A satire, co-authored with Jared Wilson

Exclusive: In an exciting example of scholarly cross-collaboration and interdisciplinary research, textual critics and archaeologists have just published a translation of a recently discovered first-century letter, apparently authentic, written to the Apostle Paul himself. Scholars believe it was likely written in the late AD 40s or early 50s. The parchment was remarkably well preserved in a jar buried in a cave on the island of Satiricus. It is surmised that the author of the letter, Parodios, was an elder who had met Paul on one of his missionary journeys.

The translation, published here for the first time, reads as follows:


Parodios, a servant of the Lord Jesus Christ, to our brother Paulos.

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Our church recently received a copy of the letter that you sent to the church of Galatia. We hope you will not mind hearing our humble concerns. In the past we have noticed you are more interested in confronting people rather than conversing with them, but we hope you will receive this letter as an invitation to further dialogue.

First of all, we are uncomfortable with your tone throughout the correspondence. We know it is difficult sometimes to discern tone of voice from written communication, but you should keep this in mind as well. One could gather from your careless use of words that you are losing your temper. You certainly sound angry. This is unbecoming a spokesperson for the faith. As you say yourself, one of the manifest fruit of God’s Spirit is gentleness.

Aren’t you being a hypocrite to preach grace but not show it to our Judaizer brothers? They may not worship as you do or emphasize the same teachings you do, but our Lord has “sheep not of this fold,” and there is certainly room within the broader Way for these brothers. Their methodology may differ from yours, but certainly their hearts are in the right place.

You yourself know that our Lord required personal contact when we have a grievance against another. Have you personally contacted any of these men? Have you sat down to reason with them personally? Have you issued a personal invitation? Some of them may even reconsider their viewpoints if you had taken a different tack. We know that your position is likely that public teaching is open to public criticism, but we can do better than what is expected, can’t we?

In one portion of your letter, you indicate you don’t even know these persons! “Whoever he is,” you write. Our dear Paulos, how can you rightly criticize them when you don’t know them? It’s clear you haven’t even read their material, because you never quote them. We implore you to see that they are plainly within the tradition of Moses and of the Prophets. They understand the context of the covenant in ways you appear deaf to.

Similarly, we find your tone and resorting to harsh language not in keeping with the love of Christ. “Foolish Galatians.” “Let him be accursed.” “Emasculate themselves.” Really? Can you not hear yourself? You think this is Christlike? Does this sound like something our Lord would say? Do you think this flippant, outrageous, personal, vindictive manner of speech speaks well of God’s love or the church? It is clear you are taking this way too personally. Indeed, you ask the Galatians if you are now their enemy. Does everything have to be so black and white to you?

Paulos, what will unbelievers think when they read this letter? Do you think this will commend the gospel to them? This kind of harsh language just makes us look like a bunch of angry people. They see we can’t even love each other, and over what? Circumcision? This is a terrible advertisement for God’s love to an unbelieving world. You have given plenty of people permission now to disregard Jesus, if this is what his mouthpieces sound like.

We hope you will reconsider your approach. We know that you catch much more flies with honey than with vinegar. We are concerned that your ill-worded letter signals a divisiveness that threatens to fracture the church. We beg you to reconsider how important these minor issues are, and how in the future you may speak in ways that better reflect God’s love.

The grace—and the love!—of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brother.


It is unknown whether the Apostle Paul actually received and read this letter, and history has left no record of a response.

But we think we can make at least two observations.

First, Paul’s words to the Galatians were not inappropriate. They were true words, and they were loving words. Even if it runs contrary to our presuppositions and expectations, they were an example of “speaking the truth in love.” These words were inspired by the Holy Spirit, so that to critique Paul and his language is ultimately to critique God himself.

Second, this language was not Paul’s default. He did not respond to every controversy in the same way. He would be appalled if people took this letter to the Galatians and made it the norm for Christian discourse. Christians should seek to guard their tongue, using gracious speech seasoned with salt, delivered in love, and designed for edification (Col. 4:6; Eph. 4:15, 25, 29). But false doctrine and false teachers can infiltrate the church, and when the gospel is at stake, the means of being loving, edifying, salt-flavored, grace-filled may require harsh words in order to protect the flock, the church for whom Christ died.

May God give us much wisdom in how to speak the truth in love, especially when we have to call a spade a spade.

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Comments:


179 thoughts on “A Recently Discovered Letter of Critique Written to the Apostle Paul”

  1. Randall Trass says:

    JT,
    Quite the cute play on words!
    Satire and Parody in full dress.
    Gotta watch you guys!
    RT

    1. Bob Gruener says:

      “And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.” 2 Tim. 2:24-26 (ESV)

  2. John says:

    Come on guys,it’s not even April yet!

  3. Man, this is one of those great ideas that you wish you had thought of! Perfect doesn’t do it justice!

  4. Noah Braymen says:

    It’s just a matter of time before this is quoted in a book:^)

  5. Don Sartain says:

    That is absolutely fantastic!! Thank you so much for sharing this.

    How many times though, do we as “spokesperson(s) for the faith” run into the same issue? Being called out as unwisely harsh when speaking out against heresy, or that which distracts people from living missionally.

    I completely agree that to question these words, in the case of Paul, is to question God, as this was certainly divinely inspired through the Holy Spirit. It does provide some comfort though to know that even Paul was met with the same objections that many of us receive today. Just because people are defensive about the tone, doesn’t mean it’s necessarily the wrong one.

    1. Don Sartain says:

      Island of Satiricus…how did I not see that before…thanks for that lesson in humility, probably much needed.

  6. Mrs. JD Darr says:

    Brilliant parody! I loved it!

    I was amazed at the worldly criticism we received when we “chose” to focus on Bell’s heresy, rather than confront the concerns of Libya. It didn’t make sense to the world. But it makes sense to us. People were losing their lives under one evil. Yet the other evil was opening others up to lose their eternal lives. Do not be afraid of who kills the body but cannot touch the soul. Be afraid of Him who can destroy both body and soul in Hell.

    1. Brian says:

      “Rather than confront the concerns of Libya”

      And it is not as if they are able to do much about Libya themselves.

      The only “watching world” that we are supposedly turning off in this Bell debate is the cynical watching world. Practically any news about Bible-believing Christians is another opportunity to turn more cynical. Westboro, the Jihadis, right-wing militias, etc. are to be lumped together with us. The cynical watching world is already turned off. The rest of the watching world really isn’t watching that closely.

    2. Brian Jose says:

      Regarding being able to do much about Libya: As far as I know, there is STILL no national church there — just 3 “international” ones that Gaddafi posts (maybe not any more) armed guards in front of in order to keep Libyans out. So, actually, what any of us who is a church leader can do about Libya is to PREACH to our contented, (usually) middle-class flocks, and instead of blogging about protecting them, we could challenge them with the reality that an entire country is going to the Hell which we are upset about one man apparently denying. So we could do a lot about Libya. We could send our people to live lives that reflect the sacrifice of the cross (yeah, they might die there, in the process of diverting some others from a lost eternity). So — while I don’t know what the “cynical watching world” you refer to meant about the concerns of Libya, if Justin is right about hell (and I think he is), then we ought to be motivated to get to places like Libya, live among the people and proclaim the Gospel to those who have (mostly) never heard. God is shaking the middle east in our day, it appears. As Greg Livingstone (whom Piper appears to admire) suggests, we love Rev 5:9 and 7:9 but don’t like to think about Rev 6:9. So, let’s do something about Libya. This whole debate is sadly Anglo-centric. God isn’t. Are these harsh words? I hope just a little bit.

    3. Andy Alexander says:

      This is a BRILLIANT point! Watch what the other hand is doing. While they draw our attention where they want it, the trick is happening in the other hand.

  7. Eric says:

    I must resort to Internet slang and declare that this is made of win.

  8. casey says:

    I was all excited. :o(

    1. Andrew says:

      Me thricely.

  9. Michael says:

    Brilliant! Reminds me of C.S Lewis and how well he could caricature people’s excuses.

  10. trey says:

    Somebody is going to think this is real and talk about it in an upcoming sermon series. Oh no!

  11. Michael Hochstetler says:

    One of the most refreshing things I’ve heard since the eruption of the Rob Bell controversy.

  12. Jonathan Baird says:

    Charlie Sheen must have written this. *Win*

  13. Luke says:

    LOVE this! Brilliant satire!

    …It does make me wonder, are we ever authorized to use the type of language that Paul uses in Galatians?
    OK, that’s poorly phrased…what I’m really wondering is, how do we know the limits of appropriate and loving discourse? I’ve read several well-written, critical articles about “Love Wins,” but none of them expressed a desire for Rob Bell to emasculate himself. (Not saying they should have.) All of them were far more “respectful” of Bell than Paul is of the Judaizers. Should Bell’s critics have used even stronger language than they did?

    My gut reaction is to respond that there’s nothing necessarily wrong with a more understated reaction than Paul’s, and that we should be hesitant to use such strong language unless we feel the situation demands it. But then, Paul doesn’t strike me as the type of guy who sat around wondering whether he really ought to use a word like “anathema.” I’m not saying his language is carelessly chosen, but he doesn’t seem to have been concerned about offending people with it.

    OK, I’ll quit trying to indecisively answer my own questions and let someone else speak.

    1. Eric says:

      I think the answer is, in the article’s phrase, “When the Gospel is at stake.” For instance, when a professing Christian youth ministry teaches that severe treatment like this is essential to living a Christian life, anyone who believes them will come away with a works-righteousness view. That’s when we need to start shouting “False teaching!”

      In lesser cases, though, that would be overreacting.

      This means we need to be extremely discerning to determine whether something is genuinely essential to the Gospel or whether it’s just one of our sacred cows. Suggested litmus test: If someone believes X, will he as a directly necessary consequence stop believing that salvation is by God’s grace alone?

      (Also, I notice that the article specifically did not mention Rob Bell, yet the majority of the commenters are making that conclusion. Is some hipster preacher asking questions about universalism really the very most serious threat to the Gospel imaginable today? Check the link I gave above of cult-like abuse by professing Christians before you answer!)

      1. travis kaenel says:

        but what if someone starts preaching a message that redefines the Gospel? The Gospel isn’t simply that ‘salvation is by God’s grace alone.’ Mormons will attest to that! Bell is redefining God’s wrath (i’m assuming. i haven’t actually read his book. but seeing how everyone’s recommending Christipher Morgan’s book, which is geared against annihilationism and universalism, i’d say i have a good idea of what Bell’s book is about). When someone wrongly defines God’s Wrath, then they have effectively redefined the Cross, and the means by which sinners can be saved. why not use Paul’s harsh words against Bell, when he is clearly presenting a Wrath that redefines the Gospel?

        1. Eric says:

          How about we wait until we’ve read the book, and then we make up our minds about what it says? :-) There’s other fish in the sea meanwhile.

          To your larger question, I’d be highly wary of staking the entire Gospel on a given theological definition of “Wrath (n.)”. Sure, that’s a part of the biblical picture, and if someone gets it wrong that’s problematic. But if we’re going to contend that salvation hangs on strictly precise definition and understanding of all relevant terms, well, that’s kind of redefining the Gospel right there, isn’t it? I’m not aware of any verse that says “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and have an accurate understanding of Wrath and you shall be saved.”

  14. Tyler says:

    Fantastic parody with a solid message! This will be shared in our Bible study through Galatians.

  15. Jules says:

    The funny/ironic thing is that you probably didn’t have to look too far for examples to create Parodius’ “letter”. I’m guessing you’ve received your share of similar “admonitions”. Great post!

  16. Jon Coutts says:

    Funny. If only the Gospel Coalition were actually pre-canonical early church apostles entrusted to ‘guard the deposit’, then the satire here would have transcended humour and actually might have been helpful. The flippancy of the last couple weeks are not excused simply by the seeming hardness of Paul’s admonitions in some cases. The fact is, in 21st century polarized America, that the brother’s questions have not been heard and his views have been caricatured in order to be castigated. And all the while there doesn’t seem to have been much consideration of a Jerusalem Council approach rather than a Letter to Galatia approach.

    1. a concerned pastor says:

      I love it…a perfect example of love through firm standings by Paul and people are still trying to bash people for refusing to say that universalism might be ok…it pathetic…and whats funny is your comment simply proves the satire of this letter to be correct

      1. Jon Coutts says:

        It does no such thing. This was not a perfect example of what you claim it to be.

  17. Alexander says:

    I am amazed. Parodios reasoning is the same of people that I have had conversations with about the exclusiveness of the truth in the Gospel. If you do not tell, I could have thought that this letter was written by one of those post-modern Christians of today.

  18. Brian says:

    Luke,

    That is a very good question. I suppose the harsh words dealt with false teaches that were already in the churches of Galatia. Harsh language and tone would be called for if someone in our churches or a circle of churches we fellowshipped with preached or taught false doctrine.

    Bell tangentially influences churches sympathetic to the Gospel Coalition mostly likely through the Nooma videos. People show up to church essentially with all sorts of influences from America’s larger cultural Christianity. Though Bell is not a constant influence in many of the churches represented, he still is an influence and should be pointedly responded. I will add he has given us an opportunity to sharpen our doctrine of hell and mostly importantly our practice in response to that doctrine.

    Sometimes conscience and the situation will lead how harsh one will become. But we cannot discount that the apostles and Jesus were at times absolutely withering in their rebukes of their enemies. It will makes one think.

  19. Truth Unites... and Divides says:

    Parody and satire of Liberal mainline Protestants, Liberal Emergers, and Liberal Evangelicals.

    Will they appreciate and take to heart the lesson being taught in this post?

    1. Jon Coutts says:

      There is hope for that, because they actually listen to people who don’t think exactly like them.

      1. Mike says:

        If only that statement had ever been true.

  20. Brian says:

    Jon,

    And what would have been the response of the Jerusalem council to Love Wins? Both sides of the Jerusalem council debate were clear that not everyone will be saved. Both sides were a pretty narrow bunch.

    1. Jon Coutts says:

      We’d have to have a council, or at least hear each other out, before we could answer that. Bell didn’t insist that everyone would be saved. His account of love had ‘hard edges.’ He hasn’t been heard, but was denounced anyway.

      1. Michael says:

        There was already a council dealing with false teaching. It occurred between Eve and Satan. Here was the outcome.

        Satan: The serpent said to the woman, “You surely will not die! [all will be saved!]

        So Eve took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate.

        1. Jon Coutts says:

          Again, Bell is not being heard but equated with Satan. Well done.

          1. Michael says:

            “Has God said?” does sound very similar to this:

            “Will everybody be saved, or will some perish apart from God forever because of their choices?” – Rob Bell

            1. Jon Coutts says:

              That doesn’t sound the same to me at all. Of course, I’m willing to read them in context and consider what Bell is saying long enough to hear some of the nuances. Thus I can disagree with him rather than equate him with the devil himself.

        2. Jon Coutts says:

          Besides, wasn’t the kicker when the serpent convinced them that they could ‘be like God, knowing good and evil’ for themselves?

        3. Kevin Wax says:

          BRilliant comment!

        4. Jim says:

          “There was already a council dealing with false teaching. It occurred between Eve and Satan. Here was the outcome.

          Satan: The serpent said to the woman, “You surely will not die! [all will be saved!]”

          Apparently then, Christ did not defeat death. How sad.

          1. Mike says:

            “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For IF we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.” Rom 6:3-5

            Oh, Christ did definitely defeat death…. for Christians.

      2. Scott says:

        Of course Bell has been heard. He has written a book! How much more heard would you have him be?

        1. Jon Coutts says:

          I mean he hasn’t been heard by the people caricaturing him and denouncing based on those caricatures.

  21. John says:

    1. I’m off just now to alter Wikipedia with this new archeological discovery…

    2. I appreciated the balance at the end of the post, but I think one thing is missing. At some point we have got to come to terms with the apostolic office and our relationship to it. For those like myself who believe that the office is no longer operative, the idea of approaching theology like Paul doesn’t work. What confuses me is that sometimes it seems as if cessationists are most likely to behave like apostles, while denying the office. I’ll have to think about that one more…

    1. Mike says:

      I guess then it’s a shame that Paul said to “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.” (1 Cor 11:1) or we’d be free to accuse everyone who follows any of his examples of wanting to usurp the office of apostle.

      “Are you speak or defending the gospel truth? You need to stop trying to claim apostleship!” How silly. :)

  22. Rob says:

    Point cleverly and well made.
    Hopefully those that lean more heavily to truth than love will not take this as license to use a hammer when a fly swatter will do the job. And hopefully those who have honeyed over the truth with their nuanced understanding of love will here the call back to love grounded in truth. In the end – God wins, and we glorify Him when we live resting in the power and love of the Holy Spirit and speak the truth in love.

  23. What makes you so sure that you are on the side of Paul’s theology? Paul was mad at Peter for excluding the Gentiles from his company in Galatians, right? So, Paul’s righteous anger dealt alot with unjustly excluding people. Your theology seems exclude and alienate people. (Before you refute me, I’ll warn you in advance. I have no patience for longwinded theologies and seven pages of Bible references. I have better things to do with my time than research systematic theology. So speak to me like a 3rd grader please. )

    Another thing, Paul was amazingly measured when he spoke about the wages of carnal living. As far as I can tell, he doesn’t talk about eternal damnation in Galations (ie He doesn’t say that Judiazers will experience billions and billions and billions (plus infinity) of years in a pizza oven for not believing in a bad theology. Instead he says in Galatians 6:6 “Do not be decieived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will form the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.” The converse of eternal life is eternal death. But he doesn’t say that those who live by flesh will reap eternal death. He says they will reap what they sow. In other words he doesn’t scare people with threats of infinity of punishment.

    Your website feels far too empowered in saying that people will experience eternal torment for not believing in Jesus. Maybe you should take a cue from Paul in Galations and say that they will reap what they sow. Let God make the decisions about eternity.

    1. Rob says:

      Honey, you’ll understand when you get to 4th grade and can read words in context and understand abstract thought.

      I mean – read reap what you sow in the biblical context of sowing to the flesh reaps death and destruction. And too, sowing sarcasm will probably cause me to reap it as well – you point is made and demonstrated, your biblical interpretation is still short of historical orthodoxy.

    2. Michael says:

      Rob said, “What makes you so sure that you are on the side of Paul’s theology?”

      “These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power” – 2 Thess. 1:9

      Rob also said, “As far as I can tell, he doesn’t talk about eternal damnation in Galations.”

      I’ve heard of red-letter Christians, but I’ve not heard of “Galatia-letter Christians” before. Paul wrote more letters. God inspired more books.

      1. Fair point. Thanks for pointing out that passage.

        I’m not a “Galatia-letter Christian” I just mention Pauls approach in the letter because the focus of this post is on the controversy in Galatians.

      2. Jon Coutts says:

        2 Thess 1:9 sounds like annihilation to me.

        1. Jared O says:

          Jon, I’m confused how eternal destruction would end. Would it not then be temporal destruction?

          1. Jon Coutts says:

            A temporal destruction would be one measured by the duration of time. An eternal destruction could be meant as a destruction that is binding for eternity. I suppose what you mean is temporary destruction. But in the case that it was final annihilation, i.e., perishing, then it wouldn’t be temporary, but eternal destruction.

            Another way to look at it is to ask how “destruction” could actually last for an infinite duration of time? Wouldn’t that require God’s sustaining hand to keep the punishment from utterly extinguishing the person? In that case would “destruction” be the word for it. “Eternal destruction” almost seems like a purposeful oxymoron meant to stagger us with the qualitative weight of sin.

            I’m not sure where I land on this one, but I do see some force in the annihilationist argument in some of these passages. This is one of them.

    3. I wonder if Justin Taylor would endorse your tone.

      1. Caleb says:

        Since he’d probably agree with the conclusion, the tone doesn’t matter – so JT probably would.

    4. John R. says:

      C’mon, this is just redundant. One parody of the pomo Nice Police is clever, but two is just overdoing it.

    5. Steven says:

      Why bother replying to a person who has such disdain for careful examination of the Scriptures? Talk to me like a third-grader? That is absurd.

  24. Steve Anderson says:

    Guess we’ll need to revise the canon……

  25. Steve Anderson says:

    Guess we’ll need to revise the canon….

  26. Victor says:

    Ha, great post Justin you had me going there for a few seconds. I was really excited, but it’s too good to be true. You make your point loud and clear, thanks.

  27. Ken Berding says:

    Great post. (It’ll be fun to count up in a few days how many sites link to this piece as reporting a real discovery of an actual letter…)

  28. Satiricus was a dead give away. Ha! Today, we face the reality that many do not like to be confronted by Gospel claims for purity and devotion in principles and practices.

  29. Dante Spencer says:

    False teachers attack those who discern (judge) their error and slander us for being unloving. Meanwhile, they have not heard God himself speak with regard to false teachers in 2 Cor 11, the Pastoral Epistles, and in elsewhere. One of the responsibilities of a servant of the word is to confront and expose “insincere liars” (1 Tim 4:2) who want to deceive people and turn them from Christ.

  30. Grant says:

    You’re about a week early. Very well done, though!

  31. Bob says:

    Holier than thou!

  32. Jojo Agot says:

    I could be wrong but it doesn’t sound like an old letter. It lacks the “ancient” feel of the epistles. The presentation of ideas and expressions are too American, too modern. But maybe that’s just the translation?

  33. kristin says:

    Nice parody.

    The only problem with it is that you are essentially equating yourself with Paul–who actually wrote a good chunk of Scripture. Do you think you’ve been given equal authority in your own writings?

    1. Caleb says:

      That’s a great point.

      Also – I love how people justify their own behavior by constructing an incomplete proxy of a hero.

      “Well, Paul did this on occasion so it’s OK for me to come out and blast another Christian.”

    2. Jared Wilson says:

      Kristin, as a contributor to the letter, I would point you back to the concluding note. The point of this “exercise” is not to say that we all have the apostolic authority of Paul, but to point out that using harsh language/tone isn’t necessarily ungodly, as the example of Paul’s letters (to the Galatians and others) demonstrate. If we do believe in the priesthood of the believer, for instance, we can learn from Paul’s example, even if we do not maintain his office.

      Similarly, while the point of Christ’s ministry is not primarily as an “example,” we can surely learn from him how to speak and act without claiming to be perfect ourselves, yes? What I mean is, we shouldn’t give up pursuing Christlikeness simply because none of us are or can be Christ.

      1. Bill Blair says:

        “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.” (1 Cor 11:1) There is your example…

  34. prchrbill says:

    This is brilliant, great parody and sarcasm. A great commentary on current state of the visible church.

  35. Jared Wilson says:

    While it’s not my desire to “defend” what is meant primarily as satire, especially since we were quite certain we’d have people objecting to it, I would only point out that those commenting to say we are using this piece to justify graceless “blasting” of other Christians either skipped the concluding remarks or are ignoring them.

    1. Barry says:

      Jared,

      Most of this I thought was interesting and effective in proving a point (even if it isn’t one I agree with). The only question I have concerns this sentence: “These words were inspired by the Holy Spirit, so that to critique Paul and his language is ultimately to critique God himself.” I realize this is based on the perspective that the Bible is without error or fault, but I wonder if there are any verses you consider to be Paul’s opinion, rather than the inspiration of God?

      1. Jared Wilson says:

        Barry, while I do believe some verses are Paul’s opinions, I don’t believe any of those are only his opinions. What I mean is, because I affirm dual authorship, I believe every verse of Scripture is inspired by God and therefore authoritative. (This does not preclude variety of applications, of course.)

      2. Jared Wilson says:

        Also: I have written a (non-satirical) piece on applying Paul’s use of harsh language for false teachers that is posted on my blog. If Justin will forgive my poaching, you can read it here:
        http://gospeldrivenchurch.blogspot.com/2011/03/necessity-of-harsh-words-for-false.html

        That post explains more straightforwardly my own view on applying what is allowed by Paul’s example in Galatians in gospel-centered ways.

  36. Zac says:

    This article should have concluded with something more then two words eluding to the fact that this whole story is a fabrication. Archeological discoveries can make real waves in the world, false flag “discoveries” invalidate any well meaning message. All that lead up for two bullet points of theology.

    1. Brad says:

      Agree with Zac in full.

      Jared, you said, “…using harsh language/tone isn’t necessarily ungodly, as the example of Paul’s letters (to the Galatians and others) demonstrate. If we do believe in the priesthood of the believer, for instance, we can learn from Paul’s example, even if we do not maintain his office.”

      Why not just say that? Does it not teach far more than this parody? How does this satire equip the saints to respond to untruth with truth and love? You risk teaching less-discerning Christians an example that might not be total truth with love. This borderlines on irresponsible. I get it, it’s funny, but you exhort your audience to take truth seriously… via a parody… Standing for truth is a task that requires great humility, and making light of stances that err on the side of “love” in the “truth with love spectrum” helps no one navigate that challenging balance.

      State truth with love. Define it. Own it. But be very careful you do not publicly make light of people who have a (God-given) passion for seeking to love and edify others first and foremost.

      1. Brad says:

        Jared, saw your link on your response to Barry re: the more serious version of using harsh language. That’s fantastic and definitely more helpful in my opinion….

        1. Jared Wilson says:

          Brad, I appreciate that. Thank you.

      2. Jared Wilson says:

        Why not just say that?

        Many of us have. We have been saying that. This is just another way to do so, attempting also to reveal the illegitimacy of the claim that harsh language for false teaching is always wrong, applying it to Paul’s language itself.
        If this approach was normative for Justin or myself or many of those taking heat for speaking strongly against false teaching you might have a point.

        There’s no accounting for taste, of course. Or senses of humor.

        1. Brad says:

          “If this approach was normative for Justin or myself or many of those taking heat for speaking strongly against false teaching you might have a point.”

          “Normative” is practically irrelevant online. You and I both know that people will take out of context, depict the exception as the normative, and otherwise not hear you for the entirety of your message. Is this wrong? Absolutely. But it’s part of the responsibility of utilizing the medium that we work diligently to prevent as best we can… and this does not seem to qualify.

          Though it sure has gotten a lot of traffic.

          And I really hope that last part wasn’t a jab at my sense of humor or taste (both of which I like to think are at least moderately developed). I’m working to speak truth with love, just as I assume you are.

          1. Jared Wilson says:

            Brad, it was not a jab. It was meant to say that taste for parody is not universal, and neither do all find the same things funny.

            You and I both know that people will take out of context, depict the exception as the normative, and otherwise not hear you for the entirety of your message.

            Those people will do that with any post not to their liking, as they already have with the non-satirical posts on this subject. You have made an argument for not saying anything, not for ruling out particular genres of saying things.

            it’s part of the responsibility of utilizing the medium that we work diligently to prevent as best we can… and this does not seem to qualify.

            Obviously we disagree, and there was serious discussion preceding its posting along these lines. But we also knew not all would receive it well. Your opinion is noted.

            1. Zac says:

              I’m not arguing against one defending their beliefs or their message. I’m fine with the conclusion/message. It was the means of deploying the end message. The “translated letter” seamed contextually accurate and plausible. Honestly, it was written very well to the point I didn’t realize there was something amiss until I started reading the comments. Maybe I’m hyper sensitive after all the fake news casts and articles my church used to churn out when they spun into their end of days cult mode or maybe I’ve been reading too much non-fiction lately to snap out of that genre. Please don’t think that in anyway I’m trying to be destructive with my previous comment.

              1. Zac says:

                Wow, just got de-friended on Facebook for my first comment.

  37. Kevin Hale says:

    Totally duped! Laughing now. Good to know we finally found the manuscripts for 1st Hesitations.

  38. Weird! I opened my sermon on Gal 3:1-5 back in November with a similar “recently discovered letter” responding to Paul’s tone and words!

    http://northbrookbc.org/sermons/101128am.html

  39. sean says:

    Reading these comments have reminded me how many Christians on the internet love to argue. Good…night…some of you all are making my head hurt.

    *Note to self: Read Justins blog, stay away from the comments section.

  40. Tim Dobbins says:

    What a creative way to show all of those who disagree with you that you are right and they are wrong – that is the highest imperative in ministry after all. You’re correct in saying that Paul’s “words were inspired by the Holy Spirit, so that to critique Paul and his language is ultimately to critique God himself.” However, your words were not. In fact I see your words rooted in a selfish desire to (1) prove you are right, (2) show those who have criticized you how wrong they are wrong, (3) amuse yourselves along the way, and (4) hopefully get some web-traffic. This is a shocking display of immaturity by at least one person, a pastor, who is in a position to know better.

    1. Steve says:

      +500 points to Tim for some common sense here.

    2. Dee W says:

      Tim…why respond with personal attacks rather than laying out your own perspective? The writer does not personally attack anyone and is merely illustrating his point. If you think he is incorrect, tell us what you think.

  41. Tony says:

    More of the same: Bite/Devour/Consume. What’s for lunch? Each other.

  42. Steve says:

    I guess can I understand what SOME of the critics of this are saying, however aren’t there better things to do with our time today? For one, there’s some really good teaching being streamed live from the Ligonier Conference. Piper just talked about not wasting our lives – some of this here is “life wasting.”

    Tony: I like your comment. Good point. Although, as I’m reading the comments, it seems that those who have been critical here might say that you’ve made their point.

    Tim: You also make good points, but WOW, it little heavy handed.

    1. Tony says:

      Sadly, I think you are correct.

  43. Really enjoyed this. I wonder if folks have seen the Sacred Sandwich version.

    1. Broken link. Take two: the Sacred Sandwich version.

  44. Brad says:

    To lay a few cards on the table: I personally think “tone” is a secondary issue. It’s often overblown and used by too many as a good reason to dismiss people carte blanche. So I’m all for a good ribbing at our liberal friends, and after all eternity IS on line and the Gospel might just hurt your feelings, and then it might save you!

    But what I don’t get is a paradoy that is so overtly puffed up it defeats the purpose.

    Really, guys? We’re going to play with Scripture and history, even in jest, in order to make a cute point about a little suffering just about what every sincere Christian endures today when they muster the courage to speak frankly about sin, death and hell? Has recent criticism really ramped up to warrant this kind of tactic? This helps us and them….how?

    My issue with this paradoy isn’t about tone, but a clear lack of maturity. C’mon guys, I know March Madness is going on and all, but can’t we leave the locker room stuff for that arena?

  45. Brian says:

    Oh boy, we need to lighten up a bit here. Yes, we need to remember not to waste our lives, but even the serious Piper uses levity time to time.

    Here is another Sacred Sandwich satire:
    http://sacredsandwich.com/archives/8343

    If you look over the last sentences of Jared’s commentary on his satire, he is quite gracious. Don’t buy the non-sense that sharp criticism is somehow unchristlike in and of itself, but do not make the harsh tone your main tone. It is not that hard to figure out why Jared wrote this. Enjoy!

    1. Chelsea says:

      It seems Tim & Jon found it easy to figure out why Jared and Justin wrote this. Criticizing immaturity does not equal over-senstivity. I agree with a lot of what Tim and Jon have written in response to this; and Brad raises a great question, “This helps us and them … how?”

      1. Jared Wilson says:

        Criticizing immaturity does not equal over-senstivity.

        Chelsea, agreed, although I’d add “does not [always] equal.”

        Would you agree that a form of reductio ad absurdum does not always equal immaturity?

        It is meant to helpful in that sense. By applying the logic that harsh words for false teaching is graceless/unbiblical/ungodly/loveless/what-have-you to Paul’s own words, the letter means to show the falsity of that logic. And doing it this way is a means of being more creative about it than simply saying “Nuh-uh; you’re wrong.”

        But we knew full well going in not all would appreciate the approach.
        I am finding the apparent anger a little quizzical, though.

        1. Brad says:

          “Would you agree that a form of reductio ad absurdum does not always equal immaturity?”

          Of course, but that wasn’t the point. The point was you went too far with your ad absurdum and that you were tasteless while doing it. And while I can’t defend the anger in here (Though are we really going to go to tone after all?) I can understand it.

          Think of it this way, and let me inject a cheesy metaphor to boot: Justin, Jared, you were already in the end zone with the whole Rob Bell controversy. So why did you feel it necessary to excessively celebrate and then complain after you got flagged for it?

          1. Jared Wilson says:

            Brad, I didn’t know I was complaining. I thought I was responding to sincere concerns and complaints.

            That we went too far is of course a matter of opinion.

            I never once went about this piece in terms of a celebration of anything. I found the idea clever and the approach creative and thoughtful. So I deny your assertions about my motives and respectfully disagree with your opinions about the success of the piece, but I thank you for giving me opportunities to clarify and explain.

            Peace, brother.

            1. Brad says:

              “So I deny your assertions about my motives….”

              Apologies Jared if I presumed too much but I did note that you have done an awful ot of defending your parody in the meta today.

              I’ll leave it at that…peace back to you.

              1. Jared Wilson says:

                Wow.
                I suppose responding to some of these charges is a bit like trying to answer the ol’ “Have you stopped beating your wife?” whammy. ;-)

                I would not begrudge anyone else the desire to respond to charges of selfcenteredness, arrogance, immaturity, unncessary celebration, and the like. And this is not the first time I’ve been raked over the coals in Justin’s thread. The first time, I tried to respond evenhandedly to all, and found then, as well, people weren’t too keen on my responding; they just wanted to say stuff.

                I will stop responding– er, defending.

              2. Justin Taylor says:

                Jared,

                Thanks for seeking to answer these accusations carefully and patiently. I can attest that I personally felt not an iota of immature locker-room-style triumphalism in doing this. (I thought of possible objections, but this one didn’t even occur to me!) But as you pointed out, even seeking to answer the charge is simply further evidence for some of bad behavior.

                JT

    2. Steve says:

      I was trying to make the same point. Perhaps I should have said, “Some of this (criticism) is life wasting”? Again, to a certain degree I can see where the critics are coming from here, but it seems a little heavy-handed. Like you said, we need to lighten up.

  46. Daniel says:

    sean, I agree. I feel your pain.

  47. Timbo says:

    As satire goes, this is excellent. It is imperative that we stand firm in our defense of the gospel. However, I think an important aspect of this sort of Galatians Defense is missing.

    Paul’s rebuke and harsh tone were justified because Paul himself had taught the gospel to the Galatians and he knew that they had abandoned the gospel that he had taught them. Today, Christians don’t know the gospel because truth is passe in a feelings-based culture. So when we rebuke emerging Christians for their “false gospel” we are in effect telling them that a thing which they’ve never been taught is the truth and that what they’ve been taught is false. This marks a significant departure from what Paul had to do in the midst of Galatian apostasy. A person who has never known the truth is never going to respond favorably to a charge that he or she is abandoning it. I expect that it will further push them into error, which is the wrong tactic for us to take.

  48. alex R says:

    So if one of us recieved a letter speaking the way Paul did to this church, would we not respond critically especially if the letter was so “in our face”?

    i know i would, as would most others who consider themselves to be following the Lord.

  49. alex R says:

    but again…..who knows its legitimacy.

  50. Warren Aldrich says:

    It’s pretty much a given that how you would talk to people 2,000 years ago would be just as effective now so we would ignore the realities of what our culture is like now because we want the justification of acting just like Paul did? Or not.

    1. Griffin Gulledge says:

      Verbage may change, clearly emotions do not.

  51. Great article. Whether it is authentic or not, it sure speaks volumes regarding how those of us are treated when we stand for the truth and call a spade a spade. Re posted it on my blog. Thanks.

  52. Eric says:

    And bunk like this is why Christian “scholarship” isn’t taken seriously. Sham on you for using a lie to promote your agenda. Shall we do evil that grace might abound? God forbid.

  53. Steve says:

    Just for fun, let’s say that Justin and Jared are the worst people on the face of the planet for what they have written here (there’s clearly some sensitivity here, so I guess I should add that I’m not, in anyway, accusing anyone of suggesting that J & J are the worst people on the face of the planet. I’m just saying, for the sake of making my point, let’s assume they are). My question then is this: How has the ensuing conversation been redeeming in any way? If the group of us were sitting in a room together discussing this issue I can almost guarantee no one would be attacking Justin and Jared in the manner that some have today. I suppose the same might be said about JT accusing Rob Bell of being a Universalist; perhaps he wouldn’t have used that language if he had been speaking with Bell face to face (and I think some of you are trying to make that point). This is why blogging, emailing, etc. are such ugly forms of communication. They just bring the out worst in everyone and for some reason cause us to forget that we’re interacting with a fellow brother or sister in Christ. I’m not saying we can’t disagree, I’d just like to think we could do it a different manner than what has been demonstrated here. I think all of us need to rethink how we engage people with whom we disagree. I mean, I’m assuming most us can agree that Bell is off theologically, but to my knowledge Bell hasn’t attacked or rebuked anyone during this controversy. So the guy with the wrong theology ends up looking more Christ-like than those of us who hold a Biblical view? And why? Because we disagree with how fellow brothers have approached the situation? That’s sad. I guess I’ll be transparent and admit that I wish that Piper hadn’t bid Bell farewell; I thought that response was beneath him. I also wish JT would have waited until Bell’s book had been released before rightly arguing that Bell’s view of Hell does indeed appear consistent with Universalism. And I do think the parody above comes across a little flippant and defensive. However, I understand the central point trying to be presented in each instance – that Bell isn’t a teacher who can be trusted and because of his influence those who are in a position to expose him should do so; and that it’s not inappropriate if we they use strong language to do so. That’s really what we need to keep in mind here. Christian brothers, who are theologically sound, are attempting to expose a very popular teacher of God’s word who is misrepresenting a non-negotiable truth of the Christian faith. I wish that’s how this conversation today had unfolded. I also wish those who disagree with J & J’s approach would have said, “Hey, you’re approach is off here and I think you should be more responsible with your words considering that you’re in a position in which many view you as representing all of us (i.e., Reformed), but your thesis is rooted in Biblical truth and I thank you for highlighting that truth.” It just deeply saddens me that someone can throw out a perspective that I think most of us agree is contrary to God’s Word, and then we end up looking and acting like the one’s who don’t know God’s truth because of how we interact with those with whom we disagree (including each other). I don’t know how to redeem the conversation that has taken place here, but I am thankful that none of us have to rely on our works for salvation, because collectively we have demonstrated throughout this firestorm caused by Bell’s book that we are not even close to meeting God’s standard. I’m also more thankful than ever that no one actually reads the stuff I put up on my blog. Peace brothers and sisters.

    1. Griffin Gulledge says:

      Steve, if I may.

      How has this been redeeming? It is an easily applied example of what “tolerance” of false doctrines of God can do to us. If this peace teaches us to identify common verbage of false teachers (which coincidentally is what Bell is, and, yes, I have read the book- twice.), and what an appropriate response to them would be- such as a righteous indignation that is seemingly “angry”, then it has been redeeming.

      Paul suggested castration as a better alternative to false doctrine.
      I concur.
      Redemptive? You decide.

    2. Griffin Gulledge says:

      That is not to mention that you said Bell ends up looking more Christlike because he has not “attacked or rebuked” anyone throughout this whole ordeal; as if being “Christlike” was a matter of being non-confrontational and not rebuking false teachers, as if bad doctrine and a closed mouth is ‘Christlike’.

      There is no grace for wolves. That is clear. Bell has missed the Gospel and is to be deemed, though devastatingly sad to a college student such as myself, as such. Thus, not only was Piper’s farewell warranted and perfectly ok, it was necessary. The man who possibly holds the most weight in Evangelical Christianity has a duty to inform the rest of us about a man who holds weight that is a false teacher.

      After all, who are you to say Justin, Jared, Piper etc are wrong anyway? Surely you emailed them or talked to them face to face before you posted that right? Right? Right?

  54. I thought that this was a legitimate archeological find. Imagine my surprise and disappointment to find out otherwise. Textual criticism is not a parlor game, and neither is archeology. I would have preferred that this point be made without misusing these two fields of research.

  55. Arnaldo says:

    Delwyn – take a chill pill dude. this was freaking hilarious. although i was disappointed because i was fooled!!

    good one @ justin

    1. @ Arnaldo 1. I am not your “dude.” 2. The Holy Spirit in you allows for gutter language?
      To the larger issue: I do not support Mr. Bell’s argument in any way. I also do not play with the truth. As my dad used to say, a half-truth is a whole lie. “Be angry, but sin not.” Sarcasm is usually a weapon of anger used by the powerless to attack the powerful with feigned innocence. While I used it when I was young and unsaved, I stopped when I grew up. It is better to say what I mean, than to leave people wondering what I mean.
      Finally, I hope that I have not offended anyone, but if I have, I would be happy to discuss it.

  56. Robert Cook says:

    Justin & Jared,

    I appreciate what you guys attempted to do in this post, I also appreciate the wit and creativity used. And while I do not agree with the point you are making, I fully believe it was your right to express your opinions as you did, and I enjoyed how you did it. But as I think you can discern in many of the responses, Christians, by and large, simply haven’t matured in love enough (or apparently seem to have an atrophied sense of humor) to handle giving criticism in a way in which can be edifying, unless the point of criticism isn’t to edify, but to tear people down.

    I do agree that harshness has a place in communication, but I have found it most effective when followed by an apology, which usually leads to a dialog rather than debate between two people who have no interest in hearing what the other has to say. Dialog, in my opinion, leads to openess and growth, berating people does not. It is clearly present in the scriptures that even the apostles got it wrong sometimes.

    Look at it like this, in a letter Paul tells of how he rebuked Peter for pulling away from the Gentiles when the bro’s from Jerusalem came to town. Now Paul and Peter were both apostles, both men who knew the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, and both authored New Testament books. Apparently one of them were wrong! And we always side with Paul here! As do I. But the point is, the apostles were men to, and and as such, made mistakes. Whose to say Paul didn’t ere in his critical nature? It was that nature which split him and Barnabas apart, because Paul wasn’t able to minister with a guy who made a few mistakes too, who he later refered to as a great helper in another letter.

    Paul is a great example, sometimes of what to do and sometimes of what not to do. Aside from that, one difference between us and him is that Paul knew what he was saying, we have to figure it out! Currently there are tens of thousands of denominations which all claim to understand Paul through scholarly exegesis, and revelation of the Holy Spirit, and they have tens of thousands of vastly different interpretations!!! So who is correct in correcting whom? Am I saying we can’t know truth? Or than we cannot hold our own convictions? Absolutely not, I just have a hard time believing we can read the bible without reading into it with our already preconceived notions of what truth is. So when we read it, what we read pretty much backs up what we have been told. And I include myself in this. For the most part, do we really believe what we do because we read it in the bible, or because a particular denominational thought first influenced our thinking to the point that the bible can only agree with what we were first taught? Few are the people who have the courage to lay their precious “truths” on the table and say, and willingly let them go in order to know God better and deeper. I really think that a touch of humility and Socratic ignorance would go a long way to eradicating pride of knowledge, which puffs up, and seems to pervade much of American Christianity.

    And lastly, to those of you who responded to Matthew Haleb’s comments, yall are perfect examples of why Christians just aren’t ready for criticism… Name calling? Putting another brother in Christ down so you can simply make yourself feel superior in your own eyes? Really? This is what it means to stand for truth? Do you yourselves know what Paul said that knowledge without love makes nothing more than a hollow clanging instrument? You’re words carry no weight, only noise. This is why love is important, as Jesus said, it is the only thing which causes us to stand apart from others. And it is why Christianity is a joke to most people, we have become nothing but noise makers to them because we are more concerned about being right than we are being Christ. Theology never saved anyone, the apostle Paul wasn’t converted by scriptural correctness, but by an encounter with Jesus Christ. And you are always free to follow Paul’s example, though his example may be one to not follow. Keep being right, keep telling everyone else how wrong they are, keeping putting everyone else down, keep exercising your spiritual gift of correction, and if the universalists aren’t right, you’ll ensure that the only ones who enjoy heaven are the ones who only think as you do, and you may find that you have brought your own hell to heaven.

    (thanks for letting me rant guys)

  57. Truth Unites... and Divides says:

    Here’s a satirical post: Allegedly Serious Allegations Allegedly Alledged.

    This commenter’s comment below reminds me of Justin Taylor and Jared Wilson’s situation and seems somewhat applicable to this thread:

    “I made the mistake of, fairly recently, trying to dialog with [blank] and his followers. I attempted to be kind, gentle in speech, rational and reasoned, expecting that I would be responded to in like kind.

    Instead, it seemed that everything I said caused offense. So I offered apologies. They weren’t enough. …

    He won’t be reasoned with, refuses to entertain the possibility of being in error, turns his head from either correction or rebuke and attacks those who seek to dialog in peace and gentleness. …

    But those who refuse to be reasoned with no longer deserve reasonable responses.”

  58. WhiteStone says:

    If this is “authored” by yourselves (parody, satire), then you should clearly so state. Otherwise this will run the internet as an authentic document. People will take this thing and run with it…as they already have…a friend emailed it to me, thinking it was real.

    Get real. Stay real. And if you wish to lampoon, openly name it so.

    1. Josh Howerton says:

      Chill, bro. I think it’s going to be OK.

    2. I read it to a friend, thinking it was real, then, the deeper that I got into it, the more curious it sounded. I then figured that the translation must have been targeted towards a NLT audience, and looked forward to reading the original Greek. It wasn’t until I got to the comments that I learned that it was a parody. Sorry, my knowledge of geography was nto sufficient to know that the island did not exist.
      Jonathon Swift’s “A Modest Proposal” worked because it was so over the top that no one took it as being a serious suggestion. This was presented in straightterms, and I took it on the level that it was presented, as a genuine discovery.
      As I said before, I have no problem with criticisms directed at Rob Bell,based on teh interviews that he has done. I do have a problem with taking a serious area of scholarship, and using it in this manner without a disclaimer included anywhere in the article (and I don’t count the statement registering uncertainty as to whether Paul ever received the letter as a disclaimer).

      1. Justin Taylor says:

        Sorry, Delwyn. We didn’t intend to mislead, and we could have created a more elaborate backstory and made the translation sound more Greek if we wanted to pull off a hoax. I titled the island SATIRICus and the author PARODIos to indicate the genre. I also indicated that this was co-written with Jared. But I understand if this wasn’t understood and if you found it frustrating. I’ve added at the beginning that this was a satire.

        JT

  59. When I re-read the article, I noticed the italicized statement, “A Satire, co-authored with Jared Wilson.” Was that originally there? If so, I apologize, for I did not see it, and it does precede the body of the text.

    Again, I agree with teh message you are sending, but I just felt uncomfortable with using textual criticism and archeology without proper discolsures, because textual criticism, in particular is often criticized by those who don’t like the current state of affairs regarding the Alexandrian and Byzantine families of the NT text.

  60. Dale says:

    this comment thread is hilarious/unsettling/disturbing/frustrating/confusing/anger-inducing/andfunnyagain….and I didn’t even write the article, so I can only imagine how Justin and Jared feel right now.

    Great job, guys….to those who have a problem with all of this, just log off and go outside…you need some perspective. Rob Bell isn’t the only one allowed to color outside the lines and discuss things in a thought-provoking way, you know

  61. I love satire in defense of truth.

  62. Jose says:

    So are you equating the Judaizer’s false gospel with radical inclusivism or universalism? No doubt universalism is false, but do you put it on the same level as the heresy Galatians responds to? Seems like a problematic comparison?

  63. Elsa says:

    This is a parody of the belief espoused by people like me. After 4 decades of being taught that one may precede a quote of Paul with “God says”, I have decided that such is not correct. Intellecatual honesty dictates that the eternal words from the mouth of God were spoken by Jesus, God incarnate. What is said after Him has to be evaluated according to – not added to – His message. When Paul (Peter, John, etc)line up well with what Jesus said, I listen. When they don’t line up well with what Jesus said, I find it interesting, but I do not ascribe to their words the authority of God, because they do not merit it.

    1. Elsa, what in the words of Christ, the history of the church, or just reasonable inference makes you think that such a hermeneutic will work? My sister, it just doesn’t wash. You can’t pit Peter and Paul and John and the other NT writers against Jesus or Jesus against them. It just won’t work. Your hermeneutic tares apart the unity of the apostolic witness. What is the basis for your “I have decided”?

  64. tired of being arrogant says:

    “These words were inspired by the Holy Spirit, so that to critique Paul and his language is ultimately to critique God himself.”

    Can someone remind me how we know this?
    Do we know if Paul thought this way about his own writings, to the degree that he too believed every sentence/word he wrote was written with “dual authorship?”

  65. It always helps to read the Bible a little bit closer. Jesus quotes the statement of the Psalmist 82:6 as “your law” “the word of God” “scripture”. The passage from Ex.3:6 is cited as God is saying,(Mt.22:31), “the book of Moses,”(Mk.12:26), and as Moses speaking, (Lk.20:37).

  66. Andrew says:

    We should title this letter ’2 Opinions’

  67. Elsa Lopes says:

    My first comment on this thread never made it… maybe this one will. One can always hope, right?

    Could it be possible that Paul’s thorn was exactly his tendency to hijack authority that wasn’t his to take… Or maybe his need to spiritualize cultural opinions? I often wonder… He did not tell us what his thorn was, so speculation is fair game. I say this as I take off my pearl-necklace, untwist my braids, (since my hair is duly long…)and wonder if I can buy a few servants for a good price, who will obey me whether I am nice or mean – with unemployment being high and all… :)Paul and his words are subject to the authority of Christ, and when Christ did not say it, Paul’s opinion is just that: his opinion. By raising Paul’s voice to the level of divine authority we have created a catastrophe of add-ons that bury the shiny nugget of truth. Even the book of Galatians preached 10x over can’t undo that damage… The really hilarious thing about this satire is the fact that it is not funny, because there is so much truth in it. Only the preposterous is truly witty-funny. Whereas in this case, after reading this article, I want to ask you “and your point is…? You think this is funny because…?”.

    But that’s ok. People like me elevate the words of God spoken to Jesus to the level according to which the rest of Scriptures are to be measured. And you do to, to a great extent, since you use your head to leave out a lot of cultural-related mandates. I am not intelligent enough to assume the role of deciding what is a culturally-relevant mandate and what is eternally true. So if Jesus did not bother making it clear, I will not create stumbling blocks by doing it myself. We are all too used to our reformed intellectual brethren treating us like we just-don’t-get-it, so it does not bother me any more. Jesus talked about “complicaters” like them in very unflattering terms, so I won’t have to.

    1. Brian says:

      Elsa,
      How do you know that the words of Jesus are the words of Jesus since they are brought to you by the apostles and their close associates? After all the gospels aren’t Jesus’ memoirs.

  68. Alexander says:

    What is this text called?

    1. Mike says:

      It is called “a satire” as clearly stated at the top.

  69. Dick Wagar says:

    Parodios has some legitimate concerns in his letter. I think it is easy to make a quick judgement call on him without actually understanding what his situation was. So often it is easy to read the New Testament epistles from a third party outsider’s perspective and not view them as letters from a popular missionary and speaker, which is what they were (from an earthly perspective, not referring to their divine inspiration). As I read this letter I found myself agreeing wholeheartedly with Parodios’ comments to Paul (props to Parodios; he is clearly a skilled writer and must have wisely devoted a lot of time to this letter.), and was surprised to learn from a lot of the comments (including within the article itself) that people were maybe even upset by his attitude towards Paul.

    There are a couple things that can be gleaned from this letter. Firstly, Paul was clearly a prominent man in the early church and a frontrunner of the new Christian movement. Parodios was wise to be concerned with the face of this new movement. He indeed wanted Christians to be perceived in the best manner possible, and for all squabbling to cease. These believers lived within an extremely secular society, and they needed to be on guard all the time. Parodios’ aim was novel, and his motivation out of a sincere heart; he wanted to present Christ in a culturally relevant manner, and to promote the gospel in the best possible light. This is something we likewise need to be careful to do in our society today. Secondly, there is the legitimate question of whether or not Parodios himself viewed Paul’s letter to the Galatians as divinely inspired, and to that effect, how does this affect our view of the Pauline epistles? Parodios may have viewed Paul’s writings as inspired and simply had some trouble with some of the harsh tones (much like many Christians do with the Old Testament). Thirdly, it is essential to take into account the writing’s of Paul himself. All sides must always be heard with an open mind. It is clear that Paul does emphasize brotherly love and gentleness within his writings, so is Paul speaking outside of himself here? I think we must also give Paul the benefit of the doubt here because he acts much like a scolding Father, speaking strongly about those things which are seriously important (ie. the gospel [that which is of first importance]). From this we can see why it could be necessary for Paul to speak in the manner in which he did, although it may not have been the most desirable and appealing method. Finally, we need to understand that there will be disagreement among believers. It it perfectly ok to question the Scriptures and to want the clearest understanding possible from them. God wants people who are willing to assess who He is, and see if He is the “real deal” (He that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him). Parodios’ letter is commendable because he strongly challenged a leading figure of the early church to practice what he preached. He did this in love, and with full devotion to the gospel and message of the cross. There will be disagreement and misunderstandings in the church, but we need to learn how to resolve these things and communicate effectively with each other all while having One Focus.

    This manuscript was an excellent find, and an excellent read. The translators did a wonderful job of communicating the message very clearly and fluently into today’s English language. God bless, and keep your eyes upward and on the prize of the high calling! Glory to the one who reigns today and forever!

    1. Mike says:

      Are you being serious? The letter is a satire as clearly labeled at the top of the blog post.

      Or perhaps you are so masterful at satire yourself that I have been befuddled by genius! :) If so, touche!

      1. Dale says:

        i think you’ve been trolled mike….hahah the internet….

      2. Dick Wagar says:

        In all honesty, Mike, I think our church today is far too caught up on the latest buzz within greater Christendom. Far too many base their theology on the latest ideas from “popular” theologians (granted, there are things we can learn from them), and neglect to seek the Theos behind it all. In my mind, the whole Rob Bell situation is completely irrelevant. It is something that shouldn’t even be mentioned. We know the true gospel, why don’t we go out and preach it instead of talking about it what it’s not from our computers? Additionally, I feel that the correlation between Rob Bell’s viewpoint and the plight of Parodios are quite different (Parodios seems like an honest guy who defends the gospel while earnestly seeking answers from Paul, rather than utterly watering down the truth). And Dale, I had to look up what trolling was. Didn’t even know there was such a thing. Fangle-dangled technology. Seek Christ, know God, and make Him known; let’s make that our sole focus. Everything good in Christ!

  70. Scott says:

    Ah, Satirical irony — gotta love it! I hear the words of “Prodius” echoing in the words of many of my peers. Be careful of the words we use — yes. Water down God’s message – no! To name the title of an unispired yet inspiring book of a generation past – the key is BALANCE.

    Thanks.

  71. Interestingly enough, Tim. Keller in his book The Reason for God, identifies irony as one of the means of evangelism used by his church in NYC. Irony is, of course, one of the highest forms of communication, if not the highest. Unfortunately, people like to play games, not discerning a more serious intent hidden in the humor of lightness. We do appreciate the value of this satire as well as those of the Screw Tape Letters and the Great Divorce and others of the genre. Seems appropriate for this the Age of Information. I noted one of my friends, a Psychologist bears his position of insttructor in the field under the label of Education Industry. In other words, education is now an industry. Will the end of it be as with many industries, obsolesence? And will the folks with the power finally wake up to the reality that the only thing you have of value is the very people themselves, and, if we are ever going to win the victory we must begin with the Gospel made for a fallen people. And who can doubt the pwoer of the same to create anew, seeing what it wrought in the American experiment?

  72. TJ Turner says:

    I think you’re right on with this but one thing you say is crucial. Harsh language may need to be used WHEN THE GOSPEL IS AT STAKE.

    The problem is that many reformed people seem to think that harsh language is justified any time any issue of any doctrine is at stake. This is a big part of what leads to the perception of us that has been demonstrated by Rob Bell fans. His seems to be a case where harsh critique is truly needed but it has become so commonplace,when often unjustified, that many Christians are conditioned to react against harsh words in general and thereby won’t hear the critique they need they desperately need.

    1. Warren Aldrich says:

      So where is the Biblical mandate for not following Jesus’ second commandment under which circumstance? Especially when it “seems” necessary?
      And where does it say “they will know we are Christians by our throwing each other under the bus for imagined (or real, for that matter) doctrinal differences.”
      This situation so shows a complete lack of understanding about how to be in Christlike, loving relationship with each other.

      1. ??? We are nowhere commanded to tolerate wolves in sheep’s clothing. In fact we are commanded to reprove false teachers, not support them. Bell’s teachings are false doctrine. His support for the idea that there are other ways to God besides Jesus, that you can reject Jesus in this life, and it’s ok, when the Bible says that the wrath of God remains upon you.

    2. TJ Turner says:

      Warren Jesus’ 2nd command is to love us as he loves us (especially as explained in 1 John). So let’s consider how Jesus loves us. Is it always gentle and soft? Or does Jesus some times love us through discipline and correction? Did Jesus fail his own command in the way he treated the Pharisees or was he rebuking them so that they might come to repentance? What about Paul and the whole point of this blog post? There are times when the loving thing to do is a harsh rebuke. If you actually read my post you’ll see that I argue such times are rare and that we often give a harsh rebuke when it is not justified. Nevertheless there are times in which Jesus would harshly rebuke his own children; some of them even die for disobedience, as Paul tells us.

      1. Brian Jose says:

        TJ — your response also may give some insight into the confusion over this issue that appears to be rampant not only on this blog. It seems the various contributors to the (admittedly few) discussions I’ve read do not agree on whether Rob Bell is one of “us” (as in your observation that ‘Jesus sometimes loves us…’), or is is “Pharisee”, as your next sentence suggests. I don’t see that Jesus treated Peter, for example, like he did the Pharisees. It is perhaps important that we think clearly on this point.

        And are those condemning Bell’s teaching writing to “protect the flock” with harsh words, as so many seem to be saying, or to rebuke Rob Bell? The two are not the same. If these many words are intended as a rebuke in the style of Jesus to the Pharisees, I wonder about the method. Did Jesus ever post written rebukes to Pharisees from a day’s journey away (or more), or, rather did he look them in the eye and speak to them? They often had nothing to say, it seemed, but, on the other hand, Jesus did engage them in conversation, even if with strong words. Or, if the many words being written about Bell’s book are to protect the flock, we surely have to question if this is the best way to do it — it seems the shepherds are spending a lot of time speaking to each other here. I’m not sure who’s being “protected” in most of the discussion. Just today I saw 5 or 6 shepherds in action. (I happen to live in Albania – lots of real, “live in the field with the sheep” shepherds.) I’ve seen hundreds of them at work, I suppose. They spend so much time feeding, leading, guiding, calling, watching and otherwise nurturing their sheep — and I guess occasionally chasing off a wolf. But I’ve never seen any of them shouting at one another about how bad a wolf is, or describing/debating what a wolf looks like. It appears to me that skilled shepherds don’t need to take time to do that. Maybe we all ought to consider what shepherding means.

        I read Romans 1:29-31 and shudder at the evidence of my own depravity — arrogant, boastful, proud, etc etc. I wonder why God spends most of His time wooing me, when He surely has every reason to use harsh words on a daily, hourly, or often more frequent basis. I happen to believe there is a hell, and that not everyone will avoid it, but I bask in grace and want to winsomely demonstrate that. Rob, if you’re reading, let’s talk. I promise not to shout. But I don’t promise not to be strong and clear. In the strong, even harsh, but also tender and intimate, words of Jesus, “Feed (His) sheep”.

        1. TJ Turner says:

          Brian you raise some really good points. Let me respond to a couple specific things.

          The question of whether Rob Bell is still part of “us” or not is one that I’m not comfortable answering. I know that many people say he has strayed outside of what is Christian and I can understand why they do, but I can’t condemn someone who says they trust in Jesus, no matter how wrong I think some of their doctrine is. That being said, though I won’t question his salvation this doesn’t mean he hasn’t become a teacher of false doctrine. I think he has. The pharisees were teachers of false doctrine and, as you pointed out, received harsh rebukes. But the disciples also strayed into false doctrine at times, and also received harsh rebukes. Don’t forget that Jesus called Peter Satan when he tried to rebuke Jesus. That’s pretty harsh if you ask me. So I think you’re right that we have to do our best to distinguish between false teachers who are part of us and those who aren’t and respond accordingly. But this isn’t always as simple as you imply. Believe me, I wish it were. This is particularly true with someone like Bell, who strongly resists giving clear answers about what he believes and teaches.

          The other issue is the Matthew 18 issue that has been repeatedly raised. It’s certainly true that people need to take their issues and confront the person in question. I don’t know whether anyone has done this with Bell or not. But the original article these guys wrote gives more than enough evidence that there are exceptions to this when false doctrine is being spread in the church. Paul condemned false teaching and actions (even Peter’s, by the way) in writings to the church. In the current age when it is even easier for false doctrine to spread we must do this as well. But, as I stated originally we must be more careful in choosing where and when we do this. The frequency with which Christians (particularly reformed christians) use harsh rebukes is one of the reasons so many people are reacting so strongly to it in this case.

          I do agree that we get far to caught up in arguing over theology and should devote our time to our flocks instead. I think if we did that they’d be less susceptible to false teaching in the first place. But those of us in the Presbyterian and reformed camps believe we have a responsibility to help protect other flocks when their shepherds have fallen down on the job (like we would say Paul did). So there is a rational behind it to. So I think part of what we need to do is work on finding the right balance.

          1. TJ Turner says:

            Let me also add that you’re absolutely right that we need to pursue humility as well and remember how fallible we are. And we need to give grace and patience as the Lord does with us (in the spirit of Mathew 18 and the parable of the unforgiving servant). But I don’t think this is in conflict with responding forcefully to false teaching. Again, I think we have to do our best as pastors to follow the examples we have in the scriptures (such as Paul rebuking Peter, John responding to his opponents, Barnabus disagreeing with Paul on Mark, etc) and make sure that our main priority is to shepherd the flock the Lord has entrusted to us.

  73. Pamela says:

    This is so obviously phoney to anyone who has a grasp of our venaculor and who a working knowledge of both the Word and Paul’s times. I think someone should do a thorough investigation to see to what degree fraud has been committed. And, prosecute.

  74. THIS HAS BEEN CLEARLY FROM THE GITGO A SATIRICAL PRODUCTION WHICH ALSO SUCCEEDS, ADMIRABLY, IN IDENTIFYING ONE OF THE PROBLEMS OF OUR GENERATION, NAMELY, THAT OF SELF-RIGHTEOUSNESS AND PRESUMPTION. wE ARE SO SURE WE ARE ALWAYS RIGHT.

  75. Benjamin says:

    Justin,

    I’m disappointed that you choose to use satire as a way to respond to fellow believers who raise concerns regarding the nature and tone of your criticism of Rob Bell. Why not simply respond directly?

    Using satire runs the risk of readers assuming that you are comparing yourself to the apostle Paul, or worse, comparing the issue of eternal punishment with the issue of circumcision (justification by works). Perhaps these two issues are of equal weight for you?

    It’s hard for me to see your post accomplishing much for the kingdom except to puff up those who ‘think that they know anything.’

    I do hope that you will reconsider using this writing device in the future.

    In sincerity,

  76. Jacob Z says:

    This post made me very angry so I have taken a minute to be sure I am not responding in anger.

    This post is awful. It serves as a pat-on-the-back for people who already agree with you while making fun of brothers and sister in Jesus who have done nothing but show concern for you and others.

    Responses like this are ENTIRELY OPPOSITE the attitude and unity we must demonstrate to the world to show that Jesus is risen.

  77. iT IS HARD TO BE BELIEVE PEOPLE TOOK THIS IN ANY OTHER WAY THAN HUMOR AND THE IDEA OF LAUGHING AT OURSELVES FOR BEING RIGHTEOUS OVER-MUCH!

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Justin Taylor


Justin Taylor is senior vice president and publisher for books at Crossway and blogs at Between Two Worlds. You can follow him on Twitter.

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