The judgenotters! That is the affectionate nickname I’ve given to those people who use Matthew 7:1 to attempt to manipulate bible believers into absolute tolerance of sin. You can listen to the teaching below.
To understand this post, you first need to watch this video
and you need to read Fred Butler’s post concerning the above video.
It has taken me a few weeks to get to this due to general business, and I wanted to give it the attention I feel like it deserves. I am going to disagree with you and your commenters (generally speaking), and I have seen too many comment threads degenerate quickly so I wanted to formulate my thoughts and share them in a compassionate yet bold and I hope persuasive way. I trust you will read my entire response and evaluate each of the things I say on their own merit, not based on your poor opinion of an earlier statement I make or my inability to properly and lovingly communicate.
I’m going to start by looking at the things you said in your blog. Then I will offer my own interpretation of the video followed by a bit of disclosure.
As far as your point #1 goes, I agree. “I do not have a problem with the use of drama to illustrate spiritual truth.” I believe this is the crux of the issue. I surmise that you do not believe the “Everything” skit met these criteria: “I, however, am fine with drama as long as it does not detract from the centrality of the word being taught from the pulpit and the skits performed are theologically accurate, biblical, and tastefully done.” I will argue later that this video meets the criteria sufficiently.
Your point #2 made an odd comparison which, assuming you are correct about the futility of the video would be a valid point. My personal offense comes as I probably cry or weep 75% of the time I’ve watched the video. I found it sad, assuming I’m just a weaker brother that you would be appalled, rather than, at the least, have pity on me.
#3 was entertaining and brought back memories of my own junior high school and high school experiences. Wit is one of your strong suits and you usually use it effectively for God.
Point #4 has truth to it. But how many videos did you watch? In my internet search for more information about the skit, I was actually a bit surprised to find that there have been groups that have performed this skit with a male, as you suggest. There was thoughtful conversation about how to modify it to make it make sense in that context. In fact, I was pleased to see that the “dancing” was changed in those cases. Dancing between a man and a woman makes sense and is done tastefully in this case, in my opinion. There is nothing sensual or sexual, just fellowship. In fact, when I first read your point #4, all I could think is how much you would have had an even bigger problem if they had actually had a man dancing with Jesus.
I don’t think the fact that this particular youth group used a young woman in the skit should have any bearing on one’s judgment of the skit’s merit. In fact, I would question a youth group skit where the main character wasn’t a youth. I would find that odd. Whether less attractive or less nymph-like ladies were rejected, I don’t know. I thought the girl did a fine job in the role she was asked to play, so her relative nymph-i-ness seems to only be a stumbling block to you.
I wonder if it bothered you that Kirk Cameron was a good looking guy in Fireproof. Maybe they should get actors that look more like you and me and see how many people attend movies. 🙂
Your point #5, I believe is accurate and misplaced and incomplete.
I’ll stipulate that you will agree with me that your point is accurate. We become sober minded and more aware of sin – often at differing paces. In your case, you were saved from false conversion and had immediate knowledge of much of the things of God. People I’ve met like this seem to immediately see the error of so many of their ways and quickly understand concepts like Lordship. It seems, in many ways, that is the main thing you (false converts who get saved) lacked. You run from the “Jesus is my buddy mindset,” but I would argue that is more a reaction to the extreme of your past than a directed holiness.
I believe your point is misplaced, because, as I will show, I do not believe the girl gets saved in the song in the beginning as you seem to believe. I believe she is saved AFTER the point where the Jesus figure in the story takes on her sin and defeats it and she realized this. And frankly, I have no problem with the initial reaction of someone realizing God’s amazing love for them to be enraptured with Jesus and his friend-li-ness toward them. Jesus did, in fact, become my BEST FRIEND the day I was saved and I do not regret that fact, nor am I ashamed of it. I do not thing His love toward a believer and the believer’s desire and obligation to find joy in that love actually detracts from neither His Lordship nor holiness. I think you may be picking up on the fact that that is the only thing portrayed here, so if you want to say it is in some way an incomplete message, I won’t argue with that. But most messages are incomplete in some way, due to time limitations. The Sermon on the Mount isn’t the best explanation of the book of Esther – and that’s ok.
So your criticism is incomplete because you focus on only what is missing from the skit, rather than commending the truth and goodness portrayed. The fact that this skit didn’t represent your experience of salvation doesn’t make it inaccurate. It should be judged on its own merit and by the standard you set above: “theologically accurate, biblical, and tastefully done.”
#6 – I’d agree with you if I believed that this was a story of a sinning child of God. I do not. I believe this is a story of a person redeemed by the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and, like the woman caught in adultery in John 8, is not condemned for her sin, just as no child of God is under condemnation according to Romans 8:1.
Now, hopefully you are not offended. I did not mean to be rude or harsh and I am open to correction. In cases where I judged you unrighteously, please forgive me and correct my opinions. I do not want you to think I’m attacking you, just having a conversation (in large chunks).
Here is my interpretation –
The video starts with the young lady wearing a black shirt. This is very important. The black shirt represents the stain of original sin. She spends the first minute and 27 seconds of the song being given life by the one who gives life, Jesus. She enjoys the wondrous beauty of the world He’s created as He provides movement, flowers, food and even some knowledge of Himself which all nonbelievers have. I would contend that she doesn’t truly feel grateful for God like it says in Romans 1:21.
Then at the minute and 27 seconds point in the song a young man representing sin enters. He represents lust and separates her from God even more tangibly. From this point there is a dramatic representation of many of the temptations that we encounter. A love for money, a desire for debauchery and drunkenness, the self-centered sin of comparing ourselves to others’ outsides leading to bulimia in order to be attractive to others. Finally, a demonic force enters and puts it on her mind to begin cutting. So many of these things are common to youth. I suppose sins like lying and stealing and disobedience could be portrayed as well with some creative choreography.
Ultimately, the weight of the sin drives this girl to simply want to die. By God’s grace, she hates her life so much that she can’t imagine living any longer in this way. It is the ultimate act of God hating though, to take one’s own life it to put oneself in the place of God and commit murder.
Now, at the moment of deepest despair, this lost and weary sinner remembers that there is a God who cares. She might not know much about Him, but she throws down the gun to look for him. It is at this point that the skit is unfortunately zoomed in. In my Calvinistic mind, I imagine Jesus calling her before she starts to run toward him. This is at the 3:48 mark. And you can see from that point that the Jesus figure is pulling her. She isn’t fighting by her own power. Her own will would have kept her in sin or killed herself. No, by His irresistible grace, Jesus pulls her to Him.
But her flesh and her sin will not let that happen easily. As much as she strives to reach God by her own strength, she cannot do it. Then at 4:32, the Jesus figure throws down the invisible rope he was using to pull her toward Himself and simply steps in and takes on all of her sin.
But it is not without a battle. The sin pounds on him and attacks him for 20 seconds of the song. You can see Him taking it all on and it has no power to even touch her anymore. At this point, you will notice a change. She is wearing a white garment. NOW, she’s been washed clean by Christ’s substitution. She is NOW a new creature and, methinks, realizing the depth of the sin from which she was saved, she reacts the way the Bible says she will react, with love toward the One who bought her with His own blood. There is a sense that I get from the video that once Jesus takes on and pays for your sin, it is dead!
This babe in Christ then shows him the proper gratitude and enjoys sweet fellowship with Him. I would propose to you that this interpretation is valid and meets the criteria you provided sufficiently. I think it tells a salvation story and does it well enough. I think if it is the only gospel someone hears…it would be insufficient, but for in and of itself, it does very well.
Finally, I will disclose that this video was effectively the first date of my bride and me. The day we met “on the phone,” we watching this video together. I reacted much like you, thinking it strange. I didn’t like a person portraying Jesus (which I now don’t believe he is). But my new girlfriend liked it, so I watched it a little. It grew on me and I came to like it, particularly because she enjoyed it with me. So I have some emotional attachment which I believe doesn’t taint my evaluation of the content.
Ultimately, I do not believe that the video is sinful, nor do I believe that it would cause someone to sin. I find it to be accurate enough to be considered a good representation of a biblical principle. I would not recommend it as an evangelistic tool, but for Christians who are saved to see a drama reminding them of the great salvation they’ve received through faith in Christ.
— Geoffrey Kirkland (@GeoffKirkland) June 21, 2013
Now I’ve got the timer feature on my Android set for five minutes. Let’s see what happens. Ready…go!
Well, where do I begin? My first thought was that God has gifted me to be able to type quickly, so I’m guessing I’ll get a longer list than Mr. Miano. 🙂
God has been so good to me in giving me life, and allowing me to know who His Son, Jesus Christ is. I was allowed to see some measure of the depth of my sin before He gave me new life. As much as I hate my old life, I am grateful for the experience and the perspective it allows me to have.
God has given me a bride and a love for her that is supernatural. I cannot explain how much I adore this woman and it has made me a better man. As well, God has blessed me with several children. I love my children so much – and they reciprocate that love to me and make me feel so humbled. God has been so Good to me to allow me to even know these people, let alone be their leader in the home.
God is Good to me because He has allowed me to know Him through His Word and has given me discernment and a love for sound doctrine. He has provided a pastor and a local church and freedom from most common types of persecution.
Generally speaking, He has spared me from poor health, He has prospered me financially and allowed me to enjoy some of the “finer” things this world has to offer. Although paling in comparison to eternity, it is also a testament to His Goodness. I do not take for granted the ability to see, taste, hear, touch and smell – nor do I account it nothing that God has made so many mundane activities enjoyable, like eating.
Well, there’s 5 minutes off the top of my head. Thanks.
He compared a Starbucks boycott due to the executive public proclamation that Starbucks generally supported gay marriage to the meat sacrificed to idols concept from Paul’s writings.
Let us note that Starbucks as an organization through their actions, the verbage on their cups, their advertising and even their logo has always made it clear through their actions where they stand on religious and social issues. The only difference has been the recent public proclamation by a single individual (to my knowledge) concerning tradition and homosexual marriage.
Here are my comments below that I left on the blog.
With all due respect, if I understand the context correctly – the food sacrificed to idols ‘controversy’ was about whether it was ok to even eat the food because it had been sacrificed to idols, NOT whether it was OK to support the sellers of the food.
The idea being that it was irrelevant whether purchasing the meat supported the false religious system of the day. But what was relevant were these facts:
- God declared all food clean.
- Therefore, it cannot be said to be sin for any man to eat that meat (in and of itself).
- But some men, WEAKER of faith, who do not understand this have been instructed not to violate their own conscience by eating the meat.
- Therefore, stronger brothers ought to also abstain out of love for the weaker (at times).
At no time was boycotting the industry altogether part of the discussion.
The essential component of the conscience-driven argument is that it must be said that the act is NOT inherently sinful. No Christian would allow another Christian to lie or practice sexual immorality under the guise that the believer’s conscience was OK with it. Do you see that? You can’t simply declare that something doesn’t violate your conscience and then do it. First of all, you are in effect calling anyone who believes it to be sin weaker. Secondly, maybe it is your conscience which doesn’t happen to be sensitive enough to sin and you are not rightly judging yourself and your actions! The first step is to search the scriptures and rightly interpret them to determine what is and what is not sin. What is free and what is not freedom. Then you must formulate your doctrine concerning the act. Why do you believe the act is sinful or why not based on the bible? That is the key.
So the question is – Is purchasing coffee at Starbucks in this context actually sinful? Can it be said that in light of what we know that it is an evil act to continue to support this organization? Or is Starbucks like any other organization which buys and sells and provides services.
Would you say it was OK for me to go to a Planned Parenthood in my town which does perform abortions if they also provided great man care at a good price? I could use the money I save going there to support a missionary.
Or what if Starbucks came out and said, “If you will not deny Christ, do not buy our coffee.” Would that be outrageous enough? Ought a Christian feel his conscience pricked by that? What if they just said, “Deny Christ and receive 50% off.” Would it be wise to do that in order to save money and give to a Xian cause?
Maybe it cannot said to be sin if someone doesn’t participate in the same boycotts. But Christians may do well to consider how to be wise when distributing the money God has given them.
Just some food for thought. What do you think?
To start, let me provide a little background information about how this entire project started. On Thursday, September 27, I received an email containing the following:
We have a donor who is interested in getting 1000 “180” DVD’s into the hands of young voters on college campuses in time for them to understand the content of “180” and the importance of their voting pro-life, particularly for the President of the United States in this election. He would like to target southern Ohio.
The faith of the donor is inspiring to me. For someone to feel so strongly about getting the message out is exciting. I’m glad that this generous donor had a desire to invest into sharing this movie with people. But to me, what is more exciting is the faith they must have to trust their large investment to someone they do not even know! Dear Christian, will you please take time to pray for the loving couple who desired to see our Lord exalted in Ohio this week? Ask God to grant them joy and peace and continued blessing.
So by early October we had settled on dropping in on the Ohio University campus with 500 copies of 180 (the other 500 are being sent elsewhere). Excited about the day we had picked (October 11), I began planning. Fred found that OU would be celebrating National Coming Out Day the same day! My soul was excited to be ministering in an environment where people clearly needed the Word. In order to complete the mission, I decided to use a vacation day at work. In order to ensure we were following the rules, Fred Triplett and I did research concerning OU’s policies. What we quickly found was they had some tight restrictions on the time and place for free speech, as well as a $100 fee for the use of space which I was not inclined to invest. Considering the fact that there were similar locations where we could distribute the DVD for free, we opted to switch to The Ohio State University. I was reminded (loosely) of the scripture where Paul’s plans were diverted in order to preach the gospel where the Spirit would have him.
Acts 16:6,7,10 Now when they had gone throughout Phrygia and the region of Galatia, and were forbidden of the Holy Ghost to preach the word in Asia, 7 After they were come to Mysia, they assayed to go into Bithynia: but the Spirit suffered them not. 10 And after he had seen the vision, immediately we endeavoured to go into Macedonia, assuredly gathering that the Lord had called us for to preach the gospel unto them.
Great joy was brought to me as our change of venue allowed two dear saints to be able to commit to attending! I had a small team of 4, maybe 5 people by October 8, only 3 days before the drop. By the evening of October 10, we had a team of 9 people, plus our dear driver Jerry Murphy who carts us around and saves us the cost and trouble of parking! One saint had to opt out, but that still left us with a nice size team!
Please pray for my team. These dear saints really made this day great for me.
Fred Triplett, Vince Montgomery, Melissa Burdett, Ben Cuenin, Ryan Muniak, Andrew Zunic & his friend Chase whose last name I don’t know.
— Michael A. Coughlin (@ABereanOne) October 11, 2012
After finally finding each other in the center of the “Oval” on Ohio State’s gorgeous campus, we prayed and began passing out movies. Traffic was light at 9:30am, and a bit of discouragement came over me as I expected the movies to be gone quicker. Ryan got on the microphone ever once in a while to invite people over, and we had some fellowship as well. We started to see a pattern as classes would let out and then start. It was a generally noneventful day until noon, when we realized we had finished distributing the 180 Movies.
— Michael A. Coughlin (@ABereanOne) October 11, 2012
After this time, only a few of us remained. Armed with thousands of tracts, bibles and a gigantic speaker and stool, we decided to stay a while. I got on the stool and read John 19, then preached for a while. A very kind man named Arthur was watching and listening. I invited him over and allowed him to interrupt me to ask what sounded like legitimate questions. He finally asked me what I thought of homosexual relationships. I continued to preach while answering him. I pointed out to him that as a biblical Christian I’m FOR relationships which are according to God’s design and opposed to all relationships which are outside His design. I was firm, but made sure to add that heterosexual relationships which are sexual outside of marriage are in danger of God’s judgement, as well as homosexual. He then revealed to me that he was homosexual. Up to this point, his questions had seemed hypothetical.
Then he asked me why do I care. He wanted to know why I couldn’t just let other people live the way they wanted. He even said what if he didn’t care about an afterlife, he just wanted to enjoy him time in this earth with his partner. I stayed on the microphone and explained to him that there was a two-part answer to his question. First, I told him that I love Christ and have a desire to see righteousness exalted. So part of my mission on this earth is to promote good and restrict evil. I pointed out that just like he desires laws which protect him from murder, theft and cheating in business, I desire rules which protect people from evil. The difference is my broader definition of what is evil. Then more importantly I showed him that according to my worldview the only loving thing I could do would be to speak up about homosexuality. I said, because homosexuality is sin, it is damaging to society and to him. I let him know I loved him, and as trite as it sounds, that I really did love him as a fellow human and wish the best for him. He understood that my actions were loving based on my worldview and he actually thanked me for my kindness. He said, “You’re not like the other guys. You’re not rude.” That, dear brother or sister, is a direct answer to prayer.
Will you take time to pray for Arthur?
— Michael A. Coughlin (@ABereanOne) October 11, 2012
Finally, I preached from Psalm 34, my favorite chapter of the bible. I used that as a springboard to speak about “security in Christ.” OSU’s campus is often used by sinless perfectionists, and I wanted to let people know that they are secure in Christ. I read from Romans 8:28-39. While I preached for about an hour, Ben, Melissa and Ryan distributed tracts and talked to people. Finally a precious young man named Danny approached as I was packing up. He seemed to be very knowledgeable about the bible and inquisitive. He was semi-confrontational. In a sense he was disagreeing openly with me, but he was very kind about it. I had a great time talking to him, but I did feel we were going in circles a bit. He did not have the same understanding as I had about what it means to be born-again, Christian or how to interpret the bible. This could be frustrating, but I chose to enjoy his presence and his desire to speak to me. He even invited me to eat lunch with him sometime. I hope I get the chance.
Will you please pray for Danny?
As usual, I appreciate if you’ve read this far. You are a dear friend. I hope that you are encouraged by the Lord’s work in Ohio this week. Many people heard the preaching of the Word or received tracts or 180 movies this week. May God provide an increase!
Here’s something that doesn’t make sense to me.
There are Christians that do not believe in a literal six day creation, as specified in the book of Genesis and Exodus and testified to by Christ Himself in the New Testament. I’m speaking of born-again Christians who hold the Bible to be inerrant, not just anyone labeled Christian.
This wouldn’t be so surprising, except think about this for a second.
A Christian is someone who believes God is angry with them for sin because a book that is thousands of years old says so. In order to atone for these sins, God (who is 3 persons, but 1 God ?huh?) became a man and was subjected to his own creation to the point of crucifixion. Then, miraculously, because of the resurrection of this God-man 3 days later from the dead, all of which happened 2,000 years ago, the Christian of 2012 can have all of his or her sins transferred to this point in time on the cross with Christ, and have the righteousness of God imputed to them; thus, being justified before God forever by His grace.
Couple this with the death of all first-born Egyptian sons after 9 other remarkable plagues, men who perfectly penned Words from God Himself and preserved them as scripture, and a virgin woman giving birth to the King of kings in a manger in the middle east and you’ve got a recipe for some FAITH.
So what I don’t understand is this: How can someone readily believe all these other seriously exceptional events, events which we can only conceive of because of the scripture, yet these same folks deny the special creation of God which is actually evident to all men through general revelation?
Romans 1:19-21 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. <20> For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. <21> For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.
This baffles me!