration and it would be like setting off a lose cannon on my page. Politics isn’t truth anyway. It’s just opinion and solves nothing.

  22. David C says:

    A&S, I think you have a very good point when it comes to atheists/agnostics. The Cyber-cafe is not really an effective place to reach them. The best way to discuss matters of eternity with our A/A neighbors is to talk to them personally, however often we are too afraid to do so. When I’m sitting at my desk typing away my arguments, I can take a moment, think through what i want to say, research any details I feel I need to research, and fire away. When you’re face to face, you have nowhere to turn for instant help. You cannot take 5 minutes to review and revise your “entry.” It’s now or never. But face to face is where they see and hear your heart. They can sense your passion for the Truth. And that is something FAR more effective than an extra 10 minutes of think-time or research. Some people you cannot have a face to face convo with. Perhaps we must submit to the the notion that they are someone else’s mission field, not ours. We need to reach the people we can reach. Too many people act like online missionaries, reaching the world through their blogs and articles and pithy tweets. But the real mission field is at our finger tips not in the form of a keyboard but in serving our widows and orphans, and in getting into each other’s lives with the Gospel message. It’s going out an talking to real people. The internet makes it easy to be a radical Christian, to post the radical posts and like the radical pages. But often those of us who seem on fire online are the ones that never speak a word or perform a work outside of a lit screen.

  23. Jeremy says:

    There is a ditch on both sides of the road. In our posting we must learn to play the ball, not the man. We should be more forthright on the issues and more gracious to the person.

    IMO Evangelicals do not do this well. Most Evangelicals tend to ‘fear what the world’ thinks about Christians’ more than standing for truth regardless of its popularity.

    It pains me when I see Evangelicals join in the hate rants against more conservative fundamentalists. (and I am not defending all of the loopy fundy ideas out there). But it seems we give more ground and comfort to the atheists and mockers when we join in the public bashing of an obnoxious comment that a fellow Christian made. (How many of us practice Matt 18 and go to them with a Private Message first?)

  24. Melody says:

    Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only what is useful for building up, as there is need, so that your words may give grace to those who hear.

  25. Melody says:

    RobertF

    You have every twist imaginable to disqualify submitting verses from your life. Jesus is our example. Jesus said to follow Him. He told us to give up everything. Paul used his rights in certain situations to put the gospel forward. He did not use his rights to promote a kingdom on this earth as a believer so that no one would suffer here. This world is not our home.

    You do the exact same thing to submitting scriptures that the “liberal” Christians do with the verses about homosexuality. It’s really quite ironic.

  26. My problem is with heretics INSIDE the visible church. (if we dare call anybody that anymore) I can show grace and love and patience to snarling God hating pagans wishing death and dismemberment upon myself and my family all day long. (I have and do)

    I have ZEEROH tolerance for bible butchering liberals who attempt to marry the name of my beautiful Jesus with their newfound post modern poison.

    I wish somebody would write about that.

    1. Ryan says:

      We generally tend to avoid calling people heretics because it makes no sense in a Protestant context. Without some sort of overarching church authority to ratify and enforce allegations of heresy, it becomes a fairly meaningless term that, at the end of the day, is just a trumped-up way of saying “I disagree with your position.”

      It’s also worth noting that a great deal of liberal Christianity is firmly rooted in modernism and that post-modern theology began, in many ways, as a reaction against it.

      1. Jeremy says:

        Great comment about the usage of ‘heretic’

        We do have so much error within the broad context of Christendom. Most people are Christian’s in their own mind, without common agreement of makes one a Christian. Unfortunately it makes the term almost meaningless and leads to countless online rants and debates.

        IMO the best thing to do is to develop the skill of using the private message function more on Facebook. Then we can talk to the individual rather than craft our post replies to the ‘observers’.

  27. Ryan and Jeremy will probably not be shocked to learn that somebody who would write a comment like mine will utterly disagree with their sentiments. All of em. To the syllable. In fact ANYbody claiming historic reformed orthodoxy, which these fellas I certainly hope are not, should be repulsed by such inclusivistic dialecticism.

    I see the church as far too cuddly with literally anybody who can sound out the word J. E. S. U. S. and far too self righteously arrogant with sinners whom we seem to forget we were once just like. That’s the biblical model. Grace for the lost and anathemas for heretics.

    We’ve only recently had this problem of forgetting that.

    BTW. All Barth did was build a shiny new plastic house on the same old liberal foundation. It looks cool to those unsatisfied with the faith once for all delivered to the saints.

    I’d be interested to learn if Trevin agrees that nobody can know what the gospel and hence a Christian is, thus rendering us unable by definition to obey the numerous biblical commands to uphold sound doctrine and reject everything else as the demonic proclamation of false Christs and false gospels? This probably isn’t the place though.

    I say again. I show nothing but truly heartfelt grace and love fed by MUCH prayer for those still dead in their sins. It’s been almost 30 years, but I remember where and what I was when he called me forth from my grave. I love them. I won’t get it, but I want them all as my brothers and sisters in Him.

    1. Jeremy says:

      Greg,

      Sadly, I have observed brothers in Christ call those who have a different view of eschatology – heretics. Similar sentiments have been expressed towards those who don’t adopt a reformed label. It seems the term heretic is determined from one’s own position.

      For better or worse, I don’t identify with the Catholic church, Luther, Calvin or any of the reformers. I identify with Jesus. Just because I don’t align with a particular church father does not mean I lack sound doctrine. In all our comments, I wish we would take time to hear and person and deal with the doctrine, rather than exalt a ‘label’ or ‘system’ as superior.

  28. Jeremy says:
    December 4, 2013 at 8:42 pm
    Greg,
    Sadly, I have observed brothers in Christ call those who have a different view of eschatology – heretics. Similar sentiments have been expressed towards those who don’t adopt a reformed label. It seems the term heretic is determined from one’s own position.

    I promise you that would not be me sir. I am a thoroughgoing Westminster covenant Calvinist and an incurable Van Tillian who knows what that means to boot.

    On Sunday night I attend an arminian, dispensational KJV ONLY (and how)church where my landlady has been a member for 50 years. They are my brethren. If you look over my Facebook page you will find me BLASTING another pastor named Larry who is also of that same school though we’ve never met. You’ll also find me giving him deep respect. Because he has a more biblicl moral compass and jealousy over the name of Christ Jesus than 97% of the my fellow reformers who have all but lost their way EXCEPT in the books. He accuses Calvinists of having no taste for real holiness and defining it down to fit their own carnality and worldliness and we consistently make him right. It tears my heart out.

    Jeremy says:
    For better or worse, I don’t identify with the Catholic church, Luther, Calvin or any of the reformers. I identify with Jesus. Just because I don’t align with a particular church father does not mean I lack sound doctrine. In all our comments, I wish we would take time to hear and person and deal with the doctrine, rather than exalt a ‘label’ or ‘system’ as superior.

    With all due charity friend, you’ll have to forgive my being entirely unimpressed. I’ll try not to belabor this Trevin.

    Jeremy, I’m asking you and honest friendly question. Do you believe that before ever the world was that the God without whose all governing decree not one atom in all the vast cosmos dare twitch, chose irreversibly and infallibly by name all those He would save?

    I am not in any way being sarcastic. That is a simple question (well, ok there’s a couple in there, but still) for which a yes or no is in this context the only necessary answer. My answer is yes. What’s yours?

  29. Jeremy says:

    Greg,

    I am pleased you call your KJV-only, dispensational arminian friends, brethren. (BTW: I don’t hold the KJV only position either) However, are e-Blasts in either direction are helpful? I think this is what the OP was getting at. Wouldn’t it be more fruitful to sit down face to face over coffee? We can lose so much context when only communicate online.

    I note you are unimpressed. However, it is Jesus’ view that concerns me. I believe Jesus existed before the Foundation of the world. He is eternal and exists outside of time, which may help answer your question about my view about foreknowledge and predestination. Similarly Jesus and His truth also existed before the reformation and the reformers. If the TULIP system or terminology was essential, it would have been included in the canon. Therefore, my view is that it is possible to be 100% Biblical and not be Reformed. Just as it is possible to be 100% Biblical and not be a ‘Baptist’. And yes, I have heard it all before, ‘Jesus was reformed’, or Jesus was a Baptist. No, Jesus was Jesus. I wonder, if we stopped reverse-reading our systems, labels and culture back into Jesus, would we have less online arguments?

    1. I’m sorry, I missed the part where you answer my question. If it was in there somewhere, I’d appreciate if you could point it out.

      Here I’ll knock it down a notch (not because I think you’re stupid btw)
      Did God foreordain (predetermine) by name, face and DNA every human being He would ever save? So that every specimen of that number would be infallibly raised by Him on the last day?
      Yes or no?
      See, you’ll never have this problem with me. If you ask me a question, I WILL answer it so that you WILL go to bed that night understanding in no uncertain terms what my view was on what you asked me about. This was once called “conviction”. In our sorta Kantian, sorta Hegelian paganized society which has most definitely succeeded in recreating the western church in it’s own image, this is now known as “arrogance”. I don’t care. I refuse to play.

      1. Jeremy says:

        Greg, It seems you have answered your own questions. Trust me, when I go to bed, I won’t be wondering what you view is :-)

        1. Jeremy quips: “Greg, It seems you have answered your own questions. Trust me, when I go to bed, I won’t be wondering what you view is :-)”
          But alas, it does appear I will still be wondering about yours. This will be the last time because I don’t want to clutter up Trevin’s thread any more than I already have. Could I prevail upon you sir to answer this question for me please:
          Did God foreordain (predetermine) by name, face and DNA every human being He would ever save? So that every specimen of that number would be infallibly raised by Him on the last day?
          Yes or no?

          I say yet again. It’s an honest simple question which I unhesitatingly affirm as the uniform testimony of holy scripture when God is allowed to define man (and everything else including Himself) and not the other way around.
          I earnestly beseech you to honor me with the knowledge of your view Jeremy?

  30. Jeremy says:

    Oh and Greg, after re-reading my last post, I feel I probably went on too much based on my personal experiences. Sorry about that. It demonstrates just how easy it is to slip into a rant on topics that are close to our heart. My reformed friends are my brothers in Christ and I respect them too. We we both worship Jesus as one in heaven for all eternity.

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Trevin Wax


​Trevin Wax is managing editor of The Gospel Project at LifeWay Christian Resources, husband to Corina, father to Timothy, Julia, and David. You can follow him on Twitter. Click here for Trevin’s full bio.

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