Fight like Paul

someone wrong in internetEvery month there is a new controversy. There are enough controversies around that I want to create a controversy bingo board and make a game out of it. I can see it now, the morning headlines read, “Stop pet oppression, give them drivers license.”

Look over the card, let’s see, racism . . . check, bullying . . . check, Trump comment . . . check, mega-church pastor saying something wonky . . . check, and now pet oppression . . . BINGO!!!!! I WIN!!!!

Twitter, blogs, and Instagram are filled with recent conflicts and the need to join the latest crusade. Some pastor of a mega church says something bad [often it is really bad too and makes me cringe even hearing it] and boom, the drama cycle continues. Billy Bob (sorry if that’s your name) says something. Johnny-Blog-Boy — sorry if that’s your nickname 😉 responds. Then somehow Twitter goes bezerk. Billy’s crew gets in the game pointing out Johnny’s error. Johnny’s crew picks up swords. Both side clash, fight. People stay up late at night. Work is halted, there’s a war on Twitter and my 140 characters will finish the fight #micdrop, get coffee.

UnknownThe vicious cycle continues until Johnny-Bob Preacher boy says something wonky in another city redirecting our attention else-where. . . . Is this really why we went to Seminary? Is this why we were saved? Is this really our best interest? Is this really what our church is called to do? Is this really Christianity? Is Johnny Bob or Billy Bob’s church really interested in my view? Is harsh criticism really going to win the day? “Your preacher’s in sin!” “Oh, I don’t know you, but if you say so, then yes, let me just walk out of this church I have relationships with and where I think I’m ministered too because blog boy said my pastor’s out to lunch.” I read the Gospels and fail to see Jesus living the same pattern.

“But, some of it is really bad! Do you see what people are saying?!?” Yes, and I agree some of the situations are horrendous! I agree the social injustices the media cries over are bad. I agree racism is utterly HORRIBLE. I agree Youtube Johnny’s line in his sermon is horrible. ABSOLUTELY. . . . you’ll actually find me not disagreeing with any of this. Most of the headlines flush out how horrible this world can be. So what’s the problem? I disagree with our handling the problems.

I remember observing Paul and NT authors don’t address the same issues in the same way we do. I read the New Testament and it teaches me about Jesus, the Christ. Sure I learn snippets about a few false teachers, the Greco-Roman world, and some church conflicts, but in general Paul isn’t publishing the drama-of-the-month magazine. Instead, he will briefly mention a name (Euodia and Syntyche), but in general, he focuses on teaching the saints the truth.

Think about it, turn to the chapter in Scripture where a NT author quotes some weird position, then spends the next 1145 words talking about his problem. Instead, Peter just opens up and teaches doctrine. He might casually mention what lies at the heart of a false teacher, but most of his words are teaching. Rather than negatively denouncing, he positively teaches. Let’s distinguish this from learning error or teaching truth.

Unknown-1When I was a bank teller, in training my company told me there were thousands of fraudulent bills and check cashing frauds. Someone asked why they only showed us two fake bills? Shouldn’t we see more error to discern them? They said no. “You’ll discern the fake ones because you’ll know the real ones so well.” Same principle here. Rather than try to teach you about every bad position, false doctrine, and war against every false / outrageous claim, teach the truth and learn the truth. Paul knew by learning the truth, people would discern the error and ultimately do what is right.

I remember my pastor telling me, the reason why people read and love both MacArthur and Joyce Meyers comes from a lack of conviction. As they grow in conviction, they’ll discern the error. Focus on strengthening convictions!

There is a SUPER fundamentalist blog and podcast on the internet. They bother me with their third degree of separation, holding everyone to their personal preferences, and pugnacious attitude. Often I find myself wanting to comment on Twitter against him and them. Won’t help. The people who follow him fail to discern the wise way to address problems. Speaking against them directly will only cause a war — they’ll dig in and attack back. Their followers lack discernment. The better thing to do is simply teach the truth and trust the Spirit to grow them out of the pugnacious actions.

Someone attending a weak, CEO / market-driven church? Rather than attack their church, teach them positively what the church is from Scripture. Let the Spirit do what He does. I see no reason to bash him, especially if he preaches Christ crucified. Joel Osteen? Yeah, his doctrine will lead you straight to hell. I warn our people about him when I think there are some people in our church who listen to him. But 99% of our teaching is the truth. The point here, is I contend earnestly for the faith in my local church — the setting I’m called to be primarily involved with! Addressing Johnny’s fans in another state where I’m not connected is not my primary audience I’m called to shepherd. BTW, not a single Scripture that says a pastor is to shepherd those people not in his local church, in fact 1 Peter 5:2 says different, “Shepherd the flock of God AMONG you” (Facebook is not among you). Yes your sermon may be on the internet, mine is, but my primary and secondary audience is my local church — that’s it!

One important caveat in this discussion, theological discussions are different. Publishing about the text, discussing theology, and writing counter arguments are not the same thing here. Those tend to be professional discussions where name calling [should] be excluded and the text wrestled through for clear minded people to discuss, debate, and weigh. We may think a guy wrong, but discussing theological positions is not the same thing here. A charismatic writes his views on the debate. Then a non-Charismatic writes on the same passage and even discusses his position. Done rightfully, both will be fair to each other’s argument, respect each other, love each other, and allow the argument to win the day.

I don’t like blog wars. I have no desire to see the recent meta-drama. I’m not interested in some guy who shouldn’t start a church starting a church. I have no desire to start a war or finish it. I have every desire to faithfully shepherd the flock of God among me. There is so much truth to learn I think my time could be better spent with my nose in Scripture and and my shoulders rubbing against other church members.

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Jason Vaughn

About Jason Vaughn

Jason is a graduate of the Master's Seminary and the pastor of Cornerstone Las Vegas, a Grace Advance church plant. He loves Christ, his wife Kyla, sometimes his kids :), the church, missions, people, and coffee. You can also follow him on his personal blog at shepherdthesheep.com.
  • Joyce

    Thank you for this! Appreciate the articles on this blog. Thank you.

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  • Karl Heitman

    “I remember my pastor telling me, the reason why people read and love both MacArthur and Ruth Meyers comes from a lack of conviction.” Huh? Wut? People love and read JMac because they lack conviction? Please elaborate.

    Who’s Ruth Meyers, anyways?

    • Jason

      lol, oops. Joyce Meyers.

      Please forgive me, I was probably not clear enough. I was trying to portray the image of a person who loves both Meyer and MacArthur and cannot see how they are opposite and contradict each other in their teaching. The reason a person can say, “I LOVE this Meyer book” then say, “Oh I love that MacArthur” book comes from a lack of conviction about the truth. Convictions on the truth would lead a person to chunk the Meyer book and loan out the JMac book.

      • Karl Heitman

        Ah ha! Makes sense. Thanks for clearing that up!