Regarding My Popularity with the Secular World

As this blog has grown in popularity, I’ve been getting more and more unsolicited email through my website. That’s been interesting. So, I thought I’d occasionally post them here, since I figure that you can help me respond. Here’s one from Antonette:

Tony you are preaching a false Gospel, you are part of the apostasy that the Word of God talks will come about in the last days…………you dont preach what was delivered to the saints for once for all Jude 1:4. I suggest you repent and go back to the Word of God, other wise on that judgement day Jesus will say to you. “Go away you evil one, for I never knew you.” You must preach what is written in Gods word, not what you hope it says ………..just to be popular with the secular world…..who do not love you, for it was Christ who died for you not the world who Gods says, if the world hates us, it hated Him Jesus first. where do you stand?

Let’s hear some responses. I’ll pick my favorite and send it back to her. Then, of course, I’ll let you know how she replies.

  • http://scottpaeth.typepad.com Scott Paeth

    Hm, when Jesus says to the goats, “Go away you evil one, for I never knew you,” their offense was failing to feed the hungry, clothe the naked and care for the poor. I don’t recall that sharing some crackpot fundamentalist claptrap was part of the deal.

    Maybe I’m reading the wrong Bible.

    • Chris

      Crackpot fundamentalist claptrap, or philosophical postmodern panentheistic gobbledygook.

      So many choices.

      • http://scottpaeth.typepad.com Scott Paeth

        Yes, fortunately they only matter to a very limited degree, because Grace.

        • Nathan

          This!

    • matt

      Scott, who are the bethren in the passage you quoted? And since both the “goats” and the “sheep” fed the hungry, why did Christ say depart from me to the goats?

      • http://scottpaeth.typepad.com Scott Paeth

        Um, you must be reading a different parable of the sheep and goats than I am, since the one I’m familiar with is the one in which the goat’s DON’T aid the “least of these.”

    • Tabatha

      So I can believe whatever I want about Jesus and as long as I give food to the hungry, I can go to Heaven?

      • http://scottpaeth.typepad.com Scott Paeth

        Why fret about heaven? Just get off your duff and feed the poor. Let heaven concern itself with heaven.

        • http://www.butnotyet.com Joel Rieves

          You know, I think if your reason for following Jesus is to go to heaven, you’re doing it wrong.

  • http://shiningstranger.wordpress.com kenthamaker

    Hmmmm, if I recall correctly the ones to whom Jesus said “I never knew you” were the ones who didn’t feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, welcome the stranger, clothe the naked, and visit the sick and those in prison. A different kind of “preaching” is implied here. As St. Francis said, “Preach the Gospel at all times…if necessary use words.”

  • http://winter60.blogspot.com Lausten North

    When I first opened a web site for my church, I received something like this. I posted a sermon by a lay person that referenced Harry Potter. The email had some generic message about the evil of stories that have magic in them. What can you say? There is nothing specific here, just that you are wrong. If you ask for specifics, she’ll likely have chapter and verse and not be any more accepting of your interpretations than I am. A higher road to take would be one of asking for forgiveness, acceptance and openness, something about none of us truly knows God, but the odds are against her responding positively to that.

    You can tell her from me that you haven’t gained much popularity with the secular world. :)

  • Silas Dogood

    Regarding your funderous rant
    I pray that your logic will grant
    A narrow concession
    That your own perception
    Of Scripture is skewed by your slant.

    (Sorry Tony. It’s been a few weeks with no limerick challenges.It just had to come out.)

    • thobie1

      Ha, I love it, makes me wish I had limerick skillz.

      Much as I dislike Antonette’s message, there are still times I wish I could go back to her certainty about the world and the rightness of her judgments. *sigh*

  • http://www.onpoptheology.com Benjamin Howard

    I’m thinking, “I love you too.” That’s it.

  • Luke DeLong

    Antonette,
    Grace and Peace to you

    • http://gravatar.com/rstrickbttc rstrickbttc

      Winner, winner, chicken dinner.

  • http://www.butnotyet.com Joel Rieves

    You’re popular with the secular world? Stands to reason, you being a false teacher and all. Since my ex informed me this morning that I’m also a false teacher, it’s nice to know I’m in such august company.

    • matt

      Well he’s popular with the secular because he doesn’t believe and teach the biblical gospel. That’s so utterly clear.

      • http://www.butnotyet.com Joel Rieves

        Actually, Matt, Tony does believe and teach the biblical gospel. Only his version is different from yours. And, personally, I think Tony’s is closer to the truth.

  • http://www.wearebranches.com rsjm

    Dear Antonette,

    You might be right. I might be wrong.

    My only question is… Have ever said the same thing to anyone on this planet?

  • http://www.sarahcunningham.org Sarah

    I hear in the tone of this sender the suggestion that her own judgment is synonymous with God’s. And even more dangerously, the suggestion that the weight of eternity backs her own interpretation of every single verse.

    But apostasy isn’t renouncing this woman’s camp, or their particular interpretations of select Bible passages, any more than apostasy is renouncing your opinions or mine. Apostasy is abandoning belief in God.

    No matter how we cut it, that doesn’t describe where you are.

    We can’t proof text our way into a space only God can occupy as a discerner of human hearts. And if we try, we better attach our one verse arbitrarily lifted from the Bible to a larger context that presented a savior who always defied religious expectation by refusing to exclude or shame others. Who instead consistently chose to indict the religious for strapping unnecessarily burdensome expectations to those who wished to believe. And who refused to divide himself from those who did good in his name, saying if they “aren’t against us, they’re for us.”

    We don’t agree on everything. But you work out your own salvation as I work out mine. The only thing I know to do, within the realm of humility, is to stand next to you as a brother. And in our disagreements, to be free to disagree but to refuse to dishonor the foresight of God by trying to take away the freedom of individual thought and reason God himself granted humankind.

    Don’t get me started… =)

  • http://gravatar.com/postlukecore22 Luke Allison

    I actually feel like the best way to deal with people like this is by using their favorite collection of principles: the Bible itself.
    Since this person uses something like 7 or 8 different allusions to various Bible texts, I think it would be smart to respond in kind. Not sure it will help at all, but at least you can show rather than tell that the Scripture is not quite so cut-and-dried as this person seems to think.

  • http://jesuswithoutbaggage.wordpress.com/ Tim Chastain

    I would suggest several steps (they could be very quick ones)

    Read her criticisms humbly and determine whether they have any merit that you should accept to change your thinking.

    If so (not likely), thank her and let her know how helpful she has been.

    If not, don’t respond at all. Reasoned argument will not likely benefit either of you since she does not seem to be in the frame of mind for dialog. So don’t waste your time.

  • john

    Oh, sure, let’s just publicly humiliate the ignorant fundamentalist. If we claim to be further along in the faith, couldn’t we act like it?

    • http://www.winter60.blogspot.com Lausten North

      Your post is just more of the same. Like Antonette, it gives us very little to grapple with, just “you’re wrong”. When someone puts out something so simplistic, it’s pretty difficult to respond in some way that elevates the conversation.

      • John

        Isn’t this just more of the same…

        • http://winter60.blogspot.com Lausten North

          If you are capable of searching the Internet and reading blogs, then you must know that there are many definitions of “the Word of God”. If you want to engage in a conversation, then you should know you need to do more than say, “you got it wrong”. Either you and Antonette are not interested in a conversation, or there is something about my two assertions that you disagree with.

          I don’t know what you are referring to by “this”, and that is the problem. I don’t see much public humiliation here, yet you prefer to highlight it. You offer no specifics and no alternatives. My post is not more of the same, because I am defining and describing what it is I disagree with. That gives you something to respond to.

          Most people who post here are open to discussing this at any level.

  • mud man

    Coincidentally, this http://homebrewedchristianity.com/2013/03/12/day-16-trying-to-learn-from-everyone was posted today in a different part of the forest. What john said.

  • Jim Armstrong

    Perhaps something like…
    I understand your concern and criticism. We have clearly come to different places in our following of the one called Jesus.

    Scripture admonishes us to examine all things carefully and hold to that which is good (1 Thess 5:21), and that would include what you (and others) have to say to me. I am not sure of your “credentials” at this point, only that we differ.

    Can you offer something which might persuade me to give equal (or greater) weight to what you say as compared with the understandings developed through my years of study of scripture, and devotion, and prayers, and conversations with brothers and sisters of many different persuasions? …Or more importantly, have come to me through years of getting better acquainted with this Jesus and his message, of which the Bible only speaks in words?

    It is clear that the Jesus first introduced to me through those words has come to portray to me (and to many other Christians) a person and a message very different from the angry, judgmental and uncompassionate picture you seem to offer.

    • http://gravatar.com/rollieb RollieB

      My snarky side likes this a lot.

  • Kien

    Hi Antontonette – I try to follow and preach Jesus Christ, but do not always succeed. My loyalty is to Jesus, not the Bible per se. The Bible is of interest in so far as it reveals Jesus Christ. But thr Bible is only one of multiple sources we have about Jesus. Hope this makes sense. All authority in heaven and earth is given to Jesus, not to the Bible.

  • Todd

    Tony, whether you choose to believe it or not she is right on. Scripture is absolutely clear and consistent about what will happen to people who teach a false gospel. She seems to be warning you out of love and concern for your soul. God, Jesus, and the Bible all promise you an eternity in hell if you don’t repent and believe. You can mock her, me and anyone else who tries to share the truth with you, but it does not change the facts. I really hope and pray that you come to faith in the God of the bible.

    • Simon

      Todd,

      Could you explain further? Based on Tony’s stated positions, what specifically must Tony repent from in order to cease to be a false teacher destined for hell?

      Or put another way, I am not asking for a list of every theological difference you have with Tony? Rather, would you be kind enough to articulate what Tony has professed that has damned him to hell?

    • Chad

      Whenever someone uses the words, “The Bible clearly says…” I tend to nod off.

  • Todd

    Simon, it would be his stance on homosexuality. It is not that the sin of homosexuality is special or any worse than any of the sin in my own life. I only use it because it is a clear example where Tony teaches his opinion rather than the clear teaching of scripture. He has redefined sin based on his authority rather than biblical teaching. This is only one example, but the most obvious.

    • http://scottpaeth.typepad.com Scott Paeth

      Yes, this is true. Just as Tony has opted against the clear teaching of scripture with regard to the wearing of mixed fibers and eating of shellfish! They are abominations before the Lord, in *exactly the same way* that homosexuality is. Clearly Tony is redefining sin based on his own authority by wearing a cotton-poly blend.

    • Simon

      Todd,

      Thanks for the response. I just want to be clear. Will those who profess faith in Christ, but fail to recognize homosexuality as sinful be damned to hell? Not for the practice of gay sex, but the failure to recognize it as sin in other peoples’ lives.

      How about his allowing a woman to “teach over” a man, contrary to Paul’s teaching? Would this deviation from the text of scripture result in Tony’s damnation?

      How about his failure to exhort slaves to submit themselves to their masters as the apostles Paul and Peter required? Same question, is he damned for this extra-biblical stance? Again, it is not that he has himself refused to be owned by another human being (just as Tony is not, to my knowledge gay), but he has failed to teach and believe that slaves must submit themselves to their masters.

      If we want to get textual. I would Imagine you are fond of Romans 10:9 that suggests a confession of Christ as lord and belief in a bodily resurrection is a sufficient basis of salvation. Tony has, as recently as several weeks ago, affirmed these very things.

      Why would you and sister Antonette take such liberties with Tony’s soul by sending it to hell in contradiction to a clear, literal interpretation of Romans?

      #postfundementalistprobs

  • Todd

    Peter had a vision that cleared that up, Scott. Are you really trying to say that on that basis the bible doesn’t speak against sexual sin? Should we throw the law out all together? I think I will throw out my bible just because I don’t understand why God chose to give the law. While I am at it maybe I should throw out the doctrine of hell because my god wouldn’t make a hell. This is fun, my god is starting to remind me of Tony or myself. The problem is that now my god is unable to save me from my sin.

    • http://scottpaeth.typepad.com Scott Paeth

      Yes, Peter did have a vision, and if it applies to pork and shellfish, it also applies to homosexual sex. Should we throw out the law altogether? Yes! Yes, with regard to the question of whether we are SAVED. BY. IT. That’s the whole point!

      Why did God give the law? As a tutor, until Christ came. Throw out the doctrine of hell? Yes! There is no *doctrine of hell* in the Bible. You’re right, this is fun. I’m enjoying watching you embrace good sense.

  • Tim Heebner

    As someone who, 10 years ago, was exactly at the place Antonette is at now, I would not respond at all. Christ’s message was for those who have ears to hear. The harvest is not ready yet.

    • Simon

      Tim,

      You make a lot of sense.

  • http://www.sarahcunningham.org Sarah

    Yes to some of the questions being raised. Couldn’t any of us be errant in our positions on individual issues, but still demonstrate genuine belief in God? Why isn’t there grace for us, regardless of our perceived place on the religious landscape, to simply be accused of being wrong on some things, rather than being labeled as in league with Satan?

    Mercy, not sacrifice.

  • Todd

    How do you any of you deal with Romans chapter 1, 1 Corinthians 5, or Hebrews 10: 26-27. This is really not about winning, it is about what God has written and what is true.

    • http://scottpaeth.typepad.com Scott Paeth

      Oh for Pete’s sake. It’s not like we haven’t rehashed these things ad infinitum. Todd, I get that within your blinkered and narrow conception of what the Bible is and how it should be read, any attempt to remove your imposition of an arbitrary framework on it is an awful, awful thing. I disagree with you about that, and although you’ll never acknowledge it, my interpretation is at least as valid as yours.

      So, I’ll just say a few things: First, even if I’m wrong about everything regarding homosexuality, it doesn’t matter, because THE LAW DOESN’T SAVE. We are saved by Grace, and that Grace is available to us, not because we check off the right boxes on your “who to hate” list, but simply because we acknowledge our status as sinners and are aware of our need for God’s grace. This is, at the end of the day, the one and only bottom line issue. Everything else — everything else — is secondary, at best.

      Second, I’m totally comfortable with a reading of the Bible that says that, regarding Romans, I’m completely happy with the possibility that Paul may have been wrong, or bounded by his historical and cultural context, or addressing a more or less narrow issue within the context of Roman society, vis., temple prostitution and the sexual exploitation of children and vulnerable women. There are others who make very strong arguments on the other side. I get that. I disagree with that interpretation.

      As for the Corinthian passage, it deals with a separate issue entirely. As for the Hebrews passage, thats you engaging in classic question-begging.

      And you’re right, it’s not about winning. Yet, it seems whenever this subject comes up in these contexts, the folks on your side of the issue seem pretty solidly committed to winning. My position is straightforward: There are competing interpretations of this issue that are possible on a scriptural basis. You’re welcome to your interpretation. Mine might be wrong. But if I believe in a God of Grace, I believe that that grace is open to me, right or wrong, because my human condition is always one of being first and foremost in the wrong.

      That’s why Christianity is not about being right. It’s about Grace. And that Grace allows us the freedom to be wrong as honestly as we can be, and right with as little self-regard as possible.

      • http://gravatar.com/rollieb RollieB

        Scott get’s my vote for best reply, so far! (for what that’s worth)

      • Kyle

        Scott, I’m probably more in line with Todd’s position on this issue…but I absolutely LOVE your response and tone! And, my understanding of grace would cause me to completely agree with you regarding the consequences of one’s “rightness” or “wrongness” on any given issue. Well done.

  • http://www.sarahcunningham.org Sarah

    Todd, here is what I’m asking, I guess. Did Jesus require those “on his side” to intellectual assent to a list of ideas (of which we could identify hundreds, even thousands, and then attach them to various chapters and verses)? Or did he mark conversion in terms of belief in God, a willful choice to internalize and embody the ways of Jesus … and then give them space to grow through the details? I still have more conservative bearings than some of the commenters here, but I can respect we still may answer this question differently.

  • http://www.godandneighbor.org Vicki A

    I think that the advice in Matthew 7:16 with regard to true and false prophets applies here. “You shall know them by their fruits.” In addition to scripture, we must allow the Holy Spirit to help us discern what is true. Truth is dynamically alive and can’t be captured with words alone.

  • Todd

    Scott, your interpretation of the bible is just as invalid as mine. I am just as sinful as everyone else, I sin everyday in thought, word and deed. God sent his son to redeem a poor miserable sinner like me, and if he can save me he can save anyone. All that I am saying is that if I am redeemed by the blood of Christ I will not continue in willful, continual, and unrepentant sin only by God’s grace and the power of the Holy Spirit. Instead, I will continue to do the evil that I do not want to do, and fail in doing the good that I want to do. That being said, I do not get to define sin, redefine sin, or say that I do not sin. Whether it is lust, greed, idolatry, or murder, I am guilty. God saved me anyway because he is merciful.

    • http://scottpaeth.typepad.com Scott Paeth

      We can quite literally go around and around on this. So this will be my final word on the subject as far as this thread goes:

      “I will not continue in willful, continual, and unrepentant sin” — yes you will. that’s the human condition. The good news isn’t that you stop, but that you’re forgiven.

      “I do not get to redefine sin” — your problem here is that you think that you’ve got *the* definition and I’m *redefining.* What I’m saying is that we’re both trying to honestly discern. I disagree with your interpretation of what constitutes sin. Again, if pork is in, then so is gay sex. If you don’t want the gay sex, you don’t get the pork either, or the mixed fabrics, or the shellfish, or the sleeping with menstruating women.

      It’s an all or nothing proposition. You want to say “nothing but the stuff I disapprove of on completely separate grounds.” I say you don’t get to make that choice. If you want to disapprove of gay sex, fine by me, but don’t do it while eating a bacon double cheeseburger on a Saturday wearing a cotton shirt and a wool sweater.

      What I take from Peter’s vision is this: It’s all or nothing, and God wants us to pick nothing.

    • Nick Gotts

      If you’re guilty of murder, you should turn yourself into the police. If you’re not, you shouldn’t say falsely that you are.

      • Nick Gotts

        Er – that should be “in to the police”, not “into”.

  • Todd

    Scott, I understand what you are saying but on what basis would Jesus have to say in Matthew 7:21, depart from me you evil doers I never knew you.

    • http://gravatar.com/cwgmpls Curtis

      You will know them by their fruits.

  • http://scottpaeth.typepad.com Scott Paeth

    I think there are a number of possible interpretations of that passage, and I don’t think I need to pick which one MUST be true to the exclusion of the others. But before I go on, I think it’s important that we agree that this passage has got *absolutely nothing* with the issues we were discussing, or that Antoinette seems to be gesturing toward, which ought to be of some significance.

    So, I’d offer a few possible vectors for analysis: First, I think the passage isn’t really about salvation, but about the meaning and purpose of Jesus’ ministry, which is to bring good news to the outcast and downtrodden, and the point of the parable is to instruct his followers to do likewise.

    Second, it should be noted that what separates the sheep from the goats has nothing to do with their sexuality or even their theological dogmas. It has SOLELY to do with whether one has taken sides with the poor and come to their aid. This is consistent with much else that Jesus says throughout his ministry.

    Third, there is always a tension between the Pauline “faith not works” emphasis and the teaching of Jesus, which emphasizes a strongly apocalyptic “get your house in order” agenda. I think that tension is important and necessary.

    Fourth, I want to make clear that I’m not saying morality doesn’t matter. I’m saying that morality doesn’t save us. And that any theology that forgets this fact tends to slide quite quickly and annoyingly into self-righteous cant.

    Fifth, I tend to like Hans Urs von Balthassar’s interpretation of this material, where he notes a tension between the pre- and post-resurrection Jesus on this stuff.

    Sixth, I think that it’s entirely possible that threats of this kind are real and should be taken seriously. But again, always within the context of trying to discern carefully, and in full knowledge of our own fallibility, what the parameters are between what is granted and what is forbidden.

    Seventh, and finally, if we’re basing our previous conversation on the question of the freedom of Christians from adherence to the Jewish law, then the all-or-nothing issue only pertains to the question of what conforms to the Jewish ritual law. To say you are free from the law doesn’t mean you are free from morality. Neither can save you, neither can condemn you, but you are still obligated to the moral law in a way that you are not to the ritual law.

  • Ric Shewell

    Do you respond to all of these? What a waste of your time. Good luck, brother. I might just create a standard generic email thanking people for their comments and responses that goes to every email like this.

    Don’t waste your time and brain energy on arguments and complaints that are barely real.

  • Paul W

    Dear Antontonette,

    Thank you for bringing that to my attention.

    Tony

  • http://viewfromtheheights.wordpress.com Tom LeGrand

    You could try something like this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sBU6JFjSL3Q

    Not my choice, just sayin’…

    • http://www.wearebranches.com rsjm

      Haha! That’s the best post on this whole thread. :)

  • http://explorereading.net Eric Pettersson

    I read this post last night, and today came across this line in John Shelby Spong’s book, The Easter Moment:

    “They will be threatened, and they will attack the searching, probing, theologically uncertain Christian in the name of their idolatrous theological security systems. Such attacks should be expected, welcomed, endured, and finally ignored.”

    That sounds like some pretty wise advice to me.

  • Hellsander

    Whats funny with this new funky progressive movement is that the only sin you can commit is talking about sin…

    And then the followers get upset when some one points out the fact: this is a anti-christian movement.

    Oh my, americans do be crazy….


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