Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Silencing Others Is Anti-Gospel

****UPDATED****

Since publishing this post I have had a change of heart. I still stand by what I've written - whole-heatedly - and now more than ever because I have heard from so many of you who are experiencing what I've written about. What has changed is a reference I made regarding what another blogger wrote. Although I did not link to or name that person, they knew who the comment referred to and they were deeply hurt. For that I am truly sorry. It was not my intent to hurt anyone which is why I've removed the reference. I believe my post stands fine without it.

That fellow blogger and I have had good conversation since the post was published. Hurt was expressed and I'm glad because it gave me an opportunity to apologize, and ask for forgiveness. I was saddened by the hurt I caused. I appreciated the discussion we had in which we continued to disagree but pursued love in the midst. We may not have done it perfectly, but we pursued it. And that is enough.

I also apologize to those of you reading this. I am truly sorry if I hurt you with my reference. Please forgive me.

I have said before and I continue to beat this drum - disagreement and love are not mutually exclusive. As Christians especially, love can stand smack dab in the middle of disagreement. I wish I was better at it. I want to love more, shout less.

Thanks for reading.
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I see a disturbing trend surfacing in light of the announcement regarding Tullian Tchividjian's adulterous relationship. Simply put, those who are of the grace and law/gospel camp are urging forgiveness and grace in the face of his sin. I hope everyone would agree it is an appropriate response. However, there are two points that seem to be at odds for the law/gospel believer.

No Condemnation

The first point argues that theologically, there is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Actually, it's not their argument, it's what the Bible says. And I agree. Paul declared that amazing truth in Romans 8 and it has served to set people free from that time until this day, and no doubt, will serve as the key to unlock prison doors until that day.

Does Forgiveness of Sin = Silence?

The second point, and this is where it gets sticky, says that on the basis of grace, only forgiveness and grace can be a valid response. This means that anyone who articulates anything other than a message of forgiveness is condemned to be self-righteous, anti-law/gospel, legalistic, unsupportive, judgmental, and unloving. The result? People get silenced. People get shouted down. The very gospel of freedom that's proclaimed is the very gospel used to intimidate and instill fear in those who have something else to say. I've personally experienced defensiveness and silencing as a result of simply urging caution in the absence of having all the facts. The misleading truth espoused is that forgiveness and grace cannot coexist with honesty and reflection. I say honesty because the truth is the truth. If you sin, you are a sinner (all of us). If you are dependent on alcohol, you are an alcoholic. If you committed adultery, you are an adulterer. Anyone who makes a truth-telling statement is not anti-anything necessarily, they are just telling the truth.

If the gospel we proclaim is used to silence people, it's not the gospel of Jesus Christ. 

It's a man-built religious prison used to incarcerate those who disagree with you.

Truth-Telling

If the gospel represents anything, it represents truth-telling. The gospel reminds us of our sin before God and man (the truth), and refreshes us with the good news of the forgiveness of sin as a result of a crucified Savior (also truth).

The gospel is the relief-giving antidote to the pressures of this life found in the very One who is Truth himself.

The list of those silenced by the church is long...very long. It may have happened to you - it's happened to me, and it goes like this. In order to dictate the world around me, I must silence anyone who is messing up whatever it is I'm clinging to that keeps my life going. Pride, power, control, reputation and even fear drive our need to silence others.

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I believe this is very dangerous territory. When Christians call for silence from other Christians, or anyone for that matter, isn't that a form of bullying itself?

No one wants to be silenced. As far as I know, we still have freedom of speech. But for the Christian, it goes even farther than freedom of speech. Are we free? Yes. Free from the penalty and the guilt of sin. But free for what? The Bible says we are now free to love. But if our love extends only to those we agree with it's not love, it's favoritism. Love extended to all in the midst of disagreement is love.



Our Need To Silence Other Voices

I think that what troubles me most about this trend is the absolute need to silence. It reveals one telling truth.

We try to silence what we fear most.

And, what we fear most is anyone or anything that puts what we love at risk. It reveals idols. The need to silence is driven by the fear that what we idolize will be ripped from our lives.

Good News

So, here's some good news in the midst of all this talk of bullying. There has ever only been one person who is not a bully.

Friend of bullies, Lover of silencers, Voice of the silenced and oppressed, Jesus comes in the midst of our completely whacked-out intentions, messed up theologies, and all our defensive and offensive maneuverings to say, I love you. 

He calls to each of us to stand down, put down, and lay down all of our efforts to fight for what's "right" and to justify ourselves before mere men. We can end the defense of not just our own righteousness, but the righteousness of others too. It's not ours to keep, defend, or give, anyway.

We can rest knowing that we get to be the focus of the only One who truly protects, perfectly justifies, and sacrificially defends us all.



2 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Thanks Aileen, appreciate your encouragement.

      Peace,
      Lori

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