A Biblical Response to the Ex-Evangelical Movement

[Edited title on February 15th, 2018. Title was formerly “Bad Theology and Hypocrisy in Churches, Doubting Christians and Ex-Evangelicals, and the Need for Sound Doctrine and Accountability in the Church Today”]

My tone is one of gentleness and I hope you read it that way. I would respectfully ask that you read this if you want to know what I really believe rather make an assumption or misrepresentation of me. I recommend you read my “Discussion with David” article, where I interview a former atheist/ Ex-Evangelical.

https://thetopsecretarea.com/2018/01/29/discussion-with-david-an-ex-ex-evangelical/

Introduction

I had included this in my “Discussion With David” article but I feel it is important to include it here too.

“Ex-Evangelicals are not rebranded Christians. Many of us are not Christians at all; we are a group that consists of progressive Christians, people who have joined other religions, agnostics, and atheists, some of whom are quite vocal as atheists. What brings us together is what Blake Chastain, who coined the term “exvangelical” to use as the name for his podcast, describes as “a shared sociocultural heritage.” Regarding the term “exvangelical,” Chastain sent me the following statement:

I am currently applying for a trademark relative to the title of the podcast and any future titled or branded projects, but the term itself can and should be used by people who have left evangelicalism, regardless of their current state of belief.

Exvangelicals’ paths out of Evangelicalism are often slow and painful. The break takes time and effort because, as opposed to merely desiring respectability while holding to bigoted beliefs and #ChristianAltFacts, we chose to stare the toxicity and pervasive abuse of Evangelicalism in the face, to recognize our complicity in the vast systemic harm that Evangelicalism does (to ourselves and others, particularly to women, people of color, and members of the LGBTQ community), and then we changed our beliefs. We changed our beliefs despite facing a heavy social cost, because that is the respectable and moral thing to do. Becoming an ex-Evangelical requires profound transformation, not cosmetic rebranding. No cheap grace…Ex-Evangelicals are, as a rule, deeply concerned with understanding the relationship between conservative theology and authoritarianism. And here’s the rub. The theology of Evangelicalism–even when shared by a small minority of progressive Evangelicals–is inherently authoritarian.” -Christopher Stroop

“Christians that Share the Gospel are Manipulative, Use Gaslighting, and are Authoritarian.”

This is the tweet that brought me into the world of Ex-Evangelicals:

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I was talking to an atheist and I said that loving our family more than God is a sin. I said that loving ourselves is selfish and sinful. I was respectful, I wasn’t arrogant but I said what I believe to be the truth. God says in His Word that loving ourselves more than Him is idolatry.

Therefore, be imitators of God, as dearly loved children, and walk in love, as Christ also loved us and gave himself for us, a sacrificial and fragrant offering to God. But sexual immorality and any impurity or greed should not even be heard of[a] among you, as is proper for saints. Obscene and foolish talking or crude joking are not suitable, but rather giving thanks. For know and recognize this: Every sexually immoral or impure or greedy person, who is an idolater, does not have an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no one deceive you with empty arguments, for God’s wrath is coming on the disobedient[b] because of these things. ‘

Ephesians 5:1-6

So if you have been raised with Christ, seek the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your[a] life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

Therefore, put to death what belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desire, and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, God’s wrath is coming upon the disobedient,[b] and you once walked in these things when you were living in them. But now, put away all the following: anger, wrath,malice, slander, and filthy language from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self. You are being renewed in knowledge according to the image of your[c]Creator. 11 In Christ there is not Greek and Jew, circumcision and uncircumcision, barbarian, Scythian, slave and free; but Christ is all and in all.

Colossians 3:1-11

The atheist I had been talking to retweeted me (shared my tweet on twitter) and tagged Christopher Stroop. Christopher retweeted my tweet, so naturally I thought I would respond to his statement. The following tweets show our exchange and then the other tweets I’ve included are about sharing the gospel being manipulative, gaslighting, and authoritarian:

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“Sharing The Gospel Involves Using Gaslighting, is Abusive, and is Manipulative”

I had tried engaging Christopher on twitter but realized he was not interested in a dialogue with a Christian that shares the gospel. I stopped directly interacting with him and other Ex-Evangelicals. I just followed his tweets. I tweeted this on February 10, 2018:

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I will now clarify this tweet. Certainly Ex-Evangelicals don’t mind talking to Christians and many have Christian friends. However from my experience, many, if not all Ex-Evangelicals do not want Christians to share the gospel with them. Ex-Evangelicals don’t want you to use your “manipulation and gaslighting” on them. However, when you are making claims that sharing the gospel is manipulative and gaslighting, there are people who disagree and will want to challenge the claims. I haven’t made any personal attacks but have tried to challenge the ideas that Ex-Evangelicals are putting out, quite vocally I might add. If you read the rest of this article you’ll know what I mean when I said “God has to open their eyes to His gospel”.

I didn’t use a hashtag, I just used the word “Ex-Evangelical” and some people saw it and commented on it:

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Beth retweeted me, I then responded to this tweet by posting a link to this article and I was subsequently blocked. Chris retweeted me and then I responded to his claim and he accused me of gaslighting. Let’s just say that I actually had gaslighted Chris. Some genuine questions about this…why is gaslighting wrong? If moral autonomy is what you are devoted to then how could you be opposed to gaslighting if someone believes gaslighting is okay according to their subjective moral autonomy”?

Why I Share the Gospel

I believe the gospel is the truth. I believe that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life and no one comes to the Father but through Him. I do not share the gospel because of “insecurity & ego” or because of my “persecution complex”. I don’t “gaslight” or “manipulate”. I share the gospel because it is the only truth. I don’t coerce people or try to manipulate people to say a prayer. I simply share the truth of Scripture and let God do the work. It’s not my job to save people. God is the one who saves people. As John 6:44 says “no one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them”.

However, I also don’t sugarcoat or water down the gospel either. The gospel is essentially the good news that Jesus Christ (God in the flesh, fully God & fully man) lived a perfect, sinless life and died on the cross. He atoned for sin and satisfied God’s wrath. Those that believe in Christ are forgiven of their sin and indwelled by the Holy Spirit. They are given a new nature. Christians still struggle with sin, however they are no longer slaves to sin (Romans 6). They now hate their sin.

How Christians Should Share the Gospel

It is not our job as Christians to convince or persuade people to become Christians. We do not pull a bait-and-switch on people. I don’t like friendship evangelism too much for this reason. Paul says we are not to butter people up or use emotional manipulation (turning down the lights, playing a sweet soft music, and leading people through an emotional prayer experience).

For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel—not with eloquent wisdom, so that the cross of Christ will not be emptied of its effect.

1 Corinthians 1:17

When I came to you, brothers and sisters, announcing the mystery[a] of God to you, I did not come with brilliance of speech or wisdom. I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. I came to you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling. My speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of wisdom[b] but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not be based on human wisdom but on God’s power. We do, however, speak a wisdom among the mature, but not a wisdom of this age, or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. On the contrary, we speak God’s hidden wisdom in a mystery, a wisdom God predestined before the ages for our glory. None of the rulers of this age knew this wisdom, because if they had known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But as it is written,

What no eye has seen, no ear has heard,
and no human heart has conceived—
God has prepared these things for those who love him.[c]

10 Now God has revealed these things to us by the Spirit, since the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. 11 For who knows a person’s thoughts[d]except his spirit within him? In the same way, no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have not received the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who comes from God, so that we may understand what has been freely given to us by God. 13 We also speak these things, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual things to spiritual people.[e] 14 But the person without the Spirit[f] does not receive what comes from God’s Spirit, because it is foolishness to him; he is not able to understand it since it is evaluated[g] spiritually. 15 The spiritual person, however, can evaluate[h]everything, and yet he himself cannot be evaluated by anyone. 16 For

who has known the Lord’s mind,
that he may instruct him?[i]

But we have the mind of Christ.

 1 Corinthians 2

Why I Care for Doubting Christians and Ex-Evangelicals

My concern with de-conversion stories is not that they are intentional deceit, persecution, or work of the devil. In fact, I have read many Ex-Evangelical stories. I’ve read at least 10 of Christopher Stroop’s articles. I’ve read the stories shared through the “empty the pews” hashtag. I am angry about a lot of the same things. I can personally think of many people that were raised in “Christianity”, kids that I went to church with, that now want nothing to do with Christ, the gospel, or the church. There are many Ex-Evangelicals in the U.S. today because these two things have happened over the past 50+ years:

1. People were taught bad theology/false teaching in the church and at home
Examples:

  • A pastor telling you that you have anxiety & depression because you are harboring sin in your life, or because you have a demon.
  • Poor teaching about the “unforgivable sin of blaspheming the Holy Spirit”. This leads to or has led to some Christians living with anxiety and fear about whether or not they committed the sin.
  • Pastors that create theology from quoting Scripture out of context. Pastors that twist the Word of God.
  • Any church where pastors or leaders cannot be questioned and/or demand loyal devotion.
  • Moralistic Therapeutic Deism. Being a Christian is about “doing the right and moral things”. WWJD. Veggie Tales theology. Being a Christian means that “when you pray for God to take a sin away from you that He will do that immediately and if He doesn’t, and you still struggle with a sin (like masturbating, lust, anger, etc.) it means you are not saved or in danger of losing your salvation.
  • Terrible Contemporary Christian Music. Over-emotional, sensational, “Jesus is my boyfriend” songs. Me-centered worship songs. Oceans. ’nuff said
  • Cultural Fundamentalism such as not being able to listen to “secular” rock music. Claiming that songs like Highway to Hell by AC/DC and Number of the Beast by Iron Maiden are satanic (Hint…they’re not satanic. Just look at the background to the writing of the songs). Kids not being allowed to play Pokemon because it promoted evolution and was influenced by the Egyptian book of the dead (I experienced this one).
  • End-times obsessed Christians that use fear mongering about the rapture.
  • Seeker sensitive/church growth movements. Purpose Driven Life. Running the church like a business and using marketing strategies. Vision casting. Making church for the unchurched. Rock show worship services. Sermons that are 99% personal stories and 1% Scripture.
  • Emergent church, Rob Bell.
  • New Apostolic Reformation, Bethel Church, YWAM, IHOP, etc.

2. People saw hypocritical Christians in the church and at home.
Examples:

  • Either having experienced sexual abuse by a “Christian” or having heard about sexual abuse perpetrated by “Christians”.
  • Moral failure of (popular) Christians, thinking of Jim Bakker. Tim Lambesis who was in a “Christian” metal band As I Lay Dying who hired a hitman to kill his wife.
  • Strict parents who imposed strict moral rules on kids but lived hypocritical lives.

There often is a blending of these two things of which the effects are catastrophic:

Think Creflo Dollar, Joel Osteen and word-faith/prosperity gospel hucksters living lives of luxury, profiting off of and deceiving people. They peddle false teaching and live hypocritical lives.

Think Jim Jones or other cults.

Think abusers that quote Scripture and say God told them to abuse you. That “God is happy when you do X for me”.

My concern is for doubting Christians that read the de-conversion stories and abandon the gospel. There are indeed many pews that need to be emptied. However, I disagree that all “conservative white evangelical” pews should be emptied. Empty the pews of bad churches and fill the pews of healthy churches that teach what accords with sound doctrine and where leaders are held accountable.

The Hope for Suffering and Abuse

I empathize and sympathize with anyone that was sexually, physically, or emotionally abused by someone, especially if you were abused by a “Christian”. I don’t seek to minimize the trauma you have as a result of abuse, anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts or attempts. Maybe you are a recovering addict. Addicted to alcohol, drugs, and/or sex. You won’t find solace in any of those things. The problem is not with God…the problem is sinful, wicked people that abuse. God did not abuse you.

It is hard to work through trauma, I’ve done it myself. I’ve experienced depression, depersonalization, and derealization. I know what it feels like to be hurt, to endure suffering. We all experience suffering. However, the hope for healing and surviving is found at the cross. It is found in laying down my painful, traumatizing experiences at the feet of Christ. Jesus suffered and died on the cross for us…the enemies of God (Colossians 1:21, Romans 5:11).

It’s saying to God and thinking to yourself something like: “What I went through was wicked. It was sinful and terrible. I’m hurting, God. I’m scared and I feel alone. I have intrusive thoughts every day. Images and mental pictures are running in my mind constantly. I don’t feel real. I feel like I’m going crazy. My mind fights against me. I awake with agony. I put on a fake smile when I am screaming and sad inside. People have hurt me. I feel worthless. But God, You did not forsake me or abandon me. You are with me and you comfort me. Please bring me healing and comfort. Thank You for your grace. Thank You for forgiving me of my sins that I’ve committed against You. Thank You for redeeming me. Father, give me peace. I know it will take time to heal but I trust Your sovereignty. I trust in You.”.

The Folly of Human Autonomy

Ex-Evangelical Christopher Stroop champions moral autonomy as being good for society and “conservative Christian theology” like calvinism as being “irredeemable, sadistic, manipulative, gaslighting”, and bad for society. My genuine question is, who’s moral autonomy do we follow? What if according to my moral autonomy I decide to emotionally hurt people and it brings me pleasure to do so? With no objective morality, how can Chris object to something like this? It would simply be his subjective opinion on morality based on his reasoning and experiences. Why should we trust our reasoning and experience? Are they infallible?

The ultimate problem is that we don’t want to submit to God’s authority. We want moral autonomy. We want to do what we think is best. We want to do what makes us happy. We are our own god. Do you know the famous quote by Karl Marx? He got it wrong…I have corrected it:

Moral autonomy is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people.

Here are some great quotes by Cornelius Van Til:

“If one does not make human knowledge wholly dependent upon the original self-knowledge and consequent revelation of God to man, then man will have to seek knowledge within himself as the final reference point. Then he will have to seek an exhaustive understanding of reality. He will have to hold that if he cannot attain to such an exhaustive understanding of reality he has no true knowledge of anything at all. Either man must then know everything or he knows nothing. This is the dilemma that confronts every form of non-Christian epistemology”

“The charges made against this type of reasoning we must turn upon those who made them. It will be said of this type of reasoning that it introduces the subjective element of belief in God, which all men do not share. Of this we can only say that all men should share that belief, and before the fall of man into sin man did have that belief. Belief in God is the most human attitude conceivable. It is abnormal not to believe in God. We must therefore hold that only the Christian theist has real objectivity, while the others are introducing false prejudices, or subjectivity.

The charge is made that we engage in circular reasoning. Now if it be called circular reasoning when we hold it necessary to presuppose the existence of God, we are not ashamed of it because we are firmly convinced that all forms of reasoning that leave God out of account will end in ruin. Yet we hold that our reasoning cannot fairly be called circular reasoning, because we are not reasoning about and seeking to explain facts by assuming the existence and meaning of certain other facts on the same level of being with the facts we are investigating, and then explaining these facts in turn by the facts with which we began. We are presupposing God, not merely another fact of the universe. If God is to come into contact with us at all it is natural that the initiative must be with him. And this will also apply to the very question about the relation of God to us. Accordingly, it is only on God’s own testimony that we can know anything about him.”

“It is not kindness to tell patients that need strong medicine that nothing serious is wrong with them.

“You realize that if you are to change your belief about God, you will also have to change your belief about yourself.”

“For what you have really done in your handling of the evidence for belief in God, is to set yourself up as God. You have made the reach of your intellect, the standard of what is possible or not possible. You have thereby virtually determined that you intend never to meet a fact that points to God. Facts, to be facts at all–facts, that is, with decent scientific and philosophic standing–must have your stamp instead of that of God upon them as their virtual creator.”

“It should not be forgotten in this connection that the minister’s duty is increasingly that of an apologist for Christianity. The general level of education is much higher than it has ever been. Many young people hear of evolution in the high schools and in the college where their fathers never heard of it except as far as a distant something. If the minister would be able to help his young people, he must be a good apologete, and he cannot be a good apologete unless he is a good systematic theologian”

“I shall not convert you at the end of my argument. I think the argument is sound. I hold that belief in God is not merely as reasonable as other belief, or even a little or infinitely more probably true than other belief; I hold rather that unless you believe in God you can logically believe in nothing else. But since I believe in such a God, a God who has conditioned you as well as me, I know that you can to your own satisfaction, by the help of the biologists, the psychologists, the logicians, and the Bible critics reduce everything I have said this afternoon and evening to the circular meanderings of a hopeless authoritarian. Well, my meanderings have, to be sure, been circular; they have made everything turn on God. So now I shall leave you with Him, and with His mercy.”

Conclusion:

I stress the importance of not just believing what people say, especially strangers on the internet. Don’t just blindly believe anything someone says. Ask yourself if these things are true. Read the bible and see what it says.

I will end with this passage:

And you were dead in your trespasses and sins 2 in which you previously lived according to the ways of this world,according to the ruler of the power of the air, the spirit now working in the disobedient.[a] 3 We too all previously lived among them in our fleshly desires, carrying out the inclinations of our flesh and thoughts, and we were by nature children under wrath as the others were also. 4 But God, who is rich in mercy,because of his great love that he had for us,[b] 5 made us alive with Christ even though we were dead in trespasses. You are saved by grace! 6 He also raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavens in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might display the immeasurable riches of his grace through his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8 For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift— 9 not from works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time for us to do.

Ephesians 2:1-10 (You really should just read the entire book of Ephesians to get the whole context)

Is God the Author of Sin? Does God Arbitrarily Predestine People to Hell?

There are many misunderstandings about Calvinism/reformed theology. Two questions people often have for Calvinists:

Is God the author of sin? Did God predestine/arbitrarily send people to Hell?

For information about God’s decree I would direct you to chapter 3 of the 1689 London Baptist Confession:

http://www.vor.org/truth/1689/1689bc03.html

I stumbled across an excellent explanation on a reddit thread and I want to share it here. It’s an older/archived thread but I thought it was an interesting discussion.

Here is the link:

I’ve provided the discussion here below:

soad_Simon94:

“Hello brothers and sisters, I was wondering if someone could explain to me what first and second causes are and give examples from the Bible. I kinda knew it, but forgot it and I’m not sure anymore…it’s kinda weird”

Tetelesthai: 

“First (or “primary”) and second (or “secondary”) causes describe the agents in an effect. The first cause is the ultimate (more indirect) cause, and in this case, is always God. The second cause is the more direct cause, done by a created thing.

God has a decree, and he executes his decree through creation and providence. So, primary and secondary causes mostly appear in a study on concurrence, one of the three acts of God within the work of Providence. In executing his decree in providence, God (primary cause) works in and through a thing (secondary cause) to achieve his will. This is called concurrence.

Though God is the primary cause, of things, he is not the direct agent of things. He works in a secondary cause according to its nature and properties. When a dog barks, God has decreed that the dog bark at that moment, and works in the dog to have it bark. He doesn’t have it meow, or chirp, because it is in the nature of a dog to bark. He created the dog with properties such that it barks. So, he works with things according to their nature. But his “working in the dog” is such that the dog’s action is from itself, of it’s own volition, and properly ascribed to the dog. So when a dog barks, we can say that it is both from God, and from the dog, but is performed only by the dog. God doesn’t bark, the dog barks.

This is all over in the Bible. It might be helpful to look at, say, (Psalm 65:9-10 ESV) “You visit the earth and water it; you greatly enrich it; the river of God is full of water; you provide their grain, for so you have prepared it. 10 You water its furrows abundantly, settling its ridges, softening it with showers, and blessing its growth.”

This passage is speaking about God. So when it says “you visit the earth and water it,” it’s saying “God visits the earth and waters it.” Same thing in verse 10. The actions are ascribed to God, yet he does so through means. He greatly enriches the earth how? He visits the earth and waters it. He waters things how? He softens things how? With showers. He uses showers to soften the furrows. He uses rain to bless the growth on the earth. He works in the showers, according to their nature, such that they cause softening, settling, and growth. Water has the property of aiding growth, and God works in the water to do so. Yet, the “blessings its growth” and “greatly enriching” are both ascribed to God, yet the actions (of watering) are performed properly by the rain. So, the earth grows. What are the causes of its growth? The primary cause of its growth is God. The secondary cause is the rain.

A few other biblical examples wherein the same reasoning can be found:

(Genesis 45:5 ESV) And now do not be distressed or angry with yourselves because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life.

(Exodus 4:11-12 ESV) Then the LORD said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the LORD? 12 Now therefore go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall speak.”

(Joshua 11:6 ESV) And the LORD said to Joshua, “Do not be afraid of them, for tomorrow at this time I will give over all of them, slain, to Israel. You shall hamstring their horses and burn their chariots with fire.”

(Proverbs 21:1 ESV) The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the LORD; he turns it wherever he will.

(Ezra 6:22 ESV) And they kept the Feast of Unleavened Bread seven days with joy, for the LORD had made them joyful and had turned the heart of the king of Assyria to them, so that he aided them in the work of the house of God, the God of Israel.

(Deuteronomy 8:18 ESV) You shall remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you power to get wealth, that he may confirm his covenant that he swore to your fathers, as it is this day.

(1 Corinthians 12:6 ESV) and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone.

(Philippians 2:13 ESV) for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.

TitusRex:

I’m sorry if this question sounds dumb, but is God the first cause of sin?

Tetelesthai:

It’s not a dumb question, it’s one that needs to be asked if the rest of this is true. It may sound wrong, but God decrees even sin, so we say yes. But there are a few comments and qualifications. First, it must be remembered that the action is properly ascribed to the second cause. Just like when rain waters a plant, God ordained it, but God is not the water that waters the plant; the water nourishes the plant. When a dog barks, God isn’t barking, the dog barks. When people sin, it’s according to his decree, but people sin.

Second, it has to be added that he isn’t the first cause of sin in the same way as he is in other secondary causes. Normally, he provides a kind of “energizing” needed for the second cause to act, according to its own will, according to its own nature. But when someone sins, he simply “gives them up” to their sin. It’s more like a “Oh, you want to do evil? Is that what you want? Fine.” So he doesn’t will sin in the same way he does non-sin.

We see an example of God “giving them up to their sin” in Romans 1 (specifically verse 24):

22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles. 24 Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another.

Same with Psalm 81 (specifically verse 12):

11“But my people did not listen to my voice; Israel would not submit to me. 12 So I gave them over to their stubborn hearts, to follow their own counsels. 13 Oh, that my people would listen to me, that Israel would walk in my ways!

In both cases, God has decided, it is in his decree, to give them over. And so he is the first cause. But in a way in which he is blameless in the act.

And God does decree, and even uses sin, though we must remember and trust that he does so for good purposes. Like a good-guy thwarting a bad-guy in the midst of his own evil act. The ultimate example in Acts 2 (specifically verse 23):

22 Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know— 23 this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men.

So, the answer is yes. He is the first cause of all things (he has decreed, and he is sovereign, after all), but that doesn’t make him the author of sin. The author is the second cause, since the action properly belongs to the second cause.

soad_Simon94: 

Thanks brother, now I understand it a little bit better! So in every action God is always the primary cause, but sometimes or most of the time uses secondary causes, right?

Tetelesthai:

Yes, most of the time he uses secondary causes (most of what happens falls under ordinary providence).

Though things like miracles, signs, wonders, etc. only have a primary cause (God), since he is working directly in something by divine power (this is rare, and falls under extraordinary providence). For instance, the Resurrection. Rising from the dead is not a normal property of bodies, or the natural order. He doesn’t work through a created thing to raise someone from the dead, but does so directly by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Soad_Simon94:

But miracles were done by God through the apostles in Acts. I’m reading through Acts now and I’ve come up across verses that God likes this “God was performing miracles through Paul” or something of the sorts. That’s also using second causes, right?

What about regeneration?

Tetelesthai:

Astute question! Though we have to be precise: 1) What effect was caused, and 2) what, then, caused the effect?

We can use Acts 3 as an example, where the lame man is made to walk again by Peter.

1) The effect that was caused was the healing of a man’s legs. 2) Technically, the cause of the healing was divine power.

Remember how secondary causes work: If it’s a secondary cause, God is working naturally through a thing’s properties or nature. If we were to identify Peter as the secondary cause of the healing here, we would have to say that God was working according to Peter’s nature, or his natural ability to heal legs. But by nature, humans don’t have that kind of power, property, or ability.

So, it’s not quite the same as watering trees. If we used the scheme above for watering trees, we’d say God uses water to nourish the trees. So 1) the effect produced is a nourished tree, and 2) the nourishment effect was caused by water, according to its natural properties.

So, in the case of Peter and the lame man, God performed a miraculous healing. The cause of the healing was divine power, but the occasion of the healing was Peter’s words.

Discussion with David, an Ex-Ex-Evangelical

“Ex-Evangelicals are not rebranded Christians. Many of us are not Christians at all; we are a group that consists of progressive Christians, people who have joined other religions, agnostics, and atheists, some of whom are quite vocal as atheists. What brings us together is what Blake Chastain, who coined the term “exvangelical” to use as the name for his podcast, describes as “a shared sociocultural heritage.” Regarding the term “exvangelical,” Chastain sent me the following statement:

I am currently applying for a trademark relative to the title of the podcast and any future titled or branded projects, but the term itself can and should be used by people who have left evangelicalism, regardless of their current state of belief.

Exvangelicals’ paths out of Evangelicalism are often slow and painful. The break takes time and effort because, as opposed to merely desiring respectability while holding to bigoted beliefs and #ChristianAltFacts, we chose to stare the toxicity and pervasive abuse of Evangelicalism in the face, to recognize our complicity in the vast systemic harm that Evangelicalism does (to ourselves and others, particularly to women, people of color, and members of the LGBTQ community), and then we changed our beliefs. We changed our beliefs despite facing a heavy social cost, because that is the respectable and moral thing to do. Becoming an ex-Evangelical requires profound transformation, not cosmetic rebranding. No cheap grace…Ex-Evangelicals are, as a rule, deeply concerned with understanding the relationship between conservative theology and authoritarianism. And here’s the rub. The theology of Evangelicalism–even when shared by a small minority of progressive Evangelicals–is inherently authoritarian.” -Christopher Stroop

If you aren’t familiar with Ex-Evangelicals and the movement, I recommend you read the article linked below to learn about what prominent Ex-Evangelical Chris Stroop defines as an Ex-Evangelical:

Ex-Evangelical Means Much More than Dropping a Label: A Response to Josiah Hesse

I’m going to be addressing some of the claims made by Chris and other Ex-Evangelicals in other articles. This article might just be the most important for Christians to read. I made a friend on twitter who was raised in the church and a “Christian home” that became an atheist. He now follows Christ faithfully and I wanted to know his testimony. You can find David on twitter here: https://twitter.com/conquergiants

This is David’s story:

Ricky: Sad how it seems so many today reject God. Atheists are so angry about God. Who knew a simple tweet would lead to an onslaught from angry atheists against me. Just have to pray for them and continue sharing Christ. God’s Word is right when it says unbelievers hate God

David: Yes I know brother all too well…I grew up with a cousin we are almost like brothers. He became an atheist a while back. At first it was so upsetting and still is disappointing, he is a pastor’s son. I have had many debates with him and I learned something. About 97 percent of atheists are atheists because of emotional issues not intellectual ones. They are angry apparently about something that doesn’t exist. Makes no sense.

R: Hey I was wondering what your story is…how long have you been a Christian?

D: Well I grew up in a Christian home. Mainly my Mom was teaching me about the word of God. Unfortunately the only thing I knew growing up was TBN and the prosperity Gospel. After my mom died when I was 14 I felt free to go to church if I wanted to or not. My dad didn’t go so I didn’t feel I had to go. I started working with my dad in construction and we came along a Peruvian man who picked up scrap metal shared the Gospel with me for the first time in my life. It was bittersweet but I decided to go with him when he invited me to church. I went and I heard things I never heard before in those megachurches. A Pentecostal church with loving people and I felt like family for the first time in my life. I looked to have many friends to fill the void of being attached to the body of Christ. There was good preaching but no apologetics and very little teaching. I was in love with the Lord. This was August 2007 by the way. Then seven years later I had doubts about my faith and had conversations with atheists and I had no idea how to defend my faith. Besides a few scriptures. I gave in and became an atheist for about a year. Looking to destroy others faith as well. I challenged the Lord if he was real to strike me down. Why would I ask something I believe didn’t exist to strike me down? Simple answer: atheists suppress the truth. I remember it was a Sunday night when I challenged him. Well he answered. That week I got MRSA and was sent to the hospital. I was afraid, I never have been at a hospital before. I reconciled with God. In January 2015 I made a decision to study the Christian faith and never be decieved again. Long story short here I am to this day by God’s grace

R: What do you think about President Trump? I personally didn’t vote this past election but I know a big argument coming from Ex-Evangelicals is that because “white evangelicals” voted for him that was the final straw. “How could Christians vote for a racist sexist homophobe” is the argument. What is your view of him and this accusation? I also personally believe as Christians our main focus should not be politics but Christ and the gospel. I think the Christians that see trump as our savior are in error but I don’t hate Trump and I’m not convinced he is a racist sexist. I think he is immature and speaks too much and in an unchristlike manner.

The label “white evangelical” is so dumb in my opinion. I’m white and I’m a Christian…I don’t identify as a white evangelical. I’m a disciple of Jesus Christ.

I don’t think the older generation is aware of the impact of social media, forums, the internet and how easy it is for doubting Christians to be mislead.

I went to community college after HS and that was my first major experience with other worldviews especially new atheists and LGBT. I honestly didn’t know how to engage them. I was taught arminianism/synergism and classic apologetics where you debate and argue but now as a presuppositionalist and calvinist/monergist I see how unprepared I was. It’s such a relief knowing it’s not up to me to convince people to follow Christ…that is the Holy Spirit’s job. My job is to spread the gospel and be a witness not change people. That revolutionized my interactions with others.

D: My opinion first of all what you said is very important our place is not politics but it’s Proclaiming the Gospel. My honest opinion about the whole Trump ordeal doesn’t effect me much. I agree with him on certain issues such as pro life. Let’s be honest he is not regenerate believer in Christ like you and me. Therefore I don’t find the need to defend any of his accusations true or not. White evangelicals is a term created by the left. Pre supposing the body of Christ is mainly white. They are so ignorant when it comes to the church because it wasn’t built on race it was built on the cross. I would rather educate the non believer on what the church is and it’s purpose. As well I despise the term homophobe it’s a word that’s always used out of context. I always ask people who use that term to define it then define phobia. If you are debating leftists it’s always great to ask for definition of terms. They always trip over their own feet. I don’t hate Trump either. The scripture tells me to pray for him so that’s what I do.

The only label we share that matters is brothers in Christ.

Definitely Ricky it’s easy to get mislead on the internet. There is no filter to what’s true and false.

That’s why it’s necessary to do our research diligently

I would have to agree that presuppositional apologetics is the way to go. Nothing against classical apologetics it’s just very easy to get carried away from the true message.

R: Well I was in a young adults small group (with 4 or 5 attendees) the person leading said when we do apologetics we shouldn’t use the bible. If they don’t believe the bible then they will write you off. But that misunderstands the fact that God is judge not man. God is not on trial…God is the judge. God is God whether or not you believe in Him.

Also I agree with Dr. James White…if you can convince/reason someone to the faith then they can be reasoned out of it.

D: I think his point was they don’t believe in the Bible so don’t use it. I think contrary to that statement if anything it’s a good way to start. The unbelievers hatred for scripture should be highlighted. They need to know they are totally depraved and God hating sinners. That God will be merciful in showing them their wickedness so they might repent. Agreed God is God like it or not he is the unshaken established truth.

R: So I guess you would be an Ex-Ex-Evangelical then?

D: I guess so. I have been given so much Grace by a forgiving and patient God.

R: I’m just making an ironic statement about the labels people use…it made me chuckle to myself. But yeah that’s what all our testimonies should be…it’s not only amazing that God gives grace to undeserved sinners he then desired that they enjoy life and the blessing he gives on earth.

D: Yes especially talking to leftists everyone has to be organized accordingly to your social group. Everything is labels with them. God’s grace is truly divine because it has the power to do what no man can.

R: What was your view of the Word of God when you were growing up and then when you were an atheist?

Because I think that is the main attack of atheists…they get you to doubt the Word of God. If they can convince you that there is error in the bible then that is enough to send doubts and lead someone away from Christ. Even “friendly atheists” cast doubt on the Word of God. They use their reasoning that God gave them to critique Him. They hate the God they claim doesn’t exist…as you said earlier.

D: The word of God was just a moral guideline for me growing up. As an atheist it was just some book written by crazy men who wanted either attention or power. A subjective set of rules by an ancient people. Once you do the research you find out that’s not the case.

This is the thing about new Atheists. They think by driving us away from faith they are sincerely doing you and society a service. Rude or not their motive is to deconstruct your belief system. They believe if religion was destroyed that they would get rid of most of the hate and evil in the world. Most Atheists were poorly taught Christians that never understood the doctrine of total depravity. Most Atheists never studied the Bible in detail until they were Atheists. Unfortunately not in it’s appropriate context.

R: New atheism really makes no logical sense and it takes the work of God to reveal that to people. Seriously how can you justify any claims or arguments if you have no moral grounding or basis for reasoning? If there is no truth then why do they vehemently oppose God and Christians…because as Romans says they know God exists but suppress the truth.

What was your view of God? The “vindictive genocidal maniac sky god” that commits moral atrocities and sends “good” people to hell?

The making of human minds and borrowed from pagan religions?

As well as your view of Jesus?

D: New Atheism doesn’t make sense but the emotional anger and bitterness always seems to shadow your rationality and logic. They oppose the church for the reasons of all the dastardly things so called Christians do such as rape. Well when you are an atheist you fit in your head there is no God. So your presupposition is you have to find your own moral basis and have to craft it over time not realizing it’s already been established.

Truth for them is an illusion lost in many perspectives

R: They are outraged mostly by bad theology and hypocrisy…and that led to doubt of Scripture and to doubts about God which led to anger towards God.

They lump all Christians into the mold of what they believe Christians are like.

D: My view of God was some careless father who neglected his children if he did exist. He had the same attributes as us if he did exist. I thought even if anyone proved he existed he couldn’t prove that he loved us. We look back at all the times we felt unloved and we remind ourselves how much God let us down. A stubborn brat who just wanted his way. I was ignorant to the true attributes about God.

The borrowing from pagan religions is enticing and fits an atheistic narrative. Once you do research and dig deep it’s just foolish myths that Christianity borrows from other religions.

You hit the nail on the head with bad theology and hypocrisy.

R: But the thing is most churches didn’t teach us about those kinds of attacks. A Christian would be taught the basics and then go on an Internet forum or to college or workplace and see atheists talking about Jesus being derived from mithra and other cults and then seeds of doubt are sowed. Or that the Bible has contradictions and is made up by men.

D: As an atheist I had no problem with the person Jesus he was like mother Theresa to me. Once someone tried to claim he was divine I would be enraged. I knew other Atheists that would deny his existence all together to kind of get him out of their minds. Don’t think about it or talk about it.

Satan has definitely taken advantage of some Christian leaders to get into the mindset of educating God’s people is taboo and unbiblical, but the Bible states that a people is destroyed because of a lack of knowledge.

R: Hypocrisy runs rampant in leftist circles too. You have adoration for rappers like Jay Z, Snoop Dogg, Tyler, the Creator, Eminem, etc. that talk about getting rich and mistreating women but then outrage over hollywood scandals…they pick their morality to suit themselves.

D: As I stated before they look to structure their own morality. No matter how illogical it is.

Depending on their emotions it dictates their morality. However they are feeling at the time it dictates their view of morality at that point in time.

R: What were some the ways or arguments you would use to try to create doubt in Christians?

D: One that I used and many others attack as well is the account of Genesis. Our mindset is if we deconstruct the need for a creator we don’t even have to worry about the rest of the Bible. I would think if we could prove Genesis false the rest would fall like dominoes. Science is the god of Atheism. Use it against them. Not knowing that sound science went against everything I believed as an atheist. Atheists commonly love the god of the gaps argument. Science can disprove the Bible. There are so many different arguments I used. The authors of the Bible weren’t credible. The main thing I did to try and make doubt was through speculation on every single point the biblical worldview offered. To make others seem intellectually inferior no matter their educational status.

R: Also I think atheists know more about what the Bible says than most Christians even though they don’t understand it because as Scripture says in numerous places:

1 Corinthians 1:18-2:16

18 For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but it is the power of God to us who are being saved. 19 For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and I will set aside the intelligence of the intelligent. 20 Where is the one who is wise? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the debater of this age? Hasn’t God made the world’s wisdom foolish? 21 For since, in God’s wisdom, the world did not know God through wisdom, God was pleased to save those who believe through the foolishness of what is preached. 22 For the Jews ask for signs and the Greeks seek wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to the Jews and foolishness to the Gentiles. 24 Yet to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God, 25 because God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength. Boasting Only in the Lord 26 Brothers and sisters, consider your calling: Not many were wise from a human perspective, not many powerful, not many of noble birth. 27 Instead, God has chosen what is foolish in the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen what is weak in the world to shame the strong. 28 God has chosen what is insignificant and despised in the world ​— ​what is viewed as nothing ​— ​to bring to nothing what is viewed as something, 29 so that no one may boast in his presence. 30 It is from him that you are in Christ Jesus, who became wisdom from God for us ​— ​our righteousness,sanctification, and redemption, 31 in order that, as it is written: Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.

1 When I came to you, brothers and sisters, announcing the mystery of God to you, I did not come with brilliance of speech or wisdom. 2 I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 3 I came to you in weakness,in fear, and in much trembling. 4 My speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of wisdom but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, 5 so that your faith might not be based on human wisdom but on God’s power. 6 We do, however, speak a wisdom among the mature, but not a wisdom of this age, or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. 7 On the contrary, we speak God’s hidden wisdom in a mystery, a wisdom God predestined before the ages for our glory.8 None of the rulers of this age knew this wisdom, because if they had known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.9 But as it is written, What no eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no human heart has conceived — God has prepared these things for those who love him. 10 Now God has revealed these things to us by the Spirit, since the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. 11 For who knows a person’s thoughts except his spirit within him? In the same way, no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have not received the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who comes from God, so that we may understand what has been freely given to us by God. 13 We also speak these things, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual things to spiritual people. 14 But the person without the Spirit does not receive what comes from God’s Spirit, because it is foolishness to him; he is not able to understand it since it is evaluated spiritually. 15 The spiritual person, however, can evaluate everything, and yet he himself cannot be evaluated by anyone.16 For who has known the Lord’s mind, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ. 

2 Corinthians 4:1-6

Therefore, since we have this ministry because we were shown mercy, we do not give up. 2 Instead, we have renounced secret and shameful things, not acting deceitfully or distorting the word of God, but commending ourselves before God to everyone’s conscience by an open display of the truth. 3 But if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. 4 In their case, the god of this age has blinded the minds of the unbelievers to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 5 For we are not proclaiming ourselves but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’s sake. 6 For God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of God’s glory in the face of Jesus Christ.

Many that claim to be Christians don’t read the Bible and don’t know the bible.

Total depravity…can you share what you thought of it as an atheist and then now as a Christian why it actually makes sense according to Scripture?

D: First of all Atheists can have a basic knowledge about the Bible but not have the discernment to understand which the Holy Spirit gives to the children of God. Most of the time Atheists are looking for errors not to correctly read into the context. Hardly no Atheists look for Truth when they open the Bible.

It’s like me reading about how life is in Pennsylvania. I can’t possibly know more about Pennsylvania than someone who actually lives there.

Same with Atheists trying to interpret the Bible.

D: I didn’t really believe in total depravity growing up or as an atheist. Always this feeling that deep down we were all good people. We just let our bad side show more at times. After leaving Atheism I really got into hermeneutics. Trying to understand scripture more precisely. As I read the Epistles I realized there are no good people. There is not one good as stated in Romans by the apostle Paul. The only way to be good is through Christ dwelling in us. Any good work we do is of the Spirit not our own doing or will power. I questioned myself and said if we are good then why did Jesus come to die for our sins? If we are self sufficient as we presuppose. Why do we sin. Without the doctrine of total depravity we would never see our need for Christ.

Another thing we have to understand as Christians is that Atheists look for reactions. That’s why they joke and be sarcastic. It’s all part of the intellectual superiority that they think it’s ok to make light of others they deem inferior to their intellect.

If they get a reaction from us. They say see you have no grace and love that your savior had. They always work that angle

R: They probably hope to get Christians to make an emotionally charged rebuttal and just add that to the list of attacks against them and Christianity. What about the wrath of God. Atheists think God’s wrath is just evil and wicked.

D: Yes that’s what I used to look for, emotional reactions. To discredit any rational argument presented. Atheists play the victim card as well that they and the whole world suffer because of God and religion. For them God’s wrath is uncalled for and spiteful. When it comes to God justice is an illusion but when it comes to social justice they seem to be the front-runners which is very strange.

Since Atheists claim to have their own moral compass they have the authority to pick and choose their own systematic justice.

R: In their worldview it just cannot be possible that God is loving but also wrathful. They don’t understand the attributes of God. They make the claim that Christians claim God is loving but then use the reality of God’s wrath to create a supposed contradiction in the character of God.

D: Exactly. As a former Atheist we have a huge problem defining terms such as love. Confusing love with tolerance is normative for Atheists. They don’t understand what true love is.

R: There’s also the arguments they use against Christians that refer to the OT laws like eating shellfish. They see the God of the OT as a vengeful God that inflicts wrath on people and commits atrocities.

They don’t realize the purpose of the laws. God’s law was and is intended for the good of His people. So when Jesus talks about the two great commandments those are the commands we should follow if we want to live a good life. And sin stems from not loving God with all our hearts soul mind and strength and loving ourselves more than loving others.

D: Leviticus is the Atheist’s favorite book. Where everything is easily twisted. As I said before they don’t really care for the context. It’s all about cherry picking.

R: Did you ever use “hypocrisy of Christians” arguments? You mentioned attacks on the faith regarding “so called Christians that rape” earlier…any other examples you used or that you would say atheists try to use?

D: Yes many of times. I used mainly the argument that you guys are preaching the same Gospel you violate. In other words held Christians accountable to their own beliefs. When they strayed from the biblical worldview I pointed out that they had a broken belief system. Christians are hypocrites therefore Christianity is false or at least broken was my mindset. I also used all the false pastors who divorce and run off with women. The fact the church is run more like a organization instead of a biblical view of the church.

R: How have you handled the fact that you tried to mislead people and may have misled people? Did you try to shake the faith of Christians in person as well as on the internet? Did you experience any guilt?

D: Well mostly it was my co workers I was around most. Didn’t talk too much about it with my family because it would have stirred up alot of trouble at home. In public I shared my views as much as possible. My daily life is me trying to evangelize to whoever I can. Social media, street evangelism, it seems to be a lost work in the church. More than trying to convince Atheists Christianity is true. I provide the evidence and let them decide. The evidence is so overwhelming it speaks for itself. I try to study as much as I can. Scripture first, apologetics second, and theology as well. Become as educated as I possibly can to educate others. That the truth of the Gospel be known. I was shaken with guilt for about 6 to 8 months after leaving Atheism but it was good it motivated me. Yes I constantly tried to shake the faith of any religious person. I felt like I was saving them from themselves. Almost like an intervention. I don’t know why but on the internet you are not face to face you feel the freedom to be more rude and disrespectful. The evil of your heart seems to spill out over the internet as an atheist. It seems almost therapeutic all the rage inside is let go on unsuspecting strangers on the internet. Thank God I didn’t convince many to be Atheists.

R: Reading the Word is the most important thing we can do as Christians. All of the Word not just pick feel-good verses and motivating thoughts that are pulled out of context. How many self-proclaimed Christians do you think have read Obadiah or Haggai? I would argue there is a very small minority. That’s all we are called to do, speak the truth of the gospel and let the Holy Spirit change people. We all have to watch out for the temptation to be rude and disrespectful on the internet. Christians need to be aware that atheists don’t hold back. It’s so easy to get caught up in trying to win a debate that we forgot we are talking to real people. Christians do this too. Indeed, I’m thankful as well.

D: I agree the word of God should be read as a whole. You are right not many people read the minor prophets besides Daniel and Jonah. The minor prophets have amazing messages. Well I saw study last year don’t remember the name of the person who conducted this study. He stated about 70 percent of Americans claim to be evangelicals but only 10-20 percent are biblically literate. At first it was hard because I tried to convert every Atheist on the internet. I was so ambitious to spread the Gospel and deconstruct Atheism. I realized two things: only through the work of the Holy Spirit can people see the beauty of Christ. As well I didn’t need to deconstruct Atheism as if it was this big monster. It constantly refutes itself. When you come to logical conclusions Atheism has no feet to stand on. God has helped me speak to others on the internet the same way I would speak to them in person. That is something God changed in my life. I may press someone for an answer. If there ever was a time I would be rude or disrespectful I would give public apology as well as personal apology. There is nothing wrong in admitting we are wrong sometimes. We keep moving forward. Excellent point, I’ve seen many try to win the argument and I use to try to win the debate instead of winning the soul.

R: It’s probably very difficult for an atheist to have their mind changed through a Christian on the internet. What do you think about that? It seems they are so hardened to the gospel it almost seems fruitless to engage them. Did you ever consider anything Christians said back to you in their responses or did you pretty much just ignore them or mock them back? You were an atheist for a year so and Christians probably used bible verses and shared the gospel with you online and in person but it didnt get through. The Holy Spirit worked in you when you got MRSA. Does that mean all online interaction and in person gospel sharing is fruitless…no. it probably is wise not to spend too much time engaging atheists online.
Also you’re a stranger on the internet…they will most likely just ignore anything you say. Seeds may be planted. Yet it seems the opposite for Christians. Many Christians are persuaded to forsake Christ through atheist arguments on the internet.

D: This is our problem as Christians and something we struggle with. We want after the conversation or debate we have with Atheists we want them to accept Christ, or at least some of our arguments. Reality is they will probably try to throw down every argument. That doesn’t mean it’s fruitless we don’t know the work the Holy Is doing in this individual that is if he was one of the elect. There are so many walls that God has to break to break the person’s will power. The sad reality we have to know there are reprobate Atheists that will never come out of their delusion. We have to be diligent in prayer and keep sharing the Gospel to whoever is willing to listen. We are not called to convert just preach and teach the word of God. God needed to break me in order to see my need for Christ. We plant seeds of the Gospel through social media. Others through street preaching. Still others have family that evangelize to them. We are seed planters but God gives the life giving water. I mostly discarded what religious people said but there were times I felt open to hear the arguments objectively. Mocking is a sign of insecurity or superiority. Insecurity because when you get stuck in a debate or feel trapped in a corner. I would go on a rant of how religion was evil or ridicule the traits of God. Don’t be discouraged it’s necessary we be mocked. Jesus said we would. It wasn’t just the MRSA God was chipping away at my pride. It was a process. Stranger or not Atheists are in danger of hell. Knowing of the terror to come for those who die in their sins. Christopher hitchens was defiant to God even through his terminal illness he still didn’t turn to God. Christians are so enticed to turn to Atheism because lies seem more intriguing than truth. Atheists really market the banner as Atheism as the club of the elite. It’s almost like a country club. Come enjoy your self and indulge while you can is there message. Hold dear to the sin you love because sin doesn’t exist in our realities. The Christian message is repent and forsake the sins you love. Run from them. Life isn’t about you it’s about others. Become selfless. The two messages are polar opposites. Are human nature gravitate towards the flesh. Many choose the path of destruction over the path of life.

R: Thanks for the encouragement…I get discouraged easily. It’s especially a problem here in America. We want instant gratification. We expect immediate results. As Christians, we share the gospel and expect people to change right away when as you correctly noted, it is a process. The Holy Spirit draws us to God through the hearing and preaching of the Word. It is easy to slip in to the mindset that if we really preach the truth with passion that people might be more willing listen to us but you’re right, there are some that will never repent.

D: God will show us to be patient and fill us with grace to speak. The greatest preacher and teacher of all time Jesus Christ was mocked and ridiculed. Being the only begotten son of the almighty God he suffered this oppression. Who are we? No student is greater than his teacher.

R: After reading many of Chris Stroop’s articles and tweets I have come to the conclusion that he was not properly taught Christian theology. He had doubts and questions but it doesn’t seem like people accurately explained reformed theology to him. Then his teenage years were spent in seeker sensitive church growth movement. While that was happening and he was doubting and suicidal he probably started to become aware he was queer had attractions for same sex. He then chose to reject a theology that would say LGBTQ are sinning. Now he calls it abusive and any attempt to share bible verses or say he didn’t understand theology is labeled as gaslighting

Can we say for example that someone was pushed away from the faith by being taught bad theology or as presup reformed people do we say he simply chose to love his sin and suppress the truth? Or can we look at what he was taught and make people aware of what was done wrong but also realize that currently Chris is suppressing the truth?

D: There are many factors here. The seed of doubt can only grow where there is either bad teaching or no teaching. As you noticed most of his analysis is based on emotions not anything of factual substance. Being a PhD in history I’m fascinated he never understood church history. That’s one sign he is blatantly suppressing the truth. He won’t admit because his eyes have been darkened. When speaking about the attributes of God he appeals to emotional arguments. He also tries to wrap up his terminology with his emotions. Which he is very confusing logically. He deflects questions with “he has already answered a lengthy response”. It’s the same rhetorical tactics to cover up a faulty philosophy. He stated he rejected my epistemology, I find that weird since he was speaking in ontological terms. He didn’t know the difference between epistemology and ontology. It’s very hard to understand ex evangelicals from a rational view point. He was no different than me a couple years ago. His pent up rage oozes through his Twitter page and articles. Yet he wants to be taken serious as an intellectual with horrible terminology and critical thinking.

He states it’s gaslighting to cover up his ignorance of the context of scripture. This is common. Ask yourself why do every Atheists get angry when we point out their biblical ignorance?

R: His articles are almost all appeal to emotion and anecdotal fallacies. Also uses strawman like: negging sky god. Generalizations like the “label white evangelical”.

His argument is essentially: “Calvinism and othodox theology are abusive and enable authoritarianism. People use theology because of their persecution complexes and insercurities. They use gaslighting and manipulation tactics. Read my articles where I have explained myself.”.

But he never makes any logical claims. As you said it’s all stories. Many of his followers are LGBTQ also.

Exactly! Brother he has so much irrationality in his worldview it’s hard to interact with him. Especially when you try to interact he says this an apologetics plot to make me look irrational. It’s his worldview when exposed makes him seem ignorant.

Also history can be pretty subjective. You almost always have two views of something that happened. If your worldview consists of a sociological lens then you will look at history different then you would with a theological lens.

But as we have stated he contradicts himself so much. He is clearly making truth claims and morality claims but based on subjective morality. Makes no sense. May God open his eyes. He can see the falsehood of prosperity gospel, cultural fundamentalism, and seeker sensitive church growth movements. May he embrace the truth of the gospel.

D: History can be seen through different view points but not all view points can be correct. That’s logically incompatible. Hitler for example what he did was either justified or condemnable. There is no in between. He as historian should know better. Self refuting statements is usually the best he could come up with.

There is a reason Atheism is a minority worldview because you have to be willfully ignorant.

R:

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I don’t have an “obsession” with them. They are making erroneous claims about God. They are essentially blaspheming Him when they say sharing the gospel is abusive. They say that the “god of calvinism is sadistic and irredeemable. I haven’t seen many challenging their claims so that is why I have taken the time to document what they say. And now it is clear to those with eyes to see that they hate God. They are emotionally angry about the God they claim to not believe in.

D: I learned this from the apologist Jim Warner Wallace there are four groups we essentially interact with. Pro Christians, doubtful Christians, doubtful Atheists, pro Atheists. The two groups you want to reach are the ones having doubts from both sides. Not someone who will neither hear or see any proof or evidence for God’s existence. Therefore when I see someone with this mindset it would be best to interact little and then just not respond if they press issues that don’t exist.

R: Yeah, I agree. So my aim with my article/s is to reach the doubters. God will work and save those who He wills. Best thing to do is pray that God would open the eyes of people.

D: Amen. He will open the eyes of any atheist/Ex-Evangelical he chooses. The rest remain in darkness.

R: Let me just point out the irony of this one tweet:

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AnStarfire responded to a screenshot of one section of my article that Chris shared. “Devoid of compassion” This person clearly only responded to this out of context screenshot, because if they had read the whole thing they wouldn’t be able to say I was devoid of compassion. The last sentence is absurd. Even if that were so, why would that be wrong? Don’t they believe “their” way is right too? The absurdity and contradictory nature of the anti-Christians worldview is clearly demonstrated in a tweet like this.

Why should someone be compassionate according to their worldview?

That is a genuine and reasonable question to ask…but they would just say: that is a manipulative question. It’s not.

D: I agree it’s very contradictory how their own views systematically deconstruct themselves. One thing I found out about Atheists/Ex-Evangelicals who are in an emotional uproar tend to ask about twenty questions at a time. This kind of irrational dialogue is not coherent. Someone who is rational would debate on one issue at a time. Then come to a conclusion. I have spoken with many Atheists/Ex-Evangelicals and the dialogue seems to always be the same. Many have different approaches but they quickly resolve to ad hominem attacks once their worldview is exposed. What do most people do when they are exposed? They cover up. The problem with Atheists/Ex-Evangelicals is they are so exposed and there is nothing they can do to cover up their irrationality.

The reason that’s such a good question is that it exposes their lack of substance or foundation to any argument they try to convey.

R: True words brother. Also another ironic thing that I really don’t understand. So in a tweet I said “Ex-Evangelicals don’t want to dialogue with Christians”. I didn’t use a hashtag but some people found the tweet by just searching for the phrase Ex-Evangelical. So someone retweeted me and said she doesn’t mind talking to Christians but that she isn’t willing to be “preached at by bigots”. The irony and hypocrisy. They make claims, retweet you, and then when you respond to them they don’t want to engage you. So I responded to her retweet of me by sharing the link to my article and she blocked me.

D: The internet is quite strange. Social media is probably the strangest. So many illogical arguments and actions. I don’t take anything personal on social media because most people don’t interact with strangers in person as they do on the internet. It would be easy for anyone to insult and ridicule on the internet but not in real life. Even if they do we are hated because they hated Jesus Christ first. Anyone who believes on him and his words are automatic enemies of the world. No matter how nice or compassionate we might be we will be hated. When we speak the truth we believe we are heroes but in reality we are preaching as villians to them. We try to take away their freedom and joy. They have failed to realize their freedom and joy are drowning them. They have become slaves to sin. Claiming freedom with heavy shackles on their wrists.

R: Is there anything else you would like to say? You’ve been very insightful and I appreciate your testimony brother. We go through difficult seasons and God uses our experiences to help others.

D: Lastly always be kind to Atheists. They will automatically shut you off. They won’t listen. They will at least listen when you are calm. Use scripture often. Let the holy Spirit do his work through the scripture. Don’t be discouraged if they disagree, we are being obedient to God by sharing the Gospel. There are still many more people God is going to save. So keep Proclaiming the good news.

R: That might be the most important thing people need to hear. We as Christians are to be kind to everyone. Thank you brother! May God use our testimonies to save some and create awareness in the church.

Speaking the truth in love is the key.

D: Amen brother. That God would do his redemptive work through us and many others. The kingdom will keep expanding despite the enemy’s plan. Let’s speak firmly but with love.

Concluding Thoughts

I hope David’s words have helped you become aware of the need to know your bible and to be prepared when faced with objections. I also hope it helped you to become aware of the different ways people will try to create doubt about the Word of God and doubts about God. A lot of Christians might write off Ex-Evangelicals as whiny liberal entitled millenials but I strongly discourage that kind of talk. The fact is, there are a lot of Ex-Evangelicals and some of them don’t use social media. They are right to be outraged at the ridiculous nonsense that helped turn them away from God but they are people and they need to hear the gospel. I believe Christians hurt their own witness when they say things like:

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May God be glorified, may Christians be strengthened, and may God reveal Himself to Ex-Evangelicals that they would have their eyes and hearts opened to the truth.

The Fear of God, the Holiness of God, and the Futility of Life Without God

 I’ve been reading “The God Who Hears” by W. Bingham Hunter. It’s an excellent book on prayer and I believe it should be required reading for Christians. I believe there is a lot of confusion in the church about prayer and this book answers a lot of questions:

  • Are faithful prayers always answered?
  • Does prayer change God’s mind?
  • What can I tell an all-knowing God?
  • Why pray to a God who lets people hurt?
  • How can I be intimate with an invisible God?

 There are many erroneous teachings on prayer that have infiltrated the church. Some teach that you need to pray big audacious prayers for God to do big things (largely in the seeker sensitive movement). Some teach that your words actually create your future. That is, your words/prayers actually have the power (God is not using power but it is your words that have power) to create reality (word-faith). Lectio Divina/contemplative prayer is another erroneous teaching. Instead of using the minds God has given us to study His Word, the objective is to empty your mind and “listen” to what God has to say. This teaching combines mysticism with Christianity and is very dangerous. When we go to God’s Word we need to ask “what does this passage mean?” rather than “what does this passage mean to me?”. We pray that the Holy Spirit would help us to understand His Word.

 There is also the view that we pray to ask God to do things for us. It is not wrong in and of itself to pray for our needs but there is so much more to prayer than simply bringing our requests to God. This book sets out to put prayer into the proper Biblical perspective. Prayer is not a means for us to get what we want from God. As mentioned in the book, “Prayer is a means for God to give us what He wants. The most important word in this definition is God. I say that because at the root most of our prayer difficulties are theological problems. “Theological” in the sense that we simply do not focus enough on the Theos (the Greek word for God). So the following chapters discuss prayer in light of what the Bible says about God. Prayer really only makes sense against the background of God’s nature and attributes. First, we must know whom we are talking to. Second, we have got to know ourselves. Third, we need someone who understands both God and ourselves to show us how to do it.”.

Here is another great excerpt from the book, bold emphasis mine:

The Reality of Fear:

“Since irrational fears (“phobias”) have destructive effects on human lives, it is hard to see fearing God as a good thing. But many of the arguments against holy terror are based on faulty theological systems (“the “fearful” image of God belongs to the dispensation of the Law”), imprecise exegesis (“God has not given us a spirit of of fear”), or the existence of psychopathology ( “some Christians do have phobias about God”). I assert that without a sense of God’s awesome holiness, and the consequent “fear”, we simply do not have biblical religion, either positively–“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom” (Ps 111:10)–or negatively–“Concerning the sinfulness of the wicked: There is no fear of God before their eyes” (Ps 36:1). 

The dynamics of fearing God are helpfully explained by Robert Morosco:

  “One’s ultimate fear-object is that which he reveres above all else in life…This is the position which legitimately belongs only to the creature’s Creator, though this is often not the case. One’s supreme fear-object warrants total regard and esteem…

   Hence the biblical translation “revere”, or “respect” or “regard” is actually close to what the writers of Scripture had in mind [when they spoke of “the fear of the LORD”]….Theological fear is not primarily dread or repulsion for the fear-object, but surrender to [God’s] authority.”

Fearing God is thus not irrational. It is the only course open to a thinking Christian. In fact, not fearing God is irrational. It forces us to deny the reality of God’s holiness, power, and presence. So Morosco is right when he says:

   “Only by fearing Jehovah is reality viewed as it truly is. In order to replace God with another supreme fear-object [fear of failure, or fear of other people, for example], reality has to be distorted (i.e. the character of the Living God must be altered”.

Those who do not fear God in the biblical sense either do not understand, or find themselves forced to deny, the facts of existence. And such a venture into fantasy  advances against truth on two fronts. It defies the fact of God’s infiniteness and rejects human finiteness. No one has seen more clearly than Harry Blamires that this latter (and very common) deception is at the root of human unholiness:

   “What is common to those who lack any interest in religion is failure to recognize the finitude of the finite, and especially failure to accept man’s finite status for what it is. This failure is the source alike for moral evil and of intellectual confusion. All forms of moral evil have their roots in a tacit denial of human finitude–of the contingent and wholly dependent nature of man’s existence…”

   “Man behaves as though he were not a dependent creature with a limited and temporal universe. Covetousness and greed for power both express defiance of finitude. Covetousness implies that the pursuit of earthly possession is of ultimate significance: it implies that to possess within the finite is a state of fulfillment. This is nonsensical. There is no stability or security in possessions within the finite order, where at any moment accident or death may strip or destroy. The pursuit of power implies that temporal sway and masterdom are an ultimate satisfaction: [but] finitude precludes satisfaction within its own domain…In these pursuits, and in a thousand others, man conceals himself from the fact that finitude sets a term to all activities at the temporal level.”.

Those who do not fear God as the transcendant holy, and infinite Creator replace His power and authority with either themselves, others or material things. “They [have] exchanged the truth for a God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator–who is [to be] forever praised” (Rom 1:25). Having denied the realities of both divine and human nature, it seems obvious why they may have little concern for doing God’s will and are unlikely to pray according to it.

It took decades of discipline through suffering before Israel began to take “Be holy, because I am holy” (Lev 11:44) seriously enough to fear and call on the Holy One out of pure hearts. One wonders just when and how this reality will dawn on us. There is certainly no way around with respect to effective prayer: “We know that God does not hear sinners; but if anyone is God-fearing, and does His will, He hears him” (Jn 9:31 NASB).”

Conclusion:

What do you believe about prayer? Have you come to understand the attributes of God and how they affect prayer? Is your ultimate fear-object the Lord? Think about the fact that God is transcendant, holy, and infinite and we are finite, temporal, and sinful. When you pray, think about the attributes of God. Thank and praise Him for His sovereignty, love, forgiveness, omniscience, omnipotence, justice, mercy, wrath, and etc. Remember, prayer is God’s means of giving us what He wants. We are often so focused on ourselves and what we think we deserve and need rather than being focused on the One who knows all things. He is sovereign over our lives and works in all things for His own glory and praise. Our Father knows what is best for us.

 

A Corinthian Contradiction?

The Background:

Dr. James White of Alpha and Omega Ministries participated in an interfaith dialogue with Muslim scholar Dr. Yasir Qadhi in Memphis, TN in January 2017. The IFD was held in a mosque one night and the other night was held at a church building. There have been many critics since then that claim the IFD was not biblical and that it violated several Scriptural passages. Brannon Howse of Worldview Weekend Radio has been one of the major critics of the IFD. Jeff Dornik is also a very vocal critic of the IFD. Some critics have claimed that Dr. White’s participation played into the hands of the ecumenical goals of Dr. Qadhi. I want to look at some of the arguments made by the critics and see if there is any merit or accurate Scriptural basis to their claims.

Introduction to Part One:

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It has been argued by critics that the IFD violated 2 Corinthians 6:14-18. The argument is that we should not be unequally yoked to Muslims and IFDs violate this passage. I want to examine this claim and look into the context of this passage to form my own opinion based on Scripture. Here is the passage:

14 Don’t become partners with those who do not believe. For what partnership is there between righteousness and lawlessness? Or what fellowship does light have with darkness? 15 What agreement does Christ have with Belial? Or what does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? 16 And what agreement does the temple of God have with idols? For we are the temple of the living God, as God said:

I will dwell
and walk among them,
and I will be their God,
and they will be my people.
17 Therefore, come out from among them
and 
be separate, says the Lord;
do not touch any unclean thing,
and I will welcome you.
18 And I will be a Father to you,
and you will be sons and daughters to me,
says the Lord Almighty.

2 Corinthians 6:14-18 CSB

I can see that on the surface this passage would appear to be prohibiting partnerships between Christians and non-Christians and more specifically between Christians and Muslims. An IFD between a Christian and a Muslim would certainly seem to be a partnership and would therefore be a violation of this clear passage. If you are a discerning Bible reader you should be able to come up with questions as you are reading any portion of Scripture. Several questions came to my mind as I read this passage:

Who are the Corinthians?

What is the purpose of the book? What of 1 Corinthians?

What is the immediate context of this passage?

What is the context of this passage in 2 Corinthians?

What is the context of this passage when looking at 1 Corinthians?

What is the Greek word for partners/partnership in verse 14, what does it mean, and where else is it used?

What info can I glean from my bible commentaries and study Bibles about this passage?

Contradiction?:

As I go through these texts I aim to demonstrate the importance of discernment and the importance of biblical hermeneutics (the art and science of scriptural interpretation). We just read in 2 Corinthians 6:14 that we should not be partners with those who do not believe. However read this passage from 1 Corinthians:

I wrote to you in a letter not to associate with sexually immoral people.10 I did not mean the immoral people of this world or the greedy and swindlers or idolaters; otherwise you would have to leave the world.11 But actually, I wrote you not to associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister and is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or verbally abusive, a drunkard or a swindler. Do not even eat with such a person. 12 For what business is it of mine to judge outsiders? Don’t you judge those who are inside? 13 God judges outsiders. Remove the evil person from among you.

This would appear to be a contradiction. In 1 Corinthians we are told that Paul did not tell the Corinthians to stop associating with the immoral people of this world. He actually tells them that they shouldn’t even eat with a person who claims to be a brother or sister yet is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or verbally abusive, a drunkard or a swindler. The book we know as 1 Corinthians is not actually the first letter that Paul wrote to them. His first letter is lost to us but we know that he sent one because he says in verse 9 that he “wrote to them to not associate with sexually immoral people”. The immediate context of this verse relates to the preceding passage of 1 Corinthians 5 regarding the man who is sleeping with his father’s wife. In verse 10 Paul goes on to say that he did not mean to say that the Corinthians should not associate with the unbelieving sexually immoral, greedy, swindlers, or the idolaters of this world. As biblical Christians, we would say that anyone who worships a false god is an idolater. We would also say there is only one true God, Yahweh the God of the Bible:

I am the Lord, and there is no other;
there is no God but me.

I will strengthen you,
though you do not know me,
so that all may know from the rising of the sun to its setting
that there is no one but me.

I am the Lord, and there is no other.
I form light and create darkness,
I make success and create disaster;
I am the Lord, who does all these things.

Isaiah 45:5-7

You, Lord, are the only God.
You created the heavens,
the highest heavens with all their stars,
the earth and all that is on it,
the seas and all that is in them.
You give life to all of them,
and all the stars of heaven worship you.

Nehemiah 9:6

 About eating food sacrificed to idols, then, we know that “an idol is nothing in the world,”and that “there is no God but one.” For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth—as there are many “gods” and many “lords”— yet for us there is one God, the Father. All things are from him, and we exist for him. And there is one Lord, Jesus Christ. All things are through him, and we exist through him.

1 Corinthians 8:4

In 1 Corinthians we are told by Paul that he did not mean to say that the Corinthians should stop associating with unbelievers and then in 2 Corinthians we are told by Paul that the Corinthians should not be partners with unbelievers. Which one are we to follow? Is he changing his mind in 2 Corinthians? Muslims believe in a false god and idolaters are those who put anything else above sole worship and belief of the God of the Bible. 1 Cor would suggest that we can and should associate with Muslims but 2 Corinthians seems to suggest that we should not be partners or have a partnership with Muslims. This seems to be contradictory and very confusing on the surface. Yet we need to dig into the context and the original language and try to get a clearer and better understanding of what is going on in 2 Corinthians 6:14-18.

The Context:

Let’s start by setting up the context of 1 and 2 Corinthians. The following quoted information is taken from the Wycliffe Bible Commentary:

“The city of Corinth. Corinth was a wealthy commercial center. …Corinth’s moral character made it a fertile field for the glorious good news of the Messiah. The old city had contained the famous Temple of Aphrodite, where one thousand sacred prostitutes were made available to its cultists. The same spirit, if not the the same temple prevailed in the new city. …Corinth was a city noted for everything depraved, dissolute, and debauched.”

1 Corinthians was written in response to a letter that Paul received from the Corinthian church. Paul addresses very specific problems that had been affecting the Corinthian Christians such as division, sexual immorality, abuse of the sacraments, and lawsuits between believers. The church sought instruction from Paul regarding marriage, divorce, food offered to idols, spiritual gifts, and other matters. Can you picture this young church at the epicenter of an incredibly wicked and depraved culture and city? False apostles are deceiving the Corinthians and are turning some of them against Paul. Picture a young church like this in Portland, Oregon or a post-Christian New England city. There truly is nothing new under the sun. It may seem that our current American culture is becoming more and more depraved but it’s really not any worse than the state of the culture of the early church. There was sexual immorality, greed, hate, violence, racism, and any other wicked sin like there is today. It may have changed dynamics but the root sins have been around since Adam’s fall and were extremely prevalent in the pagan culture surrounding the early church.

The Greeky Section:

Now let’s take a look at some of the Greek words used in our two texts. I’m not a Greek scholar and I haven’t been to Bible college or seminary but I know a little Greek and I know how to use the internet to look up the meanings of Greek words used in Scripture. All of the following Greek information comes from http://biblehub.com/greek/.

This is the word that is translated as “associate with” in 1 Corinthians 5:9:

sunanamignumi: to mix up together, hence to associate with  

Original Word: συναναμίγνυμι
Part of Speech: Verb
Transliteration: sunanamignumi
Phonetic Spelling: (soon-an-am-ig’-noo-mee)
Short Definition: I keep company with
Definition: I mingle together with, keep company with.

HELPS Word-studies

4874 synanamígnymi (from 4862 /sýn, “identified with“; 303 /aná, “up, finishing a process”; and 3396 /mígnymi, “mix”) – properly, mix-closely-together to influence, “associate intimately with” (Souter).

Paul tells the Corinthian Christians that he did not mean to say in his previous letter that they should not “keep company with” or stop “mingling with” unbelievers (sexually immoral, greedy, idolaters, etc.). The word study help above says that this Greek word means mix-closely-together to influence, and “associate intimately with”. This passage very clearly does not support the claim that an IFD between a Christian and a Muslim is unbiblical. Dr. White and Dr. Qadhi clearly stated that they have different beliefs and that they were in no way compromising their beliefs. They did however say that the goal of this IFD was to open more dialogues between Christians and Muslims and to take away the fear and anger that each group has towards the other. The modern American evangelical church’s view of Muslims is that they are all Jihadists and they want to implement Sharia Law and destroy Christianity. The majority view is that Muslims hate Christians and Americans should fear Muslims. There are many groups out there that push this view of fear and anger towards Muslims. If that is what most Christians believe about Muslims then it would follow that most Muslims would believe that these are the views held by most Christians. We as Christians should love our Muslim neighbors and friends. We should give them the gospel and pray for them.

However, in this divided climate driven by fear and anger there honestly is very little open and honest dialogue between Christians and Muslims. This is where Dr. White stepped in with the IFD. This IFD sought to diffuse the tension between Christians and Muslims. The goal was to help Christians understand what Muslims actually believe. The Islamic extremist view is not the majority view held by Muslims. If we are to engage Muslims and share the gospel we need to know what they actually believe and we need to view them not as people to fear or be angry with but as lost people who need to hear the gospel. Let’s say for example that Islam became the majority religion in the United States and Sharia Law was implemented. Would God not be sovereign? Would Christianity die? Would the gospel cease to spread? No. God is sovereign over all things:

 King Nebuchadnezzar,

To those of every people, nation, and language, who live on the whole earth:

May your prosperity increase. I am pleased to tell you about the miracles and wonders the Most High God has done for me.

How great are his miracles,
and how mighty his wonders!
His kingdom is an eternal kingdom,
and his dominion is from generation to generation.

 

34 But at the end of those days, I, Nebuchadnezzar, looked up to heaven, and my sanity returned to me. Then I praised the Most High and honored and glorified him who lives forever:

For his dominion is an everlasting dominion,
and his kingdom is from generation to generation.
35 All the inhabitants of the earth are counted as nothing,
and he does what he wants with the army of heaven
and the inhabitants of the earth.
There is no one who can block his hand
or say to him, “What have you done?”

36 At that time my sanity returned to me, and my majesty and splendor returned to me for the glory of my kingdom. My advisers and my nobles sought me out, I was reestablished over my kingdom, and even more greatness came to me. 37 Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise, exalt, and glorify the King of the heavens, because all his works are true and his ways are just. He is able to humble those who walk in pride.

Daniel 4:1-3, 34-37

We as Americans have had it relatively easy and we don’t often think of our Christian brothers and sisters in other countries were persecution is severe and frequent. Yet the gospel continues to spread in North Korea, Indonesia, India, Cambodia, the middle east, etc. Persecution will not stop God from accomplishing His will. We need to examine our hearts and see if we have put our American freedoms and American way of life as equal or maybe even higher than our devotion to the Living God. Christians are not guaranteed a life of ease…in fact we are told by Paul that we will face persecution and suffering.

Application of 1 Corinthians 5:9-13:

I believe that I’ve laid out a solid, biblically sound argument that 1 Corinthians 5:9 actually says it is okay for Christians to keep company with and/or mingle with Muslims or any unbeliever. Here are some application points I want to summarize:

  • Christians can have friendships with unbelievers, in fact it is unavoidable as long as we are alive. We definitely should desire to and actively share the gospel with our unbelieving friends and aquaintances. From my understanding of this text I don’t believe that we necessarily have to preach the gospel every time we get together with them. If we have preached the gospel at least once, the Holy Spirit will do His work and draw those who are chosen to the Father.
  • Christians should not have friendships or even eat with someone who claims to be a brother or sister yet is sexually immoral, greedy, an idolater, a swindler, and etc. I believe this is talking about Christians that engage in an unrepentant continuation of sinfulness. We know from 1 John that Christians will struggle with sin until we die and that if we say we don’t sin we are liars. So this passage can’t mean that we should never associate with a Christian that struggles with sin. However, we should not continue in a pattern of unrepentant sin. This is a sign that you are not truly converted. These are false converts and Paul warns us and commands to not even eat with people like this. Probably so that we do not get led astray ourselves.
  • An interfaith dialogue between a Christian and a Muslim does not violate this passage. As long as it is not an ecumenical occasion but a discussion of differences and similarities, I believe it is permitted. Again, this is based on the goal of diffusing the current tension that exists between American Christianity and Muslims. This is not a compromise or an attempt to downplay the gospel. If Muslims think Christians hate them and fear them will they even listen to a Christian share the gospel with them? Definitely not if the gospel they hear is that they will go to Hell if they don’t repent and especially if that gospel is given in a fearful or angry manner. We are to speak the truth in love. American Christians need to be better at speaking in love to Muslims but at the same time not downplay the truth of God.

The Second Greeky Section:

We’ve used our hermeneutical skills and looked at what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 5:9. We can finally get into 2 Corinthians 6:14-18. We need to interpret and understand what this passage means. The CSB translation uses “partner” and “partnership” in 2 Cor 6:14 and my first thought was to find out what words  were used in the originl Greek. This is the word that was translated into “partnership”:

metoché: sharing

Original Word: μετοχή, ῆς, ἡ
Part of Speech: Noun, Feminine
Transliteration: metoché
Phonetic Spelling: (met-okh-ay’)
Short Definition: sharing, partnership, fellowship
Definition: sharing, partnership, fellowship.

HELPS Word-studies

Cognate: 3352 metoxḗ – a close relation between partners, i.e. people sharing something held in common (used only in 2 Cor 6:14); joint-activity.See 3353 (metoxos).sharer, partner
Definition: a sharer, partner, companion.

Metoché refers to a close relation between partners. The Greek word that is translated into partner is:

metochos: sharing in

Original Word: μέτοχος, ου, ὁ
Part of Speech: Adjective
Transliteration: metochos
Phonetic Spelling: (met’-okh-os)
Short Definition: a sharer, partner
Definition: a sharer, partner, associate.

HELPS Word-studies

3353 métoxos (from 3348 /metéxō, “share in,” derived from 3326 /metá, “with change afterward” and 2192 /éxō, “have”) – properly, change due to sharing, i.e. from being an “active partaker with.”

I think it is interesting that metochos was only used 6 times (once in Luke and 5 times in Hebrews) and that metoché was used just once, here in 2 Cor 6:14. These words seem to imply something stronger than a mere friendship or fellowship. These are active partakers or partners. After finding this out, I wondered how this related to the 1 Cor 5:9 passage. I decided to see if there are any other Greek words that could be translated to our English word “partner”. There is another word that could be translated into partner/fellowship in English:

koinónos: a sharer

Original Word: κοινωνός, οῦ, ὁ, ἡ
Part of Speech: Noun, Masculine
Transliteration: koinónos
Phonetic Spelling: (koy-no-nos’)
Short Definition: a Cognate: 2844 koinōnós (a masculine noun/substantival adjective) – properly, a participant who mutually belongs and shares fellowship; a “joint-participant.” See 2842 (koinōnia).

[2842 /koinōnía (a feminine noun) stresses the relational aspect of the fellowship. 2844 /koinōnós (a masculine noun) more directly focuses on the participant himself (herself).

2844 (koinōnos) is also used as a substantival adjective, as with the classical Greek authors, see J. Thayer.]

Koinónos is used 10 times in the New Testament. As you can read above, this word refers to a relationship between a participant who mutually belongs to and shares fellowship with someone else. Are you thinking what I’m thinking right now? If Paul wanted to say that Christians should not have fellowship, relationships, or friendships with unbelievers (that includes Muslims) I think he would have used koinónos in 2 Cor 6:14. So what the heck does this verse mean? Well, I will now address what I believe is the key to understanding this passage.

Hetero-What?:

The CSB translation uses “partner” in verse 14 and I wanted to find out what word was used in the original language. Here is the info on this word:

heterozugeó: to be yoked up differently, i.e. to be unequally yoked

Original Word: ἑτεροζυγέω
Part of Speech: Verb
Transliteration: heterozugeó
Phonetic Spelling: (het-er-od-zoog-eh’-o)
Short Definition: I am yoked with one different from myself
Definition: I am yoked with one different from myself, unequally yoked.

HELPS Word-studies

2086 heterozygéō (from 2087 /héteros, “another of a different kind” and 2218 /zygós, “a yoke, joining two to a single plow”) – properly, different kindsof people joined together but unevenly matched; hence “unequally yoked” (not aptly joined).

2086 /heterozygéō (“mis-matched”) is used figuratively of Christians wrongly committed to a partner holding very different values (priorities), i.e. that run contrary to faith (the kingdom of God).

Reflection: Scripture uses symbols to teach about the importance of keeping spiritually pure

The picture we get from this is a metaphor that Paul’s readers would certainly be familiar with. Two oxen that are yoked together are both pushing the plow. They are both working towards completing a task. Being yoked to someone implies a very intimate relationship. If you have two unequally yoked oxen pulling a plow nothing will be accomplished. Picture a big ox and a small ox yoked together pulling a plow. The bigger ox will last longer and the small ox will tire out quicker. This word heterozugeó coupled with metoché paints a picture of a person who is actively participating or working alongside a nonbeliever. This could be applied to a self-proclaimed “Christian” going to a mosque to worship God. This would refer to ecumenical initiatives like Rick Warren’s PEACE Plan. This would refer to Christians embracing or working alongside Unitarianism and postmodernism. This passage is directly referring to marrying nonbelievers and also applies to starting businesses with nonbelievers. A Christian should not marry a non-Christian. This is not talking about situations where both spouses are unsaved and one of them comes to faith while the other remains unsaved. This is talking about a single Christian that chooses to marry an unbeliever.

Here is the crux of the interpretation of this text and the concept of being unequally yoked. Picture a dead ox yoked to a live ox. We who are Christians were once dead in our sins and trespasses and we have been made alive through Christ. If we willingly marry an unbeliever or enter a business relationship with an unbeliever we are essentially yoking ourselves to someone that is still dead in their trespasses and sins. We can still push the plow but we have to put extra effort into it and we also have to carry the extra weight of the “dead” ox. Now picture two healthy live oxen pushing the plow. They were both dead but through Christ they have been redeemed. They are equally yoked. They press on together to accomplish the same task. Throughout their marriage they continually press towards the same goal: unity in Christ. Sure there are trying seasons and difficulties but they are bonded together by their shared redemption in Christ. A Christian married to an unbeliever does not have that bond. An important lesson to learn from this is that if you are single and a Christian and you desire to get married: pray about it, make sure you know what this person is really like and what their Christian faith looks like now. Don’t rush to get married…sometimes people only find out what their spouse is like after they get married and then it is too late.

Conclusion:

In summation, I do not believe that the IFD between Dr. James White and Dr. Yasir Qashi violated 2 Corinthians 6:14. I believe that we should form friendships and relationships with Muslims or any other unbeliever. We should share the gospel with them but there is nothing wrong with having friendships with unbelievers. I would also say you need to be careful if you aren’t very mature in Christ. You could easily be led astray by your unbelieving friends. This is why I stress the importance of Biblical hermeneutics and sound doctrine.

I know far too many who were raised in the church and were taught surface level Christianity that have no interest in God today. If you have been taught that you can choose God or that you can convince someone to become a Christian by not using the Bible and instead they can be convinced by using other forms of evidence I encourage you to seriously consider the implications. If you “accepted” Christ you can still reject Christ in your lifetime. If you can reason someone into the faith apart from using God’s Word they can also be reasoned out of the faith. The church has done a good job of being loving but we have largely abandoned sound doctrine. May we test all claims against the truth of God’s Word.

 E-mail me at rmauser2911@gmail.com. I’d love to hear your thoughts and comments.

Sexual Abuse and Sexual Harassment are Sinful Acts

Sexual Abuse and Harassment

Sexual abuse is a serious matter. It tugs at our hearts and grieves us that there are men that abuse women mentally, emotionally, physically, spiritually, and sexually. Ladies, it is so stupid that there are men that tell you to “smile”. The creepy old guys that think it is okay to stare at you below the neck when they clearly see you notice that they’re doing it…they just keep staring anyway. The guys that keep hitting on you after you have let them know you’re not interested. Whistling at you. You’re afraid to walk alone at night. Men slow down their cars as you are walking in town…then either hit on you or speed away.
There are people that say it was your fault you were sexually abused because you dressed immodestly. People that say you shouldn’t have tempted the man by the way you dressed. There are pastors who claim the name of Christ that take advantage of women and that don’t take allegations of abuse seriously. It can be difficult for someone to open up to a pastor about their abuse experience but I can only imagine how I would feel if I did that and the pastor didn’t take me seriously. Churches are supposed to be places where you can trust your pastor, not where your pastor makes a move on you or ignores your sincere and truthful claims of abuse.
Some men think it’s fine to hit their wives because after all women should submit to their husbands, right? Some Christian men emotionally abuse their wives. They call you fat. They manipulate you. You are afraid when they come home. You’re afraid for your kids too. They don’t think women have a voice in the home. Submit right? I am complementarian but I am not for cruel authoritarian dictatorships. God calls husbands to LOVE their wives.
In the majority of cases men abuse women. However there are women that abuse men. Men that abuse boys. Women that abuse boys. Women that let their sleazy boyfriends take advantage of girls. Grandfathers that take advantage of their grandkids. Sick. Sex abuse happens in every culture. As an American, I tend to only view the world through the lens of my experience of living in America. However in every country there are people who are sexually abused. As Christians (especially as Christian men) we need to take a stand and call men everywhere to treat women with respect and charity. We need to proclaim the love of Christ to this broken world. The fact that sex trafficking is a reality immensely hurts our hearts. Every Christian should clearly condemn sexual sins of every kind but especially sex abuse. Some say we should just listen to these stories from victims. I believe that we are not really helping anyone if we don’t share the gospel or share the encouragement and hope we have in Christ. We should listen to their stories, but we need to point them to Christ. Abuse victims need the gospel. Abusers need the gospel too. Everyone needs the gospel.
Maybe you have been abused by someone in the church…someone that you were supposed to trust. Someone who claimed to love God but chose to follow his lusts and he sexually abused you or raped you. I believe that is very very wrong and sinful. These people are not representing what Christians should be like. Some people who claim the name of Christ may be charlatans who use His name to take advantage of people. Jesus does not take advantage of people. Jesus did not abuse you.
False allegations of sex abuse, sexual harassment, or physical abuse are completely sinful too and should be condemned. I know someone who had consensual sex with a girl when he was 18 and she was 14 (this was like 5 years ago). He regretted it and has repented of it but she came out accusing him of sexual assault. It was reported to police and he could be sent to jail if found guilty. The local news outlet reported on it and their account of what happened made it almost undeniable that this man was a sex abuser. Their report said he sexually assaulted her in an abandoned cabin where they met for tutoring. I don’t think it could sound any worse than that and the picture they used of him made him look very creepy. In fact, I even believed this account at first.
I certainly can understand that the majority of cases of sex abuse are men abusing women and most of the time the women are telling the truth. But this person is a clear example that the accusations are not always truthful.  This was a case where she initiated and now regrets it. It doesn’t make this person’s choice right but it should certainly give me a reason to not believe all accusations of abuse are true. Had this girl used #metoo #church too hash tag people would probably believe her. I am very sure that they would side with her before they would side with the man.  The abuse of women is taken very seriously and I would strongly infer that most people would side with a woman every time in the case of a woman claiming a man sexually abused or raped her.
The only source of hope and comfort in this world is found in Jesus Christ. The Lamb of God who came to earth and died for our sins in our place.  May God give us strength to forgive those who have hurt us, just as Christ forgave us for our sins.

Privilege

Privilege according to the Cambridge dictionary is defined as a special advantage or authority possessed by a particular person or group. There is nothing wrong with being aware of privileges that different people or groups have that others do not possess. I have more privileges by being born and raised in America than I would had I been born and raised in North Korea. If you are the boss of a company, you will have more privileges than someone who works as a regular employee.
If we go by this simple defintion, when we talk about privileges we are making distinctions about the different advantages that different people or groups have in different societies and cultures. Every group or person in a discussion about privilege has advantages that the other group does not have. The problem starts when you look at those privileges through a socialist/Marxist lens. You turn the discussion into us versus them. One group has power and the other is powerless. “Men have more privileges than women”, therefore women have more disadvantages than men in life and men have all the power. Something needs to be done so that men lose that power and women attain and have power.
God made me a man. He made me to be a white man who would be born in America.  I know there are a lot of things that I will never have to worry about because of who I am and where I live.  But I didn’t choose this body and I only know what it is like to be a white man. Just because I am a white man doesn’t make it right to discount my opinions or say that what I go through isn’t as important or as serious as what women go through with sexual harassment. When you start comparing sins and who has more privilege I believe you are speaking unbiblically.
All sins that are committed against us hurt us and are very serious and important to each of us individually. To someone being bullied at school, that is a big deal. Someone that has experienced sexual abuse or rape…HUGE deal to them. Racially motivated violence and people that are treated differently because of their skin color…that is a big deal to those who have to experience that reality. Infidelity…it’s big deal to the person who has to go through that. Persecution for claiming the name of Christ…it’s serious and important but we are to expect persecution and suffering for being Christ followers. Remember that from an earthly perspective, the most unfair act ever committed was the crucifixion of Christ.
Christ did not talk about privilege. This idea that different groups have special privileges and that it is up to us as humans to fix the problems is unbiblical and divisive. Christ preached a kingdom of unity. We are all guilty before God for our sins and he is not a respecter of persons. He doesn’t choose us based on what we do or because we deserved anything. He chose us because He loved us. In fact, the biggest privilege might honestly be those of us who have access to God’s Word. You want to talk about privilege, think about how we (in the U.S. or the West) can access the Bible on our phones but there are people who don’t have a Bible in their own language. Or think about the freedom we have in America to gather together in worship when people in other countries can be killed or put in prison for simply owning a Bible.

We who claim the name of Christ are to be united as the Body of Christ. The Body is made up of people of different races, ethnicities, and nationalities. The Body is made of men and women. The Body is made of both young and old, wealthy and poor. The Body is made of husbands, wives, singles, widows, widowers, sons, daughters, and orphans. The socialist ideology has atheism as it’s foundation. We as Christians have the Word of God. We have a personal and all-powerful, all-knowing God who chose to reveal himself to us and bring us into a relationship with Him. It is certainly important to speak out against injustice and to realize there are some things that happen in societies and cultures that are wicked. However we know that we live in a fallen world. All sin stems from loving pleasure more than God and loving ourselves more than loving our neighbors. There will always be abusers, murderers, idolaters, racists, and violence. Our primary aim as Christians is to preach Christ crucified to every person. If we want to see the world changed we need to preach the gospel.

Calvinism

I am a 5 point calvinist (that just sounds negative…because it has this negative stigma attached to it) and I want to address some misrepresentations that were made of calvinism. I don’t worship John Calvin. I just believe that his works accurately explain the truths that the Bible has always contained…this was just the first time these truths were put together in a systematic way. Some people think we are obsessed with sin and we always talk about God’s wrath. One person said, “the 5 solas permit people to be jerks. God is only going to save those he elects so to hell with the rest anyway”. Don’t believe everything you read on the internet or hear someone say. We should all be discerning and compare what people say about God to His Word. Here are the articles from the Bible Fellowship Church Articles of Faith on Human responsibility and election:

 

Article 10 – Human Ability and Responsibility     

10-1 In his original creation man was endowed with the ability to will and do good or evil and was accountable for his willing and doing.1 But through the fall of Adam man lost his ability, apart from God’s grace,2 to will and to do those things necessary for a right relationship with God;3 however, he is still accountable to God for obedience to all of His commands.4 Man has not lost his ability to make decisions,5 but left to himself, he acts only in accordance with his fallen, sinful nature.6
10-2 Only by God’s infinite grace can man will or do anything necessary to his salvation. 7By that grace, God saves those men whom He causes to will and to do good;8 however, He does this without nullifying man’s ability to act responsibly. 91 And the LORD God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die” (Gen.2:16,17).
2 As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath (Eph.2:1-3).
3 There is no one who understands, no one who seeks God (Rom.3:11). Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God (Rom.8:8).
4 God “will give to each person according to what he has done.” To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger. There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile; but glory, honor and peace for everyone who does good: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile (Rom.2:6-10). In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent (Acts 17:30).
5 Now what I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach. This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live (Deu.30:11,19).
6 As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one; All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one” (Rom.3:10,12). Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard its spots? Neither can you do good who are accustomed to doing evil (Jer.13:23). (See also footnote 2).
7 It does not, therefore, depend on man’s desire or effort, but on God’s mercy (Rom.9:16).
He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created (James 1:18). Yet to all who received Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God –  children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God (John 1:12-13).
9 Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed–not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence–continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose (Phil.2:12,13).

Article 11 – Election     

11-1 Election is a free act of the sovereign God in which from eternity,1 for reasons known only to Himself,2 and apart from any foreseen faith and/or goodness found in man,3 He graciously chose from among the fallen mankind a people unto salvation, that they might be conformed to Christ’s image.4 Those so chosen He redeemed by His Son5and seals by His Spirit.61 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will (Eph.1:4,11).
2 “All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him” (Mat.11:27).
3 Who has saved us and called us to a holy life – not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time (2Tim.1:9). For those whom He foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, in order that He might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom He predestined He also called, and those whom He called He also justified, and those whom He justified He also glorified (Rom.8:29-30).
4 Until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ (Eph.4:13).
5 But we ought always to thank God for you, brothers loved by the Lord, because from the beginning God chose you to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth (2 Thes.2:13).
6 And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit (Eph.1:13).
If you want to know what a calvinist actually believes rather than the misrepresentations that go around please visit this site:
Some people might be inclined to think: “This privileged white Christian male has no idea what he is talking about. He has never been abused, he doesn’t know what it’s like to be a woman and experience sexual harassment. He is not an abuse victim so he should just shut up. He probably would say he wants a woman to touch him anyway.” It seems that for me to write a blog post about sexual abuse with the hope that an abuse victim would find it and find comfort in Christ like I am doing here is something that I shouldn’t be doing according to some people. My aim is to speak the truth in love. The truth is only found in God’s Word.
As a calvinist, I believe it is important to share the bad news before you get to the good news. In regards to the use of #metoo, how do you listen to non christian women (or anyone) who have been abused that come out for the first time but also share the gospel with them if the gospel is that we are all sinners and guilty before God including abusers and even abused victims. I am not sure what the best way to do that is. But the me too hashtag to me, does not give true help unless it leads to gospel conversations. You can listen to an abuse victim for years and never give them the gospel and they will die in their sins. This is what the Bible teaches so these aren’t just my words.
14 “Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, 15 so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life. 16 For God loved the world in this way: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Anyone who believes in him is not condemned, but anyone who does not believe is already condemned, because he has not believed in the name of the one and only Son of God. 19 This is the judgment: The light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than the light because their deeds were evil. 20 For everyone who does evil hates the light and avoids it, so that his deeds may not be exposed. 21 But anyone who lives by the truth comes to the light, so that his works may be shown to be accomplished by God.” John 3:14-21

18 For God’s wrath is revealed from heaven against all godlessness and unrighteousness of people who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth, 19 since what can be known about God is evident among them,because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, that is, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen since the creation of the world, being understood through what he has made. As a result, people are without excuse. 21 For though they knew God, they did not glorify him as God or show gratitude. Instead, their thinking became worthless, and their senseless hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man, birds, four-footed animals, and reptiles.

24 Therefore God delivered them over in the desires of their hearts to sexual impurity, so that their bodies were degraded among themselves. 25 They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served what has been created instead of the Creator, who is praised forever.Amen.

26 For this reason God delivered them over to disgraceful passions. Their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. 27 The men in the same way also left natural relations with women and were inflamed in their lust for one another. Men committed shameless acts with men and received in their own persons the appropriate penalty of their error.

28 And because they did not think it worthwhile to acknowledge God, God delivered them over to a corrupt mind so that they do what is not right. 29 They are filled with all unrighteousness, evil, greed, and wickedness. They are full of envy, murder, quarrels, deceit, and malice. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters, arrogant, proud, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 senseless, untrustworthy, unloving,and unmerciful. 32 Although they know God’s just sentence—that those who practice such things deserve to die—they not only do them, but even applaud others who practice them. Romans 1:18-32

Don’t you know that the unrighteous will not inherit God’s kingdom? Do not be deceived: No sexually immoral people, idolaters, adulterers, or males who have sex with males, 10 no thieves,greedy people, drunkards, verbally abusive people, or swindlers will inherit God’s kingdom. 11 And some of you used to be like this. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. 1 Corinthians 6:9-11

If only you would tear the heavens open
and come down,
so that mountains would quake at your presence—
just as fire kindles brushwood,
and fire boils water—
to make your name known to your enemies,
so that nations will tremble at your presence!
When you did awesome works
that we did not expect,
you who came down,
and the mountains quaked at your presence.
From ancient times no one has heard,
no one has listened to,
no eye has seen any God except you
who acts on behalf of the one who waits for him.
You welcome the one who joyfully does what is right;
they remember you in your ways.
But we have sinned, and you were angry.
How can we be saved if we remain in our sins?[a]
All of us have become like something unclean,
and all our righteous acts are like a polluted[b] garment;
all of us wither like a leaf,
and our iniquities carry us away like the wind.
No one calls on your name,
striving to take hold of you.
For you have hidden your face from us
and made us melt because of[c][d] our iniquity.
Yet Lord, you are our Father;
we are the clay, and you are our potter;
we all are the work of your hands.
Lord, do not be terribly angry
or remember our iniquity forever.
Please look—all of us are your people!
10 Your holy cities have become a wilderness;
Zion has become a wilderness,
Jerusalem a desolation.
11 Our holy and beautiful[e] temple,
where our fathers praised you,
has been burned down,
and all that was dear to us lies in ruins.
12 Lord, after all this, will you restrain yourself?
Will you keep silent and afflict us severely? Isaiah 64

Who has believed what we have heard?
And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
He grew up before him like a young plant
and like a root out of dry ground.
He didn’t have an impressive form
or majesty that we should look at him,
no appearance that we should desire him.
He was despised and rejected by men,
a man of suffering who knew what sickness was.
He was like someone people turned away from;
he was despised, and we didn’t value him.

Yet he himself bore our sicknesses,
and he carried our pains;
but we in turn regarded him stricken,
struck down by God, and afflicted.
But he was pierced because of our rebellion,
crushed because of our iniquities;
punishment for our peace was on him,
and we are healed by his wounds.
We all went astray like sheep;
we all have turned to our own way;
and the Lord has punished him
for the iniquity of us all.

He was oppressed and afflicted,
yet he did not open his mouth.
Like a lamb led to the slaughter
and like a sheep silent before her shearers,
he did not open his mouth.
He was taken away because of oppression and judgment;
and who considered his fate?
For he was cut off from the land of the living;
he was struck because of my people’s rebellion.
He was assigned a grave with the wicked,
but he was with a rich man at his death,
because he had done no violence
and had not spoken deceitfully.

10 Yet the Lord was pleased to crush him severely.[e]
When[f] you make him a guilt offering,
he will see his seed, he will prolong his days,
and by his hand, the Lord’s pleasure will be accomplished.
11 After his anguish,
he will see light and be satisfied.
By his knowledge,
my righteous servant will justify many,
and he will carry their iniquities.
12 Therefore I will give him the many as a portion,
and he will receive the mighty as spoil,
because he willingly submitted to death,
and was counted among the rebels;
yet he bore the sin of many
and interceded for the rebels. Isaiah 53

People claim that calvinists are obsessed with the wrath of God. There are a lot of Christians that don’t like to talk about the wrath of God. Yet the wrath of God can actually be a source of comfort out there for Christians who have been abused. God is love but He is also just and wrathful. If you leave out God’s wrath I believe your gospel is not as effective or consistent. The comfort of God’s wrath for abused Christians according to 2 Thessalonians 1 is that if someone has sexually abused you and they do not repent and trust in Christ, they will one day be judged. They might be guilty and be found innocent in a trial, but Jesus himself will judge them and bring them to justice. He will also judge those who make false accusations  that lead to an innocent person going to prison. God will judge the sexually immoral and liars.
We ought to thank God always for you, brothers and sisters, and rightly so, since your faith is flourishing and the love each one of you has for one another is increasing. Therefore, we ourselves boast about you among God’s churches—about your perseverance and faith in all the persecutions and afflictions that you are enduring. It is clear evidence of God’s righteous judgment that you will be counted worthy of God’s kingdom, for which you also are suffering, since it is just for God to repay with affliction those who afflict you and to give relief to you who are afflicted, along with us. This will take place at the revelation of the Lord Jesus from heaven with his powerful angels, when he takes vengeance with flaming fire on those who don’t know God and on those who don’t obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will pay the penalty of eternal destruction from the Lord’s presence and from his glorious strength 10 on that day when he comes to be glorified by his saints and to be marveled at by all those who have believed, because our testimony among you was believed. 11 In view of this, we always pray for you that our God will make you worthy of his calling, and by his power fulfill your every desire to do good[b] and your work produced by faith,12 so that the name of our Lord Jesus will be glorified by you, and you by him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.
1 Thessalonians 1:3-12
The immediate context of this passage is in reference to Christians that had been suffering persecution. However verse 8 says that the Jesus will “take vengeance with flaming fire on those who don’t know God and on those who don’t obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus” This means that everyone who has ever sinned against us and does not repent and trust Christ before their death will receive justice in the last days by Jesus himself.
Now this does not mean that since Jesus will judge them we should just do nothing as Christians. We should strongly condemn sexual abuse and harassment but we have a duty to share the gospel with every person. The gospel is what will change people’s hearts. An abuser can repent and trust in Christ through the power of the gospel.
As hard as it sounds, Christians who have been abused should eventually come to a place where they have forgiven their abuser and have peace in Christ. Christ forgives our sins so we are to forgive those who have sinned against us.
Yes Jesus loved people, he served them. He dined with sinners and was accused of being a glutton and a drunkard. He cared for women and loved children. He loved widows and orphans. But he came to die for our sins and to redeem us. He preached a gospel of repentance and a life of obedience to Him. He did not come to just meet their or our temporary needs. The sick people he healed eventually died. Lazarus was raised from the dead…he still died eventually. Jesus is the Son of God who eternally existed and came to the earth and took on flesh. He actively (“Christ’s full obedience to all the prescriptions of the divine law…[making] available a perfect righteousness before the law that is imputed or reckoned to those who put their trust in him.”) and passively (“[Christ’s] willing obedience in bearing all the sanctions imposed by that law against his people because of their transgression…[being] the ground of God’s justification of sinners (Rom. 5:9), by which divine act they are pardoned…”) obeyed God the Father and atoned for our sins on the cross. He was resurrected from the dead and we are justified and redeemed through Christ. Through the hearing and preaching of the Word of God, the holy Spirit draws us to God and opens our eyes to His truth:
 44 No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up on the last day.” John 6:44

18 For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but it is the power of God to us who are being saved. 19 For it is written,

I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,
and I will set aside the intelligence of the intelligent.

20 Where is the one who is wise? Where is the teacher of the law?[c]Where is the debater of this age? Hasn’t God made the world’s wisdom foolish? 21 For since, in God’s wisdom, the world did not know God through wisdom, God was pleased to save those who believe through the foolishness of what is preached. 22 For the Jews ask for signs and the Greeks seek wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to the Jews and foolishness to the Gentiles.[d] 24 Yet to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God, 25 because God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength.

1 Corinthians 1:18-25

We do, however, speak a wisdom among the mature, but not a wisdom of this age, or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. On the contrary, we speak God’s hidden wisdom in a mystery, a wisdom God predestined before the ages for our glory. None of the rulers of this age knew this wisdom, because if they had known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But as it is written,

What no eye has seen, no ear has heard,
and no human heart has conceived—
God has prepared these things for those who love him.[c]

10 Now God has revealed these things to us by the Spirit, since the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. 11 For who knows a person’s thoughts[d] except his spirit within him? In the same way, no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have not received the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who comes from God, so that we may understand what has been freely given to us by God. 13 We also speak these things, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual things to spiritual people.[e] 14 But the person without the Spirit[f] does not receive what comes from God’s Spirit, because it is foolishness to him; he is not able to understand it since it is evaluated[g] spiritually. 15 The spiritual person, however, can evaluate[h] everything, and yet he himself cannot be evaluated by anyone. 16 For

who has known the Lord’s mind,
that he may instruct him?[i]

But we have the mind of Christ.

1 Corinthians 2: 6-16

Now if the ministry that brought death, chiseled in letters on stones, came with glory, so that the Israelites were not able to gaze steadily at Moses’s face because of its glory, which was set aside, how will the ministry of the Spirit not be more glorious? For if the ministry that brought condemnation had glory, the ministry that brings righteousness overflows with even more glory. 10 In fact, what had been glorious is not glorious now by comparison because of the glory that surpasses it. 11 For if what was set aside was glorious, what endures will be even more glorious.

12 Since, then, we have such a hope, we act with great boldness. 13 We are not like Moses, who used to put a veil over his face to prevent the Israelites from gazing steadily until the end[d] of the glory of what was being set aside, 14 but their minds were hardened. For to this day, at the reading of the old covenant, the same veil remains; it is not lifted, because it is set aside only in Christ. 15 Yet still today, whenever Moses is read, a veil lies over their hearts, 16 but whenever a person turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 We all, with unveiled faces, are looking as in a mirror at[e] the glory of the Lord and are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory; this is from the Lord who is the Spirit.[f]

Therefore, since we have this ministry because we were shown mercy,we do not give up. Instead, we have renounced secret and shameful things, not acting deceitfully or distorting the word of God, but commending ourselves before God to everyone’s conscience by an open display of the truth. But if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. In their case, the god of this age has blinded the minds of the unbelievers to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ,[a] who is the image of God. For we are not proclaiming ourselves but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’s sake. For God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of God’s glory in the face of Jesus Christ.

2 Corinthians 3:7-17, 4:1-6

 

I fight these injustices by calling them out and by pointing people to Christ. If you only create awareness but you don’t provide the solution, you really aren’t helping stop behaviors like this. We have to know why this behavior happens and we have to know where the solution is found. This behavior happens because men follow their own sinful desires. The solution is found in Jesus Christ.

 

Galatians 2:20

“I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.

Ephesians 5:2

and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.

Remind them to submit to rulers and authorities, to obey, to be ready for every good work, to slander no one, to avoid fighting, and to be kind, always showing gentleness to all people. For we too were once foolish, disobedient, deceived, enslaved by various passions and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, detesting one another.

But when the kindness of God our Savior and his love for mankind appeared, he saved us—not by works of righteousness that we had done, but according to his mercy—through the washing of regenerationand renewal by the Holy Spirit. He poured out his Spirit on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior so that, having been justified by his grace, we may become heirs with the hope of eternal life.This saying is trustworthy. I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed God might be careful to devote themselves to good works. These are good and profitable for everyone. But avoid foolish debates, genealogies, quarrels, and disputes about the law, because they are unprofitable and worthless. 10 Reject a divisive person after a first and second warning. 11 For you know that such a person has gone astray and is sinning; he is self-condemned. Titus 3:1-11

You don’t know the experiences that I’ve been through. If you don’t me very well then you don’t know much about me at all. You have no idea what experiences I have gone through. You don’t know the pain I have felt from my difficult life experiences. So please don’t make assumptions about other people.
When I mentioned that I needed time to write this and that I wanted to share my perspective I was met with the following:
“The time is not right for you to share your perspective, abuse victims don’t want to hear your perspective. The hash tag is a safe place for them to go. and they don’t need to hear you tell them about God’s wrath.”
How do they know what God can or can’t do through the proclamation of His Word and the gospel? I get that people like this care very much for abuse victims but people like this seem to have hardened their hearts against most 5 point calvinists. I believe the approach of only listening to victims is not helping them because the gospel, which is the only hope for any of us in this broken, fallen world is not preached. The comfort of Christ is not seen as the only and final source of hope for abuse victims. Christ brings comfort to us in our afflictions. Christ is the way, the truth, and the life and there is no way to God but to go through Him.

Response to CP: Sexual Harassment

Disclaimer:
This post is written with Christian men and women as my intended audience.

Introduction

I got involved in a twitter debate over a tweet that someone made that allegedly mocked women by using #metoo to make a satirical remark about the nature of sexual harassment. Someone wrote a blog post about me in regards to defending that person (and by defending that person I was accused of approving a tweet that made light of abuse victims) so I want to make some articles explaining why I defended him. I understand the tweet may have upset women who have been sexually abused so I have taken that into consideration and understand that some of this may be difficult for you. Please know that I aim to speak the truth in love. That means speaking truth and speaking in a loving way.

CP Response Intoduction

I will now respond to some of the things that were written about me for defending the guys who made the tweets. I will refer to the author of the blog post that was written about me as CP (I don’t want to share their post or reference their blog name without permission). CP, I am truly sincere in my apology for making assumptions about you. I am fairly new to twitter and I got involved to win an argument. I now realize this was a very wrong approach. After I apologized to you I took the time to read your “about me” section (something I should have done right away) and I think I better understand your perspective. I will put her words in red.

“As a child and to adulthood, I was a Christian (in Christianese talk, this means I once “accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior”) – but have been strongly questioning my faith in the last year or so (as in 2012, 2013), so I have been flirting with agnosticism.

(Edit, May 2016: I think I may find Deism more of a fit for me than Agnosticism. I don’t know.)” 

I also was raised in that type of Christianity. The “accept Jesus into your heart and pray the sinner’s prayer” kind of Christianity. I plan to write a blog post soon about why I think this kind of Christianity has actually led to a lot of confusion and doubt in the church. This goes way back to the 1800s with a guy named Charles Finney. I would say I encourage you to think through what Deism would mean for you. I’m not sure what definition you have for Deism but here is a definition I found:

“belief in the existence of a supreme being, specifically of a creator who does not intervene in the universe. The term is used chiefly of an intellectual movement of the 17th and 18th centuries that accepted the existence of a creator on the basis of reason but rejected belief in a supernatural deity who interacts with humankind”

If the creator simply set things in motion but cannot or does not involve himself with humankind then all of the suffering and wickedness that happens has no purpose or eternal value or meaning. This supreme being allowed things like rape, murder, greed, and lust to enter into the world but this being has no desire or reason to be involved with what it created. These things simply happen and are a reality for humans but in the end they serve no purpose. Bad stuff just happens. However the God of the Bible has revealed Himself to humans and is a personal Being:

“1 The heavens declare the glory of God,
and the expanse proclaims the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour out speech;
night after night they communicate knowledge.
There is no speech; there are no words;
their voice is not heard.
Their message has gone out to the whole earth,
and their words to the ends of the world.
In the heavens he has pitched a tent for the sun.
It is like a bridegroom coming from his home;
it rejoices like an athlete running a course.
It rises from one end of the heavens
and circles to their other end;
nothing is hidden from its heat.” Psalms 19:1-6

13 He is here:
the one who forms the mountains,
creates the wind,
and reveals his thoughts to man,
the one who makes the dawn out of darkness
and strides on the heights of the earth.
The Lord, the God of Armies, is his name. Amos 4:13

18 For God’s wrath is revealed from heaven against all godlessness and unrighteousness of people who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth, 19 since what can be known about God is evident among them,because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, that is, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen since the creation of the world, being understood through what he has made. As a result, people are without excuse. 21 For though they knew God, they did not glorify him as God or show gratitude. Instead, their thinking became worthless, and their senseless hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man, birds, four-footed animals, and reptiles.

24 Therefore God delivered them over in the desires of their hearts to sexual impurity, so that their bodies were degraded among themselves. 25 They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served what has been created instead of the Creator, who is praised forever.Amen. Romans 1:18-25

14 What should we say then? Is there injustice with God? Absolutely not!15 For he tells Moses, I will show mercy to whom I will show mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.[l]16 So then, it does not depend on human will or effort but on God who shows mercy. 17 For the Scripture tells Pharaoh, I raised you up for this reason so that I may display my power in you and that my name may be proclaimed in the whole earth.[m] 18 So then, he has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy and he hardens whom he wants to harden.

19 You will say to me, therefore, “Why then does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?” 20 But who are you, a mere man, to talk back to God? Will what is formed say to the one who formed it, “Why did you make me like this?” 21 Or has the potter no right over the clay, to make from the same lump one piece of pottery for honor and another for dishonor? 22 And what if God, wanting to display his wrath and to make his power known, endured with much patience objects of wrath prepared for destruction? 23 And what if he did this to make known the riches of his glory on objects of mercy that he prepared beforehand for glory— 24 on us, the ones he also called, not only from the Jews but also from the Gentiles? Romans 9:14-24

I recommend reading through the book of Job or at least chapters 38-42. I will share a few things but it is too long to list all of it here:

Then the Lord answered Job from the whirlwind. He said:

Who is this who obscures my counsel
with ignorant words?
Get ready to answer me like a man;
when I question you, you will inform me.
Where were you when I established the earth?
Tell me, if you have understanding.
Who fixed its dimensions? Certainly you know!
Who stretched a measuring line across it?
What supports its foundations?
Or who laid its cornerstone
while the morning stars sang together
and all the sons of God shouted for joy?

Who enclosed the sea behind doors
when it burst from the womb,
when I made the clouds its garment
and total darkness its blanket,
10 when I determined its boundaries
and put its bars and doors in place,
11 when I declared: “You may come this far, but no farther;
your proud waves stop here”? Job 38:1-11

Do you know when mountain goats give birth?
Have you watched the deer in labor?
Can you count the months they are pregnant
so you can know the time they give birth?
They crouch down to give birth to their young;
they deliver their newborn.
Their offspring are healthy and grow up in the open field.
They leave and do not return.

Who set the wild donkey free?
Who released the swift donkey from its harness?
I made the desert its home,
and the salty wasteland its dwelling.
It scoffs at the noise of the village
and never hears the shouts of a driver.
It roams the mountains for its pastureland,
searching for anything green.
Would the wild ox be willing to serve you?
Would it spend the night by your feeding trough?
10 Can you hold the wild ox to a furrow by its harness?
Will it plow the valleys behind you?
11 Can you depend on it because its strength is great?
Would you leave it to do your hard work?
12 Can you trust the wild ox to harvest your grain
and bring it to your threshing floor? Job 39:1-12 

The Lord answered Job:

Will the one who contends with the Almighty correct him?
Let him who argues with God give an answer.

Then Job answered the Lord:

I am so insignificant. How can I answer you?
I place my hand over my mouth.
I have spoken once, and I will not reply;
twice, but now I can add nothing.

Then the Lord answered Job from the whirlwind:

Get ready to answer me like a man;
When I question you, you will inform me.
Would you really challenge my justice?
Would you declare me guilty to justify yourself?
Do you have an arm like God’s?
Can you thunder with a voice like his?

10 Adorn yourself with majesty and splendor,
and clothe yourself with honor and glory.
11 Pour out your raging anger;
look on every proud person and humiliate him.
12 Look on every proud person and humble him;
trample the wicked where they stand.
13 Hide them together in the dust;
imprison them in the grave.
14 Then I will confess to you
that your own right hand can deliver you. Job 40:1-14

Then Job replied to the Lord:

I know that you can do anything
and no plan of yours can be thwarted.
You asked, “Who is this who conceals my counsel with ignorance?”
Surely I spoke about things I did not understand,
things too wondrous for me to know.
You said, “Listen now, and I will speak.
When I question you, you will inform me.”
I had heard reports about you,
but now my eyes have seen you.
Therefore, I reject my words and am sorry for them;
I am dust and ashes. Job 42:1-6

“(summary: I have been stalked online before by three different people, which is one reason I no longer post under my real name; two of them had my real name and one used it to track me down in real life)”

I am so sorry that this happened to you. Being stalked is never okay, it is sinful.

“I at first thought this would be a blog to share with, or offer encouragement to, other older single Christian ladies.

As time has progressed though, I’ve become more cynical.

I’ve discovered that many things I was taught by Christian parents and leaders and Christian material is wrong about marriage and relationships, so I’ve become a little more cynical, and the blog reflects that a little – I also lost someone very close to me a few years ago (she died), and that has shaken my Christian faith a little.”

I think I understand your cynicism. Mainstream Christian culture for a while has been focused on morality and “doing what is right” more than focusing on Jesus and on actually knowing what you believe. What Would Jesus Do and Veggietales were popular when I was growing up. Both of these focus so much on what we have to do and they don’t talk about what Jesus has already done for us. The saying should have been “What Did Jesus Do?”. When we trust in Christ, His perfect obedience to God is imputed to us…so when God sees us He sees the perfect righteousness of Jesus. I know what it is like to lose someone close. I was very close to my grandmother and she passed in 2012. It was hard. However God is faithful, He doesn’t leave us or forsake us. I encourage you to turn to Him for healing and restoration.

“I am not left wing, liberal, progressive, or Democrat.”

You may not be politically liberal but talking about male privilege seems to be borrowing from the liberal view of humans. That there are groups of haves and have-nots. That men are more privileged than women. Shifting from focusing on the individual to focusing on the groups that individuals identify with. Holding the belief that men (generally speaking) have no idea what it is like to experience sexual harassment. I would encourage you to be careful with that kind of thinking. I have not experienced sexual harassment, but I been through some painful experiences. My pains are not better or worse than pains you have felt. Everyone has very real and painful experiences, regardless of what group they belong to or what group people assign them to.

Responding to the CP post:

“Ricky Mauser accused me of having a “victim mentality,” though he doesn’t know the first thing about me.”

I’m sorry for the way that came across. I will clarify what I meant when I used the phrase “victim mentality”. I have not been sexually abused or harassed but I’ve been through some pretty awful experiences (I don’t want to nor do I have to share them). Now, I could be bitter and resentful towards those who have hurt me. I could hold anger in my heart. I could stay a victim. I chose to be a survivor. A survivor seeks healing. A survivor doesn’t let what happened to them keep them in a state of bitterness and anger. I’m not saying this happens overnight…it took a while for me to overcome my hurts…but I am at the place where I have forgiven those who have hurt me. However I am a Christian and Christ is what has brought healing to me and helped me overcome my painful experiences. I did not mean to insult you when I said you have a victim mentality…I meant to say it seemed to me like instead of seeking healing and restoration that is found in Christ you have become bitter and angry. I understand why you responded the way you did. The church has failed a lot of people. Jesus did not fail you though. 

“The women tweeting about their experiences with sexual harassment (whether it was unwanted sexual flirting, or on the job sexual harassment, or having been raped), were actual, honest to God, Victims.

They were not “playing victim” or holding a “victim mentality.”

Unless you are so warped to think that being raped or sexually harassed on a job is no big deal – but then, you are a man who likely never experienced such treatment yourself, so of course you have no empathy, because you’ve not endured it first hand.

Rape, male entitlement, sexism, sexual harassment, unwanted sexual male attention, men treating women like sex objects, sex trafficking of girls and women, cat-calling, groping, and the like, are all VERY REAL phenomenon.”

 

I would agree that most, if not all of the people who use “#metoo” are honestly victims. However the reality that there are women who initiate but later regret it and make accusations of sexual assault makes me wonder if there is anyone that is using “#metoo” when they were consenting to sex. Again, I think being raped or sexually harassed is a VERY big deal. However, I believe Jesus is the hope that victims need. I have very much empathy for anyone who endures sinful acts against them but ESPECIALLY sexual assault and harassment. All of those things you listed are real phenomenon and are sinful and should be condemned. 

“I was never- the- less subjected to occasional sexual harassment by men from the time I was a teen to my adult years, as have most women.

To offer but a few examples to what I refer:

I was approached by men I did not know when I was 18, 19 years old when I worked as a sales clerk at a store in the mall, where the men would walk up to me, make it a point to let me know they were leaning over to peer down my blouse (to view my breasts), then they’d comment on my bosom…

The men at the store would make crude, sexually suggestive comments to me, the male customers would do sexually inappropriate things to our store mannequins, knowing full well I could see them fondle and do other sexual things to the female mannequins (they were trying to scare me, sexually intimidate me), and so on.

Again, I was about 18, 19 at the time, a very devout, chaste Christian woman, and these were grown men ranging in age from 30 to 50 behaving inappropriately to me or in front of me.

Grown men were sexually harassing me, a teen girl. It made my working there uncomfortable at times.”

What happened to you was sinful and wrong. Men should not be acting that way. But we live in a fallen world. Men who do not have a genuine faith in God act according to their sinful, fallen natures. My wife worked as a waitress and has shared some of the stupid and sinful things men would say or do that are very similar to what you’ve described here. It’s wrong no question about it. But what do you do now? Hold on to that and grow bitter or turn to Christ and receive healing and peace? I encourage you to turn to Christ.

“Did you, Ricky Mauser, experience that sort of sexual harassment on a regular basis, as I did, when you were a teen and worked at a minimum wage job at a store? Probably not.

And why not? Because you are a man, you live a life of male privilege in your male bubble, where men are rarely the recipients of such disgusting and frightening sexual behavior from males, or from females.”

No, I didn’t experience that sort of sexual harassment. I’ve already discussed the idea of male privilege a couple of times, so I will just again say that while I have not experienced sexual abuse or harassment I have been through terrible experiences. You don’t know me either and I strongly condemn that kind of behavior. 

“In one of my college classes when I was in my early 20s,, one male student would NOT leave me alone. I did not want, ask for, or enjoy his amorous attention.

My male class mate was keen on dating me. He was always approaching me, flirting. His attention made me uncomfortable.

I was in that class to learn and make good grades, not to flirt or pick up a boyfriend.”

I can only speak from my experience but it is pretty common for men who go to college to seek a wife there. I will get into pressures that are put on men in this response section.

My Christian mother, though, taught me, and my mother assumed that the Bible tells women, to never to hurt someone’s feelings, don’t be direct, so I could never come right out and point blank tell the guy in my class, “I am not interested. I don’t want to date you, please leave me alone.”

My wife has severe anxiety and depression and is very similar. She does not like hurting people’s feelings and that has led to people taking advantage of her (in a general sense). Saying “no” to people that micromanage her or engaging in any kind of conflict is extremely hard for her. The fact is you can tell men that you aren’t interested and for them to leave you alone.

However, his male buddy in the class could read my facial expressions and body language – which conveyed I was annoyed by the guy’s romantic attention, and wanted him to buzz off – and the friend of the guy told the guy, “She’s not interested. Leave her alone.”

But did the guy leave me alone?

No. He continued with more of the same behavior, every time class met.

The male classmate would not get the hint I was not interested in flirting back, or with dating him. I was Greta Garbo, and my body language made it plain: I wanted to be left alone.

Going to class every day became stressful for me, because I had to endure unwanted male attention.

The male student’s unwanted flirtation was not amusing or cute.

I had a difficult time concentrating on my school work in that class because of him.

 

“Men are pretty stupid sometimes. Men (generally) also have the pressure that if they don’t find a wife they will die alone. Finding a wife is probably the number one goal for a Christian man who has not chosen lifelong singleness. So I can only make an assumption about this guy but if you never actually told him that you weren’t interested, he probably thought you were playing hard to get. Guys also will not always listen to what a guy friend says when it comes to finding a potential girlfriend. Guys are competitive, they like games. If a lady doesn’t come out and reject them they will most likely take it as playing hard to get. Now if you had told him you weren’t interested and he continued with the behavior then I would say he was harassing you. I’m not blaming you or belittling your experience. I  just am explaining how I see it as a man. I am sorry this was a distraction for your schooling and that you genuinely felt threatened by the behavior of this guy.

“Persistent, unwanted amorous attention is NOT something most men endure from women. Receiving unwanted romantic overtures from men is scary, it is exhausting, and it’s annoying.

You men do not experience this most of the time, not nearly as often as girls and women do.

If you, a man, experience it from a woman, you feel comfortable telling the woman to stop it –

Most women, however, have been conditioned by culture and church to believe that it’s wrong, mean, or too “man-like” for a female to be blunt, bold, and so assertive with a man – we are taught to suffer this sexist garbage in silence, and pray and hope that the sexist man tires and leaves us alone.”

Women should be assertive with men. I hate that this concept has been pushed and that women have been told that they can’t be blunt and bold. Women should be able to tell a man that they do not want the attention and the men should be respectful and stop. However there are a lot of sinful men out there and even men who claim to be Christians that think they can take advantage of women. THIS IS WRONG. Men are to be respectful of women and to treat them with dignity.

 “As a teen and 20-something, I’ve had men I do not know, as I was walking along city or neighborhood streets, slow down in their cars, to follow me –

Some of these men didn’t say anything to me, while others would cat-call from their cars – both types of “attention” frightened me, because I did not know if these sexist sleaze balls were planning on tossing me in the back of their car, kidnapping me, and raping me, or if they would just drive off.

And yes, those incidents made me a victim of sexual harassment. I was a victim in reality in those situations, I was not living in a “victim hood mentality.”

I am sorry that you had to go through experiences like that. I understand your fear. Men that slow down their cars next to women who are walking are very creepy and this kind of behavior should be called out and condemned. Again, I did not mean to insult you by saying you have a victim mentality. I meant to say that it seems like your experiences have made you a victim and not a survivor. Survivor meaning someone who has been growing and healing and has overcome the difficult experiences they have gone through.

I did nothing to “ask for” or “deserve” the sexual harassment from any of those men.

I dressed modestly (though how a girl or woman dresses should not be a factor in these situations).

I did not enjoy the harassment, and at times, the harassment scared me, because I did not know if the man in all these cases would stop with lewd comments, or try to rape me or kill me.”

I agree with you here. Modesty should not be a factor in situations like this. Men should not make any unwanted advances on a women. Now flirting is a little different. If you tell a guy to stop flirting and he keeps doing it then he is acting wrongly and needs to stop. However, flirting in and of itself is not necessarily wrong. I’m sorry you have had to live in this kind of fear. Christ brings hope and love. Christ takes away fears and gives us hope in Him. 

 “It is a FACT that some men harass and sexually abuse women. This is not something I am making up.

Noting the reality of the world in which we live, that some men do sexually exploit or harass girls and women, is not “acting like a victim,” nor is it a sign of a “victim mentality” nor is it “being paranoid of all men.”

I agree with that fact. It is also a fact that there are women that fake allegations. Not the majority, but it does happen. I am all for pointing on examples of sexual harassment and calling them out. We should, especially as Christians, call out sexual misconduct and inappropriate behavior. However as Christians we are to share the gospel with everyone. We call out sexual sins like these but we also are to point those who have been victims to Jesus and the hope he brings.

“Married women are told by complementarians that they must engage in a “one way” submission to their husbands, by way of Ephesians 5: 22.”

Husbands are to submit to Christ. Husbands are to LOVE their wives. Married women are to submit to their husbands. I do not support the view that women MUST submit to abusive husbands, that women MUST be silent in the home, or that men can do anything they want. 

“If you try flirting with a woman, and she turns you down, or is otherwise giving signs she is not into you, then BACK OFF and LEAVE HER ALONE.

Men need to learn that women do not play “hard to get.”

Some of you men think you’re being “persistent” (or charming or endearing) by “pursuing” a woman, but all you are really doing is STALKING her, possibly annoying the hell out of her, and guaranteeing a restraining order.”

I agree with telling a man to back off if she turns you down. However, giving signs can truly be confusing for men. There are some women that do play hard to get. They want to be pursued. This doesn’t mean I am insensitive to those who gave signs expecting men to stop. However men cannot read minds. Men are also pretty stupid. We also think in a one track mind. We focus on one thing until we accomplish it or until we get a clear and direct answer. So to expect men to understand the signs you are giving is expecting a lot. I agree there may be some cases where a man can clearly tell the woman is afraid and keeps trying. However the nature of sexual harassment is not black and white. There are some black and white aspects of sexual harassment such as stalking you and slowing down a car. However there are gray areas too.

“Men are not sexualized near as often as girls and women are, or to the same degree.”

Women are sexualized more than men. However, men are told they they must be strong, muscular, and handsome. We are not told that being sensitive and showing our emotions is okay behavior for men. We are told that we need to take charge and boss people around. We aren’t generally taught to empathize with others. We have our own struggles and problems. So yes we don’t have to worry about sexual harassment as much as women do…but men have their own standards of what men should be like and we have our own disadvantages. And then taking it back to the individual level, we all experience painful things as individuals. Every painful experience is just as serious to each person as the experiences that other people go through are serious for them. I may not have been raped but I was bullied in high school. Rape is a lot more serious of course, but for me being bullied was painful and hurt. God doesn’t compare who had worse things happen to those who didn’t experience a lot of pain. ALL sin is wrong in God’s eyes. Telling a lie is breaking God’s law just as much as rape is breaking God’s law. Yet Jesus came to the earth and lived a sinless life. He died on the cross and took the punishment for ALL of our sins. Jesus bore the wrath of God in our place. Jesus forgives us for our sins so we should be on a path towards forgiving those who have sinned against us.

“As a man, do you feel that any and every woman is entitled to your body, having sex with you, getting a smile from you (even when you’re having a bad day)?”

No. I’m committed to my wife. Men need to stop asking women to smile. It’s stupid. Men are not entitled to have sex with anyone besides the person they marry. That doesn’t mean sex on demand, but husbands and wives have a Christian duty to come together sexually on a regular basis ( regular can look different for different couples). Demanding sex and selfishly withholding sex is wrong and sinful behavior for both husbands and wives.

Do most women ever make you feel that way, that you “owe” them merely for being a man and possessing a penis, then they get angry when you don’t give them what they want and expect?

Again this kind of behavior is sinful. I don’t “owe them” anything. I married my wife, knowing that it would require a lot of sacrifice on my part. Men need to step up and be better husbands and fathers. It is quite common for a man to come home from work and expect his wife to have supper ready, then he goes and does his own thing. That might be watching TV, playing video games or playing on his phone. Whatever it is, instead of spending time with his family  this kind of man spends time on himself. Men need to step up and make time for their wives and children. A man’s real job starts when he gets home from work. No more distant dads and no more halfhearted husbands. I plan to address this more in a future post.

Do you ever have women you don’t know grabbing your ass, making lewd comments at you?

No i don’t but those things are very sinful and every Christian should condemn this kind of behavior.

Have you, a man, ever had it implied to you by a male or female boss, that if you don’t “put out” sexually, that your job is therefore in jeopardy?

No and this is sinful and wrong. 

If you do turn a woman down if she asks you out on a date, do you ever worry she will respond by screaming at you in fury, hitting you, shooting you, or stabbing you to death?

No but I have worried if the woman would humiliate me in the way they rejected me. All of those responses to being turned down are sinful.

“Men don’t have to think about, or fear, being raped on your way to your car at night while out shopping, and so carry your car keys like a weapon, just in case you are attacked.

I will agree that most of the time women are afraid to walk at night almost anywhere. However, even I would be afraid of walking at night in certain places. I wouldn’t be afraid of being raped but I would be afraid of being mugged or shot.

You, if you are a man, don’t have to worry about not being called in for a job interview based on your gender,  as due to unconscious bias, employers prefer male names on applications over female names, or do things such as take male employee input more seriously than they do female employee input.

All employers discriminate their prospective employees. Illegal discrimination is unethical and wrong. Actually, as a white man I probably would have a harder time getting a job because of affirmative action. Companies today are pushing for diversity in the workplace. Minorities and women are favored more than white men in some areas. 

Here is an article by Marty Nemko on white male discrimnation:

http://www.martynemko.com/articles/are-white-males-getting-shortchanged_id1229

“I had one office job where one male co-worker subtly kept pursuing me because he had a crush on me. I didn’t like his romantic attention, but I kept my mouth shut.”

I wish you would have said something to him. Men sometimes don’t understand when they should stop pursuing.

Another male co-worker I had thought it was acceptable (when the two main bosses were out of office, and he was put in charge of the office) to make sexually suggestive or crude jokes, sometime at women’s expense, and he did so in front of women, which made me feel uncomfortable.

This is wrong and sinful. No Christian should make crude jokes or sexually suggestive comments like that. Men should not be joking like that. What kind of behavior would you expect from people who do not follow Christ? People following the sinful inclinations of their hearts.

Then you have men who fire their female employees because they find the female worker “too pretty.”

This is dumb. No man should do this.

A Lesson Learned about Christian love and Unity

I’ve learned a very big lesson after having to make two public apologies for misrepresenting people on twitter. I did not purposefully set out to do that but it happened because I became very emotional and defensive over what I believed was true. If we are not careful we all are prone to do this. It’s not always because we are selfish (although there are some people who have that motive) but because we truly care about the truth and about other people.

We are all Christians and we need to support each other in spreading the name and love of Christ. When we fight amongst ourselves and act in an unChristlike manner, we show the world that we are no different. We are to build eachother up with our words. We are to comfort the brokenhearted. May we strive to be a united Church. People from different cultures, races, and nations. Men and women, adults and children. All united by this common gospel message that Christ came in the world to save sinners. That he preached a gospel of love and repentance. A gospel of turning from sin to living a life of love based on the grace and love that Christ showed us when he took our sins upon the cross and was resurrected 3 days later.

I am a calvinist and there are people who aren’t so fond of calvinists. There are people who believe that calvinist/reformed Christianity is a dangerous belief system and a cult. However there are many misrepresentations of what calvinists actually believe that people bring into these debates. Before I became a calvinist I was taught to watch out for those cold hearted calvinists. “Calvinist” just has a negative stigma in the church and I used to believe that calvinism was dangerous. We don’t believe God chose you to go to hell if you reject Christ. We don’t believe God is a puppet master who chose exactly how everything would happen or that we are robots. This is just another example of an area where we can disagree on something but still be united on the gospel message of Christ coming into the world to save us from our sins.

Whether or not an inter faith dialogue between a Christian and a Muslim in a church building violated Scripture is a serious matter. The debate between Dr. White and Dr. Zachariades over free will matters. The recent racism discussion in America and kneeling American football players matters. These things matter because we believe we are being faithful to Scripture and because we care about truth and that people may be led astray by false teachings and/or error. However we can sometimes forget that the church is made up of every tribe, tongue, and nation. We can focus so much on the issues surrounding us in our country, state, local community, political affiliation and neglect to remember that if we believe the gospel we are united as a people. We are the body of Christ. Imagine if someone’s body parts started fighting the other parts. The fist punches the stomach or the hand pokes the eyes.  We only hurt ourselves when we fight with eachother. It is not easy for us (especially for us Americans) to admit when we have acted wrongly, but especially on twitter where you have so many eyes that will see your apology.

Twitter can sometimes give you a feeling of power that you don’t get in most settings and that you don’t usually feel when you are talking to someone on the phone or face to face.  We don’t think to privately contact the person we are waging a war against on social media. We dont always first try to genuinely ask them to explain their positions. We don’t want to hear their perspective or attempt to understand their point of view. We want to win the fight. We want to show them that we are right and they are wrong. It hurts our pride.

We need to speak the truth in love. We can hold to our convictions and use Scripture as our basis for those truths. However we need to remember to speak the truth in LOVE. Love as displayed by Christ in his willingness to die on the cross for people who sinned against Him. He knew the sins that we would commit but he humbled himself and died on the cross for us. May we strive to have the same love for those around us and share the gospel with those close to us and those around the world. The gospel is the hope the world needs to hear. The gospel takes broken, sinful people and turns them into redeemed, holy saints.

 

 

Top Secret Area

If you aren’t familiar with Super Mario World (a video game for the Super NES) you might be confused by the name of this blog. You might think this is a blog about Area 51 or some other top secret location. I actually named this blog after the secret level in the video game Super Mario World that is simply titled “Top Secret Area”. I played video games as a child (and still do) and Super Mario World was one of my favorites.

This blog is going to be a place where I can write about anything. I will be writing about many different topics including: Christianity/theology, retro video games, movies, cartoons, puns, quirky observations, and much more.

I’m nothing special, just a sinful person chosen and redeemed by God through the death and resurrection of Christ.

Titus 3:3-811

For we too were once foolish, disobedient, deceived, enslaved by various passions and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, detesting one another.But when the kindness of God our Savior and his love for mankind appeared, he saved us—not by works of righteousness that we had done, but according to his mercy—through the washing of regeneration and renewal by the Holy Spirit. He poured out his Spirit on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior so that, having been justified by his grace, we may become heirs with the hope of eternal life.This saying is trustworthy. I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed God might be careful to devote themselves to good works. These are good and profitable for everyone.

(Read the whole chapter or book to get the full context of this passage)