CultureWatch

Bill Muehlenberg's commentary on issues of the day...

‘I Really Don’t Care For Your Tone Jesus’

Dec 6, 2018

People are going to hell, the church is being racked with heresies and overrun with sin, yet many Christians are worried only about the “tone” that some believers have as they seek to warn about all this. No wonder the church keeps losing. Why do I think these same snowflakes would be offended by the prophets, the disciples, and even Jesus himself?

I and others who have a watchman on the wall sort of ministry seem to get this all the time. We could be talking about millions of babies being killed in the womb, streets being filled with blood because of Islamic jihad, or the destruction of God’s institutions of marriage and family, but many Christians could not care less.

But they do seem to care greatly that we use some strong words now and then. They will say nothing about the great evils of the day, and the great apostasy taking place in the church, but boy oh boy, they will come out of the woodwork and attack you ferociously, accusing you of being unloving and unChristlike and all the rest.

They do not seem to be bothered in the least that the church in the West is going down the tubes, blatant heresy is being proclaimed, and overt sin is running amok in our fellowships. But if you dare to use forceful language to warn about this, they will go apoplectic and come out of hibernation and attack you and denounce you in no uncertain terms.

This happens all the time, especially on the social media. Folks that you simply never hear from will all of a sudden turn up and blast you, accusing you of being hateful and judgmental and mean and…. Um, I may have said this before: when those who never interact with you about anything suddenly show up to slam you and attack you, they are not exactly my idea of a friend, nor of a fellow Christian. They much more belong in the troll category.

But as I say, this happens to me and others all the time. One of the latest examples of this involved some articles of mine that resulted in some folks – once again – saying that they did not like my “tone”. Some even said that they basically agreed with my articles but still did not like my tone. One said, “The tone is really dogmatic and dismissive”. On and on it goes. So, are they right?

They could be. I may have overstepped the mark at times, and I apologise if I have done so. But I suppose I can always try harder to be “nicer’ and seek not to rock the boat or upset anyone. I can throw out all colourful and vibrant language and just use bland, nondescript wording. I can water everything down to such a point that no one would ever take offence again.

That is one option. But perhaps another option would be for some of these wilted dandelions to toughen up a bit and get used to the real world. Instead of taking offence at everything while doing little or nothing for the Kingdom, maybe they should take offence at what really matters. Maybe they should stop dwelling on their hurt feelings.

Indeed, why do I suspect that many of these critics may not be overly familiar with their own Bibles? Even a cursory reading of Scripture will review countless cases of people having a less than polite and genteel tone. Over and over again we find the prophets, the disciples, and even Jesus himself with an “attitude”.

They routinely had a “tone” that was hardly always polite and men-pleasing. They frequently offended people and upset people not just in what they said, but often in how they said it. They used strong language, they were not afraid of offending folks if the gospel was at stake, and they did not really care about hurting people’s feelings.

But I find this getting worse by the day. We expect the victimisation cult and offence industry to be found in the secular world. But now I find all over the place the same thing occurring among Christians. They seem to be offended by everything, and the slightest use of forceful language sends them into a tizzy.

Um, I don’t think these believers who are so easily hurt and offended would have done well had they lived in biblical times. How many of these Christian critics would have told Jesus, “Well, I may agree with what you say, but you really must watch your tone. You seem so harsh and unloving and mean.”

Consider just a few – of the many – things that Jesus said, and these only from Matthew’s gospel:

Matthew 12:34 You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.
Matthew 12:39 He answered, “A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.”
Matthew 15:7 You hypocrites!
Matthew 15:14 Leave them; they are blind guides. If the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.
Matthew 15:16 “Are you still so dull?” Jesus asked them.
Matthew 16:23 Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”
Matthew 17:17 “You unbelieving and perverse generation,” Jesus replied,
Matthew 23:16 Woe to you, blind guides!
Matthew 23:19 You blind men!
Matthew 23:27 You hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs!
Matthew 23:33 You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell?

On and on it goes. And this is just a small sampling of his strong rhetoric and his cutting remarks. How many believers today would be shocked at his harsh tones and his ‘unloving’ words? Many Christians today seem to think they are more Christlike than Christ was!

And how many of these easily triggered Christians would have strongly denounced Isaiah or Jeremiah for their strong and seemingly unloving language? How many of these snowflake believers would have condemned Paul for being way too harsh, forceful, and lacking in lurve?

Why do I suspect that when I get told by some folks that they refuse to read my stuff because my style offends them that they are really just offering cheap excuses here? For many, their minds are already made up, and they are quite happy to embrace false teaching and justify sinful lifestyles. They likely have no intention of hearing the biblical case on these matters anyway, so all this becomes a cheap excuse to refuse to hear a point of view they just don’t like.

Elijah mocked the Baalists. Isaiah ripped into the idolaters. Jesus pronounced shocking woes on his opponents. Paul cursed the false teachers and called them every name under the sun. The numerous examples of this are found throughout Scripture. But our generation of easily offended believers would likely rebuke all of these folks – and others – for being unloving, offensive and unChristlike.

But I have written about all this often before. See these articles where I offer plenty of biblical examples of this:

billmuehlenberg.com/2011/05/11/4389/?fbclid=IwAR32r5C09d6cWGXCkhK53kSqD0r7ba-iSDaQ98ibq3aRFNYvfdRRMUWshCY

www.billmuehlenberg.com/2007/04/18/rhetoric-the-bible-and-the-believer/

As I said at the end of that second piece:

Many other examples could be given. Suffice it to say that the use of rhetorical devices to strengthen one’s case is found throughout Scripture. The question remains, however: should we make use of such rhetoric today? The biblical writers were inspired in what they said, while we are merely perspired.

So care must be taken in imitating them here. But it seems that if it were wrong in principle to make use of such language and rhetoric, then God would not have used it, Jesus would not have used it, nor would have any other biblical writer. The fact that they all do indicates that it is not wrong as such.

Now I write all this not to encourage a generation of Christian writers to resort to heated polemics, to go for the jugular, to become H. L. Menckens or Ann Coulters. I am quite aware of our obligations to speak the truth in love (Eph. 4:15), to show gentleness and respect (1 Pet. 3:15-16), and to let our speech be always seasoned with salt (Col. 4:5-6). We dare not ignore or downplay such vital injunctions.

All I am trying to do in this piece is to show that in many places the use of strong rhetoric is clearly found in Scripture, and that in general, a polemical, argumentative style is quite often used. For example, Jesus and the early disciples made frequent use of the challenge-riposte paradigm, common in first-century Palestine, in which one tried to undermine the honour, or social status, of the other.

As always, getting the right mix is essential. We certainly should not go out of our way to pick a fight, to be insulting, to be rude, abrasive or tactless. But there are enough examples in Scripture to suggest that rhetorical devices can and do have a place in the Christian arsenal, if used wisely and with love.

It is not contradictory, in other words, to love and respect your opponents, while making use of strong and confronting language and rhetoric when dealing with their arguments.

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26 Responses to ‘I Really Don’t Care For Your Tone Jesus’

  • To stand for God’s word in the harshest tone can never be wrong. One only need to read scripture when Jesus entered the temple and saw what they had turned it into to know that Christians must use whatever harsh tone comes to mind to show our outrage at those who try and bend God’s word and edicts. After all, God gave us dominion and that also means the responsibility of looking after his patch – the Earth and all in it.

    John Abbott

  • Amazing how Christ Himself wouldn’t be allowed to preach his his own church!

  • Yes Paul, there is no question that Jesus would NOT be allowed into many churches today.

  • Hi Mr Muehlenberg, I for one want to thank you for your articles, the authority with which you speak and the knowledge you so readily share with us all. I am so grateful to the Lord for guiding me to your site, as I have grown and matured as a Christian since that day, but have also been challenged and at times, chastened. Also, thanks to you my library of Christian books has expanded. I’ve even read some of them! ? I feel confident sharing your website with others, both Christians and non Christians, as I know it contains Godly wisdom and Truth. May our Lord continue to bless you and your Ministry and I encourage you to continue fighting the good fight just the way you have been doing. I believe the last thing the world needs now is another “fairy floss” Christian who just makes people feel smug and comfortable. I take this opportunity to wish you and your family a Happy and Holy Christmas and a bright and Happy New Year. God Bless you! Robyn

  • Many thanks indeed Robyn.

  • Bill,

    I believe your critics don’t like the real Christianity because it doesn’t fit into their comfortable lifestyle nor updated Bible. These people will most likely skip over Christ’s teachings including Matt 19: 4-6 because it doesn’t fit into the evolution theories, sexuality and gender theories, nor the Australian Marriage Law between 2 people etc.

    It is obvious that your critics will ignore/reject the details of harmful behaviours and practices as long as they see evidence of a legal consent/contract to the Australian Marriage Law between 2 people, abortion, euthanasia, sex work and or marijuana. The law will matter more to your critics than who’s law they’re following. Your critics will attack you even though you’re not their enemy, but they refuse to attack their real enemy which is the Devil because he has deceived them with lies.

    God has given you a gift to encourage genuine Christians to be faithful to Christ’s word, and you have the wisdom to treat your critics like Jesus did when he stated, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots” (Luke 23:34). God bless your ministry and I pray that God will have mercy on your critics.

  • Well put, there is nothing new under the sun.
    An excuse for a sinful lifestyle.
    Maybe they are afraid to look inwards as their sin convicts them and it is too much to bare.
    So please dumb down your language so we don’t feel so bad.

    I was accused the other day of making a “rash judgement” when saying that most “Christians” will be lost. I replied and referred to Mat 7:13  ‘Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat.’ 
    I guess Jesus was being a little harsh once again.
    Its like trying to turn around a “lemming”

  • In the early 1960’s the Rev. Billy Graham went to Marilyn Monroe [shortly before her death] and said to her, “The Spirit of the Living God has sent me to tell you about Jesus.” Marilyn Monroe’s replied back to Billy Graham:
    “I don’t need your Jesus.”

    That’s what the modern church is saying to you Bill, “We don’t need your Jesus.” You speak with the same authority that Billy Graham but your message is being rejected by the church the same way Marilyn Monroe rejected Jesus.

    You are a light in a dark world with the true message of Jesus Christ and salvation. There are so few like you. Thank you. Love the way you tell it like it is. You speak my heart and you confirm everything I’m feeling about the church. Louise : )

  • Thanks again Louise. Greatly appreciated.

  • They are convicted by the truth, don’t want it and want to shut you down so they don’t have to hear it. The road to hell. Better the blows of a friend than the kisses of an enemy every time. Jesus and His Word are true, get over it or go to hell, that is every sinners choice, whether in the church or out of it.

    Keep up the good work Bill, some will hear and be transformed by the Living God and His living Word, as for the rest it is all too sad but they like all of us have had the choice. Forget about ‘tone’ it is a distraction it is truth that matters.

  • Did Billy Graham really talk with Marilyn Monroe as stated in a comment above? Sounds like urban myth to me… like the hitch-hiking angels of a few years ago… who are probably still on the road somewhere in the world due to the internet…

  • Ho boy, Bill, my biological brother would most assuredly find “your tone” offensive. As to “uncomfortable,” hard as I try to live within what the Scriptures say, I still find myself uncomfortable and lacking when I read your articles. I then pray and ask God to help me to conform to His will and to “get it together” based upon what you’ve written about and, in particular, the Biblical references you’ve provided on the issue. Talk about a total bummer…when I send those articles to my brother, he instead prays for YOU that you will see the truth and “tone it down.” Good grief, Charlie Brown!

  • Bill, Keep teaching about REAL Christianity.
    Jesus dealt with the Roman authorities and they had a maxim: Nil Desperandum Carborundum
    Keep on, keeping on, Bill.

    You’re doing a great job!! 🙂

  • Ray Comfort correctly points out that Jesus used grace to the humble and law to the proud. That tends to determine our ‘tone’. When we read 2 Chronicles 7:14 we seem to forget that it is God speaking to those who are “called by His name”, and in Revelation 3:20, again, it is the church that is being spoken to. Sadly, as has been acknowledged for many years, we are in the days of the Laodicean church and the next thing on the prophetic calendar is the tribulation. No matter what language or tone we use they’re not going to listen. “Narrow is the way” and all that.

  • Bill, your articles have challenged me to share online what is happening in this worlds! I myself have been ‘corrected’ for using such articles on my page! I’d rather please God than men!

  • Bill,
    It seems to me;
    If those who have been ordained to speak out, to be advocates of the “Way” are deaf blind and refuse to shout from the roof tops.
    Then I would say Bill, good on you. Keep it up, Fear not for you shall be justified.
    Someone has to do it in the stead of the dumb.
    So God Bless Bill.
    Regards,
    Terry

  • This is symptomatic of the politically correct Gospel. We are so fearful of saying the wrong thing and the modern church is complicit in encouraging this. I feel totally lost in this spiritual desert.

  • Keep up the good work Bill.
    There is actually a thing in the Church where some people are committed to “the truth” but have no charity. They take delight in coming down on others with a cold, controlling, moralistic, superior tone. Their problem is a Pharisaical lack of charity. It is pride.
    I have become attuned to that sort of thing (in others at least!), and I haven’t sensed it in your writings.

    God bless, Brendan

  • As one who has been described as evil for speaking truth in our time of deep darkness your strong yet truthful words do not offend me. Truth (light) in a dark age of autonomy of opinion (depravity) will always offend the lawless.

  • Some who come to Christ find that there is a very massive ‘tearing of flesh’ upon which they freely allow towards which they will be broken (aka humbled) and continue to submit to the Lord’s work within them. It will cause a change of character unlike anything else. Others who come to Christ are determined to stay as babes and refuse to add ‘meat’ to their daily diet. Both are Christians, both will go through the fire of judgement to see what gems what gold and silver will make it through whilst the dross is burned away. These saints will come to see Jesus, see the Lord G-d, as He is and will be fully transformed into His very image. The fat and the lean cattle will be put in check and find wanting, but thank the Lord for His precious grace and mercy they (we) will be with Him forever. Unfortunately, being either ignorant or lacking in character to go deeper the ‘rewards’ will not be allotted and only those who pushed forward to the high calling of G-d in Christ Jesus shall be at the forefront of His plan and purpose when the age of mankind as we know it is done. May you receive a double portion Mr Muehlenberg, for your love and truth as you continue to allow the enabling of our Lord work in, through and by you for the ‘betterment’ of the Church body. Thank you for what you have done thus far though we all give thanks and praise to the One who makes the good in us unveil 😉

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