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A Wise Email from a Christian Friend on My Recent Posts

During the last four days several friends have written to me privately about the Ergun Caner controversy and my three posts. One friend, who has been deeply involved in sorting out a major battle revolving around the ministry that he serves, wrote a letter that I think is extremely useful. I have removed all personal references in order to avoid a new fire and spread gossip. This battle, which many would know about if I revealed the content, has also been largely conducted via the Internet. Thus my friend’s insights come from real first hand experience of the very thing I wrote about. Here is his letter (with some highlighting from me for emphasis):

Dear John,

I have followed the Caner mess a little. It does seem that he overstated his resume and perhaps invented some window dressing; not good things. However, the criticism easily gets carried away on the Internet and in other places. You are right about the permanent damage caused by gossip and slander and the fact that the whole matter does little good for anyone involved. I doubt if Caner

A Further Response to the Ergun Caner Controversy

On the three previous three days I have published blogs on the danger of gossip and slander. Had I not cited a particular name, and a present controversy, the content of what I wrote stands true. My mistake was to think out loud about a controversy that I clearly had not examined below the surface. My goal was clearly stated and seems to have been missed. I was warning about the dangers of gossip and slander and how the Internet encourages this to happen without accountability.  I openly admitted that I had no horse in this race (debate) and no deep, first-hand knowledge of the facts. My obvious problem is that my comments were perceived to be a defense of Ergun Caner (photo left). I clearly missed the mark here.

caner1 After I began to read the various comments I went back and read what I wrote. I noted how some took a few of my words out of their context. Some got this and

Slander: One of the Most Devastating Sins in the Church

While Christians currently debate a host of ethical issues that are very important to the life and well-being of the church I fear that too few of us are willing to actually address a sin that destroys the work of the Spirit as fast, if not faster, than almost any other sin. I refer to the sin of slander.

Slander-vs-Libel Slander, as I wrote two days ago, is false and malicious talk about others. Gossip may selectively use information, even truth, to just chatter and talk too much. This is bad enough, as we saw yesterday. But slander is much worse. It plunges straight ahead knowing full-well that the facts have been carelessly used or altered to suit the opinions and views of those committing the sin. Slander is listed in Mark 7:21-23 as one of those sins that comes from deep inside the human heart. It comes out of the “heart” and is “vile.” There are thirteen things listed

Every Idle Word

office_gossip-web1 I confess that the words of our Lord in Matthew 12:36-37 have long sent chills down my spine. Most of you have read them: “And I tell you this, you must give an account on judgment day for every idle word you speak. The words you say will either acquit you or condemn you” (NLT).

I think it is imperative that we get the sense of this text right. The traditional translation of the word “idle” should be challenged. The impression is that all random remarks will be judged and (this is what sends chills down our spine) if we are guilty there is no hope for us. If this were correct  then no one would be justified on the last day. A truer explanation is that the phrase here means “every deedless word.” Matthew 7:22-23 has already told us that we will give an account for all our deeds. Thus it seems to me Jesus is saying that

Slander, Gossip and the Internet

Geisler_Norman I was recently forwarded a statement written by Dr. Norman L. Geisler (photo left) in defense of Dr. Ergun Caner, the dean at Liberty University. Caner has been a major target of accusations about lying, and thus deceiving the public, for some months. The story of these accusations against Canter, and the school’s response to them, has been a feature of major news sources as well as fodder for massive Internet discussion.  What made reading this defense so interesting for me is the following:

1. I have no “horse” in this race. I do not know Ergun Caner or any of those who have attacked him regarding lies and deceptions about his Muslim past or his wider life experience in general. The link above will provide you with the entire list of accusations.

2. I am not a friend of either Ergun Caner or Norman Geisler. In

My Three Conversions

Conversion is variously described in the Bible. Many, like me, grew up in a tradition that stressed a single conversion as necessary for the beginning of the Christian life. Everyone, much like the Apostle Paul, needs to undergo a “conversion” or change in the direction of their life. There are a number of problems with this way of thinking. For one, how and when does a child undergo (in most cases) such a clear-cut experience? Certainly, no child has lived a wicked, persecuting life railing against Jesus as Paul did before he met Christ on the road to Damascus. Yet, I do recall my first conversion. I was only a few weeks from my seventh birthday and I had a lot of questions about heaven, hell and eternal life. I repented of my sins, as much as I understood repentance in my childlike way, and asked Jesus to save me. My wife did not have

Welcoming the Stranger : A Church Leaders’ Conversation on Immigration

One of the most complicated issues the church faces today is immigration. Is it legal for your church to minister to immigrants without legal status? And, what is the biblical response to the immigration debate? This thorny issue will be the subject of a wonderful event only three minutes from my home on August 12. This event will feature a panel of local pastors, lunch with immigrant families, and teaching by two wonderful leaders. It begins at 9:00 a.m. and ends at 3:30 p.m. You are invited to attend and get involved. I hope some of you who live in this area will join me for the day.

Daniel_Carroll Matthew_Soerens The two plenary speakers for this event are Dr. Daniel Carroll (photo left), the distinguished professor of Old Testament at Denver Seminary and

By |July 25th, 2010|Categories: Immigration|

Grandchildren Say the Cutest Things

Eight-year-old Abbie spent the night at our house all alone recently. When I (Anita) went in to check on her after she went to bed, I saw her leafing through John’s latest book, Your Church Is Too Small. (John dedicated the book to her.) I asked her, “Are you reading Grandpa’s book?” She replied, “No, I’m just reading the Dedication!”

By |July 24th, 2010|Categories: Humor|

Inception: Freud on the Big Screen

inception01 The popular film Inception, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, is a complex and engaging pop-culture romp through Freudian dream theory and the metaphysical view of life and even life after death. The story line is not perfect but the entertainment value is very high, at least as far as summer films go. Newsweek correctly said:

Leonardo DiCaprio and friends are ninjas of the subconscious, dashing through the landscape of other people’s dreams, in Christopher Nolan’s Inception. This endlessly fascinating swirl of a film could have come only from Nolan, who blends the cerebral twistiness of Memento (his thriller that moves backward in time) with the spectacular action of his Batman megahit, The Dark Knight.

That last sentence, and the reference to The Dark Knight (a favorite of mine), made me want to see Inception on opening day, something I rarely do. I enjoyed a rest from research and writing and was enmeshed

By |July 23rd, 2010|Categories: Film|

Dead Man Walking: The Quest for the Impossible Life

get-attachment.aspx Today’s post is a guest blog by my good friend Dr. Monte E. Wilson, the President of African American Self-Help Foundation. Monte resides in Atlanta, Georgia.

Only the idea of death makes a warrior sufficiently detached so that he is capable of abandoning himself to anything. He knows his death is stalking him and won’t give him time to cling to anything, so he tries, without craving, all of everything. –Carlos Castaneda

One of the strongest of human instincts is self-preservation: maybe the strongest. We will do most anything to save our lives. On one hand, this is a healthy impulse for it keeps us from playing Russian roulette with .45 caliber handguns, drinking poison or telling our boss what we really think of him. On the other hand, this instinct can go from preserving our life to defending our ego.

The ego prefers remaining in its intellectual-psychological comfort

By |July 22nd, 2010|Categories: Death, Spirituality|
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