Tuesday, January 27, 2009

On relating to the bitter enemies of the Cross

As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him, knowing that such a person is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned. (Titus 3:10-11)

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (Rom. 12:14-21)

As we as Christians engage the world with the truth of God's Word, we will encounter persecution from the enemies of the Cross, even from those who profess the name of Christ. I have, it seems, picked up one such Neo-Orthodox heretic who has dedicated a blog exclusively to slandering and libeling yours truly, while remaining anonymous and non-accountable himself. I could think of others such as CRN.(mis)info who slanders Pastor Ken Silva and other discerning Christians. This post is not going to be a defence of Christians like us, nor of throwing out names of how many prominent Christians (pastors, theologians, writers etc.) agree with us, which we can do also, but rather of how Christians ought to respond to heretics who constantly slander those of us who stand for the truth of God, as we encounter persecution as per 2 Tim. 3:12. It must be admited it is tempting to respond in kind to the pathetic lies being spread about us in an attempt to clear our name, but our way of response should be to imitate Christ who did not respond in kind but to leave judgment to God (cf Rom. 12:14-21). Pragmatically speaking, such a "tit-for-tat" response does not work also, for it will not accomplish anything exepts exacerbating the conflict.

In this aspect, both Titus 3:10-11 and Rom. 12:14-21 help us in resolving this issue. By slandering and libeling us, those people are most definitely our enemies in any sense of the term. Since they do so because we proclaim the truth of God, they are to be considered enemies of the cross (Phil. 3:18-19). With regards to their persons, we are to love them, however hard it is, in the sense that we should desire their repentance and salvation, for we know otherwise they are doomed to eternal damnation. In this, we are to pray for their good and to return their evil act with blessing such that, Lord willing, God may grant to them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth so that they may be saved (2 Tim. 2:24-26). After all, they are doing such evil acts as captives to Satan to do his will. Being cursed, we bless, and as such show ourselves to be children of God (Mt. 5:45).

As being enemies of the Cross however, we are to regard them differently. Such people are warped, sinful and self-condemned, and having warned them twice, we should have nothing to do with them. They are to be denounced as the heretics they are in destroying the faith. In this sense, we are not to treat them with kids' gloves, but to expose them and excommunicate them from the Church of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Practically speaking, how then do these two senses interact? We are to continually love them in the sense of wishing them well, especially that they come to repentance and salvation. But we are not to treat them as brethren. Such people stir up division in the church by promoting a false Gospel and a false Christ, and we are not to give in to them. Yet we are not to play on their ground. As it is written: Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest you be like him yourself (Prov. 26:4). Ignore their rantings and do not be tempted to defend ourselves especially on their own blogs. Rather, follow Prov. 26:5 and show others who listen their folly so that they will not delude believers. Remember, we are not trying to persuade them or vindicate ourselves, but rather to proclaim the truth of God's Word. In the end, their mutterings do not matter, for God will hold them accountable for their manifold lies. I truly do not want to be in their shoes when God will judge them by their words (Mt. 12:37) and actions (Rom. 2:8-9), if in fact they show themselves to be reprobates through unrepentance. It is sincerely doubted wheter they truly believe that God exists and cares about what they do if they can so readily bear false witness about others.

Let us therefore follow the Scripture when it comes to relating to the enemies of the Cross (and therefore our enemies too). Do not give in to them, yet do not descend to their level and answer in kind. Rather, love them and pray that God will open their eyes so that they may repent of their sins, while ignoring their attacks and leaving the issue to God who judges righteously.

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