Blogalogue

Blogalogue


The True Followers of Christ (Jerry Jenkins)

posted by nsymmonds

David asks me, “Jerry – How do we begin to change that perception? You give tremendous examples of evangelicals who are serving and loving – how do we get more and more Christians to do that? Christians, for instance, like me?”
David, you must realize those are two loaded and very different questions. There is no changing the perception. I say that the true Evangelical leaders are servants, and Jeff says beware of and frankly disbelieve leaders who claim to be servants. (My point, of course, was that it isn’t the political leaders who are true leaders but rather the sincere servants — those who don’t claim anything.)


So even if we somehow got more Christians to truly serve selflessly, those who have formed generalized opinions of Evangelicals (thanks to a few noisy ones) will still claim they know what we’re all about: that we hate gays, want to control women’s bodies, vote straight Republican, honor Israel only because we believe a certain number of Jews have to be converted before Jesus can return — and that this honoring involves unquestioning support of every political and military decision made by the Knesset, insist on a Christian nation, and gloat over John 14:6, wherein Jesus is quoted as being the only way to God.
In fact, a true follower of Christ:
– loves gays,
– ministers to HIV victims,
– votes his heart and conscience,
– seeks to understand those who disagree with him on the sanctity of human life (striving for dialogue, not standoffs, and certainly not violence),
– honors Israel as God’s chosen people but doesn’t carry that to ridiculous political and military extremes (nor does he believe anything has to happen to anyone anywhere before Jesus returns),
– and is grateful to live in a country where he is free to espouse his religious convictions and gladly allows other to do the same.
As for John 14:6, it should break our hearts and make us simply want to share it with others. What they do with the news is up to them. They are as free as we are to accept it or to scoff or disagree or be offended. We need to still love them, respect them, care about them, and associate with them. Triumphalism or condescension has no place in the Christ follower’s heart, unless we want to be lumped with fundamentalists of other religions who consider it obedience to their god to fly airplanes into the buildings of those they consider their enemies.
As for how we get more Christians to be servants, I fear our only hope is to point them back to the Bible to read the truth about Jesus and what He taught about the disenfranchised and the oppressed. The New Testament is all about preferring others over ourselves, not feathering our own nests or having our own way. People will not be goaded or shamed into living Christlike lives. It must come from within, in response to the real, hard teachings of the One they claim to follow.



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Mark Russell

posted October 19, 2007 at 2:33 pm


Jerry has hit the nail on the head. Hopefully, many people will truly digest this in such a way that they truly start the view the world accordingly….
Peace, love and happiness,
Mark Russell



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Norm

posted October 19, 2007 at 3:09 pm


Mark said “Jerry has hit the nail on the head.” I’m not so sure. It sounds a bit like the construction foreman who sent the new kid out to buy a left handed hammer. Made perfect sense to the new kid until he got to the hardware store and found out there was not such thing as a left handed hammer.
I like Jerry a lot. But that particular litany was perhaps too inclusive without some additional clarification. Specifically his next to last paragraph and the two points prior to that.
N MacDonald



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Vinny Joy

posted October 19, 2007 at 7:47 pm


I’m not sure about anyone else, but that was convicting. Beginning with me, the church is FAR from living up to those attributes. Don’t we have a tendency to surround ourselves with likeminded people? God help us…



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Jeff

posted October 19, 2007 at 8:00 pm


Hello,
I would like to briefly critique Jerry’s response.
First, though he says he would point others the Bible for them to learn how to become true followers of Christ, he only gives us a questionably related verse (John 14:6) for one to know more about servant Christianity.
Second, he says that the true servant are the ones who don’t claim anything. That would disqualify all of the disciples, all the prophets, Paul, Jesus, the martyrs and many throughout history who did the exact opposite and proclaimed the gospel. The fact is that to be a servant of Christ does not mean we “don’t claim anthing,” but that we claim what is true as has been revealed in Scripture. This is often unpopular, but it does speak to matters of politics, abortion, homosexuality, brothers in sin, and the like.
Third, Jerry says, “A true follower of Christ – loves gays.” While I know and have shown care and concern to a number of gay people, that is not a defining element of being Christian. Honestly, apart from sharing the gospel that they are in sin and in need of repentance to avoid eternal damnation, a “sevant” life of “love” will amount to nothing. That is the gospel and only by proclaiming the gospel of Christ can love be shown to them.
Fourth, he says, “A true follower of Christ – votes his heart and conscience.” This is a post-medernistic answer and only undermines the work of the Spirit in the life of the Church. One’s conscience is to be always subject to the Spirit through a proper understanding the Word. There is no contradiction in the Godhead, thus He will only lead His people to do that which is right. If two people vote differently on serious, ethical and moral issues, yet they vvote their conscience, we cannot say they are being led by the same spirit and, in turn, cannot say they are both “true followers of Christ.”
There are other points I would like to make concerning Jerry’s worldview, but I have not the time nor space to do so here. Without passing judgment on his relationship with the Lord or his spiritual state, I can still confidently say that he has a faulty epistemology, has fallen into the trappings of the post-modern, emerging/emergent church syndrome and is lacking in knowledge of a proper biblical hermeneutic. If any out there is interested in a more complete support for my biblical position, feel free to post a response and I will provide it.
Having read the responses from a number of those interviewed, it is almost like asking a number different people to describe the color “red” and getting some fairly descriptive answers. The only problem is: each of them is colorblind to the color “red.”
Thank you for making these things possible to discuss ini an iontellectual, gracious manner.
Blessings,
jt



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Jerry B. Jenkins

posted October 19, 2007 at 8:41 pm


First, though he says he would point others the Bible for them to learn how to become true followers of Christ, he only gives us a questionably related verse (John 14:6) for one to know more about servant Christianity.
No, John 14:6 has nothing to do with servanthood. It is the verse in which Jesus calls Himself the way, the truth, and the life and that no one can come to the Father but through Him.
Second, he says that the true servant are the ones who don’t claim anything.
Well, that was certainly taken out of context. I meant that they didn’t claim anything for themselves as leaders.
…we claim what is true as has been revealed in Scripture. This is often unpopular, but it does speak to matters of politics, abortion, homosexuality, brothers in sin, and the like.
I certainly agree with that, but our response to the culture should be characterized by love.
Third, Jerry says, “A true follower of Christ – loves gays.” While I know and have shown care and concern to a number of gay people, that is not a defining element of being Christian. Honestly, apart from sharing the gospel that they are in sin and in need of repentance to avoid eternal damnation, a “sevant” life of “love” will amount to nothing. That is the gospel and only by proclaiming the gospel of Christ can love be shown to them.
Face it, the church has failed miserably in this area. Do you not love a gay person enough to invite him or her to your church? I don’t see gays as my enemies, but if I did, that would be all the more reason to love them — following Christ’s command.
Fourth, he says, “A true follower of Christ – votes his heart and conscience.” This is a post-medernistic answer and only undermines the work of the Spirit in the life of the Church. One’s conscience is to be always subject to the Spirit through a proper understanding the Word. There is no contradiction in the Godhead, thus He will only lead His people to do that which is right. If two people vote differently on serious, ethical and moral issues, yet they vvote their conscience, we cannot say they are being led by the same spirit and, in turn, cannot say they are both “true followers of Christ.”
If you’re saying that a true follower of Christ votes straight ticket Republican or are implying that people who disagree with us on important moral and ethical issues cannot be true Christians, I disagree. This is why we find ourselves where we are –poor representatives of our Lord.
There are other points I would like to make concerning Jerry’s worldview, but I have not the time nor space to do so here. Without passing judgment on his relationship with the Lord or his spiritual state, I can still confidently say that he has a faulty epistemology, has fallen into the trappings of the post-modern, emerging/emergent church syndrome and is lacking in knowledge of a proper biblical hermeneutic. If any out there is interested in a more complete support for my biblical position, feel free to post a response and I will provide it.
Forgive my laughter, but I happen to be a major target of the emergent church and cannot imagine being on opposite sides of more issues. Remember, it was an emergent church leader who said The DaVinci Code was no more dangerous than Left Behind.
My brothers and sisters on that side of the church are right in one respect, however: for the most part, the church has a black eye in selflessness, loving dialogue, and servanthood, but we’re aces when it comes to judgmentalism.



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Norm

posted October 19, 2007 at 11:48 pm


Now I think Jerry has come close to hitting the nail on the head.
It is unlikely, were you to pull five “authentic” Christians off the street, that you would get them to agree on most of those issues. So I suspect the real question becomes does it matter? Does it matter that I am a Calvinist or Arminian? Baptist or Methodist? Pre or Post Millenial? Sprinkled or immersed? Republican or Democrat? Really…does it matter?
Or is what matters — whether or not I love the Lord with all my heart, my mind, and my soul and love my neighbor as myself? I think Scot McKnight calls it the “Jesus Creed”. Short of stripping the Gospel of grace and diluting it of its power to convict and convince – social responsibility, in many respects, is what makes love equal life.
“…Unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and the Pharisees, you will never center the kingdom of heaven.” (Matt. 5:20)
Oh, I forgot…yes I think it does matter – around the “coffee table”, but not in the street where people are hurting and dying for the love of God!



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Bonnie

posted October 20, 2007 at 12:24 am


This “debate” is less about Christianity than it is about American culture fighting with itself.
Most of what I have read is of little interest to anyone outside of the US (there are people outside of the US – lots of them. People who don’t know, or care about Jerry Falwell and don’t consider Bush an extension of Christian agenda – actually, he is a scary, scary man, but that’s not the point)
This discussion is about a singular facet of American culture- not Jesus. To think otherwise is pretentious – and silly.
Moreover, it is akin to yelling at an ant. You can get all worked up, but when it’s all over, the ants keep doing what ants do.



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Donny

posted October 21, 2007 at 8:45 pm


We should just have nothing to do with people that support abortion and homosexuality. Both are behaviors that “certain kinds of people” will not repent of. The New Testament record supports this.



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Donny

posted October 21, 2007 at 8:56 pm


And this is why progressive ideology today is like the cancer it was to the Church in Corinth when Paul (an Evangelical Christian) wrote them:
Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you–unless indeed you fail the test?
But I trust that you will realize that we ourselves do not fail the test. Now we pray to God that you do no wrong; not that we ourselves may appear approved, but that you may do what is right, even though we may appear unapproved.
For we can do nothing against the truth, but only for the truth.



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David Arbuckle

posted October 22, 2007 at 5:53 pm


Maybe the evangelical wing of Christianity is changing, because in my mind for as many yrs as I can remember it has been a group of intolerant follwers of Paulian Christianity that didn’t really care much about what Jesus said, only what their brand of Christianity taught, which seemed to be all the things you just mentioned.
Hating Homosexuals, (unless you happened to be a leader that was one) Hating sinful nature, (unless you were sinful) Hating enviromentalists, ( unless your local river was so dirty people were dying)
and suporting a President even if he got us involved in wars that were indefensible.
I was a Reagan Democrat, but now I am going back to the Democrat Party for good, as I am sickened at this presidency.
I pray that Evangelicals will keep to their promise to leave the Republican party as well, maybe the Party can get back to being the party of Goldwater.
Peace,
Buckle



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Gary Sweeten

posted October 23, 2007 at 9:09 am


Jerry is correct in saying that we can never change the perceptions of folks who are not convinced thaey are wrong. All one needs to do to understand the role of Christians in love, reaching out and doing good works is actually read the research by unbiased sociologists and researchers. Do not depend upon the works of popular writers, angry anti-Christians or folks peddling some particular unbiblical life style.
As a therapist I consistently teach that one mark of maturity is the ability to take a stand on one’s principles without attacking others who disagree. This is considered to be “differentiation” from others.
With the advent of Politically Correctness getting so much influence that definition is being flushed from the common understanding of maturity. Now taking a strong stand is sometimes seen as being wrong.
Thus, when Evangelicals take a stand FOR only sex inside marriage with a woman we are sometimes attacked as being “intolerant”. However, taking a stand is actually healthy and very tolerant. Those who attack a stand are, in the long run, actually exposing themselves to great risk. All minorities are at risk when they advocate personal PC type attacks as the way to justify their positions.
Some Christians do attack, of course, but they are in the very small minority of Believers.



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Jim Jameson

posted October 23, 2007 at 5:12 pm


I am tired of Christians being blamed for hating homosexuals. Is it Christians or even regular church goers who harass them, beat them, or kill them? Do those who do so even know who the names of the major Christian leaders?
Don’t non-Christians bash gays with jokes and comments that are not politically correct.
Many non-Christians find the lifestyle unacceptable. The schools promot the acceptance of the life style and when parents object we are blamed for pushing religion.



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Traveler

posted December 4, 2007 at 3:04 pm


It would seem to me that a true follower of Christ wouldn’t busy themselves condemning one lifestyle or another but by making sure that their lifestyle is the type of thing they can and do believe in. Judge not lest ye be judged and all that sort of thing?



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OCS

posted March 12, 2008 at 5:28 pm


In The End, (or really our beginings) God will judge all. If one makes assumptions simply based on not understanding, then they risk standing in judgement. It is human nature to judge, so it isn’t a simple task and takes a lot of compassion to try to understand something foreign to them, be it gays, prostitutes, drug users, and way worse things. The Bible makes clear about homosexuality, but we should not hate the people, just the sin. Will homosexual child molester priests be judged harshly by God? my guess is yes because they know better and are in a place of honor and guidance. obviously they let sin get the better of them. And there are two parts here, one being child abuse. It is one thing to have consenting partners, and quite another thing to take advantage of innocence, and ruin a young life forever.
I hope that God has a special punishment for those that do hurt children. My personal hope. Am i being judgemental? I don’t see how anyone could NOT be in a case like that.
I know Jesus understands my heart. I think to live in this age, we have to find when it is right to judge, when Judging is standing up for your belief without condemning anothers.
Thank God this will all be over soon, and restored to what it all was originally- a world with no sin!



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Your Name

posted November 9, 2009 at 2:20 pm


I know many gays. I treat them kindly and courteously. I do NOT condone their behavior. It is perverted. God’s disapproval of homosexuality is clearly indicated in the scriptures. In the tale of Sodom and Gomorah, the fact that homosexuality is given as THE example of the depth of their deprivity would indicate to me that this is not acceptable behavior for followers of Judism or Christianity. There are clear examples in the New Testament as well. You can call it judging if you want. If you don’t want to accept the tenants of a particular faith, that’s fine. Find a religion that condones your specific perverse practice. Don’t be a pervert, then try to hijack my faith. Don’t try to make me feel like I’m a “hater” because I don’t accept your unrepentant, perverse practices. I would say the same thing to unrepentant heterosexuals who continue to commit adultry. Will I be your ultimate judge? Certainly not, nor would I want to be. Do I have a right to measure someones behavior against what is written in the Bible and determine if I should embrace that person as a spiritual “brother” or “sister”? Of course I do. One more thing. If I hear this “hatred” line from one more liberal, I am going to throw up. I have witnessed 100 fold more hatred from people of a “liberal” bent than I have ever found in “conservative” or “Christian” circles. Also, if you REALLY what to learn something about Homosexuality, go online and look at pictures taken at the annual Folsom Street Festival in San Francisco each year. DO NOT OPEN THESE WITH CHILDREN IN YOUR PRESENCE.



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