Christian Parents, Please Stop Practicing White Magic

Parents who fear mystical objects and symbols should compare this “white magic” with actual Scripture.
on Sep 26, 2014 · 65 comments

white magic

Many Christians, including many parents, are practicing “white magic” whenever they fear and shun objects, symbols, and Things more than they fear Jesus Christ and hate inner sin.

Just this morning I saw this mystical perspective on display yet again.

With Halloween on the way, it’s time to explore this topic again (more on this next month). And yes, calling parents’ fears and reactions “white magic” seems harsh. But I’ve come close to this before, and novelist Mike Duran provided further helpful reflections.1 And I don’t know what else to call it when parents repeat these beliefs:

  • The Devil can own objects, symbols, visual motifs, and Things, and use these things to “get to” your innocent children and to you.
  • Therefore to protect yourself you must fear these objects, shun them, and perform spiritual measures (including rule-following and verse recitations) to stay safe.

Folks, this is too close to the kind of divination God condemned in Deuteronomy 18.2

So what brought this back to my attention? A concerned parent being fearful on Facebook.

Plugged In takes a step

Yesterday PluggedIn.org posted part 2 of an excellent interview with hip-hop artist Lecrae.

If you don’t know Lecrae, he happens to be successful breakout hip-artist and a Christian with a very biblical view of art, culture, and vocation. You can see that expressed here:

“I believe the reason why the church typically doesn’t engage culture is because we are scared of it. … We’re scared it’s going to somehow jump on us and corrupt us. We’re scared it’s going to somehow mess up our good thing. So we consistently move further and further away from the corruption, further and further away from the crime, further and further away from the postmodernity, further and further away from the relativism and secular humanism, and we want to go to a safe place with people just like you. We want to be comfortable.”

So I like it that Plugged In is interviewing Lecrae. Often Plugged In is seen as one of those websites that evangelical parents use to “outsource” discernment to staff rather than to help them explore popular culture.3

I also like it that Plugged In is trying something a little different with their “Movie Nights” feature. To me it appears the writers are exploring a radical concept of treating teens like junior adults rather than innocent children who need to have bad words screened for them:

This whole issue of good movies/bad movies has been a point of tension for me ever since I began working for Plugged In—and, really, I think it’s a paradox that Plugged In has always dealt with. After all, most movies aren’t altogether good or bad. Most fall somewhere in between.

[…] Our Movie Nights are never to be treated as a seal of approval. We’ve said that for years. And I personally like that, because I think that sometimes more content-laden movies—particularly popular ones—deserve a Movie Night treatment more than the squeaky-clean ones.

[…] In essence, we want to help jumpstart conversation in the world you actually live in, not the world in which we’d ideally like you to be.

It’s a small step, at least for Christians who years ago started hollering about how we need to stop creating our own often-delusional popular cultures and shine light into the actual world. But Christians with conservative backgrounds, let’s not be trolls. We can empathize.

Plugged In steps too far?

But if Plugged In hopes to encourage parents to think beyond inspection of a film’s outward appearance — so they can be sure the film is “safe” for Message delivery — they face a long hard journey. Many parents still hold the views or the default posture of one commentator. This concerned dad saw Plugged In’s image of Lecrae with a triangle over his eye and said:

Perhaps he should not portray the Illuminati pyramid with the all-seeing eye emphasized. This is exactly the type of Luciferian propaganda used by the secular musicians.

Please don’t just laugh (as some commentators did). This father is genuinely concerned that Plugged In’s graphic designer intentionally used an “evil” symbol, or at best was ignorant of the “secret knowledge” that this symbol is used to transmit evil intentions on behalf of a “Luciferian” secret society or “the Illuminati.”4

In response you can laugh (perhaps if you’re one of Them: a member of the evil society or an ignorant compromiser). Or you can issue a challenge to someone like that. This is what I did. I think it’s the only way to combat such beliefs: to say that they’re the mystics, they’re the ones who are attempting “white magic” contra Deut. 18 and contra Colossians 2:20-23.

BG, I challenge you to prove from the sufficient Scripture alone that certain symbols, visual motifs, etc. are intrinsically evil and to be feared.

By accident, you’re actually advocating a “white magic” approach to evil — as if avoiding certain sights, sounds, and presumably objects will keep out sin. The apostle Paul challenges such notions in Colossians 2. Jesus Christ the Savior of His people, who made a public spectacle of demonic powers (Col. 2:15), warns against such attempts to act as if the evil is “out there” in the world or things we bring from the world into ourselves, rather than our own sinful hearts (Mark 7). Here you have slandered Plugged In and its graphic designer(s) in a way that has not shown Christlike love for them.56

If Plugged In’s writers or other Christians aim to “jumpstart conversation [using popular culture] in the world you actually live in, not the world in which we’d ideally like you to be,” then what will we do when people react like this? Ignore them? That’s not loving. Laugh at them? It’s hard to avoid this, but that’s also limited and/or not loving. Challenge them? Yes, I think we should. We must challenge Christians, starting with ourselves, to reject such “white magic” notions about the world. We must see that actual sin-corruption comes not from evil objects, symbols, or Things, but from our own hearts (Mark 7). And we must find the solution not in worthless and pagan worldly rules (Col. 2), but in our holy loving Savior.

  1. See “‘Clean Fiction’ as White Magic,” Mike Duran.
  2. See “Winners Don’t Do Witchcraft,” E. Stephen Burnett at Speculative Faith, Oct. 31, 2013.
  3. E.g., many parents want to fetch trained “ministry” staff to provide a tally of cusswords, violence and Messages. This supports the view that art is a containment Vehicle for entertainment or Messages, rather than an expression of man’s imitation of the Creator that reflects truths, beauties, lies and ugliness in messy mixtures.
  4. If you believe that sort of thing, please note that my argument here works even if such secret evil groups actually exist.
  5. Comment at Plugged In’s Facebook page, E. Stephen Burnett, Sept. 26, 2014. That last part is especially revealing, for the original commentator is not only expressing fear about the Plugged In designer’s accidental “sin” but accusing them as if it’s a sin for which they must be “held accountable” and ashamed! So in that case, what is the actual offense that could be happening here?
  6. Sept. 29 edit: Some readers are unable to find the original conversation at Plugged In’s Facebook page. As of this writing, readers can find the conversation by clicking this link and then expanding comments after the comment by BG Sawyer. I’ve also provided a screencap of the whole conversation here.
E. Stephen Burnett explores fantastical stories for God’s glory as publisher of Lorehaven.com and its weekly Fantastical Truth podcast. He coauthored The Pop Culture Parent and creates other resources for fans and families, serving with his wife, Lacy, in their central Texas church. Stephen's first novel, a science-fiction adventure, launches in 2025 from Enclave Publishing.
  1. Matthias M. Hoefler says:

    A friend of mine calls this “Christian paranoia.”

    • And yet the biblical Christian must see that fear and paranoia are sinful.

    • notleia says:

      Well, that’s certainly nicer than my initial reaction of “dumb, superstitious waffle.” And “superstitious” seems the aptest word to me. Avoiding corruption by collecting the Jesus-iest talismans reviews from shamans vetted reviewers (+3 damage) and the best spells Bible quotations (+2 damage). It seems thisclose to lining the TV cabinet with salt and throwing beans at the computer screen to dispel the miasma of swearwords and sideboob.

  2. sparksofember says:

    I hear what you are saying but your tone comes across just as judgmental as the point of view you are arguing against. Some people take things too far – often because they let someone else do the thinking and just ran with the final judgement, not having any real understanding of the issue. But not everyone avoids certain symbols, objects or things because they are afraid of evil magic “getting” them. Everyone has their reasons for choosing when or when not to participate in certain things. It’s a complex situation juggling personal convictions, Biblical commandments and cultural implications.

    Case in point: my husband and I do not participate in Halloween. Not even the Autumn festivals and such that many churches/Christians choose to do. We arrived separately at that decision before we had even met, having thought it through on our own. We tried slightly participating when our daughter started school – allowing her to stay for the party and even wear one of her play-costumes. But the conviction afterwards literally made me feel sick. We will not compromise again. But we don’t have any issues with the many, many Christians who feel differently. (And we have no problem with cosplay or the type of costume, though I find the gory ones repulsive) Romans 14 applies here.

    As for Plugged In, I find it an extremely useful tool for gauging whether or not a movie will contain content that I’d rather not see. But it is a tool – not an excuse to be lazy and not think for myself. I don’t base my opinion off the reviewers because we all have a different standard of “what’s too much”. Expecting other Christians to exactly align with every one of our convictions is ridiculous and impossible. (That’s where the man in Facebook has tripped up, I’d say.)

     

     

    • Hello sparksofember! It sounds like you’re raising an issue that is related, but not what my article explores. When I say parents are practicing “white magic” I mean:

      Many Christians, including many parents, are practicing “white magic” whenever they fear and shun objects, symbols, and Things more than they fear Jesus Christ and hate inner sin.

      So I am not challenging personal standards or stigmas (which some call convictions). Instead I challenge parents who fear external evils more than they fear Jesus Christ, and parents who value “do not handle”-style rules more than the grace of the gospel.

      I hope my tone was kind. But I’m not too concerned about coming across as “judgmental” because this kind of “white magic” is not even optional for the Christian under the label of “personal conviction.” No “conviction” should be used to condemn something that God has said is good. For example, when I hear of Christians who say they have a “conviction” about not eating certain meats such as pork, that is not an allowable “conviction.” (They are instead using the word “conviction” to mean “feeling,” or at best “a personal standard I must follow to avoid my own unique temptations.”) I say this isn’t permissible because God Himself in a vision makes this point (which is on the way to the much larger point that religious Jews should not fear exposure to Gentiles):

      The next day, as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the housetop about the sixth hour to pray. And he became hungry and wanted something to eat, but while they were preparing it, he fell into a trance and saw the heavens opened and something like a great sheet descending, being let down by its four corners upon the earth. In it were all kinds of animals and reptiles and birds of the air. And there came a voice to him: “Rise, Peter; kill and eat.” But Peter said, “By no means, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is common or unclean.” And the voice came to him again a second time, “What God has made clean, do not call common.”

      Acts 10:9-15

      Now if Peter had reacted with a personal stigma (e.g. the kind explored in Rom. 14 or 1 Cor. 8-10), then maybe God would have had another answer. Surely God would have reacted differently if Peter had said he tried reptile before and just really couldn’t like the flavor. But  Peter instead said that he had a “conviction” that he should not eat this kind of meat, but God directly tells him not to make this excuse. That’s a command.

      So that’s why I try to clarify things whenever people use the word “conviction.” I am saying that we can object to certain things for various reasons. We can say that a thing makes us stumble — e.g. we associate it with sin so we don’t have the freedom to do it — or we don’t feel right about it, or that we just don’t care. (E.g.: I have the freedom to play poker, perhaps but don’t care for it at all.) Or parents can say that they know their children aren’t old enough or aren’t able to enjoy a certain thing with thanksgiving to God who makes things holy through prayer and the word (1 Tim. 4:4). Fair enough.

      All I’m saying is: that’s not really a “conviction.” A “conviction” is a belief in a nonoptional truth. God exists — that’s my conviction. Jesus Christ is the Son of God and only through Him is salvation — that’s a conviction. The Bible is the all-sufficient written word of God — that’s another conviction that you and I apparently share.

      But “I won’t watch that” isn’t a conviction; it’s a personal standard. And “I won’t eat that because: religious rules” isn’t a conviction; it’s following a “law” that God didn’t give.

      So we agree on the conclusion that the Facebook chap tripped up. But I would simply clarify that he didn’t trip up by imposing a “conviction.” He tripped up by trying to impose a plain mystical “white magic” understanding of the world and of a graphic design on anyone else — even himself. From there it just kind of went downhill when that one sin of imposing a “conviction” led to condemning the graphic designer’s “sin.”

      • sparksofember says:

        I went back and read the original article by Mike Duran. The entire White Magic concept I find silly, both there and here, but the rest of it was very spot on and I think I have a better understanding what you are trying to say after reading it.

        As for your reply above, I think you’re splitting hairs over semantics. There’s no reason your “personal standard” can’t be my “personal conviction”. And I see no distinction between Acts & Romans when it comes to personal stigmas vs absolutes. Romans 14:14. Peter was able to change his feelings after hearing the truth from God but I don’t see Paul condemning those who can’t or won’t – in fact, he’s specifically saying not to.

        Coincidentally, I was over at PluggedIn just a bit ago and thought this excerpt from their review of Believe Me applicable to today’s discussion: The overarching message communicated throughout these… satirical moments is that Christian are easily duped and led astray when we focus on trying to maintain “right” appearances and doing all the “right” things to be in the “club.”   🙂

        • Mirtika says:

          Romans 14: Paul doesn’t condemn, but there is very much a designation of it being an inferior stance: the one who makes the stricter eating rule out of fear or “personal conviction” is the WEAKER brother. The one stronger in faith knows that to have a superstition about the meat as tainted is unfounded. It’s an immature view. It’s an incorrect view of what is really going on. It’s ignorance.

           

          • sparksofember says:

            When I read Romans, I hear compassion & love coming from Paul. Everything you just said above comes across quite harshly – as judgmentally as he is saying not to be. Romans 14:19 “So then we pursue the things which make for peace and the building up of one another.” Weakness does not equate inferiority or immaturity. Not do I hear him saying the “weaker” brother is incorrect or ignorant. Romans 20b, 22-23 “All things indeed are clean, but they are evil for the man who eats and gives offense….The faith which you have, have as your own conviction before God. Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves. But he who doubts is condemned if he eats because his eating is not from faith; and whatever is not from faith is sin.” (my emphasis)

            While I agree it is wrong to give objects, symbols and the like too much power, I can see where Christians are coming from in that regard. They take the avoidance of evil to an extreme and get carried away. But at the same time, I see many other Christians running too fast in the opposite direction. “I’m so enlightened and strong in the faith that nothing in this world can corrupt me. I am above it all and therefore can dabble in whatever I choose.” It’s a fine line to walk in this world – in it, not of it. Ministering to the lost and yet not absorbing and becoming part of it.

             

    • notleia says:

      Out of nosy curiosity, what is it about the Neewollahs/trunk-or-treats/festivals/whatevs that elicits a “no compromise” reaction for you? I view them in pretty much the light as church hoo-wahs for the Fourth of July, Mother’s Day, etc: an excuse for socializing and potluck (but I repeat myself).

      • sparksofember says:

        Well, because it’s a compromise.  People do them to provide sanitized versions of Halloween so their kids won’t feel deprived. But guess what, the kids will get over it. I wasn’t all that pleased as a child when my parents had similar opinions (Want to humiliate your kids? Try handing out bible verse bookmarks to trick-or-treaters.) but as a teen I ended up making the same choice for myself. Not to mention my husband and I find nothing appealing about it whatsoever and we’re not going to give satan the satisfaction of even a compromise. We waffled on it that one year but all it took was seeing *kindergarteners* in bloody clown costumes for us to firm up our opinions.

      • It sounds like you are making a custom decision based on needs, factors, and individual preferences/weaknesses available to you. I have not and would not speak against that. The only claim I challenge is anything like, “That’s not just a sin for me; that’s a sin for everybody. No one can do that thing without sinning!”

        Christians who make that charge demonstrate a few problems:

        1. They’re saying something that Scripture does not say
        2. They’re fearing a “thing” as if it’s the mystical source of the sin rather than a Thing that tempts or reminds you of sin (e.g. the “meat sacrificed to idols”).
        3. At best the Christian with stigmas/scruples accuses another Christian of being utterly ignorant of The Real Way The Occult Works — which the accusing Christian has evidently spent years studying and presumably obsessing over the details of what the pagans say. But in that case is the accusing Christian trusting in the word of pagans over what Scripture says?
        4. At worst the Christian with stigmas/scruples who confuses these with higher holy standards must inevitably accuse disagreeing Christians of lying, or not taking holiness as seriously as they do. In that case, real sins are occurring.

        Ultimately it comes down to what Rebecca LuElla Miller wrote not long ago in an article called The Countercultural Response to Culture (which isn’t shared enough):

        The most countercultural response to that which shapes our culture actually is our response to one another. Scripture calls us to unity, not to uniformity. In loving those with whom we disagree, we set ourselves apart from the world. We can warn, rebuke, critique, recommend, endorse, encourage, but in the end, if we do so in love, we will stand out from those around us who do not know Jesus Christ as Savior.

        In actuality, what we think about a movie and a set of books pales in comparison to the light we can shine into a dark world in need of a Savior by refusing to vilify those with whom we disagree.

        • Mirtika says:

          Yes, that’s the core: it’s fine for a person to have a conviction for themselves and live by it (as long as it is not sinful, like, “Oh, I have the sudden personal conviction that God is okay with me having multiple wives.”)

          To impose it on someone else by peer pressure or sneering judgment is a whole nother thing. Sort of like the: “I want my stories not to have any cussing or sex scenes or gory violence.”

          Okay, that’s good. Read only what you feel comfortable with. The world is full of entertaiment and you shouldn’t have to read Stephen King or erotica. Power to you.

          Versus: “Books with cussing and bedroom scenes and decapitated zombies should not be read by any real Christian, and it is sin to do so.”

          Big difference.

  3. sparksofember says:

    (Because I forgot to check the “notify me” button and I don’t see a way to do it after the fact…)

  4. Jill says:

    Things mean things. If not, nothing means anything. People use symbols for a reason. Some people use symbols because they’ve seen other people use symbols and are simply copying. But other people use those symbols as representations of their philosophy. So your “parents are afraid and practicing white magic” sounds a bit thick to me. Perhaps parents simply know what symbols represent. They understand the underlying worldview behind them. They might not leap out of their skin and start throwing Holy Water on a t-shirt with Baphomet, but they might assume that a rock artist wearing the shirt might not altogether be a savory character or a good role model. Conversely, an atheist might understand the philosophy behind the crucifix with a dead guy on it and not want their child influenced by the philosophy behind it. I hardly think this is magic or superstition, but what all parents do to one degree or another–they control and filter the influences in their children’s lives.

    • I haven’t argued for postmodernism or claimed that symbols/things have no meaning.

      Again, what I have challenged is solely and specifically any perspective like this:

      • The Devil can own objects, symbols, visual motifs, and Things, and use these things to “get to” your innocent children and to you.
      • Therefore to protect yourself you must fear these objects, shun them, and perform spiritual measures (including rule-following and verse recitations) to stay safe.

      Anything else about symbols and how we read them, negative meanings the majority of people associate with them, why else we should ignore/reject them, what parents should do instead, etc. — all that falls outside of what I’m exploring in this article.

      • Jill says:

        And yet you make a lot of assumptions about parents. Outside of some charismatic and some Catholic circles, I don’t know any parents who do what you’ve insinuated is wide-spread.

        • dmdutcher says:

          It’s pretty widespread in those circles though, and in low-culture evangelicalism in general. You can look to the history of Christians responding to Dungeons and Dragons as a good example.

          • Jill says:

            Catholics are generally only superstitious if they have the personality for it or are living in a really superstitious culture. I don’t know a lot of superstitious Catholics here in the U.S. (for the record, my best friends are Catholic). But I agree that it’s widespread among Charismatics. I used to argue frequently about this topic when I was in Charismatic circles. Since I’ve been in wider Christendom for 20 or more years now, I have rarely run into overtly superstitious Christians. Many Christian parents are simply protective of what their children are exposed to. This runs the gamut from the usual to the extreme (saying no to a party w/ alcohol all the way to isolation from any outside influences). This is just what parents do: they filter their children’s world to keep them safe. You [generic you] might consider parents overprotective and at the far end abusive, but claiming they practice white magic sounds a bit off to me.

            • dmdutcher says:

              I think this is more the circles you run in now, though. Take a look at this:

              http://carm.org/more-stuff/features/pokemon-what-it

              It’s a perfect illustration of Stephen’s point. And CARM wasn’t alone in criticizing Pokemon when it first came out; not a few Christians did along those lines. Again, I haven’t kept up with low Christian culture myself recently, but I tend to notice the focus is more on schooling in terms of superstition and “white magic.” Like the simple act of sending your kids to public school is exposing them to a corrupting force, listening to some arguments.

              Since I’m out of the loop though, I can’t really track down the cultural trends like I used to. I don’t think it ever ends though, Christian or secular. Someone keeps buying David Icke’s books or buying astrology scrolls.

            • I must say, that is the most research about the exact types of Pokemon than I have ever seen from a Christian-apologetics website.

              But the rest of it is bad. So bad. Almost as bad as the ChristianAnswers.net page for the Harry Potter series. Yet among the badness this little gem rose to the top:

              This [Pokemon game] is not training a child to righteousness

              Because the writer assumes “training for righteousness” means keeping children — presumably of any age, no matter how mature they are — in the dark about the real world and its popular culture, and including the fact that there is a thing called “the occult” (in his superstitious view) out there, and this thing called “secular evolution” out there.

              Well I’m going to play this card: parents, it doesn’t work. For instance:

              [I]n her Monday column for Friendly Atheist, Rachael Slick emphasized her apologetics-based upbringing [as the daughter of CARM’s founder] — an upbringing that backfired.

              […] Now, being respectful of Slick’s stated motives, I have to ask: “Were you taught to enjoy the love, wonder, and imagination that Christ and His Gospel bring to the world, to human life, and to the art and stories we enjoy for God’s glory? Or were these joys taught as optional, lesser, and at best frivolous in the mechanical, law-and-debate-based Christian life?”

              That’s from Rachael Slick’s Deconversion and the Two Paths of Life: Dead Logic or Living Joy at Christ and Pop Culture. So now I must ask: if the guy who knew all his facts, including which Pokemon had electric or psychic abilities, and who founded and wrote all that stuff about apologetics and other religions and cults and how to beat them — if that guy “trained up his child” with all the right Methods and it didn’t work, why do some parents presume that they can do better?

              There is a possibility of idolizing “parenting” success, a Family Prosperity Gospel, just as there is a possibility of idolizing apologetics/facts/worldview studies/beating atheists, etc., and forgetting to be human for God’s glory. And being human involves creativity, stories, and more.

              • Jill says:

                You two both apparently have a different idea of what white magic and being superstitious are than I have. I don’t see CARM as being at all superstitious; he is filtering his children’s worlds and deciding what influences are allowed to be teaching and training forces in his children’s lives. Never does he indicate any kind of superstition, but rather asks the question, “What is this game teaching?” This is what parents do. I don’t know any parent who doesn’t do this on one level or another (some are clearly more extreme than others). Nonchristian parents do it, as well, and I don’t think they are practicing white magic, either. Recently, I read a quote by a nonreligious French mom who was easy and relaxed about most things but decided she didn’t want her children to watch TV. She didn’t want TV to be their primary influence, so she banned it from her house. Is that white magic? No. It’s parenting. I couldn’t care less about Pokemon, personally, though the Pokemon fad hit and was over with before my kids were old enough to notice. But I don’t consider it superstitious to examine the game and consider its value or lack thereof.

                Frankly, I’m more concerned with the attitude expressed by the commenter at the bottom of the article, who called parents who allow their kids to play Pokemon “supposed” Christians. That attitude is entirely backwards and wrong. She doesn’t allow Pokemon; another mom doesn’t allow TV. Those are simply the idiosyncrasies of parents trying to navigate their children to adulthood.

              • dmdutcher says:

                But the problem he has with it is that it “conditions children into accepting occult and evolutionary principles.” He uses words like condition and influence, and assumes that the people who make it do so to introduce kids to occult principles. This is superstition, where he’s granting video games almost spiritual powers of influence. He directly links it to the activities of evil spirits by quoting timothy and ephesians.

                It’s not so much that works may be harmful or have harmful ideas that is so, but the idea they can condition or be conduits for the influence of evil spirits. When they start throwing around terms like occult or new age, this is a big sign of that mindset.

        • Mirtika says:

          I have seen very often over the years the statement that one can’t even have a ouija board in the house because they harbor demons and it’s no different than bringing a demon right into your home, Jill. Not as metaphor. As reality. Ouija board = actually harmful in and of itself as a demon-tool.

          Now, I think the seancey stuff with ouija boards would be prohibited under the mediums thing. The act of using it to call up the dead. But the board itself is painted wood (or plastic or whatever). In and of itself, it is nothing. It is an object. It’s not a demon thing that if you so much as touch it or have it in the attic, you will be cursed and demonically hounded.

          Symbols are powerful but the symbol itself is a thing and can be given many meanings: see swastika. See “X.”  See waving palms (they did it for Jesus, pagans did it, too.) See erecting temples for worship and animal sacrifice (both Jews and pagans had the same kind of systems.) It’s not the temple that is good or evil, demonic or blessed–it’s what is done with it.

          If churches say: We will appropriate it for God and decide to have the Halloween equivalent of Purim (dress up as Bible characters, eat treats) or the Reappropriation of the spooky–use the ghosts and vampires motifs as a way to teach about death, walking dead, resurrection. Just about anything symbolic can be transformed from being used for bad to being used for good. “Overcome evil with good” can take various forms, not just avoidance To the one who avoids, to the one who redefine, let it be for good, right?

          It’s like the Christmas tree. So what if it might have once had a pagan origin. If I decide–now this tree will echo the crucifixion and the joys and beauties that flow therefrom, the dead tree with blood becoming the green tree laden with light and displaying gifts, I have taken what someone intended for falsehood and use it to symbolize truth. I see that as overcoming evil with good.

          • Jill says:

            Yes, well, I already said that there are people who are actually superstitious, especially when you get into Pentecostal circles (I think I used the word Charismatic above). And I already know that symbols/boards/whatever are not magical. The Bible is pretty clear about that. They are powerless items fashioned by the hands of men. My point was that symbols mean things. They stand for things. And when parents make decisions for their children, they are doing so based off their understanding of the world and what they understand things to mean. Parents use a combination of intellect, instinct, and emotions to make decisions about what is good for their children. And that’s completely natural. It may look like white magic to somebody else, especially if the parent has an emotional or instinctive reaction against something, but I prefer to call it natural parenting. We are so bent on the intellect these days, but parents are just as likely to rely on instincts when discerning what will be good or bad influences on their children.  In my opinion, there’s nothing wrong with that, EVEN IF there are some people who are actually superstitious.

  5. J.M. Hackman says:

    There are a few side issues you’ve brought up with this article.

    This battle of symbols is one Christians have fought for a long time (remember Steve Taylor and his “tarot card” album, I Predict 1990?  I’m probably dating myself here . . .I remember at least one article where he defended the album’s illustration — drawn by his wife — as just that, an illustration.) So Plugged In isn’t the first to fight this battle and probably won’t be the last. I’m not sure I’m on the same page as you are regarding what they’re doing — I liked their reviews because it gave me a heads up on what to expect when walking into the theater and dropping a boatload of money.

    Some teens can be treated like junior adults, but some can’t. Just because my teen faces vulgar language on the bus, doesn’t mean I’m okay with her seeing more of it on the silver screen. And if we want art to imitate life, there should be an opportunity to occasionally view the art that imitates my Christian life, which unfortunately is not offered very often.

  6. Tiribulus says:

    “The scene shows Hazel and Gus taking off each other’s shirts, and she undoes her bra. (We see her from the back.) They caress and kiss as they give in to their passion. Afterwards, both are seen mostly naked, with the sheet covering only the most critical body parts. And it’s worth noting that much is made of Gus’ previously virginal “condition” … and that this union is seen as the perfect end to it. The couple cuddles and kisses elsewhere.

    Gus’ friend Isaac makes out with his girlfriend in a parking lot, and we see him kneading her (clothed) breast. God’s name is used as an expletive about 30 times, twice paired with “d‑‑n.

    This is why I have never taken “Pluggedin” seriously either. I wonder if Mr. Asay would be ok with his wife or daughter or son “performing” like this.  If they would be ok if it were him? Is God? Does the Lord excuse His name being taklen in vain 30 times because it’s in a movie that some worldly website thinks Christians should use for “movie night”?

    The idea that the God of the bible would use such sinful andblasphemous trash to teach His lessons is an outrage.  Stephen you need to make up your mind. I hope Cap weighs in on this.

    • Off-topic again, yo.

      A few parting challenges:

      1. You obviously feel it’s okay to include examples of Plugged In’s bad stuff in order to show people how bad it is. But this is exactly what Plugged In writers and/or other Christian movie-reviewers do when they include “pictures” of bad stuff so you can see how bad it is. So the difference again is … ?
      2. Don’t go’n say that about Asay or imply he’s a hypocrite. I believe this is jumping to conclusions and making a “X = Y” connection that does not exist.
      3. The fact is that all Christians assume that some of us may be more qualified to see stuff like this without being personally tempted to sin, including sex and violence. (Most of us aren’t, which is why we should be aware of our own custom weaknesses.) If you don’t believe Plugged In writers are able to do this, then you will surely believe that someone else can — soldiers, social workers, paramedics, police officers. Witnessing the nastiness of a sinful age does not automatically participating in the sinful age. Prove otherwise from Scripture. (Most simply presume that the connection exists and then condemn or urge separation from Christians who have different views — more unbiblical notions)
      4. The reducio ad absurdum of the view that “no Christian is allowed to see acts of evil without being implicated in those same acts” is exceptionally absurd.
      5. Again, you yourself in this very comment proved that you actually believe that Christians might see bad examples of bad things not in order to imitate the same things but in order to see how bad those things are and avoid them. So it appears that we actually agree on this. We also agree that just because folks disagree on stuff, within Christianity, it’s no cause for separation from them. 🙂
      6. But again, that’s not the point of the above article anyway. (In the voice of Hugo Weaving as the Red Skull) “‘Till we meet ahgain, Kiptain Ahmerrika … !”
  7. Travis Perry says:

    I think the attitude some Christians employ does approach a “white magic” view of symbols, though I don’t think that is always the case with all such concerns.

    I have never thought of this issue in the terms you used though. I found your observations very insightful as a result. Thank you.

  8. dmdutcher says:

    Yeah, I  grew up with this mindset in my church. It’s lessened compared to the eighties, but it’s still there. The Halloween thing is a big example; I haven’t celebrated it in ages, mostly due to the remnant of being programmed about how satanic it is when I was a young teen. You should have seen the reaction about Dungeons and Dragons back then, too. Or for a past generation, bar codes.

    I’ve been out of the loop culture-wise, so I’m not sure how it manifests these days.

    • Mirtika says:

      I wasn’t programmed to be anti-Halloween and I loved dressing up and T&Ting as a kid, but I just dont need candy, am too lazy or often lacking energy to cosplay/dress up. I just ignore it cause it doesn’t much matter to me.

      I might feel differently if I had kids who wanted to dress up and stuff. Then I’d be into it. I’d guide it, but I think horror/scary stuff is not just fun in that odd way scares are fun, but are great, great teaching opportunities. No matter the costume or spooky thing, there’s something there, literary or theological, to talk about.

  9. Martin LaBar says:

    Thanks, all. I needed this.

    Last Sunday, one of my Sunday School classmates (who is over 70, and a lay pastor) said that he thought that we should avoid steeples and stained glass, because they were (maybe still are?) used in satan worship.

    • While we’re at it, let’s avoid the Bible because some people use it to support their cults. And let’s avoid saying the name “Jesus Christ” because some people use it as a swear word.

      Alas. That’s the kind of nonsense you end up with when you put superstition over Scripture.

    • notleia says:

      ….Where the heck did he pick up that Satanists use stained glass and steeples? Some misplaced Freudian joke? Though it makes total sense if “satan worship” is used as an absurd and nasty euphemism for Catholicism, and I think we have all known that one old person who has absurd and nasty opinions of Catholics.

    • Mirtika says:

      Oh. My. Sweet. Pickles.

  10. Barbara Ogg says:

    So, you think this guy, LeCrae is biblical?
    “I believe the reason why the church typically doesn’t engage culture is because we are scared of it. … We’re scared it’s going to somehow jump on us and corrupt us.”

    Proverbs 14:16 The wise fear the Lord and shun evil, but a fool is hotheaded and yet feels secure. 15 The naive believes everything, but the sensible man considers his steps. 16 A wise man is cautious and turns away from evil, but a fool is arrogant and careless.

    Job 28:28 And he said to the human race, “The fear of the Lord-that is wisdom, and to shun evil is understanding.”

    Psalm 34:14 Run from evil and do good, seek peace and pursue it.

    Proverbs 3:7 Do not be wise in your own eyes: fear the Lord and shun evil.

    Proverbs 16:6 Through love and faithfulness sin is atoned for: through the fear of the Lord evil is avoided.

    proverbs 22:3 The prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple keep going and pay the penalty.

    Well Stephen, I am actually not afraid of sin, but I have certainly see what it can do and how easily I personally can become entangled in it. But because I have been able to see and recognize I was entangled in sin does not in anyway mean that I am more susceptible to become entangle in sin than anyone else. It just means that I have recognized I was entangled in it. I have also learned that when people are in deep delusion they do not know it… well because they are deluded. I have yet to find any scripture that says we are allowed to play with sin.  But I see plenty that say avoid it.

    When I was a child and my mother would take us to the carnival, she would instruct us Not to look at the carni people trying to get us to go to their booth. I thought that was rude actually. I mean they were talking directly to me and I was told to ignore them. But I listened to my mother (because she was standing right next to me). Later in life I understood her wise words. If I look at them I will go to them. We go where we are looking.

    We are to focus on Jesus. Satan’s game has always been to get our focus on anything but Jesus. I don’t play around with sin or evil and rename it culture. We are on a path and hopefully the right path, the one the Bible describes as the narrow path that leads to Christ, not the broad path that leads to destruction. We will be mocked while on this path (by the world).  Will there be Christians also mocking and throwing stones at us also?

    Are we pointing people to Christ or away from Christ?

    I do not practice white magic. I practice avoiding and shunning evil. I do not fear Satan: I fear God. The same reason I listened to my mother when she said to avoid even looking at the carney people who tried to get my attention. I was not afraid of the carney people, but I was afraid to disobey my mother. God said avoid evil and I am trying to obey Him.

    Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what is God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:2

    Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them.
    1 John 2:15

    • bainespal says:

      We look to the Cross, and the mystery of the Gospel provides the framework to then look at all the world and all of human experience. God is real, and He is everywhere. There’s no objective manifestation of evil that can be definitively identified other than the act of sin.

    • (For those who don’t know — Barbara is a local acquaintance who has attended my church a couple of times. We’re also Facebook friends. SpecFaith life, meet reality.)

      Hello again, Barbara,

      Here are thoughts in reply to your thoughtful comment. I base them on this challenge: claims of what is/isn’t evil must not be assumed, but based in Scripture.

      As Bainespal already said:

      There’s no objective manifestation of evil that can be definitively identified other than the act of sin.

      His response is supported by Scripture. The Bible has plenty to say about our own sin in our hearts and the fact that temptations from the world — e.g., this present evil age, the world-system — can bring up our heart-spawned sin. See passages such as Mark 7 or the entire body of epistles, which encourages battling not against sinful Things but sinful desires and false teaching. The Bible does warn us to beware the temptations or false teachings of Satan. But I do not find that it warns against spiritually tainted objects, things that only appear to be evil, or accidential exposure to evil Things.

      I’m compelled to conclude this: Any well-meaning Christian who assumes that certain things are intrinsically evil — things such as popular culture, particular TV shows, or fictitious “magic” — and then goes on to cite verses about holiness, has skipped a very important step! First this Christian must prove, from Scripture, that this stuff is evil.

      Otherwise such a Christian must be forced to conclude that Christians who disagree are 1) not as serious about holiness, 2) doctrinal compromisers, 3) plain old liars.

      Christians can disagree, Biblically, on many secondary issues. Those could include baptism, end-times views, worship styles, or even which Bible translation is the best to use.

      But let’s imagine that Christian 1 says, “No one can enjoy this sinful story and glorify God.” Along comes Christian 2. He says: “Well actually, I can.” What may Christian 1 say in reply? Inevitably, he is forced to call his brother or sister a liar. “You didn’t really enjoy that story for God’s glory, did you? You only enjoyed it because it gratified your flesh. You’ve deceived yourself and you’re also trying to deceive me. Instead, follow God’s commands of holiness.”

      That is not the approach that the apostle Paul takes regarding “disputable matters.”

      Paul saw no conflict between living in holiness and being familiar with the Word that itself includes accounts of violence and prostitution. Paul also commands against false teaching, contrary to Scripture, that results in “an unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions” (1 Tim. 6:4).

      If a Christian claims, “You can’t ever do that and honor God,” and any other Christian who is clearly Gospel-driven and -motivated says, “Well, I do” — even if only one solid Christian gives that rebuttal! — the first Christian’s claim is suspect. It must be supported with direct Scripture. Making appeals to verses about holiness, or the need to think only about good things (Phil. 4:8), does not apply. One must instead show specifically that the other brother is lying. (bold emphasis added)

      (That’s from my SpecFaith feature Ten Wrong Ways to Discern A Story.)

      With that in mind, a few specific answers to your questions and/or points.

      So, you think this guy, LeCrae is biblical?
      “I believe the reason why the church typically doesn’t engage culture is because we are scared of it. … We’re scared it’s going to somehow jump on us and corrupt us.”

      Yes, I do.

      I believe his statement is biblical because I believe that God gave humans the gift of making culture, including popular culture. This “cultural mandate” (definition is here) long precedes the Great Commission. In fact the Great Commission is designed to spread the Kingdom so that humans can repent of their sin, be restored in relationship to God, and become fully human again — which includes acts of culture-making that imitate God’s own role as Creator. He creates. And He means us to be “subcreators.”

      And no, for the Christian who has been redeemed and is already at war with his own “sin shrapnel” inside himself with the Spirit’s help (Phil. 2:12-13), there is no reason for the very concept of engaging culture to frighten us. Only man’s sinful actions are evil.

      You go on to quote several texts about fearing the Lord and shunning evil. But you skipped a very important step (I will say this a lot): proving that human culture is intrinsically evil (rather than being temporarily corrupted by man’s sinful abuse of culture — a corruption that discerning Christians who are growing in holiness can learn to see for what it is, as they avoid things in culture that personally tempts them).

      For instance, I will directly say here that I can watch an animated series with “magic” in it and do so with thanksgiving to God, who gives us good gifts and makes things good for us to enjoy through prayer and the written word (1 Tim. 4:4). I could even, say, pick up a ghastly pink Ouija board, see it, touch it, and use it (as a paperweight!).

      And again:

      If a Christian claims, “You can’t ever do that and honor God,” and any other Christian who is clearly Gospel-driven and -motivated says, “Well, I do” — even if only one solid Christian gives that rebuttal! — the first Christian’s claim is suspect. It must be supported with direct Scripture. Making appeals to verses about holiness, or the need to think only about good things (Phil. 4:8), does not apply. One must instead show specifically that the other brother is lying. (emphasis added)

      More:

       I am actually not afraid of sin, but I have certainly see what it can do and how easily I personally can become entangled in it. But because I have been able to see and recognize I was entangled in sin does not in anyway mean that I am more susceptible to become entangle in sin than anyone else. It just means that I have recognized I was entangled in it.

      Interesting. Though I’ve met you personally, I’m not familiar with your life story. So it may be that because of your background, you will want to avoid things such as certain television stories (or TV altogether), or films, or music genres. Yet my challenge to you is this: this is not an issue of across-the-board holiness for all Christians. Many Christians who disagree well know all the verses you cited, yet they are certain that they are fighting temptation and seeking God’s glory even as they enjoy certain good gifts in human culture. I’m afraid this messes with our heads a little. It also forces us to think deeper than Proverbs about discernment and instead study complex issues of personal scruples — not just holiness vs. evil — such as in Rom. 14 and 1 Cor. 8-10.

      I have also learned that when people are in deep delusion they do not know it… well because they are deluded. I have yet to find any scripture that says we are allowed to play with sin.

      Again, you have simply assumed (perhaps based on the words of other Christians) that certain things are automatically sinful. First this needs to be proved with Scripture.

      When I was a child and my mother would take us to the carnival, she would instruct us Not to look at the carni people trying to get us to go to their booth. I thought that was rude actually. I mean they were talking directly to me and I was told to ignore them. But I listened to my mother (because she was standing right next to me). Later in life I understood her wise words. If I look at them I will go to them. We go where we are looking.

      I think your original impulse was correct. No disrespect intended, but this was rude.

      When you think of Jesus Christ on planet earth, living with people and working with them and engaging with them, according to Scripture, can you imagine him going to a “carnival” and simply looking away from people who look sleazy or “sinful”? In one case he was invited to a banquet filled with tax collectors and sinners. Did he go? And what happened when people accuse him of being corrupted by their sin? (Matt. 9:9-13).

      Jesus’s enemies said, “‘Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’” (Matt. 11:19). But Jesus was the holiest Person who ever lived, and thus he could spend the most time among those who needed Him most. If we are to grow in holiness, then, we will increasingly be able to spend more time among those who need the Gospel of Jesus Christ the most. Avoiding these folks is not holiness. It’s rudeness — or weakness. (And imagine if Jesus Christ had avoided our sleazy sinful selves!)

      We are to focus on Jesus. Satan’s game has always been to get our focus on anything but Jesus.

      Again, when I focus on Jesus, I see how He engaged sinners and culture. And He was perfectly holy. When I see that, I want to fight my own temptation to abuse culture or fear culture. I want to be able to get more into culture, not less. I want to be like Him.

      I don’t play around with sin or evil and rename it culture.

      I don’t wish this either. But again, you have not shown that this is what I’m advocating.

      We are on a path and hopefully the right path, the one the Bible describes as the narrow path that leads to Christ, not the broad path that leads to destruction. We will be mocked while on this path (by the world).  Will there be Christians also mocking and throwing stones at us also?

      I’m not sure what you mean here. All Christians are on the same narrow path. There are no “super-right paths” on this same path of repentance/redemption leading to Him. Godly Christians will disagree on how/how much to engage their cultures. They will often make their decisions based on their own custom temptations and preferences.

      Are we pointing people to Christ or away from Christ?

      Again, I’m not sure how this relates. As I demonstrated above, it’s clear if we point people to the living, breathing, holy-engaging Jesus Christ, we will also need to see and show how Jesus got his hands dirty in culture to save His people, yet without sin.

      I do not practice white magic. I practice avoiding and shunning evil.

      Do you mean avoiding/shunning evil that comes from the heart or evil from “objects”?

      If the latter, this is what I am saying is like “white magic.” It’s treating physical objects or places or Things as the sources of evil, rather than the heart that abuses things. This kind of “white magic” uses worldly rules to keep out “black magic” sin (but cf. Col. 2).

      I do not fear Satan: I fear God. The same reason I listened to my mother when she said to avoid even looking at the carney people who tried to get my attention. I was not afraid of the carney people, but I was afraid to disobey my mother. God said avoid evil and I am trying to obey Him.

      And yet Jesus, the holiest Person on Earth, could not only have looked at the carnival barkers but smiled at them, asked how their business was doing, and even used tokens to try his “luck” (would He have won perfectly?). I can just imagine Him winsomely yet firmly pointing out anyone who had rigged the game, then He would use that as a conversation-starter about the Kingdom of Heaven and Himself as the fulfillment of the Law. That’s for the games. But what if someone tried to get Him into a fortune-telling tent or something? He could have gone in. He would not have let her/him tell His “fortune.” He might have cited Deut. 18 against divination. As the final Prophet predicted in Deut. 18, He could have forecast His own future! But then He would have taken a similar path with the fortune-teller as He did with the Samaritan woman in John 4 — rebuked any personal sins but used the whole experience to proclaim Truth.

      What would have happened if Jesus had not gone into “evil” Samaria? We would not have the wonderful account of John 4 (and would not be able to see ourselves as that bemused and then captivated Samaritan woman). What would have happened if Jesus had refused even to set foot in a dark age corrupted by man’s hatred of His Father?

      Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what is God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:2

      Amen. But a transformed mind that tests everything by God’s will is the exact opposite of refusing to be challenged and not even getting to the point of administering the test!

      Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them.
      1 John 2:15

      In closing: this verse isn’t about the physical world God made, or human culture or popular culture in general. It’s about the evil that is in the world, the world-system, our present sinful age. It’s about the stuff in the world that God will someday burn off the face of the world when He is finally ready to renew His creation and make it into the New Heavens and New Earth. This is the physical paradise where we’ll live forever and make culture and popular culture because doing this is God’s eternal gift to us.

      We must open our eyes.

      We must see that we — inspired by myths, slogans, evangelical pop culture and sometimes plain heresy — have blinded ourselves to the glorious truth that God will resurrect a people for himself from every tribe, tongue, and nation, and that he will come down to a new earth to live forever with his people as their God (Rev. 21:1-3).

      Culture on our renewed earth may even include popular culture created by non-Christians that includes some incorrect ideas or beliefs, because the artist still reflected God’s creative work in the story or song. If anything we could enjoy these flawed secular stories and songs for eternity because we will have no ability to abuse these things for sin and every ability to discern any of their flaws!

      In the forever-world, saints will dwell in holiness and enjoy human culture — not only in books, dramas and poetry, but also popular culture that we may presume is “trivial” such as carnivals, comedy films, comics, jokes and video games.

      — from Popular Culture is an Eternal Gift of God

    • Mirtika says:

      Knowing that culture can corrupt and fearing it and seeking isolation are two different things. The verses do not apply to the context. The context is about isolating into the Christian safe space (we only socialize with Christians, we only buy stuff with little fishies on it or approved by Focus on the Family, etc). Jesus and the apostles did not shun their culture–they engaged it in order to change the people, one by one, and thereby have an effect on their world.

      There are Christians who think rock is evil–not the milieu of many rock artists with groupies and drugs–but the actual musical type, the beats, the rhythms. This is WHITE MAGIC thinking. The music itself is not evil. But some cultures formed around it may be. Just like classical musicians can have a sinful culture. Hip hop is not of the devil, though many hip hop videos sure look like whatever demons lodged around Gomorrah were designing the choreography.

      When the culture feels that all we have to offer is condemnation and our main reaction is avoidance or sneering, we are doing something wrong. This is why when they think “Christian,” what comes to mind are narrow-minded judgmental prigs. Jesus was not narrow or judgmental (though he certainly pointed out sin). He engaged with all around him–even the unclean lepers and Samaritans. No one was off limits. No house. No food. No beverage (He boozed it up!) 🙂

      You don’t change culture by avoiding it and ignoring it and hiding. You change it by being the shiny, salty part WITHIN it, so when folks interact with you–be it the neo-pagan tattooed kid or the drag queen in sequins or the junkie or the materialistic skeptic lawyer or the hooker or the communist union activist–you aren’t trying to shy away and avoid “those people,” you are loving them and showing them why Christ has a really great thing to offer.

  11. Tiribulus says:

    PLEASE READ THIS WHOLE THING THIS TIME. PLEASE? (I always read yours)

    Stephen says: “You obviously feel it’s okay to include examples of Plugged In’s bad stuff in order to show people how bad it is.”
    No. I do not ever need any Christian to hypocritically defile and pollute fellow children of Father Adam by financing their sin in the pretentious name of protecting the church. It’s a lie. And a ridiculously easy one to expose.

    Stephen says: “But this is exactly what Plugged In writers and/or other Christian movie-reviewers do when they include “pictures” of bad stuff so you can see how bad it is. So the difference again is … ?”
    There is no such thing as a Christian movie reviewer who does that. I’ll say again. I don’t need to crawl around in a dumpster to know that it’s filthy and rotting inside. I can smell it from all the way over here. The godless pagans at IMDB will tell me everything I’ll ever need to know about any of these godless pagan movies or TV shows.

    Stephen says: “Don’t go’n say that about Asay or imply he’s a hypocrite.”
    Either he believes God would bless the scenes I quoted being portrayed by himself and or his own family or he IS a hypocrite for watching other do it AND recommending the church watch them too. And if he does believe God would bless that, he needs to get saved for sure. Additionally. He is NOT even just telling us how bad it is. He is recommending it for young Christians on a Christian movie night.

    Stephen says: “The fact is that all Christians assume that some of us may be more qualified to see stuff like this without being personally tempted to sin, including sex and violence. (Most of us aren’t, which is why we should be aware of our own custom weaknesses.)”
    God qualifies NONE of His children to pay His money to watch other people sin in the production of blasphemy, blood and debauchery for utterly frivolous and superfluous entertainment. You know what aggravates me about you? Your insufferable arrogance. Ya know why I say that? Because you  DO NOT  pay attention when other people spend their valuable time composing detailed thoughtful words to you. I went over this in detail the other day here. http://www.speculativefaith.lorehaven.com/2014/06/20/why-we-condemn-game-of-thrones-porn-and-think-you-should-too/#comment-140730

    From that comment:
    “My point was that if REAL murder were included in a film, it would be sin to produce it 100% of the time. While there may not be actual intercourse happening, there is plenty of actual nudity and actual sexual contact in today’s visual media entertainment that is sinful in it’s own right having nothing to do with the audience’s reaction. It is that that has been my focus for the year now that I’ve been regularly dealing with this. I don’t even address whether it induces lust in the consumer or not. Because people lie and most effectively to themselves.”

    Stephen says: “If you don’t believe Plugged In writers are able to do this, then you will surely believe that someone else can — soldiers, social workers, paramedics, police officers. Witnessing the nastiness of a sinful age does not automatically equate to participating in the sinful age.”
    You have to be the dopiest smart person I have ever known. I don’t think I’ve ever met ANYbody who is as clearly intelligent as you are and who is yet so embarrassingly inept a debater. You are a true anomaly Stephen. Please do not take that as being hostile. It’s cross eyed bewilderment. Not hostility.

    Am I actually being expected to believe that you cannot perceive the difference between real life situations where God provides grace for those called upon to undertake life saving occupations or emergencies, and the cinematic, photo realistic portrayal of sin in the name of of utterly superfluous “art” and “entertainment? You REALLY don’t get that? Really?

    Stephen says: “The reducio ad absurdum of the view that “no Christian is allowed to see acts of evil without being implicated in those same acts” is exceptionally absurd.”
    Once again. I addressed this VERY idea the other day. BUT, you would have to demonstrate a piddling modicum of respect in actually listening to people when they communicate in your direction in order to know that. Let’s try again. Right under the comment I linked above from the other day. ONLY PLEASE ACTUALLY READ IT THIS TIME. 😉

    “…No, it is not sin to inadvertently witness real life violence. I would never say such thing. I live in Detroit, but the real standard is that the bible does not say that seeing violence by accident is a sin.  Or nudity for that matter. If forced into an emergency situation by God’s providence, He would also give grace for delivering a baby or protecting a naked woman running from a house to escape an assailant for instance. (these really happen. At least here) Life saving medicine is also unrelated to entirely unnecessary art and entertainment. I’ve heard that one 100 times too.”

    Stephen says: “Again, you yourself in this very comment proved that you actually believe that Christians might see bad examples of bad things not in order to imitate the same things but in order to see how bad those things are and avoid them.”
    Brother, what pray tell, do you think people did before there was even electricity? I do not need some God hating blasphemous pornographer to teach me ANYthing by their “art”. EVER. Unbelievable. This man thinks that without movies and TV we wouldn’t know how bad sin is. I say that your very holding to this view shows that you don’t even know WHAT sin is. To say nothing of how bad. Read Owen’s “Of the Mortification of Sin in the Life of the Believer” for example to lean about sin. Written by candlelight 360 years ago. You’ll never view that filth factory in Hollywood the same again.

     Stephen says: “We also agree that just because folks disagree on stuff, within Christianity, it’s no cause for separation from them. 🙂 “
    I refuse fellowship according to 1 Corinthians 5, to those who promote pornography as a legitimate God blessed form of “art and entertainment” and “education”.  (God help us!! I can hardly even type that). You don’t. You embrace them. I just refuse to believe that this will always be the case which is why I cannot get myself to write you off. .

    Make no mistake my friend. Your head is already in my God given noose as I type this. If you continue as carelessly as you have thus far, you WILL be swinging, eyes bugged and tongue out very soon here. If you only had any idea how much this bums me out. 🙁

    • notleia says:

      No, Burnett! Don’t feed the Tribble!

    • bainespal says:

      Nobody should feel pressured to respond to rhetoric that could be interpreted as a death threat.

      Tribulus, I think and hope that you don’t really believe that God has given you the calling to kill people. I believe your reference to a “God given noose” simply means that you don’t think Burnett is a real Christian and that he will ultimately fall under God’s judgement. But this is the Internet, and we can never be sure what someone means. Also remember than no one is obligated to read anyone else’s comment or to respond. You don’t know Burnett personally, and no one should be forced to make an Internet discussion with random strangers personal. There’s only so much time and emotional energy that anyone can invest in an online discussion, and you don’t have a right to demand that anyone give more.

      Tribulus, whoever you are, some advice. Take some time off from reading blogs. Look, I’ve gotten too wrapped up in blog discussions before, too. Last year I gave up blog reading and commenting entirely for Lent, and it did me good. Stay away for a while; cool down.

    • Your head is already in my God given noose as I type this. If you continue as carelessly as you have thus far, you WILL be swinging, eyes bugged and tongue out very soon here.

      This is immature and/or self-pleasuring rhetoric that is impossible to take seriously.

      Here’s a hint: If it sounds like some over-the-top, plastic-balls-hanging-from-the-trailer-hitch-of-a-pickup-truck, machismo-style nonsense that Mark Driscoll would have said, then don’t say it or write it. It doesn’t glorify God. It cheapens any truth you want to communicate. It shows an imitation of the wrong lowercase-F father.

      You yourself have commited toxic acts of individual “culture” while demanding that others fall in line with your notions about how other people’s collective cultures are only ever toxic. What should be convicting irony seems utterly lost on you. So far.

      You also continue to demonstrate ignorance about the views you’re trying to rebut. You yourself have said you have a blind spot with eschatology, e.g. New Earth and the nature of creation’s renewal. So you’re not even casually familiar with the biblical view that God gave mankind the gift of making culture and popular culture to glorify Him, and therefore we have more things to say about culture than “it’s a cesspool of evil!” Exploring this issue with a view toward the “chief end of man” would clarify things. If you’re interested I can provide you with resources, perhaps from writers you respect.

      But first it’s vital for you to re-evaluate how to interact with people, Christians or otherwise, with whom you disagree. You lack basic internet social skills. And then you get appalled or desperate when most people are understandably repelled by your obsessions and over-the-top rhetoric. As Bainespal said, that calls for a time-out.

      That puts me in a difficult position. I don’t wish to be similarly rude in response. But I also don’t want to waste my time. Therefore this will be my last response to you on SpecFaith for a while. I do not halt the conversation. But I am personally stepping back from further discussion with you for at least a week, possibly longer. In the meantime, any further nasty replies here will be held in moderation or removed. (I’ve seen you write non-nasty and even encouraging replies so I know you can do it.)

      A few more thoughts.

      1. You have missed my point that above you yourself showed an example of sin (arguably a minor form of “culture”) in order to show how bad the sin was.
      2. “I don’t need to crawl around in a dumpster to know that it’s filthy and rotting inside” is an easy spiritual-sounding belief to rebut. You flagrantly skip the vital step of proving from Scripture that a “thing” is more sinful than the human heart or that exposure to an evil Thing is always tantamount to actually sinning.
      3. “Godless pagan movies or TV shows” is immature and slanderous rhetoric that ignores the presence of good and God-exalting Christians in media industries. You also defended your previous slander of Plugged In reviewer Paul Asay.
      4. Your stereotype of compromising heathen Christians revealing in debauchery for the sake of only “entertainment” is simply ignorant. You seem to have no clue — or have ignored the fact — that several of our SpecFaith writers, myself included, have spoken against such cheap views of “it’s just entertainment” and encouraged God-glorifying enjoyment instead. See here and here for examples.
      5. The personal sputtering outrage about not being taken seriously is difficult to address. I can only recommend taking a break and finding such fulfillments not in internet debates or internet friendships but real-life relationships. This is the internet. Folks will disagree or miss something. In that case complaining about being misunderstood while presuming the “opponent” did this on purpose will simply worsen the exchange and make others feel you’re only in it to win it.
      6. Once more from Ten Wrong Ways to Discern A Story:

        If a Christian claims, “You can’t ever do that and honor God,” and any other Christian who is clearly Gospel-driven and -motivated says, “Well, I do” — even if only one solid Christian gives that rebuttal! — the first Christian’s claim is suspect. It must be supported with direct Scripture. Making appeals to verses about holiness […] does not apply. One must instead show specifically that the other brother is lying. (bold emphasis added)

      7. You cited 1 Corinthians 5, which is about an official real-life local-church-level discipline supervised by local qualified elders. But you cited this text to defend your own personal “refus[al] of fellowship” with an individual, not in a local church but on the abstract internet. So either you cannot read Scripture’s plain meaning, or you actually have been treating yourself as an entire one-man elder group, with the abstract internet as your “church.” The internet is abstract. It is not the Church or even a local church. It’s time we quit treating it as such.
      • Tiribulus says:

        Stephen says: “ Exploring this issue with a view toward the “chief end of man” would clarify things. If you’re interested I can provide you with resources, perhaps from writers you respect.”
        I doubt I respect the writers you think I would respect. A pretended reformed pedigree does not impress me. Today’s pop culture IS a cesspool of evil. Anyone saying otherwise is blinded by the spirit of the age. I don’t care who it is. Feel free to try me though.

        Stephen says:” You flagrantly skip the vital step of proving from Scripture that a “thing” is more sinful than the human heart or that exposure to an evil Thing is always tantamount to actually sinning.”
        On the contrary. You continue to miss the point Stephen. It’s not about I, I, I, or ME, ME, ME. It’s not about whether I’M sinning or not. It’s about whether THEY are sinning in the production and performance. They are. You said so yourself. ANY participation is the diametric opposite of loving them, my neighbors, as myself. If I were born defective with neither organs nor drive for sex or reproduction, my paying of fellow children of Father Adam to produce pornography, which IS what nudity and sex in Hollywood films is, would be sin for financing their damnation regardless of the fact that it had NO stimulating effect on me whatsoever. You’re gonna get this. I just know you are.

        Stephen says: “Godless pagan movies or TV shows” is immature and slanderous rhetoric that ignores the presence of good and God-exalting Christians in media industries.”
        If they practice sin (1st John 3) in the production of “Godless pagan movies or TV shows” they are not “good and God-exalting Christians” by definition.

        Stephen says: “Your stereotype of compromising heathen Christians revealing in debauchery for the sake of only “entertainment” is simply ignorant.”
        This is why the all caps plea that you read what I say. I fully and I do mean FULLY understand every single argument revolving around confronting and engaging culture with the Christin worldview Stephen. I also FULLY understand the notion of redeeming story by the universal presence of common grace. I have heard every last one from ANYone ANYbody ever heard of and many unknowns as well. I have clearly articulated this. Once again, you do not read those with whom you are having a debate.

        Stephen says: “I can only recommend taking a break and finding such fulfillments not in internet debates or internet friendships but real-life relationships.”
        My friends reading this are chuckling 😀 I have dozens of real life relationships, including many intimate close ones and a couple VERY close ones, but one elder man who I love with my heart of hearts and whom I would take a bullet for without a second thought. The fool speaks before he hears Stephen. My online life is but an extension of my offline attendance to the means of grace and ministry.

        We go face to face bringing the bread of life to the most pathetically lost people you’ll ever see, on the deep east side of Detroit. Rain snow or shine. We feed them clothe them, pray with them and love them. My “obsession” as you call it is my broken heart over a whoring spiritually emaciated, media addicted 21st century “church” that is promoting the eternal death of those she’s supposed to be salt and light too. Whether you comprehend that or not is beyond my control.

        Stephen says: “If a Christian claims, “You can’t ever do that and honor God,” and any other Christian who is clearly Gospel-driven and -motivated says, “Well, I do”
        See now here’s the difference between you and I. I define “clearly Gospel-driven and -motivated,” by the bible, especially as proclaimed in historic reformed orthodoxy. A person not conforming to those has excluded themselves from serious consideration as a “Gospel-driven or -motivated,” person. I don’t care what other nice things they have to say. The more truth that corruption has to ride into the church on, the more dangerous it is. There are no “clearly Gospel-driven and -motivated,” people who promote and support pornography. Including all the big name critics at places like CT and PluggedIn, among oodles of others.

        I WILL prove to you they do, but YOUR own standards.
        There are no “clearly Gospel-driven and -motivated,” people who practice ongoing hypocrisy by paying others to do what they would NEVER allow their loved ones to do or do themselves.

        Stephen says: ” You cited 1 Corinthians 5, which is about an official real-life local-church-level discipline supervised by local qualified elders. But you cited this text to defend your own personal “refus[al] of fellowship” with an individual, not in a local church but on the abstract internet. So either you cannot read Scripture’s plain meaning, or you actually have been treating yourself as an entire one-man elder group, with the abstract internet as your “church.” The internet is abstract. It is not the Church or even a local church. It’s time we quit treating it as such”
        A largely (but certainly not universally) apostate and unfaithful modern church is also beyond my control. I can’t deliever anybody to Satan for the destruction of their flesh, hopefully for the salvation of their soul,  but I can shine as much as light as the Lord would be so gracious as to allow me to do in His service. He decides what that looks like. Not you (or me)

        It wouldn’t make much difference in today’s Christendom anyway.  If anybody were actually dealt with in a biblical manner now, they’d just run down the street to some other church populated with like minded apostates.

        No Stephen, I have most assuredly not arrived. I also fancy myself no more qualified for heaven than any other sinner. I am simply a man who has been forgiven MUCH and who would have gone unnoticed as utterly average and unremarkable in the historic church. Our spiritual and theological progenitors would weep bitterly if they could see the unspeakable pollution being perpetrated upon the tradition they left us.

        Go read questions 91 through the Ten Commandments in the Westminster Larger Catechism. See how much room you find for pop culture in there. We have not progressed in liberty in our “engagement of culture” my brother. We have fallen a thousand miles.

      • Here’s some background for other participants in this discussion:

        1. It turns out Greg is a cyber-friend of a real-life friend, which leads to some measure of personal connection here. This connection is not enough to offset flagrantly nasty behavior and rhetoric. But it’s enough to make me recall that even behind nasty behavior and rhetoric is a real-life person.
        2. But you’ll also notice I took a break for more than a week for cooling-off.
        3. My response is short and attempts to focus on the real differences here. To that end I won’t be going point-by-point for yet another overlong discussion.

        First, I also do not agree with Christians — either genuine Christians who are deceived, or merely professing — who defend nudity in movies.

        What they claim ends up enabling sinful behavior that also tempts most people.

        But my perspective on popular culture is not founded on anything like “well, paying money to see naked people in movies is okay and other visual recordings of actors actually committing sin is okay because it’s Art.” Instead I’m basing my view on a biblical view of restored humanity. (For the present I do not care about theological “pedigree” or church history. First I’m appealing to the Scripture for support.)

        No, I do not believe that Christians should “engage popular culture” as some great official mechanical program in order to evangelize, or Be Relevant to the World, or to pursue Art For Its Own Sake, or for any other lesser and/or corrupted ends.

        Instead we “engage popular culture” naturally in order to glorify God. We “engage popular culture” as acts of restored-humanity worship — the default “chief end” state for which man was created. And because all worship must be in spirit and in truth as Jesus said, our intentional glorification of Him must be according to his word. This worship includes those times when we disagree with other Christians.

        Second, no, I do not agree with condemning those who defend things you view as sinful, as if they are heretics rather than merely incorrect.

        That is also sinful. It’s just as sinful, if not more so, than their invalid “art” defense.

        And this is actually our true disagreement. It’s not about whether this “art” defense is enablement of pornography (it is). It’s about how we respond to such defenses.

        That may be the source of your frustration with me and others. To you it appears we say on one hand, “This is sinful.” But to you this perspective requires that we condemn/shun/throw under the bus Christians who feel differently. When we do not do this, you see this as compromising tolerance, and scream and hit the roof.

        I’m saying that you are the one who has made up this shunning “rule” and you need to get over it. Yes, churches have too long enabled sin. Yes, there are false teachers and bad megachurches and compromising leaders out there. Yes, these must be opposed, or even put outside a local-church fellowship according to passages such as 1 Cor. 5. But Scripture does not allow you to blow up this passage beyond the local-church application. The internet is not your church and you are not its elder. You are not allowed to “shun” those whom Scripture does not order to be shunned — or worse, condemn Christians who do not “shun” people as you shun them.

        Application One: You believe that popular culture is full of sinful corruption, and you are right. But it is also full of common grace-reflections because God gave culture-making to man as a way to imitate Him, and because His image is still present in His image-bearers — this is basic Biblical anthropology — and because He will someday renew culture along with all the rest of the world. So your demands that all Christians see popular culture only as a “cesspool” are endless wind-chasing because you have not made a case from Scripture. It’s time for a cease-fire on this.

        Application Two: At present you will likely not agree with your opponents that popular culture is a “messy mixture” (as author Ted Turnau and SBC pastor Jared Moore have termed it) of truth and lies, beauty and ugliness. So until such time I must recommend this: If another Christian claims to be able to enjoy that thing without sinful intent, then it is sinful for you to claim, “WRONG! You’re lying and you are not truly walking in holiness and may not even be saved!” particularly if you do not even know that person in real life. (Again, this is the internet, and the internet is an adjunct to real life and local churches, not a virtual replacement.)

        So you can debate that person, disagree with him/her, or write articles critiquing that person’s beliefs with or without naming him/her personally. But one thing you must not do is commit the sins of slander and un-Christlikeness against that person.

        And when you do commit those sins, you must repent — even if it’s based on “things got out of hand, and I’m still confused about your view” (a fact that you yourself conceded about eschatalogy as it pertains to the renewal of physical creation and the fact that Scripture specifically promises renewed culture/popular culture). Otherwise you will only continue to generate even more “cesspools” of personal culture in your surroundings — all for the “righteous” cause of opposing “cesspools.”

        • Mirtika says:

          Some people are so wrapped up in their self-righteous mantles of Prophet for Your Own Damn Good Or Else that they don’t realize they do the cause of Christ more harm with their online presence than good. I think there reaches a point of pearls meet swine, just move on, E, move on.

          • Tiribulus says:

            Well Mirkita, you certainly aren’t “swine” to me. 🙁

            Do feel free to actually address any of my points though. I’ve noticed you talk to and about me a lot, but never seem to actually address WHAT I say. I’d for instance, be interested in your view of this related topic: http://www.speculativefaith.lorehaven.com/2014/06/20/why-we-condemn-game-of-thrones-porn-and-think-you-should-too/

            Stephen, I see you brother. I’ll answer when I can.

          • Tiribulus, on numerable occasions I’ve attempted to show that your rhetoric and attitude (so far) have effectively disqualified you from offering anything constructive. It’s not a matter of whatever you personally felt while typing the comment. Anyone can use words that are not gracious or clear but are instead self-satisfying and incendiary, while feeling very calm and kind and rational. It’s a matter of simple respect for other people created in God’s image and genuine attempt to build relationships with them and win their. But you seem to want to ignore that aspect of the discussion and skip immediately to the “good stuff,” e.g. determining whether people such as Mirtika are on the “right” side of issues such as nudity in movies (and presumably whether to condemn those with other views). This looks like a pursuit of abstract, bloodless, and ultimately un-biblical “doctrine” that ends up effectively being a false doctrine because you are not speaking the truth in love. Notice I said “this is an indication.” You may have meant entirely differently, but that doesn’t matter when so many folks — despite their wishes to offer the best possible interpretation — cannot help being revolted by your “style,” as it were.

            Before we talk about other cultures “out there” that may or may not be toxic, we must address the toxic cultures we may accidentally establish in order to “defend truth.” Otherwise we’re just going to go round and round and you will personally dig in deeper and deeper, refusing even to offer a perfunctory “I’m sorry you took my words the wrong way; I’ll try to do better”-style apology (which would help even a little).

            Again, your exact words were this:

            Your head is already in my God given noose as I type this. If you continue as carelessly as you have thus far, you WILL be swinging, eyes bugged and tongue out very soon here”

            And when folks took umbrage to this machismo, Driscoll-style speech — “corrupt or unwholesome talk”? (Eph. 4:29) — you offered a “LOLOLOLOL.” This looks like a kind of selfishness: your communication made sense to you alone; therefore you do not need to even try to defend it for others. Are you even willing to see that this might be a problem with your communication style? As for the “metaphor” you meant to convey, I’m afraid that only makes things worse. It looks like authoritarianism. You have no “God given noose” whatsoever, Greg, whether literal or metaphorical. And you have no special authority whatsoever here in this discussion. I’m sorry: on the internet you’re one of the folks. And the discussion is a discussion among equals, not a crowd of compromisers for whom the spiritual leader arrives to set others straight.

            That is what people are recoiling from, brother — the apparent attitude beneath. It comes across even over the internet, and despite all your protestations about good intentions. People do not see the good intentions of a person who sincerely wants to help other believers understand the Bible more accurately, e.g. Priscilla and Aquila who came alongside Apollos to sharpen him (Acts 18: 24-28). People see an apparent domineering, lord-over-authority (likely one who reminds them of spiritual abuse they have previously suffered) who wants to love and help only on his own terms.

            Jesus commanded his people to avoid any kind of Gentile-style authoritarianism:

            But Jesus called them to him and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

            Matthew 20:25-28

            Again, you’ve said you do not mean to be rude or spiritually authoritarian. But I am explaining how this comes across to the majority of readers (here and elsewhere).

            At the very least, it is your own personal “culture” that is making people stumble. The Apostle Paul was eager to remove any such barriers that would prevent people from comprehending the truth. Paul said he was willing to sacrifice freedoms (note that this is different from the flawed/false application of enjoying more freedoms) if his enjoyment of his freedoms would have put people off from trusting and hearing him:

            For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them. To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings.

            1 Corinthians 9:19-23

            My application: Okay, you may be free from all restrictions on inflammatory speech such as “God given noose,” and you may be free to have your own private meanings for phrases such as “God given noose.” But when you give that phrase a shot and it horribly backfires, it’s time to rethink the strategy. Time to consider giving up such use of this “freedom” because it’s getting in the way of what you’re trying to say.

            • Tiribulus says:

              For now, I regret and recant the “God given noose” metaphor.

              (I’m asking you please to check your Facebook messages)

            • Tiribulus says:

              I am still learning how to properly govern my forceful personality Stephen. You are being helpful in that regard. I will concede a significant portion of your thought here. I will EVEN bow to your usage of 1 Corinthians 9:19-23, It DOES apply to me as you have used it here. Not without limit, but it’s a legitimate application. I will keep it before the Lord and seek His further wisdom and sanctification that He may make me more useful to Himself. That’s all I want and I will do anything to have it be so.

              I must address the following points:

              Stephen says: “…determining whether people such as Mirtika are on the “right” side of issues such as nudity in movies (and presumably whether to condemn those with other views).”
              I’ve known Mirkita’s views on these things and Game of Thrones in particular for a couple months now Stephen. What I was doing was seeing if she would go after you for declaring as pornography a show that I know she likes, like she would me had I said it. She did what I figured she would do. Nothing.

              You are correct though anyway. There are right and wrong sides to major moral and or theological issues such as pornography. Of course I want to know somebody’s stance on something like that. Not so I can condemn them. I can’t condemn anybody. Only God knows His elect. I also want everybody I see as my brother and sister in the Lord. I wish NO ill on anyone. It does let me know what kind of person I’m dealing with though. Especially when they’re confronted with airtight biblical argumentation showing the manifestly immoral and sinful nature of this kind of media. Their rejection of scripture is tragically telling.

              A couple other things for now. I also concede the ill advised nature of the “noose” metaphor as I’ve already said. It may have been arrogant. It may have been stupid. It may have even been sinful. The one thing it was not though, was an actual threat.  THAT was what I was laughing at. Another reader also said the same. Other people whose discernment I respect have also told me that that phraseology was a bad idea, but that they knew what I meant as well. I won’t let it happen again.

              I must additionally ask you this. I’m asking. I can’t make my intonation and demeanor project over a combox.  PLEASE believe my godly intentions, but yes exasperated disposition.

              1 Corinthians 5
              “9-I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— 10-not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. 11-But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone so called brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one. 12-For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? 13-God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.”

              This is not directed at Mirkita individually now. Truly it’s not. My brother if an open and public consumer and decades long promoter of what is by your own definition, pornography, IN THE CHURCH, does not qualify for this entire chapter of scripture? (and 1st John 3?) I am asking you hat in hand, that you please tell me what does.

              Just like Paul says. With a motivation of restoration  and to protect the church. Am I to disregard this command, and it most assuredly is one,  if the church refuses to obey it? Because the visible church herself largely embraces the same thing? This is called apostasy and the once very Christian west is now pickled in it. This is one MAJOR symptom.

              I want you to help me understand this. What has happened to Christ’s church where open, flagrant promoters of porn are accepted as not only believers in good standing, but legitimate ministers of the gospel as well. This would have been utterly unthinkable before the last couple decades. Help me understand this Stephen. Would you do that please 🙁

               

  12. Tiribulus says:


    September 27, 2014 at 9:07 pm
    Bainespal says”Nobody should feel pressured to respond to rhetoric that could be interpreted as a death threat.”
    Oh for Pete’s sake LOLOLOLOLOL!!!!!

    I do hereby declare and affirm that my statement of the following:

    “Make no mistake my friend. Your head is already in my God given noose as I type this. If you continue as carelessly as you have thus far, you WILL be swinging, eyes bugged and tongue out very soon here”

    :was and is intended to convey figurative content only. The notion of manifestly fatal defeat in a battle of ideas. Any construal so as to find any actual real world physical threat is the unfortunate delusion of the one suffering from it. By God’s gracious providence I have already had this brief clarification with Stephen offline. He laughed at it 🙂 Because he knew I wasn’t ACTUALLY threatening him LOL!!

    It appears I’m not the one who needs some time offline 😉 Too many movies I’m afraid there bub. Rots the mind. Must be violence everywhere you think huh?. I live every day surrounded by real world violence and would have instantly known what somebody meant by what I said.

    • notleia says:

      Wow, that is probably the most perfectly textbook demonstration of  gaslighting I have ever seen. It’s like you studied.

    • dmdutcher says:

      Of course, the insulting content of the original post seems to have slipped your mind. Maybe it’s because “you are the dopiest smart person I have ever known” as well as “an inept debater.” Or you possess “insufferable arrogance” and “do not pay attention when people compose detailed, thoughtful words to you.” Neither do you display “a piddling modicum of respect in actually listening to anyone who communicates to you.” Perhaps the metaphorical noose you need to worry about is woven out of your own words.

      But hey, i’m not saying this to insult you, I’m just “cross-eyed bewildered.” I just can’t quit you, man. *brofist*

      More seriously, you seem to be repeating the same old stuff that got you banned at Mike’s blog. And if you think what you do, why are you even at a site that reviews secular stuff in the light of how it can work with God’s story and Christianity? And got to second Notleia on that-not like I think gaslighting is as prevalent as it is, but darned if that isn’t as naked a personal attack and distraction from the point of how hilariously inappropriate your original metaphor was.

  13. cherylu says:

    People, are you guys serious?  Isn’t anyone here at all familiar with figurative language?  Why ever are you insisting that what was said here was a physical death threat?   Come on folks.   That seems to be quite ridiculous.

    • cherylu says:

      I need to make a correction to my comment and the editing time is already up.

      “People, are you guys serious?  Isn’t anyone here at all familiar with figurative language?  Why ever are you insisting that what was said could be a physical death threat?   Come on folks.   That seems to be quite ridiculous.”

  14. Tiribulus says:

    I don’t know what “gaslighting” is.

    Stephen and I had extensive friendly dialog before my posting this comment. We had agreed to a public exchange. Quite mutually.

    I sat on this post for 15 hours (it was completed Friday night) waiting for him to be able to respond to my PM’s first so I could talk to him about it in light of our recent offline conversation. I knew he was busy because he hadn’t’ seen them at all until then. People have lives. I also gave it to two folks I trust to read first.

    I told Stephen what it would be like, that it would be personally offensive to him.  That I would post it somewhere else, like another thread if he felt it off topic here or not on spec-faith at all if he prefer. He told me to post it here. Here it is. I don’t consider there to be near the tension between he and I that some of you folks are assuming.

    He told me it would probably be some time before he could respond, which I then told him of course would be fine. As I say, people have lives.

    He’s a big boy. Why don’t we let him do that?

    I know what got me banned from Mike Duran’s site DMDutcher. I met a good new friend through that situation, who is my friend still. Aside from that, I stand by pretty much everything I said there.

  15. That woman’s objections reminded me of a book I read years ago when my kids were little. Turmoil in the Toy Box. One of the worst books ever. If I remember correctly, guy actually believed that little girls were being raped by demons because they had troll dolls in their toy boxes. Some nonsense like that. I’ve tried to wipe it from memory.

    What bothered me most about the woman’s comments was that after the Plugged In people apologized for the confusion, she said this:

    I have no doubt, with all of the attention to detail and knowing the ins and outs of graphic design that your designer knew exactly what he or she was doing. He needs to be held accountable. 

    She has no doubt. Doesn’t matter what they say. Doesn’t matter that they told her they weren’t doing what she thought and they apologized for inadvertently offending her. Doesn’t matter they they explained exactly why they did it.

    She has no doubt. The graphic designer was purposely doing a wicked thing because, hey, she just knows it. She doesn’t have to take them at their word. She doesn’t have to say she’s sorry for falsely accusing them. She doesn’t have to believe them and forgive the perceived offense. Because she has no doubt that they’re wrong.

    No reason to interpret other Christians in a charitable light because I have no doubt they love to do wicked things and they are doing them on purpose. I have no doubt that people have never heard of this or who don’t care about this are either wicked or lazy. And either way they need to stop it right now and repent of their shameful, shameful ways.

    • Exactly, Sally! The accuser (who is a man, by the way) is going beyond simple naivete or even issues about separate “convictions.” At least as of this writing, he used these “issues” as justification for actual slander against another person — an action that is not optional for any Christian. So: if your “conviction” leads you into sin, cut it off and throw it away.

    • dmdutcher says:

      My family had that book. Actually we had all three of his books, plus the “Halloween and Satanism” book. It was tough growing up as a Christian kid who liked role-playing games then. Even now my mother still believes that spirits can come in and influence you through the objects you have in your house, although she’s softened quite a bit from my younger days.

      The eighties were a bad time for Christianity. There was a paranoia in the air and an abuse of authority that wound up gravely harming the public face of the faith.

  16. Tiribulus says:

    Sally says: “Turmoil in the Toy Box.”
    HAHA!! I remember that book.

    What bothered [Sally] most about the woman’s comments was that after the Plugged In people apologized for the confusion, she said this:

    “I have no doubt, with all of the attention to detail and knowing the ins and outs of graphic design that your designer knew exactly what he or she was doing. He needs to be held accountable. “

    I’m not finding those comments. Are they at the Lecrae interview. I don’t see any comments there.

     

  17. Some readers are unable to find the original conversation at Plugged In’s Facebook page. As of this writing, readers can find the conversation by clicking this link and then expanding comments after the comment by BG Sawyer. I’ve also provided a screencap of the whole conversation here.

    plugged in evil eye

  18. merechristian says:

    So do Christians today think that the true villains are the Apostle Paul (who referenced pagan works in the Bible) and the early Church (most knowledge we have of the ancient world, including the myths come from churches)? Because by the logic of those today (agreeing with the foolishness of the Puritans on a few issues), most Christians in history, including the bloke who wrote most of the NT, are all bad folks or not really Christians.

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      Pro conspiracy-theory tip: the Greek Illuminati had the apostle Paul quote from popular-culture texts in Acts 17:28, 1 Cor. 15:22, and Titus 1:12.

      • merechristian says:

        Okay, Stephen for the win on that one. 😀

        Just to make my point though clearer as I don’t do that enough. The Apostle Paul, from a Biblical interpretation and a broad research point of view (primary sources of early Christians and all that) is more important. While the so-called “dark ages” were not as bad as later folks with an agenda made them out to be, they were a time of stuff not exactly surviving. Only churches kept records of this.

        The thing to remember, though, is that it’s easy for us to say they kept records for the dark ages, but it would have been hard or impossible for most of the folks at the time to say “oh, wow, let’s write stuff down for the upcoming ‘dark ages'”. They already had these records, which means they didn’t view the interest in the stuff as “evil”.

        Or look at Beowulf. It was clearly Christianized from the mainly pagan whatever it originally was (I don’t think we still know what it completely was) but the storytellers didn’t have a tradition of “pagan = evil”, as most pagan elements remained, and Christian elements were added. Shakespeare, I can keep going.

        The thing that gets me is that the Puritans were an outlier in their contempt for popular culture, literature (pagan or otherwise), contempt for Christmas or other celebrations, so on. Most Christians historically didn’t agree with them, yet it is this outlying group that so many Christians today seem to take so much of our ideas from, and not the main history back through Paul.

  19. Randy Streu says:

    Not one to do this, generally, but I dealt with this topic from another angle last year. Seems pertinent.

    Good post, Stephen.

    http://still-unfinished.blogspot.com/2013/03/superstistians.html

    • And great post in turn, brother.

      That kind of superstition is still out there. Not-so-ironically, it’s an actual practice of the very same kinds of activities the Bible condemns in texts such as Deut. 18 because a) they are an attempt to protect ourselves rather than trust God, b) they ignore the Final Prophet, Jesus Christ, c) they are among what Scripture condemns as superstition or even “old wives’ tales” (a KJV-era anachronism, if I recall, that rather unfairly implies the notion that only women do this).

What do you think?