When It’s Safe To Go Negative

When It’s Safe To Go Negative June 13, 2018

The old adage has it that if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all. This could be the tag line for evangelicalism in the United States. After all, the original neo-evangelical-turned-evangelical movement, the one we associate with the National Association of Evangelicals, Fuller Seminary, Billy Graham, and Christianity Today, started precisely to accentuate the positive. For the 1940s leaders of born-again evangelicals, fundamentalism was separatist, sectarian, intolerant — in other words, negative. Evangelicals wanted to stand for the same truths that fundamentalists affirmed but to do so in a winsome way. Mr. Rogers could have been their poster boy.

What such positivity means is that evangelicals instinctively want to affirm and avoid denial or rejection. The standard style of most evangelical ministries, leaders, and even outlooks is to look for the good in a cultural expression, a Christian witness, a devotional book, an evangelical sermon, a social movement. Evangelicals succeed by providing followers with inspiration and aspiration. How is the world becoming a better place, how can believers be encouraged, what is the good intention behind this person or event? To find the negative consequences of a good sermon, the possible fallout from an okay book, or the troubling repercussions of a seemingly generic production evangelicals need to look generally to Protestants with a gift for criticism. Some of those believers congregate in denominations that still affirm creeds from the Reformation, adhere to older forms of worship, and follow procedures of church government that restrict ecclesiastical free agency. In other works, if you want criticism, you generally look to a Lutheran or a Reformed Protestant (read Calvinist). But too often, evangelicals regard such Reformational Protestants as mean.

With these considerations in mind, Beth Moore’s recent criticism of Southern Baptist male leaders is a violation of evangelical niceness. Think, for instance, about some of the most popular evangelical women’s authors and see how much they engage in criticism of negative analysis, in this case, Jen Wilkin’s blog:

how to end sibling rivalry like a christian
May 2, 2017 siblings, parenting, motherhood
I blogged over at Christianity Today about why and how we raised our kids to live their lives as BFF’s:

Sibling friendship is a counter-cultural notion. TV shows, movies, and books rarely portray siblings as allies. Sibling rivalry has been elevated from an occasional challenge to the cultural norm.

Under this norm, parents function as referees and judges—breaking up fights, assigning blame, and steering siblings to leave each other alone. But the Bible indicates that siblinghood (both spiritual and physical) consists of more than simply tolerating each other.

I’ve been pondering Proverbs 18:24: “One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” True friendship is a gift of the rarest kind. When the writer of Proverbs wants us to conceive of the deepest form of friendship, he says, in essence, “Imagine a depth of friendship that exceeds even that between siblings.” He points to siblinghood as the gold standard.
Read More →

Oct 2, 2016 bible study, the gospel, women
Beware the Instagram Bible, my daughters – those filtered frames festooned with feathered verses, adorned in all manner of loops and tails, bedecked with blossoms, saturated with sunsets, culled and curated just for you.

Beware lest it become for you your source of daily bread. It is telling a partial truth.
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on empty nests, christian mommy-guilt, and misplaced identity
Sep 2, 2016 motherhood, parenting
I blogged over at TGC about the fear many Christian moms feel about their love for their kids competing with their love for Jesus. While there certainly are idolatrous ways to love our kids, I wanted to explore how our love for both our kids and Jesus could coexist rather than compete. I hope you find it helpful:
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trading self-focus for self-forgetfulness and awe
Jul 30, 2016 bible study, creation, gender, women
I blogged over at Desiring God recently on a pervasive problem within women’s gatherings and resources – a preoccupation with self-focus instead of God-focus. I hope you find it helpful!
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our kids and our calendars
May 13, 2016 motherhood, parenting
On a recent Thursday night I was invited to speak at Living Hope Memphis on the topic of how to keep the family calendar from becoming overwhelmed with activities. Our discussion was framed under the overarching question:

“As a Christian parent, what is your greatest hope for your child?”
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my hope for readers of “none like him”
Apr 30, 2016 beauty, bible study, holiness, worship, writing
Today is the official release date for None Like Him! I wrote this book because of two convictions I hold regarding the importance of knowing what the Bible says about God’s character.

Meditating on God’s character enriches our understanding of Scripture.
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are compatibility and complementarity at odds?
Mar 29, 2016 Genesis, creation, honor, marriage
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FAQ: how should i handle anger when disciplining?
Jan 22, 2016 FAQ, motherhood, parenting
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strategizing “time in the word” for a new year
Dec 31, 2015 bible study
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FAQ: should I curtail grandparent gift-giving?
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Beth Moore herself only two months before the Paige Patterson controversy posted this at her blog:

The Promised Pound Cake Recipe
February 28th, 2018 Media
Tags: Posted in Living Proof Live, Uncategorized
Hey you Ft. Lauderdale girls! As promised, here is Beth’s go-to pound cake recipe. I pray it blesses you (and your neighbor)!

5 Flavor Pound Cake:

2 sticks butter, softened
1/2 cup Crisco shortening
3 cups sugar
5 eggs, well-beaten
3 cups flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 cup milk
1 tsp. each of vanilla, lemon, almond, coconut and butter flavor extracts

In a mixer, combine butter and Crisco until smooth. Add sugar and beat until fluffy. Add eggs and mix. In a small bowl, blend together dry ingredients: flour, baking powder and salt. Add in flour mixture, alternately with milk. Mix in extracts. Pour into well greased and floured tube pan. Bake at 325 degrees for 1 and 1/2 hours. Let cool completely before you turn it out of the pan. That means you’ll need to make it about four hours in advance of serving. You can put a glaze on it but it doesn’t need it. You can also throw some fresh strawberries or blueberries on it with whipped cream.

Not much Donald Trump or Robert Mueller there.

This kind of positivity and practicality is what made Ms. Moore’s rebuke of the SBC amazing.

So what happened? Is the culture of male dominance so bad that encouraging women finally needed to recover the fundamentalist manner? That’s one possible explanation.

Another is that evangelicals will go negative when it is safe. When the mainstream journalists, university professors, and the general mood of the culture is strong against something, like President Trump, like Paige Patterson, like police brutality, then its time to join the chorus.

That’s okay for evangelicals to add to the number of protesters and op-ed writers. It’s a free country and some things are so bad that everyone agrees.

But let’s not call that prophetic. Biblical prophets were not of the majority.

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