Thursday, February 22, 2007

The Appropriate Use of Humor and Ridicule When Defending the Faith

Prolegomena: A few weeks ago, a furry antitheistic friend called “Gray Mouser” left a few comments under our church blog posts titled "Can't We All Just Get Along?" and “Killing Abortionists and Starting Revolutions.” In each case, the Mouse quoted me and then made an attempted refutation. My statements are in italics and the Mouse’s responses to those statements are in bold below.

2-8-07: ”From the pen of ‘Dusman’:

'Gray Mouser' (a.k.a as a possible Piedmont Freethought Association 'member' scared of using his or her real name for fear that all the FUNDIES are gonna come and burn his/her house down, tar and feather him/her, and then beat him/her repeatedly with a calfskin leathern girdle) said,

So, this is the reaction of a church elder, who fulfills the requirements laid out in your web site, is it? "Patient; forbearing; gentle" I recall reading. "Has a good reputation with outsiders" -- sir, I wonder if the members of your "church" (reads more like a cult to be honest) realize what they have in you and your fellow elders.

You are a bully, plain and simple. I would advise you to engage in a little reflection before you proceed any further down this path you're treading.

Farewell.

2-10-07: “Dusman wrote:

"'Malign' comes from the Greek word blasfhmei/n, from which we get the English words, 'blaspheme' and 'blasphemy.' To do this is to slander, curse, and treat someone with contempt, which is something that can never be done with a righteous motive.”

What a hypocrite! When you write about non-believers, you don't even try to hide your contempt. What does the above say about you? Oh yeah... this unbeliever has said that that needs to be said. Hang your head in shame, if you can even remember how to do it.”

Now for whatever reason, “Gray Mouser” has decided to remove both of the above comments from the comboxes of the respective posts on our church blog as listed above, but I reproduce them here as a starting point for this article.[1] In light of his/her statements above, I will provide a rationale as to the humorous and sometimes ridiculing tone of my responses when dealing with some infidels in light of the seemingly contradictory quoted comments from my teaching regarding avoiding contemptuous speech in our general interactions with people.


Introduction
: The apostle Paul had warned the Roman Christians not to allow the unbelieving world-system to squeeze them into its mold (Rom. 12:1). Instead, he wanted them to be transformed by the renewing of their minds by having the Scriptures equip them for every good work (Rom. 12:2; 2 Tim. 3:16-17). One of the devices that Satan and his emissaries (2 Cor. 2:11) has effectively used to emasculate the Christian Church is the heresy of “political correctness.”

This heresy teaches that we should never judge the doctrines or the lifestyles of others. Any intelligent Christian who boldly stands in defense of Jesus and gospel in modern America is often condemned by both professing believer and unbeliever as being unkind, unloving, and judgmental. The irony is, of course, that when such a one condemns you for condemning others, they become the very thing they abhor because they are now hypocritically doing the very thing they condemned you for! (Matthew 7:1-5) Thus, if such people really believe it is wrong to judge others, then why are they judging you?

The typical neutering technique used by both the secular and sacred world in an effort to stanch Christianity is the promotion of the idea that it is wrong to ridicule, mock, or scorn false religions, false prophets, apostates, and infidels. Indeed, the only heresy that political correctness allows is the heresy of calling anything whatsoever a heresy. Political correctness in this context intimates that that one commits the supreme evil of offending people simply when they hurt their feelings. Thus, if you say anything that hurts the feelings of a false prophet, his followers, or a hardened infidel, you have committed the unforgivable sin according to the gospel of political correctness. This idea is so methodically ingrained in people today that they assume that the use of humor, scorn, and mockery is a vice. But according to the Christian worldview, this assumption itself is wrong and unbiblical.

If we are to honor God by heeding to the Scriptures, we will find that the use of humor, ridicule, and scorn to mock false religion is a virtue and not a vice. It is one of the works of Yahweh and was practiced by the prophets and apostles. The Church Fathers and Reformers frequently used scorn and ridicule to mock the heresies of their day, especially since they were not neutered by the political correctness of most church leaders today. They commanded the allegiance of brave men and women because they were not wimps who cowered under the squeeze and pressure of the world-system. So, it is high time to take a brief look at the Scriptures to see how Yahweh and His prophets often responded to false prophets and hardened infidels.

Yahweh Himself often mocks, scorns, and ridicules the absurd attempts of the heathen to overthrow His sovereignty.

NAU Psalm 2:4 He who sits in the heavens laughs, The Lord scoffs at them.

NAU Psalm 37:13 The Lord laughs at him, For He sees his day is coming.

NAU Psalm 59:8 But You, O LORD, laugh at them; You scoff at all the nations.

If mockery and ridicule are wrong, then Yahweh Himself is guilty of sin. But the Holy One hates false religion and ridicules it as “stupid” in Jeremiah 10:8,

NAU Jeremiah 10:8 But they are altogether stupid and foolish In their discipline of delusion-- their idol is wood!

NAU Proverbs 1:26 I will also laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your dread comes,

But a politically correct religious interlocutor may argue, “Even though God can mock and ridicule, surely it is still sinful for sinful humans to do so.” However, Psalm 52:6 says, “The righteous . . . shall mock him [the wicked one]. And that is exactly what Elijah the prophet did on Mt. Carmel as he opposed the false prophets of Baal, It came about at noon, that Elijah mocked them(1 Kings 18:27). The popular NET Bible footnote states at verse 27,

Elijah’s sarcastic proposals would have been especially offensive and irritating to Baal’s prophets, for they believed Baal was imprisoned in the underworld as death’s captive during this time of drought. Elijah’s apparent ignorance of their theology is probably designed for dramatic effect; indeed the suggestion that Baal is away on a trip or deep in sleep comes precariously close to the truth as viewed by the prophets.[2]

So, Elijah was playing upon an inherent doctrinal weakness within Baalism and mockingly using it as rough rhetorical sandpaper to rub the already sore wound of an impotent false god. Similarly, when one looks at the Old Testament prophets, they all mocked and ridiculed the wicked to a man. This is why they were often murdered, severely persecuted, and/or generally hated by the unregenerate Israelites. Amos surely “hurt the feelings” of people when he mocked them by saying “Hear this word, you cows of Bashan who are on the mountain of Samaria, Who oppress the poor, who crush the needy, Who say to your husbands, "Bring now, that we may drink!” (Amos 4:1)

In case some of you may think that Spirit-inspired mockery is an Old Testament phenomenon, when we turn to the New Covenant Scriptures, what do we find therein? The prolegomena of the gospel comes via John the Baptist, a man who no doubt “hurt people’s feelings” when he called them a “brood of snakes” and warned them of the wrath to come (Luke 3:7). Then comes the supposedly mild-mannered, politically correct, and limp-wristed Jesus, who, if the secular world would have their way with Him, would be portrayed as nothing more than a long-haired, limp-wristed Robert-Schulleresque hippie from Southern California. Nevertheless, this “sweet and lovely” Jesus aggressively and frequently mocked the Pharisees and Sadducees to such an extent that they became so infuriated that they tried to murder Him on several occasions. For an example of Christ’s scorching mockery of these religious unbelievers, simply look at the following verses from Matthew 23,

NAU Matthew 23:15 "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you travel around on sea and land to make one proselyte; and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves.

NAU Matthew 23:25-33 "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside they are full of robbery and self-indulgence. 26 "You blind Pharisee, first clean the inside of the cup and of the dish, so that the outside of it may become clean also. 27 "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men's bones and all uncleanness. 28 "So you, too, outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness. 29 "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the monuments of the righteous, 30 and say, 'If we had been living in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partners with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.' 31 "So you testify against yourselves, that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. 32 "Fill up, then, the measure of the guilt of your fathers. 33 "You serpents, you brood of vipers, how will you escape the sentence of hell?”

The apostles also scorched the enemies of the gospel with coarse words of mockery and ridicule (cf. 2 Peter 3). Paul even used humor in Gal. 5:12 regarding a joke about male emasculation to ridicule the false teaching of the Galatian legalists.

A Necessary Biblical Balance: Such Scriptural truths described above do not mean that Christians have the prerogative to be rude and offensive to people in general. We are warned from the entire panoply of Scripture not to be mockers and scoffers in our everyday course of life (Pro. 12:16; 14:16-17, 29; 15:1, Jam. 1:19-20, etc.). The use of argumentum ad ridiculum is strictly reserved for the refutation of false religions and the defense of the gospel.[3] A mocking attitude is always wrong when directed against God, the things of God, and Christ’s church. Thus, it is not to be used against fellow Christians. As much as lies within us, give no unnecessary offense except the offense of the cross of Christ as contained in the apostolic kergyma.

Conclusion: If Christians are to be consistent with their own worldview by following in the footsteps of the prophets, the apostles, and even of Jesus Himself, then they cannot buy into the heresy of political correctness that dominates the world today and seeks to neuter an otherwise effective Christian apologetic. Obedience to the Lord via the objective, enscripturated Word is essential. Such an essential obedience will not only effectively mute the inane arguments of the politically correct religious ecumenists who consistently cower in the face of the infidel and the false prophet, but it will also empower the faithful apologist to declare that the Triune Sovereign be true even if it means that at the end of the apologetic day, they will have to say that every man is a liar (Rom. 3:4).



[1] And I can do this in light of the fact that I still have e-copies of them.

[2] http://net.bible.org/bible.php?book=1Ki&chapter=18#n37

[3] For a good discussion regarding 1 Peter 3:15, see here: http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2006/11/i-peter-and-civility.html

34 comments:

  1. Since this topic comes up so much here at Triablogue, I've made a Blog Entry about it here, that I may have to refer to from time to time whenever this topic comes up.

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  2. I'm with Vpltaire on this issue. Cutting humor is one of the best tools for attacking nonsense.....whether it be psychic mediums, astrology, or any of the many "one true faiths".

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  3. ellis i knew voltaire, voltaire was a friend of mine, ellis, you're no voltaire

    you can't even spell his name for goodness sake. He's not Russian you know

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  4. According to Loftus:

    http://debunkingchristianity.blogspot.com/2007/02/on-dealing-with-apostates-like-us.html

    "The same hermeneutics these Christians use to interpret and apply the Bible in dealing with false teachers, was also used to justify southern slavery."

    This is a sloppy comparison, but assuming, for the sake of argument, that the parallel holds, remember that Loftus, as an unbeliever, doesn't regard southern slavery as intrinsically evil.

    "But I maintain that the side that a Christian takes with regard to how to treat false teachers is more likely to be based upon his or her own personality. Hateful, self-righteous, know-it-all, competitive, arrogant and angry people will simply have the strong tendency to interpret the Bible the they do."

    Assuming, for the sake of argument, that this characterization is correct, Loftus doesn't believe that it's intrinsically wrong to be hateful, self-righteous, know-it-all, competitive, arrogant and angry.

    "For this reason, I think these Christians ought to question their own views on the matter, since other Christians disagree, and they seem to have a propensity by their personality to want to adopt this position, anyway. "

    Christians should always be self-reflective and open to criticism. There is, however, a big difference between opinion and argument. The mere fact that someone disagrees with me is not a *reason* to question my views.

    Moreover, Loftus' contention is reversible: if two people disagree, then at least one is wrong, but the mere fact of their disagreement doesn't point in any particular direction as to which side needs to make the adjustment.

    Furthermore, why does Loftus care what one Christian thinks of another? Since when does he value Christian opinion?

    Loftus is unable to live out his secular creed.

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  5. Its cute when christians have to bring up the "but what about you!" card whenever their hypocrisy is shown.

    So, everyone is a hypocrite, and that somehow makes the story of the regenerated Christian exhibiting fruits of the spirit compelling to the doubter.

    haw haw haw!

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  6. Effective humor in this regard enhances the contrast between opposing arguments. When one argument is true, it gives opponents greater opportunity to assent to it - that is if their skin is thick enough and they are inclined to follow truth when they see it, whatever that truth may be.

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  7. Steve said of Loftus's argument:
    ---
    This is a sloppy comparison...
    ---

    Then again, what can one expect from a person who starts off his "argument" with:

    ---
    In the first place these Christians don’t believe there is such a thing as an apostate...
    ---

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  8. Anonymous said:

    "Its cute when christians have to bring up the "but what about you!" card whenever their hypocrisy is shown."

    i) Loftus hasn't "shown" our hypocrisy, and neither have you.

    ii) It would also behoove you to master a few principles of elementary logic, such as arguing with someone on his own grounds.

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  9. anonymous:
    ---
    Its cute when christians have to bring up the "but what about you!" card whenever their hypocrisy is shown.
    ---

    Hmm...

    1. A Christian uses humor, satire, ridicule, etc.

    2. Atheists say: "You can't do that!" while also engaging in said behavior.

    And it's the Christian position that is hypocritical?

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  10. Hey Petey,

    read more closely...

    We're BOTH hypocrites...I just can admit it!

    HAW HAW HAW!!!!

    cretin...

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  11. Cretin said:
    ---
    We're BOTH hypocrites...I just can admit it!
    ---

    Except you're the only one saying it's wrong for Christians to ridicule apostates. Christians can only be hypocritical here if they claim this is wrong and do it anyway. Yet the very article you are commenting in is entitled "The Appropriate Use of Humor and ridicule When Defending the Faith."

    Perhaps you should read more closely.

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  12. PP: "Perhaps you should read more closely."

    I just reviewed the exchange above, and did not see where the anonymous commenter said "it's wrong for Christians to ridicule apostates." He said it's "cute," not "wrong." So, perhaps you, Peter, should read more carefully. But if you don't want to, that's your choice.

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  13. It's never more amusing for me when I see Triabloguers arguing with anonymous people.

    They have a fortress mentality here. Attack and retreat. "Defend the walls!" Throw spears and shoot arrows, but defend the walls!

    Hardly ever do they want to engage in a discussion where we learn from each other. Why? Because they are in defense mode. They can't give an inch lest the walls become breached. There is nothing to learn from atheists anyway. They are all stupid.

    Defend your walls then. Hunker down. Throw some more spears. You have absolute truth, and you know what that is without a doubt. Everyone else is wrong about everything, even others who are fellow Christians.

    Rightness. That's how they view things. Black and white. They are the good guys and everyone else are the bad guys. Thay are the last defenders of the truth, even though the thought hardly ever crosses their mins that according to their own theology it doesn't matter what they do or say.

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  14. Peter Pike,

    Welcome to PWNED-ville!

    haw haw haw!!!

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  15. Even as a Christian, I find myself agreeing with your analysis, John. The Triablogue has long been a bastion not only of "holier-than-thou" but also "smarter-than-thou" condescension. It is a turn-off to believers who, like myself, prefer to extend the olive branch to fellow human beings with a warm and inviting heart. What we find among some brothers and sisters is a hardening of the heart, the very thing they often accuse unbelievers of possessing. This just sharpens the lines of division rather than making any progress toward transcending them. Of course, my sentiments are probably not very welcome to the members of Triablogue, who seem to pride themselves on the many ways they can ridicule those who do not believe precisely as they do. They demand conformity to their way, or they're going to beat you back with a stick. It is most disappointing and at times even embarrassing.

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  16. John W. Loftus said:

    "Thay are the last defenders of the truth, even though the thought hardly ever crosses their mins that according to their own theology it doesn't matter what they do or say."

    Wrong. Calvinism has a doctrine of providence. Second causes. Means to ends.

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  17. Notice that unlike Dusman, who presents a scriptural defense for his position, mcfall simply opines.

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  18. steve, I could quote the words of the apostle Paul to you about how one should speak to others...but you'd simply wave your hands and explain why the apostle wasn't meaning the way YOU are speaking to unbelievers....

    So, Bible or not, you plow ahead with your uncharitable attitude.

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  19. McFall said:

    "Of course, my sentiments are probably not very welcome to the members of Triablogue, who seem to pride themselves on the many ways they can ridicule those who do not believe precisely as they do."

    Can he document this claim? The members of T-blog do not all belong to the same theological tradition.

    What is more, if you mouse over to the blogroll, you will find many different philosophical and theological traditions represented.

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  20. Loftus says,

    "But I maintain that the side that a Christian takes with regard to how to treat false teachers is more likely to be based upon his or her own personality. Hateful, self-righteous, know-it-all, competitive, arrogant and angry people will simply have the strong tendency to interpret the Bible the they do.

    For this reason, I think these Christians ought to question their own views on the matter, since other Christians disagree, and they seem to have a propensity by their personality to want to adopt this position, anyway."

    One could just as easily say that people who are, by nature, "people-pleasers," who fear disapproval from others, and who love the praise of men, are inclined to interpret the Bible in accordance with their wishy-washy personalities.

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  21. jim said:
    ---
    PP: "Perhaps you should read more closely."

    I just reviewed the exchange above, and did not see where the anonymous commenter said "it's wrong for Christians to ridicule apostates."
    ---

    Anonymous didn't just say it was "cute", he also said: "So, everyone is a hypocrite..."

    If his/her claim is that Christians are hypocrites, is it not right to assume that s/he believes Christians do not practice what they preach?


    Loftus said:
    ---
    Hardly ever do they want to engage in a discussion where we learn from each other.
    ---

    Actually, I would love nothing more than to engage in such a discussion, but thus far the atheists haven't demonstrated they have anything worth learning in the realm of theology. Instead, they show that they can't even represent theistic views correctly.

    Loftus said:
    ---
    Rightness. That's how they view things. Black and white.
    ---

    I don't know. That seems so black and white, Loftus. By George, I think you think you're right, and that's just damnable isn't it?


    McFall said:
    ---
    The Triablogue has long been a bastion not only of "holier-than-thou" but also "smarter-than-thou" condescension. It is a turn-off to believers who, like myself, prefer to extend the olive branch to fellow human beings with a warm and inviting heart.
    ---

    1) And yet you still read it.

    2) To everything there is a time and a season. Sometimes the olive branch works. When it comes to apostates, it does not. You are forgetting that apostates are those whom Hebrews 6:6 describes as "crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt." This is the stark truth. Sticking your head in the sand will not make it go away.

    If you notice, Triabloguers do not ridicule those who ask genuine questions. It is only those who are actively engaged in efforts to destroy the faith of others who get treated with the contempt they've invited upon themselves. You don't extend the olive branch to those who would use to to beat you over the head and leave you for dead.

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  22. PP: "thus far the atheists haven't demonstrated they have anything worth learning in the realm of theology"

    Actually, it's not the atheists who need to demonstrate that there is "anything worth learning in the realm of theology." Atheists typically do not promote something called "theology," in case you didn't realize this.

    This is just too funny!

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  23. Pike - It is only those who are actively engaged in efforts to destroy the faith of others who get treated with the contempt they've invited upon themselves.

    Well, at least you admit that you treat some of your readers with contempt. You must have a lot of contempt inside you to dish it out like this.

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  24. cardua said:
    ---
    Actually, it's not the atheists who need to demonstrate that there is "anything worth learning in the realm of theology."
    ---

    You are correct. I mistyped. It was supposed to be "atheology."

    Andy said:
    ---
    Well, at least you admit that you treat some of your readers with contempt.
    ---

    Actually, it has nothing to do with the readers; it's the responders who get the contempt.

    Is this wrong of me? If so, why?

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  25. Pike's Therapist2/23/2007 6:13 PM

    "Is this wrong of me?"

    Admitting that you have a lot of pent-up contempt within you is a good first step to dealing with your problem, Peter. The road to recovery begins with a first step. But it's up to you to continue taking steps on the path to recovery.

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  26. Therapist said:
    ---
    Admitting that you have a lot of pent-up contempt within you is a good first step to dealing with your problem, Peter.
    ---

    Besides being completely irrelevant to everything I've posted above and drawing false inferences, you've also begged the question that it is a "problem" in the first place. I asked: "Is it wrong? If so, why?"

    You haven't answered that. No atheist can.

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  27. Peter,

    Its "wrong" because I have a book, written by "the builder of all" that says it is wrong.

    This book is a direct revelation, plus, "the builder" speaks to my heart.

    Checkmate.

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  28. anonymous said:
    ---
    Its "wrong" because I have a book, written by "the builder of all" that says it is wrong.
    ---

    In other words, you have to stipulate some kind of deity....

    (And no, I don't believe you for a second that you have such a book...but your above response as much as proves you cannot have an intelligible response as an atheist.)

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  29. Mcfall said: Even as a Christian, I find myself agreeing with your analysis, John. The Triablogue has long been a bastion not only of "holier-than-thou" but also "smarter-than-thou" condescension. It is a turn-off to believers who, like myself, prefer to extend the olive branch to fellow human beings with a warm and inviting heart. What we find among some brothers and sisters is a hardening of the heart, the very thing they often accuse unbelievers of possessing. This just sharpens the lines of division rather than making any progress toward transcending them. Of course, my sentiments are probably not very welcome to the members of Triablogue, who seem to pride themselves on the many ways they can ridicule those who do not believe precisely as they do. They demand conformity to their way, or they're going to beat you back with a stick. It is most disappointing and at times even embarrassing.

    WOW! There are reasonable Christians who visit here! That's amazing!

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  30. Peter Pike,

    My "Book of Builder" is real, indeed. Are you asking for EVIDENCE to verify this belief of mine?

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  31. Step aside, anonymous scum.

    MY holy book is the TRUE revelation to humanity. It is written by LordFlim, the all-transcendent super one.

    He has dictated the truth, and I can interpret the hard parts for any who have ears to hear.

    My LordFlim is the ONLY REAL "god" out there...Jehovah, Builder, and other gods are all cheap copies.

    Its in the book, baby!

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  32. The anonymouses prove beyond all doubt that the atheist posters here really don't have any problem whatsoever with ridicule, scorn, mockery, or contempt in the least. Nothing really needs be said beyond that; it is all obvious to those with eyes to see.

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  33. Pike has been PWNED again....sad to see actually.

    If only his version of "god" could be proven against the other versions out there.

    oh well.

    PWNED-ville.

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  34. Suppose you have "fellow Christians" caught up in conspiracy theories and adopting irrational argumentation, while falsely accusing other Christians of slander for disagreeing?

    I'm not sure how you can avoid a harsh tone or a little mockery of such nonsense. They are behaving like enemies of the faith.

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