My Advice for #the15

#the15 logo

For Christians, the Christmas season is truly a time for meditation about (and thankfulness for) the Incarnation…and ultimately…the Cross. This year, however, Christmas week was also the occasion for the formation of a new “we’re not gonna take it anymore” group, #the15. (The name is based on the Twitter hashtag it is leveraging.) Who are #the15? These three links will give you a decent idea:

Although there is far more history leading to #the15’s formation (so you should review the articles above…especially the first one), the combination of LifeWay stores carrying heresy and one of its employees, Ed Stetzer, insultingly blowing off a concern some had about John Piper mentioning the Pope in a tweet seems to be the straw that broke the camel’s back. If you take time to review “Who are #the15?,” you’ll see JD Hall (a Montana minister) summarize the answer to “Who are #the15?” with:

  1. #the15 are those who refuse to be shamed into silence.
  2. #the15 are those who are willingly sacrificing our own reputations among men for the sake of God’s holiness among the nations.
  3. #the15 are those who will sacrifice our careers and denominational or organization advancement in order to continue speaking prophetic truth to false teachers and those who sell false teachings .
  4. #the15 are those who do not mind being made fools for the sake of the Gospel.
  5. #the15 are those who will not relent to ask tough questions until we receive truthful answers.
  6. #the15 are those who will not be intimidated by power or Christian celebrity.
  7. #the15 are those who know people are listening, but would speak even if no one were.
  8. #the15 are those who know that God has not called us to success, but to faithfulness.
  9. #the15 are those who know this modern day Downgrade is reality, and will warn others of its seductive appeal and destructive nature.
  10. #the15 are those who, despite being ignored, ridiculed or attacked are not going away any time soon.

#the15’s concerns are valid. For instance, LifeWay is a Southern Baptist Convention denominationally-connected (owned?) company. It has no excuse for selling heresy unless it is there only for research (and labeled as such). It also isn’t appropriate for Christian leaders to ignore legitimate concerns…or mock/marginalize and/or attack people. I feel an affinity to #the15’s cause.

But…

I have not joined #the15. Why? Because (a) on the surface they have an air an amalgamation of victimhood and superior piety; (b) I believe many of them make the same mistakes they are accusing others of (especially “marginalize” and “attack”); and (c) I do not agree with some important aspects of what they are being encouraged to do:

“Laying Out a Simple Strategy for #the15”

Again, to ensure that you get an accurate understanding of what I am commenting on, please be sure to read the strategy article (and the “Who are #the15?” one). It is important that you give them a fair shake and not base your conclusions on mine. Having said that, this is what I would advise #the15 based on JD Hall’s strategy.

1) We NEED to be more than what one well-meaning fellow called “reactionary tweeters.”

Agreed. And agreed they should do something about the real wrongs they’ve identified. However, I would question this:

Furthermore, #the15 (as a whole) have reacted only after years and years of being ignored and years and years of heresy-peddling from Lifeway and condescension from evangelical leaders. We’ve reacted in a big way, but it was a very, very long fuse.

My response? So what? Waiting a long time and building up a truckload of wrongs doesn’t make an act more righteous. Also…focusing on being ignored comes off as crybaby-ish (as does complaining about being marginalized). Your concerns are legit. Focus on them, not the “hurts.”

Which leads me to the first principle I would like to suggest for #the15:

1)  Whatever you say or do, use the “How would most reasonable true Christians react?” litmus test.

(I throw in the world “true” because I agree with #the15 about the “downgraded” state of the modern church.)

For instance, let’s use that test on:

Third, for the more outgoing person, take a sample of the more heretical titles and ask to speak to the manager. If they are not available, speak to the clerk. Ask questions as to why Lifeway sells these books, while explaining what makes them heretical. Capture it on video or audio on your smartphone (for your own protection, because they will report that you were being mean and abrasive and probably, threatening). Be as polite as you possibly can. Stand back several feet so as to not come across as threatening and do not raise your voice. Offer to put up the books when you’re done so the clerk doesn’t have to – don’t just leave them sitting there. Avoid the urge to putting them in the fiction section. When you’re done conversing, upload to social media.

I don’t think most reasonable Christians would agree with confronting employees in stores, polite or not. Also, as soon as one of those videos is posted anywhere, the “for your own protection” taping will be proved false. If you are truly polite, you won’t need to tape yourself and you’ll be protected against the temptation to throw it up on YouTube.

Additionally, “avoid the urge to putting them in the fiction section” is funny, but not edifying.

Now, if I were someone from #the15 reading this I would say, “What is the scriptural backing for this ‘reasonable Christians’ litmus test?”

And I would commend them for asking that! 🙂

Scriptures with come with a few linked articles later. My first principle could be summarized as “act like a Christian” or “be Christlike”—we just differ on what that means. However, if an average true Christian would think you’ve gone to far…you’ve probably gone too far.

Okay, back to Hall’s strategy:

2) We NEED to be focused.

Agreed! (See, I told you I had an affinity for #the15. :-))

Not only will it make no sense to complain about everything, I would suggest my second and third principles come into play:

2)  God calls specific individuals to correct others, not mobs.

3)  Just because the Internet means everybody can see somebody’s sin, that doesn’t mean everyone has standing to call that somebody to repentance.

In my opinion, one area #the15 goes wrong is that they do encourage a mob mentality (literally asking everyone to do certain things). Choose some leaders. Choose wisely—they need the right disposition. Then support those leaders…but don’t everyone go on the attack.

Now, don’t get me wrong. LifeWay (sadly) will probably not change it’s behavior unless they think it’ll hurt their bottom line (my apologies to them if I am wrong…and clearly this is not true of everyone at LifeWay)…so a letter writing campaign to them does make sense. A bunch of people slamming others on Twitter, even truly public figures like Ed Stetzer, just makes the lot of us look unloving. (And I would suggest that is because, when we act that way, we are being unloving.)

And speaking of Ed Stetzer*, Russell Moore*, John Piper*, and so on. I know #the15 would agree that we should respect authority (see Romans 13:1) including religious ones (see 1 Thessalonians 5:12). That doesn’t mean we should ignore their sin…but that correction should always be respectful. A good example for us:

And looking intently at the council, Paul said, “Brothers, I have lived my life before God in all good conscience up to this day.” 2 And the high priest Ananias commanded those who stood by him to strike him on the mouth. 3 Then Paul said to him, “God is going to strike you, you whitewashed wall! Are you sitting to judge me according to the law, and yet contrary to the law you order me to be struck?” 4 Those who stood by said, “Would you revile God’s high priest?” 5 And Paul said, “I did not know, brothers, that he was the high priest, for it is written, ‘You shall not speak evil of a ruler of your people'” (Acts 23:1-5, English Standard Version).

I think Ananias would be considered at least as heretical and evil as any modern day “bad” evangelical leader…and look how quickly Paul backed off. That respect probably didn’t do much good with Ananias, but I suspect it was helpful with reaching some who were watching.

And I think if #the15 keep those who are watching in mind, they would do well to reconsider some of their approaches.

Getting back to Hall’s second strategy, he goes on to propose “#the15 should stick primary to the following”:

A) Lifeway – a Southern Baptist owned and operated entity – and its bold, brash, unrelenting selling of Word-Faith, Prosperity Gospel, Mysticism, Heaven Tourism and Anti-Trinitarian heresy.

Agreed. And then…

B) The snobbish and dismissive ignoring, marginalizing and attacking of all who question them, by evangelical leaders and the evangelical intelligentsia.

If those evangelical leaders are sinning, teaching heresy, supporting others in sin or heresy, and so on…I agree they should be called out. However, per an earlier point, the way it is put here sounds very “hurt feelings”-ish. I highly recommend #the15 get past that, because I would say some of un-Christlike behavior some members exhibit is because they allow hurt feelings (mixed with ample righteous anger) to affect their actions.  Suggested fourth principle:

4)  Stick to the facts. Leave emotions out of it.

After this section, Hall goes on to strategy #3:

3) We need to be clear that #the15 has nothing to do with Calvinism or Arminianism.

Fair enough. But be willing to admit, as a whole, it is mostly Calvinists. It really doesn’t matter, but trying to make sure that everyone knows that it’s not just Calvinists implicitly adds legitimacy to those who would use that as a sledge hammer. There is nothing to be embarrassed about even if every single member of #the15 was a Calvinist.

Continuing on…at this point Hall goes on to “a clear call to action”:

First, call or write to the Lifeway Trustees

Agreed! But I think it would have been good for Hall to repeat the “be polite” counsel again (and I would add “be respectful”). Write them like an erring brother instead of a demonic enemy.

Second, walk into a Lifeway store and take photos of their heretical books.

Hmmm…I guess I am “okay” with this…as long as you don’t follow it up with…

Third, for the more outgoing person, take a sample of the more heretical titles and ask to speak to the manager

Okay, this is better than the previous “clerk” advice…but, come on, this isn’t trench warfare. If the LifeWay manager is a brother or sister in your church, then go speak to them privately (or maybe ask your pastor to). Sure, managers have “authority”…but, using my “reasonable Christians” litmus test would still fail for confronting some poor, (likely) underpaid person in position that already has plenty of long, lousy hours and stress.

Treat them like your closest sibling instead of Satan’s minion.

Back to Hall’s article…

Fourth, have your church issue a statement that they will not be purchasing any more material from Lifeway until they affirm by their actions that they are, indeed, a fundamentally Christian bookstore

Sounds reasonable.

Fifth, if you employ the hashtag #the15 toward the second primary goal (highlighting the dismissive attitudes of the intelligentsia)

You’ve already seen my thoughts about worrying about dismissive attitudes…but I would say it goes south from there with what soon follows:

  • Communicate in writing – and save the correspondence. Even their lack of response speaks volumes.
  • Approach them personally through either in-person encounters (this may require driving to their nearby speaking gig) and inquiring as to why they’re not listening (again, record it for your own safety).
  • Approach them in social media and ask simple questions and do not relent until they answer.

I’m okay with the first bullet…but with the second I would suggest that confronting leaders in person is really not much better than doing that with LifeWay clerks or managers…and I can almost guarantee those interactions will end up on YouTube or the like from people proud that they called a heretical evangelical leader to task.

You will not change their views or behavior that way.

The only think you will accomplish is self-righteous satisfaction…have that person further build their wall against the truth…and turn off others to your cause.

Physically confronting someone unexpectedly in public will make you look like a jerk. And, 99% of the time, you will be being a jerk, whether you or your compatriots think otherwise.

Can I add a fifth principle? 🙂

5)  Don’t be a jerk.

Before I get to the final section of this post, I want to give Hall credit for something his strategy post mentions. He is firmly standing by his convictions and pulling two of his own books from LifeWay (and no longer having his church purchase anything from the chain). I especially found this refreshing given that some of his followers earlier in the week were defending Hall’s works still being available at LifeWay. Kudos to him for recognizing the inconsistency.

Tone

Although it is an oversimplification, the biggest gotcha I (and many others) have with folks like #the15 is tone. We do not disagree with their foundational goals, but believe their methods are lacking. I think their response is telling:

Who made you orthodoxy police? The same folks who made you tone police. Now let me introduce you to my friend, historic Christianity #the15

Although pretty humorous, the reality is that it is both snarky and condescending. It is not meant to engage, it is meant to belittle. One might argue it is meant to marginalize and attack. You’ve got to admit that’s ironic given their mantra, “They ignore, marginalize, and attack. We stand strong.”

(As a quick aside…I really don’t care what historic Christianity did outside of what is recorded in the Bible. As much as I respect the church of the past and its leaders, there is plenty of stuff that greats like Calvin and Luther did that nobody in their right mind should consider normative for Christians. When it comes to orthodoxy enforcement and tone, Sola Scriptura still holds.)

Also, often their argument against of those of use who question their tone can be summed up with:

@AlanCult @PulpitAndPen @fbc_jd if your house is on fire and someone yells “your house is on fire” are you concerned about tone? #the15

Fair enough, but it’s not “either or.” Nobody would think it is un-Christian to yell at somebody to get them out of a burning building…and if someone is using the tone argument to say we shouldn’t be calling out bad Christian behavior at all…then I agree with #the15 that’s bogus. However, modern Christianity acts in a way that seems to go against what any good parent teaches a child.

The ends do not justify the means. A righteous cause does not make all the actions taken in it righteous…and “yelling” only makes sense when it is both required and effective.

Not to mention, even if the evangelical leader you are dealing with is a minion of the devil, that does not bless any action you might take. To the contrary:

But when the archangel Michael, contending with the devil, was disputing about the body of Moses, he did not presume to pronounce a blasphemous judgment, but said, “The Lord rebuke you” (Jude 1:9).

Which brings me to the second thing I’ll give Hall credit for. After I suggested tone didn’t have to be a victim in all this, he responded:

@AlanCult I’m totally open to hearing the Bible’s advice on “tone.” Email me your suggestions at PulpitandPen@gmail.com with some verses.

I give him kudos because (a) he looks to Scripture and (b) he shows a willingness to consider contrary opinions.

So, to him (and to you) I give the biblical arguments I’ve made in the following articles. The reason I am not just listing scriptures is because I think these put them together better then a bunch of verses.

I also found this apropos tweet from Darrel Strahan inform the conversation about tone…and it is a list of verses for those who prefer that. 🙂

Some good rules I ran across as a Christian we should remember for our public discourse with each other on social… http://twishort.com/6Tphc

Finally, let me wrap up with this. Yes, you can find cases…in the Bible…of inspired men calling people out, ridiculing false prophets, being snarky, and so on. First, they were inspired by the Holy Spirit to do what they did…I can’t imagine anyone in #the15 will claim that for themselves. Second, the exception proves the rule. The fact, for instance, that Jesus only once is recorded as pulling out a whip shows that is to be extraordinary behavior, not the norm. To Philip, who asked:

@AlanCult @PulpitAndPen @fbc_jd Was Paul unChristlike when he said he wished the Judaizers would cut their man parts off?

That would be my answer…along with Galatians 5:12’s “I wish those who unsettle you would emasculate themselves!” making a lot more sense in its context than the needlessly contentious tweets and posts of modern day Christians.

Wrapping up I’d like to clearly state my hope is to dialogue with #the15, encouraging them to continue to stand for truth and righteousness, but without the less-than-constructive (and sometimes sinful) behavior. I especially do not want to repeat the same mistakes I accuse them of, and apologize ahead of time for my shortcomings.

May we all do the Lord’s will in the Lord’s way.

*I have not researched what Stetzer, Moore, or Piper have done to agree or disagree that they are sinning, peddling heresy, or otherwise deserve to be taken to task. Additionally, I have only found Moore to be gracious on Twitter.

#the15 logo taken from here based on fair use.


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Comments

  1. Jason McMurray says:

    Hello Alan,
    Since you decided to follow me on Twitter, I thought I would do my due diligence and read what you wrote about #the15. Some of it was accurate but I did want to ask you about some of your, shall I say less than positive points.

    1. You point many to read the articles on Pulpit and Pen but yet you write “on the surface they have an air an (sic) amalgamation of victimhood and superior piety”. If you read the articles yourself, you should be able to judge and make a statement that is deeper than the surface. The purpose of those identifying with the #the15 has nothing to do with being a victim. With respect to the next statement in that paragraph, how would you classify the Reformers in their stance against the false teaching of the RCC? Would you say they are marginalizing?

    2. In the paragraph in which you write, “Waiting a long time and building up a truckload of wrongs doesn’t make an act more righteous”. Do you not think that a decade of questions to Lifeway execs about heretical teaching is long enough of a wait before a different approach is taken. I don’t know how old you are or your educational background is but for twenty plus years a wall divided the county of Germany. Presidents from Kennedy to Carter were unsuccessful in getting the Soviet Union to tear down the wall. President Reagan used a different tact and got the job done. This is not being a crybaby, this is standing for what is right.

    3. With regard to your “true Christian” litmus test. A true Christian should be appalled at heretical teaching and should desire to see it exposed instead of seeing it on the bookshelf of a book store that is a non-profit retailer that is owned by the Southern Baptist Convention. While on that subject, why not politely engage a Lifeway employee. They themselves may not be a “true Christian” and need to hear the Gospel. As for recording, remember that we live in a litigious society and one of “he said, she said”. I need only to point you to the unrepentant liar, Ergun Caner, who is the president of SBC aligned university in Georgia. (As an aside, you can research those facts as well on both Pulpitandpen.org and aomin.org)

    4. “act like a Christian” or “be Christlike”. I seem to recall Christ Jesus having his harshest words for the religious leaders of that time, “brood of vipers” comes to mind. I also recall a couple of instances where Christ turned over some table of the money changers ,i.e. cheating the people out of money for their own profit, hmmmm. No I am not advocating mischievous or violent acts, God forbid. We need to remember though that while Christ is the lamb of God, He is also the Lion of Judah. I think also if you read Matthew Chap 10:34-39 you will also see a stated purpose of Christ Jesus condescending from Heaven to the Earth. Let’s state the whole truth when it comes to being Christlike. We speak the truth regardless of the outcome.

    5. “God calls specific individuals to correct others, not mobs”. Who are those that are called to do this, scripturally speaking since you state it is a holy calling? If you liken #the15 to a mob, I suggest you revisit the definition of a mob. (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/mob). I find this rather insulting verbiage.

    6. Public sins call for public rebuke. Are you suggesting only Christians of certain status can rebuke other Christians in sin if only that are of the same status? This is not the military or a caste system. If that is your meaning here, please provide the scriptural reference.

    7. Again you continue on about #the15 appearing to be unloving. I have not seen one tweet or one blog post that defames any of the Lifeway execs by ad hominem or otherwise. Of course the same cannot be said of Mr. Stetzer.

    8. I know this is going to sound harsh but you have misapplied Romans 13. That is about the government and not church leadership. Churches do not collect taxes or wield the sword to the wrong doer. The sword is not euphemistic for church discipline, it is pure and simple a weapon used by government authorities.

    9. Regarding the Thessalonians we must remember that it is a letter to a local church. No Lifeway exec has ever come along side my local assembly for evangelism or discipleship. Yes they may publish materials on those aspects but they are also being paid for that as well and I would hardly refer to that as labor among my local brothers and sisters. I would point out that Lifeway execs are not over my local assembly. Which begs me to ask the question if you are equating Lifeway execs as a ruling body of the Southern Baptist Convention because I can assure you they are not. This is only an assumption on my part, but I would think that even the Lifeway execs would even be insulted at that comparison. For the record in the Acts passage you quote, remember they arrested him illegally and were wanting to kill Paul but had no legal authority under the Roman government to do so. Also Paul did not know Ananias was the High Priest. (For historical purposes Ananias was appointed High Priest by the Roman Government and this was likely due to some kind of tribute being paid to Rome. A true high priest appointed by Mosaic Law served for life. If you go back earlier in Acts you will see different high priest, Annas, and also to John’s Gospel we also see Annas and Caiaphas serving as high priests) One other note on this, Jesus also questioned the right of the high priest to having Him slapped in His also illegal trial.

    10. More about recording interactions. In this vein you are referring to interaction with leadership face to face. Again I point you to our litigious society in which in the SBC we have unrepentant liars suing those that bring out facts about their stories. You make it sound as if one Christian confronts another in person without an appointment then the confronter is a jerk. Considering the history of the Lifeway execs refusal to answer public and private communications. Do you honestly believe they will make an appointment with someone they view as a critic.

    11. Tone. Not to be redundant, but do you really think Jesus or John the Baptist were speaking with their best Mr. Rogers voice when they referred to the Pharisees as a brood of vipers? Let’s get off the tone thing because it is a detractor to the real issue. I also think you should look up some of the phrases that Martin Luther spoke to the RCC tribunal. Do you think his tone was congenial? This is not a flies and honey issue, this is about taking a stand on purveyors of heresy. I should also remind you that you rightly state that Stetzer was “insultingly blowing off a concern”. Is there a correct tone to fire off an insult?

    12. I should also remind that those that ignore history are doomed to repeat it. Maybe you should care about church history and not get to dismissive about what Calvin and Luther carried out their part of the reformation that broke an ungodly hold over God’s word. Again though I ask you, who in #the15 is yelling? Documentation please.

    13. Public Discourse. Do those verses apply to the Lifeway execs as well? Again, the first shot was fired by Stetzer, but this was only after a decade of refusing to discuss this matter like someone in his or Thom Rainer’s position should have. I want to point out here also that the tweet questioning Pastor Piper was to Pastor Piper and not Ed Stetzer. Is Stetzer a self appointed defender of Pastor Piper? Pastor Piper could well have responded to the question. I would go as far to say that if Stetzer had held his tongue, or fingers as it were, no back breaking straw would have been laid. To be sure though, this was a discourse that was bound to happen sooner or later.

    14. You wrap up by saying you encourage #the15 to stand for truth but without sinning. Please, again document the sin you have witnessed. Again this is about standing against the sale of heresies in a bookstore owned by, not connected to, the SBC. The SBC has taken a stand against such heresies and these stands are being ignored by Lifeway execs.

    I want to point that neither Dr. Russell Moore or Pastor John Piper are executives at Lifeway. You state that you have found Moore to be gracious on Twitter, I am sure that is true, but then I would ask you have you ever challenged him on his ecumenical embracing of the apostate RCC or his stance on his social progressive leanings. If you had, you would have been blocked from his twitter feed. The leadership at Lifeway is headed by Thom Rainer with Ed Stetzer in charge of research. I have been on the personal end of Stetzer’s snarky comments when asking him a legitimate question about an emergent church pastor.

    Alan I bear you no ill will as you seem to want to be some type of mediator. I read your “about” and I would say that I agree with almost all of your stated beliefs. I am not asking or even suggesting you to pick a side but from my reading of this post it did not seem to me that you grasped the full depth of the issue. By you own admission you only research one side of the issue. I also know that you in some ways you may respond by saying that you addressed many of my issues. I am not trying to be argumentative for argument sake, it just seems to me that evangelicalism in this country has been reduced to “you interpret your way and I will interpret my way”. This tosses doctrine out the window and does not serve the proclamation of The Gospel.

    I hope that you have more interaction with Pastor Hall. Probably like you I have never met him face to face. I do know this though, he is one of many shepherds who take the office of pastor serious in trying to protect, teach and edify their respective flocks in sound doctrine by rightly dividing the word of God.

    • Hi Jason,

      Thanks for your comment, I really appreciate you taking the time…

      I’ll try to answer your questions and concerns, but I should be actually watching this movie with my family. 🙂 In trying to respond quickly I suspect many responses will come off as terse and/or that I am not listening. My apologies if it appears to be so. I’m glad to have you as a brother in Christ; your love is proven by your concern and shown by your actions.

      Oh an sorry for the typos and tortured English…

      Following your numbering…

      #1

      I did read the articles I linked to. Considering the motto of “They ignore, marginalize, and attack. We stand strong” I don’t think saying their was an air of victimhood was that far fetched (especially with the rest of what Hall wrote). The air of superior piety is always a risk with a discernment ministry (it’s a standard deflective defense to call those who correct you “holier than thou”)…so that isn’t necessarily “bad.” But, head to the bottom of Hall’s article, pretend you aren’t affiliated with or don’t feel an affinity for #the15, and reread his ultimate answer to “Who are #the15?” You have to admit they have an air of superior piety (whether they are accurate of not).

      #2

      I am old enough to remember the greatest president of the 20th century! 🙂

      And I respect his blunt interactions with the Evil Empire.

      But I don’t understand how that changes my point. Hall was basically saying that the “years and years” of wrongs excuse reacting in a “big way.” The reaction has to stand on its own; if it is right it is right, if it is wrong it is wrong…regardless of the length of the fuse.

      #3

      I agree a true Christian should be appalled at some of the stuff on LifeWay’s shelves. But I would also suggest that the “average” true Christian would also be appalled at some self-appointed shepherd confronting a clerk at work. If an average true Christian would think something is unwise it is probably unwise.

      #4

      I think if you’ve looked at my articles I’ve acknowledged the harsher interactions Jesus had with people, and explained why they are not normative. The reason “Christlike” has the non-harsh connotation is because everyone realizes what the norm with Him was. Yet it seems, so often, that people who behave badly want use the exception to excuse their actions.

      #5

      First, I apologize for the offense. None meant.

      However, your link gives this as a definition of a mob:

      : a large group or crowd of people who are angry or violent or difficult to control

      : a large number of people

      “A large number of people” is what I intended (although I probably had a little bit of the “angry” in mind too…but you can’t claim a lot of #the15 aren’t angry). I hope in the “large number of people” context it isn’t insulting.

      As for who is called to correct certain people…depends on the people. But, my major point was that God doesn’t call mobs to correct people.

      #6

      I am not suggesting that.

      #7

      I would again suggest that if you pretend you aren’t affiliated with or don’t feel an affinity for #the15 and read what many in #the15 have written (including its leaders), you will not feel much love. For instance, love is not snarky. I could (for instance) go through Hall’s two posts line-by-line…but then I suspect we’d then be wrestling line-by-line. 🙂

      As an aside, I remember one time saying that it wasn’t good for Christians to be snarky, noting how Todd Friel of Wretched Radio sometimes was. A guy immediately argued that Friel wasn’t snarky. When I replied that the first time I heard that term was when Friel was applying it to himself, that guy then immediately argued it was okay for a Christian to be Snarky.

      #8

      Hmmm…considering the flow of the sentence, I am not sure why you think I was directly applying Romans 13 to church authority (but you are correct to say I am misusing it if I were). Since I know its intent I went on with “including religious ones” and then gave the 1 Thessalonians reference. Which leads to…

      #9

      I realize the Thessalonians reference wasn’t 100% applicable…but modern denominational structures are so outside of first century ones hardly any ecclesiastical verses would be. However, principles apply. We should be respectful to church leaders.

      Not sure where you were going with your thoughts about Ananais. When Paul realized he was a church leader he immediately showed respect even though, in his short interaction, it was already clear that Ananias was an evil man.

      #10

      Hmmm…so you are convinced that, even if nobody sues, none of the videos will get up on the net? In this case you are kinder in your judgments than I am. 🙂

      But I acknowledge it probably would be wise in our litigious society. The gotcha is that I think to most people the video camera would add to the sense of threat or persecution. All the more reason to follow my advice and not confront people in public. 🙂

      And I honestly believe that most people who will ambush someone in public will act like a jerk (as defined by an average true Christian). I am not saying everyone who has done that is a jerk.

      #11

      John the Baptist didn’t seek people out. Jesus hardly ever was harsh. You know what I think about some of Luther’s behavior. 🙂

      But I would agree that there are times when honey isn’t appropriate.

      #12

      Clearly my comment about history was one of my least articulate (you are the second to bring it up). I do care about history. I just don’t think any church history should be considered normative unless it is in the Bible, Sola Scriptura and all.

      Also, I said Calvin and Luther were greats; that doesn’t mean they didn’t have huge failings we shouldn’t emulate. That was my point.

      And “yelling” was a metaphor. Perhaps in the future I’ll start “naming names” and “naming yelling”…but at this point I would like to keep the discussion more abstract. I cannot see how I can do either until I establish more of a relationship with #the15…otherwise doing so will make me come off as an enemy. But again being a bit of a broken record…step outside of being a part of or having an affinity for #the15 and I think you’ll see it.

      #13

      Yes, it does apply to LifeWay execs too…and I think how I describe Stetzer’s tweet shows I think it was wrong.

      #14

      I do not question that LifeWay needs to shape up, and that it is appropriate for Southern Baptists (especially) to demand they do. As I mentioned above I don’t want to “name names” and “name yelling” yet, but I believe being un-Christlike is sinful and that many have already been un-Christlike.

      But not all…and with those who have…not all the time.

      I would never challenge Moore on Twitter for three reasons. First, I don’t yet feel called to do so. Second, because I know it would be useless (he would mentally lump it with the cacophony of negative comments he is already getting). Third, because I consider him a friend…and I take friends aside. (Actually, I try to take everyone aside, friend or not.) I haven’t paid much attention to his errors yet (and am only vaguely aware). I can use your prayers for judgment in how I should handle cases where I can connect with errant leaders. I may be too hesitant.

      I especially appreciate your final comments. I do want to be a peacemaker, but not at the expense of the truth…and agree that “you interpret your way and I will interpret my way” is wrong (both spiritually and logically).

      Your thoughts have been a blessing, even if they don’t seem yet to have had much of an effect.

      Happy New Year Jason…and thanks again for writing!

      P.S. If you wonder why I said I don’t want to name names, but have named Hall…I think he clearly is an exception and has encouraged the public back-and-forth. However, you’ll also note I have avoided outright personal condemnation of him. I have a lot of concerns, but I cannot question the church is in dire need of those who stand for the truth.

  2. Rereading part of this, I realized two things. First, I should have done more editing before posting. My apologies English majors! 🙂

    Second, I meant to speak to this: “Approach them in social media and ask simple questions and do not relent until they answer.” Although I think my “Don’t be a jerk” principle mostly covers it, I wanted to specifically mention how bad the “do not relent” looks…and is…especially if your responses to their replies are basically always the same question. Sure, maybe they should have answered your query…but you don’t do your cause (or God’s) any favors if you follow this advice. And, maybe I am missing it, but I can’t think of any biblical guidance that fits it.

  3. This is the tweet that started it all: https://mobile.twitter.com/JohnPiper/status/547233893653704704

    Stetzer’s “15 Calvinists” tweet was in response to the unjustly harsh treatment of Piper in response by some, including JD Hall demanding an explanation. This prompted a retaliation against Stetzer using Lifeway’s book sales as leverage.

  4. Feleina Rain says:

    Beautifully written, thank you for this. I pray #the15 take it to heart, especially when JD Hall can be heard here http://www.worldviewweekend.com/radio/audio/jd-hall-december-29-2014 today saying he doesn’t care about the “tone police” regarding his own condescending tone, but they have, in writing, called out their opponents on THEIR tone. (quote – “B) The snobbish and dismissive ignoring, marginalizing and attacking of all who question them, by evangelical leaders and the evangelical intelligentsia”) Can’t we all treat one another like brothers, and yes, be concerned with the world looking on, who judge our Savior based upon how we act? JESUS said, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” John 13:35. If Jesus said it, should we all not heed HIM?

    • Thanks Feleina. I plan on listening to Hall later. I spent way to long composing this article and my family deserves my attention for the rest of 2014. 🙂

      I think the “world looking on” is a tremendously important point…something I especially focused on in my “And Who Is My Brother?” sermon.

      Thank you again…and Happy New Year to you and yours!

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