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Monday 20 June 2022

Wear The Delporable Badge With Joy

The strategy of the evangelical Church to reach the world for the last few decades has been to essentially suck up to the culture. Call it 'Church Growth', 'Seeker Sensitive', 'Incarnational Ministry', 'Reformissional' or whatever, the Church's strategy has been to sidle up close to the world and say: "We are more like you than we are the religious fundamentalists, please like us." 

This has resulted in a western culture that has been increasingly lost to the Church, probably for the same reason the guy at school who says, "please like me" isn't that popular. The nature of the rebellious is to hate the teachings and morality of Scripture, no matter how you try to dress them up winningly. However, despite this, such an evangelism strategy has achieved great loyalty in the middle-class upper echelons of Church leadership where to challenge such views is anathema. But it's clearly a failing strategy in the Church and an increasing number of "deplorables" in the up and coming generation of leadership are realizing this in real time. 

The damn wall broke with Trump, where big-eva revealed itself to care more about style than substance. Despite his obvious character flaws and even policy flaws, Trump's policies were clearly better for Americans and even the world. The simple fact that he was the first President in decades to not involve the US in a new war, was itself an achievement of the highest order. Getting anti-abortion justices on the court surpasses almost all his failures. But he was mean, and this offended a lot of Christian leadership often. To many of us, big-eva revealed itself to care more about form than substance, more about politeness than good policy. Trump, despite all his flaws, was largely doing good for his country. But this did not matter to many Church leaders, because he was too abrasive, therefore he needed to go.   

I will never forget seeing the many "conservative" preachers celebrate that there was now an "adult" in the white house, when Biden got elected. A man of declining mental ability, clearly not in charge whose tenure has promptly steered the US into more wars and deeper depravity, even to the point of provoking war with a major nuclear power, which is the height of insanity. But he does it while speaking politely, so big-eva isn't as easily offended. Whereas Trump inspired article after article of outrage, Biden doesn't, because he uses the right "tone" in much of his speech. 

Civility or culturally acceptable speech has been lifted up as a supreme value, and many appear to be dedicated to it above all other values. This is evidenced by how avidly some seek to police this value when the "deplorables" speak in a way that is deemed below par. 

Terrible teachings continue to seep into the Church. Like the idea that we should lie and affirm a transgender person's identity, even though this is to speak against the truth of God's word. Or that the State has the authority to tell the Church where and how it can meet, or even if it can sing. Or even that the State has the right to coerce what you put into your body, despite over a millennia of Christian teaching which states the opposite. While this is happening some evangelical watchdogs appear to be more concerned with how you speak about these issues, rather than the scandal that such things are seeping into Church pulpits and practice. Being more concerned about the tone that people voice warnings and complaints about injustice, than the warnings or injustice itself is the height of wickedness. But this is being observed by many in the Church. 

To give the appearance of caring more about the tone of the person sounding warning, than the deplorable things happening in the Church, is quite remarkable. 

Tone is not as sacred a value as some would argue. It's a method, and different tones are to be used in different contexts. The Bible even warns us about how smooth evil can be. Proverbs 7:21 warns us about the seductive nature of those with smooth speech - "With much seductive speech she persuades him; with her smooth talk she compels him." Proverbs warns us here that the adulterous woman woos the man with her "smooth tones". If you put too much emphasis on tone, you can place yourself in danger of missing when the enemy is seeking to overcome you with smooth speech. Ergo, we should recognize tone is not sacred, tone is contextual. 

Also we are warned to beware the flatterer: Proverbs 29:5-6 - "A man who flatters his neighbour spreads a net for his feet. An evil man is ensnared in his transgression, but a righteous man sings and rejoices." Or Proverbs 26:28 - "A lying tongue hates its victims, and a flattering mouth works ruin." Evil often shrouds itself in smooth and flattering speech. I have no doubt that the Devil was winsome when he was seeking to persuade Eve. 

As Christians therefore, we should not be teaching that tone is sacred, but tone is contextual and a strategy that can be adapted and changed to suit a situation, and to be wary of those in power who are smooth in speech, but openly do bad things. But because civility is lifted up to such a high value, a lot of this is being missed. The emphasis of the tone police, in my opinion, contributes to this. For those of us who come from lower class backgrounds, we are highly suspicious of the powerful, well spoken person, because it is often this kind of person who makes our lives harder. 

This is not to say that those who advocate for a gracious tone are always wrong, or that we should not use persuasive or gracious speech, Proverbs also says, Proverbs 16:23-24 - "The heart of the wise makes his speech judicious and adds persuasiveness to his lips. Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body." Gracious speech is really the default way we speak to our friends and even our enemies. But we need to recognize that our enemies can use it to con us and there are often times to be abrasive with people. A lot of people are recognizing this. They are recognizing that a lot of evil is passing into our society under a shroud of politeness and political correctness, and that we can and should be abrasive in challenging this. 

Doug Wilson is one of them:

Don't be so concerned with being tarred with the deplorable badge. Almost every single notable figure in the Bible on the side of good was seen as deplorable in their personality, tone, manner and position by more prominent and influential people at some point. The guard in the Church is changing and the "deplorables" are challenging some of the forms of the current evangelical guard. Just be true to who you know God has called you to be, and as true to his word as you can, and let's see what God does in the next few years. Changings of the guard can be fascinating, history shows us they are often times of conflict within the Church. But with the state the Church is in today, things need to change, and it's not the careful men who make the changes, it is the men who take risks who do this. And they are often seen as deplorable just for seeking to do so. 

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