Gossip and Slander as Crucifixion

Monroe County
Linda and I have counseled and ministered to hundreds of individuals, families, and marriages over a period of 40 years. We’re far from perfect ourselves, and often thank God for the opportunity to be on other people’s rescue teams. That God could use a wretch like me to help anyone amazes me!
We have been privileged to hear confessions of sins, failures, faults, struggles, shortcomings, wounds and woundedness. We keep such things confidential. We never talk about them without permission to other people. And, we do not look down on struggling people. Why not? Because it would make our rescue efforts much harder! Instead of looking down on people we have to get down with them (= “mercy”). Why on earth would we gossip about and slander people we are trying to save?
“Gossip” is: non-value-added talk about others, behind their backs. To talk with others about someone else’s failures and faults.
“Slander” is: to demean the character of another person.
What you share with us… we never share with other people. EVER! Why not? Because it’s none of their business, and because it will harm the rescue effort. It is simply immoral, sinful, evil, satan-inspired stuff to gossip about people and slander people. So I am not going to do this. I am a greatly-rescued person on a rescue mission and I am not going to gossip about the people God and I are trying to rescue.
We are told in Scripture that to do this would endanger their lives. Leviticus 19:16 says: “‘Do not go about spreading slander among your people. “‘Do not do anything that endangers your neighbor’s life. I am the LORD.”
In Psalm 140:11 “slander” is compared to violence: May slanderers not be established in the land; may disaster hunt down the violent.” “Slander” is a violent, abusive act.
Someone who slanders and gossips obviously is not a follower of Jesus, for Jesus says in Matthew 15:19: For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander.” Obviously, “slander” is evil. It is satanic.
In Romans 1:29-30 gossip and slander are marks of God-hating: They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil.
Gossip and slander are antithetical to the heart-circumcising cross of Christ.
In ancient times bottom-caste criminals were put to death by crucifixion. Sometimes a note would be attached to the cross for people to read as they paparrazi-ed on the brutalized dead body. For example, the enemy of our souls is pouring on the shame in Mark 15:26:
The written notice of the charge against him read: THE KING OF THE JEWS.
If that were me hanging on a cross for my sins and faults and failures it would take a scroll to list them all.
Here hangs John Piippo…  who has sinned and failed in many ways… who has not been entirely truthful… who has not been perfectly pure…  who has had a hard time loving his enemies…  who at times was proud and arrogant…  and so on ad infinitum et absconditus… (I’ve got all these things and more written in my spiritual journal…)
To gossip and slander someone is to shame them before others. It is to crucify them before the world and watch them hang with a laundry list of a few real failures and a bazillion rumors. This is the work of the Antichrist. For the Real Christ came to save, not to crucify. The Real Christ was himself crucified for our rescue and salvation. We read the following in Colossians 2:13-14:
He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness,
which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross.
Christ was crucified so we, though deserving it, would not be.
To gossip and slander is to crucify the people Jesus came to save.
Which includes you.

Plantinga’s Free Will Defense Against the Logical Argument from Evil

Jet over our backyard
(For my MCCC Philosophy of Religion students)
Philosopher-atheist J.L. Mackie constructs an argument from evil intended to show the incoherence of theism. One cannot, thinks Mackie, simultaneously affirm the following three propositions (known as “Mackie’s Triad”):
1) God is all-powerful.
2) God is all-good.
3) Evil exists.
Just as one cannot simultaneously affirm:
1) John is a bachelor.
2) John’s wife’s name is Linda.
1) Object X is square.
2) Object X is circular.
Nearly all philosophers, to include atheists such as William Rowe, believe Alvin Plantinga has defeated Mackie’s logical argument, and that therefore theism is not incoherent. All Plantinga needs to do is show that there is a possible world in which Mackie’s Triad can be affirmed. If Mackie’s Triad was logically inconsistent then there could be no possible world where an all-powerful, all-loving being existed with the existence of evil.
Plantinga does this by showing:
1) It is possible that God has given persons libertarian free will.
2) It is possible that God has counterfactual knowledge.
3) It is possible that transworld depravity exists.
“Libertarian free will” is: making a choice (such as, e.g., a moral choice) that is not fully reducible to antecedent causal conditions.
To say that God could have counterfactual knowledge is to say that God knows the truth value of future conditional statements that describe possible states of affairs.
By “transworld depravity” Plantinga means: in all possible worlds human agents will commit at least one evil act.
If, then, there is a possible world where libertarian free will exists and God knows what choices John will make, and knows that John will choose, on at least one occasion, evil, then God cannot make a world where John is faced with that choice and chooses good. This is because it would violate John’s free will.
But what if, Mackie asks, God made a world where all persons on all occasions chose good? Plantinga responds by saying that it is possible transworld depravity exists. If so, then we have a world where one can affirm the existence of al all-powerful and all-loving (as well as all-knowing) God exists, as does evil.

I Get Nervous Before I Preach

Every time I preach at Redeemer, or other places, I feel nervous. I feel nervous before every class I teach at our community college. I rarely perform musically anymore, but every time I did I felt nervous before stepping onto the stage. I see this as a gift, not a hindrance.
My nervousness tells me I am not taking the opportunity to speak, before others, for granted. I do not think I am God’s gift to people. I need to get out of the way so God’s Spirit can bring his gifts. I am confident but not overconfident.
My nervousness tells me I don’t know what is going to happen. I do not repeat sermons at Redeemer, at funerals, at weddings, or, for by far the most part, anywhere. Every message for me is new, like preparing a meal I’ve never cooked before. I don’t know how it’s going to turn out.
My nervousness tells me I am expecting God to show up. I want more than anything to discern correctly, to get the God-moments right. I want to listen correctly. From my tiny POV I cannot predict what things will look like when God makes his moves.
My nervousness tells me that I have faith in God. Every time I preach I feel like I’m jumping off a high cliff and trusting that God will catch me.
My nervousness tells me I have an awareness of what is at stake. The issues for me are nothing less than life and death. At every wedding. At every funeral. On every Sunday morning.
Thank you, God, for the gift of nervousness.

Fireless Administration Quenches Passion for Jesus.

The River Raisin, from our backyard

George Barna wrote this in 2001. Leaders for Jesus take note. Barna believes the church should “ignite people’s passion for God and get out of their way.”  Yes. There is an over-administration happening in much of the American Church. Build structure where there is life. When God calls you to build, then build with excellence. That’s where the spiritual gift of administration kicks in.  But don’t fire up this gift when there’s no calling from God. It’s precisely when people’s passion for God is ignited that some pastors become afraid and, out of their fear, controlling. That is not good. Barna continues: “If the congregation is passionate about God, then the issues of entertaining the masses in church, making every time frame convenient for them to attend and constantly being concerned about the financial state of the church would go away. There would be a tremendous renewal movement in the church.” Yes, zeal without knowledge can lead to a train wreck. But, given the choice, I’ll take zeal over knowledge anytime. Wild horses can be broken and worked with. Knowledgeable people who have no inner fire for Jesus gravitate towards administration. Fireless administration quenches passion for Jesus.
Barna asks, what is the problem with the American Church? He writes: “Not one of the adults we interviewed said that their goal in life was to be a committed follower of Jesus Christ or to make disciples.” George Barna, Growing True Disciples, p. 3.

31 Days with Jesus (An Invitation to Join Me)

Maple Tree, in Monroe, MI
“Not one of the adults we interviewed said that their goal in life was to be a committed follower of Jesus Christ or to make disciples.” – George Barna, Growing True Disciples, 3
 Since converting from a life of practical atheism and weak (uninformed) deism 42 years ago my life, both experientially and academically, has been a long, exhilarating Christological adventure. I was truly captured by Christ, and was freed from a life of drug and alcohol abuse.
I began to study Him, about Him, and what it meant to follow after Him. Importantly for me, one of my doctoral qualifying exams was on ancient Christology, so even during my Ph.D studies in philosophical theology I was able to invest deeply in ongoing Jesus-studies.
Today, years later, Christ remains central to my life and being. I invest much time in knowing about Him and knowing Him. During this Christmas season I’m going to ramp it up and invite you to join me for “31 Days with Jesus.”
During this Christmas season I am going to focus on Jesus, in my studies and in my prayer & devotional life. I am inviting you to join me this 31-day experience.
It will begin with an 1 ½ hour meeting on Sunday night, Nov. 25, 6 PM; it will end on Christmas Day. During the 31 days I will send a daily post that I write on Jesus that will take you deeper into a knowledge of Him. I’ll be posting more detailed information on my website (johnpiippo.com). If you want to join me please let me know (talk with me personally or send me an e-mail).
I am praying that this Christmas will be more meaningful than ever as we focus together on the Real Jesus!
You can do this online with me. My Nov. 25 teaching will be available online (my 1-hour teaching on Basic Christology.
If you are a pastor or Christian leader I’d love to have your church or group join me in this, and make Jesus the center of your Christmas discussions.
PERSONAL COST: Your commitment to invest in “31 Days with Jesus.”

The Identity That Makes You Free

Our inner, spiritual freedom is a function of our anchorage. The more we are attached (addicted; French attache) to the affirmation and rejection of other people, the less free we are. I know this too well from personal experience. I have been too attached, too connected, to what other people think of me. This attachment has prevented me from thinking of other people, without conditions. Which is how Jesus thought and thinks about us.
The way out of this inner bondage is to discover your true self, who you are and what you are intended to be. Which is: a child of God, forgiven, loved, and restored to community with God. You are the beloved of God. The more this truth has descended from my mind into my heart and has become my very being, my core identity, the more I experience the freedom Christ has called us to. Included in this freedom is: freedom to love others as God loves them. One sign of this true experiential freedom is: compassion towards others.
I love the way Henri Nouwen expresses this. He writes: “The identity that makes you free is anchored beyond all human praise and blame. (Nouwen, The Inner Voice of Love, 70)
The love of God transcends all earthly loves.

Meet with the Great Lover of Your Soul

River view, from our back yard

Reading books about prayer and the spiritual life is neither necessary nor a substitute for an actual life of dwelling in the presence of God, just as reading books on swimming is not the same as actually jumping in the water and swimming. Yes, God can meet you while you’re reading a book. But because this is about a real relationship with a Person, it demands that the book be put down and the head be lifted up and the eyes of the beloved look into the eyes of the Great Lover of our Souls.
If you have time to read a book about prayer then you have time to actually pray. The two are different. The Person is greater than the book about the Person.
Writers like Henri Nouwen and Thomas Merton both examined this inner thing that wants to read about the spiritual life rather than engage in it. Here’s Merton as he writes:
“What is the use of complaining about not being a contemplative, if I do not take the opportunities I get for contemplation? I suppose I take them, but in the wrong way. I spend the time looking for something to read about contemplation – something to satisfy my raffish spiritual appetites – instead of shutting up and emptying my mind and leaving the inner door open for the Holy Spirit to enter from the inside, all the doors being barred and all my blinds down.” (Merton, The Sign of Jonas)
Prayer is talking with God about what you and God are doing together.
Contemplation is the term used to describe the activity and experience of beholding God as one dwells in God’s presence. “Contemplation” is the mystical-unitive term par excellence.
Put the book and the laptop and the iPhone down and have some deep conversations with God.