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Learn and Discern: Government is Evil

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Yesterday, GRACE published an excellent article by Victor Vieth and linked to the Paul Washer video that I posted in yesterday’s article (video is posted below in this article).

GRACE  is a non-profit organization made up of highly trained and experienced multi-disciplinary professionals who seek to educate and empower the Christian community to identify, confront and respond to the sin of child abuse.

I deliberately did not link to the GRACE article, because I wanted to see what you thought without having any other influences.  Here is the article:  The True (and False) Persecution of the Church.  Please be sure to read the comments.  If you followed the comments in yesterday’s post, Learn to Discern: Persecution or Hype or Agenda?, you will notice that some of you had similar arguments.  The discussion was great.  I loved it.

I, too,  saw the video before reading GRACE’s article and wanted to share my observations.  Here are the key excerpts I found troublesome:

The church in America is going to suffer so terribly.   And we laugh now, but they will come after us and they will come after our children. They will close the net around us while we are playing soccer mom and soccer dad. While we are arguing over so many little things and mesmerized by so many trinkets. The net, even now is closing around you and your children and your grandchildren and it does not cause you to fear.

You’ll go down as the greatest bigots and haters of mankind in history. They’ve already come after your children, and for most of you, they have already gotten them. They got them through the public schools and indoctrination and in the university and indoctrination and then you wonder why your children come out not serving the Lord. It’s because you fed them right into the devil’s mouth. So little by little, the net is closing around and then it’s not little by little  – look how fast things are going down hill in a matter of weeks, matter of weeks. But at the same time know this:  persecution is always meant for evil, but God always means it for good. And is it not better to suffer in this life, to have an extra weight of glory in heaven?

They were martyred and they were persecuted as enemies of the state, as child molesters, as bigots, as narrow-minded stupid people who had fallen for a ruse and can contribute nothing to society.

This is the kind of rhetoric that we have been given in the Homeschool Movement. As soon as I heard him say these words in the video, I immediately thought that he had drunk the Homeschool Movement Kool-Aid. What Kool-Aid is that? It is the pervasive idea in the Homeschool Movement (and consequently churches who embrace the Homeschool Movement) that the government is first and foremost E.V.I.L. – as in all caps, bolded, and italicized!

And we laugh now, but they will come after us and they will come after our children. They will close the net around us while we are playing soccer mom and soccer dad.

They taught that there can be nothing good about the government (or government schools). They are out to get Christians.  We must be fearful of them.  They are not of us.  We must not be connected with them.

A couple of weeks ago when I was in Portland, I reconnected with an old friend and I confessed that I had thought poorly of her because she allowed her two sweet high school students to attend their local heathen government school for choir classes.  Yes, that’s the way we talked sometimes.  You see, these girls used to be in the homeschool choir I directed and I couldn’t fathom the idea that these precious girls whom I loved were being indoctrinated in the evil government high school.  Oh, that Kool-Aid was so thick.  Evil, I tell you, heathen government schools are E.V.I.L.  (Side note:  they are so evil that I have now sent 3 of my kids to the evil public high school and now I’m Evil Choir Mom and Accompanist and going on my 5th year of doing so – my, my how things change.)

Back to more of Paul Washer, warning, warning:

The net, even now is closing around you and your children and your grandchildren and it does not cause you to fear.

As homeschooling parents, if you do one thing bad, don’t dot your “i” and cross your “t,” the school district is going to come after you, and the police and CPS is not far behind.  Warning, warning:

They’ve already come after your children, and for most of you, they have already gotten them. 

And if those evil ogres come to your front door, you will need to know what to say because if you say the wrong thing, they could take your children away from you.

Sovereign Grace Ministries (SGM) had a large population of homeschooling families who were well acquainted with this kind of exaggerated anti-government mentality.  That mentality, along with the mentality that churches know better how to handle crimes which they labeled as “sin” than civil authorities helped to create an environment perfect for sexual perpetrators to live and thrive.

Think about the SGM case and my former church.  Pastors allegedly knew of the sex abuse cases and refused to notify civil authorities.  They dealt with the cases in the church and wanted to keep them under wraps. They surely had the evil-government idea in their minds, too.  It was common knowledge that you did not involve the evil government in these affairs.  This mindset gave the green light for church leaders to not only overlook abuse, but could also give them the green light to abuse since they knew there was no civil authority oversight.

I am not saying that Paul Washer by any means condones abuse or has even thought this through, but do you see what can happen with his they-are-evil message?

Please, listen to the video again.  This time when you listen, imagine yourself as a homeschooling family who has drunk the Kool-Aid that the government is evil.  But wait . . . before you hit “play,” look at this.  I’ve mentioned Homeschool Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) before:

Home School Legal Defense Association is a nonprofit advocacy organization established to defend and advance the constitutional right of parents to direct the education of their children and to protect family freedoms. Through annual memberships, HSLDA is tens of thousands of families united in service together, providing a strong voice when and where needed. (Source)

Imagine that you believe wholeheartedly that if you don’t say and do the right things, “they” may come after you and take your kids away.  Note the words “government intrusion”  below taken from the HSLDA site below:

HSLDA also takes the offensive, filing actions to protect members against government intrusion and to establish legal precedent. (From HSLDA site)

Imagine that you have taped a script on the inside cupboard in your kitchen cupboard.  The script (printed and distributed to HSLDA members) is what to say should any evil school district officer or evil government official come to your front door.  Imagine you have also trained your children what to do or say should anyone confront you while you are out in public, at the library, at the grocery store.  All of your children are trained how to respond to the question, “why are you not in school?”

See, you had to have the right response – – – just in case.  Just in case what you ask?  Just in case that person you met notifies evil Child Protective Services or the evil local school district.  In the HSLDA newsletters, we read letters from concerned parents about what to do with nosy neighbors or family members who did not want you to homeschool.  There was clearly an us versus them mentality that we were exposed to.

Ok, now hit play.

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Now imagine you are a parent of a child who was sexually violated.  In your church, your church leaders have told you they will take care of the problem.  You trust them.  They have your family’s best interest at heart.  Not only that, you are protected by HSLDA.  It’s a “Christian” organization.  They believe like you that homeschooling your children is your civil right and will protect you and fight for you when the government tries to tell you otherwise.  Both HSLDA and your church leaders are in agreement, so they both must be right . . . right?  Now everybody is in agreement:   government is evil.  That part is settled in our minds.

When thinking of the sphere of influence in the families of victims, we realize that they are pretty isolated because of having large families, being active in homeschooling endeavors, and their church commitments.  If all of their primary influencers are telling them that the government is evil, you better believe the government is evil.  The government might be the last place you want to take our molested child.  And if you do, you will surely feel pangs of guilt because you will be going against all of the leaders in your sphere of influence.  That is pretty powerful.  I cannot imagine the strength of Renee Gamby’s parents who actually DID go against their church authority and notify police of their daughter’s abuse (Renee is sex abuse survivor and plaintiff in SGM’s sex abuse civil lawsuit). ::::High fives to the Palmers from JA:::::

I’m telling you people, we as homeschool parents were taught by homeschool leaders (HSLDA and leaders at Christian homeschooling conventions) to fear government.  That they were not there for our protection.

Whether he meant to or not, Paul Washer seems to be perpetuating the idea that all government is evil by his fear mongering.

I do not like this fear-mongering.  People in positions of influence and authority need to be very careful in how they use their words.   Below is what the Bible says about civil authority.  It seems a lot different from Washer’s, “they’ve already come after your children.”

Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority,  or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right.

For such is the will of God that by doing right you may silence the ignorance of foolish men.

[Act] as free men, and do not use your freedom as a covering for evil, but [use it] as bondslaves of God.  Honor all men; love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the king.  Peter 2:13-17

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165 thoughts on “Learn and Discern: Government is Evil”

  1. Ric: “Consider Jesus’ commentary with the woman at the well. He could have slain her where she stood, but instead, offered to give her water where she would never thirst again. he didn’t tell her just to tough it out, neither did he do that to anyone else seeking truth.”

    Me: “Very good comment. I also find it interesting that Jesus never actually said that the woman’s living arrangements were sinful.”

    I should elaborate on my statement. There are any number of reasons why a woman could be living with a man that’s not her husband (financial, protection, etc.). So I’ve never viewed this story as Jesus pointing out her alleged sin. I’ve always viewed Jesus’ words here as just simply “I know what you’ve been through, and I understand.”

    Also, thank you Ric for showing grace throughout this thread, and elaborating yourself when necessary. I haven’t always agreed with you, but I’ve appreciated the grace you’ve shown toward those that don’t agree with you.

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  2. RMR – thank you. I appreciate the encouragement. I’ve always been taken back by that situation at the well. So much going on there…

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  3. Ric said: “They were being “persecuted,” if you will, by other Christians not liking arrogant preachers and deacons that think they are the one true church in the area, they also from what I observed, were might proud of it.”

    That reminds me of my former pastor and how still thinks he is being persecuted by Meaghan and me.

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  4. There have been a few comments about the story of the woman at the well. What an amazing story of love and grace. Imagine what our world would be like if Christians loved like that.

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  5. RMR – Yes, they give many examples.

    Ric – Yes, compared to what believers are going through in many countries, American Christians are not persecuted. But with each year there seems to be less tolerance. I’m sorry for what you went through in Spain, but the cases I’ve read about are more like this one:

    http://www.christianpost.com/news/teacher-fired-for-giving-bible-to-student-appeals-denied-claim-98511/

    Imagine if it had been a Quran instead of a Bible.

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  6. Methodist Reader,

    Bravo regarding your comments about the woman at the well! Although the idea is not original to me, I suspect and hope that the woman at the well has been greatly and falsely maligned. Although I am no expert on the culture of the times, I would understand that, if she had been divorced multiple times, it would have been because the husbands drove her away. She would not have had the option to leave of her own choice. If this is so, I see no fault in her. If she was living with a man without benefit of marriage, It stands to reason that she was given no choice in the matter. Women in those days were treated as property the men. There may have been coercion going beyond a choice on her part to sin or starve.

    There are other possibilities. She may have been one whose character was exceedingly great, having been formed by adversity for the very purpose of meeting Jesus at the well–and for her part in the events that followed. What adversity? We tend to assume she was divorced. Maybe. Maybe this was part of the adversity. But why assume this? Why not posit that she had been widowed five times. In her times and in her culture, that would have been character building adversity indeed. Further, why assume that she was to blame, at the time of her encounter with Jesus, for somehow refusing to allow a man to take advantage of her sexually. Why not think, rather, that she was engaged but not yet married?

    My evidence? Well, look at her conversation with Jesus. Her responses and her questions were not, I submit, those we would expect of a loose living, immoral, woman. Her courteous, submissive, deference to Jesus was not what we would expect of one we have tended to assume was no better than a harlot.

    Yet, my best evidence is the reaction of the townspeople. They followed her out to Jesus! What, the towns people listened to, were persuaded by, and followed the local slut out to see some unknown (and hated) Jew in the heat of the day? I doubt it. This was an influential women of good reputation.

    Whatever the circumstances of the woman’s life, she may have been the very first evangelist. I’m fairly certain she is the first evangelist to the gentiles, although I am willing to be shown if this is not correct. If I am correct in thinking the woman at the well was the first evangelist, at least to the gentiles, there is a sense in which she is our own spiritual mother.

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  7. Jeff,
    I hope I didn’t convey that I don’t think any sort of persecution is happening within our borders. I believe it is, some have said it happened to me while in the military – I don’t know. But currently, though hostility towards Christians seems to be increasing (and we shouldn’t be surprised, right?), it is very slight compared to those under Nero (past history), and those in Iran (current), plus that one article that recorded hundreds of thousands martyred for the faith. 😦

    My concern I was hoping to convey was when Christian leaders claim persecution for stuff they are actually doing wrong, or from other Christians because the same leaders are intolerant and unloving.

    Don’t forget to pray for those in prison, e.g. Pastor Saeed in Iran, plus for all the other Christians imprisoned there, whose names we do not know, that God would strengthen them and their families…

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  8. Just now getting the chance to catch up on the comments. Wow, how vastly different Ric and B4B’s responses to my questions are.

    Ric, thanks for sharing more about your background and experiences are. It helps create a less polarized view of homeschooling, hearing about your reasons for choosing that route, but also about your respect for public education. While I don’t see eye to eye with you on all of your reasons, I can hear where you’re coming from.

    As for Born4Battle, whose very pseudonym doesn’t exactly communicate a desire to hear and understand others’ points of view, definitely not seeing a lot of courage and honor that one would expect in this “battle” that you feel born for. You’ve evaded most of the direct questions asked of you.

    B4B- I doubt that you will respond to yet another direct question, but I am curious about something. Your “proof” of the American church being persecuted seems to be coming from your extensive online research. The internet is a valuable resource in finding a variety of viewpoints. However, I think it is really important to base our perception of persecution on actual interactions with real people in face to face conversations. I am honestly curious if you have any friends who are gay? Or if you have friends and family who are atheists or practice other religions, such as Islam? And have you asked them what they think of Christians? And really listened? And if you have had those conversations, do you honestly feel that those individuals are on an active mission to attack Christianity in America?

    I have friends and family from each of these backgrounds who each have stories of how they have been mistreated by Christians. They are some of the most compassionate people I know, and while I disagree with them theologically, I definitely do not feel threatened. I don’t know any on who is gay who is hell bent on making it illegal for pastors to preach about sin (thought they feel uncomfortable with this language). Their mission is not to destroy Christian churches or promote homosexuality. They simply want to be shown love and respect.

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  9. “B4B- I doubt that you will respond to yet another direct question, but I am curious about something. Your “proof” of the American church being persecuted seems to be coming from your extensive online research. The internet is a valuable resource in finding a variety of viewpoints. However, I think it is really important to base our perception of persecution on actual interactions with real people in face to face conversations. I am honestly curious if you have any friends who are gay? Or if you have friends and family who are atheists or practice other religions, such as Islam? And have you asked them what they think of Christians? And really listened? And if you have had those conversations, do you honestly feel that those individuals are on an active mission to attack Christianity in America?”
    That I suggested researching the subject of persecution of the church means that it’s my only source is ludicrous on its face. We also cannot base our beliefs solely on personal experience. Improper behavior of Christians toward others is not even the topic here. And BTW, I have all sorts of friends who desperately need Christ and His gospel, and with whom I seek to share the gospel that Christ died for our sin, which includes that there is only one way, one truth. I also know that if God doesn’t open a hard heart to hear the gospel, it will be rejected and I will lose some of those friends. The Bible tells us that the gospel is offensive to the unbeliever. Nevertheless, I will share the unvarnished truth. I would have to hate them not to.

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  10. So, B4B. Let me see if I understand you. Because you know the bible is offensive to the unbeliever, and you also know that God opens or closes a hard heart, you feel are being obedient by shoving your brand of Christianity down their throat? – – that you would be disobedient and hateful not to?

    What are your thoughts on friendship evangelism?

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  11. JA, to say that you grossly misunderstand me is a ‘gross’ understatement.

    For one, I don’t have a personal ‘brand’ of Christianity. It’s the Apostle who defined the gospel (of first import importance) as Christ having died for our sins. He was not ashamed and I am not ashamed.

    If I did not take my ‘friendships’ with unbelievers toward the goal of presenting that gospel to them (I might not get to that goal with each one) I am not their friend. I have no idea what you mean by ‘shoving it down their throat’. You have no way of knowing how I move toward the goal of presenting Jesus Christ to unbelieving friends.

    IF you think that discussing the issue of ‘sin’ with unbelievers is ‘shoving it down their throat’, you are gospel ignorant, my friend.

    And don’t use the woman at the well as your proof that we are to avoid sin. Jesus not only called her on it while they were talking about physical and spiritual ‘water’, his final words in that account were ‘now go and leave your life of sin’.

    I know the Bible is foolish and offensive to the unbeliever because the Bible tells me that it is. I know that we, as believers are the aroma of Christ to the world around us; the aroma of life to life to those who are being saved and the aroma of death to death for the perishing, because the Bible tells me that it is.

    While you are reading you Bible about these things, look up what the angel told Joseph concerning Christ’s mission on this earth.

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  12. For one, I don’t have a personal ‘brand’ of Christianity.

    I have a question for you. Do you believe many of the people who have challenged you are Believers?

    If I did not take my ‘friendships’ with unbelievers toward the goal of presenting that gospel to them (I might not get to that goal with each one) I am not their friend. I have no idea what you mean by ‘shoving it down their throat’. You have no way of knowing how I move toward the goal of presenting Jesus Christ to unbelieving friends.

    No, I do not know how you share with others the gospel, but I have observed how you treat people here. Do you treat people differently online than in person? Maybe you don’t.

    IF you think that discussing the issue of ‘sin’ with unbelievers is ‘shoving it down their throat’, you are gospel ignorant, my friend.

    I think you sometimes do have that kind of tone here. That’s why I used those words.

    And don’t use the woman at the well as your proof that we are to avoid sin. Jesus not only called her on it while they were talking about physical and spiritual ‘water’, his final words in that account were ‘now go and leave your life of sin’.

    Putting words in my mouth? The thought never occurred to me.

    I know the Bible is foolish and offensive to the unbeliever because the Bible tells me that it is. I know that we, as believers are the aroma of Christ to the world around us; the aroma of life to life to those who are being saved and the aroma of death to death for the perishing, because the Bible tells me that it is.

    That’s fine, but how is this message presented? In love? In harsh words and judgmental attitudes? In kindness and compassion?

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  13. “And don’t use the woman at the well as your proof that we are to avoid sin. Jesus not only called her on it while they were talking about physical and spiritual ‘water’, his final words in that account were ‘now go and leave your life of sin’.”

    Jesus did not say “go and leave your life of sin” to the woman at the well; he said it to the woman about to get stoned for adultery.

    And you claim the rest of us don’t know the Bible…

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  14. My bad. It was the woman caught in adultery Jesus spoke those words to about ‘leaving her life of sin’. He called out the soman at the well’s sinful lifestyle in the middle of the cnversation.

    Why are you assuming that I don’t present the gospel with love and compassion? I don’t tell unbelievers that I probably ‘stink to them’. I share the gospel that Christ died for our sins, not that Christ died for a ‘relationship’ or so we could have a great life now, if/when our friendship gets that far. I know I am speaking with professing believers in here. I get challenged a lot by professing believers who think that we are just to present a’ likable’ Jesus and not tell them their real issue is sin. If that’s their evangelical style/method, the spit in the face of their professed savior, as I would if I forget about the real issue the gospel addresses.

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  15. “He called out the woman at the well’s sinful lifestyle in the middle of the conversation.”

    Actually, he never said that the woman at the well was living a sinful lifestyle, just that he knew what was going on (I elaborated the concept a few comments ago).

    “I get challenged a lot by professing believers who think that we are just to present a’ likable’ Jesus and not tell them their real issue is sin.”

    It depends on each individual person. Sometimes they’re engaging in behaviors that are destructive and it needs to be called out. For others, they’re already struggling with self-worth, so harping on them about their alleged sin and wickedness only makes the self-worth problems worse.

    There’s also the issue of that there isn’t an absolute consensus on what behaviors constitute “sin.” Now we can say the Bible dictates what it sin and what isn’t, but there also isn’t a consensus on how we interpret the Bible (the fact that we have thousands of denominations and multiple English translations of the Bible testify to that).

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  16. B4B asks: “Why are you assuming that I don’t present the gospel with love and compassion? ”

    I have to ask you first: do you think that you show love and compassion in your interactions here? Because if you do, then that is where we are having a disconnect.

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  17. RMR, JA, et. al.

    All I get is personal citicism, over and over and over again. I can’t even quote scripture, suggest it means what it says and not get challenged.If the issue of sin is not at the center of the gospel, what is? You don’t have to answer. That was a hypothetical question for anyone who reads the Bible.

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  18. “All I get is personal criticism, over and over and over again. I can’t even quote scripture, suggest it means what it says and not get challenged.If the issue of sin is not at the center of the gospel, what is? You don’t have to answer. That was a hypothetical question for anyone who reads the Bible.”

    Sin is not at the center of the Gospel; Jesus is.

    I didn’t criticize your use of scripture in this case of the woman at the well; I gave an alternative explanation.

    We challenge your assertions because we disagree with them. That’s not personal criticism. And we do read the Bible, and most of us are devout Christ-followers.

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  19. B4B: “All I get is personal citicism, over and over and over again. ”

    Maybe the question to ask is: Why is it that all I get is personal criticism over and over again. What is it that they are seeing that I am not seeing? How does my personal interactions with others draw or push others away, both believers and unbelievers?

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  20. B4B:
    Did you listen to the song that JA posted?

    They refer to the scripture 1 Cor. 13 ~
    In your interaction here on this blog you sound like a clanging cymbal to me.

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  21. “RMR, JA, et. al.

    All I get is personal citicism, over and over and over again. I can’t even quote scripture, suggest it means what it says and not get challenged.If the issue of sin is not at the center of the gospel, what is? You don’t have to answer. That was a hypothetical question for anyone who reads the Bible.”

    ?? That is not “all” you get- and at any rate why would you even mention that?

    B4B: I just have to say–If you feel personally criticized, that is on you, is it not? After all, that is the very thing you have said here on this blog. If you say something that we take as harsh–that is our problem according to you. So I do not understand the purpose of your statement and how it is relevant.

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  22. B4B–
    Your 7:12 am comment-

    Born4Battle
    June 27, 2013 @ 7:12 AM
    “Who said disagreement is persecution? Not me, that’s for sure. I’m a crusty old soldier and I just say what I know to be fact and also what I believe. If that ‘hurts’ people, it’s more on them than me. Have I been hurt by words, Yep, and it was on me, whether it was intentional or not.”

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  23. Diane:

    Thank you for drawing attention to that quote.

    B4B: Why do you not care if your words hurt people?
    Or are you saying that your words are “tough love” and the truth hurts?

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  24. B4B- you wrote the following in a comment under your blog post, “A bit of wisdom in a difficult situation. . .”

    Posted by Born4Battle on May 31, 2013

    “Tone’ is everything. Words communicate things in how there they are used, and even IF they are used. If my words can be seen as judgmental by a reader even if there isn’t an ounce of judgmentalism in my heart, I need to choose better words that would not be misunderstood. The devil is a sly fellow and he loves to sow discord among the brethren.”

    If your words can be seen as harsh/critical/rude/mean/insulting/condescending by a reader(s) even if there isn’t an ounce of any of the above in you heart, then don’t you need to choose better words that would not be hurtful nor misunderstood? You just wrote above that you needed to do it with words that appear judgmental.

    Or is that “on us” too…because if it is, that gives you license to speak however you wish to speak to a brother or sister in Christ and place blame on them if they are hurt by your words.

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  25. Born4Battle

    “All I get is personal citicism, over and over and over again. ”

    Yeah, personal criticism stinketh – It’s nice to see you have feelings – It’s a start…

    And, seems the Bible is true… 😉

    Luke 6:38
    Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure,
    pressed down, and shaken together, and running over,
    shall men give into your bosom.

    For with the same measure that ye mete
    withal it shall be measured to you again.

    If I remember correctly…
    You’re comments here from the start have been – very, very, critical.
    Very Criticle of the Posts and the commenters here at SSB.

    And – Well – Maybe – Since you have been so critical…

    Give (Much Criticism), and it (Much Criticism), shall be given unto you;
    good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over,
    shall men give into your bosom.

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  26. Born4Battle

    But – Maybe all you need is a name change? 😉

    How about “Lovingkindness?”

    You’re made in The Image of God – Yes?

    Gen 1:27
    So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him;

    And “God is love.” – Yes? 1 John 4:8

    So your “natural state of being” – Is – “the image of God – is – Love – Yes?

    And isn’t that how Jesus drew you unto Himself – With Lovingkindness? 🙂

    Jer 31:3
    The LORD hath appeared of old unto me, saying,
    Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love:
    therefore with “lovingkindness” have I drawn thee.

    Yeah – Daniel is Love – And with “Lovingkindness” draws people to Jesus.

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  27. 1 Cor 13:1

    Love suffers long, and is kind; Love does not envy; Love does not boast,
    Love is not puffed up, Love does not behave unseemly,
    Love keeps no record of wrongs, Love is not easily provoked, Love thinks no evil;
    Love rejoices not in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth;
    Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
    Love never fails:

    If God is Love? – Let’s replace Love with God – And understand some of God’s nature.

    God suffers long, and is kind; God does not envy; God does not boast,
    God is not puffed up, God does not behave unseemly,
    God keeps no record of wrongs, God is not easily provoked, God thinks no evil;
    God Rejoices not in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth;
    God bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
    God never fails:

    And God, created man in His Image – In the Image of Love created he him…
    “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness:” Gen 1:26-27

    So Dan is made in God’s Image – and God is Love –
    Let’s replace God in 1 Cor 13 – With __Dan__ who is Love…
    And understand some of _Dan’s_ nature.

    Lord I pray for Dan – And thank you Dan is made in your Image – And…

    _Dan_ suffers long, and is kind; _Dan_ does not envy; _Dan_ does not boast,
    _Dan_ is not puffed up, _Dan_ does not behave unseemly,
    _Dan_ keeps no record of wrong, _Dan_ is not easily provoked, _Dan_ thinks no evil
    _Dan_ Rejoices not in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth;
    _Dan_ bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
    _Dan_ never fails:

    Thank You Jesus

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  28. “RMR – Sin is the “beginning” of the gospel. If there were no sin, we would have no need for Jesus.”

    Actually God is the beginning of the gospel. Sin is part of the gospel, but the center of the gospel is Jesus.

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  29. Preach it, RMR! Love that. Oh how I have been struggling that, as I’ve been slowly detoxing from SGM. So, so true.
    theists or practice other religions, such as Islam? And have you asked
    them what they think of Christians? And really listened? And if you have had those conversations, do you honestly feel that those individuals are on an active mission to attack Christianity in America?”

    B4B- I’m surprised that you responded to my post. I appreciate you reading it, and responding, although you still haven’t directly answered any of my questions. That’s ok. I actually do agree partially with what you are saying. I have wrestled with that line A LOT between loving sinners by SHOWING Jesus, and speaking the gospel, which includes acknowledging sin (but as RMR stated, the discussion should never end with sin, but Jesus). I agree that to never share with people about Jesus is to not truly love them.

    Where I disagree with you, and where I was hoping that there could be more dialogue regarding this is about our behavior as you called it, as Christians toward our non-Christian friends. I would say that “improper behavior of Christians toward others” IS very much connected with the topic at hand.

    I agree that we must be willing to share the truth with people, along with genuinely loving them. But I see it as being “ready to give a reason for the hope that you have” rather than making it my aim to tell every single person the gospel before I really know them.

    Perhaps I misunderstood what you meant- from what you wrote, it sounds to me like your indirect answer to my question about if you have friends from various walks of life and if you have asked them how they feel about Christians and if you have listened to them, it sounds to me like you are saying that how you interact with non Christians is by getting to the gospel as soon as possible. So you have told them what YOU think, but perhaps have not asked them what THEY think. Am in incorrect? Or perhaps you have asked them, but if they disagree, you have deemed them as having hardened hearts, and if they are offended, that’s just par for the course when it comes to sharing the gospel.

    I have lost a few friends after having being direct AFTER being asked a pointed question about what I believe about a controversial topic, so I get that. But I have also kept many friends after discussing in a mutually respectful way and doing my best to listen to their story. My question still is, have you heard their stories? Are you friends- truly friends- with people who don’t share your faith in Jesus but have other things to offer you in friendship, or have you written off everyone who disagrees with you theologically as having a hard heart?

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  30. And the connection between our behavior toward non Christians and the original post is that I truly believe that both “sides” feel persecuted by the other, and that becoming genuine friends with “the other”, not just for the purpose of converting the person to your respective side, breaks down the fears we have of those who think and even live differently than us.

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  31. R.P.
    So what if both sides ‘feel’ persecuted. Personal feelings are personal feelings They might be justified and they might not and just be a pity party. I care how people feel and whether those feelings are justified. Anyone who has raised children knows this one. Families grow stronger dealing with these things and sorting them out. Hopefully Christian parents sort them out Biblically. When Christians are afraid of ‘rebuking’ when necessary, because Junior might feel bad, they violate scripture. If I am a Christtian, although I know that I cannot personally ‘convert’ anyone (that’s God’s terriroty), if I don’t take dialogue with those who do not know Christ. TO Christ, I am a fraud as a Christian and certainly NOT a genuine friend. Friends don’t let their friends walk off cliffs and stay in burning buildings.

    Jesus didn’t come to earth to solve our self esteem issues. He came to die for the sins of God’s people. We have a gospel that is offensive to unbelievers but we are called to share it with them. What do we do? Share the truth in love – the whole truth, including the sin issue they find offensive. Those whose hearts have been opened by God to hear, WILL hear and and saved. Those whose hearts remain closed to the gospel will not until God opens their hearts.

    Nowhere in scripture do we find anything close to inviting people to make decisions for Jesus, invite Jesus into your heart, make him your Lord. It’s just not there. Jesus’ first recorded words at the beginning of his ministry were: “Repent and believe the gospel.” I am sure that was offensive to many in the crowds he faced.

    I am so thankful that God, before the foundation of the world, appointed some to salvation. If he hadn’t, none would be saved.

    ” and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.” Romans 8:30.

    And that is sovereign grace. God decreed that he WOULD have a people unto himself, for the honor of his name, for the praise of his glory and made it happen.

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  32. B4B –

    Jesus asked the disciples to follow him when they clearly had no clue what Jesus was about or who he was. It was a “process” for many, if not all, of the twelve. Do you think they were saved the moment they started following him around and listening to his teaching? Thomas didn’t seem to believe who Jesus was until he put his hand in Jesus side. Jesus seemed to have a lot of grace and time to give to the men who followed him. It appears to me that he befriended them before they believed who he was.

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  33. B4B:

    “I care how people feel and whether those feelings are justified.”

    Do you first listen to people to validate their personal feelings? That perhaps they have a valid point and reason for feeling the way they do? If you don’t at least do that, it’s just you deciding “if” their feelings are justified.

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  34. Bridget,
    Really? – We are told in John 1:35-51 that Andrew, John, Philip, Peter and Nathaniel encountered Jesus the first time at the Jordan River when John the Baptist announced Jesus as the long awaited Messiah, and they followed him. This was at the very beginning of Jesus’ ministry. Jesus’ reputation spread rapidly – miracles have a way of causing that to happen. In Luke 5, we are told that the calling to discipleship of Simon Peter, James & John occurred when crowds were already swarming around Jesus. Jesus did the thing with the fishing nets and they followed him. It is very doubtful, if not impossible that Levi (Matthew) knew nothing of Jesus, or even Thomas.
    I’m going to assume that you didn’t really mean that the disciples ‘clearly had no clue what Jesus was about’ when Jesus asked them to follow him. That is simply not true if you believe the New Testament accounts. Perhaps you meant something else, o are trying to make a point I am missing.

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  35. If someone tells me they ‘feel’ abused the first thng I would do is ask why/how.I think it would be a required starting point for further discussion if the abuse was genuine or if it wasn’t.

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  36. B4B:

    I wasn’t’ asking in regards to a potential abuse situation. I was asking in re: to the discussion about how you share your faith with others ~ re: the comments to RP.

    “Personal feelings are personal feelings They might be justified and they might not and just be a pity party. I care how people feel and whether those feelings are justified”

    The point I was trying to make is that it sounds like your compassion/caring for another would be conditional on whether or not you deemed the pain/feelings justified. I hope I misunderstood you.

    I hope you would try and take into consideration another’s perspective and faith struggle and show compassion where needed whether you deem the struggle/feelings justified or not.

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  37. B4B, you haven’t answered any of my questions. Big surprise. My question was about whether you listen to your non Christian friends, in addition to sharing the gospel. Your indirect reply talks about self esteem issues, which has nothing to do with my point about genuinely loving people by listening and respecting them. It’s not about being nice and raising their self esteem. It’s about genuine care and love, and SHOWING Jesus as well as TALKING about Him.

    “So what if both sides ‘feel’ persecuted. Personal feelings are personal feelings They might be justified and they might not and just be a pity party. I care how people feel and whether those feelings are justified. Anyone who has raised children knows this one.” Do you realize how callous this comes across?

    For one, understanding “the other” as I mentioned has NOTHING to do with pity. I believe it is possible to validate one’s feelings and show respect by listening to them, and still earn trust and respect to have deeper, challenging conversations at the right time.

    Secondly, I’m trying to overlook the blanket statement about parenting, as one who does not have biological children but spends nearly all of my time with children. Please, enlighten me on your superior wisdom about feelings.

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  38. R.P, et.al.
    It is just as easy to read into my words that I do care for others as it is that I do not. You don’t seem to care for my choice of words, or just laying out facts without a lot of sugary speech. It seems to me that most of you probably NEVER get to the issue of sin when presenting the gospel, because it might make someone feel bad. Ladies and gentlemen, the very purpose of the unvarnished truth of the gospel is so that sinners might be convicted about their sin (feel really bad about it) and run to the cross. God doesn’t ask people to volunteer for Jesus. He calls all men everywhere to repent. And the reason that we can share an offensive message is that God opens the hearts of sinners to repent and believe upon hearing it and they will be saved. that’s the beauty of sovereign grace. John the Baptist preached repentance unto baptism, Jesus began his ministry with “Repent and believe the gospel. Peter and John on the day of Pentecost preached repentance. The apostle Paul preached Christ and him crucified and defined as of first importance that Christ died for our sins. Everything else is secondary.

    Feelings are still feelings They might be valid and they might not. That’s just a fact of life.If you want to read into those words on the page that I am insensitive and uncaring, go for it. insensitivity If I say I care about them it goes without saying that I would try and get to the reason for the ‘feelings’, unless you would like to believe that I am lying. That’s your choice. If you want to read into my saying that with my unsaved friends I have as a GOAL to get to the offensive gospel so that they might be saved, that I beat them over the head with it, go for it. It’s a lie, but go for it.

    So here we are, I will be accused of not answering your thinly veiled accusations. That’s OK, my feelings are not hurt. I’ll check back in on occasion to see who gets bashed next. I see Tim Keller is the latest victim and the straw man is alive and well here.

    Oh, & R.P, I stand firmly concerning my blanket statement about the literacy level of Christian parents, and add to it ANYONE else.

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  39. Born4Battle said:

    Feelings are still feelings They might be valid and they might not. That’s just a fact of life.If you want to read into those words on the page that I am insensitive and uncaring, go for it.

    I’m sorry, but here is where you crossed the line for me on this blog. Feelings are valid and they must be respected here. Many people have discussed your tone, yet you seem not to care. This is not a debate blog, yet since you arrived, that seems to be your primary purpose. This is primarily a support blog. We do debate things as we have been on the Keller article, but it must be done respectfully. When I say respectfully, I also mean being sensitive to one another’s feelings. This place is filled with people who have been bullied at church and I”m going to tell you straight up, B4B, your tone comes across like a bully. For some readers, your tone makes this place not safe anymore. It is my responsibility to keep it safe. So from here on out (or until I see some change), I will be moderating your comments.

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  40. JA,
    I have NEVER said that feelings are not important. I have NEVER told anyone in here that their feelings weren’t valid. ALL I did was suggest that sometimes ‘feelings’ of persecution might not be. Even the heart of a believer is prone to a pity party now and again. I know I have, and am thankful for whatever rebuke I received. If I didn’t get to the bottom line about ‘feelings’ and whether or not they are valid I could not bring a solution to the table. I’m speaking in generalities concerning ‘personal’ feelings that any psychologist would (not that I take a lot of stock in modern psychology), IN ORDER to offer possible answers/remedies.

    Your idea of ‘support’ seems to include bashing anyone and everyone you can fit into your ‘abuse’ paradigm. The lastest concerning Tim Keller is especially egregious, and I’m not a Keller follower/fan.

    It’s your place, and I have ‘broken’ your rules. If I knew that bringing a bit of biblical sanity to the discussion was verboten, I would have stayed away.

    Monitor away.

    BTW someone wanted to know if I knew about ‘friendship evangelism’. I know all about it, practiced it enthusiastically, but repented after I found out from the Bible that unbelievers are actually God haters and intentional rebels against the God they know exists. I had to repent.

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  41. B4B:

    The only way I can interact with you on this blog is through words. All we have are our words. I can’t see you or know you apart from the words you use on this blog site.

    Why not make the most of it?
    Why not share your comments in a more gracious tone?
    Why not??

    I love this quote from Mother Teresa:

    “Spread the love of God through your life but only use words when necessary.”

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  42. Monique, I don’t know if this will make it to the blog or not, but believe me when I say that I take other’s feelings into consideration, be they others who share our faith, or whether they are unbelievers. ALL I am saying is that I have found it also very good to get to the root of those feelings. I will sympathize when those feelings are justified, but I will also suggest that there might be a pity party going (I’ve had my share) on when the ‘abuse’ suffered is nothing more than Biblical child rearing/discipline. that’s it. I will also have as a goal with my non Christian friends to share the gospel that is an offense to their ears at some point. That Gospel is an offense to the unbeliever is not my opinion, it’s Bible. Any gospel sharing will be preceded by much prayer because only God can open a heart to hear and receive it. I will share that gospel with tears in my eyes because that unsaved friend is destined for an eternity in Hell if he/she does not embrace Christ as Savior and Lord. I find the Christless, sinless version so popular these days is an offense to the Cross upon which our Savior died. My changed life is NOT the gospel. Merely feeding the poor and help people feel better is NOT the gospel. the true gospel is the proclamation that Christ died for our sins. If ANYONE comes to Jesus for any other reason than for the forgiveness of the sin of which they have repented, it is highly likely they are being deceived straight to Hell.

    Those will no doubt be considered ungracious words, WHY? If I give the lost a Jesus they will no doubt like, if I get to the genuine gospel that is offensive to them, I will become a spiritual con-artist. That’s a bait and switch. I just read that in a blog post by an unbeliever who that pulled on him. If on the other hand, I hand then a Jesus that wants solve all of life’s problems but never address the issue of sin, I am a fraud.

    The goal of the gospel itself it to bring lost sinners to a knowledge of the very grievous situation they are in without Christ, that the Holy Spirit will convict them of their sin, drive them to their knees in repentance and usher in belief in the Savior. That’s why I repented of ‘friendship evangelism’.

    You are right – all we have are words. I hope these make it to the blog.

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  43. Julie Anne,

    I applaud you for having put Born4Battle into moderation. You have been more patient than I likely would have been. Still, I think it was well worth having given B4B enough leash so that he had the opportunity to hear from others how he comes across. If his approach is the same with the unsaved as it has been here, he now has some good basis to consider whether his evangelism might not be doing more harm than good. Surely Holy Spirit is able to convict of sin without His ministers practicing the dark art of condemnation.

    It is unfortunate that there are so many “ministers” that come across as B4B has come across here. Even so, our Lord can work all things for good. I find that otherwise unreceptive people become quite willing to talk about Jesus when they learn that one of these my-way-or-the-highway “men of God” has excluded me from his “church.” It seems that for many, they are O.K. with Jesus–just not with all the hypocrisy they have observed coming out of organized Christianity.

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  44. Thanks Gary W. It’s a balancing act trying to decide if the conversation is fruitful or causing more problems. Being away from the computer made the decision easier. We’ll see how things go.

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  45. Born4Battle said above:

    “So who’s making a claim that the church is being persecuted when molesters in the church are brought to justice?”

    Lots of folks have and are making this claim indirectly and directly. Several prominent Pastors and other Evangelical leaders are now telling/have been telling abuse victims that calling the police and filing a civil suit against a Church is against general Biblical precepts, is a barrier to Evangelism, violates Mat. 18, etc.

    Their motives are not hard to discern. Finding out about the cover up of sexual abuse or allegations of abuse causes many non-Christians to get angry at Churches and the Christians in them who don’t believe in reporting sexual abuse yet are happy to accept tax breaks from the entire community on the grounds that their organizations help society as a whole. Plus the Church might get sued because it is subject to the civil legal system.

    Perhaps what you’re perceiving as the persecution of the Church is justifiable anger at the arrogance and hypocrisy of people like the SGM leaders, who are arguing that an ordination certificate and the First Amendment give them the right to counsel people against bringing child molesters to justice.

    Do a Google search on the subject if you don’t believe me. Or check out the publicly available legal documents indicating that the “if you tell the cops what’s going on the Church will be persecuted” argument is alive and well. And yes,these documents pertain to a civil suit that is as yet unresolved but it is based in part on criminal convictions and indictments reflecting a belief that protecting the reputation of the Church is more important than caring for its weakest members.

    http://www.brentdetwiler.com/class-action-lawsuit/

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  46. I’m often reminded:

    Romans 13.1-5
    Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. 2 Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. 3 For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. 4 For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. 5 Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience.

    Taxes come next, but that’s another discussion… 🙂 those aren’t persecution either.

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  47. Monique – A variation of that is something like: “Share the gospel. Use words if necessary.” Supposedly it was said by St. Francis, but no one has found evidence of it.

    “Gospel” means “good news.” News is told by words. God taking the form of a man and dying in a horrible way for our sins is not something that people assume. It’s an alien concept that I doubt even Shakespeare could have thought up. It’s also very specific. It can be shared in less than 30 seconds, but discussed for a lifetime.

    Whether or not people like his tone, B4B is correct when he says that the gospel is a “proclamation.” Whatever method of evangelism is used, there has to be a point where one makes it very clear what the gospel is. It doesn’t have to be shouted in someone’s ear; it can be said gently. But if the word “sin” is not used, then the gospel has not been shared.

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  48. I find the claim that the gospel is offensive to non-believers to be problematic. For some people (I’m not saying anyone on this blog has done so), because of this claim, people will use how offended people are as a measure of how true they are staying to the gospel. Most people are offended by the actions of the Westboro Baptist Church; does that mean they’re staying truer to the gospel than anyone else?

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  49. Jeff Brown:
    Yes, I’ve seen the quote in various forms as well. Actually, in my quote she references the love of God ~ not something necessarily needing words.

    “Whatever method of evangelism is used, there has to be a point where one makes it very clear what the gospel is. It doesn’t have to be shouted in someone’s ear; it can be said gently. But if the word “sin” is not used, then the gospel has not been shared.”

    I agree the Gospel is shared in words. But, most unbelievers that I have talked to and met have heard the word “sin” over and over again. Some unbelievers just say “So what?” “What difference does that make?”

    Most often, when praying and talking with unbelievers, I found they respond to the love shown quicker than a run down on how sinful they are. Most I’ve prayed with already know how sinful they are. They need to experience the unconditional love and forgiveness in words and actions by the power of the Holy Spirit.

    “I would guess that most people do not like being told that they are sinners, and that their sins have separated them from God.”

    Yes, if that’s all you share ☺

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  50. Jeff Brown said

    I would guess that most people do not like being told that they are sinners, and that their sins have separated them from God.

    Here’s the thing: that’s not what Jesus did. People were drawn to Jesus. The people Jesus offended were the religious leaders at the time that were 100% convinced they had everything about God figured out.

    Jesus never said “you are a sinner and you will burn in hell unless [insert theology here].” Jesus reached out to the broken, the unclean, the not-so-saints. And people were drawn to him.

    There is a time and place for pointing out destructive behaviors (sins, if you will), but that should not be primary focus of evangelism. I just think that, if we’re doing it right, people should be drawn to Jesus. I just don’t see how constantly pointing fingers at perceived sins (there’s not even a consensus on what actually constitutes “sin”) brings anyone closer to Jesus.

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  51. Monique – If unbelievers say “So what?” or “What difference does it make?,” they do not understand the seriousness of sin. (I can speak from experience on this.) Sin is very bad news. If they don’t understand the badness of the bad news, they won’t understand the goodness of the good news. Of course, we don’t stop with talk of sin. But we have to communicate the problem before we present the solution.

    RMR – I would say that there is a consensus on sin – that it’s not reaching God’s standards in thought, word, and deed. Individual sins are symptoms of our overall sin problem, and Jesus is the only solution to it. We’re all in the same boat. “Constantly pointing fingers” – no. Communicating reality – yes. As I said above, tell the bad news before the good news.

    Below are some verses in which Jesus talked about the bad news (sometimes with the good news added). (If I’d included the word “judgment,” there would have been many more.) Yes, He reached out to the “officially disreputable,” but it’s highly unlikely that he never mentioned their sin problem.

    Sin – Mt 12:31; Jn 5:14; *8:11; 8:34; 9:41; 15:22, 24; 16;8, *9.

    Hell – Mt 5:22, 29, 30; 10:28; 11:23; 18:9; 23:15, 33; Mk 9:43, 45, 47; Lk 10:15; 12:5; 16:23.

    Repent – Mt 4:17; Mk 1:15; Lk 13:3, 5; 3:19.

    Perish – Jn 3:15, 16; 10:28.

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  52. “RMR – I would say that there is a consensus on sin – that it’s not reaching God’s standards in thought, word, and deed.”

    I agree there. My parenthetical point is that there isn’t consensus on what God’s standards actually are in thought, word, and deed (and therefore what actions and behaviors would constitute falling short of those standards). Case in point: the gay marriage debate. There isn’t universal agreement on whether or not committed same sex relationships are sinful.

    But if you approach someone that is gay and immediately tell them that their loving relationship is sinful and that they are going to hell for it, you’re not likely to get them closer to Jesus or wanting to learn more about him (I’m not trying to make an argument one way or the other regarding gay marriage; just using the issue to make a point).

    I’ll need to take a look at the verses you mentioned. I would be cautious, however, about pulling out individual verses to try to make a case for something, because each verse had a specific literal and historical context to it.

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  53. Monique – It would depend on the person, the situation, etc. But I’d make sure to mention it sometime in the conversation.

    RMR – No, I would not start a conversation with anyone by saying they are going to hell.

    I think the Bible is quite clear about homosexual behavior. Just as I think it’s clear about fornication and adultery.

    The verses I chose were in response to your writing “Jesus never said “you are a sinner and you will burn in hell unless [insert theology here].” My point was just to show that He dealt with those subjects a lot, and He wouldn’t have if He thought His hearers were in no danger.

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  54. The Bible verses you mentioned don’t actually disprove my statement. In each verse, there is a context; more to the story than what is implied by a few isolated verses.

    I really should elaborate on this, but I unfortunately don’t have the time to really give this the attention it deserves. I do appreciate the respectful tone you’ve given through this exchange, Jeff Brown. Thanks for the challenge.

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