How To Be A Christian Without Being A Jerk

Faith in real life

The “Fine People” Hoax

February 15th, 2021

Pursuing the truth is a difficult venture. Not because of some postmodern shibboleth that “there is no such thing as truth; it is all a matter of perspective”, or something like that. But I can think of two reasons I may not speak the truth, though it is my intention. One, I have biases that may cloud my truth-seeking, and two, I may honestly think something is true, only later to realize I was wrong.

This is why Jordan Peterson’s Rule #8 is so helpful in “12 Rules For Living”-

“Always Tell The Truth or At Least Don’t Lie.”

Lying is intentional and destructive. It is no accident that lying makes the top ten in the commandments. “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.” It is no fluke that Christ himself gives a nickname for the devil, “The Father of Lies” (John 8:44).

I am a prude when it comes to lying. I don’t always tell the truth, but I don’t lie. Lying is my number one pet peeve of sin. My “life vision statement” or whatever we called it back in the 90′s has been, and is, the same in 2021.

“Seek the truth at all possible cost, with courage and consideration, and lead others to do the same.”

With  this personal disclosure, you can understand why I am slightly perturbed by the state of public discourse. It is, perhaps, irredeemable. Corporate media has the goal of making money. Politics has the goal of getting elected and re-elected. Social media has the goal of making money if you are monetized, or at least being popular if you are not. It’s not evident that any of these goals has much to do with seeking the truth.

So, what is the most destructive lie repeated in recent time? For me, without a doubt, it is the “Fine People” Hoax of 2017. President Trump was speaking of the protest rally in Charlottesville, VA over whether a statue of Robert E. Lee should be removed or not. Historians, and those who considered Robert E. Lee an important historical figure, were protesting against the removal. Other groups, some self-identifying as KKK, neo-Nazi’s, Antifa and such, were there, as well.

President Trump voiced his condemnation of the violence that was perpetrated. He clearly said there were fine people who were on the side of keeping the statue in place, and fine people who wanted it removed. “Fine people on both sides”, in other words. He clearly condemned the “hate” groups like neo-Nazi’s, KKK, and Antifa, and made it eminently clear none of them were part of the “fine people.”

Then the Democrat Party intentionally lied about this, saying President Trump really calling neo- Nazi’s and KKK, fine people. Corporate media supported them by lying about what the President said, and doctoring the video evidence, leaving out his condemnation of the KKK, neo-Nazi’s and other hate groups.

This lie was perpetrated from that point on. It is one of the most destructive public narratives concerning the racial unrest in the US from that point until now. This lie was continually used to try to cast aspersions on President Trump’s racism, and more importantly to me, the alleged racism of all those who supported him. As one who seeks the truth, this was the proverbial straw that broke the camels back. The Democrat Party and corporate media were attempting to spin that people I love and admire, people of integrity and good will, were racists and “haters” because they were Republicans.

Disclaimer: As a registered “Democrat” at the time, I was troubled by many of the party’s positions. I remained Democrat, though I would simply vote for some Republicans when I thought they were a better choice. But, in a large part, due to the “fine people” hoax, I formally left the Democrat Party. I didn’t become a Republican, nor did I vote for Trump, but I could no longer be supportive of this deceit.

Now fast forward to the latest election. According to President Biden, this lie was what launched him into seeking the Democratic nomination for President. President Biden knew it was a lie and still spoke of it as a call to seek the Presidency. As a pastor, speaking of one’s call takes on powerful meaning, and to purposely use this lie to make oneself look noble, this was beyond the pale.  Then the President used this lie in his campaign speeches. Kamala Harris joined him in repeating the lie, as well. I was outraged. Then it continued in the Presidential debates.  Actually, I lost respect for anyone who continued this lie to try to split people apart on racial grounds, in particular during such a sensitive time in our country. Yet, this continued all the way until the second impeachment proceedings of last week.

The Democrat House Managers of the impeachment proceedings used doctored evidence, troubling enough, but then they included the “fine people” hoax. They showed the standard doctored videotape of President Trump commenting on Charlottesville that corporate media continued to show.

Then, the truth was finally exposed because the defense team of President Trump showed the authentic, unaltered video of what the President actually said.  As this was an impeachment proceeding, corporate media was compelled to broadcast the truth for the first time. Along with other doctored false evidence, the Democrat House Managers were exposed for all to see.

Now, I am not naive enough to think President Biden and the Democrat Party members who perpetuated the “fine people” hoax for political gain will admit they lied and ask for forgiveness. But, I do expect my friends and colleagues who were caught up in this lie, and publicly supported it, to do just that. This lie has brought untold damage to racial relationships in our country, communities, and families.  Yes, politics is not pure, and you can continue to support President Biden and his policies in spite of this lie, but you are also compelled to tell the truth about it if you publicly supported it.  And please, for your own integrity, and the sake of all people, if President Biden ever lies in such an egregious and damaging way again, I hope and trust you will call it out.

How do you know when the Holy Spirit is behind a decision?

June 10th, 2013

The “church” as we know it, at least in the language of my Lutheran tribe- with constitutions, annual meetings, synod assemblies, national assemblies, and such, is a human institution. I don’t, for one minute, automatically assume it is the Holy Spirit at work making His decisions through our legislative bodies.

 

The Bible (1 John 4:1) says, Dear friends, do not believe everyone who claims to speak by the Spirit. You must test them to see if the spirit they have comes from God. For there are many false prophets in the world.”

 

I was reminded of this recently when the Southwest California Synod of the ELCA elected a new bishop. On the ELCA clergy Facebook page there were many people who were so excited about the new bishop and how “the Holy Spirit has spoken!” Yet, some of these same people are not so excited and are not citing the Holy Spirit when synod assemblies vote in a way with which they don’t agree.

 

You see, I don’t know if the Holy Spirit spoke or not with the election of the new bishop, and no one will know whether the new bishop is the “right” person for the job or not. Not for a long time.

 

What I do know is this instant, “It was the Holy Spirit” spirit, does show a misunderstanding of the biblical teachings on the Holy Spirit. This is why when I speak a word of God I am hearing for someone else I always qualify what I am saying. I use phrases like:

 

“I think God might be saying this to you, or it may just be my own thinking but insert the word.”

 

“I sense that God is saying this, or maybe not, but I hear insert the word.”

 

This is how I teach others when they are giving prophetic words, as well.

 

I just find it fascinating that brothers and sisters from my own Lutheran tribe, which has such little emphasis on the Holy Spirit in general (disclaimer: I am a bit of a “pentecostal” who ended up in the Lutheran camp), get all “Holy Spirity” when human church legislative assemblies vote on something the way they want.

 

Actually, church assemblies of various denominations vote for all kinds of things that clearly are not the work of the Holy Spirit, in retrospect. Like denominations supporting slavery in synod votes in the 1800’s or forbidding Blacks from becoming members in the 1900‘s, and such. Some day, you may know if the Holy Spirit was at work on any particular decision made by a church assembly, but that always takes a lot of testing.

 

 

no comparisions

May 1st, 2009

When we realize we are judging someone else, we can realize we are not in a place where God settles down. We take our cue from the Trinity.

A scene you will not see…

“Hey Jesus, look at my abs. I am really getting a six pack, don’t you think?”

“You, da’ man, God the Father! (though you are a non-physical reality) Really getting pumped!” “Whoa! What was that? Holy Spirit, was that you again?!”

“Got you, Jesus! You are never gonna be quick as me! You don’t know when I’m coming or when I’m going…”

Or something like that.

Jonathan Christopher, of Stuff Christians Like, had this to say on his Facebook this morning.

Jonathan Christopher Getting cocky about doing what you were created to do is like bragging about your natural eye color.

Amen

Spiritual maturity? The dead end of judgmentalism

May 1st, 2009

Understanding personality types and how God wires us, prevents us from making errors in judgment in spiritual matters, as well as in personal judgments. Here is how it works.

Example one. If someone is wired as a “Sensate,” where they carefully make decisions in a specific and detailed analysis of the facts and possibilities, they will have a hard time just “going for it” if God is calling them to change. This would be easy for a person wired as an “Intuitive.” They are always read to go with their “gut;” ready to try a new thing. So, here is what can happen.

“Intuitives” can quickly think that “Sensates” aren’t as “spiritual” because they don’t immediately grasp on to God doing a new thing. If “Intuitives” will just be specific and clear about what this “new thing” means, many “Sensates” who examine this vision will embrace the change, as well.

Example two. When “Thinking Judgment” people (“Thinkers”) work from their strength of logic and reasonability, and not their emotions or what other people will think, they are many times labeled, “uncaring” or “un-Christian.” Especially if they are being asked to respond to a situation where courage and consideration are called for; not co-dependency. “Thinkers” are always vulnerable when people are attempting to bring drama into their lives. If “Feelers” realize their vulnerability of acting from emotion rather than wisdom, they will have the opportunity to influence “Thinkers” if true compassion is in order.

Actually, to be too vocal or too judgmental about someone else’s spiritual maturity is a very good sign that one may be lacking spiritual maturity.

How Do I Become Less Judgmental? The Personality Key Part 2

April 29th, 2009

According to personality type teaching, we are stronger in each of the opposing areas than we are in the other. We may show both and have a hard time figuring out each one, but it is more like handedness. I am left handed, but I can also do things with my right, though not as well. If we look at all 8 attributes, we realize the individual person falls into one of 16 categories. These are usually denoted using the first letter of each. For example, my type is ENTP (So, that’s his problem…)

Here is where the judgmentalism can creep in. If I am a certain personality type and this is how I am wired, then I am tempted to make my type in all the areas the correct one. It may be as simple as a subtle description change. See if you have ever said any of these about someone else.

Extroversion vs. Introversion/ Chatterbox vs. Shy

Sensing Perception vs. Intuitive Perception/ Stick-in-the-mud vs. Risky

Thinking Judgment vs. Feeling Judgment/ Cold vs. Bleeding-hearted

Judging vs. Perceiving/ Anal vs. Flaky

Do you see what can happen? There are no good or bad personality types. They are just different. Yet, when we start labeling people who are different than us in a negative way, we see how this can become judgmental. We might even be judgmental towards people of the same personality type because we see things we don’t like in ourselves.

It is helpful just recognizing that traits you consider negative in someone else may simply be different personality types. There is much more involved in Meyers-Briggs analysis, but if you would like to begin considering your personal type, you can take this inventory online for free.

So it is easy to be critical and judging of people just because they are wired differently than you. It might have nothing to do with character, effectiveness, or, most interesting for people of faith,  spiritual maturity.ᅠ

How Do I Become Less Judgmental? The Personality Key- Part One

April 28th, 2009

There are two keys to being less judgmental. The personality key and the spiritual key. Both impact the way we think about others. Let’s start with personality.

In the Meyers-Briggs Type Indicator (the leading personality tool based on Carl Jung’s work on psychological types) there are four scales that rate a person’s preferences among sets of mental processes. Here are the four opposite type sets:

Extroversion vs. Introversion

Sensing Perception vs. Intuitive Perception

Thinking Judgment vs. Feeling Judgment

Judging vs. Perceiving

Here are some quick, broad generalizations of each.

Extroverts are outgoing and energized by being around people.

Introverts are reserved and energized by working alone.

Sensing Perception people are focused on facts and practicality. They are into details and are initially skeptical of the new and unknown.

Intuitive Perception people are focused on the future and “what could be?” They are looking for the big picture. They are energized and embracing of the new and unknown.

Thinking Judgment people base their decisions on logic and facts, using objective analysis.

Feeling Judgment people base their decisions on how it will affect other people and will it maintain warmth in relationships.

Judging people are organized and try to maintain control. They do extensive planning and are highly goal oriented.

Perceiving people are spontaneous, open, curious, and highly adaptable.

What does all of this have to do with being judgmental? Tomorrow…

Church Leaders Lead Churches…Really

August 19th, 2004

Hugh Hewitt’s In, But Not Of is a great book for young people, high school and older. I found one section particularly helpful. It dealt with being a pastor or church leader. Hewitt called on us to stay out of speaking on political issues in our church role. I, for one, probably read as much as anyone on current events and the situations we face as Americans at this time. I think Hewitt is absolutely right. No matter how eminently qualified we think we are, we aren’t. Not really. We have such a dangerous job fallout of thinking we know everything about everthing. It’s hard enough speaking on practical matters of faith filtered through God’s Word, let alone trying to speak about issues of state. Issues of which we have so little real information available to us. Issues on which we have no promise of the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

think again blog

August 18th, 2004

This will be a blog experiment giving me an opportunity to record what I am thinking about and see if this might be of any benefit to anyone else. Following the model of thinker, Bob Buford, I am going to use these four guidelines:

1. Build on the islands of health and strength

2. Deal only with the receptive

3. Only do things with a big kingdom payoff

4. Focus on what I am for, not what I am against

Let’s see how it goes.

How To Be A Christian Without Being A Jerk

Faith in real life