Christianity 201

August 2, 2020

Facing our Critics in a ‘Cancel’ World

NIV.Gal.3.28 There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

NIV.John.17.20b-21 “…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.”

NIV.Proverbs.15.1 A gentle answer turns away wrath,
    but a harsh word stirs up anger.

Today I felt strongly that we were to carry something from author and pastor Scott Sauls, someone whose name I didn’t know a month ago. Scott is Senior Pastor of Christ Presbyterian Church in Nashville, Tennessee, and was a lead and preaching pastor for Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City, where he worked alongside Dr. Timothy Keller.

We’ve been blessed by being able to carry more book excerpts lately thanks to our friends at HarperCollins Christian Publishing (Zondervan and Thomas Nelson). For this one however, we’re sharing a sub-excerpt from his latest book, A Gentle Answer: Our ‘Secret Weapon’ in an Age of Us Against Them which appeared at Ann Voskamp’s site, and another sub-excerpt which appeared on Scott’s blog in what he describes as an amended version. Clicking the headers below will take you to each, which are on the same theme.

We Disagree, Therefore I Need You

by Scott Sauls

…I am told that the Theologian A (I’ll leave names out to avoid distraction) once gave a guest sermon about how God brings people into a saving relationship with Himself.

On this particular issue, Theologian A is well known for emphasizing the sovereign, initiating grace in the salvation of humans.

Others, like Theologian B, are known for emphasizing human free will. While Theologian A would say we chose God only because God first chose us, Theologian B might say that God chose us based on His prior knowledge that we would one day choose Him.

“Sincere believers can disagree on certain matters, sometimes quite strongly, and still maintain deep respect, honor, and affection toward each other.”

This is an intramural and friendly debate between sincere believers, and ought to be treated as such. It’s an important debate, but on whichever side a person lands, it will not determine his or her standing with a God who saves not by our perfect doctrine, but by His generous grace.

During the question and answer time after Theologian A’s talk, someone asked him if he thought he would see Theologian B in heaven, to which he replied, “No, I don’t believe I will see Theologian B in heaven.”

Of course, there was a collective gasp! But then he continued, “Theologian B will be so close to the throne of God, and I will be so far away from the throne of God, that I will be lucky even to get a glimpse of him!”  (italics added)

What Theologian A demonstrated is that sincere believers can disagree on certain matters, sometimes quite strongly, and still maintain deep respect, honor, and affection toward each other.

It is no coincidence that the longest recorded prayer we have from Jesus is His famous high priestly prayer, in which He asks that His wildly diverse band of followers be united as one. Those followers included Simon, an anti-government Zealot, and Matthew, a government tax collector.

Can you imagine loving and doing life together every day with your political opposite?

Likewise, it is no coincidence that the Apostle Paul would begin his letters with the two-part salutation, “grace to you” (the standard Greek greeting) and “peace to you” (the standard Jewish greeting).

It is significant that he would insist that Jews and Greeks, slaves and free people, men and women, are as one through Jesus Christ (Galatians 3:28). All three pairings represented the deepest forms of relational hostility to the first century reader.

In that world, Jews looked down their noses at Greeks, and Greeks disdained Jews. Men were dismissive and demeaning toward women, and women were injured by men. Free people saw slaves as sub-human, and slaves were injured by free people.

Paul confronted to such divisions because Christians are in many ways a band of opposites, who over time grow to love one another through the centering, unifying love of Jesus.

The Holy Spirit concurred with Paul.

In a world where pious Rabbi’s prayed, “Thank you, my God, that I am not a slave, a gentile, or a woman,” the Holy Spirit made sure that the very first three converts to Christianity were a slave, a gentile, and a woman. You can read all about it in the book of Acts.

Dealing with Criticism in a ‘Cancel Culture’ Era

by Scott Sauls

hate being criticized. Don’t you?

Because everyone is flawed, everyone can also expect some criticism from time to time. But these days, a carefully timed, carefully placed call-out can have the effect of “canceling” the person being criticized socially, culturally, professionally, and in many other ways.

Even when a person’s overall history, accomplishments, and personal character are laudable, a negative word spoken these days can swiftly reduce him or her to a single, defining worst moment. To make matters worse, a damning narrative doesn’t even have to be true anymore to ruin a person’s good name; in many cases, it only needs to be told. In a quick flash, a voice is discredited and silenced, influence is lost, and career and reputation are destroyed.

In today’s court of public opinion where it’s expected that people will get “canceled” for having their own, unique point of view on certain issues, we can no longer assume we’ll be judged innocent until proven guilty…

…remember that Christ himself was “canceled” for our sake…

Due to excerpt length-restrictions, for this section, click the header above


Taken from A Gentle Answer: Our ‘Secret Weapon’ in an Age of Us Against Them by Scott Sauls Copyright © 2020 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission of Thomas Nelson. http://www.thomasnelson.com.

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