Tuesday with Michael Spencer: It’s going to take courage

Courage. Photo by Marco Verch (trendingtopics). Creative Commons License

Tuesday with Michael Spencer
It’s going to take courage (from a post in 2008)

If the truth about Christianity turned out to be very different from what we’d been taught as young Christians by people we look up to as mentors and authorities, would we stand up and tell the truth? Would we make the turn and go the other way?

Every so often, this situation occurs. Take, for example, the infamous inter-racial dating rule at Bob Jones University. Through whatever process- enlightenment, epiphany, embarrassment- it became obvious that the school’s prohibition on interracial dating was wrong, even though it had been taught as part of a “godly Christian witness” for decades.

On the day that became clear, someone had to come to this conclusion:

  • Jesus never endorsed this prohibition.
  • It’s counter to the Gospel to have this rule.
  • But our pastors, teachers, mentors, parents, grandparents, ancestors and culture have taught us that this kind of segregation is right.
  • They used the Bible to prove their point, but they used it wrongly.
  • If we are going to do what is right, we have to say that those who came before us were wrong.
  • It will be embarrassing, and some people will get angry.

Get that next to last sentence: If we are going to do what is right, then those who came before us are wrong and we must, in one form or another, say so.

Christians struggle with this because their concept of truth makes them largely slow to comprehend the human, historical and cultural element in their perception of truth.

They are slow to see that their version of Christianity is very white, upper middle class and American.

They are slow to see applications of the gospel that require them to repent of the way they’ve treated people with whom they have some issue.

They are slow to admit that what was preached and taught was wrong because the use of scripture (or lack of scripture) was wrong.

Many conservative evangelicals have a “thing” about the past. Maybe it’s the reformers. Or the confederacy. Or the last pastor. Or Puritans. Or some preacher of the last century. Or Christians who were right about many things but wrong about some things.

It takes courage to stand up and tell the world that Christians are wrong. It take even more courage to tell Christians that they are wrong. But if we are going to follow Jesus, we have do it and keep on doing it.

And we have to give our children permission to stand up and say we were wrong.

We were wrong, and Jesus is right. It’s an ongoing process of discovery, repentance and ownership.

It’s taken us through slavery and civil rights. Now it’s time to have the courage to say that we as evangelicals and establishment Christians have been wrong about many things.

Not wrong about the essentials of the Gospel, though we have a lot of problems related to the Gospel that we need to confess. And not wrong about the Bible or the Cross.

But we need to say we’ve been wrong about all kinds of things related to institutional and establishment, status quo Christianity. Those who came before us saw things in the Bible that weren’t there and used the Bible to prove things that were far from the ecclesia vision of Jesus.

It’s going to take courage. I hope we have plenty to go around.

82 thoughts on “Tuesday with Michael Spencer: It’s going to take courage

  1. I admit to having some guilt/reservations if I mow the lawn Sunday afternoons. Truthfully

    True that, you should be relaxing in a lawn chair enjoying a beer (after church of course) 🙂


  2. Well, I think you’re mistaken about Michael.

    The sexual standards of today aren’t so much different than those in the Roman Empire. There are different thoughts/excuses behind them, but why are we expecting non-Christians to act like Christians? Besides that, there are a lot of self-identified Christians who aren’t holding to their professed standards. See: Divorce.



  3. It’s always been “serious” to various degrees. As Mule said, this ain’t our first rodeo. The institution isn’t the same thing as the Church.



  4. “In the twentieth century, for the first time in Church history, this traditional practice was successfully artificially neutralized in respect to the emergence and development of the modern heresy of ecumenism, which, according to the great Serbian dogmatician St. Justin (Popovi?), is a pan-heresy. It happened and continues to happen mainly because this heresy (undeclared, despite the obviousness of it) is still allowed (if not protected) by the majority of the Local Orthodox Churches. Moreover, it’s connected with the fact that in several cases, the bearers and supporters of this particular heresy are themselves the heads of the Local Orthodox Churches.”

    Change the names and some of the terms and this is just like the infighting I remember between the conservative and less so churches of Christ…


  5. yes, he does

    senecagriggs is a part of our community here and I, for one, would not want to see him silenced, nor has he tried to silence the rest of us, and this to his credit

    right now, in the crisis of this virus and the disintegration of our ‘way of life’ (materialistic), we do need all hands on deck and we do need the insight of many who may see from different vantage points and if we disagree, that’s ‘okay’ . . . better that than shaming and fearfulness and feeling we cannot be honest here in this place where Michael Spencer modeled his own kind of honesty which we found refreshing indeed.

    So we disagree sometimes? Is this so bad? Far worse to silence people, far worse not to listen to those who see things differently and learn from them.

    Senecagriggs is an imonker, and I may not agree with him on many levels, but I appreciate his voice here and hope he will continue to contribute out of his own truth from that place where he can understand what we may not be able to see. . . . we need all voices now, and some time-out to listen to one another in peace


  6. At first I thought you said, “I’m really not a fan of the current pope. I don’t think he could carry the scandals of Pope John and Benedict.”


  7. Question: Who is measuring the conservative orthodoxy? Answer: The miniscule sliver of the American Christian religious population that senecagriggs belongs to.


  8. Dana, I think he would have moved towards acceptance of the current shifting sexual standards as an example.


  9. Yes!! Thank you. How did we get to the point in modern evangelicalism that what is claimed to be “Good New” doesn’t sound so much like good news?


  10. Finally, a word about the Eastern Orthodox Church. I know less about them that I do about Roman Catholic politics but I’ve been aware of some serious infighting over the last few years.

    The Orthodox Church Stays in the Dark Ages
    A meeting intended to unite denominations and modernize dogma devolves into infighting.

    Sadly, you can’t read the whole article unless you pay up but there have been significant divisions going on.

    Of note: I wouldn’t expect a Bloomberg Oped to come close to grasping Eastern Orthodoxy

    Finally, Eastern Orthodox continues to be a small part of the religious ethos in the USA so it doesn’t get much copy. It’s hard to keep up with the political infighting – you rarely read about it. But it’s been serious in the last few years I think.


  11. Greg, as a conservative Evangelical, I thought Pope John was a truly impressive individual and a Godly man. Also I’ve had considerable respect for Pope Benedict

    I’m really not a fan of the current pope. I don’t think he could carry the sandals of Pope John and Benedict.


  12. Dan, I think Michael Spenser would have become even more liberal in the last 12 years.


  13. Z, if you’re a conservative Evangelical you are no where close to the dominant culture. General estimates for the population of conservative, orthodox Evangelicals is about 3 percent.


  14. Richard Hershberger says
    May 5, 2020 at 10:29 am
    As a student of cultural history, what strikes me about culture war issues is how easily they are set aside, once the moment has passed.

    Richard, I think that is generally true but I admit to having some guilt/reservations if I mow the lawn Sunday afternoons. Truthfully


  15. There have been Christ-like persons in every land, era, and culture. Their existence, and the brave and noble things they’ve done, do not put an imprimatur on the moral probity of their cultures and times.


  16. He might’ve said, “When men give the order to shoot indiscriminately hundreds of religious pilgrims as they gather for their festival, we let them retire to an easy old age, with a large cult following of genteel supporters and well-wishers who give them a huge monetary gift with which to support a comfortable lifestyle for the rest of their days.”

    Much depends on what one decides to pay attention to in a culture’s history, and what one would choose instead to forget or suppress.


  17. It will get past us, leaving us in the dust. After a while, we (speaking in terms of our society) will realize we’ve been left in the lurch, and there will be no payoff for pretending otherwise. It will happen in tandem with the loss of Euro-American global economic and cultural primacy, which is coming fast, and is actually here.


  18. Yet, how far do you want to stretch cultural relativism? Are there any cultural expressions that are closer to the image of God than others?

    In the 1840s, Hindu priests complained to Charles James Napier (then Commander-in-Chief of British forces in India) about the prohibition of suttee by British authorities. Suttee was the custom of burning widows alive on the funeral pyre of their husbands. According to Napier’s brother William, this is how he replied:

    “Be it so. This burning of widows is your custom; prepare the funeral pile. But my nation has also a custom. When men burn women alive we hang them, and confiscate all their property. My carpenters shall therefore erect gibbets on which to hang all concerned when the widow is consumed. Let us all act according to national customs.”

    Is there a center which can hold, pray tell?


  19. “Whenever I discern a sounder opinion in any matter whatsoever, I gladly and humbly abandon the earlier one. For I know that those things I have learned are but the least in comparison with what I do not know.” – John Hus

    From one of the first Reformers, words put to what was happening with me when I left the Roman Catholic Church in college, and again when I left “Conservative Evangelicalism” for the Wilderness, and again when I came to rest in Eastern Orthodoxy. Making the first change, I was a somewhat callow youth; the others, not so much. But in all of it I was seeking to belong to God, to follow Jesus Christ, and to worship as God desired me to do, all based on the most consistent interpretation of Scripture that was available to me at those moments. All the changes required me to examine what I had been given, and to tell myself, at least, what I was finding inconsistent.

    Someone above commented that Michael may have been mistaken about “the essentials of the Gospel”, and I agree. But the man did have courage, and he helped so many people to pluck up some amount of their own. I also think Mule has a point in his comment at 0926.

    Conservative Evangelicals do not deserve to be attacked, any more than anyone else. However, some of them lay themselves open to that attack because of their attitude, even if they happen to be right about something; it’s the arrogance of some of them, and the public expressions of it, that invite criticism. Arrogance is not limited to Conservative Evangelicals, of course. But the humble people who go about loving their neighbor without media exposure don’t feed the societal divisions and so are ignored.



  20. What WERE they not mistaken about? I’m having a hard time coming up with anything…


  21. Well, if we got it wrong, why should we expect traditionalist cultures will get it right?


  22. This reminds me of the post of just a few days ago about liminal space. I commented that day that it was akin to being in the midst of a paradigm shift. The old things are falling away and the new things are emerging. I don’t want to get into an argument about conservative versus progressive Christianity because, frankly, I don’t know how to define either of them very well. What I will say is that God makes all things new. “See, I make all things new.” Living the Christian life, by simple definition, entails creation and creativity. We are co-creators with God bringing about the vision of the Kingdom of God. That plainly tells me that something new, and some pain of losing the old, is a very normal and expected part of life. All of creation tells us that it is so. Now clear cutting the forest of our faith does nothing to move it along. Planting yuccas where only pines will grow is fruitless as well. The secret is an opening the branches of the canopy so that the seedlings may reach the light. Then you have a sustainable ecosystem. If we are unwilling to engage the possibility of living and ongoing revelation then we have in fact lost our tradition because that is our tradition. Peter, the rock of our tradition, sat on a rooftop in Joppa and experienced a vision. He instructed the Lord on the ins and outs of his tradition and the Lord had something altogether different in mind. The Lord told him to break the rules. If he held fast to his tradition we Gentiles might be worshiping golden calves or rational thought processes or somesuch. We are built on a tradition of breaking rules and willingness to seeing the new. That is in fact our tradition. Jesus said, “you have heard it said, but I tell you… “. Abandoning tradition is not the point. Embracing the model of our forefathers is. If we are to live like Peter and Paul, like Jesus, like Mary and Joseph, then we must exist, finally, in a vibrant experiential way in the spirit of God. That is the tradition we follow and I don’t want to discard it. That doesn’t mean I have to run out and find the closest church where speaking in tongues is endorsed. It means I personally must live a crucified life that is open to the living spirit as he decides, with my assent because he calls me a friend, the path for my life.


  23. For your not getting along with them, you sure sound like you agree with them on most things – moreso than you do with us. So why did you not get along with them? And why do you feel compelled to come here and not get along with us?


  24. Exactly.

    “Conservative Evangelicals, such as myself, take a lot of flak from more progressive Christians. It is forever true…In this age, it really takes zero bravery to attack conservative Evangelicals.”

    I would say, “And vice versa.”


  25. English does not carry much of the culture it grew out of anymore. It’s like Greek in the Roman Empire during the first centuries of our era. A language of commerce, far from history and tradition.


  26. Good quote there by Richard Hooker. I’ll remember it for my Reformed friends. It struck me the other day that when a person’s view of Christ shifts too much toward theology, it becomes like playing a chess match, and they’re always looking to checkmate you. No thanks.


  27. Robert F. I believe you are correct in your statement. The third and second world nations are rising in Christian population. As these nations become more first world and grown economic and social areas they will suffer the same problems that first world Christianity encounters. Just like in the beginning the core of Christianity appealed to those without power, without economic, political and social status as it is a message of hope and assurance. However good or bad Christianity has historically been a western religion and the spreading of the Gospel to the other parts of the world an ongoing effort. So when the developed nations the world stop sending out missionaries, giving aid and economic as well as teaching and moral support will the newly emerging Christians sustain and grow? The child in me wants to be able to know what happens here where I am there but I know that is not going to happen. How will it all turn out? I think all major denominations not just evangelical/ fundamental belief the fate of the church ties in with them


  28. As a student of cultural history, what strikes me about culture war issues is how easily they are set aside, once the moment has passed. My standard example is Sabbatarianism, and Sunday baseball in particular. A century and a half ago, Sabbatarianism was basic tenet of respectable Evangelical Protestants, who inherited it from the Puritans. Sunday baseball was routinely denounced from the pulpit: not in cultural relativism terms, but that this was desecration directly tied (in both directions) to hellfire. They lost that culture war. By the mid-20th century every major league market played on Sundays, and mainstream America thought nothing of it. Only fundamentalism regions held out. Then Billy Graham gave them permission to lighten up. (For a very interesting article on Graham and Sunday sports, saved via the Wayback Machine, see: https://web.archive.org/web/20180408073329/http://www.sportianity.com/2018/03/how-billy-graham-made-peace-with-sunday.html) Since then Evangelicals embraced the NFL, without its playing on Sundays being even the slightest issue. The old culture war was so firmly crammed down the memory hole that few modern Evangelicals are willing to concede even that it ever was a thing. This is a routine pattern. Once a culture war is well and truly lost, the response is to deny that it had ever really been fought.


  29. And, as a rule, global Christianity doesn’t give a fig about history or tradition, not even tradition with a capital T.


  30. An interesting development is the emergence of English as a world-wide ‘sacral language` for Evangelicals. I was taken aback when a young Guatemalan admitted he ws learning English because he wanted to read Kenneth Hagen and Kenneth Copeland in the original language.

    Pentecostalism is endemic in Latin America, but I could see the same thing happening among Korean Presbyterians wanting to read Hodge and BB Warfield.

    The amount of Protestant divinity of varying quality written in English dwarfs that written in any other language. Catholic too, I bet, and it’s becoming more important among the Orthodox as well.


  31. Oh, I have no doubt about that. I don’t fool myself that global Christianity is developing in a direction progressive Euro-American Christians would approve. But I don’t think global Christianity is in the least dependent on European civilization either; Euro-American Christianity in all its forms could completely die — and may — without global Christianity losing a step, or even taking notice. The development of global Christianity has been completely divorced from European history and civilization, and that comes as great blow to the ethnocentric egos of conservative and liberal Euro-American Christians alike.


  32. “In this age, it really takes zero bravery to attack conservative Evangelicals.”

    I can’t count the number of times my church has been attacked by conservative Evangelicals. “Apostate church” is one of the more polite formulations.

    What to take away from this combination? That we have freedom of speech. Conservative Evangelical churches have no power over me. My church has no power over conservative Evangelicals. So both sides can say what they think, without fear. This is a Good Thing.


  33. Who does it take courage to attack these days?

    Those are they who are your true rulers.


  34. If you have issues with the intransigent reactionary attitudes of white suburban American Evangelicals, you’d lock yourself in the room to screech at the much more reactionary attitudes of African and Latin American Evangelicals.


  35. Well, if anyone can be said to have a ‘thing’ about the past, it’s the Orthodox. Critiquing our heritage is not something that comes easily to us, although converts seem to have less of a problem with it than the cradles. The problem remains always the same; who do you know what is true and what is erroneous? how do you know whether the reformer is Josiah or Korah?

    I want to add a caveat to Michael’s words. The Evangelical Church’s mistaken support of forced segregation during the Civil Rights movement has been used to bludgeon her into compliance on a number of issues about which she was not mistaken. Even the Sabbatarianism often used on this board as an example of a ‘culture war item lost and abandoned’, with the unspoken imperative being ‘so let’s just get over all this other crap as well’, is not something we need to mentally dispose of so blithely. The sacrifice of the Sabbath to the exigencies of the Most Holy and Most Dread Economy is one of the signal idolatries of our era.

    I don’t doubt that there were stretches of hundreds of years in the public life of the Israelite community that sacrifices to the Baals and the Ashtoreth continued undisturbed.


  36. That was a very difficult thing you went through there and being angry it’s absolutely the normal reaction. You were living in an atmosphere of unbending absolutes. It is earth shattering to slowly come to the conclusion that they were, essentially, lying. They were desperately holding on to these truths like little buoys in the sea to secure their place in the world and provide a sense of stability and control. The problem was that they had stopped critically questioning. Rather than continuing as explorers in the way they had relinquished the arduous adventure and simply become the signposts on the side of the road. Human signposts. “Go that way”. “Say it this way”. “Like these people.” “Dress this way.” You had to be thinking, “Why are they telling me things that are patently false while claiming to be inerrant?” That’s enough to piss anybody off. At least anyone who wants more out of life than certainty.


  37. And that’s something that both progressive/liberal and evangelical/fundamentalist American Christians get wrong: They reflexively, one way or another, in their tacit or explicit assumptions and/or words, act and think as if the fate of the Church is tied to the fate of Western/Euro-American society/culture/civilization.


  38. A big part of the problem is that if you’re a member of the dominant culture (which, for a long time in the US, was white and Christian) you don’t even realize that you *have* a culture. You just think that everything you do and believe is the “normal” thing for human beings. And if that’s the case, you never think to question how your culture has shaped (or misshaped) you.

    Among white conservatives, that’s still a major blind spot – whereas progressive Christians often disagree with aspects of progressive culture, many conservatives talk as if they don’t see any daylight between Christianity and conservatism.


  39. Much of what M. Spenser opinioned about the collapse of evangelical Christianity can be applied to Christianity in general in USA and most of the world.

    No. In North America, Western Europe, Australia/NZ, and a few other places around the world, Christianity is suffering tremendous attrition in membership. But in the rest of the world, there has never been a greater proportion of professed Christian vis a vis world population than now. One form or another of Christianity is spreading like wildfire. The period starting with the last half of the 20th century up to the present has seen the greatest expansion in Christianity ever, including the early centuries of the Church. But we as North American Christians tend to think that what’s happening here is happening everywhere, because we reflexively think the fate of the Church is tied to the fate of Western society/culture, but it’s not.


  40. Eeyore , LOL, God has certainly blessed me from being right all the time but I sure would love to be right some of the time. The person who said you cannot fool all the people all the time, never met me.


  41. And when I was an Evangelical, one of our favorite targets of criticism was progressive (‘liberal’ or mainline) ‘christians’ (and yes the ‘quote’ and lower case ‘c’ is how we put it). The other favorite target was, of course, Roman Catholicism with their anti-Christ pope.


  42. senecagriggs, Your comment is very relevant as someone who is a professed evangelical and does not apologize for it. I wrote an earlier comment that appears to be lost is space but in essence you touch upon my thoughts.
    I think M. Spencer spoke from his heart , his experience and his learning. How much has changed since 2008 and I wonder what M. Spencer would think of today’s world in the faith arena. Much of what M. Spenser opinioned about the collapse of evangelical Christianity can be applied to Christianity in general in USA and most of the world. I agree with you that in todays world it takes zero courage to speak in negative terms about any conservative faith including traditional Catholics. It is similar to being pro abortion in Hollywood , not a very hard , brave stand. I wish M. Spencer were here with us today as I would love to hear his judgement of current status of evangelicals, and where his faith journey would have taken him. Much of what M. Spencer wrote about has changed certainly . My sister is a SBC Baptist and there is a strong disconnect between the average SBC member and the leaders , who are far more progressive and less fundamental than their members really know. Certainly M. Spencer was a positive force for many and his questions and musings deserve consideration .
    Just would love to read a update May 2020 from M. Spenser on currents situations and events.


  43. Unless you are a former Evangelical. Then the social cost of pointing out the emperor has no clothes is very high. Trust me. I know of what I speak (firsthand).


  44. i first encountered NT Wright in seminary 20 years ago in his little book ‘What St. Paul Really Said’. Near the end of the book he refers to a statement by Richard Hooker, which totally upended my thinking. He said ‘One is not justified by faith by believing in justification by faith’. I had spent 20+ years (at that time) in evangelical (Baptist) churches that preached exactly that (in various wordings). It wasn’t really ‘Jesus’ they were proclaiming; it was a system of doctrine they were proclaiming – and that doctrine is really what ‘saves’. Orthodoxy (as they define it) is essential to salvation. (A few years later I drifted into a Reformed Baptist church and was even more explicit.) It took me a long time (and a lot more reading) to realize how wrong they were. Michael Spencer helped me accept that without the guilt of becoming a ‘reprobate’.

    NB: My early Christian experience (including college) was much like Julie described above. It is toxic and certainly not from God, no matter how much Scripture one quotes to abuse and control people.


  45. “In this age, it really takes zero bravery to attack conservative Evangelicals.”

    Yes. In so many ways they’re whacked that it’s even obvious to the `Am ha-aretz. Conservative Evangelicals worship Moloch, not the Father of Jesus. Just listen to their atonement theory…


  46. We are not saved by what Jesus taught, and we are certainly not saved by what we understand Jesus to have taught. We are saved by Jesus himself, dead and risen. “Follow me” he says. It is the only word that finally matters.

    Robert Capon, end of chapt. 6, The Parables of Grace


  47. I think MS was fudging somewhat in writing this;

    “Not wrong about the essentials of the Gospel, though we have a lot of problems related to the Gospel that we need to confess. And not wrong about the Bible or the Cross.”

    From my background I must say that my teachers and mentors had the Gospel TOTALLY messed up–and I found degrees of that messed up-ness in every group I’ve been a part of. Though I must say that the Mainlines with which I’ve had experience are more likely to DO IT more rightly even if they don’t explicate it 100% rightly.


  48. At the end of my freshman year at a quite strict Christian college on the West Coast the Dean of Men called me in and disinvited my return for my sophomore year. They weren’t happy with me, I wasn’t happy with them. They had their rules, I had mine. It was a bad fit from day one.

    I despised them for a number of years but I got over it; went on to complete some schooling elsewhere.

    Even at I-monk, I’ve been at least temporarily suspended at times.

    I have a long history of not going along with the prevailing narrative. Those in charge generally don’t like that.

    Conservative Evangelicals, such as myself, take a lot of flak from more progressive Christians. It is forever true.

    In this age, it really takes zero bravery to attack conservative Evangelicals.

    I never saw Michael as exploring new ground. I was familiar with Imonk’s narrative long before his blog existed.


  49. Well said Julie.

    I’ve been in a slow-burning-anger phase for several decades as a result of my religious upbringing. I’ve got to the point where I’m no longer incensed at people, but many topics relative to “orthodox” (read-fundamentalist evangelicalism) will bring out intense criticism. Michael Spenser and many at this site have been immensely helpful.

    At least I don’t go postal anymore…


  50. there was an ‘integrity’ in Michael Spencer’s writing that was without the usual attempts at the kind of ‘correctness that leads us into hypocrisy’ . . . somehow he got beyond all that and wrote at a very human level of honesty that pierced through a lot of ‘Christianese-speak’ and for that many of us were drawn to imonk just for the relief it gave us from all the phariseeism out there. Imonk offered an oasis in the desert. It still does.


  51. I think in 2008 M. Spencer brought up some very true and relevant points. It seems he was in the vanguard of change that has helped and guided many people such as Julie above with her honest , personal account. I do think that many of the issues that M. Spencer dealt with in 2008 are losing influence with American society for sure and American Christianity at a rapid pace. We study history not just to learn what happened but to learn from our errors and to progress our belief as worldly circumstances change. Most religious organizations train their leaders in the very historical foundation of their faith. Then we come to the great cross road of choice as individuals and a society . Have all faith based organizations gotten basic Biblical teachings “wrong” compared to our 21st century catbird seat? ,,of course they have. I will use our American Declaration Of independence as an example of why time , place, culture, society and all the moving parts have to be considered and judge accordingly. All men are created equal , in a time where slavery and indentured severs were part of society , not only accepted but condoned and defended. MLK summed in up beautifully in his great speech, when he stated, We have come to cash the check written in 1776. The seed was planted in 1776 and it took 200 years of strife, war, toil and effort to live up to the promise of 1776.

    So of course M. Spencer was right on in this essay. However , look at the fast rate of change. The ebbing influence and power of religious institutions is on an irreversible course . Things have changed since 2008 greatly and will continue to do so. Wise M. Spencer hit it on the head with the description of it being an ongoing process of discovery, repentance and ownership. For sure the times have , will and are a changing. I wish M. Spencer were here to review events since his passing.


  52. This post… Wow. Just… Wow. Concise. To the Point. Honest. Thought-provoking. Did I say “Concise”? I’d say this is a great example of the kind of writing that drew most of us to iMonk in the first place.


  53. I went to Bob Jones, graduated in 2005. The interracial dating rule was just one of MANY things that the university got wrong. The preaching and Bible teaching at the school were very manipulative and fear-based. There was a constant theme that if you weren’t “fully surrendered” to the Lord (honestly, whatever that means…and can you truly be “fully surrendered” unless you are dead?) you weren’t truly saved and you needed to re-pray the sinner’s prayer to be totally and completely sure you were saved. I developed severe anxiety and had to go to counseling for an extended period of time after graduating. In my 20s I had a lengthy angry phase and I think the core of my anger centered around what Michael was pointing out in this post – elders, pastors, people I was taught were smart and godly and had the “right answers” actually got many things wrong – things that hurt me badly. One thing that really helped me get past this anger in time was understanding that ALL adults, leaders, pastors, my parents, etc., are flawed people who have their own prejudices, biases, and fears that cause them to get things wrong from time to time. Maturing as an adult (in faith and in life) is coming to realize this, make peace with it, and understand you don’t have to accept everything you are taught even by people who probably mean well but are still causing a level of harm. Great post. This blog was a life-saver to me when I had my mad phase. And thanks be to God, I’m mostly past that now and still trying to move along in the faith as best as I can.


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