A Biblical Defense For Name Calling

The internets are filled with arguments. Many of these arguments turn nasty and devolve into name calling.

As enlightened people, we know that name calling is baaaaadddd. Don’t call people names. We are encouraged to keep on point, not go into character assaults, and be “loving,” whatever that means.

If you want to sound smart, you will even refer to name calling as ad hominem arguments. Ooo, look at Mr. smartypants breaking out the Latin. Oops, I just used name calling.

Here’s the deal, name calling and pointing out character flaws has always been a part of arguing. In fact, it’s often what keeps arguments fun, entertaining, and memorable. Is name calling really that bad?

As a Christian, I get my answers from the Bible. Ha, that’s funny, as if Christians are known for getting their answers from the Bible.

As a guy who actually believes the Bible contains God’s Wisdom, I get my answers from the Bible. Guess what? There are a number of occasions where God’s people used name calling and character assaults during arguments.

Here are a few classic examples

Matthew 23
Jesus Christ has had it up to hear with the religious leaders of His day. Jesus calls them hypocrites, fools, whitened sepulchers, and various other creative metaphors.

Matthew 16:23
Jesus calls Peter Satan.

Matthew 15
Calls a woman wanting healing for her daughter a dog.

Matthew 15
Calls religious leaders blind leaders of the blind. Note that this also takes handicap people as a bad thing. How insensitive.

John 8
Jesus says all manner of mean things to a group of people who said they believed in Him. He calls them servants of sin, deaf (picking on handicapped people again), and then tells them their father is the devil and they are all murderers.

Even the Apostle Paul gets in on the act:

Acts 23
Paul says to the high priest, “God shall smite thee, thou whited wall.”

Galatians 3
Paul says to his readers, “O Foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you?” That’s not very nice.

I could go on, but I have things to do today.

Here’s the deal, I’m not telling you to go around calling people names, or comparing people to handicapped folks. I’m merely pointing out the reality of life as portrayed in the Bible.

God’s people occasionally call people names and even mock others. Remember Elijah and the prophets of Baal? We even teach our kids about this in Sunday School, and then tell them to be nice to others.

As with most things in life, things are more complicated than they seem. It’s too easy to flip to one side or the other and claim your side to be always right. What’s difficult is to know that for everything there is a season.

Some people deserve to be called out for what they are. There is a time for referencing people’s messed up character. There is a time to sum up that charge with a well-turned phrase that sounds an awful lot like name calling.

We shouldn’t trust ourselves to do this right all the time. You should think before speaking. But a well-thought out portrayal of reality is a more than fine thing, even if it sounds offensive to our over-sensitive ears.

On the flip side, when people bring up your character and maybe fling a name at you, perhaps lighten up a bit. Maybe they have a point. Don’t take yourself so seriously. Humility is the first step to learning.

As Paul said, “when slandered, we entreat. We have become, and are still, like the scum of the world, the refuse of all things.

Let people slander you. You’ll survive. View yourself as the scum of the earth and there’s very little anyone can say to you that will disturb you.

And yes, note that Paul says we should entreat those who slander us, not call them names back. Paul apologized for calling the high priest a whited wall. Jesus spoke to the true condition of people’s hearts. He was not involved in name calling for name calling’s sake, nor was He exchanging barbs. He had a point and He was trying to make it to a group who wasn’t hearing Him.

Again, in the end, nothing is as simple as it appears. This is an area where we should use caution. It’s also an area where we will misapply easily. Do we have the guts to confront sinners? Or do we just call people names because they vote different from us?

Speak the truth in love. If well placed name-calling fits with that over-riding principle, then go for it.

Some Recent Thoughts About Prayer

Most Christians admit that they don’t pray enough. This is mostly because it seems weird, people don’t know how to do it, and there is a plethora of conflicting advice about it.

The Bible actually never details how much time a person should pray, other than “Pray without ceasing.” When we are told to do something without ceasing, this can’t help but make us feel like a failure when we inevitably cease.

The Church has not done much to help people feel more comfortable with prayer. In fact, the Church seems to only hurt.

I know one pastor who repeatedly brags about how much he prays and how great he is because one night his son came into the kitchen at 3 a.m. and found him praying. “Do your kids catch you praying?”

Unfortunately, this makes people feel like the only good prayer is a prayer at an inconvenient hour when someone is watching.

The Church has also taken up the tactic that prayer is a tool to manipulate God. You have to put the time in, the sincerity, the emotion, the energy and zeal to convince God enough to hear you.

Certainly there are instances in the Bible where people used emotion, zeal, and passion in prayer and were heard–Hannah’s prayer for a son at the temple, for instance. There were many times they were not heard despite emotion–David mourning to God when his son was going to die, for instance.

Every believer should have prayers of emotion from time to time. But to think you have to be worked up in order for God to hear you is not a biblical notion.

Yes, persistence is noted as a way to be heard–parable of the persistent widow. At the same time we are warned not to use vain repetition. Repetition is no guarantee of being heard.

You can repeat things in prayer if you mean it every time. But repeating words for the sake of repeating words is vain.

Many believe that if they don’t pray before an event, something horrible will happen in that event. If I don’t pray before leaving for work, something horrible will happen at work kind of thing.

As a pastor, I will confess to feeling I should pray more on Saturdays so my message on Sunday goes better. I don’t pray on Sundays for my Mondays as much as I pray for my Sundays on a Saturday.

This is not prayer to God as much as it is hoping I rub the bottle enough to get the genie to do my bidding. This turns prayer into a lucky rabbit’s foot.

I have also wondered, when the Bible says not to take any thought for tomorrow, if I should even pray for tomorrow! Lately I have just prayed for today. On Saturdays I pray that I use my Saturdays well enough to be ready for Sunday instead of worrying about Sunday.

I don’t know if this theory is correct, but I’ve been doing this for a while now and have found it to be a releasing relief! It’s been working for me.

In the end, pray. That’s it. Just pray. God wants to hear from you. Your Creator and Savior wants you to talk to Him. This is a mind-blowing concept. I suggest we find the coolness in this and enjoy it.

No guilt. No superstition. No manipulation. No testing. Just talk to God.

The Church’s Collective Amnesia that Occurs Every Election Cycle

There was an article floating around the internet recently claiming that Ted Cruz wanted us to “fight for Christ.”

Although I saw the phrase “fight for Christ” on any number of headlines, I never saw the actual quote from Cruz himself.

However, being a student of the internet, I’ve learned to always let headlines outrage me and never pursue further facts.

Although I can’t find his exact quote, knowing what I know about Cruz, it seems to make sense. As I showed yesterday, Cruz’s dad, a pastor, believes in Dominionism and the Seven Mountains Mandate.

The Seven Mountains Mandate “seeks to place Christians in control over the seven forces that shape and control our culture: (1) Business; (2) Government; (3) Media; (4) Arts and Entertainment; (5) Education; (6) Family; and (7) Religion.”

This movement has been related back to Bill Bright and Campus Crusade and Youth With a Mission. Francis Schaeffer is also mentioned as instrumental in the development of this idea. They put together the idea of these seven areas Christians need to get control of.

The Seven Mountains movement came along and taught that “if you can have those seven areas, you can shape and control whatever takes place in nations, continents, and even the world.”

That being the case, Ted Cruz wants America to go back to its “founding principles.” America was hoped to be a shining city on a hill, which is always code word for Postmillennial teaching.

Postmillennialism believes that the church rescues society, making society good enough for Christ to come back. Most people ditched this belief during the World War I and II time of our country. But smaller groups, such as Seven Mountains, still believe the world is redeemable by people. This view is very similar to the Mormon take on life that drove Mitt Romney to almost be our president, whom many Christians were somehow cool with voting for.

Their objective is pretty clear, you can find it in the quote above: if you get control of these seven areas you can then “control whatever takes place in nations, continents, and even the world.”

As H. L. Mencken once said, “The urge to save humanity is almost always only a false-face for the urge to rule it.”

People, in general, don’t want Christ to control and rule the world. No, they’d rather do that themselves. What more ego-satisfying belief is there than knowing Christ is depending on you to save the world!

Cruz and his family want to rule the world. Mr. Cruz’s father believes his son has been anointed by God to bring about this rule.

Mr. Cruz believes he has to fight to take control of these seven mountains of culture, he believes he has to fight to establish God’s Kingdom on earth.

This is all very fighty. It is also very contradictory to Jesus Christ who once said, “My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight,

Believers are supposed to fight off the lust of the flesh and the world. We’re supposed to fight the fight of faith, to lay hold on eternal life. We are supposed to put on spiritual armor and stand firm.

But there is no call, at all, in the New Testament for Christians to fight for God’s Kingdom. People don’t bring it in; Christ does. That’s kind of why it’s HIS KINGDOM.

Christ’s Kingdom is not of this world. We don’t fight for it. If we did, then we should celebrate the Crusades. Most Christians are content to blame the Crusades on folks who didn’t understand the Bible.

James says fighting happens when we look after the flesh. I agree with James. Unbelievers go after the things of this earth. Believers look to things above.

Why The Church collectively forgets this every election cycle is beyond me.

Trump, Cruz, and Playing Christians for Votes

The presidential races are heating up going into the caucus season.

As I’ve said before, I have not voted for quite some time now, and am currently not even registered to vote. This is a decision I made for myself, to keep me calm, to eliminate ruffling feathers unnecessarily, and various other things. I am not telling you to follow my lead.

One of the struggles I had with voting (Other than the typical fear, panic, anxiety, and stress when the political winds blow against my guys), is figuring out how I could have a love for people who I can’t stand politically.

I struggled with maintaining Christian principles in the face of political weirdness. Even the guys I voted for ended up doing things I thought were inconsistent with my Christian principles, yet I put my name on them.

Christians are pandered to in elections. Politicians know they need votes. They will say next to anything to get Christians to vote for them.

Donald Trump, for instance. This guy has no Christian sense at all. I mean, seriously. He doesn’t. The most recent example is his quote of a verse in “Two Corinthians” at Liberty University. During his speech to Liberty University (Jerry Falwell’s baby), Trump used the word “hell” several times in a not so Christian way. A way that is, incidentally, a violation of the code of conduct for Liberty University students!

Even when he’s trying to sound Christian he can’t pull it off.

The closest Republican to Trump is Ted Cruz. His father was a pastor, so he at least has some background. He has also been, whether you agree with what he says or not, consistent in his Christianesque message.

I’m not sure I like where he goes with Christianity though. Allow me to quote an article on him:

Sen. Ted Cruz’s campaign for president has featured strong references to faith and Christianity, which he says will help restore the country to greatness.

I hate it when people use the Bible, Christ, or the Gospel as a means to turning earthly gain. A simple reading of the New Testament will clearly demonstrate that Christianity doesn’t really care much about your earthly success or your “greatness.”

Yet Cruz thinks Christianity is the tool to fix America. This will backfire. Cruz belongs to a camp called Dominionism. They believe that Christians should get in power and enforce Christian morals by force of law.

This is not good. Cruz’s father, a pastor, appears to be slightly crazy with his doctrine.

In a sermon last year at an Irving, Texas, megachurch that helped elect Ted Cruz to the United States Senate, Cruz’ father Rafael Cruz indicated that his son was among the evangelical Christians who are anointed as “kings” to take control of all sectors of society, an agenda commonly referred to as the “Seven Mountains” mandate, and “bring the spoils of war to the priests”, thus helping to bring about a prophesied “great transfer of wealth”, from the “wicked” to righteous gentile believers.

Dominionism apparently believes that Christians can usher in the Kingdom of God. Once we turn the tide, Christ will come back and put down all opposition and then we live happily ever after.

I disagree with this theology and I wouldn’t entrust power to anyone who believes such things.

I think the separation of Church and State is a fine thing both ways. Let the church be the church and let the state be the state. Whenever the two are mixed, people get hurt, and sound-doctrine always takes a hit.

So, the two front-runners of the Republican party are both loony in their attempts at Christianity. At least the Democrats, who at their last presidential convention allegedly “booed God,” pretty much avoid the subject. Although Hillary can’t resist quoting a verse or two when convenient.

The bottom line is that politicians pander to Christians and Christians get excited when this happens and assume there are politicians who care about Christ.

They don’t. They care about votes.

It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in princes.

Put not your trust in princes, nor in the son of man, in whom there is no help.

***If this post bothers you, just be glad I don’t talk politics more. I do this as a favor to me and you.