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Friday, June 12, 2015

Are You Talking to Me?

Who do I write to?

Not Matthew Vines[1], Brian McClaren[2], John Shuck[3], or Dan Trabue[4]. These people are convinced. There is no convincing otherwise. It's not as if "Stan is speaking so we're not listening", but I'm pretty sure none of these (types of) people would read what I write, examine the evidence and logic, smack their foreheads, and say, "Well, would you look at that? I've been wrong all along. Thanks for that, Stan."

Not the anti-theist or the pro-LGBTIQA[5], the militant, the hard-nosed skeptic. Not the radical feminists or the pro-choicers (which is the favorite self-applied label of the pro-abortion types). Not the "liberal" Christian (who, as it turns out, usually isn't very generous at all) or the "progressive" types (as if "change" = "progress" ... and it's always good). Not those who are opposed to my beliefs and can't be bothered with facts because they know they're right.

I'm not writing for the convinced. I'm not writing against the opposition. I'm writing for the questioning. "You know," the theoretical person I'm writing for might say, "I think I believe that homosexual behavior is a sin (or that the Bible is true or that conservative Christianity is right or ...), but I have a few questions. I've heard some things that disturbed me. I've read some things on the Internet that disagree. Is there a reason to continue to believe that the Bible is true (or whatever the question is)?" I like the "You know, I never saw it that way before; that makes sense" response. Even the "That's something to think about" outcome is good.

Convincing an antagonist is not in the cards. That's not my job. That's not my aim. Getting "well received", "on the right side of history", or making converts isn't the point. Why? Because "We do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places." (Eph 6:12) It's not about a Matthew Vines or a Richard Dawkins. I'm not called to sway anyone; I'm called to "make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you." (1 Peter 3:15) I'm not commanded to persuade opponents; I'm commanded to "contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints." (Jude 1:3)

Are you among the "convinced Stan is wrong" crowd? That's okay. I'm tolerant[6] . I'm not going to petition the government to shut you down, visit your blog to explain your error, or make it my calling to correct anyone who might be tempted to listen to you. Not my job. I'm just trying to "admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all." (1 Thess 5:14)

In case you were confused about my aims and my intended audience.
[1] Matthew Vines is a self-identified "gay Christian", an activist known for his lengthy YouTube video about why the Bible is pro-gay. He has authored God and the Gay Christian: The Biblical Case in Support of Same-Sex Relationships and runs an organization he calls "The Reformation Project" where he aims to "reform church teaching on sexual orientation and gender identity."

[2] Brian McClaren was a leading voice in the Emergent Church movement and continues to be a speaker, an author, and an "ecumenical global networker". He stresses innovation and is best known for his book, A Generous Orthodoxy, in which he essentially embraces all beliefs as "orthodox", and A New Kind of Christianity in which he deconstructs that silly old belief that the Bible is authoritative or even "God-breathed", but inspired and inspiring and apparently the Church prior to his day never got it right.

[3] John Shuck is a minister-in-good-standing for the Presbyterian Church (USA) who is a self-professed atheist. He believes that the Bible is a mere human book, that "God" is a symbol, that most of the stories about a "Jesus" were mythical--he certainly wasn't born from a virgin or rose from the dead or anything like that--and not only denies explicitly that there is such a thing as "orthodoxy", but believes it is his effort to encourage Christians to leave any such beliefs.

[4] Dan is a well-known figure for many of my readers. He's just listed here because, like the rest, he's convinced and no amount of dialog, evidence, reason, or discussion will move him.

[5] This acronym is not my made up version--LGBTLMNOP. It is an actual one used by the "pro" crowd. See for yourself.

[6] This, for the generally confused of our day, is the definition of "tolerance". It is not today's "I embrace you and your beliefs", but "I disagree with you and your beliefs, but I won't stop you."


Marshal Art said...

I very much like this. For my part, I like to say that the purpose of my blog, as well as why I visit others, is to either persuade or be persuaded. But it is also to add to the world-wide-web another voice for what I believe is true and an alternative to what I know is not.

Stan said...

And I, in turn, would never suggest "My purpose in writing is the only, the best, or the recommended one." I think there is a place for all sorts of reasons for genuine believers to speak up on the Internet (and anywhere else). But in thinking over my motivation, I think I decided it was a little bit unusual and certainly not quite clear to my readers.

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

Excellent thoughts, Stan.

I have to agree with Marshall as to the purpose of my blog and of visiting others.

Stan said...

To both Glenn and Marshall:

It's interesting to me. I know a lot of people (like you) are in the habit of cruising about other blogs and taking them to task for their errors. (No reflection on the right or wrong of it. Just an observation. Indeed, it's probably necessary that some do.) I, on the other hand, have no such practice. I don't generally go about telling people on their blogs how wrong they are. Why it is, then, that people like to hunt down my blog to tell me how wrong I am seems odd to me.

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

First, I don't hunt down or "cruise" other blogs. The blogs I go to are either recommended to me or they are owned by people who comment on my blog and that's how I discovered them. I only point out egregious errors, or will alert them to typos or grammatical errors that make the article confusing. I have a few times visited a blog for the sole purpose of engaging the author because someone else asked me to do so as a way of helping the apologetic response.

I will engage in disagreements with some articles on blogs I routinely follow (such as yours) because I feel length of time visiting makes us somewhat on friendly terms, and enjoy the discussion over the point of disagreement, sometimes hoping to persuade to my viewpoint, sometimes to better understand the opposing viewpoint, and once in a while get swayed to the opposing viewpoint.

Stan said...

Okay, sure, so some (not you) go to other blogs to correct them. (I function more like you do, on rare occasion visiting other blogs with comments only in the event that they might be well-received.)