25 February 2010

Open Letter to Ergun Caner

I don't know that you will read this because my blog is not well known and in the larger scheme of things I am of little consequence. I know you are a busy man and honestly, given the last few weeks I imagine you might be tired of people's opinions. Knowing this, however, I hope that you will take a moment to read it or that someone who knows you will kindly bring it to your attention.

I want to thank you for your post dated 2/25/2010. I know that it is not easy to be criticized, confronted and talked about. I talked about you here on my blog and if you care to read what I said you will note that I was praying for you. That was sincere. I also know that it may seem to you that those of us who are reformed in our theology just want to make your life miserable because you are not reformed. That may be true for some, but I assure you that is not the case for me nor is it the case for those with whom I associate. Speaking for myself, my intentions are honorable toward you as your sister in Christ.

I have heard your sermons and your passion is evident. I also listened to your recent interview on SBC Today and was moved as I heard you confess your sin there and chuckled a bit when I heard you say, "I have a problem with the clutch between my brain and my mouth." Boy, do I know that problem on a personal level. More importantly I want to share that I have worked in Student Development at a Christian university and I want to encourage you with this: Sincerely confessing your sin and humbling yourself in front of your students will teach them more about living their faith than any sermon you will ever deliver.

Once again, I thank you for addressing the issues you have. You shall remain in my prayers,


Romans 5:1-5
1 Therefore having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,
2 through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God.
3 And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance;
4 and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope;
5 and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

21 February 2010

The Importance of Words

I am always amazed by how little attention most people pay to words, especially the words they use. Words have meaning; they are the symbols or maps we use to communicate. While the map is not the territory, it's crucial that the map accurately reflect the territory it represents.

Perhaps I care about this because of my personal experiences with words used carelessly and inaccurately. When you've been a liar and know the treachery of the lies you've told and when you've been on the receiving end of lies, white or Technicolor, you know their ability to gut you. If you've been on the receiving end of a rebuke, one that's hit the truth of your lie on the head and exposed your guilt, it brings with it the sort of shame you can only do one of three things with; repent, attack the one who has exposed you, or retreat like a coward and never deal with the issue in the light.

I have spent the last couple of hours listening and reading through thoughts and opinions about some words that were spoken and/or typed. I didn't really want to put links on my blog to the articles and videos I just waded through. I was trying to avoid prolonging the battle and enabling folks who love controversy for controversy's sake to have one more place to go to get their jollies. Since the author and precipitator of one of the blogs I was reading has chosen to close comments rather than allow further discussion and invited anyone desiring to continue the discussion to do so on their own blogs, I decided to take up his offer. It's the only way I can comment on the thread.

What have I been reading? The Cost of Following Christ, posted by Tim Rogers on the SBC Today blog.

What is the subject matter? Mr. Rogers posts what he believes is a defense of Dr. Ergun Caner, president of the Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary and Graduate School at the Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia.

Why is Mr. Rogers defending Dr. Caner? He takes exception to Dr. James White's response to Dr. Caner's words in a video that you can find on Dr. White's blog by clicking here. I recommend you go to www.aomin.org and have a look at more than just that post as there are some more recent ones that may shed some light for you.

I understand Mr Rogers wanting to defend his friend, Dr. Caner. I want to jump to the defense of my friends too and yes, Dr. White is my friend. I don't know either Dr. Caner or Mr. Rogers personally. I read Mr. Rogers for the first time tonight but I have read and listened to Dr. Caner's materials before. It seems to me that he could be a lot of fun to know- unless you ask him to defend his claims or you hold to reformed theology. I can empathize with the latter, I didn't much care for reformed theology either before I understood it. As for not being willing to defend his claims, that one I am not clear about. What sort of an apologist makes assertions he is unwilling to defend?

Look, for me it is as simple as this: When a man or woman of God lies for any reason, it is a sin. We can all agree on that, can't we? If a man or woman of God embellishes the truth, it ceases to be the truth and it should be fixed immediately with a correction and repentance if necessary. If a man or woman of God speaks carelessly and their careless words cause someone to believe something that is not true, they need to clear that up as soon as it is brought to their attention and not allow their actions to perpetuate any falsehood. Actually, these facts hold true for anyone but for a person claiming to represent Almighty God, it is especially crucial. Personally, I find it particularly unbecoming when a stubborn refusal to repent or own up to responsibilities does not occur. It is particularly unbecoming in me.

Confronting a fellow believer who has told a lie, embellished the truth or spoken carelessly is something all believers should be equipped to do. We should hold one another accountable for our words and our deeds. It is not loving to allow a Christian brother or sister remain in sin. This is the heart of the controversy between these two men. Dr. White has confronted Dr. Caner using Dr. Caner's own words-comments made publicly. Dr Caner needs to either prove he has been accurate or repent. If Dr. Caner can prove the veracity of his statements, Dr. White needs to acknowledge that publicly as well. The purpose of biblical confrontation is always repentance and reconciliation. Those of us on the sidelines watching should remember that and pray for it. I pray for that and to hear/listen to Dr. Caner's response.

More posts worth reading on the matter:
The Cost of Following Men
The Truth The Whole Truth And Nothing But The Truth. Is Ergun Caner Being Truthful?

Proverbs 18:17-19
17 The first to plead his case {seems} just, {until} another comes and examines him.

Proverbs 18:13
13 He who gives an answer before he hears, it is folly and shame to him.

1Thessolonians 2:3-12
3 For our exhortation does not {come} from error or impurity or by way of deceit;
4 but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not as pleasing men but God, who examines our hearts.
5 For we never came with flattering speech, as you know, nor with a pretext for greed-- God is witness--
6 nor did we seek glory from men, either from you or from others, even though as apostles of Christ we might have asserted our authority.
7 But we proved to be gentle among you, as a nursing {mother} tenderly cares for her own children.
8 Having thus a fond affection for you, we were well-pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God but also our own lives, because you had become very dear to us.
9 For you recall, brethren, our labor and hardship, {how} working night and day so as not to be a burden to any of you, we proclaimed to you the gospel of God.
10 You are witnesses, and {so is} God, how devoutly and uprightly and blamelessly we behaved toward you believers;
11 just as you know how we {were} exhorting and encouraging and imploring each one of you as a father {would} his own children,
12 so that you may walk in a manner worthy of the God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory.

15 February 2010

My Campaign Against Self-Esteem

Just in case my two or three readers think that I am out of line when I say that high self-esteem is dangerous, please take the time to watch this interview on Good Morning America. The recent horrific shootings in Alabama on the Huntsville campus prompted a look at the suspect, Amy Bishop. During the interview with an expert on profiling, Dr. Michael Welner, Bill Weir asks about the differences between men and women who commit mass shootings / murders and the expert finds a commonality: high self-esteem.

Do I think everyone with self-esteem will commit a mass shooting? No. But the sinful preoccupation with yourself and your accomplishments, abilities, wants and desires does lead to having less regard for everyone else. That is dangerous. Any of us are capable of the most heinous sins imaginable when given the right set of circumstances and provocations. Thinking more highly of yourself than you do others lowers your threshold of tolerance making the likelihood of hurting someone increase. We hear about the shootings and murders but there are many more ways of destroying someone's life. Words and inaction can be as deadly as an AK-47.

My disdain for the self-esteem movement does not mean I want to see people be miserable and lack confidence. I don't wish that on anyone. I am dumbfounded that the body of Christ panders such nonsense as if it were gospel. We all carry the Imago Dei. We are made in the image of God. Our worth is defined by this and not what we accomplish in life. Our confidence is in Christ, who is the author and perfecter of our faith. Nothing else.

Psalm 119:128
128 Therefore I esteem right all {Thy} precepts concerning everything, I hate every false way.

Philippians 2:3-7
3 Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself;
4 do not {merely} look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.
5 Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus,
6 who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped,
7 but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, {and} being made in the likeness of men.

1 Peter 5:5-6
5 You younger men, likewise, be subject to your elders; and all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.
6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time,

Ephesians 4:1-6
1 I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, entreat you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called,
2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing forbearance to one another in love,
3 being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
4 {There is} one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling;
5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism,
6 one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all.

02 February 2010

Speaking of Self-Esteem Nonsense

I read an article in our local paper about a scholarship program that is being offered to the young people "in the foothills of Appalachia." The program is called Tandava. Tandava is the dance of the Hindu god, Shiva. Shiva dances a rigorous dance that results in both the creation and the destruction of the world. My grandmother was right. This world is going to hell in a hand basket. What she didn't tell me was that Shiva was going to dance to make it happen.

The program's objective is to build greater confidence and self-esteem in area youth. The founders of the program say this is necessary to help our students compete with other students from bigger schools in the state and across the nation. The article defines tandava as a Sanskrit word meaning 'entering the great dance of life with skill and poise.' Skill and poise are good things and have absolutely nothing to do with self-esteem. Confidence comes with mastery and clear understanding. Poise, as it is being used here, is a freedom from affectation and having composure. Composure means having full command and control of ones faculties, emotions, and abilities. Being self-possessed or having composure does not equal having positive self-esteem. Being able to achieve is not the same as thinking you are great. The willingness to try has to come with the willingness to fail and try again. Being successful has to come with a realistic look at your ability to master something.

I am pro education. I am definitely all for helping students and young adults obtain mastery, skill and composure. Can anyone tell me what in the world self-esteem has to do with helping our young people acquire these things? If they are afraid to compete with other students then they do lack confidence and that lack of confidence may or may not be justified. Esteeming yourself is no substitute for diligent and disciplined study. Having the ability to excel and not doing so because of fear is not going to be conquered by liking who you are, especially if who you are is an undisciplined coward. No, I am not advocating a program to call young people cowardly. Our young folks need encouragement. They need adults who will tell them like it is and what they need to do to improve.

The ability to think critically, obtain viable skills and the willingness to fail forward come more often from setting aside your self-love and self-indulgence and then pressing yourself into areas that are uncomfortable. Changing. Change after an evaluation of where you are failing. Understanding your short-comings and working through them is what builds character. Great character is a noble thing and is in juxtaposition with esteeming yourself as good enough and valuable enough already.

Self-discipline. That's what we should be teaching our young folks. Oh that God would raise up someone in the community with the opportunity and resources to really mentor some students and that there would be students willing to live out the convictions of a biblical worldview. That would be an incredible boon for our area and something I could rejoice over. You'll know it's happened when you hear me shout, "Praise God! Now stick that on your dance card, Shiva!!"