CultureWatch

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

When Believers Turn On Their Own

Apr 19, 2019

One of the clearest teachings of Jesus has to do with our public witness: how nonbelievers will know that Christ has sent us. He said our unity and love for one another will be what convinces the world that we are his disciples and that the Father sent the son. Let me offer just two key passages on this:

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34-35

“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one—I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” John 17:20-23

Sadly, however, we so often and so spectacularly fail in this regard. It is much easier to turn on other believers and attack them than try to show real love and oneness. Of course there is a place for calling out sin and error, and full fellowship is not always possible.

But we are far too quick to lay into one another, especially in public. Speaking of which, there have just been three clear examples of this taking place, so let me look at each one. Too often these incidents involve clueless and gutless Christians effectively denying the Lord as they assault his people.

Case one. This one involves an American Christian radio station and the prolife film, Unplanned. As I have written before, some num num Christians have actually attacked the film and even said Christians should not see it for various reasons. I kid you not! See here for more on this: billmuehlenberg.com/2019/04/03/unplanned-abortion-and-the-gospel/

But now we have this radio station banning commercials for the film because they claim it is too “political”. It seems these gutless wonders did not want to rock the boat, even though this is one of the most powerful and inspiring prolife tools around.

Indeed, many abortionists have left the industry because of this film. But these cowardly Christians would rather try to keep everyone happy. Not impressed! As Nancy Pearcey commented on the social media: “One reason so many Christians are unaware of what’s happening outside their tiny Christian bubble – radio that lulls them to sleep with ‘safe’ and ‘positive’ programming.”

You can read about this whole unsavoury episode here: www.faithwire.com/2019/04/12/christian-radio-k-love-banned-unplanned-ads-for-being-too-political-then-changed-its-mind/?fbclid=IwAR1U-xLViYsIlg3UN5FUPFfBAkYOk5UY_qV4wJ9BoctpHtKHy2cnqIz240M

Case two. My second example is something I have already penned four articles on recently. It concerns the bold Christian Israel Folau and all these quite worrying “Christian leaders” who have been publicly slamming him. I have pointed out how sad this is as these men pleasers attack Folau as they seek to show us how ‘spiritual’ they are!

See for example this article where I highlight some of this unhelpful activity: billmuehlenberg.com/2019/04/15/folau-and-the-fallout/

Sadly yet another Christian leader has joined in with this public slamming of Folau. And one commentator on my site sent me a link to it, telling me it was very good and well worth reading. This is how I replied to him:

Thanks ****. But to be honest I did not find it to be very good or worth reading. Instead I thought it was appalling – just another Christian leader ungraciously and publicly judging a fellow Christian, all the while telling us how wrong it is to speak ungraciously and judgmentally about other folks in public!

Indeed, Frost did not say ONE positive word about Folau, but just attacked him and falsely accused him. Frost tells us that Folau’s message was “soul-crushing, condemnatory, hateful”. Good grief! Folau merely quoted Scripture! Is that now sinful!? Why do I suspect that Frost and others like him would regard the words of Jesus and Paul as evil and hateful as well?

And yes, homosexuality – like all sins – happens to have a real element of choice involved. Sorry, but I have no time whatsoever for these hypocritical leaders who are so quick to judge courageous saints like Folau. Give me one bold albeit imperfect football player any day over these Pharisaic leaders. And THEY are the ones who need mentoring to overcome their men-pleasing and anti-biblical foolishness.

Case three. My final example is the most personal. As some of you might know, I am once again in Facebook Gulag. I am of course a repeat offender, and so another 30-day stint in the slammer is my fate. I wrote about it here: billmuehlenberg.com/2019/04/18/facebook-prisoner-9473782/

Now, whenever such incarceration takes place, I get a number of concerned Christians warning me of traitors in my midst – of trolls who are my FB friends and who are obviously reporting me to the Stalinists at FB. Now, as I have said often before, I have no idea how FB actually works.

It is, to use Churchill’s phrase about the Soviet Union, “a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma.” But I am fully aware that the FB totalitarians hate outspoken conservatives and Christians and are doing all they can to silence them, if not get rid of them altogether.

So yes, it could well be the case that fake friends on FB are routinely reporting me. Maybe they get their 30 pieces of silver from FB every time they do so. It reminds me of the truly dire and diabolical situation in China where the communist government is now offering folks $1500 each for turning in any Christians.
www.opendoorsusa.org/christian-persecution/stories/china-promises-financial-rewards-for-reporting-christians/

Image of Divided We Fall: Overcoming a History of Christian Disunity
Divided We Fall: Overcoming a History of Christian Disunity by Luder G. Whitlock Jr. Amazon logo

While I seek to be careful about who I accept as friends, fakes and trolls and enemies can always get in nonetheless. With 87 kazillion FB friends, it is just impossible to keep up with them all. Worse yet, those who may have been onside in the past may well have turned against me at some point.

Sadly many folks can be good haters. They can easily take offence at something and become embittered and unforgiving. Christians can carry on like this as well. I have known many such folks over the years. So it could well be that some disgruntled and hate-filled FB friends are turning me in out of spite.

And who knows, maybe they are getting FB rewards for doing so! But whatever the case, this seems to be another example of cowardly and compromised believers turning on their own. It happens all the time unfortunately. It is something we just will have to put up with until the Lord returns.

To wrap all this up, bear in mind that while unity is exceedingly important, so is truth. Unity cannot come at the expense of truth, so we need to keep the biblical balance here. But I have written on this often before, eg.: billmuehlenberg.com/2009/03/16/on-truth-and-unity-part-one/

And I can point to other useful resources in this regard. For example, one rather helpful book on all this is Divided We Fall: Overcoming a History of Christian Disunity by Luder Whitlock (P&R, 2017). So we must strive to take seriously the words of our Lord about unity and loving one another.

It is so very important. Sure, it is often not easy, but it is what we are called to do. As Chesterton reminds us, “The Bible tells us to love our neighbours, and also to love our enemies; probably because generally they are the same people.”

We will be betrayed and turned on by other believers. But we can seek not to be doing this ourselves. Staying on our knees before God is a good way to ensure we are not part of the problem here. And being reminded of our own depravity is another good way to keep things in focus.

As Spurgeon so helpfully put it:

Brother, if any man thinks ill of you, do not be angry with him; for you are worse than he thinks you to be. If he charges you falsely on some point, yet be satisfied, for if he knew you better he might change the accusation, and you would be no gainer by the correction. If you have your moral portrait painted, and it is ugly, be satisfied; for it only needs a few blacker touches, and it would be still nearer the truth.

[1437 words]

21 Responses to When Believers Turn On Their Own

  • Greetings Bill, I’ve been involved in the pro life movement for about 4 years. Passing out pro life flyers. Signing and passing on petitions for others to sign, phone calls, etc. Not once have I heard a pastor speak out for the unborn or even hint or to ask the congregation to please consider voting pro life. I’ve gone to different pastors over the years to address the issue and they don’t want to be involved and in fact start defending the women when I’ve never criticized the mothers involved — only the abortionists. Long story short I believe most Christians want nothing to do with the pro life movement and want abortion to continue.
    Most of our Catholic friends are pro life – I think it’s their love and respect for the Virgin Mary and birth of Jesus. Recently I tried bringing up abortion in my ladies Bible study briefly stating that we are wiping out the entire black race – aborting more black babies than are being born and there’s not enough black babies being born to replenish the race. Not one lady showed any concern and no one said anything.

    Sorry if I went too long this time. Someone once said to be silent on evil is to promote it. Thank you & God bless you for being a minority in speaking out against evil in and outside of the church.

  • Keep standing for truth, Bill. As this world grows ever darker we need to shine brightly for Jesus.

  • Thanks Louise and Alison.

  • Dear Bill, all the angels rejoice at your standing. They learn from the likes of you, strive forth and keep your steadfast line towards Our Saviour Jesus Christ. Your reward will be worth your striving. God Bless and as a good friend says to me : ’keep looking up’
    Mark Bryant

  • Today we remember and celebrate the death of Jesus… But it is also the day we remember that he was betrayed… by one of His own, one of His closest followers. We should not be surprised by what is happening today… But we are deeply saddened…

  • Praying for you Bill…The truth is a danger to those who love darkness. Thanks you for going to “Jail” to get out that truth. We will just keep sharing far and wide to make sure that they do not stop the light form shining in the darkness.

  • Re Israel Folau, God bless him for trying to help people know God and calling people to repentance; a real John the Baptist for today.
    Re your own work Bill, thank you for all the time and effort and courage involved in speaking out vs the craziness of the world we live in and for trying to help people see the reality of what is going on and their need to know Jesus. God bless you and the work you do.
    And thanks for the Spurgeon quote at the end, hadn’t read that one before and it is just so good!

  • Many thanks Linda – and Mark, Annette and Ess.

  • I very much doubt your FB friends would report you Mr M since they would not have to be your friend to do so. It’s more likely your comment on Facebook has been used by one of your friends to comment against the enemy and that person reported you. Further, I know you are aware of the guy from acts 17 YT channel, he has just severed links with Facebook since they repeatedly suspended his account, and when you see what he was suspended for it can only be described as bizarre, in that, no normal person looking at what he posted would have suspended his account in good conscience. FB like all social media platforms have employed those with useless degrees in the social justice humanities to act as the moral face of Facebook and it shows, in that, the insanity by those people we see in society is reflected in Facebook.

    I would hope and believe actually, that if someone on here disagrees with you, they would just say, as they are speaking to their brother after all. If they are not your brother and active in a negative way then we should be able to discern that. I think it’s very important indeed to hold those on your site to see me and others as their sister, daughter, or granddaughter. I likewise behave if that were true.

    I think it’s true that as your reach increases so does your enemy base. It’s also true that if you were ineffective Facebook and the like would leave you alone. The cost of success has consequences, Mr M.

    Here is the thing, if were an army, we would be the most disorganised ineffective rabble imaginable. (that goes for Christianity as a whole, the fact we have you and a few individuals that aren’t doesn’t change that fact, but let me tell you this chilling fact, we ARE an army, we are supposed to be Jesus foot soldiers, that sends a shiver through me so much so that if it wasn’t for the knowledge we had already won the war I would give up now and join those who have already lost but are winning this particular battle.

    I ensure I welcome and befriend the stranger who turns up at my church. I have to tell you the vast majority are not ready for battle they are broken and in need of love and compassion. The truth is we (Christians) are taking the casualties from both sides of the war. The person at Facebook who checked your post, and ticked the box, ban him, will eventually turn up at one of our churches broken and in need of repair. In such a war it seems the outcome is tipped to our undeniable defeat . . . . . until you add the Lord Jesus Christ to the ranks that is.

    We girls are going into our town with clipboards, tracks and Bibles to ask the public what they are spending the day doing. We have a follow-up question for them too- “What would you like to say to Jesus for suffering and dying on a cross to forgive the sins of those who recognise his sacrifice, and for those who don’t recognise that sacrifice has provided a day off work so they can enjoy their short life on earth”. Alice our newest and cutest is going to have the first opportunity to answer any push back, I am second, third forth…. oh and as the leader of the group, any cute boys are mine.

    S, K, M, M, and A.

  • Many thanks again and well done S, K, M, M, and A.

  • Thanks, Bill, for being a bold witness to truth and particularly to the One who is the Way, the Truth and the Life.
    In this present season I am sharing your blog posts in whatever ways I can so that some people know how to get to your website and read your columns.
    I remember a saying I heard somewhere…..”any dead fish can float downstream, but it takes a real live fish to swim upstream against the current”.
    I used to read in the Bible about the persecutions to be faced by followers of Jesus but didn’t see much of that happening in our part of the world.
    These days we see the beginnings of such in our own backyard, so to speak.

  • Sorry to hear you are in jail again and for no good reason! The speak the truth is now revolutionary and you get punished. Hope i haven’t also added the fake friends who reported you.

  • Regarding the Frost example, according to the chap’s site his spiritual gift is stirring up trouble. While that’s a talent many of us have, I’m not sure I’d call it a spiritual gift, at least not one from God!!!

    The original article compared 2 examples – Folau, and a Chu Yiu-Ming. Chu is one of the jailed founders of the Occupy Central campaign in Hong Kong, a political movement challenging Beijing. Frost contends there are several difference between the two. He argues Folau’s message is confusing – that it suggests homosexuality is a choice (it is) and that LGBTIQ folk are destined for Hell – which is exclusive and hateful (but this only holds true if homosexuality is innate and unchangeable). Chu’s message by contrast is political – about championing social justice not expressing Christianity. While he accepts Folau’s suffering relates to his faith, he seems to suggest it’s Folau’s own fault, and that he’s misguided and wrong in his message.

    Is this yet another case of Liberal/Regressive christianity (casing deliberate) seeing any obstruction of the Gospel of Marx as persecution whereas Christ Following Christians see persecution as pertaining to the obstruction of the Gospel (of Christ)? On the other hand even assuming this is accurate – and I haven’t looked that hard at Frost’s site, doesn’t it appear to non-believers as attacking one another rather than showing love for one another? How does one display love whilst correcting gross error?

  • Mike Frost is a Leftist in Christian garb. His attack on Folau surprises me not one bit.

  • Thanks Damien. Yes I certainly was not surprised either that he came out with such unhelpful and unbiblical tripe.

  • I think you are a “thorn” in the side of, not only unbelievers, but also today’s “Christianity Lite” folks who, like Rodney King, say, “Can’t we all just get along?” You simply refuse to abandon Truth and compromise to ‘go with the flow.’

    “Rejoice, (easy for me to say, as I am not you, suffering this undeserved persecution and harassment), and be exceedingly glad, for thus did they treat the prophets.”

  • Thanks Bill, great article and reminder to stand with our brothers and sisters in Christ .

    Louise Harris, I agree, I can’t recall ever hearing abortion talked about in a church message . I wonder why it is avoided ?

  • About a year ago I had a serious online confrontation with the Frost in question. Never before (or since) have I received a worse verbal attack. It left me dumbfounded to realize that someone who sees himself as a Christian leader could treat a fellow Christian so harshly. And all because I dared to disagree with him. After that he continued to criticize me, so as a last resort I blocked him. I take no delight in what happened, and in fact am still confused by the whole situation. This is the first (and last) time I have mentioned this to anyone.

  • Thanks Ann. Sadly you would not be alone in receiving such treatment. He needs prayer!

  • My challenge to sold out Christians is always ‘will you hide me in your basement when they come for me’? I suspect many would not and unhesitatingly throw me to the wolves. Shame on you…

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