David Burchett Christian Blog and Commentary

What do expect from a Bad Christian?

My last post discussed what I believed was the damage done to the box office totals of End of the Spear by the Evangelical backlash. Blogger Byron Harvey wrote to let me know that I was wrong, that I had misrepresented his intent about his opposition, and that my logic was flawed. I suspect he has also removed me from his Christmas card list. Byron has a blog called The No Kool Aid Zone(love that title)and he took offense that I had lumped him in with some of the more extreme reactions to the controversy about Chad Allen. I made some broad statements about the treatment the movie and the production company received. I may be a "Bad Christian" but I try to be a fair one. I hope that readers understand that not everyone who disagreed with casting Chad Allen was angry or graceless. Forgive me if I gave anyone that impression. That was not my intent. I am giving Kevin a chance here on the Big Page to respond to my post. I may be overreacting, but I don't think he liked it.

Dave, I write as one of those bloggers who took issue with the casting of Chad Allen by ETE---but I find some of the characterizations you make to be over-simplifications. I took---and many of my responders took---what I consider to be a quite balanced position on the subject, far from ranting and raving, far from gratuitous attacking.

First of all, I am totally capable of oversimplification and I do believe you when you say your comments were far from ranting and raving. However, I was addressing comments like this one from Kevin Bauderthat were, in fact, gratuituous.

"Once again, I have to say that I am not in the habit of calling for boycotts. I cannot imagine, however, why any reflective Christian would want to pay money to view this debacle. If Every Tribes Entertainment hopes to garner a profit, let them get it from Queer Nation and NAMBLA."

That just makes me cringe. It is not helpful nor does it contribute to the kind of dialogue most of us want to achieve. And that is what I was addressing in my article called Won the Battle - Losing the War? Blogger Phil Johnson wrote about Mr.Bauder's comments that the response from many evangelicals was not strong enough.

"While suggesting that Jason Janz hadn't called for a strong enough response, Bauder injected this droll hyperbole: "Granted, we must not overreact. And it would probably be an overreaction to firebomb these men's houses. But what they have done is no mistake. It is a calculated strategy." No one who bothered to read any three random blog entries by Kevin Bauder could possibly imagine that his remark about firebombing houses was anything but humor and hyperbole. Ironically, Bauder's remark was probably meant to lampoon the tendency of some folks who thoughtlessly and habitually overreact to issues like this with fleshly displays of anger."

Droll hyperbole? I think I have a pretty well defined sense of humor. That is not funny nor is that droll hyperbole. Back to Mr.Harvey's critique of my post.

If "cyber-flogging" went on regarding the position I took, it was from those who saw nothing wrong at all with ETE's decision. I was called a Pharisee, a legalist, and even Satanic for raising concerns; my motives were questioned by more than one commenter who was sure that he could look into my heart with certainty. There is no place for judging motives, for name-calling, for attacks---and those who did that on both sides of the question are wrong. But is there no place for the raising of concerns? Is there no place for debate?

I never called anyone a name. I never claimed to look into anyone's heart. There is absolutely room for the raising of concerns. I thought that is what I was doing and you were doing when you disagreed with ETE. At the risk of sounding like a bad pop song...it's only you and me and we just disagree.

Allow me to address several things you say. You begin by saying that the "backlash" accomplished its goal---and then ASSUME that the "goal" of the "backlash" was to cut the movie's take. Personally, I did not see the movie and said so; at the same time, I did not call for a boycott, and told my church that while I could not endorse it, I wouldn't presume to tell them what to do. Can't speak for others, but only for myself. My goal had nothing to do with people seeing this particular movie---or not seeing it. It had to do with raising the issue of how we go about honoring God in the way we as evangelicals do things.

I believe that when you say that when you tell the church that you cannot endorse the movie you have effectively called for a boycott without using the "B' word. Such a comment from a pastor carries that much weight. I want to make very clear that I do not mean to presume your motives were to hurt box office. My post had to do with the flip side of your argument. It had to do with raising the issue of how we go about honoring God in the way evangelicals disagree about things.

Paragraphs 3-5 above are a big red herring. You ask, "What is wrong with having a movie that you can take a unchurched friend to and then discuss the supernatural response from the people that this story portrays?"; I ask, "who says that there is?" You launch then into three paragraphs built upon that faulty premise. While there may be some who say that, I didn't read anyone who had an issue with such a movie PER SE.

Okay, this one made me laugh out loud because of my weird sense of humor. When I produce a red herring it is not just regular size. I give you grande red herrings in my posts! Which got me to thinking. Why do we say that faulty logic designed to divert people from the real argument is a red herring? Turns out that the red herring has a very strong odor and early settlers would drag the herrings across the trail to throw off the scent of the tracking dogs. I don't think my argument is a red herring but, after all, it is my red herring. So maybe my left brain logical tracking dogs got thrown off.

"Apopleptic"? Please. Perhaps there were some; perhaps certain commenters upon posts (even on my site) might have fallen into that camp. But the posts I read seemed, for the most part, to be well-reasoned criticisms. Then again, I certainly didn't take the time to visit dozens of sites, so perhaps there were more that were "apopleptic".

Definitely some aplopletic ones. And you are right, some were indeed well reasoned. Some were just heartbreakingly mean.

Personally, again, I accept all concerned at ETE as sincere brothers in the Lord, people trying to do something good, people whose future works I may well take in. I think that that qualifies as "grace". At the same time, can we not have this discussion, or must their decisions since they are "good, Godly men" be considered off-limits?

Sure. Can we also discuss the reactions to all of this? Should those questions of "good, Godly bloggers" be considered off-limits? Just curious.

Can their thinking/rationale not be discussed (particularly since some of the defenses that were raised by ETE and by Steve Saint were very dubious Biblically)? Can a discussion of this sort, as long as it is carried on in a Christlike way, not be beneficial for future decision-making? Can it not ferret out issues that ought to be considered?

Absolutely. Are you comfortable that some of these comments that I am concerned about demonstrate a Christlike way? By the way, excellent use of the word ferret.

I tried to do all of these things---interestingly, my most commented-upon post was begun when I allowed Jim Hanon to post (unedited) anything he wanted to say. We had a gracious exchange about the subject. Further, your logic regarding Steve Saint, carried to its logical end, would suggest that Mr. Saint's judgment is above the possibility of error; in fact, his rationale for okaying the casting of Mr. Allen was disappointing, involving dreams and imagined conversations with God that could be very easily countered (and I did).

Of course we can have this discussion. Of course you can question their decisions and you did. I am not suggesting that Steve Saint's judgment is above the possibility of error. I am still suggesting that he has the most ownership because the story is about him and his father.

A further issue is that you seem to make the mistake, as so many have, of confusing the sovereign will of God with His moral will. Sure, He can use all of this to His glory, because He is sovereign! That doesn't mean that the right choices were made in casting. I guess my final beef with your posting is that there is a pervasive "end justifies the means" context. You cite numerous "negative" consequences that flowed from the decision of some of us to raise these issues. You seem to strongly suggest that such issues ought to be glossed over/kept to ourselves so that a greater good can be accomplished. But the end doesn't justify the means...we cannot justify just anything done in the name of "evangelism" or "tribal financial support" or whatever good cause.

After being accused of assuming earlier I think I have to throw a flag here. You are assuming (notice the all lower case letters) that I am always willing to accept anything if there is evangelism involved. I believe I was writing about this one movie, this one group of men, and this one story. Are you presuming to look into my heart?  In fact, there were negative consequences to this controversy and I wrote my opinions about those results. I may be wrong. I have been before.

I agree wholeheartedly with speaking the truth in love...

All right...we have reached some agreement here.

but it seems as though some want to smother the truth for the sake of...whatever.

That was short lived.

I believe that long-term good can certainly come out of this discussion. Hopefully, there are some (ETE?) who will take a second look at HOW we go about sharing the gospel---and that goes for all of us, whether we make films, or preach sermons, or write books, or blog, or... The body of Christ in America is badly, badly, badly in need of learning discernment. If this discussion advances the cause of discernment---which IS at the heart of MY "goal"---then a great good will have been done.

I hope and pray that long-term good does come out of this discussion. My goal is to introduce people to the saving grace of our Lord Jesus. I pray that God will bless both of us in our humble pursuits.

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