Friday, April 25, 2008

thank you for the comments

Anonymous 1 and Anonymous 2 (respectively) had the following to say in response to my last post. I just wanted to say Thanks.

here's A-1

so you are assuming that one cannot show kindness and love without being firm on what is sin and what is not? I am not saying make it part of every conversation, but know that if you are point out blank asked, be ready to give the biblical answer. And not be afraid that if you tell that biblical answer that the person will "turn from Christ". If they turn from Christ because you gave them an honest answer about the sinfulness of their lifestyle, it is not because you were not kind (unless you weren't kind about it),it is because the price that God asks of them is too high. Continuing on in what is comfortable for them is more appealing that the possibility of struggle, dying to self and wrestling with God. By making kindness and truth mutually exclusive, you play a little language game that plays on peoples emotions. Frankly Benjamin, I don't think you are very mature at all. I realize you are young. I was somewhat disturbed by your story about how you were thrown out of the ministry where you met your wife. Yes, a bunch of silly rules. To be honest, I think an overseas mission organization has no business putting a mixed gender group of young single people on a boat, in the middle of nowhere. It is a no win situation. But for you to broadcast the whole thing proudly and smear their name isn't really terribly Christlike to me. My husband and i were asked to leave a church over a petty appearance issue. I am sure it would resonate with you and other emerging church types. It was dumb, stupid and legalistic. Not to mention rooted in the pastor's control issues with his own kids. But for us to put it up on the web, with names places etc would be probably even less Christlike than what this guy did. I think it is meanspirited and vengeful for you to post stuff about this ministry. Did you take it up with them before you broadcast it? Yeah, there are situations of extreme spiritual abuse that probably warrant this (such as say the folks in Texas or the branch Davidians or the boston church of christ or something) but not your ordinary every day ministries making a mistake sort of thing. We privately hinted at people who told us they were going to this pastors church that "they might want to keep their eyes open' but that's about it. That is the Christian way.
You are so full of pointing out the faults of other Christians and the church at large that you fall into that very same sinfulness. You have a lot of spiritual pride at how "Christian" you are compared to the garden variety one's of us who don't self identify with your movement. Deriding people who liked the "purpose driven life" and then going to say that YOUR Christian reading material is oh so much more intellectual..yeah...real Christian. Nauseating is more like it. I suggest instead of focusing on the faults of other Christians, that you look inward at yourself and your own pride and smugness and yes, judgementalness. If you need to compromise what god says in His word to prove you are not judgemental, all the while being VERY judgemental towards your own brothers and sisters in Christ, then you have a serious problem. I have noticed among the wishy washy emerging church people, there is a disproportionate number who grew up around or were themselves ridiculously hardass and cruel about their judgements on the world. Now that they have grasped they were too harsh, they have just flip flopped. No middle ground Just flip flop. And switched their judgemental hearts onto more mainstream Christians instead. there is no critical thinking. no dealing with heart issues. Just being as nasty and derisive to Christians they see as "old school" as they once were to people trapped in sin. the devil must love you.

and here's A-2

my God. I have never seen a more prideful rant in my life as your blog. You have no CLUE how judgemental it is to sit around and judge people for spending money on Xmas. Are we not as Christians supposed to be evaluating our OWN lives, our OWN hearts instead of deciding on the basis of externals where everyone else around us is at. yay for think you are "kewl" because you don't think taking a stand on homosexuality when point blank asked is biblical. But you apparently have no problem whatsoever with ripping other Christians a new one because you have made casual observations about what you "think" are their priorities. I do think American culture, as a whole, is way too materialistic. And i hate messages that tie achievement/financial gain into the kingdom of God. Because they are NOT the same thing. But who are you to be deciding what any individual may or may not be spending on holidays is appropriate. Do YOU buy your kids any unneccessary goodies? Do YOU ever spend money on something purely for pleasure? Probably you do. You do not know that the person spending a lot on a holiday may be making a far far greater contribution to a third world country than you would dream of. Are you their personal accountant who has examined their records??? Hmmm..I thought not. And freely throwing around cusswords and using "kewl" every other sentence "doesn't" suddenly make you "real" and "relevent". An examined, humble life is what makes you relevent. Not peppering everything with the f-word.

And anonymous three had the following to say in response to anonymi 1 and 2.

I read things like that and think "wow, I'm sooooo glad that's not me – that person must be miserable" – or, in your case, maybe you can think "wow, that person must be EVEN MORE miserable than me!"

This last made me crack up. Thank you, A-3! =)


Liz said...

I am anonymous Benjamin. Its all me, Liz. My computer just doesn't post right sometimes and it isn't important enough to me to correct.
I find that a lot of people dismiss stuff they don't want to hear by slinging insults at the person (such as they must be miserable or angry or whatever etc etc)saying it. I'm pretty happy most of the time actually. I have my days. Considering what I have lived through in my life, it is actually pretty remarkable that I am NOT miserable.

Liz said...

you know, I read your interview in off the map Benjamin. I am sorry I was so harsh on you. I got the impression you are some kind of church leader or something. Considering the type of church you grew up in, it is not surprising you have gone the way you did. Most people i know who have grown up that rigid totally go the other way. Neither is the truth. THere is middle ground. I came at Christianity from the outside in (my family was Jewish and very liberal, so I have seen the lies on the other side of things)I reacted at first, very rigid but fortunately God just drilled it out of me.In part because my husband grew up in the rigidity and legalism. It is a miracle that he has NOT thrown out biblical theology in reaction to controlling hypocritical hyperfundamentalism. It is important for me to stay grounded in scripture and truth and not just react rather than respond. I hear you about the twelve step stuff. I am very involved with celebrate recovery. I much prefer it to the regular service on sunday. Most people are not exploring their inner lives, even in more moderate churches. its human nature to run from that inner examination.
However, I am not particularly interested in dealing with the more frustrating aspects of Christian life by running from the church OR by chucking biblical truth. There is always someone out there to tickle your ears when you are feeling disgruntled.

Pam Hogeweide said...

Liz said,

I am sorry I was so harsh on you.

Bravo, Liz. It takes a bit of humility and courage to say those three powerful words. Perhaps you and Benjamin will continue to move towards a greater understanding of one another's view points now that you know his back story.

Have a great weekend you guys!

Benjamin Ady said...


You made my day with your astonishingly delightful repentance. You rock. Thank you. Hooray. =)

Liz said...

Almost everyone I know who has grown up in these fundamentalist independent baptist type churches (which are NOT representative of conservative bible believing evangelical Christianity AT ALL) has some seriously distorted views of the God of the Bible as adults. Very few bother to hang in there and sift wheat from chaff. Most of them walk away from religion altogether. Or become pagans (take a survey of a bunch of neo pagans sometime and find out how many grew up in "independent fundmental baptist" type churches or some equally ridiculously legalistic group. Or if they remain within Christianity, head out to the liberal fringes and condemn anyone who tries to correct their theology. Of course, what these people don't realize, is that they are just as harsh on genuine biblical Christians as they percieve real Christianity to be on others. People sin. In many ways. Its not our job to tell everyone every way they are sinning. But when we get that go ahead from the HS, then yeah, the bible IS pretty specific from what is sin or not. Usually with my kids, I don't get into preaching at them> I say, well, why don't you go read the bible yourself and you're a smart kid, see what it says yourself. (mostly this revolves around honoring parents these days.)
So I realize that a) Benjamins church history probably affects not only his views of absolute truth and the way in which he handles other Christians who have done him dirty and b)he actually is not representing himself as a Christian. Jumping on him isn't going to encourage him back to the fold. All I would say is to encourage you to think about what is real absolute truth rather than simply reacting emotionally to what was in fact a distortion of the truth that you grew up with.
And I don't want you to think I got a sudden dose of courage about not being anonymous. I never deliberately post anonymously. I suppose I could sign my posts, but I am lazy. Sometimes my computer just doesn't pop up with my name under "choose an identity". Maybe its after my kids use my computer, I don't know. Sometimes it does. I post anonymously if my name doesn't pop up as an option. That simple. This wasn't about coming forward. It was about clarifying.

Benjamin Ady said...


Sorry for implying that you had "come forward" in some sense when it was just a technical glitch combined with laziness.


Couple things: I think all discussions about "absolute truth" have to take place in a context of "Does it exist?" rather than "What does it *say*?". This because even if it *does* exist, humans don't have the ability to comprehend more than a tiny corner of it a little bit. So for us to argue about exactly what it looks like is a bit silly. It's like blind women aruing about what an elephant in the next room looks like. If they have all been blind from birth, they've none of them ever seen an elephant. It's ludicrous for them o have arguments about what the elephant in the next room looks like. They're each going to have their own take, in their imagination, on what an elephant looks like, and they'll all be right and wrong to various degrees.

It's actually a lot worse than that, actually, since even with seeing people, with very concrete, recordable, measurable events, they remember what happened differently from each other. Look at all the people who have been released from death row many years after they were convicted of murder on eyewitness testimony, because of new DNA evidence that shows the simply didn't do it. Are we to imagine the eyewitnesses who origally helped convict them were ... on purpose lying? Certainly not. In most cases, the eyewitnesses were recounting what they saw honestly to the best of their ability. Yes, there *was* an absolute truth in the situation, but people doing their best to find that truth--people who were *there* and *saw* what happened, were unable to get it. And the sort of absolute truth yu are talking about--truth regarding god death heaven hell afterlife sin justice etc.--is *way* harder to apprehend than a simple "did the person commit the crime or not?"

All of which to say I think even if absolute truth about all these cosmic big picture things *does* exist, it is the height of arrogance for you to insist that you have it and I don't.

Furthermore, I understand that my ideas about things like absolute truth were informed to some extent by the church culture I grew up in and my reaction to that. But I think there's a bigger picture than that. There's a wider cultural movement whereby the culture as a whole is shifting into postmodernism, and I think that is having an even larger effect on me than my reaction to particular stuff from my own past.

Liz said...

ah, but you're saying its the "height of arrogance" is in and of itself an absolute truth. We all know intrinsically that there are some universal standards. That in itself implies an absolute truth and that at least in some things it is not relevant. Because we cannot know all things about God, it is a copout to claim that we can know nothing about Him.

Benjamin Ady said...

"but you're saying its the "height of arrogance" is in and of itself an absolute truth"

so ... you're saying you altogether agree with me on that?

When you say "We all know ..." are you saying you are able to produce something with which to fill up the "..." about which *everyone* agrees? Cause I haven't yet managed to find such a something.

(Except of course for "The damn democratic primary had dragged on for *way* too long already!")

Pam Hogeweide said...

(peeks in, glances at ben and, these guys are having a real back out of the blog...)

Anonymous said...

you know, this is reminding me very much of when I was forced to be confirmed in my mother's very liberal reformed temple. We all had to come up with a speech. I really thought the whole jewish thing was incredibly lame. I wanted to know JESUS. And there is NO Jesus in a reformed jewish temple. None at all. So I wrote a poem about it. And how lame it was. And how bored I was by the whole thing because there was nothing about God being taught. Let alone Jesus. It was all about ethical dilemmas and the holocaust with a bit of cooking thrown in. And I was hungry for real spiritual meat. So like I said, my speech was this poem about how much I had hated the whole experience. They loved it. I had just stood up before this group of people and completely dissed everything they stood for and they were so freakin liberal that they missed it and thought it was great I was "expressing myself". They completely missed the point of what I said though. All that mattered was I "expressed myself". This was the tail end of the sixties so of course we had all these hippy dippy love and peace types that just thought hey man, how grooooovy. And I just inwardly rolled my eyes because they didn't even get the content of what I had just said.
So it seems with "conversation". I don't know if I am ever going to be able to use this word with a straight face again. I had no idea it was a euphemism for all this kind of meaningless gobbledygook which is simply a way for people to avoid saying anything definite, anything meaningful, but as long as everyone plays nice and nods their heads at how wonderful our "diversity" is...well...its...just...freakin..
No thanks. I prefer my truth straight up. Take it or leave it.
If there is one thing my brief dips into these couple of "conversations" have done it is convince me of the utter futility of any kind of discussion about truth that is expected to end in anything but a big hug and love fest. Love cares enough to tell the truth. Its not all about the warm fuzzies. Truth makes us uncomfortable, challenges us. So I would like to thank you for sharpening in me a love for the truth. Truth can be communicated kindly, lovingly even, but if people do not want the words of our Lord, then I think Christ has some rather specific instructions for moving on.
Heaven help us all.