Flinching At The Dirty Words, Or Did Anything Good Come From Nazareth?

Christians are acutely aware of dirty words. Our ears are specially trained to pick them out from amongst the noise of a crowd, especially if they are spoken by a fellow of the faith. However, dirty words are not solely of the four letter variety, as they also include particular names.

On both sides there are certain people who you just can’t mention, as it’ll immediately draw your own beliefs into questions and discount what you were about to say, no matter how valuable or insightful. We do this with fundamentalist names, evangelical writers, health and wealth preachers, emergent-types and people in between. Sometimes we do it with 3/4 of the groups mentioned, meaning anyone who doesn’t sleep under our tent.

The idea of “hey if you support this person then you must support this (crazy thing he holds to) and that (heretical idea he mentioned in a magazine article 5 years ago)” is so silly! I’ll even say it’s immature, which means I’ve acted immaturely very recently. Everyone has value. Truth be told I would likely be described as an emergent sympathizer, but I wouldn’t say I’m emergent – there are some places I can’t go. But, I’m tired of being afraid to reference emerging thinkers just because they are a dirty word.

Early on in Jesus’ ministry someone questioned if anything good could even come from Nazareth. It turns out, well, oh yes. However we wonder the same things today, not just about place but with people as well.

I wrote this post simply because tomorrow I have a blog planned that is based off some thoughts of a Christian who is a dirty word to many people (fear not, it’s not Rob Bell). I was hesitant to write the blog because immediately for some people they’d label me and start the attacks. I’ve long wanted to reference this writer or similar ones to him, but I’ve been afraid. And that, my friends, is freaking ridiculous.

It’s perfectly normal to naturally flock with birds of the same feather. But that doesn’t mean you should dive bomb other birds just because they don’t fly with you, or just because they have blue on their wings and not yellow. So, please, go ahead and share that insight Greg Boyd had, tell us that story John Piper gave one day, fear not saying Jerry Falwell actually contributed some good to the world. I’ll bet there was something worthwhile in Rick Warren book that sold 50 million copies. I’m even open to hearing something from Joel Osteen. Doesn’t mean I agree, but I won’t write him or demonize him just because…

Who are some Christians you like who are dirty words? Have you too been afraid to reference them? 

*I’m growing tired of disclaimers. I’m not saying hey it’s all relative or everyone is right, there is definitely some Chuck Swindoll that I think is way far off the mark. I’m simply trying to tumble some of the walls we’ve fortified over the years so we can actually look in the eyes of the people on the other side.

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15 Responses to Flinching At The Dirty Words, Or Did Anything Good Come From Nazareth?

  1. David says:

    I love anyone that follows Jesus to the best of their ability! I am a believer in grace, not in the laws, riles and religious traditions, yet some of them have value for me personally – well, after 35 years of weeding out the junk that was not profitable of effective.

    There are lots of movements and writers that I would never read, or never read again.

    I believe in the spiritual gifts, the power of prayer, the Baptism of the Holy Spirit as a s sometimes second spiritual experience. I have seen healing, prophecy, demons cast out and done a little of it myself; that is how I love others. I teach, train and encourage as those are my spiritual gifts. There is no one quite like me, and honestly, I could care less what stiff-necked religious people feel about all that. If they got to know me, they might see that God is really real, not just something up in the sky for the by and by.

    Oh my God, did say all the s8!t?

  2. It’s a human nature problem. We’re all or nothing people.

    Kinda like that thing where folks think it’s impossible to avoid hell unless you publicly proclaim that Genesis 1 must be interpreted literally.

    In other words, if you LIKE that Mark Driscoll said a certain thing, you’ve got to agree with his mockery of feminism.

    • Good grief I wish I could remember to click that “notify” checkbox. Any way you can set it to default to “on” instead of “off”?

      • the worst part about that whole Genesis 1 must be literal your going to hell – I was raised to believe that in my church. We watched videos on it regularly. I still can’t believe it.

        Mark Driscoll used to have a ton of credibility and people admired him greatly, but now if you even think of him highly your in trouble.

        oh and I actually and very unfamiliar with wordpress as far as commenting. Is your blog on wordpress? If so you might be able to do something in account settings.

  3. Chris says:

    Definitely people whom we strongly disagree with can have good insights and good things to say.
    I’m sure Karl Marx had some good things to say. I don’t think anyone goes about trying to begin some movement or other by saying: Gee, I just really want to start up something truly evil and get as many people as I can to follow. Most everyone, I think, believes they are doing or saying good things that will benefit others. Some of the problems come about when those individuals come up against institutional power structures. There is so much entrenchment within paradigms that the frustration that people feel when trying to say something new turns into belligerence and/or all or nothing, which in turn creates an us vs. them atmosphere. People start to react violently and start believing that the whole previous story needs to be reformed or torn down and begun anew.
    The problem becomes trying to de-vein where the bad stuff leaves off and where the good stuff begins. It takes discernment.
    I don’t see a problem with acknowledging voices I generally disagree with when they say good things. When I read, I try to read broadly and I even try to read things I disagree with, just to keep myself honest. I think this is the point. And it doesn’t/shouldn’t mean that just because I acknowledge something I heard or read by someone not generally on my “side” of things that I necessarily have to swallow everything they have to peddle, hook, line, and sinker.

    • I’m impressed you read things even if you disagree with them. That’s mature in my opinion. And ultimately the whole write off an entire person based on one or two or three things you disagree with is, well, immature.

      It’s funny you bring up Karl Marx. I studied him a good bit in college as apart of my sociology major and he had a lot of great stuff to say. Great example, because so many slam him for a) communism or b) saying religion is the opiate of the masses. So therefore those two controversial things discredit his whole body of work (even if those things he’s associated with aren’t totally fair. I personally think his critique of religion is pretty astute).

  4. jeff says:

    Religions are like ice cream. They come in many flavors. Not everyone is going to like your favorite flavor. That doesn’t make them a bad person. I just happen to know you can only get to heaven if vanilla is your favorite flavor.

  5. Larry Hehn says:

    Though I haven’t agreed with all his stuff, I’ve liked some of John Eldredge’s writing. Now there’s a name that is sure to stir up some controversy. I think to quote him – even if the quote is sound – would just be asking for a fight based on how some people react to him.

    I also had somebody send me an email slamming Erwin McManus after I gave one of his books a favorable review. I didn’t agree with their assessment.

    • I forgot about him – I read Wild at Heart though the ending threw me off – I barely remember why anymore but it offended my wife – and she is not easily offendable.

      Names become associations, and though I’ve not yet heard of someone so passionately opposed to McManus I guess even he has found haters who despise every word – many despising is done on assumptions, may it be noted.

  6. Pingback: Sacred Cows Among Carnivorous Christians, Or Bowing At The Holy Words | Charlie's Church of Christ

  7. Amy says:

    But Joel Osteen is my swear word!

  8. Amy says:

    Whenever I see his smiling face on his dumb books at stores, I cover his books with other books.

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