Quick Thoughts: Guess what Charisma Magazine did?

Originally posted on Watch Your Life and Doctrine Closely...:

Thinking-Man

Did Charisma let some ranting “prophet” share their latest divine revelation, or post an article promoting a heresy condemned by an early church ecumenical council?

Well, probably…but that’s not exactly news.

What Charisma did do was allow noted cessationist and biblical exegete, Dr. Albert Mohler, to post an article on their website that goes after Joel & Victoria Osteen for their prosperity gospel theology.

No, I’m serious.

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An open letter to Brother Tony Miano

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Hi Tony.

I know that “open letters” aren’t really in vogue anymore, but I wanted to write to you directly and personally, answering public statement for public statement and this seemed like the best way how. While I fully intended to let things rest where they were between us, and no longer engage you or reach out to you after you made it clear that you had no interest, I then saw that you mentioned me in your most recent blog post. You didn’t give my name, but I had more than a few people message me and let me know that you had written about me in less-than-accurate terms. Specifically, this is what you said:

Recently, a young man on social media was very disappointed, even incensed, that I blocked him on Twitter and Facebook. I honestly don’t remember the exact reason why I blocked him. He has all but stalked me, publicly making his disappointment known. I just shake my head and think, “Dude, get a grip. Being on my ‘friends’ list on Facebook or being able to see my posts on Twitter should not be this big-a-deal. I’m not that important.” Being relatively well-known in evangelistic circles on social media is both a blessing and a curse.”

So barring a response, this will be my final post about about you/to you relating to this matter. I got the message loud and clear. You said “stop asking me to unblock you” and I will do that for you. I  I will not pursue this any further, but at the same time I’m not inclined to leave it lie with you purposefully misrepresenting the situation. I’d like to at least address that directly and clear the air before we sign off.

1. I suppose “young man” is a relative term, and I’ll assume you were singularly referring to my age relative to your own, and not as a suggestion that I am exhibiting certain traits or an impertinence that oftentimes can characterize young people.

2. I was not “incensed” or enraged at being blocked by you. Why would you say this? What specifically have I said that gave you that idea? Characterizing it that way is neither helpful nor is it truthful. It serves to give the wrong impression about my motives, my actions, and my heart behind both. If you can produce a single statement that would lend someone to believe that I was “incensed” at being blocked and that anything I wrote gives credence to that notion, please produce it, as it is an extremely unfair way to word things. If not, would you consider editing your post to reflect a more God-honoring reality?

3. If you can’t even remember why you blocked me, and I am asking you kindly to invest a couple seconds of your life to find out why,  particularly when I have clearly stated my intent is reconciliation, don’t you could have given me at least that? Isn’t that something that the scriptures and Christ would want us to pursue?  If you don’t think it is, then fair enough. But when you consider what the “real world” personal implications would look like, I’m not convinced its so inconsequential. 

4. The suggestion that I have “all but stalked you” is also a dishonest characterization and doesn’t represent the situation at all. Upon discovering I was blocked, and not knowing why, I reached out to you. I asked you why you had blocked me, asked if you would consider unblocking me, and told you that I loved your ministry and enjoyed getting regular updates. When you did not respond, I sent out four tweets over the next month or so, not even to you directly, but asking if any third party friends could let you know that I was hoping I could be unblocked. I wasn’t sure if you read the emails sent to your Cross Encounter blog, because I wasn’t sure how much mail you got, or if it would even get to you. I also took great pains to say that if you felt that I wronged you or sinned against you in some way, which may have served as the catalyst for being blocked, to please let me know so I can ask for your forgiveness. I’m open to being rebuked, reproved and exhorted by other believers, and it’s disappointing to know that you felt my pleas for forgiveness and reconciliation, as one Christian Brother to another, would be dismissed as me just trying to “stalk” you.

5. But why shouldn’t I make my disappointment known, Tony? I have been blessed by your ministry.  Listening to your witness encounters was instrumental in building up my zeal and boldness, back in the day when I heard you on Wretched Radio. Later I helped support you and related ministries financially and sent some funds your way a few times because I respected what you guys were doing and wanted to edify you and build you up. I wasn’t able to send a whole lot, but at the time it was sacrificial for me. Not only that but  I’ve been praying for your ministry for years. Usually weekly and always monthly, without exception. I have a list of ministries and people involved in them that I pray for, and often I matched my prayer requests to specific needs you mentioned in your Twitter feed. So having this sort of relationship with you, not of my choosing, disappoints me. But I guess I just need to get over it and “get a grip”

6. I’m not some bitter fanboy wanting access to you and then getting angry and throwing a tantrum because you blocked me, an act which you dismiss as not being a big deal. Rather I’m an unknown guy who has appreciated your ministry and helped out in small ways when I could, and when I was blocked for reasons even you don’t know about or remember, I asked if I could be unblocked, which I imagined would be a basic Christian grace and kindness, and you said no. I assumed you had a reason for blocking me, so when I reached out to figure out what it was, which is what I believe Christians should do, both privately and publicly, you ignored me for two months and then when you finally broke your silence to me, your blog post with your ungracious words is what I  get.

7. And so all this effort isn’t about me being somehow irritated and steaming that I was blocked on Facebook. It’s also about wanting to be “at peace with all men” and trying to work through why when I attempt that, an elder [relative term of age difference] would not jump at the chance to exhibit love and kindness towards someone in the context of Christian charity . It’s not about the block, it’s about everything that came after and leading up to this. Of course you can block whomever you want, and if you want to dismiss a brother and don’t want to invest a few seconds of your day to help make things cool between, then sure- that’s your choice to make.

But don’t misrepresent me. Don’t demonize me, And please don’t try to frame this like I’m just some random, angry and incensed half-stalker who has been harassing you for reasons that can only be speculated upon.

 

With grace,

 

Dustin Germain

 

The Hypocrisy And Lack Of Introspection Of Craig Daliessio

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UPDATED. Newest tweet from Craig where he hopes that God sends death and destruction to James White’s children. 

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Craig Daliessio has been on the warpath of late. Since the tragic and untimely death of Braxton Caner, he has been lashing out at every “disagree-er of his narrow and fact-less assessment of the situation” within reach and has launched a full-scale twitter attack on multiple online personalities. His greatest target has been Jordan Hall, the man he blames for the death of Braxton, despite there being no evidence that he even played a role in it.

His position is simple: Jordan is beyond evil and ought to be thrown in jail and spend the rest of his life rotting in a cell somewhere. [This is not hyperbole, he has tweeted that he thinks Jordan should go to jail forever]  This is because in his view, Jordan harassed and bullied Braxton with his brief interaction. Jordan launched a “psychological blitzkrieg” on him. In fact, to quote Daliessio at length:

” I believe J.D. Hall cyber bullied, and harassed Braxton Caner ruthlessly, and without limits, in a effort to harm his father Ergun. Given the content of those tweets, his BLOG about the FIFTEEN YEAR OLD BOY (that in  itself is enough for a 3-day pass to a psych ward for a thorough eval, in my opinion) and subsequent RADIO SHOW about it, it’s obvious Braxton was the Voodoo doll J.D. was using to harm Ergun. Every word was intended to inflict maximum damage. Every insinuation, every accusation, every condemning, hurtful, evil tweet. Death by words…140 characters at a time. J.D. doubtless DID NOT  intend to physically kill Braxton. Maybe worse…he wanted to kill his heart. He wanted to kill his spirit and thus kill the heart and soul of the man he hates obsessively…Ergun Caner.”

Here is are the 5 tweets sent his way:

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That was the extent of Jordan’s tweets to this young man. For the sake of argument we will allow that they were unwise at best and sinful at worst. If not for the content, then at least for his motivation, which Jordan has since publicly apologized for and repented of as sinful. In terms of actual content however and the words that were said, I personally believe they are relatively benign. That is to say that as far as cyber-bullying and cyber-harassing goes, at the very least compared to some of the high-profile stuff out there, it’s not “up there” in terms of the most vicious things that could be said to another person. I’m not saying it didn’t have an impact, [whether it played some role or absolutely no role, we will never know]  I’m saying that even if you think it’s cyber-bullying, it’s not the strongest case of it and best example of it out there.

But based on those tweets,  Craig Daliessio has over and over and over called out Jordan Hall for bullying and harassment and attacks. Those are the big three that he has, with moral outrage, hammered away at.  At least a dozen times he has attempted to wax eloquent about the evils of bullying, and how what Jordan has said obviously and easily qualifies as bullying, and so on and so forth.

But what of Craig’s own feed? If those comments from Jordan ought to be rightly characterized as bullying and harassment, what do we make of these comments that Craig tweeted to several people over the course of the last 12 days?

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That is just a SMALL selection of tweets.

From sample of 12 days.

Craig has over 16,900 tweets.

Now in MILD fairness, three of those messages were sent in response to a man who tweeted that he was happy that Braxton was dead and praise Allah for it. This of course does not excuse it, and the things he said are reprehensible and beyond the pale. Grief makes us do strange things, and oftentimes we don’t think straight in times of deep anguish, and I like to think I can go a bit easier on him for those ones due to this provocation and the emotion it brought forth, even though they are a few of the more disgusting, sickening and Christless tweets I’ve ever read from a supposedly professing Christian.  [Though as we will see below, he apparently has no regrets, and instead in a time of relative clarity has doubled down on those tweets]

But the rest? Most of these were said either unprovoked or in response to people telling him that it’s not fair to declare that Jordan has blood on his hands. That’s some vile and sick stuff. What do you think Craig would say if Jordan had been the one to tweet those things to the young man? What if Jordan had tweeted

“Braxton, you miserable turd. You are a despicable slime. Unregenerate filth”

Do you think he’s consider those words bullying? Probably? And yet with not a thought of introspection he does that very thing to other people. Craig Daliessio seems utterly devoid of consistency if he can decry Jordan’s comments as bullying and harassment, but think his own are just peachy keen and completely fine. And from what we can see he doesn’t. From his perspective the tweets aren’t bullying, nor could they ever be construed that. Its not bullying or harassment to call a fellow professing Christian a “miserable slimy turd.” Unless that was said to someone that Craig cares about. Then you better believe it would.

I thought it fair to reach out to Craig and get some feedback and comment on this article. The following was our Twitter exchange. Notice the dehumanizing language and the use of racial slurs.

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[edit, after I went back I saw that I missed part of the convo relevant to this, so i’m posting it here.

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I think it’s pretty clear what is going on with Craig, and I’ll leave that bit of debilitating hypocrisy hang in there air as I close off with this salient point. This man is just one example of the vitriol and viciousness that has surrounded this whole event, and I didn’t even screenshot his tweets where he makes subtle and overt threats of physical violence.

Craig is one piece in the puzzle, but it could have been a hundred others. People decry the actions and sins of others, and in doing so do it in a way that they slander and sin against that very person they are protesting against. This is madness, and it needs to stop, and you’d better believe I’m also speaking to myself here.

It’s ok to have strong opinions and rest firm in your convictions, but when your feelings of righteous rage turn into unrighteous wrath, and you don’t have the introspection and ability to be thoughtful and  recognize it in your actions,  then it’s time to pause, step back and as God for his mercy and forgiveness.

Some bad advice from Tony Miano

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Note. Found this blog post from good friend Rhology posted on Tribalogue a few hours ago. and I thought it was excellent and well stated and wanted to post it here. There’s nothing with it that I disagree with, and I think these are very important things to be said [especially his refutation of Tony's position that women shouldn't OAP or share the gospel publicly. That needs to be opposed at every turn]  I should also note that I really like Tony and his ministry. I tried reaching out to him for a comment and some clarity but he did not respond. I also noticed that he has me blocked on Twitter, though I have no idea how or when that happened, as to the best of my knowledge I have not ever interacted with him other than tweet him a picture quote that I made for him, which he enjoyed and thanked me for.  It may be my affiliation with AHA, not sure, but regardless, he chose not to reply and so this will be posted without further comment from him. 

As far as the article itself, the only thing I would tweak is to affirm my belief that a Church can be generally solid even if it has a few problems, such as a distaste for OAP. It sort of depends on why they are against it, but I can have enough grace to say that a Church could be considered solid-ish and faithful and trustworthy even if it is behaving immaturely, ignorantly, sinfully or theologically reckless in a particular area. In this case that immaturity and lack of theological discernment and discomfort with OAP or other Christian activism, [Such as Abolitionist agitation] would personally give me reason to pause and would be sufficient cause for me to not attend said Church as my home Church and submitting to the elders, but I like to think that I can be happy for my Christian brothers and sisters that would attend, and think otherwise. 

 

***

 

Tony Miano, well-known street preacher, had this to say on Facebook recently:

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I gave it some thought, and I’d like to share a few.

Notice that Miano didn’t frame the issue in terms of whether the church thinks the individual reader ought to open-air preach (OAP). It is plausible a church might not want a particular individual to OAP. For example, if the aspiring preacher is not very good at explaining the Gospel, or he hasn’t mastered his temper yet and easily gets mad and challenges people to fistfights. But Miano is talking about OAP in general.

On the other hand, Miano seems to be referring to a situation where an aspiring OA preacher is not a member of a church because he can’t find one that supports OAP. It is a pitifully sad commentary on the state of Reformedigelical churches in the West that this is a plausible scenario. I would at least agree with Miano on this – if you’re not a member of a church, there had better be a really really good reason. Ie, you live in a location where despite faithful searching you have not been able to connect with anybody who actually loves Jesus.

On the other other hand (which I guess gets us back to the original hand), one might decide that until the Lord provides something better, he should probably just join the best church he can find and try to influence it toward following the Scripture. This may in some cases result in conflict between the person wanting to be faithful to Jesus and the leadership and/or the rest of the congregation who are all too happy doing their own thing, following their own autonomous desires and preferences, and ignoring major portions of the Scripture in so doing. What then?

Before we get into that, I’d like to ask this: What makes Miano so sure that a church that doesn’t support open-air preaching is indeed solid? Evangelism and the Great Commission are kind of a big deal when it comes to properly obeying Jesus, and if a church is not interested in obeying Jesus, that’s not a solid church. It doesn’t matter what they confess, what they say with their lips. The Scripture is full of rebukes of false professors who say one thing and do another. Like the Pharisees. Like the Jerusalemites who said “the temple of YHWH! The temple of YHWH! The temple of YHWH!” Like the false prophets who said “peace, peace” when there was no peace.

Perhaps the church thinks open-air preaching is mean and nasty in and of itself. I would suggest in that case the OA preacher invite people from the church to come out with him, to show them how it’s done and to demonstrate that, while of course someone can be mean and nasty in virtually any situation, OAP can be done in a way that is loving, kind, and understanding.

What if no one from the church is willing to go watch, and yet they continue to insist that OAP, a ministry that Jesus and Paul and Peter did a whole lot, is not good? Well, then, those people need to be called to repentance. Or I suppose you could leave and be a “nomad”, but then that would leave the people in the church in unchallenged deception, which is not loving. It is actually the opposite of love for those people.

On the other hand, what if a few people go out with the OA preacher and everything goes well, and yet they continue to oppose OAP in and of itself? Would not the conversation then have to shift to their biblical reasons to justify their opposition? It may be that the leadership of the church would in that case lord it over the OA preacher, citing some imaginary “authority” to tell him that OAP is not OK, with no other reason than that they say so. Such person(s) would be deep in sin and rebellion against the role they’re supposed to be playing in their local church. The OA preacher, being a part of that local church himself, would be obligated to get one or two other witnesses and rebuke that person, initiating church discipline for unrepentantly sinning against the OA preacher and against the rest of the congregation for refusing to teach the whole counsel of God.

1 Timothy 5:19-21 – Do not receive an accusation against an elder except on the basis of two or three witnesses. Those who continue in sin, rebuke in the presence of all, so that the rest also will be fearful of sinning. I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus and of His chosen angels, to maintain these principles without bias, doing nothing in a spirit of partiality.

Miano later says this:

The Lord may yet call you to open-air preach (if you are a man), and you will know that because your pastors/elders will affirm your call to preach the gospel in the open-air.

There’s a reason why he didn’t include any Bible citations along with this statement. Nothing in God’s Word would lead us to believe this is true. It also exhibits a puzzling naïveté. Does Miano really think that the most common reason why a pastor might oppose OAP would be that the OA preacher in question has a history of “rebelling” against the pastor’s “authority”? What does “pastoral authority” even mean, in a situation where the pastor is not following the Word of God?

Let’s continue with another statement from Miano:

Christian Brother: God has certainly called you to be a hand, or foot, or arm, or leg in His Body. But He may NOT have called you to open-air preach. The fact that you want to open-air preach doesn’t mean God has called you to open-air preach. You may not be finding a church that supports open-air preaching because that may not be the role the Lord has for you in His body.

Miano is equivocating on the uses of the word “calling” in this paragraph. The first occurrence is fine – it is indeed true that God has called every individual Christian to be some body part in His Body. Miano seems to be assuming that 1 Corinthians 12’s discussion of body parts refers to a given local church, which I would dispute, but let’s leave that aside for now. How do we know that God has called us to be a body part in the Body of Christ? The Scripture says so.

So how does Miano propose that an individual can know that he is “called” to do OAP? I have asked this question many times and never received an answer. It is a major weakness in his book “Should She Preach?“, which I documented in my review thereof. Which Scripture passage leads us to expect that God would continually send individual people specific callings to specific tasks or ministries, going forward throughout the ages during which the church would subsist? I have argued that no such Scripture exists. This is where the equivocation comes in – the first time Miano says “calling”, he is correctly referring to biblical command. The second and third times, he is trading on a mistaken tradition of man that is sadly common in Reformedigelicalism.

Miano is doubtless aware of the Modern-Day Downgrade at work in the Reformedigelical churches of the West. Part of the Downgrade is the trend toward that which is easy and adds to the comfort level of the partakers. As an experienced street preacher myself, I know well that OAP incurs a very high level of discomfort, and Miano of course knows this too. Since it is uncomfortable, people don’t want to do it, and this leads to their making excuses, twisting the Scripture so they can justify their apathy toward the lost. This is a far more plausible explanation for why someone might not be able to find a church that supports OAP.

So, get plugged into a local church; live in submission to the elders and in love with the rest of the congregation. Be willing to work the nursery, or scrub a toilet, or teach a Sunday school class (if you’re qualified). Be willing to serve for no other reason than it is a fulfillment of the two greatest commandments–to love God and to love people.

Of course, Christians should be members of a local church; I don’t dispute that. I would take issue with verbiage like “live in submission to the elders”, however. If the elders tell you not to do a biblical thing, or to do an unbiblical thing, it is no virtue to obey. It is actually sin to obey these lesser voices in that case. Sin because you ought to be doing the right thing, and also sin because you are acting in a cowardly way, following the “overlord”‘s orders rather than standing against evil and exposing it (Jeremiah 7, Ephesians 5:11) out of love for the deceived elder(s) as well as love for the congregation.

You can’t actually love your congregation if you are sinning by knowingly withholding from them that which they need, that which you know you ought to help them take hold of.

James 4:17 – Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin.

Taken in the context of the situation he is laying out, Miano is actually indirectly recommending a sinful course of action.

Also, because of the discomfort involved in OAP, there are precious few people willing to do it. Yet I challenge you to show me another ministry in which the Gospel can be spread so widely to so many people in such an efficient manner as OAP. I’m not criticizing other methods of evangelism. I’m saying that OAP has its place, and Jesus chose it for a reason.

Mark 1:14-15 – Now after John had been taken into custody, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”

Matthew 4:23 – Jesus was going throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness among the people.

Matthew 9:35 – Jesus was going through all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness.

Luke 20:1 – On one of the days while He was teaching the people in the temple and preaching the gospel, the chief priests and the scribes with the elders confronted Him…

If your church meets in a separate building, far be it from me to suggest you not scrub a toilet. If y’all meet in a house, scrub the toilet there. Go for it! Doing that sort of thing and OAP are hardly mutually exclusive. I mean, unless your nursery duties are late on Friday night or something, which is often a really good time of week to do OAP.

The problem here is not whether an OA preacher in a church should say, “OAP is all I do within my local church.” That would be foolish and wrong. But Miano is not only acting like it is better to do something that most anyone can and is probably willing to do (since scrubbing toilets is, let’s face it, not too hard) than to do something that is hard but that results in tons of people hearing the Gospel proclaimed with boldness and power, for no other reason than that the OA preacher’s church is in sin and thinks that OAP is bad.

It would be far better to say this: Be willing to OAP for no other reason than it is a fulfillment of the two greatest commandments–to love God and to love people. And it is love not only to the lost who hear it, but also to the church members who probably have an unbiblical worldview undergirding their unbiblical objection to OAP; the OA preacher has the chance to set them free from these wrong views. This is pleasing to God.

Two more notes:

The Lord may yet call you to open-air preach (if you are a man)

Please, again, see my review of Miano’s book on the issue of whether only men are justified in OAP.

once they see that the gospel of Jesus Christ is more important to you than hearing your own voice preaching it.

True, the OA preacher must guard against pride in his heart. But when fewer than thousands of Christians are doing OAP in one’s area and there is opportunity, it should be done in a biblical manner, no matter whether the elders of your church are sinfully suppressing it.

Speaking for myself, it matters not whether it’s my voice. I want many voices proclaiming the Good News of the risen Savior. And if there are none, I want at least one. If that’s me, so be it.

Philippians 1:15-18 – Some, to be sure, are preaching Christ even from envy and strife, but some also from good will; the latter do it out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel; the former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition rather than from pure motives, thinking to cause me distress in my imprisonment. What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed; and in this I rejoice.

Twitter Empathy and Hashtag Slacktivism

Originally posted on Pulpit & Pen:

More than one million people — including First Lady, Michelle Obama  — have tweeted the hashtag #BringBackOurGirls. But whether they’re helping the roughly 250 schoolgirls kidnapped in Nigeria or hopping on some kind of first-world digital bandwagon depends, frankly, on whom you ask.

These stinging words are from a May 8 article in the Washington Post. The words are harsh, but are they true? Could most public displays of empathy for the last (no doubt, important) cause be nothing but a peer-pressure induced digital bandwagon that accomplishes little more than providing a badge of empathy for those who don it? The Washington Post’s article providing Twitter screenshots from a Nigerian-American woman characterized these displays of support for the recently-kidnapped Nigerian school girls as “a recent wave of global sentimentality” that “simplifies nothing, solves nothing.”

This recent fad, the idea that awareness equals action, is defined in the Urban Dictionary

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