As you know, I get letters—lots and lots of letters. From time to time I like to collect and share some of the best (and occasionally the worst) of them. Here, then, is another collection of letters to the editor.
Letters on 10 Serious Problems with Jesus Calling
You sound like a pompous Christian who picks apart others seeking to outsmart readers with your intellect. God Calling is a special book to me and has made God attainable and loving causing me to want to read the Bible. God wants communication. I hear Him talking to me everyday so if someone chooses to write what they hear so be it. Christianity is individual, personal relationship. Maybe all organized religion are cults because parishioners follow like dumb sheep. Love God and do not spend your time finding fault. When you know God and the Bible you know and see the untruths anyhow.
—Pamela H, Bowling Green, OH
Letters on The Speaking Circuit
I have been a pastor at my present church for 24 years. It is a small to medium size church, approximately 225 attenders. I have only been asked to speak a handful of times at other locations. It does do something for one’s ego. However, your analogy of the love of one’s wife versus the infatuation of another woman is a good summation. I love my church and feel greatly affirmed by them. Being a pastor resonates in my heart. I am grateful to the Lord that He saw fit to place me in this area of ministry.
—William D, Independence, MO
Letters on What’s the Purpose of … Pastors?
We say that pastor and elder/overseer are interchangeable terms, but You really don’t see that born out of scripture. We see elders are to shepherd (an action), we see Peter refer to under-shepherds and we see in Ephesians it refer to pastors/shepherds in the same line as prophets and apostles. Otherwise what we see is the terms for the office used is elder, not pastor. These elders (a plurality and one of whom Peter identifies himself as) are to teach, reprove, and rebuke. We simply do not see a special pastor from among the Elders who will lead the flock like Moses. I think if we are honest we will see that this is a western invention because we are more comfortable with the Moses model (he went up to the mountain and brought God down to us) than the infinitely tougher model of a group of men striving together to understand the word, lead together, and not just pay someone to do it for us.
I also do not see a specific list of qualifications for a pastor (ie. male, good repute). It makes me wonder if, like the prophet, a pastor (or shepherding person who encourages and guides) is a gifting or action done by someone gifted in that respect, either male or female. What I see is that there are two offices of the church elder/deacon. Lets call spades spades and not make what God commands of elders and deacons a sub-office to what is NOT specified-that the lead elder is entitled pastor. Plus we have that irritating verse where it states we have one shepherd. (John 10:16)
—Eric B, ID
Letters on What’s the Purpose of … the Church?
The Bible knows everything about lone Christians, of believers who are willfully independent of the local church. How about John the Baptizer? Or Jesus himself and how he interacted within the Jewish community. We are called to be mindful of local leadership, testing the things they teach and watching how they set an example (or don’t).
—Izzy, Nashville, TN
Letters on What’s the Purpose of … Baptism?
It really bothers me when guys acknowledge they are writing about a position that many Christians disagree about but then say their position is supported by a “plain reading of the text” (as if those who disagree cannot get it right when the right answer comes from a plain reading of the text). If that were the case then I don’t think so many Christians would disagree about the issue. In this case, when you base your position on a plain reading of the text, it exposes your reading into the text that baptism follows an individual’s profession of faith so that a “plain reading of the text” sounds like a confirmation of your position to you because of your preconceived notions. If you were an eastern Christian (instead of a western Christian swimming in a culture of individualism) then your assumption as someone from an eastern culture would be that if the head of the household converted to a new religion then everyone in the household would receive the sign of the new religion whether they made a profession of faith in the new religion or not (as reflected in Lydia’s household in Acts 16:15 or the household of Stephanas in 1 Corinthians 1:16-neither of which specify a profession of faith by all in the household before their baptism as you seem to claim in your article is always present in a plain reading of the text).
As you examine the baptism texts, I would encourage you to try to think like an eastern Christian instead of a western Christian. Even today, the folks I present an infant baptism position to who are from an eastern culture tend to accept it easily as a “plain reading of the text” just as western Christians seem to think a “plain reading of the text” supports on individual’s profession of faith. The problem for your view is the Bible is more of an eastern document written in the Middle East by people with more of an eastern mindset.
Finally, consider the history of the church. Early church fathers (Origen, Cyprian, Chrysostom, Augustine) wrote that the tradition of baptizing the children of believers was handed down from the Apostles. For over a thousand years the church baptized infants. It was not until over a millennium had passed that Christians (the anabaptists) began to argue for believer’s baptism only and the exclusion of baptizing the children of believers. It seems kind of arrogant to me to take the position that the church missed the “plain reading of the text” for a thousand years. I know you have good arguments for your position so use those arguments and please don’t argue from the “plain reading of the text.” It makes it sound like others who disagree can’t see the “plain reading of the text” and more specifically, it shows your western assumptions that you bring to the text.
—Scott B, Florence, AB
Sorry to hear about your hand problem. Thank you for finding a way to continue on anyway.
I greatly appreciated your comments on the wrongness of using the “ball and chain” phrase regarding our wives, and for speaking out to the young man about it. I to am troubled with that kind of talk about wives. I recently had some serious heart trouble and had to wear a defibrillator vest for a couple months (until they put one inside me). This vest had to be worn at all times unless I was showering. It was attached by a wire about 3 feet long to a control/battery pack that weighed about 2 lbs. So every time I got up off the bed or out of the car or anything like that I had to remember to pick up this pack. Often I forgot (especially at the beginning) and got yanked back by the wire. Early on I referred to it as a ball and chain, and my wife responded jokingly, “Hey, I thought that was my job.” We both have a great sense of humor and work of each other’s jokes often. But I couldn’t on this. I quickly and gently said, “I have never referred to you with that phrase or ever thought of you in that way, and I never will.” It wasn’t anything she didn’t know, but it sat so wrong with me that, like your experience, I just couldn’t let it go by, even jokingly just between us. On a more humorous note, as you told your account of speaking to the young man, I was expecting him to say after your talk with him, to say, “Ok sir, but I was talking about your phone.” Our true ball and chain these days.
—Michael S Slidell, LA
While I’m sorry to hear that your body isn’t allowing you to type, I know that God is graciously using this hardship in your life for His good purposes, and it has allowed your readership to see a different side of your personality. At times, your writing comes across as a bit dogged and imperative, whereas in your vlogs, you appear to be the poster child for Canadian politeness and gentility. It’s been intriguing to see both sides. I appreciated hearing your take on your “ball and chain” depicting how your wife has selflessly served you in love during this difficulty. Grace and peace to you and prayers for your healing!
—Lindsey S, Lander, WY
The video today was terrific and painful. Nice to see you and hear you finally but I was totally crushed. I love my wonderful, supportive husband, spent twenty five years doing the usual how to be a good wife and mother bible studies in the non-reformed church world. What you said today about your wife and how she supports you shone a light on how I haven’t fully supported my husband as I should have all these years. I thought I had but listening to you describe it made me see that I haven’t, not really, not 100%. He would not say those things about me. It is humbling and heart breaking. Hopefully other women also watch this video and are encouraged to follow Aileen’s example.
—Janet W, Edmonton, AB
Some writers/vloggers, may write this stuff but I’m glad to hear that it came up in a direct real world situation in the camera store. We can get so tolerant in our conversations that we ignore, or let slip, language that isn’t quite right. I’m glad you didn’t let that one get by! Now, for the benefit of marriages and encouragement of many, can Aileen do a episode on how you aren’t a ball and chain? Casually spoken, flippant comments reflecting this attitude might not be as common for women about husbands, but it is an undercurrent that is eroding the understanding of marriage for those on the threshold at joy in marriage for many. I’d love to read/hear her reflections.
—Julie, Twin Cities, MN
Letters on The Most Happily Multi-Ethnic Church I Know
I work for an American company that embraces diversity. As a result, they are very diverse. They actively seek to include diverse populations and leverage that diversity to achieve greater success. As a company that values people, they know that diverse teams with supportive leadership perform better than homogeneous teams.
I have never had a church experience where cultural diversity was truly embraced. Does American Evangelical Christianity value people? I think not as much as they say or think they do. Cultural diversity goes much deeper than color, gender, country. Valuing actual people (as opposed to the abstract concept of people) is the first step to embracing, accepting and accommodating differences of every type. You know, kind of like what God does.
—Scott S , Grapevine, TX
I had to chime in on the Boy Scouts article. We have been involved in Scouts for about 7 years. We cringed when the shift began away from the original tenets of Scouting. We almost left. We in middle America though are shielded from some of the more liberal slants, so we stuck with it because the core of the program is good and our son loves it. We were guarded when the announcement came that girls were going to be allowed into the Scouting beyond Venture Scouts. However, after reading the official word on it, I can’t say it is a bad thing at all. The dens are still going to be separated by gender. This is an opportunity for families who get pulled in all different directions by their kids’ activities to have one night where more than one kid can join in doing their own activity. This incident in Scouting history, is not a bad thing. Mr. Wax can address all the other faulty paths that Scouting has gone down recently, but this path is circling back to the family.
—Wendi B, KS