Friday, October 28, 2011

Around the Horn

You aren’t supposed to laugh at pregnant women, but this is pretty funny. (HT:  Challies).

Stetzer is on to something here. “Issue Christians” are rarely able to be taught, and are usually bad for a church that that is not an issue church. It’s possible for sincere and faithful Christians to differ on some issues (some, not all). It is usually impossible to work together. You don’t have to be ugly. Just help them find the door.

Here’s a good site for those who want to know what’s in books, but don’t have the time to read them. Of course, it’s only good if these books are ones you want to know about. But it might trigger your interest to read one of them. I have found some of them helpful.

And in honor of the Detroit Tigers, we are going to end with a triple, because they couldn’t seem to get people from third to home against the Rangers. And that’s all they needed. It reminds us of one of the fundamental truths of life that we would all do well to keep in the front of our minds: Leaving people on third is a good way to go home before the World Series.

But I am going to get out of the gate early for next year, and predict that the Tigers will win between 50 and 120 games, and finish somewhere in their division.

And when it happens, you can remember you heard it here first.

All for now …


Jim Peet said...

What's your prediction for the Cubs?

Kent Brandenburg said...

Hi Larry,

Isn't it ultimately that a heretic won't make it in the church? I know people applauded Stetzer heartily for sending this guy to the door immediately, but we basically can't work with someone who wants to divide a church. Isn't that it? This guy wanted more about prophecy, and perhaps he was out-of-line, but isn't it possible that someone like him, with patience, if willing to listen, could leave that path, if he is saved, of course? Aren't we taking everyone from a point of immaturity and taking them further? What would be the passage that would say deal with this type of guy like Stetzer did? It just seems like church growth formula---he doesn't fit your target demographic, so you let him go. If his issue had been traditional music, boom, an issue Christian, send him on his way.

Larry said...


Heretics do make it in church sometimes apparently. Just Wednesday, I was teaching the church at Thyatira where a heretic had great influence. I suppose "ultimately" they won't, as long as we include eternity in that. But on this earth they will.

However, my point is different. There are issues over which some Christians have an inordinate focus on which can cause division. My original post (which I shortened) had a paragraph about being teachable in it, which I will probably include in a later post based on an actual event of this past weekend. If someone is teachable, that is one thing. But issue Christians typically are not teachable, probably.

I don't know whether Stetzer was right to do what he did or not. I don't think it had anything to do with demographics. My point is that his approach is the right one in some cases.

I understand the problem he is addressing and I think it is a legitimate problem. I don't know of any passage to deal with someone this way because it wasn't a first century issue. I think it is a matter of practicality and wisdom, and in some cases, a matter of protection for the church since some issues are issues of truth or error.

I have told people before that they will be more comfortable elsewhere. And I am glad to do that, both for our sake and theirs.

I couldn't be a member of your church for various reasons and you likely could not be a member of mine.

Jon Gleason said...

It's easy to send someone to "another church" when there are other churches to which they could go. It's not so easy when there aren't many (or any) obedient churches within any kind of reasonable distance. Where did Paul or any of the apostles ever advocate anything even remotely close to "go to another church"?

In addition, it's pretty tough to decide someone isn't teachable based on one brief encounter. In addition, sometimes "issue Christians" simply need someone to be willing to listen and talk with them a little bit and their "issue" becomes a lot smaller.

I don't think Stetzer's approach is ever right. You reject someone who is divisive, but you don't show someone the door on the first conversation just because they are a little out of balance.

Larry, you couldn't join Kent's church because you disagree on doctrine, not because emphasis is a major issue. If there is a disagreement in emphasis, it is based on a disagreement in doctrine. Stetzer showed this man the door over emphasis, not doctrine.

Larry said...

Thanks Jon for reading and commenting. A couple of quick bullet points, hopefully not understood as brusque. They are not intended to be and I invite you to respond.

1. I agree that it is easy to send someone to another church, and in general, I am opposed to that. I have lamented to a friend that we live in an area where there are so many churches, people just hop from one to the other. I would almost rather be the "only game in town" so to speak. That, in part, has what has caused issue Christians. They availability of teaching creates a pick and choose mentality where people can leave one church for another looking for their pet issues.

2. Paul/apostles did not advocate this because it was a non issue for the simple fact that there were no other churches really. Paul/apostles did not advocate for many things we face simply because they were non-issues. We have to use wisdom to address these issues.

3. I think Stetzer's approach is absolutely right on occasion. It is what is necessary for the health of the church and the protection of the flock. However, I did say to Kent that I wasn't commenting on whether it was right or wrong here. I agree that one encounter often cannot tell whether they are teachable, though on some issues it isn't hard. For instance, when someone calls and asks which version we use, I know exactly where they are going, and I know they won't be happy here. They are an issue Christian and they cannot simply let it go.

4. Issue Christians exist, and in my experience (both personal and from others) they almost always end up divisive because the issue is an issue because it is important to them. Someone who holds certain positions is not going to be happy at our church. They should be. But they won't be.

5. Issues Christians are often hung up on doctrinal issues. So I couldn't be a part of Kent's church because of his issues that are not issues to me. They are, in some sense, doctrinal. That's okay. I am not bothered by that particularly. I am willing to let Kent follow his conscience, and willing to let others join Kent if they desire, and even willing to send someone to a church like that so that they can follow their conscience. But I am not willing to expose the flock that God has entrusted to me to those kinds of issues. That probably sounds more negative than it is intended. It really isn't negative. I am willing to teach and work through the Bible with someone, but if they are not willing, there is not much I can do. But there is a lot of damage they can do in a church.

Thanks again.

Jon Gleason said...

Thanks, Larry, a good response. Thanks for taking so much time on it.

Re #2, I see your point, but I guess I don't see anything in the spirit of any NT teaching that fits with the "you won't be happy hear so you'd better look elsewhere" approach. The whole mindset is contrary to that. Paul, in I Corinthians 1, was dealing with "issue Christians" who felt Peter, or Apollos, or Paul, were better men to follow. He told them all, plus the super-spiritual ones who proudly said, "I follow Christ," to sort themselves out. There is not even a hint of going to the first church of the Apollos Preferrers down the street, or of suggesting maybe they should be starting such a church.

The woman at the well was an "issue" person, and Jesus blew right past that -- but He didn't write her off because of it.

There can be so many reasons why someone might appear to be an "issue" Christian. Once I left a church because of the refusal to discipline (or even confront) over adultery. The first thing I did when I phoned another pastor to find out about their church was ask him about church discipline. Perhaps he thought I was an "issue Christian", but I really wasn't at all.

Yes, "issue Christians" exist and are often divisive. I have no problem with dealing swiftly with divisiveness. My objection was to dealing with someone with a hangup as if they are therefore divisive. That's what I mean in saying I don't think his approach is ever right. "Fouled up" is not equal to "divisive".

I'll say this, though, in Stetzer's support. A misplaced emphasis IS false doctrine, in the broad sense. If someone wants to push their issue, that's almost always divisive. If they are wanting me to preach on their issue more than I do, they can then decide whether their disappointment in that is important enough, but that's hardly the same as me telling them to hit the road.

Thanks again for a thoughtful post. It's been profitable in helping to nail down my thoughts. I doubt, in practice, that you and I would do much differently on this.