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Paper-Cut Persecution

I have found myself coming across a lot of in the media and online from North American Christians referring to themselves as suffering for their faith or even being persecuted.  almost without exception, when I dig into their issues it most often is a situation where Christians have lost a place of privilege in our culture (one that we should perhaps not have had in the first place), but are responding to it as though they are being put to the rack.

We’ve all ready Matthew 5:10-12:

“Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,     for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

At one time or another I am sure that most of us have wondered if our lack of persecution was somehow an indictment that we were not living as Christ commanded, and perhaps there is some truth to that. However, in the light of the freedom and peace we do experience as Western Christians, we need to be aware of two potential dangers in this respect.

First, we must be careful not to over-inflate our struggles as though they are persecution when they clearly are not. While we should engage in civil discourse about things we believe strongly about, I believe it dishonours the prophets and martyrs who have gone before us (and who truly suffer even now around the world) to claim that we are persecuted and suffering for such things as no prayer in schools or marriage equality.  Yet far too many of us do just that.

This is what I call becoming “paper-cut martyrs,” people who inflate their own righteousness by treating legitimate but relatively minor struggles and challenges as though they were in the arena standing before lions. Let us not dishonour God or those who truly suffer in any attempt to boost our own spiritual status. After all, it is for Christ’s sake that we suffer, being no reflection of our own merit or worth.  Where it is not being done to build up our own so-called holiness, it is being done out of faithless and selfish fear- a fear we claim to have been liberated from by Christ, where death itself has no sting!

Second, if we make mistakes or treat people poorly in the name of God, it is not persecution when they attack us or Christianity as a result. It is shameful, for example, to claim that we are “under siege” by some ambiguous “gay agenda”, citing how many LGBTQ people openly criticize and attack the church. The fact is that Western Christians have little idea what it has been like for the millions of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people to live with such universal hatred and abuse, often at the hands of the church and in the name of Christ. That Christians have largely mistreated these people for centuries is not even debatable. While hatred is never justified, it is not difficult to understand why we have been cast as the enemy.  We have earned every bit of the distrust and anger directed towards us. Therefore, to call their attacks persecution is like willfully knocking down a hornets nest and then claiming innocence when getting stung.

It is important to name and repent of these kinds of dynamics whenever we see them.  There is also a place for the prophetic rebuke of our fellow believers for perpetuating this way of thinking and acting.  However, we must also remember that the best rebuke of bad behavior is a life dedicated to living the better alternative.  Now more than ever we the world needs to see an alternative witness from Christians- people willing to put themselves out there in humility and repentance, even when it is socially and religiously unpopular to do so.

Sadly, such faithfulness itself can result in suffering at the hands of other Christians.  The final beatitudes foreshadow the inevitable suffering and death that comes with being true to the teachings and example of Jesus, for it points clearly to the cross. The undeniable sin and brokenness in the world, in our communities and in our hearts mean that suffering and death are inevitable, even necessary. However, we must remember that we are blessed! We can rejoice and be glad because not even death can stop the kingdom that is breaking forth. In fact, it is through death that the miracle of resurrection brings hope and salvation to all creation.

(adapted from my book “The Cost of Community: Jesus, St. Francis & Life in the Kingdom”)

52 Comments

  1. Sadly, over the millennia, much of the suffering involving Christians (victims and perpetrators) has come ‘in the Name of Christ’. Whether it be persecutions of each other, or of other faiths or, as is the case today, the battle many see their duty against those of differing sexual orientation to me shows a tragic pattern.
    Why are we so easily led away from the heart Of God when He calls us to LOVE Him, with all of our very diverse hearts and each other as He loved us? Why must we continually build and embrace the bitter divisive walls of ignorance and hate instead of embracing God and each other?
    Your paper cut analogy is too true. May He take us with His nail scarred hands and lead us away from the sense of entitlements we too easily cherish to the Passion of His Love and mercy.

  2. Bruderthaler

    Is a great premise but the use of “we” and “they” with “we” being Christians who persecute “others” such as “gays” excludes “gays and allies” from the term “Christian”… this is the same disease that threatens Phoenix in that “We” are anxious about and trying to respond to “their” concerns… “they” being illegal immigrants and their allies.

    Can it be that Christ’s church now has a “we” and a “they”?

    Is it implied that “gay” Christian, or “immigrant” Christians are not really Christians, but those who “hate” them are?

    It cannot be said that “hatred” is a problem in the Christian church. A church that “hates” is neither a peace church, nor Christian. Sometimes it seems that “hate” is the only sin conservative Christians not only tolerate but cultivate.

    Though a conservative Mennonite myself, I have never been able to reconcile “hate” with the requirement to love and to preach the Word. We feared and disagreed with the Communists, but did not “hate” them. We disagreed with abortion providers but did not “hate” them.

    When did “hatred” become merely a spiritual oversight rather than a base sin?

    Thanks and thanks for the opportunity to respond. Keep writing! — Bruderthaler

  3. Jamie (Author)

    Bruderthaler, it is a tricky dynamic whenever I write. The “we” and “they” are clumsy ways of keeping subject and object distinct in order to keep the meaning distinct. The brevity of blogging makes this even more tricky.

    So that we are clear, I do not believe that Christians and gays are two different groups, because there is a great deal of overlap. Further, I included myself when addressing Christians who exclude “the other” because I believe in One Body, despite my rejection of many of their choices.

  4. Great piece, Jamie. I especially appreciated the reminder of how foolishly myopic (myopically foolish?) it is to equate this or that perceived lack of (probably unhealthy and unbiblical) cultural influence with the genuine persecution suffered by those who have gone before us.

    (I like the new look of the blog.)

  5. Jamie (Author)

    Thanks Ryan.

  6. Hi Jamie,

    Personal opinion, but the moment of *real* persecution for most living in Western Christianity has not yet arrived – something about reaping what we’ve sown comes to mind. Eastern Christians, on the other hand, live under the threat of death and are barely heard over the cries of the paper-cut ones; oh, that’s right – I forgot who determines what stories get reported here.

    Great post! I’ll be back!

    • mike

      ‘oh, that’s right – I forgot who determines what stories get reported here.” hahahaha…good one!

  7. Eli

    solid word/insight/rebuke. if only more heard this and took it to heart.
    This is a reason i welcome certain law and social changes that many christians resist. there are better battles to fight.
    The point about us/we and them/they is critical. We must not buy into the dominant discourse within christendom such that men/authorities get to decide who is in and who is out.

  8. mike

    “it is not difficult to understand why we have been cast as the enemy. We have earned every bit of the distrust and anger directed towards us. Therefore, to call their attacks persecution is like willfully knocking down a hornets nest and then claiming innocence when getting stung.”

    Great contemplation. What can be any more Glorious than to be the Noble martyr?. I think the whole model(our interpretation) of christianity was,is and always will be flawed by the premise that WE insist the other guy needs ‘saving’ and WE are the one(s) to do it. I think this stems from our narcissism and the egos obsession to be a Hero.In reality,it has nothing whatsoever to do with God..it’s all about us.

  9. I’ve had to have conversations with people about subjects like this. They would walk door to door saying, “Do you know where you will go tonight if you die?” when people opened the door. They counted it as persecution when the door slammed in their faces.

    Not persecution. There’s a difference between being persecuted and being a jerk (though I think I used the vernacular for ‘donkey’)

  10. David Douglas

    You have some very needed pushback, here. Please consider it in light of the scripture used. Some Christians have been very malicious toward homosexuals. And they should be disciplined for their malice. But preaching the gospel and condemning a sinful practice is not malice. Note that on Mars Hill, as elsewhere, Paul was looking for the wholesale desctrution of an idolatrous culture via repentance and turning to the gospel. First thing to do was to disabuse them of their own practice. And if you think there wasn’t at least implicit (and inescapable) mockery in Paul’s speach, then keep reading until you do.

    http://dougwils.com/s29-culture-and-politics/on-receipt-of-the-17th-arrow.html

  11. Brandon

    In case you’re interested, Doug Wilson has responded to this article and makes some very good points. You can find it here:

    http://dougwils.com/s29-culture-and-politics/on-receipt-of-the-17th-arrow.html

  12. In the passage you quoted, Jesus pronounces a blessing on those who are insulted and have evil things falsely said against them. In the same way, i.e. insults and false accusations, the prophets and martyrs were persecuted. While there may be a physical distinction in the brutality of the persecution, Jesus pronounces a blessing on all three just the same. So when people merely speak evil against Christians for speaking up about righteousness, that’s in the same category of persecution. It wouldn’t insult God or the prophets and martyrs to say that there is blessing involved in those types of persecution, even though it does not involve bloodshed.

  13. Jamie (Author)

    Kyle, you are missing a key line in there. If you are insulted because of me, NOT because you were a jerk in the name of Jesus. I think that is a critical distinction that needs to be made. Just because someone insults you AS a Christian or because of something you did/said in which it claimed to be Christian, if it was unChristlike, then I do not believe they fall under this beautitude.

  14. Jamie (Author)

    David, I think a clear reading of what I wrote does not once state that teaching against sin is wrong. I am clear about what I reject in this piece, which does not cover that. Interestingly, it is generally when I write about this topic that people make this point, despite the fact that no such statement was made. Why do you think that is?

  15. Jamie (Author)

    For those who have linked to Doug Wilson, I am considering a response to his post. However, I am reticent to do so because of the way he has chosen to represent my views. There are points of explicit misrepresentation. Further, from the tone of comments in the blog, I’ve decided not to respond in that context either. We do not have to agree, but we should at least treat each others perspective with honesty and respect.

  16. David Douglas

    I think that is because it is a point that you don’t make. And if that caveat is not agreed to, then it becomes a puzzle as to you mean by this:

    “The fact is that Western Christians have little idea what it has been like for the millions of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people to live with such universal hatred and abuse, often at the hands of the church and in the name of Christ.”

    If you are not referring to actionable malicious behavior (with respect to discipline) then what are you referring to? Maybe a bit more specificity is called for here? Would you discipline (after clear teaching and admonitions) an unrepentant cohabitating couple, practiciing homosexual? If not, why not? You words echo the wouded sentiment of the alphabet-soup of communitie–of course they are not going to be happy with a gospel-based disapproval of their lives (the Jews weren’t happy with Steven’s speech either), but why are you not happy with it? What is the thing we are doing wrong if my caveat is already burned into your argument?

  17. David Douglas

    One sentence is not clear and I’ve rewritten it. My apologies:

    “Would you discipline (after clear teaching and admonitions) an unrepentant cohabitating couple [of any sexual persuasion], [would you disciplne a] practiciing homosexual? “

  18. Jamie (Author)

    David, such logic demands an impossible standard to keep- one you do not keep with your own comments.

  19. David Douglas

    Jamie,
    I’m genuinely confused. Could you (and I’m being sincere) explain what you mean by:
    1) me not keeping my own standards? It sounds like I’ve said something wrong, and if so I want to evaluate that claim and as far as it depends on me be at peace with all men.

    2) Impossible standards: The questions are not difficult to answer. What are these offenses? Is homosexuality or fornication for that matter, actionable for discipline?

    My questions above are sincere.

    David

  20. Jamie (Author)

    David, I am going to respectfully decline responding. I shouldn’t have bothered saying what I did. The offenses are simply any treatment of others in the name of Christ that is unworthy of His name. I am not going to get into the specifics about my beliefs about homosexuality because that is not the purpose of this post. I am tired of that being the default place conversations like this go whenever the topic comes up. It saddens me how many Christians still want to place greater emphasis on the sins of others when the topic is about addressing our own failings. Peace.

  21. Ricardo

    Hi Jamie

    I gather that you approve of neither active homosexuality nor mistreatment of LGBTQ persons. You also grieve at the likes of Westboro Baptist Church and historical unloving treatment of homosexuals and others.

    If that is correct, then I’m 100% with you. But whenever a genuine loving Christian is described as being “filled with hate” and shouted out of the public square for her Christian beliefs, it appears you would say “Jesus wasn’t thinking of you in Matthew 5. That’s not persecution. To call their attacks persecution is like wilfully knocking down a hornets nest and then claiming innocence when getting stung”.

    I think (with Doug Wilson) that this falls within the category Jesus had in mind in Matthew 5:11-12. Your response to this Christian must be either (a) that’s just not happening, I don’t believe anyone would do that to you; (b) the members of Westboro Baptist Church were being prats so you had it coming; or (c) you were being a prat and had it coming.

    If (a) then I would say, look around you and understand the times (1 Chron 12:32). Have a look at this: http://www.canonwired.com/bloomington/

    If (b), then I would say Westboro (I think we would agree) is spreading a false gospel, and there is therefore no “we” when it comes to me and Westboro. Isn’t being falsely accused on their account exactly what Jesus was thinking in Matt 5:11-12?

    If (c), well, you may want to pause and reflect on which team you’re batting for.

  22. Jamie (Author)

    I cannot help but wonder if I would have cited any other issue other than homosexuality if this is the push-back I would have received. Just a thought.

    • Ricardo

      Hi again Jamie, you must appreciate that this is something of a hot-button issue at the moment, and somewhat controversial, so I would guess the answer is no, you wouldn’t have got the same level of response.

  23. KSM

    Perhaps if you had not so universally attacked other Christians then you would not be getting the push back you are experiencing.

    • Jamie (Author)

      KSM, that is the same misrepresentation that Doug Wilson presented, carefully selecting my words and ignoring others. There is nothing close to a universal attack on other Christians. First, I was inclusive, citing myself as being among Christians needing to change. Second, I mentioned drawing these conclusions about specific news sources, citing only one generalization about most Western Christians and even that was not an attack.

  24. Jamie (Author)

    Ricardo, to the substance of the post, it shouldn’t matter. The response only further highlights the concerns I have. Not surprised, but disappointed.

  25. Jamie, I have made a similar point to some of my friends in other contexts–that when we say we are being persecuted, we minimize the suffering faced by other Christians experiencing much worse persecution. In my own life I have seen Christians in Zimbabwe show greater love and courage than I have needed in anything that has happened to us in Canada or the USA.

    But, even while agreeing, I get the angst that many Christians in North America feel. Alister McGrath has written (I think in “The Twilight of Atheism” or something like that) that the only country besides Russia that has tried to scrub the public square clean of religious symbols is Canada. Are you surprised that Christians sometimes feel that the establishment is against us?

    Certainly we dare not respond with hatred or anger–the beatitudes make that clear, along with Paul in Romans 12 and the whole history of the best in Christian theology. But at least we can acknowledge our own fears.

    I have seen how the academy (in my case) routinely categorises Christian perspective as worthy only of ridicule. A philosopher being interviewed on CBC Radio 1 stated that ridicule is the most appropriate response for many Christian statements. (A Muslim on the panel that day took him to task for this statement!)

    No, we are not persecuted like Christians in [pick your favourite worst case]; but it remains true that Christian views are not welcome in the Canadian public square.

    I did not read your whole blog carefully. You may well have said this too. Just my two cents (which now that pennies have disappeared from the scene gets rounded down to zero!)

    • Jamie (Author)

      Darryl, you are right that there are legitimate concerns about how Christians are treated in our Western context. And while it isn’t persecution (which is the ultimate point of this post), it is not therefore unimportant.

      That said, I worry at the sense of entitlement that accompanies so many of the concerns Christians in Canada/USA express. Expressing our fears is important, but more through the lens of confession than indignant (even petulant) complaint.

      In the end, insults to genuine expressions of our faith are covered under the beatitudes, but it announces that we are blessed even in the midst of it. Therefore, we need to start acting like it.

      Your 2 cents are always welcomed and appreciated!

  26. David Douglas

    Jaime,

    Well it’s your prerogative to respond how you wish, but a I have few parting comments for this topic.

    In bio you say: You are a “pastor whose passion is to pursue radical faithfulness to Jesus”. Which is great. But as a pastor you are a shephard and you go always lead (or provide a direction for followers) whether you lead or not. As a pastor it shouldn’t be seems reasonable to ask you to be specific about the horrible sins we need to repent of…which isn’t referring, according to you, the bone-headed malice that everyone agrees needs to be called to repentance. So if it doesn’t include that, what does it include? You are the one who opened the conversation and you non-specifically indicted the church and apparently yourself. Is it too much to ask what exactly the sin looks like, and what exactly the repentence and modified behavior looks like. That was my first question.

    My second question came because frankly the logic of your post made me wonder if the “sin” you are refering to is what many would call faithfully asking the sexuually immoral who by the way will not inherit the kingdom of God, to repent…along with theives, murderers, gossips and the proud. It seemd to be the only alternative left. As for “homosexuality” bringing all this out, note first I asked about the heterosexually impure.

    Your trumpet sound for repentance is an uncertain call. Please don’t be surprised if someone asks what the note means. Radical faithfulness really needs specifics. God summed up the law in two commandments but he got very specific about that over the course of 66 books.

    Lastly scripture and church history is replete with sexual sin as it relates to apostasy. It doesn’t happen all at once. But shifting sexual convictions is integral to the whole thing. Thats another reason why people respond to such posts this way.

  27. David Douglas

    Again I was careless in my proof reading:

    Which is great. But as a pastor you are a shephard and you always lead (or provide a direction for followers) whether you lead or not. As a pastor it shouldn’t seem [un]reasonable to ask you to be specific about the horrible sins we need to repent of…

  28. Jamie (Author)

    David, I was not surprised by the response, but disappointed at how often Christians insist on making a post about us taking responsibility for our own sins to one in which we focus on that of others. I am far from the perfect pastor, so I appreciate your kind advice. Thanks.

  29. Brittany

    Watched a documentary yesterday about Country Singer Chely Wright who was the first country singer to come out as gay.

    In the documentary she was being counseled by her Pastor (A Christian Pastor mind you) and he said something so profound to me that I played it over again. He was giving her advice about what to expect from the Christian Community and the Country Fans when she was honest with herself and them.

    He said: “Are you ready for people to reject your truth? And reject you when you say it? I’ve got to tell you I think there are going to be some bad times. I’ve often said there is no one quite as mean as people who are being mean for Jesus.”

    So true. Good article.

  30. Brittany

    David you said, “sexuually immoral who by the way will not inherit the kingdom of God”

    I think you should leave that decision up to God, since… it is actually his decision who will inherit his Kingdom. The Bible was written by man who is imperfect. God makes the decisions and I believe he will see what is in their hearts.

  31. Thanks, Jamie. Two more thoughts.

    1) Perhaps we should not call our experiences “persecution”–but they are more than paper cuts. The AUCC (Association of Universities and Colleges in Canada) is trying to make sure that schools like CMU and Providence are excluded from serious academic work because we are faith-based. This is not a case of worrying about a privilege we have lost. This is a case of not being allowed to join the academic discussion.

    (I used to work for a print shop, so maybe paper cuts is a good image. Paper cuts can genuinely hurt and may indeed be a serious problem! In popular usage, they serve as a way to say: Don’t worry about it. That feels like a put-down.)

    2) I agree that the church has not handled itself well in regard to homosexuality. I notice, however, that the US government now attaches the condition that countries hold our official position on equality for GLBTQ in order to receive aid from the US. (I don’t know if Canada does the same or not.) I grew up in the British colony of Rhodesia. I recognize imperialism when I see it.

    Similarly, I heard Bishop Sponge in the Episcopalian Church in the US say (in a public speech), “The African Bishops who oppose gay equality in marriage do so because they are primitive.” I also recognize racism when I hear it.

    All of which is to say that there is enough nastiness on all sides to go around. I agree wholeheartedly that we begin by applying the beatitudes in our own lives. (We could put it in terms of showing the fruit of the Spirit in our own lives.) But I don’t think it helps to minimize the real political actions of the establishment. (Not to seek to become establishment ourselves, but to speak clearly to all people around us of God’s love and of God’s justice.)

    Thanks for your work and writing and constant thinking and loving, Jamie.

    Daryl

    • Jamie (Author)

      Daryl, I think you are still missing the mark a little. My use of paper-cut is explicitly used alongside persecution. Are the academia issues you cite legitimate? Yes. Are the serious? Yes. Do they cause suffering? You’d be hard pressed to convince me, especially relative to the history of Christian martyrdom. Is it persecution? No, it is not. So given that paper-cut and persecution are linked, I firmly stand by the usage.

      As for the nastiness on all sides, I am not arguing otherwise. My point is this: We are responsibility for our nastiness. Until we take unqualified, unconditional responsibility for our failings, we stand on weak ground naming that of others. Apart from that repentance, we too often lack the grace and mutuality necessary for genuine change.

      I am in no way suggesting that we minimize the real political actions of the establishment. I am saying that we need to stop playing the victim and focus first and foremost on our failings. Then, and ONLY then, will we have any hope to stand against the injustices in the world.

      Thanks, my friend.

  32. Desmond Jones

    You say, “Until we take unqualified, unconditional responsibility for our failings, we stand on weak ground naming that of others.”

    One of the failings we need to take resonsibility for is sympathizing with the homosexual cause and listening to their complaints that we are mean for calling homosexuality an unqualified sin. It is a gross failure to confuse (as Wilson put it) the antagonist for the protagonist.

    And, by the way, we ought not to care if the academy gives us a voice or not. Why do we want them to approve our standard?

    • Jamie (Author)

      Desmond, we do far more than that which needs repentance of, but again, you present another example of how prone we are to make excuses to put others sins before our own. And again, the point of this post is illustrated, sadly.

      • Desmond Jones

        I provide no such example in what I wrote – and to say such is to take me out of context in the way you yourself (above) do not appreciate being done with your words.

        Confess your own sins first and deal with them. Just don’t sympathize with people who say we are being mean, bigoted, intolerant, etc. when we are calling sin what the Bible calls sin. After the log is out of your eye. Just make sure you actually take the log out, and when it is out, be faithful with the next step of calling sin ‘sin.’

        • Jamie (Author)

          I disagree, Desmond. Since I never once mentioned “calling sin ‘sin'”, to make that the focus here is to avoid the point, in my opinion.

  33. Erica

    I just wanted to thank you for posting this article. I’m very encouraged to see Christians like yourself acting in such a humble, human and loving way. I grew up with Christianity, then left at a young age due to not wanting to align myself with the people I saw there. I have recently been looking into it as an adult and people like you and your work give me faith in Christianity.

  34. Jessica

    True and timely! Thanks for this!

  35. James
  36. A doctor who tells all his patients “you’re healthy” when some of them need drastic, painful treatment is (1) loving or (2) a murderer? A doctor whose bedside manner makes it hard to heed his accurate diagnosis and triply hard to swallow his prescription is (1) better or (2) worse than the first doctor? May God bless us with doctors better than either, doctors with both the bedside manner and the surgical skill of the President of presidents and Judge of judges.

    Was Jesus loving when (like all the prophets and apostles) His message could be summed up in the one word “Repent!”? Was Peter loving at Pentecost when he proclaimed “You murdered the Messiah!”? If such details are how Christian love works, let us, as nicely as may be, do likewise, eh?

    I have posted more than once elsewhere that fornication, divorce and adultery are more popular among “evangelicals” than homosexuality is, and may qualify as beams we should remove before tackling “gay” twigs. (Cases and callings differ in details). But you’ve been asked, and whatever your “focus” the question is relevant, would you, as a pastor, go through Mt 18 with a sexual sinner/s–of whatever kind–and, if they won’t heed the church, “hand them over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh that the spirit may be saved in the day of Christ Jesus” as per I Cor? Or do you draw no sexual lines at all? (Not that sexual lines are the only lines to draw–you posted that yourself–but do you draw any? If so, briefly where?)

  37. David Douglas

    Jamie,

    I’m going to put my oar in again, as well as remind anywone reading that other than the assertion that the christians have been wicked toward homosexuals and we need to knock it off, you have not been at all specific as to what that might be.

    I can safely say that Desmond and I share the same framework–one that says, unless you are willing to be specific then it is hard to escape the conclusion that the church sinss against the sexual sinner (of all stripes) *by* teaching that such practices are wrong.

    Its troubling since by not being specific you seem to get street cred for prophesying repentance to the church without incurring the real trouble you are going to bring from one side or the other by actually taking a stand. As Elijah said: How long halt ye between two opinions? if the LORD be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him.

    If you find scripture says homosexuality is wrong and you beleive it, then say so.
    If you find scripture says homosexuality is wrong and you don’t beleive it, then say so.
    If you find scripture says homosexuality is right and you beleive it, then say so.

    This way everyone knows where everyone stands.

    If the first one, then yeah we can discuss the wisdom of how to say that, but not the wisdom of whether to say it. Why put your light under a bushel. What position do you protect by not admitting to a biblical position.

    If the second position, then the issue is the veracity and authority of scripture. And I don’t know what radical faithfulness to Jesus means in that context.

    If the third position, then you at least ought to realize that you have the weight of apparent/surface interpretation as well as all of church tradition against you. You might humbly admit that good men reached their incorrect (in your eyes) conclusion sincerely and not out of malice. Again, no time like the present to do exegitical battle against incorrect interpretation.

    In every case however, your present reticence makes no sense.

    As you are a pastor, I hope the best for you, but this issue and all the implications it raises affects of every aspect of Christian ministry. Is God’s work authoritative, and will you go where it leads, and teach others to do so? With respect, its not something you can finesse.

    David

  38. David Douglas

    Brittany:

    You have reached the center of the issue. Is scripture authoritative.
    You say no. Great…if scripture is indeed not authoritative. But if it is then God does both examine the heart and condemn sexual sins (of all stripes) and every other sinner against every other commandment, this side of repentance and trust in the righteousness of another. So I agree with you that God does judge the heart.

    But you, having dismissed the authority of scripture, what do you rely on? If some scripture is ok but not the passage I quoted, then you set yourself up as the judge of scripture. Sad to say, you might not be able to pull that off on the last day.

    If scripture is not authoritative at all, then how can you say “God judges the heart”. You have no basis for saying what God does or doesn’t do. And even if you know that much, what basis do you have for knowing your heart is ok? No one, not even (or especially) psychopaths, feels that everything we do is wrong or wicked….we find someway to justify our soften our sin. If each of us get to be in charge of what passes for good, you have just flattened all categories of good and evil. This includes Jamie’s pronouncement of historic wickedness against the church, and its call to repentance. Last I checked my heart was fine, after all.

    Finally the passage I referred to about the sinners not inheriting the kingdom of God, is followed by Pauls comment to the Corinthians that “such were some of you”.

    The whole church is full of people whose lives disqualified them for the kingdom of God save for repentance and trust in Jesus. My comment is directed at those who wish to continue unrepentant in that practice–it is particularly directed at trying to understand if Jamie considered calling sexual sinner’s to repentance part of the churches abuse of said individuals.

  39. Stuart

    Good post mate. I had a few thoughts.

    1) I was thinking about some of the more ‘hatred’ types of churches out there. W**TB*O came to mind. I wonder what would happen if in the face of their (for want of a better term) bile. They were met with love from those they were trying to rail on. It would be an interesting experiment. Having said that, they deserve all the ridicule they receive IMHO.

    2) My only contention to this is when we as discriminated against through a lack of understanding. The building in Vancouver comes to mind. We were seen as a christian group, and essentially run out of town for it (toss in a fear of itinerant youth in there as well). There was little understanding sought as to our practices and place in the community. It came at the cost of both organizational and (in a few cases) personal health and well being. Where does something like that fall? I usually refer to it as discrimination. Is that a more acceptable word?

    You being tied to both YWAM and MB (correct me if I’m wrong) Have you come up against any discrimination because of those affiliations before people actually understood you (not to mention the same from within the Christendom ranks who have different opinions and experiences than your own)? Would you consider it discrimination? This then begs the question; when does discrimination become persecution? Could it be that we’re ranking paper cuts (albeit while people are losing limbs)? When is a wound not a wound?

    Just a few thoughts you stirred up.

    • Jamie (Author)

      Stuart, I think the situation with the building in Vancouver falls into a grayer area. I am sure there were some who were discriminating on the basis of Christianity. That’s not fair. That said, we have to accept that we carry with us the shared reputation of other Christians. So the broader Christian community often earns that reputation and the rest have to live with it. Also not fair, but it does somewhat mitigate the discrimination.

      From another angle, though, from listening to testimony (online coverage), I think a fair number of residents simply wanted to keep their neighbourhood residential. This isn’t totally fair (though I can at least empathize), but I don’t think it is discrimination. Perhaps self-serving would be accurate.

      I’ve face rejection, even discrimination for being part of YWAM and Mennonite Church Canada (we’re not part of the MB clan, though we work with them a lot). Again, much of it is well-deserved mistrust based on the experience of other expressions. Not fair, but my response is to work all the harder to demonstrate a better alternative. I do not believe I have ever come close to suffering genuine persecution as a Christian.

      Thanks bro!

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