Thinking Out Loud

March 10, 2013

In 94 Seconds, Everything That’s Wrong in the Church

Filed under: theology — Tags: , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 8:54 am

This item is about a 94-second video, but I’m not going to embed it here because it is simply too repulsive to put on this blog. You can follow the link at the bottom.

I would like to think that it’s a joke, but it’s not. The guy on camera is dead serious and truly believes his greatest potential for God’s kingdom could be realized in making a short, angry video. The anger isn’t overt, but it’s there. Trust me, you’re better dealing with this guy at a video’s link than you would be in person. That would get unpleasant. 

This is what happens when people are just smart enough to sound articulate, but not smart enough to know when to shut up. This is spiritually bullying.

True, he’s only one guy; but he is representative of very many. The type of people who would rather argue over doctrine than deal with a spiritually dying world. Who would rather be remembered for what their faith isn’t instead of what it is. Who think God is somehow pleased with their offering of spiritual bigotry. Who believe they are scoring points for their denominational brand, a brand that loses stock value each time they post another upload.

The creator of this video is just a guy with a small following. But as a ‘type,’ he’s the reason your neighbors don’t want to go to church with you. He’s the reason your relatives don’t want you to give them Bibles for gifts. He’s the reason your colleague at work doesn’t want to get into a faith discussion.  He’s the reason your teenage kids are counting the days until faith is an option.

This video is representative of thousands of similar ones, and tens of thousands of blogs and websites. And should you agree with its premise, that’s fine for right now, but if you find yourself on the opposite side of the table as this guy on some other doctrinal issue, you don’t want to know what he thinks of you.

This is the work of Satan, masquerading as a theological or doctrinal statement. It’s purpose is create division.

This is what it looks like when a man pours gasoline on a fire.

January 22, 2012

Disagreeing without being Disagreeable

…the longer an online conversation goes, the more likely it is that someone will make a reference to Hitler…

Stephen Altrogge has written a great piece, “How to Disagree Online Without Being a Total Jerk.”  I guess if you really don’t want to be a jerk online, you don’t steal blog posts wholesale; but then again, Stephen has written this for the ages, so to speak, and it should be the sidebar of every site in the Christian blogosphere; with multiple iterations at CNNBelief and USAToday’s Religion page.  But if you prefer, here is the link

Science has proven that the longer an online conversation goes, the more likely it is that someone will make a reference to Hitler.

It can start off very innocently, with two Christians on Facebook debating the relative merits of Calvinism. But after several comments, the innocence is usually gone, and is replaced with comments like, “I can’t believe that you would believe in such a stupid thing like free will! Have you ever heard of the Bible? You should try to read it sometime.” If it keeps going, someone will inevitably say something along the lines of, “I suppose you think Adolf Hitler didn’t have free will either!” At that point, the conversation is officially dead in the water.

How can we avoid dreadful conversations like that? How can we disagree with a person on the Internet in a godly, humble, God-honoring way? The truth is, we will give an account to God of every careless word that we speak AND every careless word that we type. I want my online interactions to be honoring to God. Here are a few suggestions for how we can honor God in our online speech:

Remember That Your Opponent Is Created In the Image of God

When we’re sitting snugly behind our computers, it can be easy to forget that the person on the other end of the conversation is a real person. A real person who is created in the image of God and should be respected as a fellow image bearer. A real person who has real feelings and strengths and weaknesses. A real person whom God really, really cares about. The words that I type will have a real effect on that person, either good or bad. My words have the potential to build them up or tear them down. To corrupt them or bless them. To strengthen them or be a source of temptation to them. God will hold me accountable for the ways in which my words affect others.

Remember That Your Opponent Is Your Fellow Brother Or Sister

If my opponent is a Christian, they are also my brother or sister in Christ. They have been bought with the precious blood of Christ and they belong to him. Jesus values. The Father treasures them. The Spirit dwells in them. If I insult them, I am also insulting Christ. If I speak poorly of them, I am speaking poorly of Christ. There is no place for maliciousness or backbiting or insulting in the house of Christ, and that house extends to the digital world.

Don’t Say Anything You Wouldn’t Be Comfortable Saying To Their Face

Being behind a computer screen gives me a weird, and often times sinful, boost of confidence. Suddenly I feel like I know everything, and that every person who disagrees with me is a complete and total moron. I also may be tempted to say things that I would never say to a person’s face. But when I get behind a computer, the Golden Rule still applies. I’m still called to treat every person as I would want to be treated. I don’t want to say anything that I wouldn’t be comfortable saying in person.

Ask Forgiveness Quickly

If I sin against a person through online speech, I need to ask their forgiveness quickly. Just because it happened online and I don’t know them that well doesn’t mean that I’m not accountable for it. The house of Christ should be a place ruled by grace and mercy. I want to seek out grace and mercy from those whom I sin against.

Spoken words matter and digital words matter. I want the words that I type to be pleasing to the Lord, don’t you?

~Stephen Altrogge

Nothing Matters But The Weekend…
Some blogs pretty well shut down on Saturdays and Sundays, but weekends can be a rather quiet time for those who miss the pace of work or school; so Thinking Out Loud frequently ramps it up with extra weekend posts.You can be a part of doing something similar. Find a need that’s not being met. Find a group of people who need connection. Find a place where every sign says ‘closed.’ And then step up. Make a difference. Swim upstream. You can have a part in changing lives. Know somebody who could use some people contact today? Maybe that’s you. Get in touch. Reach out.  And watch for more here at TOL later today.

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