This is a very helpful article from Pastor Tom Chantry, reflecting on some hard truths about the state of what is currently called ‘Evangelicalism’. The issues raised in this article are actually relevant to believers in every denomination (as many of you would already know first-hand), and are worthy of serious consideration.
Along with a well-considered critique of modern Evangelicalism, Tom provides practical encouragement to those who belong to Christ in the face of daunting and pervasive challenges within the visible church:
Occam’s Razor and the Perpetuity of Evangelical Scandal
Occam’s Razor is the name given to the logical argument that the simplest theory to explain any given phenomena is likely the correct theory. Since our judgment is often obstructed, we need to shave away needless assumptions and bits of argumentation in order to arrive at a reasonable understanding. Scientists debate the legitimacy of the Razor as an empirical tool; certain complexities in nature (think of the construction of the living cell) suggest that complex explanations of material phenomena are often correct. It is nevertheless a useful philosophical tool, particularly as a foundational principle of the common sense by which we ought to live. If I awake in the morning to find branches from my trees scattered about the back yard, it is simpler to assume that we had a strong wind than it is to believe that demons attacked my trees during the night! The sensible man will automatically adopt the simpler theory.
It is in this solid common-sense manner that I propose we apply Occam’s Razor to the latest evangelical scandal, whatever that scandal might happen to be. Last week it was Steven Furtick’s intentionally provocative “God broke the law for love” clip. A few weeks earlier it was Andy Stanley’s nasty accusations against small churches. Years ago it was Mark Driscoll’s braggadocio about his belligerent bus-driving technique. And of course we aren’t allowed to forget Perry Noble’s “Highway to Hell” Easter service, mainly because he keeps reminding us of it.
There have been a number of responses to Furtick’s latest departure from orthodoxy. The best I have seen is Todd Pruitt’s point-by-point examination over at Mortification of Spin. Among the other responses, however, a perplexing note has emerged. Jared Wilson at The Gospel Coalition gets to the heart of what was wrong with the video, but only after sympathizing with what he assumes Furtick was trying to say. The ever-polite Tim Challies, while critical, also enlightens us as to what Furtick intended to say. Why the rush to exonerate?
When well-recognized evangelicals – particularly those who have never made any significant contribution to or defense of biblical doctrine and piety – make asinine statements about the gospel or engage in stunts which contradict all the tenets of Christian virtue, why do we feel the need to cover their indiscretion with a cloak of good Christian motives? They themselves rarely seem to desire this! The complex logical gymnastics by which we defend the men while questioning their words and actions are based upon one obstinate presupposition: because these men are evangelicals, they must be received as brothers in Christ and granted every advantage of our most gracious instincts. This is, I suggest, a needless assumption which we ought to simply shave away.
Now at this point you might assume that I am going to argue from Furtick’s catastrophic misrepresentation of the gospel that he is, in fact, not saved. Some of you are cheering me on, while some are already marshalling counter-arguments of charity and catholicity. Actually, I feel no need to make such an argument about Furtick per se. The fundamental assumption which ought to be abandoned is not so specific. It isn’t merely that I think Furtick (or any other particularly embarrassing Christian celebrity) may not be a Christian, it is that I reject the idea that any evangelical should be automatically presumed regenerate. Shave away our presumption, and not only the scandals du jourlisted above, but also a lot of the rest of evangelical history, suddenly make a lot more sense. The simplest explanation is in this case both logical and correct. The mere fact of being an evangelical is no safe indicator that anyone is a child of God.
Perhaps it will help to remember how we arrived at this assumption. Back in my childhood, we divided Christendom into uncomplicated teams. There was the team of Catholics, etc. (“et cetera” because we rarely encountered the Eastern Orthodox or various Middle Eastern strains, and when we did they looked to us like Catholics on steroids). There was also the Mainline team, known for its modernism. Members of neither of these teams were presumed to be saved, and for good reason. Both had lost the gospel, and if anyone in their midst was actually a believer, it was clearly in spite of his church, not because of it. So far, so good. But then there was a third team called “evangelicalism,” and its members, we assumed, were all (or at least mostly) saved. Perhaps I am oversimplifying. Fundamentalists wanted to be on their own smaller team where everyone played by the same rules, but we tended to see them as the grumpy members of our team. And of course there were a few big-R Reformed types who insisted that “Reformed” was never a subset of “evangelical,” but we thought of them as better-read but equally-grumpy Fundamentalists. In our minds, big E was the saved team, and we accepted everyone that wore the right team colors as part of the Kingdom of Heaven.
Yet there is precious little in evangelicalism to justify such an assumption. After all, the Scripture does suggest that there will be certain signs which, while they do not allow us infallibly to identify each true believer, will give us a sense of who should and who should not be called a brother. Let us consider three of the very simplest:This process was exacerbated by the politicization of religion during the Reagan Revolution. As the church accepted the premise that its task in the world was political, it necessarily also accepted that its strength was in its numbers. Expansion of the term “evangelical” and even of the concept of salvation became a necessity. A new socio-theological calculus produced a triangle with Billy Graham, Jerry Falwell, and Orel Roberts at the vertices, and we were assured that everyone inside was both a brother in Christ and a reliable Republican vote. To even question whether some of these folks were actually Christian was to weaken the political punch of the evangelical demographic. Of course we’re all saved! How can you question your teammates?
1. Actual Believers will understand, confess, and defend the true Gospel of Jesus Christ.(See, for instance, I Corinthians 15:1-5.) This gospel is, in brief, that Jesus, the Son of God who became true man, died for the sins of others and then rose so that they might have eternal life. Some years ago White Horse Inn recorded answers to the question, “What is the gospel?” at a Christian booksellers’ convention, seeking to illustrate the paucity of gospel knowledge among evangelical Christians. At the time I thought they were exaggerating their case, but that was before my experience in Christian education. Four years of teaching the children of evangelicals demonstrated a sad reality: unless they attended either foreign language churches or confessionally Reformed churches, the evangelical kids not only didn’t believe the gospel; they had rarelyencountered it.
2. Actual Believers will decisively reject all counterfeit gospels.(See Galatians 1:6-9.) Not only is evangelicalism widely ignorant of the gospel, it is actually awash in various false gospels. Many simply cling to empty platitudes about being “on fire for God” or “having God in your life.” Increasingly, though, evangelicalism is not preaching a content-less message, but one with terrible content. The Prosperity Gospel, for instance, teaches that God wants to bless us with happiness in this world, and if we trust him to do so, we’ll be inevitable winners at life. This is of course a complete rejection of the words of Jesus (see Matthew 5:11-12 and many other places), but it is the dominant theme of evangelical Christianity. How else do we explain the Tim Tebow phenomenon, in which an athlete was considered a great Christian leader because of his championships at Florida? How else do we explain the far more sinister Trump phenomenon, in which too many evangelicals are willing to accept an obvious degenerate’s claim that he is a “great Christian”? Is it not because his ostentation looks like the sort of blessing promised by Osteen, Jakes, and others?
3. Actual Believers, while not morally perfect, will care about holiness and will strive to live according to God’s commands. (See I Corinthians 6:9-11.) Evangelical piety has degenerated to the point that it now reflects the knee-jerk “Don’t judge me, bro!” ethics of the typical modern agnostic. Having long ago rejected the fourth commandment on shaky theological grounds, and having never really had the sophistication to understand the second commandment, evangelicalism is now losing commandments at an accelerated rate. Various forms of abuse keep popping up in the church. Years of easy divorce are giving way to confusion over sexuality. Tomorrow’s evangelicalism looks likely to giggle at the idea of the seventh commandment as much as today’s evangelicalism snickers at the fourth. Leading the charge are the evangelical pastors who demonstrate little of the dignity and sobriety which is to characterize God’s ministers.
So tell me, why do we accord the presumption of regeneration to every evangelical? These trends are the very reason we recognize that most members of the Catholic and Mainline teams are not actual believers: they reject the true gospel in favor of false ones and do not demonstrate genuine biblical holiness. How is evangelicalism different? Once we shave away our false and unhelpful assumption, a far simpler explanation for the rolling scandals of the evangelical world emerges: a great many evangelical Christians are simply not saved.
To be perfectly clear, I am not at all implying that I have sufficiently examined Furtick (or any other member of the evangelical kakistocracy) to make any sort of pronouncement on his spiritual state. He has not applied for membership in my church, nor did I sit on his ordination council (assuming the perhaps unlikely existence of such). Perhaps the best element of Pruitt’s write-up on this particular scandal was this:
“Now, if any of this seems serious to my brothers and sisters in the North Carolina Convention of Southern Baptists then perhaps they can press for a meeting with Pastor Steven. Certainly they do not want to be associated with such serious error. Certainly.”
This places a certain burden squarely on those shoulders which deserve it. It lies with the Southern Baptists to determine the answer to two critical questions: what is required in order to be a Southern Baptist pastor, and what does it mean to convene together with pastors who evidently do not fit that requirement? These are questions which I do not need to answer, and I do not pretend to have answered them.
My concern is much simpler: what am I, a Reformed Baptist pastor in a smallish church (but I repeat myself) supposed to think when Andy Stanley attacks my people, or when Steven Furtick – in what seems to have been one of his rare attempts to actually talk about the gospel – attacks the holiness of God? Well, what do I think when the Pope says something moronic about Mary, or when some lesbian Methodist pastor is discovered in further scandal? Why should I think anything? I am not particularly shocked when the Pope or the Mainline minister acts like less than a true Christian, and frankly, the mere fact that someone is a pastor in an evangelical denomination doesn’t mean that much to me either. Just because the folks at the Gallup Poll think the latter is on my “team” doesn’t mean I have to presume his regeneration.
No doubt these self-evident observations will seem terribly unkind, unloving, and un-Christian to many. Perhaps Justin Taylor can even be convinced to call me a low-quality “discernment blogger” again, although he’d have to read past the title this time. Given the likelihood of such a response, let me suggest three advantages of shaving away the idea of presumptive evangelical regeneration:
1. When I stop assuming that every evangelical is a fellow believer, it helps me to be a better neighbor. I am convinced that rejecting the risible myth that something like a quarter of my fellow Americans are genuine believers makes me a far better citizen of the Republic. I can give up on the absurd notion that I live in a “Christian country,” and instead I can busy myself with seeking the good of the nation in which God placed me. My political stance may be influenced by my faith (I agree with Dennis Prager that any faith makes one less susceptible to progressivism and statism), but my faith and my politics are not coterminous. Most importantly, I can grant my neighbor the gospel rather than assume, most likely falsely, that he has already heard it. This last holds true even if my neighbor is an evangelical; I have mentioned before that I have long considered my ministry in Christian school chapels to be mission work. Knowledge of the gospel being so rare in the evangelical world, we do well to bear regular witness to it.
2. When I stop assuming that every evangelical is a fellow believer, it helps me to be more peaceful and more peaceable.How should I respond to the antics of evangelical superstars? Let us take Furtick as an example, and let us be clear: he has never done anything to suggest that we ought to consider him a fellow believer. (I am putting aside, you see, his evangelical ordination, which is meaningless.) If I feel it necessary to respond, I will not feel the need to charitably ascribe to him Christian motives which he evidently lacks! It isn’t that I must ascribe badmotives, either. I simply treat theological rubbish as theological rubbish. Since I won’t be twisting myself into knots to say, “Look, I know this is heresy, but clearly he didn’t mean it,” I will be at far greater peace within myself. On the other hand, neither do I need to kick and rage and scream about how awful it is, like the true watch-bloggers. Did an evangelical super-star deny the gospel? Well, is the Pope Catholic? It’s not as though it’s something I’m going to fix. If I do respond, it needn’t be with outrage, which means I’m not only at peace internally, I’m free to be peaceable with all men.
3. When I stop assuming that every evangelical is a fellow believer, it helps me to love the brethren. It is spring, s0 – even though while I write this snow is falling outside my study window – allow me a springtime metaphor. On the rare occasions that I attend a Phillies game, it is almost never in Philadelphia. Nevertheless, I always wear at the very least the appropriate red cap. Furthermore, I always see others in red, because our phans “travel well,” even when our team is awful. (Who am I kidding; that’s most of the time!) If I walk into Miller Park in my bright red cap, the other phans and I will nod, wave, and generally acknowledge one another, all for no reason except that we are dressed similarly; we are “on” the same team. Of course, I do not invite them into my home, concern myself with the well-being of their families, or share their joys and sorrows. (Not, that is, beyond the general sorrow we all feel over Ryan Howard’s impossible contract.) I suspect that this is what Christian fellowship has been reduced to. Christians know that they are supposed to smile and nod when they see someone from their team, but they keep one another at arms’ length. Why? Is it not because, deep within themselves, they suspect that other “Christians” may not be true brothers? When I discover a fellow-believer, it is not by such trivialities as his self-identification as an evangelical. It is instead by his love of the gospel, his rejection of false gospels, and his concern for biblical holiness. In other words, I’ve found a brother, even if we disagree on some of the particulars. I’ve found someone to whom I can gladly extend the right hand of fellowship.
In this case, the simplest explanation really is best. Many evangelicals are unsaved, and the world makes a lot more sense when we acknowledge it.
Source: Tom Chantry, Occam’s Razor and the Perpetuity of Evangelical Scandal, Chantry Notes, https://chantrynotes.wordpress.com/2016/04/11/occams-razor-and-the-perpetuity-of-evangelical-scandal/, Published 11/04/2016. (Accessed 11/04/2016.)
I don’t understand why reformed evangelicals feel the need to question everyone’s salvation.
If anyone would read John’s gospel it’s very clear that Jesus wanted his heaters to believe in Him.
The majority of the NT is an exhortation to believers to do good and live for Christ. It is not automatic. We need to choose daily whom we will serve. Christ or the flesh.
there are a bunch who will appeal to their ‘many wonderful works’ done in the Lord’s name and yet he will say, ‘I never knew you’.
We should seek to restore our fallen brethren Galatians 6:1 style instead of just assuming they’re not really saved.
And it’s Reformed theology to blame.
Porpoise, you’ve just thrown the Reformation under the bus! Very ‘Mark Driscoll’ of you. How about ‘swimming’ back over to that spiritual sounding board you frequent and ‘swim’ with the little fishes who really like to bring down God-ordained biblical leadership, especially if it’s got an XY chromosome.
Cheers, Team ChurchWatch.
How many Shepherds did Jesus our Lord say that there would be?
1 Timothy 3:1-16 (NASB) Overseers and Deacons
“It is a trustworthy statement: if any man aspires to the office of overseer, it is a fine work he desires to do. An overseer, then, must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, prudent, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not addicted to wine or pugnacious, but gentle, peaceable, free from the love of money. He must be one who manages his own household well, keeping his children under control with all dignity (but if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of the church of God?), and not a new convert, so that he will not become conceited and fall into the condemnation incurred by the devil. And he must have a good reputation with those outside the church, so that he will not fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.
Deacons likewise must be men of dignity, not double-tongued, or addicted to much wine or fond of sordid gain, but holding to the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience. These men must also first be tested; then let them serve as deacons if they are beyond reproach. Women must likewise be dignified, not malicious gossips, but temperate, faithful in all things. Deacons must be husbands of only one wife, and good managers of their children and their own households. For those who have served well as deacons obtain for themselves a high standing and great confidence in the faith that is in Christ Jesus.”
I am writing these things to you, hoping to come to you before long; but in case I am delayed, I write so that you will know how one ought to conduct himself in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and support of the truth. By common confession, great is the mystery of godliness:
He who was revealed in the flesh, was vindicated in the Spirit, seen by angels, proclaimed among the nations, believed on in the world, taken up in glory.”
Cheers, Team ChurchWatch.
Roland 70 said:
“And it’s Reformed theology to blame.”
And from what I have seen, you can also thank many our Reformed brethren for a multitude of the Discernment websites popping up all over the internet.
With various forms of works for salvation gospels to boot.
Anyone who Googles “grace alone reformed theology ” will see your claim that reformed theologians claimed works are needed for salvation *in addition* to faith is false.
e.g. John Calvin http://www.theologynetwork.org/unquenchable-flame/calvin/justification-is-by-grace-alone.htm
The Roman Catholic church taught faith + works = salvation. Puritans taught the 5 Solas. http://www.theopedia.com/five-solas
Roland 70 said:
“With various forms of works for salvation gospels to boot.”
If you make an accusation like that, and you have any credibility whatsoever, and to be fair to our Reformed brethren (whose salvation you are apparently questioning), please substantiate your claim by listing some of these ‘various forms of works for salvation gospels’, because I am truly trying to understand your point.
Otherwise, I must disregard all your posts and everything you say as coming from someone who does not know what they are talking about, since that is a big claim you are making.
Jesus (our Lord and Saviour) had this to say in John 10:16
“And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be ONE fold, [and] ONE shepherd.”
Note the hireling in the verses before it.
An overseer/elder is simply a person functioning as a mature believer. It isn’t a salaried religious professional. Elder is an adjective, not a title.
There is no such term, “office of a bishop” in my Greek NT.
The Ecclesiastical language of English versions does damage to the ONE fold which Jesus said HE would build. It’s only got ONE ‘poimen’ Pastor/Shepherd.
The church that was in Philemon’s house was not a Sunday religious social club, but rather a family of believers.
Regarding my experience in Calvinist/Reformed ‘churches’:
As a simple believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, I met many within this group who made it their ministry to question the salvation of those in the ‘church’ who didn’t measure up to their standard of personal holiness.
I struggle with sin often.
We’re all growing.
If personal holiness is automatic in the life of a true believer, I’d be left wondering why some of the grossest personalities I know are Calvinist pastors (and their wives) in their 60’s.
One would think their sin would have long vanished by then.
Thank Jesus for Matthew 23 right?
The Spirit of legalism is alive today!
1 Peter 5:1-5 (Shepherd the Flock of God)
“So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed: shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory. Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”
Cheers, Team ChurchWatch.
Following up on a comment you make elsewhere, how can you separate the Word (only revealed in the bible) from Jesus?
In Christology, Logos (Greek: Λόγος logos, that is, “word”, “discourse” or “reason” i.e., rationality or reasoning) is a name or title of Jesus Christ, seen as the pre-existent Second Person of God according to the doctrine of the Trinity.
So Lifewithporpoise, not only did the Word exist from all eternity, and have face-to-face fellowship with God the Father, the Word (Jesus) was/is God.
But you know that, don’t you?
Cheers, Team ChurchWatch.
Roland 70 said:
“With various forms of works for salvation gospels to boot.”
Porpoise, still waiting to hear your list of ‘various forms of works for salvation gospels.’
You made this statement. Hot air?
If there are ‘various forms’ then name some.
Eyewrenchi J said:
Majority of Americans say that they are Christian because they are American. In actually fact just because you are an American doesnt always make you a Christian.
Ben Yang said:
I agree. Every time polls come out a high percentage of Americans clearly consider themselves to be Christian, but that is bogus. If you drive down the streets of America they are plastered with anti-Christian logos, pictures, images, concepts, coexist, etce. The majority of music blasting out of cars is garbage from the pit of hell. So why the average American thinks they’re a Christian is probably purely out of arrogance.
Though on the bright side America does have a gigantic number of undoubtedly born again Christians living there.
Ben – Agreed and the good pastors are called “voices in the wilderness”, not hard to find if you’re really serious about biblical teaching and fellowship.
Cheers, Team ChurchWatch.
The Body of Christ and the organized church are not one and the same. And The ‘many’ and the ‘few’ sit beside each other in the church
Ed Schirra said:
Advice: Tone down your hard, reviling and vengeful criticism (because that is what it is). God refuses entry into the kingdom for revilers.
1 Corinthians 6:9-10 ESV Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.
You can still alert people. But do it with love.
Explanation (by Scott Nassau).
In English Bibles, this word appears infrequently. The only two instances occur within Paul’s list of various vices (1 Cor 5:11; 6:10). The lists do not provide much context for understanding the meaning of the word; they simply indicate that a reviler does not accurately reflect God’s character and will not inherit God’s Kingdom. In these lists, Paul employs the Greek word loidoros, which simply refers to a verbally abusive person. The word also appears a few times in the Greek translation (LXX) of the Hebrew Bible, all of which refer to a quarrelsome or contentious person (Prov 25:24; 26:21; 27:15; Sirach 23:8). The original Hebrew word madon, the basis for the Greek translation loidoros,refers to strife, quarreling or scolding. The Proverbs teach that a quick-tempered person provokes strife, but the one who is slow to anger calms a quarrel (Prov 15:18; if so inclined, a quick glance at a few of these Proverbs will lead to some very entertaining reading, Prov 16:28; 17:14; 18:19; 21:19; 22:10; 23:29; 25:24; 26:20-21; 27:15; 28:25; 29:22).
By this point I have certainly bored every reader with this overly technical detail for a seemingly insignificant word. Yet the two related Greek words in the New Testament may help elucidate this issue further. First, the noun loidoria refers to speech that is highly insulting or abusive (1 Tim 5:14; 1 Pet 3:9). Peter tells the community of faith not to return evil for evil or insult for insult, but instead bless others (1 Pet 3:9). The Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible uses this word to depict God’s anger with Israel when they complained and grumbled while in the desert (Ex 17:7; Num 20:24). Proverbs describes the person who spreads insults as a fool (Prov 10:18). Second, the verb loidoreo refers to the act of verbally disparaging a person (John 9:28; Acts 23:4; 1 Cor 4:12; 1 Pet 2:23). In the Septuagint, the verb continues to describe contentious or vituperative abuse, but can extend to an altercation, resulting in physical harm (Ex 21:18; see also Gen 49:23; Ex 17:2; Num 20:3, 13; Deut 33:8; 2 Mac. 12:14).
The underlying Hebrew word riv, behind the nominal and verbal Greek words, has a wide range of meaning, including both legal and nonlegal quarrels. The basic meaning of the verb relates to striving. In non-legal applications, the verb can describe either a physical brawl (Gen 26:20-22; Ex 21:18; Judg 11:25) or a verbal quarrel (Gen 31:36; Ex 17:2; Num 20:3). In legal situations, the verb describes the process of bringing a lawsuit against another party (Ex 23:2; Is 3:13; Jer 2:29; Mic 7:9). The nominal form of the word can also describe both non-legal disputes (Gen 13:7; Is 58:4) and legal litigation (Ex 23:3-6).
So why spend so much time discussing the tedious background to a word typically overlooked in modern vernacular? The reason? Obviously, Paul thought it a serious enough offense to mention it along with other vices; therefore, it is an important subject for those who seek to exemplify godly character. Unfortunately, the lack of understanding of this word has caused God’s people to either overlook vituperative speech or, even worse, passively accept such behavior as appropriate.
Sometimes the religious community can be the biggest perpetrators of reviling speech. Some Christian leaders (I will not mention any by name) are notorious for singling out certain sins and verbally assaulting those who struggle with said vices; yet, those who condemn others in an abusive manner are equally guilty of offending God’s righteous standard. At this point, some may take issue with me, thinking that I am advocating an amoral approach. This is entirely not true. When looking at God’s standard for holiness, we cannot simply choose to focus on certain sins that offend us and then decide to ignore the others. We are all broken, which means that we do not have the right to verbally assault others merely because we think their behavior is more offensive to God than our own. One of the reasons Paul includes revilers in his vice list is because it misrepresents God as an emotional demagogue.
A reviler is not only a person who verbally assaults others, but it also includes those with a contentious attitude. God expresses his anger with Israel for their cantankerousness when they grumble against him in the desert, because it illustrated their ingratitude (Ex 17:7; Num 20:24). Incessant complaining dishonors God, because it indicates that we are not thankful for the innumerable blessings God has provided for us. A quarrelsome attitude is equivalent to bringing a lawsuit against God, accusing him of wronging us with some great injustice.
Why is reviler such an important word? It is significant, because it deeply offends God. I know that it is very easy to justify our discontent or overlook our verbal assaults on others, but, if we are serious about reflecting God’s holiness, we cannot treat this behavior as acceptable. On our refrigerator we have a magnet challenging us to remove Lashon Hara, the Evil Tongue, from our midst. In regards to reviling, I think that magnet is appropriate. We can emulate God’s character not only by our actions, but also through our speech.
How about Jesus’ critical and emotional verbal outburst (not to mention his physical assault) toward the money changers in the temple?
“God refuses entry into the kingdom for revilers”
1. Reviling has NOTHING to do with pointing out false teachers. The early Church THREW them out, which is far more harsh than what is being spoken here.
2. Refusing entry into the Kingdom has NOTHING to do with the redeemed. Reviling is just 1 more sin added to the long list which will be counted against the UN-redeemed. Have you sinned today?