The Most Intolerant Tolerance

    Originally published in the June 4, 2014 edition of The Chadron Record.

    Mass-ConfusionThere is no denying that America is in the throes of a revolution – only this time it is not merely political. It is a moral revolution, and its battle fields are state and federal legislatures, the courts, the media, social media and workplace water coolers around the country. The revolution is winning. Things that were considered wrong and immoral by a majority of Americans only a few years ago are now celebrated, even by politicians who once held that these things are wrong (they voted for them after voting against them).

    Two major banners being flown in this revolution are homosexuality and same-sex marriage. I am on the wrong side of history on both of these issues. At least, that is what those on the left say. They say that about everyone who believes that homosexuality is a sin and that marriage is the union of one man and one woman.

    If that were all that they said, that would be fine. We could still converse, argue our cases and, in the end, we could even agree to disagree. However, they say much more. Just ask Brendan Eich, the former CEO of the Mozilla Corporation. He was forced to resign recently because it became known that six years ago he financially supported California’s Proposition 8 campaign (Proposition 8 was a constitutional amendment that briefly banned same-sex marriage in the state until it was overturned by the state’s Supreme Court). Mr. Eich’s intolerant views were enough for some on the left to decide that they could no longer tolerate him.

    Those who preach tolerance are often decidedly intolerant. They are intolerant of intolerance. And yes, I know that that sentence makes no sense. It is not possible to be intolerant of intolerance without being intolerant of yourself (and most of us have a hard enough time tolerating ourselves!). One wonders what sort of America those on the left envision. An America that is sublimely tolerant? That is how many say it. But one has to define terms; their idea of tolerance is tolerating everyone who thinks the same and refusing to tolerate those who disagree. Those on the winning side (sadly) of this moral revolution are the most intolerant lovers of tolerance that the world has seen in a very long time.

    And if that doesn’t make sense to you, then you are, at the very least, sane.


    41 Years of Roe v. Wade

    HT: Justin Taylor


    Pastoral Bullies, Insecure Pastors, and Wise Advice from Sam Storms

    I just ran across three important articles about pastoral leadership by Sam Storms. I found them instructive and insightful – and I think the wisdom here serves pastors well.

    imagesThe first post is an article about Pastoral Bullies. It is a warning against domineering over those in your care. Pastor bullies domineer in many ways, and none of them are healthy. For example, a pastoral bully “domineers whenever he exploits the natural tendency people have to elevate their spiritual leaders above the average Christian.” And he domineers when “he reinforces in them the false belief that he has a degree of access to God which they don’t.” In the end, the pastor is leading by cult of personality and not by the principles of Scripture. Read the whole thing – well worth the 5 minutes it might take.

    The second article is related, but goes deeper. Pastoral Bullies are Bullies because they are personally insecure and their domineering is their way of compensating. That is helpful, because it goes beyond the heavy-handed domineering to the heart issue.

    Storms demonstrates that pastoral insecurity can be easily identified. For example, pastors who are personally insecure do not receive criticism well (at all!). Storms writes that constructive criticism “is rather perceived as a threat or outright rejection.” He goes on to observe that a pastor who is insecure is often controlling, given to micro management, resistant to those who genuinely want to help him in his spiritual walk, etc. Thus, an insecure pastor will stunt his own spiritual growth (which complicate things further).  Helpfully, Storms points out that this insecurity is patently a fruit of the sin of pride. A lot of good meat to chew on. You can read the whole thing here.

    Finally, and on the positive side, Sam Storms gives Some Words of Counsel for Pastors; advice that he has gleaned in 40+ years of pastoral ministry. Like the other two, this short post is also worth reading (for everyone who loves the church, not just pastors).



    150 Years Ago…


    Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

    Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

    But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate — we can not consecrate — we can not hallow — this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

    Abraham Lincoln
    November 19, 1863


    Why I Do Not Celebrate Halloween (But Don’t Judge You Because You Do)

    There are many things about Western culture that I really like, but Halloween is not one of them. I do not relish this particular tradition, and have never paid it much more than a passing glance. And here are the reasons why:


    1. I have lived and worked among people who are dominated and terrorized by real-life animism. I have seen, first-hand, how the fear of demons and dark magic and all-things evil bind and blind people in fearful darkness. I have been with people groups who make false windows and doors on their houses, and who keep secret the names of their newborns in order to fool harassing demons. I have seen desperate mothers pay shamans large sums of borrowed money to appease demons so that they would leave their kids alone. I have seen dark things and how darkness affects people. So I have no desire to treat the subject lightheartedly and flippantly, as if it were all make-believe for the sake of fun and tradition. I think C.S. Lewis nailed it when he said that the key to success for the demonic in our material world is to make modern man think that demons and ghosts are all make-believe. Halloween is the time when we celebrate those make-believe things that are so very real.
    2. I take fear seriously, and refuse to treat it as a play thing. Most of the world lives in fear. By the grace of God in Christ, I have not been given that spirit. So I don’t hide behind doors to spook and scare my children, and I don’t tell them scary stories. I don’t use dark kinds of fear to manipulate them into obeying me (Stay out of there; there are monsters that will eat you!). That kind of fear is patently unhealthy. So that pretty much rules out a trip to the nearest Haunted House or a “kid-friendly” scary movie.
    3. I don’t see how celebrating Halloween opens the door to reach out in a meaningful way to my neighbors during Halloween night. The good people at The Resurgence disagree, and that is fine. I hope they are successful in their efforts to be missional and to redeem Halloween. I just can’t think of a way that my participation does anything to share Christ.
    4. I think the money spent on Halloween is a crazy waste, and I hate wasting money. But that is just me. And I do know that there are creative ways to do Halloween without spending the big bucks.

    So those are the reasons why I do not get into the “Halloween spirit”. My family loves traditions, and we probably go a bit overboard in how we celebrate the Fall. Just come by our house (or Maya’s blog) and you will see. We are into all-things apples, cinnamon, nutmeg, and pumpkins. We drive and take walks to see the leaves change colors. We rejoice in the harvest and love Fall Festivals and Harvest Celebrations. We go all out for Thanksgiving. But Halloween… not so much.

    Finally, here is the big disclaimer: these are the convictions that Maya and I have come to after carefully thinking through the issues, and we are fully convinced that this is right for us based on the reasons that I outlined above. Even so, we do not look down our noses on those who lead their families differently. My advice to Christians is to seriously think through things like these in order to arrive at biblically-informed convictions, and then to be fully-convinced and even bold in those convictions. So if you have landed somewhere else on this, don’t feel judged, because I am not judging you.

    Please try to afford me that same courtesy.