Manly man and open-air evangelist Tony Miano, shares words of wisdom to women on blogging, speaking, preaching, and teaching.
Christian Women Bloggers: Maintaining God-Intended Femininity http://t.co/k9L2bjlCn1 Addressing the question of women and #evangelism online
— Tony Miano (@TonyMiano) November 7, 2013
Open-air street evangelist, Tony Miano, has been the recipient of correspondence from Christian women after his book, Should She Preach, was published. In a recent blog post, he stated that some women asked in a “sincere and thoughtful way,” while others asked with “venom in their words, ready for a fight.”
He then conceded that sometimes Christians can behave as badly as unbelievers in their online communications and readily admits that he has been guilty as charged, too.
He seems to be very concerned about women and how they conduct themselves verbally and otherwise. (I’ve split up the excerpt for easier reading.)
As a result of my book, I’ve found myself on the receiving end of some very nasty comments by Christian women on blogs, Facebook, Twitter, and via email. In each instance, the professing Christian woman acts and talks as if she were asking me to “step outside.”
In each instance, the woman acted and talked like an angry man–asserting authority she does not have, boisterously making demands and proclamations and, with no sense of biblical propriety and in mixed online company, throwing her weight around as a teacher–weight the Lord has not given her.
And just so there is not mistake; just so there is no ambiguity seen in my position; I believe such behavior among Christian women is masculine, unbiblical, sinful, and embarrassing. Such behavior is untoward, unattractive, unflattering, and ungodly.
Such behavior violates God’s created order and design for women, violates a woman’s role in the Body of Christ, and flies in the face of the gentle and quiet spirit God has intended for all women–certainly His redeemed, born-again, adopted daughters.
Miano then shared that he had received an e-mail from a college student who “ascribes to what the Bible teaches regarding the limitations placed upon women in the areas of preaching/teaching and exercising authority over men.” The gist of the e-mail is the young lady wanted to have a clearer understanding of what was biblically acceptable for her to say on her blog with regard to conversations with men who had commented.
A few times, men have commented on the journals (usually atheists) and I have gotten into long debates with them on the subjects. I don’t seek out these conversations, they simply post on the journal and I reply.
My question is, do these journal postings and/or subsequent one-on-one conversations qualify as teaching/preaching? If so, should I delete my previous journals, or should I simply stop making them? Finally, if this is preaching/teaching, do you know of any other ways I can evangelize online while staying in the will of God?
Here is part of Miano’s reply:
Thank you for contacting me. I hope your studies are going well.
You ask a very good question. And I’m very glad to hear you hold to a biblical understanding of a woman’s role in the Body of Christ regarding teaching and the exercise of authority over men.
I do not believe that writing a public journal, in which you express your Christian beliefs and your theological thoughts about the same rises to the level of teaching and/or exercising authority over men.
Now, with that said, writing about the truths of Scripture certainly is teaching Scripture. There’s no way around that. When we communicate biblical truth, we are teaching biblical truth. However, the onus for the teaching, in the case of written material, is upon the recipient and not the writer. What I mean by that is it is the responsibility of men to avoid sitting under your teaching. It is the responsibility of Christian men not to put themselves under the authority of your teaching.
Hey now – – – wait just one minute. Do you remember this: Question for Tony Miano: Did Joni Preach? It sure looks like he didn’t heed his own words when he heard Joni Eareckson Tada “teach” scripture at the Strange Fire conference. He even wrote a whole post trying to convince everyone she wasn’t preaching/teaching:
Did I listen to Joni speak? Yes, I drank in every word as if they were sips from a cool glass of water. I am blessed every time I listen to Joni speak. She is a wonderful example of biblical womanhood and a true encouragement. I listened to Joni speak during the Strange Fire conference without so much as a twinge of discomfort, apprehension, compromise, or hypocrisy. (Source)
Whatever, Tony, we see how it works. If whatever she is teaching lines up with your beliefs, then you’ll listen to a woman teaching, but if it’s someone like Joyce Meyer, then look at the insulting words he uses:
“She carries herself like a man, sounds like a man, and preaches like a man.”
Going back to Miano’s correspondence with the young lady:
While it is not unbiblical for you to engage men in evangelistic conversations, you will have to decide if, in doing so, you are sacrificing any of your femininity in the process. In other words, you will have to determine if you are sounding like a man in your correspondence. One of the three reasons women should not open-air preach, teach men, or exercise authority over men, which I explain in my book, is that a woman cannot help but to sound and act like a man in the process, thus sacrificing some of her beautiful, God-given femininity.
This is the best part. Miano then gives words of advice to Christian women bloggers:
It might be wise for Christian women bloggers to give some written indication on their blog that their primary audience, if their blog is directed toward the Christian community, is Christian women. This might help fend off unwanted, unbelieving men from posting comments, and it might help in rightly discouraging Christian men from placing themselves under the teaching of a Christian woman.
Uh-oh, I have not done this. I hope I have not caused any of my men readers to stumble.
Just so there is no confusion or misinterpretation of my words, I will close with this. I am not suggesting all Christian women should abandon their blogs. I am not suggesting all Christian women should flee from social media. Christian women, like Christian men, have much to say. And I’m all for Christian women saying it–so long as they communicate in a biblical manner. So, to my blogging sisters in Christ, keep blogging. Keep blogging, so long as you do so while maintaining God’s intended order, your role in the Bride of Christ, and your God-designed, God-intended, beautiful femininity. (Source)
243 thoughts on “Tony Miano’s Wise Words for Women on Speaking and Blogging”
Carmen, Quickly, I don’t disagree – but for me I need to be careful about when and where and how to pick my battles – and then to be wise about how I fight them. Ok, running off!
Gary, I didn’t mean that YOU were being mean spirited toward me – just wanted to clarify.
Thank you for informing us that you “have agonized in prayer, beat tear stained pillows, and gone through the gamut of responses to severe spiritual abuse . . . . I actually was wondering if something like this might be the case. Again, do please hang around. You have much to contribute. There may be limits as to what you are willing to share, but I suggest that we could all profit if you were to share a bit of what you have been through, how you walked (and are walking) through it, and what has and has not worked for you. Then, we can all decide for ourselves what wisdom your experience contributes to our own individual situations.
As to the soccer game: Go team! Win!!
Not to worry. I haven’t felt that you were thinking me mean spirited. Having said that, do please feel free to admonish me with regard to both the content and manner of my communication. It would give me an opportunity to experience what it is like to be on the receiving end of my own recommended procedure, which is to contest bad actions and bad ideas, though without entering into contemptuous condemnation of the author of those bad actions and ideas.
Yes, I am with you. I, too, confess to being one of the responders who has been less than congenial at times. Probably Arclight is being overly kind towards me in this regard. Maybe she will be troubled inasmuch as I see no problem being “subtle as a sledgehammer” when addressing bad acts and destructive ideas. Jesus himself was not particularly subtle when dealing with the religious leaders of his time. The problem, I suppose, is that it can be difficult for those who are watching to separate the actor from his bad acts and destructive ideas. Though I shouldn’t be, I tend to be surprised when people assume that attacks on ideas and actions are one and the same as attacks on the bad actor.
Then again, again, I perceive that there are those (not Arclight) who intentionally mischaracterize attacks on actions and ideas as being attacks on the person. That way they can marginalize truth speakers as being unloving, albeit they are being cynically dishonest when they indulge such polemical deceits.
Hey Arclight . . .
We are all busy and we spend time on the things that are important. It didn’t take me that long to write what I did. But it is all good. Offer up what you can when you can.
Of course I was trying to be polite, (no reason not to be) and thank you for noticing. Though I must confess I found no end of irony in this ….
“I have said a number of times that I disagreed with Tony’s position on this but John has extrapolated the meanings of some pretty simple statements to the point that it is clear he must know me better than I know myself. Maybe better than God does.”
I mean I like it when people think I’m omniscient but I’ve never put that on my business card. LOL
Considering your declared sensitivity to sarcasm I was enjoying the irony. Not that it matters to me … I’m the king of snark.
Anyway, on a more serious note . . . I understand that most people hold their ideas in a loose approximation. Kinda of like a big basket full of bumper stickers of things they’ve accumulated over a lifetime. They don’t really dig into the cause and effect of those ideas, and rarely do they make an effort to understand the roots of those ideas. In day to day life, this ideological looseness doesn’t really affect the progress of their life . . . too much. But when the pressure is on, and they are pushed to defend something they value . . . that is when the bumper stickers suddenly show themselves to be woefully incomplete.
And so you came to this post to defend Tony Miano specifically. You reject his doctrine but hold some fidelity to him based on personal interaction. So you reached into your basket of counter arguments for the tools to defend a friend.
I get that.
I get that in your mind you were offering a narrow rebuttal to what you saw as an erroneous charge against someone you admire. Or maybe better said, you were trying to offer a bigger perspective, trying to encourage Tony Miano’s critics to insert some humanity into their criticisms.
But here is the thing . . . the arguments you chose to use actually do have much, much deeper roots. Like all bumper stickers, the short pithy statements are really emblematic of much broader intellectual statements. Trace those roots far enough back and I guarantee you will find them rooted in a very specific philosophy.
You offer “Tony would take a bullet” and mean to say he’s a really really good guy so maybe we should just chill a minute on our judgments.
But that doesn’t change the fact that the bumper sticker defense is really rooted in the utterly destructive philosophy called Altrusim.
You offer “None of us are fit for heaven yet,” and mean to say, we are all imperfect so give Tony a break for being wrong in this teensy weensy issue.
But that doesn’t change the fact that the bumper sticker defense is really rooted in the doctrine of Pervasive Depravity . . . a doctrine specifically designed to wreck man’s epistemology, so that he is morally disqualified to challenge political tyranny.
My goal was to illustrate how the bumper stickers are in fact rooted in those philosophies. Christians have been so inundated with these kinds of saying that we almost never challenge what they mean. We talk in this kind of short hand all the time only vaguely aware of the formal doctrine underneath. So we accept truisms like “He would take a bullet,” as moral qualification never once realizing that we are being ethically manipulated by the destructive force of Altruism.
So Arclight, while I did understand where you were coming from, it was my interest to show the bigger picture.
And now for a really bad segue:
Speaking about manipulation let me shift gear slightly. Let’s talk about “Tone” since it has come up through sundry comments.
While I understand that shaping WHAT you say for your audience may help with its acceptance, “Tone” has nothing to do with validating TRUTH. With regularity “Tone” is being held up as a necessary qualification for TRUTH. In other words, merely because someone objects to “Tone,” WHAT was said can be rejected with impunity. If the “Tone” was harsh, or sarcastic, or merely ruffled someone’s spiritual Fung Shui then WHAT was said is disqualified.
Here is what this means: One person is setting up their delicate sensibilities as THE yardstick of truth. This is a profound conceit that gets hidden merely by a smile. As long as we say things “nicely” we can say some truly disastrous things. As long as the “Tone” is acceptable monsters are free to do what they wish.
This is why Christians get sucked into some truly disastrous theology. As long as the preachers “Tone” passes the arbitrary standard of acceptable, WHAT he is saying must be ok. Or even more insidious is when people who object to the disastrous theology must first vet their “Tone” before the preacher is willing to hear the objection. And no preacher ever does that. The easiest Get-out-of-Doctrinal Insanity- free card is to argue that the failure of “Tone” obviously means the person speaking does not have “Gods” authority because if he did he wouldn’t talk like that.
Alakazam poof! The preacher’s doctrine can NEVER be challenged.
I trust that people can see that the “Tone” as Truth bumper sticker has some truly disastrous implications.
Dear John, You assume so very much and seem to need to believe that you get where I am coming from without asking me to clarify or knowing me in any capacity. There are so many wrong assumptions on your part, John, that I honestly think its better to leave this alone. God bless.
Mmmm …. There really wasn’t a need to make assumptions. Nor a need to ask you for further clarification. You have offered a number of comments describing where you are coming from. That clarification tended to follow the same line of thought and the same basic defense of Tony Miano . . . so if what you have written isn’t really indicative of what you were “trying to do” Then you are probably right … it is just better to leave it alone.
Gary, they didn’t win, but played wonderfully! Thanks for the well wishes!
This might get a little tedious, so forgive me. I appreciate your comment with respect to my assertion that Jesus cannot precede man; but man must exist FIRST, before the existence of the Savior.
I understand that at first glance my statement appears to contradict the infinity of God’s existence. And, if you approach the definition of infinity as a function of God’s limitless temporal existence juxtaposed with man’s finite temporal existence, then, yes, it seems absurd to say that Jesus, who is God, proceeds man. Of course, in order to define infinity this way you must concede the material (actual) existence of time, which I deny. More on that in a bit.
Here is what I mean. First, it is important to ask ourselves this simple question: How can the Savior of Man exist prior to Man’s existence? I mean, if man isn’t around to be saved then there cannot be any rational nor definable need for a Savior. How do you even quantify salvation if the object of that salvation is, well, nothing (not actually existing). So, before there is a Savior there needs to be someTHING to save. This is part A.
Part B: I do not subscribe to the duality of Jesus as “both” God AND man. Jesus was a man who happens to be God. Jesus IS is the fundamental premise, just like it is for everything we observe. From this observation of the actual we ascribe conceptual abstractions in order to organize what we observe. “Man” and “God” are, strictly speaking, conceptual abstractions which, beyond the context of an object observed are infinite and absolute. Absent a material context, “man” and “God” cannot be reconciled because they are unobservable, which means they cannot be defined…and an undefined value practically applied must be zero.
But as for Jesus, who was a physical, material being, it is not contradictory to declare him thus: a man who is God. Jesus, there, THAT man, is God. Thus God, in Jesus, becomes one who can be observed, and thus, can be valued according to the conceptual abstraction of time, and as such, it can logically be declared that Jesus the Savior exists AFTER man exists…Jesus is a function of “time” like man is. And because it is JESUS who is the object which gives value to time, we can declare this without having to concede some kind of existentially positional distinction (the “temporal” God versus the “infinite” God). In other words, “Jesus IS”, is the precisely the same truth as “God IS” which is precisely the same truth as “man IS”. Man and Jesus and God are all existentially equal, and therefore, the concepts of time (as well as other concepts) are used in service to rationally organizing our environment. Therefore, the statement: Jesus exists after man exists MUST be true in accordance with the rational organization of our world via the concepts we use to organize it. To declare that Jesus exists before man exists becomes a contradiction in conceptual terms, and thus, cannot be true…it wrecks man’s ability to declare his concepts as proper tools to apprehend his own existence and reality. .
Part C: And this is tangential…I deny the actuality of time and space. Time and space are conceptual abstractions, which means they do not materially exist. They only have value insofar as they are applied to the context of material objects which can be observed by man. Therefore, when I say “man must come before Jesus”, I am not necessarily conceding the reality of time. I am making an argument of rational consistency; “Cause and effect” according to ideas which progress along a “timeline” of consistent ideas, rather than a timeline of, well…time.
If you are saying that, in the sequence of events we experience as that which we call time, Adam was created and sinned, and his descendants likewise sinned, before Jesus became our savior, I follow you. That is just the chronology of historical events. Jesus can say “before Abraham [and presumably also Adam] was I Am,” without contradicting the assertion that He did not become Savior until sometime after the material manifestation of flesh and blood people. Otherwise, you (and johnimmel) are leaving me in something of a thick fog. I will attribute the fog to the limitations of my intellectual capacity.
Still, it might aid my understanding if you could explain what, if anything, your observations are countering. Are you addressing some habitual and generally unexamined, but mistaken, way of thinking in which we are apt to indulge?
Also, do your observations somehow fit in with observations that are being made concerning the distinction between Platonic and Aristotelian thought?
And what of the doctrine, based in John Chapter 1, that the Triune God existed before the creation of the world!
You say, “Dear John, You assume so very much and seem to need to believe that you get where I am coming from. . . .” Probably I should be careful not to put words into John’s mouth and thoughts into his mind, but it seems that one thing John is saying to all of us, including you, is that we ourselves do not recognize where we are coming from. I have not at all digested everything John has said here, but he challenges me to recognize and examine those supposedly incontestable “truths” we tend to indulge, but without recognizing that they are nothing more than the unexamined teachings of men. My opinion is that these unexamined but dogmatically held ideas and presuppositions are among the strongholds spoken of here:
“For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, . . .) (2 Corinthians 10:4-5, ESV)
Trouble is, John may well object to my appeal to the authority of Scripture. The notion of the authority of Scripture is so deeply engrained in our habitual and unexamined ways of thinking that to question the authority of Scripture seems tantamount to blasphemy. Personally, I am not ready to reject Scripture as a source of true truth, but if Scripture is authoritative, it is as a practical matter impotent to establish what is and is not true. Even before reading and attempting to understand what John has written here, this had occurred to me. The reality is that Scripture can be used as a bludgeon in an effort to impose any number of diametrically opposed ideas.
So, what is my point in all of this? I am speaking to myself as much as to you or anybody else, but I suggest that we all will profit if we seek to identify where we have embraced ideas, presuppositions and habitual ways of thinking without even recognizing it. Many of these ideas are simply wrong headed. The challenge I would put to you is to seek to identify those ideas and presuppositions you may have embraced without examination, and test them.
“[B]ut test everything; hold fast what is good.” (1 Thessalonians 5:21, ESV)
This is probably confusing, and I apologize. My point is this: Jesus is infinite and Jesus is God and Jesus can interact and co-exist with man, thus this implies an existential equality between man and God. Man IS in the same existential sense as God IS. Which means that man as a material object must also be infinite. Meaning that the source of all absolute truth is not found in conceptual abstractions man uses to define his environment, but in the root SELF of all he observes, including himself. When we can thus make a proper distinction between concepts and objects, we can have a TRUE relationship with God and other men. The problem I see is that we are so quick to concede that concepts which are not actual (because they cannot be observed) are causal. Thus, God seems to be able to nullify what are to us, absolute truths which we cannot defy. This means that the concepts we use to define TRUTH are not really truth at all, so we think. We think that God can be both “before” and “now” at the same time, where we cannot. This wrecks mans ability to ever ACTUALLY know truth, because God can seemingly defy man’s rational organization of his world on a whim. But if we understand that when we speak of “before” and “now” (and other concepts) we are merely ascribing some abstract value to a specific object in a specific context, we understand that it is not that God can violate the “truth” of man, but that man is himself, like God, TRUTH. The concepts are not actual, thus, they can be contextually redefined in service to what IS actual TRUTH: man, what he observes, and God.
Sorry I missed out on the illuminating exchange. I hope you are not offended Arclight. It is just that ones sees so much of this sort of cheap grace exhortation and combined with the declarations, one cannot help but respond to it.
I also assumed you would understand that we can only take your words on a blog as what you believe/think. Evidently, that is not so according to you. There seems to be some larger explanation that will change the meaning of your original comments but now you are not interested in sharing the “real meaning” behind your original words.
It is always easy to repeat things we hear such as “lacking in grace” or “none of us is fit for heaven” or that you somehow know for a fact, “Tony would take a bullet” for John or I without ever thinking them through and where those sorts of root assumptions come from. They are easy to say. Not so easy to defend unless those you are talking to go along with the root assumptions.
Of course, I was thinking of how Tony has treated JA and his partnering with CON, the thug pastor and his ridiculous false teaching about women and should be throw in hypocrisy. Oh well.
In addition, you never gave us specific examples of what was written here that would be lacking in “grace”. Be specific next time. Vague rebukes never help anyone.
Lydia, Please reread the comment I posted after you referred to my faith as that which passes for Christendom (implying I am not a believer) and calling my words “drivel.” In the interest of time let’s please let it go.
Gary, John had absolutely no problem into putting words, and intentions into my heart and mouth. It was all a simple issue of semantics and another simple issue of humility – not assuming I can judge the entirety of a person based on my personal issues with them. People tend to judge what others say as filtered through their own personal background (referring to this thread). I understand that. But if you say I am wrong in expressing that there is more than one aspect to a person’s character because I didn’t articulate it perfectly, then I give up. I’d rather be a foolish, pathetic but redeemed soul, than articulate and proud. I’d love to be able to erase each and every comment I’ve made on this thread for my own sake and I would love to get that time back as I don’t see that its actually been helpful to anyone who is trying to recover from spiritual abuse. If I were to quote the first portion of 1 Corinthians 13 here, I’m afraid it would be picked apart. Please move on without me.
Just because Christians do not agree on interpretations on the Bible on every point all the time does not mean Christians should chuck the Bible out the window as a source of spiritual authority.
BTW, I am somewhat agnostic these days; I am no longer fully a Christian, but I find your views on this topic idiotic.
Of course Christians should appeal to the Bible as a source of authority, since it is how they learn about their founder, Jesus Christ.
Saying Christians should not appeal to the Bible as an authority is just as ignorant and weird as saying Muslims should not regard the Hadiths or the Koran as an authority, or the Mormons should disregard the Book of Mormon.
I do not agree with the Koran, Hadith, or Book of Mormon, but I recognize that those respective groups base their views and such on those writings.
We think that God can be both “before” and “now” at the same time, where we cannot. This wrecks mans ability to ever ACTUALLY know truth, because God can seemingly defy man’s rational organization of his world on a whim.
I do not agree with that conclusion.
Miss Daisy Flower…
LOL… my ideas are many things … but idiotic is not one of them.
Miss Daisy Flower,
That’s okay with me. I’m not worried.
So I’ve been thinking about this for a bit, obviously, since this thread has mostly ended. But I wanted to do some due diligence and consider how the conversation with Arclight hand gone and if I thought it valuable to make a point.
One challenge was to figure out how to walk a line between making my point and not make this about me and Arclight. I don’t want to come off as a big meaner. No one wants to be seen as picking on a single mom who doesn’t have a lot of time, misunderstanding her words, and failing to understand that she was just trying to inspire Tony Miano’s critics to have a little humility.
She wants to leave it alone, right? What is the big deal? We just agree to disagree. As the great philosopher Rodney King said, “Can’t we just all get along?”
Or is there something important to illustrate?
Of course, since I am continuing to comment, you know the answer to the second question: There is something very valuable to learn here.
I will walk you through a synopsis of my reasoning.
1. The real issue?
(And it is not Arclight and I.)
The focus of this post is Tony Miano’s treatment of Julie Anne, and the fuel for that treatment is his specific doctrine that female should be subordinate to the “authority” of men.
Arclight chose to defend Tony Miano based on some foundation of personal fidelity and theoretical virtue. She then challenged the moral substance of Tony’s critics by asserting their general theoretical guilt. She entered this public forum on her own free will. (All any reader could be expected to do is accept her words for what they represent.)
2. The scope.
(It is MUCH bigger than this blog.)
There is a massive resurgence of historically oppressive submission and authority doctrines sweeping through American Christianity. These doctrines have a long history of being at the root of political oppression. Tony Miano is advocating one of those doctrines: female subordination to male authority. This doctrine has an ugly history, playing a central role in the Salem Witch Trials, a historic Catholic pogroms against women, and the condemnation of women to second class citizens. (And that assumed they were citizens at all. This doctrine was at the root of treating women like chattel for centuries throughout European jurisprudence and culture.)
So potent is this indoctrinated chauvinism that even in 21st century America, women are being socially coerced to bear a quiver full of babies, expected to abandon higher education to “serve” as sexual outlets for their husbands, and being denied the freedom to pick their own mates because they must submit to a father’s “authority” as he appoints a “suitable” marriage partner. And all of this is advocated and enforced without any real civil authority.
I will let you, dear reader, apply your imagination to what this could look like if modern preachers actually got ahold of the reins of government.
My point: The Tony Miano-Julie Anne exchange is merely anecdotal for a root fight that is far more than just some vague theological parsing. And unless people begin to understand the means by which these doctrines gain ascendancy in a church and are thereby advanced into broader cultural acceptance, I submit that you will not need imagination to understand what religious tyranny looks like. If you can’t successfully rebut a guy standing behind a lectern when he is preaching his authority to make you agree with his conclusion, how will you challenge him when he is standing behind guns and badges?
3. The arena of ideas
It is always awkward to have a pointed conversation with someone who positions themselves as an upholder of moral value, particularly when you are challenging the root definition of “moral value.” The challenge is only magnified when it is revealed that the conflict is with a “single mom who doesn’t have a lot of time,” who insists she is just being misunderstood, assumed, and presumed upon. No one wants to be accused of piling on the single mom.
But then I realized that the brief exchange between myself and Arclight is in fact very much on point with this post. The root issue is the rational equality of women. If they are not rationally equal and are in fact forbidden to teach men, then Arclight had no business engaging me at all. Whether she has kids or the time is irrelevant.
You ladies find that doctrinal position offensive … and you should. It is a vile epistemological assumption. But then catering to single mom-hood on any level is merely enforcing the stereotype of female inferiority. Being a single mom has no bearing on rational responsibility or logical consistency. Everyone is busy with choosing their own values and acting accordingly. And that includes men. So a public conversation is just that . . . public and someone might actually challenge what has been said.
This is the flip side of rational equality.
Thinking is time consuming.
There are right and wrong answers. (More on this in a minute)
If one is inclined to think an argument is in error,
it should be countered with a better argument.
Indignation is not a rebuttal, and generalizations are not substance.
John Gray was wrong. We are all from Earth, and words mean things. If words can’t be taken at face value and there is a mystery about what you are “trying to do,” then the mystery is self-imposed.
Demanding that a critic be omniscient as a qualification for knowing truth is absurd. (More on this in a minute too.) Truth is never subordinate to emotions.
4. Moral manipulation.
For all of Arclight’s protestation that she was misunderstood, the nature of her defense of Tony Miano remained strikingly consistent. Set aside her personal loyalty and merely look at her method and you will see a theme revisited over and over.
In my first analysis, I briefly discussed the appeal to altruism and its function in granting Tony Miano a theoretical virtue and then the use of the doctrine of pervasive depravity to ascribe to his critics a theoretical moral guilt.
And this is the theme that I want you to notice. From the outset, Arclight’s focus was to shift the moral burden from Tony Miano’s doctrine-induced conduct to our temerity to criticize. I need to point out this is EXACTLY what Tony Miano did with Julie Anne. Notice what he said in the tweet: “I’m not intimidated by UNREPENTANT women who assert themselves like men. Repent.”
Calling someone unrepentant is tantamount to calling them immoral. Instead of acknowledging the truth of Julie Anne’s comment that Chuck O’Neal was in church discipline, he shifted the moral burden. He made the issue about HER state of theoretical moral failing as if that took precedence of the factual nature of Julie Anne’s observation.
Do you see the pattern?
I first ran into this argumentative technique during my time in Sovereign Grace Ministries. CJ Mahaney, et al. were masters at this method and are very obviously still employing the same methodology to keep CJ in ministry even though he is a walking church leadership disaster. When challenged on the substance of their doctrine and/or their behavior, they immediately shift the moral burden to their critic. Their catch phrase rebuttals were/are “You are unteachable” or “You are arrogant” or “You are presumptuous” or “You lack humility” among a few others.
It took years to understand how profoundly I was being manipulated. It wasn’t until I challenged the root assumption—the moral manipulation—that I was able to successfully rebut the madness coming out of that ministry.
Here is a brief test for those of you who found yourself at odds with your church and subsequently suffered when you challenged their doctrine-motivated action. Think back through your interaction and I suspect you will find this patter in bold letters. You offered a factual challenge to something and they immediately shifted the moral burden to you. And then the more you tried to vindicate your actions and show that you were not guilty of a SPECIFIC moral failing, they continued to heap upon your head theoretical guilt. And I will bet money that their argumentative trump card was some variation of Arclight’s assertion: “None of us are fit for heaven,” which is the same as saying “We are all just sinners,” which is rooted in the doctrine of Pervasive Depravity.
This is all an attempt to shift the moral burden to the critic, either by declaring the critic guilty of moral depravity or declaring all conduct morally equivalent.
As I said above, it is awkward to have a pointed conversation with someone who positions themselves as an upholder of moral value, particularly when you are challenging the root definition of “moral value.” And now I am going to do just that. I am going to challenge the implications of the moral Holy Grail called Humility.
Of course, one of the biggest problems in discussing humility is defining what humility actually looks like. We’ve all met that sixteen-year-old pinhead who thought they knew everything and couldn’t be told anything. Maybe we’ve even been that sixteen-year-old. And we look back on those days and wonder how we survived, wonder how our lives would have been different if we only had a little “humility.”
Or we have encountered the quasi-intellectual who is always holding forth on every topic and can’t be told anything contrary to his aggressive disposition. And we walk away from such an interaction and say to ourselves, “If he only had a little humility.” It seems like “humility” would be a good thing. If they had “humility” they would see the error of their ways and then someone could actually teach them something. We conclude that the solution to adolescent pinheadedness and quasi-intellectual boorishness is social subordination.
But I will point out that social subordination is not a cause … it is an effect. It isn’t something you have it is something done too you. It is disgrace, and shame, and degradation. To be degraded is to have some part of ability eroded, or harmed, or destroyed. Being consistent with the definition of Humiliation this is no solution for pinheadedness or quasi-intellectual boorishness. It is a sub human state of existence.
I submit that the real problem with the pinhead or the quasi-intellect is that they fail to correctly identify their place in reality. The sixteen-year-old’s problem is his failure to make a correct evaluation of his context to reality. His reality testers are flawed, so he can’t make good decisions, or take good council. He can’t tell what GOOD looks like.
The quasi-intellectual’s problem is the same. He mistakes his overbearing personality for superior argumentation. This is a failure to grasp reality. The inability to successfully judge reality is called insanity. The more consistently someone acts contrary to reality the more disastrous the outcome. Defy reality long enough and reality eventually imposes itself on the delusional mind and does not offer any grace. Reality imposes the real definition of humiliation.
And if we were honest with ourselves, this is what we really hope happens to the pinheads of the world. We yearn for their comeuppance. We yearn for them to be forced into subordination. We want their humiliation.
Herein is the problem. This is not an ethical state of existence. True humility (i.e. humiliation) has NOTHING to do with moral action because it is the (enforced) abandonment of action, and the (enforced) abandonment of reason, which means humility is really the abandonment of all values.
To our great disaster though, “humiliation” has been turned into an ethical ideal. And as an ethical ideal, the ethical ideal demands the subordination of all men to the lowest common denominator: the abandonment of all values. This means that you are commanded to embrace someone else’s conclusions even if there are facts in your favor. This creates a moral equivalence between the quasi-intellectual and Einstein. They both speak forcibly about their ideas, but the “forcefulness” becomes the defining measure of their “moral” conduct. It doesn’t matter that Einstein’s power in the conversation is his expertise, and his expertise is directly tied to the virtue of his reason. Einstein can make no claim to his reason or his expertise and remain moral.
Now notice what the appeal to “humility” really does. It creates what I will call the Perfection Fallacy. The fallacy goes like this: Because you don’t know EVERYTHING, you can’t be right about this SPECIFIC thing. Because you don’t KNOW me like God knows me, you can’t criticize me. Because you are not PERFECT, you can’t possibly judge. Because you are not OMNIPOTENT, you must concede that you are weak.
This fallacy folds neatly into our doctrine of Pervasive Depravity and Original Sin, so we barely pause to question the implication. And when pushed into a corner for the error of our ideas, we pluck out the perfection fallacy out of our argument bucket and brandish it like it is a cross and garlic. Never once do we notice that the perfection fallacy eradicates the concept of right and wrong ideas. It destroys rational judgment at the root by presuming that no one can ever be sure of anything because “no one is perfect” … “no one is fit for heaven yet” “no one knows EVERYTHING.”
Alakazam poof! There are no more right and wrong answers.
Of course there are right and wrong answers. It is GOOD to be right and it is BAD to be wrong . . . . unless you are in church. And then only the guys in charge are right because they have “authority.” Everyone else is expected to treat all ideas as if they have equal merit. Failure to do so is seen as a failure of “humility.” Leadership can be flamingly ignorant on pretty much any subject but no expert in any field can say so because that would be a failure to “submit to authority.” Speaking up would show forth “your immaturity” because the truly mature Christian waits patiently for God to exalt them. The humble show “mercy” while God deals with the leadership in “his own time.”
This whole dynamic is a full-on absurdity. Not everyone has the right answer, and not everyone’s ideas are worthy of merit. “Ignorant leadership” should be an oxymoron but it is almost a church leadership institution. Some people’s ideas/doctrines SHOULD be condemned because they are wrong.
(Case in point: Tony Miano’s ideas of rational subordination based on a chromosome and a multitude of estrogen.)
And this is all rooted in the disastrous notion that Humiliation is the foundation of morality.
6. Humility’s function.
Humility is Christian kryptonite. It is designed to reduce the strong, the able, the rationally effective, and the virtuous . . . to impotence.
This is of course why the word gets tossed around in Christian conversations. It is designed to level the playing field and enforce group cohesion. If you believe that your strengths are really the root of your weakness—and this requires that you “Humiliate” yourself to be moral—then you have NO moral claim to the content of your own mind. The only moral action you can demonstrate is to LAY DOWN YOUR MIND.
I have a number of articles on this specific subject on my blog, so I won’t rehash them here.
But know this: The appeal to “humility” is designed to destroy rational certainty. It is intended to inspire equivocation by implying moral failing for being sure. This is why humility is ALWAYS positioned as equivocation and weakness, and pride is ALWAYS positioned as a synonym for rationality and capability. Once you lay down your mind those men “In authority” rush in to fill the vacuum. Once your mind is gone they can lead you around by the nose. This is what “Humility” really means.
And this is why it is such a powerful means of moral manipulation.
Even though self-abasement is held up as the pinnacle of moral action, it is the antithesis of morality. Notice that a man who regrets his corrupt conduct and seeks to atone for his actions is not practicing humiliation. His regret shows forth the correct emotional response for failing to live up to his values. He cannot regret abandoning something he doesn’t love. So when he chooses renew his commitment to act towards those values he is seeking to regain his SELF-esteem.
By contrast a man who totally abandons moral conviction is purposely degrading his ethical existence. He does not love morality he hates it. So true humility is not an acknowledgment of one’s failings, but is rather a specific abandonment of moral action. It is an abandonment of moral action because it is an abandonment of ALL volition in deference to the edicts of collective judgment. This kind of “humility” could only take one form: chronic anxiety and total self-doubt.
Of course, no one reading here actually believes this of themselves, because such an existence is impossible. No living creature could act on the most basic means of sustaining its own life if plagued by such self-imposed neurosis. “Should I eat today? How can I know? I can have no assurance. I am humble so I can take no action that chooses any virtue. Is it better that I starve today, or is it better that I live? How can I know for sure?”
Many people like to say “I’m the greatest sinner,” but they don’t really mean it. Beyond the fact, such a statement presupposes that all evil is the same. Hitler is on the same moral par as the ten-year-old stealing a pack of gum. If they actually did mean I’m the greatest sinner, they MUST mean to say that they NEVER intend to be any better.
So the statement is either a vile, despicable abandonment of all virtue or it is fraud….
7. Full circle
I would ask you, dear readers, to go back through Arclight comments and see the pattern of argument.
From the beginning she set out to shift the moral burden from Tony Miano to his critics. For all of her insistence that she was misunderstood, she was strikingly consistent with the form of her argument.
She starts with shifting the moral virtue TO Tony Miano with altruism and the moral error to his critics via a shorthand version of the doctrine of Pervasive Depravity. Then notice that she says that I know her better than even God does. This is merely sarcastic form of the perfection fallacy I noted above. And then notice her general appeal to humility. She used the appeal to “Humility” just like I detailed above for the very reason I detailed above: to create moral equivalency and rational equivocation. I will summarize her root argument: “How can you be so sure? Don’t you understand you’re a sinner just like everyone else? Maybe you should have some humility and just know that no one has all the right answers yet.”
Arclight insists that she isn’t making these arguments deliberately. She doesn’t like the analysis I’ve made because she sees my comments as reading way too much into her intent.
And . . . I believe her.
She isn’t deliberately thinking about the formal doctrinal statements or the argumentative implications. But that is why my analysis is important. If she is UNINTENTIONALLY using longstanding, manipulative doctrines, that means she is so familiar with the techniques that it doesn’t ever occur to her where she got them or that there is anything wrong with them. That means she has heard some variation of these arguments over and over and over, which means exactly what I said above.
“. . .unless people begin to understand the means by which these doctrines gain ascendancy in a church, and are thereby advanced into broader cultural acceptance I submit that you will not need imagination to understand what religious tyranny looks like.”
John, Please. One hopes your “dear readers” have moved on by now. Coming across a little obsessive, brother.
Arclight: You have been shown to have been fully inculcated into and to have adopted a pattern of thinking and interaction that is common among abusers, particularly those who have assumed the “authority” that properly belongs to the Holy Spirit and to the priesthood of all believers. That is Miano’s sin and it is yours by adoption. REPENT!
Interesting. God bless.
You can do better than a dismissive response. By making such a response you have actually fallen into a trap. You have provided one more illustration of the corrupt methods of attempted-manipulation-masquerading-as-argumentation John so capably exposes.
I really do mean it when I say you can do better, and I don’t mean it as a putdown. Rather, I mean it as a cheering-you-on encouragement to to engage the substance of John’s arguments. Really, it is for your own benefit. Unless and until you are able to distinguish between manipulative thought stopping criticism and an actual substantive response, you are at great risk of the very kind of spiritual abuse that has brought so many to this blog. I wish better for you.
Your response to Arclight was excellent. Spot on, that! None could have said it better.
I 2nd that, Argo!
Thank you for giving us your time and for being willing to share your insights. Those who will expend the effort to read and understand what you say will be much benefited. For one thing, those who choose to remain in institutional Christian fellowships will be much better equipped to discern between abusive and non-abusive organizations. Those of us who see no hope for true Christian fellowship within the context of authority-based (as opposed to love-based) organizations will be strengthened in our resolve to avoid further participation in church-as-organization “Christianity.” Or so I see it as applied to my own life experience.
“I will let you, dear reader, apply your imagination to what this could look like if modern preachers actually got ahold of the reins of government”
Stopping reading your comment to reflect on this. People often get this backwards.. They think it means changing the constitution or something. Not so. It is social engineering through tax code, entitlements, etc. You can engineer the sort of society you want when you control how much money people get or keep through entitlements, tax incentives, etc. And you do it incrementally.
There is NO fundamental difference between Tony Miano and Obama when it comes to the foundational premise of authority/submission. An example would be that both will micromanage but Tony might say you cannot use birth control where Obama might demand you do.
ok, back to reading. (It is just that in many ways the religious left has ahold of the reigns already and micromanaging us.
“Think back through your interaction and I suspect you will find this patter in bold letters. You offered a factual challenge to something and they immediately shifted the moral burden to you. And then the more you tried to vindicate your actions and show that you were not guilty of a SPECIFIC moral failing, they continued to heap upon your head theoretical guilt. And I will bet money that their argumentative trump card was some variation of Arclight’s assertion: “None of us are fit for heaven,” which is the same as saying “We are all just sinners,” which is rooted in the doctrine of Pervasive Depravity.
This is all an attempt to shift the moral burden to the critic, either by declaring the critic guilty of moral depravity or declaring all conduct morally equivalent.”
Sometimes it can be very benign. I have had some folks try this one a lot which is really the same thing only sounds nicer:
You are looking for a perfect church and when you find one it will no longer be perfect because you are there.
You will never find a perfect church. (this one is used in seeker mega circles all the time)
So the problem is I expect sinless perfection of others (esp the leaders) but I am also a depraved worm or a “sinner while saved by grace who keeps on sinning all the time like the rest of us”.
See the technique?
They have set up a false dichotomy without realizing it. Some of the parroting of pithy Christianese cliches is going to have to be challenged before anything can change. The idea is to set up a no negative truth zone because none of us is “perfect” so we cannot say anything.
Ok. Then raise your kids like that.
“John, Please. One hopes your “dear readers” have moved on by now. Coming across a little obsessive, brother.”
Count me in! I am obsessive about truth, thinking patterns, how God made us as rational beings, etc, how I think we read scripture totally upside down and have made it into the 4th person of the Trinity yet ignoring the Holy Spirit while we do so. (We do not read it against it’s pagan backdrop within it’s context to it’s original audience. Too many have been taught it is a magic book for all ages) GASP
I want to encourage you Arclight to start on a path of thinking things through. Becoming a responsible follower of Christ that stops excusing ourselves through some thinking weakness so many claim cannot be helped where some “authority” has to do your thinking for you.
a great passage in 1 John tells us we were ALL given anointing and do not need a teacher. We have the Holy Spirit. But we have all erred in following man instead of our precious Savior who wants us to DO. Be the KINGDOM NOW.
In my experience, there are two kinds of psychological identities which arise from the philosophical/theological construct you describe: the identity of fear and suffering due to the denial of any ability to be moral (utter abandonment of SELF, and therefore self-worth); and the identity of sociopathic narcissism/sadism due to the denial of any ability to be moral (utter abandonment of SELF, and therefore self-RESTRAINT).
The former will tend to make up the laity, the latter the leadership. Of course personalities may comprise various quantities of both, but generally neo reformed church psychology as I have observed trend one way or the other. The common thread is a denial of self worth leading to the utter abandonment of moral values. If your IDENTITY is fear, you will never act out of love. If your IDENTITY is sadism/narcissism you abandon all hope of ever finding morality in yourself or your fellow human being, and thus you will never act out of love.
They called Dietrich Bonhoeffer obsessive and he turned out to be right. Besides that I can think of worse obsessions. And I expect that those who grasp the implications of my observations will never want to move on when it comes to the roots of religious tyranny.
Thank you. I do appreciate your kind words. your observation is correct. The authority based model of Christianity has historically never provided hope. It has always followed a path towards tyranny. Unless and until people grasp the root doctrines and their specific function to pacify the masses, and seek to refute them, Christianity will continue to be a force of despotism in the earth.
I’m working my way through some of the subsequent comments since I have a 5 hour layover in Denver. LOL.
Anyway… I got to comment and wanted to second your point. I’m sure you have heard me say it before, but it bears repeating. Any argument that concedes the premise is merely an argument over how much. Tony Miano and Barack Obama hold the same fundamental premise: The state (read government) owns man. The only thing to argue over is exactly what the state owns. The tax code, tax incentives, public handouts et al are merely the public policy used to achieve what the state has decided it owns.
And in as much as the Church is the state . . . well, you already know how to finish that sentence.
Ok. Then raise your kids like that.”
That is a great response. Gonna have to plagiarize that Lydia
Argo… so what you are observing is the altruistic/pervasive depravity construct only offers man two moral choices: Masochism or Sadism?
I think that is very insightful.
Mod note: I changed a person’s name on this thread by request (and changed all conversation referencing that particular name).
Yes, the cancer that is Calvinism. It reeks! And I cringed when I saw a video in which this macho man’s man tried to present his calvinist gospel and no one understood a word…maybe they were not the elected. What an arrogant, rude, loveless man.
LikeLiked by 1 person
And the Apostle Paul wrote to Timothy about one woman – a specific woman – called “the woman” was to stop teaching a man [might be her husband in the Greek] error. The issue wasn’t her being a woman, the issue wasn’t him being a man. The issue that Paul was dealing with was error. Paul didn’t want to humiliate this woman. He wanted her to learn correctly first. The same would be true for a man.
Manipulative Bible translators changed the text to something Paul NEVER wrote “a woman”. He never made a statement about all Christian women, for all time, NOT being able to teach.