Archive for June, 2011

Truth and tolerance … or not, part 1

All one need do to ferret out the myth of ‘tolerance’ is to disagree with a proponent of ‘tolerance’ in our world today. If and when one does dare to disagree – honestly, seriously, vulnerably, publicly; one gets a very quick and revealing and valuable lesson. ‘Tolerance’ isn’t, so much …

Just dare to say that God is holy and that there are implications of God’s holiness for all people, each of whom is created in the very image of this holy God, and we find out in fairly short-order that ‘tolerance’ is not so highly valued among the ‘tolerance’ crowd – at least, not as highly valued for all people and all viewpoints as they would want us to think.

Just dare to say that God’s Word is eternally true – as embodied perfectly in the Person of Jesus Christ, as further revealed by the Holy Spirit and written down by persons so moved by Him in the Bible, and as the Holy Spirit continues to give us understanding today; and we find out in fairly short-order that ‘tolerance’ is not so highly prized among the ‘tolerance’ crowd – at least, not as highly prized for all people and all viewpoints as they would have us to believe.

Just dare to say that God’s Love does not require a violation of God’s Truth but an exposition and proclamation of it – in our preaching, in our teaching, in our ministry practice, and in our living; and we find out in fairly short-order that ‘tolerance’ is not so consistently practiced by the ‘tolerance’ crowd – at least, not as consistently practiced as they would convince their falsely righteous selves.

A fascist-like orthodoxy is developing and has developed around this ‘tolerance’ myth. Priests and purveyers in the temple of ‘tolerance’ now seek to impose upon our people and inculcate in our culture a new kind of state religion that is dangerous. And those who will not submit to their tenets of ‘tolerance’ are met, immediately, with a remarkably vehement form of religious intolerance.

All too often and all too quickly, the ‘tolerance’ crowd points out the many alleged hypocrisies of Biblical-Christians, even while they are quite intolerantly railing against Biblical-Christians for honest and transparent attempts – in word and in deed – to live our lives in a way that is consistent with the plain standard of the Bible and for encouraging others to do the same.

Let’s be brutally honest at this point: We Christians have given them, and we continue to give them, plenty of fodder for such charges! We also have many false ‘Christian’ people and false ‘Christian’ churches to contend with and in whose lot we are readily cast. In any case, pointing out our inconsistencies is fairly easy for anyone to do. But it isn’t so easy because we’re Christians.

It’s easy for anyone to do because we’re human, and we’re not yet perfect, as our Heavenly Father is perfect. I would further suggest that living inconsistently is not so much hypocrisy; it is merely human – in our fallen state – to live inconsistently. That’s an observation not an excuse.

Hypocrisy, however, is a technical term that comes from the world of drama, of acting, and it literally means ‘two-faced’ or ‘masked,’ describing one who hides his or her true identity behind a mask or a facade of some sort.

Hypocrites, literally, are those who live one way but seek to present a wholly other impression. For example, a hypocrite might be one who trumpets the cause of ‘tolerance,’ while doing his or her best to shout down and slander and silence anyone who dares to disagree with them ….

This is not to say tolerating others is not a good, necesary, even Biblical thing to do; it is all three of those things and more – that is, if what we mean by ‘tolerating others’ is to treat those who differ from us with respect, with kindness, with honesty, and with compassion.

I find it both interesting and revealing that neither the word ‘tolerance’ nor the concept show up in the Bible. Hmmm …. But if by ‘tolerance’ we mean respect for others, kindness toward others, dealing with others in honesty and integrity, and treating all with compassion, then this is a Biblical mandate for living the Biblical-Christian life.

But in our world and in our day, this is not at all what the priests and purveyors in the temple of ‘tolerance’ mean – at least, not most of them. And this is not at all what most members of the ‘tolerance’ crowd practice, when it comes to those who disagree with them.

In spreading this myth of ‘tolerance,’ the ‘tolerance’ crowd most often seems to be attempting to canonize their desire and demand for approval from their neighbors and consequent legal protections from the state to do whatever they please – wherever, whenever, however, and with whomever they please.

We in North America hail such a state of affairs as ‘freedom!,’ but the Bible calls it bondage – to sin, to self, to the world, even to the devil himself – in whatever forms it takes. I often hear well-meaning but naive folks say, “Well, we can’t legislate morality!

But answer me this: Can you think of one law that does not have clear moral implications? All laws legislate someone’s version of morality ….

If you read my last post, or read the Winnipeg Free Press, you will know by now that I wrote a letter to the editor last week concerning Free Press coverage of the local “Pride parade” of the previous weekend. I wrote about the coverage of the “Pride parade” not the “Pride parade” itself.

I did so, because the ‘coverage’ was blatant advocacy of a ‘news’ event. At least one glaringly obvious example was a total misrepresentation of what went on at the event, though I wasn’t there.

A heavily edited version of my letter was published in the Winnipeg Free Press yesterday, Monday, June 13th, as “The Letter of the Day” and under the title, “Advocacy over accuracy.”

(Please see http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/opinion/letters_to_the_editor/advocacy-over-accuracy-123797999.html.)

Sadly, the editor chose to edit, substantially, my letter in such a way as to alter its content and its tone. (See my last post “Homosexuality, pluralism, and living the Biblical-Christian life” for the full text of the actual letter that I submitted.)

This is the risk one takes, I suppose, when attempting to engage in the marketplace of ideas, on a sensitive topic, and without the privilege of controlling the way one’s own words are framed, added to or deleted, then published.

Indeed, it might tempt one to give-up such attempts as futile and even harmful. Who needs the trouble, right? But I don’t think living the authentic, Biblical-Christian life allows us the luxury of going (or remaining) silent on matters that matter to us and our families and that the Scriptures speak to clearly and univocally – homosexuality, for one example, or even the coverage of an event that affirms homosexuality, for another example.

There is a compelling argument that can be made that the increasing silence of Biblical-Christians over the last few decades on such matters has contributed to the increasingly secularized culture around us and that is increasingly hostile and disimissive to those who would live the Biblical-Christian life and conduct an honest, Biblical-Christian ministry.

OUR INCREASING SILENCE HAS CONTRIBUTED TO AN INCREASING HOSTILITY TO THE CHRISTIAN GOSPEL AND CHRISTIAN LIFE. What an irony!

I’ll write more in part 2 soon ….

 

God’s peace and love to you and yours from me and mine!

 

Pastor Mark

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I don’t know if it was true the world over, or in North America, or even here in Canada, and you may or may not be glad to know that I’m not really tapped-into this world, but last Sunday was the day of the “Pride parade” in Winnipeg.

[For those who may not know what that phrase -- "Pride parade" -- refers to ... it's an annual event in which members of the "lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, two-spirited, queer, and questioning" crowd display, in full-colour, who they think and believe they are, and who they want others to think and believe they are. For any more information than that, ask your pastor -- unless I happen to be your pastor, in which case, ask your doctor!]

For reasons of frugality – both in expense of time and money, we stopped subscribing to the seven-day-delivery of the local newspaper the Winnipeg Free Press. It’s been nearly a year now, and I still miss my morning paper with my first cup of coffee. (I still savor my first cup of coffee, though; I’m not THAT frugal! I also still get “The Weekender.”)

But for whatever reason, on my day off this past Monday, I bought a paper, brought it home, had another cup of coffee, and began to read. On page A1 was the ‘teaser’ for the coverage of the local “Pride parade,” referring the reader to page B1, where there was nearly a full-page of text and pictures concerning the event, which had been held on the just previous [Sun]day.

(See http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/local/showing-their-true-colours.html?viewAllComments=y.)

My initial reaction to coverage of the event was, impulsively, to fire off a letter to the editor of the Winnipeg Free Press.  Let’s just say this may not have been the first time that I’d had such a reaction. Truth be told, from time-to-time, my wife Shelly has had fitting occasion to say something to me like, “Settle down, Yosemite Sam!” (You know, the Looney Tunes “rootin’est tootin’est cowboy in these here parts!” with spurs, ten-gallon hat, and six-shooters ablazing.)

But painful and recurrent experience has taught me, finally, that my first impulse may not actually be the best, most godly, or most helpful response – especially now that I’m a pastor for these nearly twenty years.

So, in my wiser, more mature, more spiritually exemplary condition – thanks to the Lord Jesus’ work in me and my wife’s work on me, I didn’t fire off a letter to the editor of the Winnipeg Free Press on Monday. I sent it today …

“To the Editor:

(Re: ‘Showing their true colours,’ Carol Sanders, Winnipeg Free Press, Monday, June 6, 2011)

Jesus answered, ‘I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father, except through Me” (John 14:6). We Biblical Christians are challenged and responsible to speak the Truth, as best we can understand Him, and to do so with both love for others and fidelity to Jesus.

Speaking the Truth in love and fidelity is not easy, nor should it be; and most reject Him.

My brothers and sisters in Christ frequently espouse the formulaic “Hate the sin; love the sinner.” But it doesn’t take a genius to conclude that, usually, we tend to hate the sinners, too, whichever sins and sinners we happen to focus on at that moment or season in time.

Homosexuals tend to be one of those groups that receive a good bit of our ‘loving’ ire, and I have been challenged at this point, myself. I had to overcome a visceral revulsion when it comes to relating on any substantial level with homosexuals, and especially male homosexuals.

This became particularly challenging, and urgent, when one of my brothers-in-law ‘came out’ in early 1995. So I write as one who knows and feels, personally, the challenge and discomfort of doing my best to live an authentic, Biblical, Christian life in such a way that can be described as ‘exemplary,’ among others who have significantly divergent views, and who are making choices that take them into territory that I cannot go and will not take my children.

From the start, ‘Showing their true colours’ seemed more of a promotional-piece than coverage of a ‘news’ event – namely, the annual “Pride parade” that occurred last Sunday.

Never mind my dissatisfaction with the event’s occurrence on the Christian day of worship. My strongest objection is to the patently promotional and demonstrably false statement that was the final paragraph: “The family-friendly event welcomed kids in strollers and little dogs on leashes. With the temperature hovering in the low teens, there were no scantily-clad drag queens and just one young woman wearing a bikini and rainbow body paint.”

On the same page, just to the right of this final paragraph, was a full-colour picture of a pair of drag queens, one of whom turned to the camera in an intentional display of as much skin and body hair as possible, given his pose and bikini-outfit, inside an open-front dress.

Whether other parents consider such an event to be appropriate for their children is not my business, necessarily. I would simply ask that the Winnipeg Free Press provide more factual and accurate reporting and less advocacy for this or any other ‘news’ event.  – Rev. Mark L. Wilcoxson, Senior Pastor, Bethesda Church, Winnipeg”

I want to be the type of Biblical Christian who makes a difference in the world around me, and who is part of – leading, even – a group of Biblical Christians who are making a difference in the world.

But in order to do this difference-making, we must be engaged in the world. Letters to the editor is just one way, among many, that we can be both engaging and engaged in our world.

[As I was typing my conclusory greeting (below), the editor's representative from the Winnipeg Free Press called to let me know that my letter is going into the paper "either tomorrow or Saturday." Pray for me ...!]

 

God’s grace and peace to you and yours from me and mine!

 

Pastor Mark

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