(a reply to that is at least as logical as this: http://pastormark.tv/2011/09/21/a-poverty-theology-parable)
Once there was a boy who had many brothers and sisters, and a very, very loving father. One day it came to pass that the boy’s sister became very sick. She was brought to the doctor and the doctor discovered that her kidneys were failing; her only hope was a kidney transplant.
All the brothers and sisters were tested to see if they were a match, but only the boy was a match. Only the boy could give a kidney. The loving father said “Boy will you give a kidney to your sister?” The boy replied, ”Oh father you are so loving and kind, can’t you just buy her one?” “No son, that will not work “said the father, “we have searched near and far and you are the only match.” “But father,” said the boy, “You are so kind and loving that you have given me the gift of two working kidneys, what would I be saying to you if I just gave one away?” “Wouldn’t that be an insult to you? “ “Son, “said the father, “please your sister has fallen very ill.”
This went on and on for days with the father pleading with the son, and the son rebuffing every argument. Sadly the daughter passed away while the argument continued on. The father was grieved but it was ok with the son because he had two kidneys, some crackers and a nice bike.
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Live with the end in mind 5.31.11
One time I wrote a blog post called Dear ABWE Guy…that was nothing like this, this friends is awful.
So while watching from the sidelines of the current Rob Bell dust up I noticed an interesting phenomenon. Rob Bell supporters (Bellites? Bellions? NoHellBellistians?) argue exactly like my 11 year old daughter.
Daughter Argument step 1: Deny and Define
Daughter: I haaaatttttteeee my brothers
Me: You can’t say that! Go to your room.
Me: You said you hate you brothers.
Daughter: No I didn’t.
Me: Yes you did, and that is not nice.
Daughter: You have to understand my nuance, what I meant by hate, dear father is that when my brothers behave in a particular way it distresses me to the core of my being and makes me, in the temporal moment, not feel the love for them, which so clearly exists in my deeper being.
Bellposed that would look like this:
Rob Bell Questioner: Rob seems to be questioning some of the historic beliefs of the Christian Church
Bell Supporter: What. No he is not.
Bell Questioner: Did you see his latest video where he said _____________ or read his latest book where he wrote ________________
Bell Supporter: No he didn’t
Bell Quesitoner: Yes he did look here__________________________
Bell Supporter: Oh dear friend if only you we as enlightened as Rob you would see that what he really meant when he said ______________ was that ________________ and ____________________.
Which leads to phase two:
Daughter Argument step 2: The Big Meany Argument (Oooohhh how terrible it is to be misunderstood)
Me: That is not what you meant, and either why it does not matter because that is not what you said.
Daughter: YOU JUST DON’T UNDERSTAND!!!!! (insert 11 year of girl wailing here) No one understands. No one loves me.
Me: We do love you, but you need to realize that words have meanings and you need to show self control.
Daughter: You are so mean. So so mean. Sob. You. Sob. are. Sob. So. Sob. Mean.
In the Bell world:
Quesitoner: I am not sure, he really does seem to be saying _____________________
Supporter: Oh you are one of those, I bet you have never even met Rob Bell, I bet you never even went to church at Mars Hill, I bet you a not even blood related or currently married to Rob Bell…and if you are not how can you even suggest such evil things.
Questioner: Um, I am just saying I am not sure that what he is saying is Biblical.
Supporter: YOU JUST DON”T LOVE JESUS (insert college age fan boy wailing here). NO one understands. They didn’t even take the time to raise a child with Rob Bell! No one else loves Jesus.
Questioner: I am just asking a question why is that so bad?
Supporter: You are so mean. So so mean. Sob. You. Sob. are. Sob. So. Sob. Mean.
Step three: They Started it/ I Was Acting in Justice
Daughter: We would not even be in this situation if they had not started it.
Me: It does not matter who started it, you can not just say things like that
Daughter: I told you he started it. He is a little brat, you should have raised him better. You let him get away with everything.
Me. He is an infant.
Daughter: That is always his excuse. I don’t care if he is not old enough to hold his own head up..he should not have looked at me that way!
Questioner: It seems like you get very worked up in these conversations, if what he is saying can stand the test why not discuss it clearly.
Supporter: OH I GET WORKED UP! I GET WORKED UP!!!!!! This is all John Pipers fault. He started it. I would like to kick that dude in the face.
Questioner: Ummm you want to kick a 63 year old man in the face?
Supporter: I wouldn’t care if he could not hold his own head up…he should not have used the Bible against Rob that way…
Step Four: I am Sorry you are so Wrong, Lets agree to disagree
Me: You will have to stay in your room until you are ready to aologise to your baby brother.
Daughter: I am sorry that he looked at me like that.
Me: Truely apologise
Daughter: I am sorry he is such a brat
Me: Seriously, stop being mean.
Daughter: I am not being mean, I am sorry you see it that way.
Questioner: So you have no problem with the fact the he said __________________ or ______________ or ________________________
Supporter: I’m sorry I am not a judgmental as you.
Questioner: I am not judging, just trying to have a conversation, seriously it does not bother you?
Supporter: I am waiting to draw any conclusions.
Questioner: Waiting for what?
Supporter: Waiting for Rob to say clearly what he believes.
Questioner: Seriously, don’t you think his “questions” point to some sort of belief?
Supporter: Wow. I’m sorry you feel the need to judge like that.
Supporter: OK, you are an idiot who knows nothing, lets just agree to disagree (insert smiley face)
My point here I guess is that whether with my daughter or with an adult this method of fighting annoys me…I don’t want to agree to disagree under these terms. I feel like the terms are dishonest, because at the end of the day any questioner is being asked by agreeing to disagree to assent to the idea that RB’s ideas are acceptably evangelical. I can not agree to that. If in fact any supporter wants to say that these ideas fall outside of evangelical orthodoxy then we are on honest grounds and I would be happy to “agree to disagree.” But even in agreeing to disagree that does not preclude honest and rigorous discussion which it seems to me is what the RB Posse hates more than anything.
Yes I did sing that to the Boy 2 Men tune. Try it, it is fun.
Here is the deal-ly-yo when I started this blog I was (rightly I think) reacted to some of the less orthodox goings on in the world of Evangelicalism… It was rude, sarcastic, and fun. Since then however several things have happened: 1. The movement sorted itself out, the radical wings of what the heck ever the “emergent church” is has decided that they do not want to be labeled evangelical anymore than we want them to be. 2. Mars Hill Church in Grandville has significantly decreased in influence here in my primary ministry field of Grand Rapids (though you gotta give them a hat tip for hiring flat out theological nut job Shane Hipps) and 3. Lots of bloggers blog constantly ripping on these same things and they are not near as funny or enjoyable and even worse some of them may not even have functioning brains (No offense to Ken Silva’s body) or a discernible gender (yes that was a Slice of Laodicea reference) and frankly I don’t want to be associated with them. 4. I am reformed theologically but I have lost all interest in being one of those guys who thinks that if you are not reformed in exactly the same way that I am then you are a heretic (No they do not teach you to write that at Master’s Seminary)…infact I have had great conversations with people on all sides of every debate here…as long as they have a sense of humor… 5. I want to write about the things that matter to me and the title of this blog is just out of date. At the end ofthe day what I really care about is being an urban missionary who proclaims the greatness of Jesus in a way that makes sense to the culture and leads to repentence. So anyhoo, I am moving here: MissioDave. I plan to actually blog there, but unlike this blog when I started, I don’t really care if you read it. It will of course be a lot like this blog, same jerky me, different title.
Dear Missions guy, I tried to email but you did not respond. I am sure you were busy out raising money…er reaching people for Christ. It seems you and I have a little issue and I just wanted to hash it out. So it seems that you think American cross-cultural ministry is a “waste of life” and that we should not be doing it because there “is a church on every corner.” Wow. I am sort of shocked, but I guess I am glad that we know how you feel. I guess if you feel that way, you feel that way. It was the way you expressed your feelings that bothered me.
Missions guy, did you really think it was smart to tell a young girl, who has dedicated herself to cross-cultural ministry that she was wasting her life? Did you really think it was wise to tell her that we already had too many churches here? She came home from your West African fundraising dinner very disappointed and that I think is a shame. Frankly, A-guy , that makes me angry.
Your attitude is not only ignorant and offensive, it is patently unbiblical and it also shows that you don’t really care all that much about West Africa. Here’s how I know.
See if you really cared about West Africans you would have celebrated this young lady’s ministry. You would have fallen in love with it and begged to pray for it. Because she was the key leader in what as far as I know it the only ministry to Sierra Leonans in this town. Now if I know my geography (and I am not great at it but I can read the map), Sierra Leone is in West Africa no? If West Africa being reached is your job, you might have wanted to hear about how she ran a program called “Houses of Learning” where she set up in home turtoring for children from Sierra Leone. You might also have wanted to hear about the “Friendship Dinner” she set up where Muslim parents cried and asked why she loved their children so much. Your heart would have swelled as she shared how these dear souls from Sierra Leone asked us to share “the reason for the hope that is in us.” Perhaps even you, might have been moved to tears as you watched videos of young men from Sierra Leone being Baptized. Instead you told her she was wasting her life. Because we have to many churches. We will come back to that latter.
Here is another thing I don’t understand Missions guy, if she were to agree with you and give up, as I assume you think we all should, what would happen to these groups from Sierra Leone. I mean I know there is a church on “every corner” but if those churches are being so effective why is there only one trying to reach this group?
But Missions guy it is not just this group, in our neighborhood there are over 48 different languages spoken, if as you suggest we are “wasting” our lives, what about them? In our neighborhood the 48 languages represent 48 different people groups. Of the 48 people groups only 2 have active ministries to them outside of the ministry you have deemed “wasteful”, those groups are white Americans and Hispanics. The ministry to Hispanics takes the form of a Catholic church. So even if we grant that (which I doubt you would) that leaves 46 people groups. Maybe you are right, why would we waste our lives on them, when we could spends 100,000’s of thousands of dollars to fly across the sea and reach their country men.
Then of course we come to the key issue, even leaving aside the Cross-cultural nature of our work. Does America need more Churches? You seem to think no. And yet every statistic we see tells us that America is the 3rd largest mission field in the world. You seem to think that America is reached, and therefore we can “Move on.” I would suggest that this very attitude has largely contributed to the fact that America is a post Christian nation. At what point will you admit that America needs reaching? When will you come to the realization that immigration is changing the racial and religious make up of our country? When will you see that there are millions is this country who need Christ and have not heard? When the money for your current mission dries up?
I think it is safe to say that anyone who claims to care about Christ, about unreached people and about Missions would be embarrassed by your remarks. I am praying that your heart will be captured by Christ before it is too late. Before you have wasted your life.