Monday, December 7, 2015

Christian Leader Disobeys Scripture While Accusing Christian Leader of Disobeying Scripture

Irony is the use of words to indicate an opposing meaning from their definition. You give your wife a vacuum cleaner for an anniversary present. Coolly, she examines the gift, turns to you, and says, “How nice.” No, friend, she does not mean this is a nice gift. She means that you had best have held on to the receipt, or you had best follow that gift with your assurance that you bought it for her … because you wanted her to know that you would now be doing all the vacuuming at home.

Hypocrisy, however, is not irony.

Hypocrisy offers a portrayal of one’s self as adhering to a standard – legal, moral, social – while, in fact, one does not do so.

This past weekend offered us an insight into the difference between irony and hypocrisy.

In a recent blog post, I brought to light the inane call to Christians in America to adhere to a gospel of disarmament made by a former pro-life leader, the Reverend Rob Schenck. You can read that post here. []  It suffices to say, in summary of Rob’s new found crusade, that a Jewish believer in Jesus has reached an accord with the kind of devilry that disarmed German Jews and made the susceptible to being victimized, minimized, and murdered by Hitler’s Third Reich. Rather than learning the lessons of history, Schenck prefers to burn those lessons and would tempt Christians in America to disarm themselves in a entirely fallacious call to “do as Jesus does.”

Now, Rob Schenck is doubling down on his wrong-headed crusade. In doing so, as explained in this post, he has undertaken a hypocritical demand that he posits, instead, as Christian one. He is demanding that Jerry Falwell Jr., the President of Liberty University, repent for remarks he made last week at the university’s convocation.

Let’s begin with Falwell’s remarks, here as reported by Reuters:
"It just blows my mind when I see that the president of the United States [says] that the answer to circumstances like that is more gun control," Falwell said, according to the newspaper. "… I've always thought if more good people had concealed carry permits, then we could end those Muslims before they walked in…"
Falwell, whose father Jerry Falwell Sr. was an evangelical Southern Baptist pastor, televangelist, and conservative political commentator, urged students to take free classes offered by the university's Police Department to obtain a concealed weapon permit, the newspaper reported. 
"Let's teach them a lesson if they ever show up here," he said.

Liberty University describes it Convocation program this way:
"Convocation is NorthAmerica's largest weekly gathering of Christian students, and each year itplays host to more than 80 guest speakers of national significance from everysphere of society. It is held within the Vines Center at Liberty Universityduring each semester at 10:30 AM on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday unlessotherwise noted."
(Some have suggested that Falwell’s remarks are ironic because, as they have claimed, Liberty prohibits weapons on campus. If it were true that LU prohibits students from possessing weapons on campus, Falwell's remarks would provide an excellent illustration of irony. The assertion about a weapons ban, however, is false. In 2013, Liberty University changed its policy and now allows students with concealed carry permits to have their weapons on campus.)

Falwell’s remarks met with immediate criticism because some interpreted – out of context – as expressing an intent to harm all Muslims. Later the same day, he responded to that criticism, criticism that would have come from some no matter how carefully he couched his words, but undoubtedly came from others because his remarks were edited by media.

Now, let’s get back to Rob Schenck, who appears to have converted to a new religion: personal disarmament.

As my previous post explains, Rob has fallen onto hard doctrinal times. Like so many of us, he has witnessed the aftermath of terrible tragedies caused by armed criminals. As very few of us have done, he has spoken with some surviving family members of individuals killed in such shootings. His conversations and processing of the incidents has caused him to conclude that the new cause celeb for himself and his ministry is to urge Christians to disarm themselves and disarm others in the face of thugs and criminals. That conversion is documented in a recently released documentary, The Armor of Light, directed by a niece of Walt Disney.

Still, as my blog post explains, the market has disciplined Schenck. Donations to his ministry have been seriously impacted by his new found gospel. According to Schenck’s own Facebook posts, he has been forced, for the first time in his ministry, to publicly grub for funding. Rather than learning the lesson being taught to him by those who formerly supported his ministry financially, he has stubbornly grasped to his errant word.

Still, one must pay the bills. In Schenck’s case, paying the bills involves drumming support for his work and ministry. In turn, drumming support for his work and ministry apparently requires that he recklessly adhere to his new found nonsensical doctrine, and make a public spectacle of his having done so. Consequently, when Liberty University’s Jerry Falwell Jr. called on students to arm themselves, and to obtain their concealed carry weapons permit – a permit they could obtain after attending a free CCW course at the University – Schenck lost little time in ginning up a PRESS RELEASE to criticize and to shame Falwell by demanding that he repent for his remarks.

You can find that release here:

Here is a brief excerpt from his extended remarks in the release:
The remarks on Friday by President Jerry Falwell, Jr., of Liberty University, regarding the terrorist attackers in San Bernardino, California, were morally reprehensible.
It's understandable that emotions run high after horrendous acts of violence against innocent people, and Dr. Falwell can be excused for that, but to make the contemptuous remarks he did from his seat as president of the largest Evangelical Christian university in the world, and in front of more than 10,000 of his charges, not to mention on an international video feed, is inexcusable.
When we say and do the wrong things, we must repent of our failure, admit to our wrong, beg the pardon and forgiveness of God and those we have offended, and set things right as best we can. I respectfully suggest Dr. Falwell follow that course.
Lest there be any doubt, I am not opposed to correction. In fact, there is a model in the Scripture for how correction should be provided. For example, in the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 18, Jesus explains how to confront a brother who has sinned:
Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. 16 But if he willnot hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. 17 And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.
Notice the progress of biblical correction. 

First, go privately to the offending brother, “between thee and him alone.” At that point, if the offending brother repents, then further publication of the brothers wrong is itself a sin. If the brother repents, you have regained a brother. Second, if that offending brother doesn’t repent then take one or two witnesses and again confront the brother. At that point, if the brother still has not repented, then you take it to the whole church.

Strangely, Jesus said nothing about sending out a press release call for repentance. Of course, Jesus may just not have been sufficiently sophisticated.

Let’s turn, now, to the hypocrisy inherent in Rob Schenck’s demand that Jerry Falwell, Jr., repent for his remarks.

In a strange case of the pot calling the kettle black, Schenck – believing, it seems, that Jerry Falwell, Jr., has grievously sinned – appears to have ignored the direct command of Jesus himself to go privately to Falwell and confront him. As a consequence, observers are left to wonder at the hypocrisy of Schenck’s rebuke of Falwell. There just is not any portion of Jesus’ command for biblical restoration that invokes the “chastisement by press release” ministry.

Think about the lengths of biblical contradiction to which Schenck has gone in this instance.
He has a personal agenda. It appears to me that he has substituted his personal agenda, the gospel of disarmament, with the actual message of the Gospel. Then, when a national Christian leader in the field of education speaks a message contrary to Schenck’s agenda, he gets his dander up (perhaps forgetting the biblical command to “be angry but sin not”).

He drafts a call to repentance. His call, however, reads more like a press release than a personal appeal to repent. That resemblance to a press release, it turns out, is okay, because he is, in fact, writing a press release. 

Next, Schenck submits that press release to a news service so that it can be circulated to news editors of print and electronic media. 

Helpfully, he includes a contact number and name … not for Falwell, but for his own assistant. As a consequence, news editors that are interested can set up interviews with … wait for it … Schenck. And now, the coup de gras, Schenck gets publicity for his ungodly gospel of disarmament.

Rather than going to Falwell privately – as the Word of God teaches for actual instances in which a brother has sinned – Schenck simply appears to use the Rahm Emanuel playbook, not letting a good crisis go to waste.

For his sensationalism, for his failure to comport with scripture, and for his departure from the exact teaching of the Word, Rob Schenck has to answer to someone well above my pay grade. In my book, though, the hypocrisy of attempting to shame Falwell by public press release, rather than privately seeking Falwell’s repentance, is fairly rank and low behavior.