Open Air Preacher Tony Miano’s Twitter behavior and lessons he’s learned about kindness with his own family.
Over the weekend, open air street preacher, Tony Miano, current member of John MacArthur’s Grace Community Church, responded to a CNN tweet about the devastating earthquake in Nepal:
This tweet created quite a firestorm on Twitter. How could a man be so cold, callous, and insensitive amidst such a horrific catastrophe which has now claimed over 2,500 lives? An international media outlet from UK, The Independent, was the first to cover the story involving Miano: Nepal earthquake: US Pastor Tony Miano sparks outcry by suggesting Nepalis should not rebuild their ‘pagan shrines’.
Here are the first two paragraphs from The Independent:
A former Los Angeles police officer and self-styled preacher, has sparked outcry by suggesting that Nepalis should not rebuild their “pagan shrines” and instead convert to Christianity.
Tony Miano, an outspoken conservative who has previously been accused of homophobia, triggered angry responses when he posted a series of messages on social media, expressing sympathy for the people struck by devastation in Nepal, but suggesting God was angry.
Take a look at some of the tweets.
“My Twitter feed is exploding.”
“The gates of Twitter hell have been released.”
I’m confused by this. The gates of Twitter hell have been released by whom? Who is taking credit for this?
Here is Tony Miano explaining how he has spent four hours of his time interacting with people of different faith. Keep in mind, he is a full-time evangelist supported solely by donations. Isn’t this what he is supposed to be doing? Note the hashtag: #NotYourGrandpaMinistry, making sure we know that it’s hard work doing what he does.
This latest incident is another media attention grabber, but I also want to describe what he calls love. I think I figured out what he means by love in his podcast, Family Relationships: It’s Not to Late to Reboot. The first half of the podcast he discusses the public response to his tweets, the second half is actually remarkable and we’ll get to that in a bit.
The podcast begins with Miano defending his tweet (shown above):
That’s what I posted. That’s my heart. I don’t want any of the pagan temples that have led billions of people to hell to be rebuilt because I want every human being in Nepal to come to genuine repentance in faith in Christ. That was my hope and Twitter has just exploded. So . . .what should our response be?
In the podcast, he said he didn’t pull a Pat Robertson, who has a reputation for saying inappropriate comments after tragedies, but yet he proved himself to be “a Pat Robertson” as he continued:
I didn’t do a Pat Robertson and I didn’t go out and say that this event is God’s judgment against the Nepal. I didn’t say that. It could be, certainly, it could be. God is sovereign over everything. He directly causes and/or allows everything to happen. He’s not indifferent. He’s not uninvolved. He’s not sitting in yonder heaven twiddling his thumbs watching the world go by without having any hand in it. His hand is all over it. There’s not a stray atom. There’s not a stray molecule. There’s not a single hair out of place . . . The earth shakes at His command . . He is in control of all of it.
So, he said God controls every molecule, but he isn’t pulling a Pat Robertson. Okay. He continued:
I don’t think my tweet was taken the wrong way. I think it was taken as it was intended, and people hate it, because people hate Jesus Christ. The comments have been: “how dare you – how dare you use this tragedy to “promote” your religion?”
My response would be, “how dare a Christian not open his or her mouth and call people to repent and believe the gospel in times of tragedy?” Show me in the Bible where the Bible supports the idea of Christians remaining silent because bad things are happening to bad people?
He is not sorry for the tweet whatsoever, but believes as a Christian he should be tweeting for people to repent. He then goes on to describe how he sees himself, and his friends, and everyone as “bad people” because no one is good, not even himself, his friends, his wife. Bad things happen because of sin. He discusses the wrath of God:
“A 7.8 earthquake in Katmandu will seem like a ripple in a kiddie pool compared to what Jesus Christ will do to this earth as he judges in righteousness. That is a message of love. That is a message of love.”
[JA note: he repeated that line twice.]
I shared the gospel – I don’t know how many dozens of times on Twitter today. . . and people hate it. They hate the message of love because they love themselves and they love their sin more than they love God. They want to be God, and, like the Pharisees, they want to murder the God they know exists because they want to be God, because they do not want to submit to the authority of Him.
And that is true of the most angriest [sic] vile atheist on the planet and it is true of the humblest meekest mildest [sic] Nepali Hindu woman bowing before a temple, bowing before an idol. It is hatred of the God they know exists. It is hatred of their Creator. It is hatred of Christ.
I do not believe that the responses to Tony’s tweets indicated people’s hatred of Christ. Their response was to his behavior. I believe he knew it would cause a outroar and this method has been proven successful before. This is not so much about saving souls as it is about drawing attention to Tony Miano under the guise of spreading the Gospel and I think we have the proof below in Tony’s own words. I wonder how many people have been saved after someone told them to repent on Twitter? Think about it.
Miano finished his diatribe and asks his podcast partner, Chris Hohnholz, to share his thoughts:
Miano asked, “What do you think, Chris? I’m done preaching. What do you think?”
Chris joined the conversation. At first you might wonder where he’s going with his words (the bolded part), but then you can see how he justifies and supports Miano’s tweets:
You know, brother, I was just thinking about the whole, “now-is-not-the time” [phrase]. It’s interesting because most of the folks who would make such a claim probably would also be saying – well, any other time is not the really the time. It’s not the issue of the timing. Certainly we as Christians are sensitive to someone if someone is in great pain because of the loss of a child, the last thing we’re going to do is to take them through an Are-You-a-Good-Person test. We’re going to comfort them, we’re going take care of them. . .
[Side note: The Are-you-a-Good-Person test may have originated from Ray Comfort (Tony Miano formerly worked with Ray at Living Waters). It’s a tool evangelists use in sharing the Gospel to convince the person that they are really not a good person, that they are in fact a sinner, and they need Christ. Here’s a cutesy example of it produced by Living Waters.]
Chris Hohnholz continues:
But when we are distant from it, and it’s a subject that we can discuss, this is what’s going on, this is the reality of death, that those who died outside of Christ in Nepal will be going to hell. [But] we’re not in the midst of it. We’re not taking care of the broken and bleeding bodies. We’re distant from it. We’re able to discuss this matter and talk about what the real hope is, because sadly, for those who died outside of Christ in Nepal, there is no hope now . . .We have the opportunity to bring hope to those who are hurt by this emotionally, who are concerned for people who have been affected by this.
Ok, so here it is. I think we got a clue from Chris. Since Tony Miano is DISTANT from the disaster area, he thinks it’s okay to discuss it with such strong terms. That is the justification = geographical distance. This mileage apparently gives him the right to say what he feels needs to be said – which he calls l.o.v.e.
Miano then exhorted Christians to behave appropriately on Twitter. This is rich:
I’ve also posted on Twitter asking Christians who are jumping in to make sure that they do so with Christlikeness, that souls being saved is more important than winning the argument and we can’t respond in kind and revile, no matter how bad the reviling is. I had people posting prayers asking for my death, you know, and, things like that. We obviously can’t respond in kind. We’ve got to love the lost.
Ok, now here’s an unexpected twist to the story. In the second half of the podcast, at about the 41-minute mark, Tony Miano shared from his heart about his family, his parents’ divorce, estrangement from his mother and also his sisters. The last time all of his siblings were together was 16 years ago. The last time he spoke with his mom was 5 years ago. Miano discussed honor and how he knew he was commanded Biblically to honor his parents, but he did not exactly know how to do that or what that looked like.
Tony Miano shared how he met with his younger sisters and his mother. He had some very deep heart-to-heart conversations with his sisters, one in particular lasting 5 hours, saying, “The Lord allowed me to have the most profitable Gospel conversation with this sister that I’ve ever had since coming to faith in Christ, and He wasn’t done.”
This Tony Miano was different. It was beautiful. He stated there was reconciliation, healing, joy, smiles, experiences that the siblings hadn’t shared for a long time. Look at these words:
Now along with the estrangement with my mom, there was also estrangement with my two youngest sisters for all kinds of reasons. I think it would also be safe to say at times it was the Gospel that was part of that estrangement, but not only the Gospel. There were times along the way I blew it in how I shared the Gospel with them, not the when, not the why, but the how.
Do you see that? He gets it – – “the how.” That is exactly what we’ve been saying all along – it is “the how.”
He also shared a bit about his long-time friend, Ray Comfort. He said that Comfort modeled to him what “true kindness to unsaved family members really looks like.” He mentioned how Ray Comfort shows kindness even in the way he treats atheists after having an hour-long debate with them. After a debate, Comfort would shake their hand, put his hand on their shoulder. Kindness. Ray Comfort showed kindness and Miano respected him for that.
In the same podcast in which Tony Miano says it is love to behave as he did in his tweets regarding the temples in Nepal and telling people to repent following a natural disaster, we see that he has been shown and received kindness in his interaction with his siblings as Christ was exalted in their conversation.
You can’t have it both ways, but Tony Miano thinks he is entitled to behave one way on social media, yet knows in his heart that “the how” and kindness, the same kindness he experienced with his precious sisters and mother, is of God.
And this is the saddest thing of all to me – – Tony’s online behavior. Take a look at how many news outlets are picking up the story and it has been growing.
Please, Tony, if you cannot be kind for Christ, if you cannot control “the how,” please check to see if you are in the right business/ministry . . . . for Christ’s sake.