Friday, March 11, 2011

People Hate Me, So I'm Righteous?

I dropped in on , a blog run by former members of the Sovereign Grace movement, this morning.  For those of you who aren't aware of what Sovereign Grace is, it's a hybrid Charismatic-Calvinist movement whose best-known figure is Joshua Harris, the writer of I Kissed Dating Goodbye.  The people who run this site seem to have a high opinion of Harris as a person (at the very least they view him as salvageable, unlike Sovereign Grace founder C.J. Mahaney), but they really don't like the denomination (oh, sorry, "family of churches") due an excessively authoritarian leadership structure.

The most obnoxious material in Mahaney's post isn't Mahaney's own words, but the words of John Calvin.

None are more exposed to slanders and insults than godly teachers. This comes not only from the difficulty of their duties, which are so great that sometimes they sink under them, or stagger or halt or take a false step, so that wicked men find many occasions of finding fault with them; but added to that, even when they do all their duties correctly and commit not even the smallest error, they never avoid a thousand criticisms.
It is indeed a trick of Satan to estrange men from their ministers so as gradually to bring their teaching into contempt. In this way not only is wrong done to innocent people whose reputation is undeservedly injured, but the authority of God’s holy teaching is diminished….
The more sincerely any pastor strives to further Christ’s kingdom, the more he is loaded with spite, the more fierce do the attacks upon him become. And not only so, but as soon as any charge is made against ministers of the Word, it is believed as surely and firmly as if it had been already proved. This happens not only because a higher standard of integrity is required from them, but because Satan makes most people, in fact nearly everyone, over credulous so that without investigation, they eagerly condemn their pastors whose good name they ought to be defending.

I'm not going to deny that pastors have a difficult job and standing up for unpopular truth can be costly, but this goes down a dangerous road.  I concede that I often do not take criticism well, but a lot of the time, criticism has a legitimate purpose--to show you where you are making mistakes.  That doesn't mean that all criticism is valid, but unless it's really absurd, it should at least be considered.

This also ties in with a problem I have with certain values of Protestant who, when something that they teach offends someone, assumes that they've "struck a nerve" or induced the conviction of the Holy Spirit and that people are offended because they know the teacher in question is right, not because the teacher in question insulted them.  There was a thread on FreeRepublic, the online conservative-turned-loony forum, in which a religious war over Catholicism erupted and one anti-Catholic (I believe some flavor of Calvinist) claimed the reason Catholics were so offended at his or her claims was that the Holy Spirit was at work.  I'd post the link, but I'm having trouble finding it.  When I last checked, it was over 800 posts long, and that was months ago.

If I go down into the 'hood in the middle of the night, walk up to a bunch of gang-bangers and start preaching the Curse of Ham (the notion that God cursed black people, allegedly the descendants of Ham, with dark skin and decreed they would be slaves of the descendants of white people, allegedly the descendants of Shem, because Ham mocked Noah for lying around drunk and naked), and get the crap kicked out of me, did my inspired preaching convict them of their sins and did they lash out in rebellion against God, or am I just being an ass (and preaching false doctrine to boot)?

After all, if the amount of hatred from "the world" that one's teaching provokes is proof of one's own godliness, then Fred Phelps is the godliest man in America.


  1. Not a bad point. "The wicked take the truth to be hard," but so do the good, and everybody takes assholery hard.