Friday, December 17, 2010


But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear. (1 Peter 3:15)

I spend time daily surfing various locales on the web that purport to be “Christian Discernment” sites. The goal of these sites is to function as spiritual whistleblowers for the church at large. Legitimately they engage issues such as syncretism, the Emerging church movement, political attacks on Christianity and things that turn the church into a circus. However, a disturbing trend I have noticed lately is that they mow down potential allies with friendly fire.

Case in point: The Crosstalk Blog leveled their guns at the publisher of “The Almighty Bible” recently. Crosstalk’s beef was that a “comic book Bible” was a perversion of God’s word. However, upon investigating “The Almighty Bible’s” website, I found they are a Biblically grounded group of folks who want to encourage young people from 8-14 years of age to read God’s word. They even have their new Bible in an iPad app that also contains the entire text of the particular book (they have done Genesis and Exodus so far).

The accusation from Crosstalk is that this is “adding to and/or taking away from” God’s word and is therefore an insult to God. Have you ever read a picture Bible? I have a couple I have read to my youngest girl for quite awhile now. It has helped give her a strong Biblical foundation. The stories are presented in a simple to understand format with great illustrations. These sorts of picture Bibles are a wonderful introduction to the Scriptures that can help a child or young person in learning about their wonderful Savior.

After expressing my opinion on Crosstalk, I found myself accused of “blasphemy.” I always expected insults and accusation for my faith…from unbelievers! I cannot help but chuckle at the label pinned on me for my views. My opinion is simply this: the folks at “The Almighty Bible” are trying to bring God’s word to a generation that desperately needs it. I’ve used similar tools before such as “The Manga Bible” and “Manga Messiah” along with numerous movies and cartoons and music from Christian hip-hop artists... all teaching sound, Biblical doctrine and staying true to the Bible.

I believe “Christian Discernment” sites must walk a fine line between discernment and denigration. Heresy hunters can quickly become witch-hunters. If you really want to find a witch bad enough, you always will. If they don’t exist, you will create them (remember the Salem Witch Trials?). We must be careful about drawing conclusions without thoroughly researching the target of our accusations. I believe we have a great precedent set before us in the works of the early church father Iranaeus and his voluminous tome “Against Heresies.” He knew the teachings and writings of the heretics and apostates and was able to address them specifically.

What bothered me most about Crosstalk’s attack on “The Almighty Bible” was that nobody appeared to be interested in visiting the publisher’s website and undertaking a thorough investigation. My suggestion to do such fell on deaf ears while the blind accusations continued to drop. Perhaps the best advice I can offer is to check your targets before opening fire. You could be emptying a clip on friendly forces.

The danger I find is that of creating an insular community that rejects anybody who even reasonably disagrees with them. They embrace preconceptions without intensive research. What raised Crosstalk’s ire were words in the press release about “The Almighty Bible” that stated it was “edited” from the original texts. The accusations flew and I’ll share a few of those statements:

“Our forefathers were literate enough to actually read a Bible, and today, ‘graphic novels’ (that’s another name for comic books) are assumed to be all anyone can handle.”

“The ‘Almighty Bible’ will bring essential books from the Bible to life, they say. No need for the Holy Spirit then. No need at all. We just need comic books with edited Bible stories for media-driven youth.”

“The same evil redefining of Truth that occurred in the Church and is being played out every day in stories like this…”

“Another example of how we are trivializing the Scriptures.”

“…who dares to think that God and The Holy Spirit didn’t make account for a ‘visual generation’. Blasphemy.”

And perhaps the worst came when the publisher responded to the attacks, saying:

“We are not trying to replace the traditional Bible, we just want to grab the attention of kids and teens who would otherwise have no interest in picking up a Bible. Everyday young people are challenged to balance their time and much of this time is spent using gaming consoles, Facebook and mp3 players. We have chosen to release the Bible in these formats to compete for their attention and introduce them to God’s word.”

The reply that came was stinging and to me totally out of line:

“You and your team are not a solution to anything,….the fruit of 30 years of relevance and seeker sensitivity and youth adoration are in…you are part of the problem. I wouldn’t want to be in line for Gods’ wrath that comes upon those who add or subtract from Gods WORD.”

As I read over the words of Peter in 1 Peter 3:15 I am saddened at such responses. The Greek word for “answer” is the root etymologically of our word apologetics. It means to give a reasoned answer for your beliefs. I do not see reason in such vitriolic attacks. I certainly do not see “meekness” (gentleness and kindness) or “fear” (respect).

We are called to be discerning (check out 1 John 4:1). However, I am afraid it can be taken way too far. I’m not going to swear off such sites, but I will continue to express my opinion on them both positively when they blow the whistle on serious church issues, and negatively when they aim their attacks at friendly forces.

I guess to sum it all up, please use discernment when you are discerning.

Pastor Randy

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