An Exclamation Point Society (and Church)

Exclamation point of fireAs I was driving Augie to our monthly-ish haircut and our weekly Saturday morning breakfast together and reflecting on a Twitter friend saying a popular pastor committed blasphemy…

It hit me that, at least on social media (and it seems elsewhere), we are an “exclamation point society.”

Nobody just misspeaks, they LIE!!!

Nobody just interprets the Bible differently, they BLASPHEME!!!

Nobody just errs, they COMMIT HORRENDOUS, UNFORGIVABLE SINS!!!

Now, don’t get me wrong, people do lie…blaspheme…and commit horrendous sins (although the Bible makes it clear that pretty much anything can be forgiven). However, we seem to have lost any ability to wait until we have all the data to judge, to assume the best, and to give an iota of grace to our “opponents.”

To slow and temper our accusatory tongue.

Considering our Example…Jesus Christ…why do we rush to (emphatically) condemn? Also, when it becomes clear that our initial judgment might have been a bit overboard (or perhaps completely wrong), why can’t we just admit it versus arguing until the cows come home that the nuance doesn’t matter…or change the subject to some other wrong the bad guy has unarguably committed?

It pains my soul.

Especially since it has infected the church as much as larger society…

To wrap up, some scriptures to consider… [Read more…]

Tone Police Election Advice

The latest entry in the Tone Police Manual is thanks to the political season. If you think one of the candidates is the spawn of Satan, please consider the following before you change those thoughts into word:

Jude 9

Catching Up Tone Police Manual Entries

Hmmm…I’ve really fallen down uploading the latest Tone Police Manual entries…so…without further delay (please click on an image to see a larger version)…

2 Timothy 2:24-25 [Read more…]

Gazing into the Face of the Tone Police

Looking for an image on iClipart (a service I highly recommend) for a different article, I ran into one which, sadly, does aptly portray how some who claim to be officers in the Tone Police behave:

Angry policeman pointingIf I have ever acted that way (or even come off that way), I apologize.

However, just like the un-Christlike tone of some watch-tweeters and watch-bloggers does not invalidate the legitimate concerns they bring up, the (too often) hypocrisy of the Tone Police does not change the validity of what we bring up.

So says the @TonePoliceCapt 🙂

Theological Debate Advice from Data

Here is some theological debate advice from Star Trek Next Generation’s sentient android, Data:

Test it. Don’t try to “win” the debate. Stay civil throughout. See what happens.

P.S. And notice how Data behaves even after, not trying to “win”…he “wins”…

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude (1 Corinthians 13:4-5a).

Cast Out

Man using his hand to tell you to stopThis is a post I really don’t want to write, but also think must be written.

Generally averse to controversy, I recently stepped foot into what might be considered unfriendly territory. Inhospitable…not because I disagree with those who hold that land (in many ways I’m entirely in sync)…but because many who inhabit its hills and valleys do not take kindly to suggestions that method/tone/whatever-you-want-to-call-it matters when it comes to biblically-mandated church discernment and discipline.

And in fairness to them, often those who call them on it seem to just be trying to change the subject (using it as a method of deflection) and never answer the core questions at hand. Not to mention, too frequently those who challenge individuals on tone exhibit extremely bad behavior themselves.

Now, I am not claiming perfection, but I think it would be fair to say I did not exhibit bad behavior (extreme or otherwise). Worst I did is commit a couple misdemeanors; definitely no felonies while strolling up and down the highways and byways of that foreign land.

However, a couple days ago I went to reenter the territory, looking forward to interacting with its residents. Oddly enough, I actually thought I may have become one of its citizens. Maybe a black sheep of sorts, but they felt like fellow countrymen. Sure, some of the conversations within that land were uncomfortable, but I was also shown great kindness and fellowship.

But, I was barred entry. [Read more…]

“Do you sound like an angry talk show host or a Christian?”

This clip thanks to Tone Police Auxiliary member CJ (thanks CJ!):

“By this all people will know…”

New addition to the Tone Police Manual:

John 13:35

And a bonus Tone Police Manual entry: [Read more…]

An Entry from the Tone Police Manual

If you click on the image you can see a larger version of this entry from the Tone Police Manual (1 Corinthians 13:4-7):

1 Corinthians 13:4-7

You can read more about the Tone Police here. (The complete Tone Police Manual is readily available…it’s the Bible. :-))

“A good word for #the15…but Fahrner left out Ephesians 5:11”

Laodicean ReportThe Laodicean Report gives a quick review of “My Advice for #the15” page:

“A good word for #the15…but Fahrner left out Ephesians 5:11”

Good news is that I may not have included Ephesians 5:11, but I sure agree with it. 🙂

Thanks for reading and reviewing it @laodiceanreport!

P.S. And no qualms with “the LR editors have concerns with some of Fahrner’s beliefs” — there is a reason why I originally humorously titled it “Why I Am a Heretic.” 🙂

Better Watch Out…Here Come the Tone Police!

Tone Police 'speak the truth in love' badge #2Traditores is proud to announce the formation of the Tone Police!

The Tone Police are Christians who encourage those who “speak the truth in love” to emulate the Tone Police Commissioner, Jesus Christ, while doing so.

You can read more about…and join…the new force at TonePolice.org.

P.S. Although its “work” is serious, we officers of the Tone Police don’t take ourselves too seriously. Book ’em , Danno! 🙂

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: [Read more…]

Giving Up Snarkiness

Snooty man

There is an article worthy of a read from Megan McArdle about "Why [She Tries] Not to Write Bad Reviews."

A key part of what she says:

But that’s not actually the main reason I avoid it. The main reason I avoid the joys of snarky takedowns is that it’s not very good for you. Snark is immense, immense fun; the only thing more enjoyable than chortling to yourself over a particularly well-turned insult is having your friends and acquaintances e-mail to tell you how awesome it was. But if you’re basically pretty good at snotty putdowns — and most bloggers have at least an apprentice-level facility with this art — it’s almost too much fun. It’s too easy. It’s the writing equivalent of skiing the bunny slope.

I have written some epic snark, and I have written a book, and let me just tell you, there is no comparison. Books are hard. Reported features are hard. Sarcasm and outrage are easy, which is why they tend to peak in adolescence, unlike, say, mastery of nuclear physics.

Please read McArdle’s whole post…and please also read mine about "Christian Snarkiness."

I don’t think Snarkiness is healthy for society, and I think it is often downright sinful for Christians who should know better…

And Who Is My Brother?

Ignoring a man in need

Narrowing Down Our Responsibilities

I assume most of us here today are very familiar with the story of the good Samaritan. To conserve time we won’t read it all, but let’s turn together to Luke 10:25-29 and see what led up to it:

25 And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” 27 And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” 28 And he said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.”

29 But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

First of all, you know it doesn’t bode well when a lawyer is involved, eh? 🙂

Now, this person isn’t a lawyer as we think of it…instead, the Holman Christian Standard Bible translates it as “an expert in the law” and the Common English Bible as a “legal expert.” This guy won’t be able to defend you in a modern criminal trial or sue a doctor for malpractice, but he should be able to comment authoritatively on what the Jewish Law said…well, at least what the Jews of that time thought it said.

And, as we can see in what we read, Jesus confirms the lawyer actually got it right.

Well, that is, until “desiring to justify himself” the expert in the Law didn’t stop while he was ahead.

What do you think “desiring to justify himself” means? The Common English Bible starts verse 29 with, “But the legal expert wanted to prove that he was right…” and The Message paraphrase states, “Looking for a loophole…”

[Read more…]

Christian Snarkiness

Jesus talking to a manAlthough I think this is also applicable outside a Christian context, ultimately it's appeal to certain Judeo-Christian mores may limit its relevance to non-Christians.

Throughout web and podcast dialogue it has become popular to be snarky toward people and/or views that one significantly disagrees with. I use the word "snarky" in the context of my Mac's first definition for it:

(of a person, words, or a mood) sharply critical; cutting; snide: the kid who makes snarky remarks in class.

I myself have been guilty of the behavior…it is fun, satisfying, and effective.

Well, "effective" depending on what you are trying to effect.

Let's assume there is a view that is so bad that it warrants your snarkiness. There are two types of people who hold that view: those who are open to changing it if provided with the proper evidence and those who will never come around no matter how convincing your proof is. [Read more…]