Taste Test

Yesterday America’s pastor Billy Graham passed from this world into the next. As Christians and even non-Christians celebrated his life and legacy, one dissenting voice rang out in stark contrast to the positive thoughts of so many. An obscure internet troll and writer for Teen Vogue (yes, that same magazine frequently filled with stunningly inappropriate content) named Lauren Duca tweeted, “The big news today is that Billy Graham was still alive this whole time. Anyway, have fun in hell, bi–h”.

Maybe you’ve heard the phrase, “the proof is in the pudding”. It’s one of those phrases that gets tossed around but is incomplete. The actual saying is, “The proof of the pudding is in the eating”. (More info here if you’re interested.) Both mean essentially the same thing, that you must test something out once it’s completed in order to assess the value of that thing.

It’s important for me to interject here that I am a libertarian. Essentially, I believe in a free market place of ideas allowing anyone to speak what’s on their mind with the one caveat that no one cause harm to another. So I have no issue with Ms. Duca’s right to make her comment. She is free to say what she likes even though I do not condone what she said. In modern debate the alarming trend from both sides of almost any issue is a desire to censor the other side. Duca has already tweeted that she is receiving death threats from Christians because of her comment, and that’s ridiculous. Freedom of ideas and freedom of speech mean anyone has the right to say what they please, again as long as they do not slander or libel someone or provoke violence.

However, in a free market of ideas individuals become consumers of ideologies and this is where I want to focus. While I believe anyone can toss anything they like into the online ether, we must test out their ideas and see if they hold water…or, the proof the pudding is in the eating. Herein lies the major difference between Duca and Rev. Graham. One espouses a set of ideals that promotes peace and love and the other promotes a set of ideals that promotes hate and intolerance.

Somehow, over the last few decades, the progressive leftist movement has marketed itself as the keepers of the ideology of peace and tolerance. But consider the hateful statement Duca made within hours of Billy Graham’s death. How is such rhetoric tolerant or peaceful? And when did ad hominem attacks become standard in American public discourse? How did the nation founded by brilliant thinkers like Jefferson, Adams, and Franklin devolve into Pee Wee Herman-esque comebacks…”I know you are, but what am I?”?

Without belaboring the point further, my encouragement is for you to investigate this yourself. Much like recommending a restaurant, you simply cannot confirm or deny the referrer’s opinion without sampling the food yourself. Simply google some of the loudest champions of the various ideological camps in America today and read what they have written, or listen, or watch, and sample their ideas for yourself.

The proof of the pudding is in the eating. As you sample their ideas and consider the implications of the truth statements each group makes, ask yourself some guiding questions:

  • How do these ideas promote harmony and peace between humans?
  • Will these ideas promote equity among groups of people?
  • Does this group and its ideas foster freedom of speech, religion, and thought?
  • How do adherents of this ideology treat each other and other people, especially those who disagree with their views?
  • If I subscribe to these views, will I like the person I become?

As a libertarian thinker, I would not force my beliefs upon anyone, but I firmly subscribe to the theory that genuine, absolute truth always triumphs when free thinking is allowed. This is why I am not a progressive leftist. In response to the last question in the list above, I would not like the person I would become if I accepted and acted upon their ideological views.

When someone like Ms. Duca trumpets hateful thoughts like she did yesterday, it only exposes the dark underbelly of leftist thinking. It’s no different than the Westboro Baptist folks spouting their own version of hate, just from a different camp. I’m content with freedom of speech, but it’s only fair that the ideas put forth by individuals be examined for consistency and plausibility. Duca, and those in the leftist camp, claim to be champions of equality and free speech, but in truth they are leading the charge for government censorship of any and all viewpoints in opposition to their own.

Don’t believe me? Do your research, ask questions, investigate, and see for yourself. The proof of the pudding is in the eating.


One Voice

One of the issues in our modern political system is the lack of dialogue between opposing sides. Those in the conservative, Fox News camp tend to be dismissive of anything from the liberal, CNN camp and vice versa. Lots of people are talking but very few are listening. Modern church life has developed the same issue.

As one who is an explorer seeking out truth in its many forms, my primary focus is on Jesus and this makes me a free agent of sorts. In other words, I’m not firmly tied to any denominational or theological camp. However, I was for many years. While living life in the “bubble” I was warned away from certain things while being firmly pushed toward others.

For example, when I was in traditional church I was told to avoid certain teachers like Joel Osteen or Joyce Meyer or basically anything on TBN. When I ventured into the charismatic world they were less focused on who I shouldn’t listen to and more focused on who I should. So the same process was happening but in a less obvious way. My brief flirtation with Calvinism produced even stronger results as the Calvinists tend to demonize anyone who does not fit their theological framework.

So, generally speaking, what we find in the average church of any kind is an acceptance of certain viewpoints and dismissal of others. While we should help newcomers to Jesus find their way, the Word does not teach us to create clones it teaches us to create disciples. We cannot do this if our attitude toward other truth-carriers is dismissive and arrogant.

Our litmus test for acceptance should be based on Jesus Christ alone. If a teacher is submitted to Christ and demonstrates the fruit of a Christ centered life (i.e., love, joy, peace, patience, and so on) then we should not dismiss them outright. There should be room at the theological table for differing views and varying interpretations. To put it another way, only one person in human history walked in complete revelation of truth and that person isn’t me or you.

So why do so many walk around like they have the market cornered on theological accuracy? Because that’s what we’ve allowed to occur. Going back to the Reformation we find the beginning of this concept. Calvin was so convinced of his position that he formed a political system around his ideas and essentially took over Geneva even going so far as to burn “heretics” at the stake. French Huguenots were forced out of their homeland by opposing Christians. Puritans were forced out of England, and the list goes on.

These ideas of “rightness” are firmly entrenched in modern Christian thinking. People either float around until they find the “right” group or they stick with the group they grew up with. Either way, most folks will never consider an alternative view on anything because they won’t bother to listen to anything outside their own bubble. This should not be.

We need to stop attacking one another and dismissing revelation others have received. No one man or woman carries within them the complete revelation of Christ because we are incapable of carrying something of such magnitude. Indeed, Christ Himself does not desire this because He wants us to function as a body, united together to carry His truth forward. We require one another to expose revelation as we have received it, and to correct error within one another.

We are quick to point out the perceived errors in others but loathe to listen to potential truth. Even those who are not followers of Christ may carry some measure of truth within them because they have been, however unwittingly, exposed to God’s truth by simply existing in His creation. So we need to stop being so arrogant, pretending we have it all figured out because we do not. All of us have questions about things. All of us are missing pieces of the full revelation of Jesus Christ…and we always will be.

To carry the full revelation of Christ would make us equal to Christ Himself and this will never be. We will spend eternity continually growing in revelation and truth because God’s truth and revelation is unending. That should be our focus and goal even today. We should expect to walk daily in ever increasing revelation.

But here’s the thing, ever increasing revelation means some old things we believed will change to more closely match God’s truth. So it is not just about learning new things, it’s also about replacing the old or updating the old as new things are given to us. When we walk with an openness, ready to receive from Holy Spirit whatever He chooses to teach us, then we will learn from all creation as we follow Christ. This is how we should live.

As we walk we must learn to hear one voice, the voice of God. His voice may speak to us through believers, unbelievers, the Word, creation, art, books, music, etc. God is not limited in how He can communicate with us. Throughout the Bible He used multiple methods to communicate including dreams, visions, and even personal visitations through angels or in human form. He still speaks in many ways today.

We have the Word of God to verify truth claims and to clarify the revelations we receive, but we cannot be so tied to a single interpretation of the Word that we fail to recognize truth outside of our bubble. To put it another way, I fully expect to meet both John Macarthur and Bill Johnson in heaven. Those in either camp may shudder at that thought, but both men demonstrate a firm reliance on their view of Jesus Christ to help and disciple others. We are the ones who have judged them.

Let us learn to walk in ever increasing revelation of Christ as He carries us from glory to glory. Let us not be so closed off to truth that we fail to recognize it when it comes from alternative voices. Let us find Jesus in every place He wants to reveal Himself. We can only do this if we are actively seeking Him and His truth.

Meditate on this word today and ask Jesus where your thinking still needs to be shaped to be more like Him. Ask Him where you’ve been dismissive of other believers and where you can grow in truth.