I’d like to bring you into my struggle with this blog a bit. A few weeks ago, I wrote about some very demeaning statements John MacArthur and Phil Johnson made about Beth Moore. I said their comments were cruel and seemed designed to wound. I still stand by those statements. But here’s the thing. I’m pretty sure I myself was a jackass in my response.

When a person decides to start a blog about being a jackass, one quickly discovers that it’s impossible to point out jackassery without frequently dipping into the very evil one is trying to eradicate. Turns out, that’s Jackass Theology Blogging 101.

If you’ve been around for a minute, you know that Ryan and I have tried to be very confessional throughout. We can clearly see the jackass tendencies in ourselves and in each other, so we try to write about that rather than always pointing out the jackassery we see in the world around us.

But I know we don’t always get it right.

I have re-read my post about John MacArthur many times, and I keep praying through whether or not the things I said were appropriate. Am I calling attention to an example of the ways our pursuit of orthodoxy can become a manifestation of the “works of the flesh” rather than the “fruit of the Spirit”? I think so. Most of you thought so as well. But then some of you saw my post playing into “outrage culture” or “cancel culture.” Were my words any better than the demeaning words I was hoping to call us away from? I honestly don’t know for sure (again, I keep re-reading and am not myself convinced), but I am confident that I didn’t get it all right. I tried to affirm my appreciation for MacArthur’s ministry and tried to use it as a means of calling us on to something better than what he did that one day. I’m sure I botched it. He loves Jesus, and I don’t want to have torn him down. I’m sincerely sorry for the ways my post tore down anything that’s good and belongs to the kingdom of God.

Here’s something I know for sure: I am not God. Jesus would get this blog exactly right at every turn. I know I’m not going to be able to do that. However, I don’t believe that making mistakes is reason enough for burning the whole thing to the ground. Instead, I think it’s a great reminder that I am not God, and that I need to continue to confess and seek him. I absolutely believe that examples of our own jackassery are more powerful than examples of the jackassery in Christian celebrities. My own examples get far fewer clicks, but they’re more meaningful. And prevalent.

I still think it’s worth fighting jackassery. But I know we’ll constantly need to acknowledge the ways it creeps out of our own mouths and actions. Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn helpfully said, “The line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties either – but right through every human heart.” If that’s not true, I don’t know what is. And truly, the line separating jackasses from Spirit-filled people does not pass through theological camps or denominations, but right through every human heart. Including my own. Especially my own.

“The line separating jackasses from Spirit-filled people does not pass through theological camps or denominations, but right through every human heart. Including my own. Especially my own.”

We’re still trying to learn how to expose jackassery and say “that’s not okay” and “that’s not from God” while keeping ourselves unstained from jackassery. I’d love to say that we’ll find the balance at some point, but I know that’s not true. We’re not Jesus, and he’s the only one who completely avoids jackassery. But he’s also the one who heals jackassery, so there’s a lot of hope there.

The reason we’re fighting this battle is because we believe we all need to let go of our petty doctrinal certitude and our need to be right and instead cling to Jesus. And that’s a battle worth fighting. We should expect that along the way we ourselves will need to acknowledge times we’ve co-opted the moral high ground and begun to speak with the voice of the jackass. After all, we need Jesus as much as anyone. He’s the point of it all anyway, and I’m glad for a chance to acknowledge my dependence on him.

Mark has been serving in pastoral roles for over 15 years. After a decade in various teaching and administrative roles at Eternity Bible College, Mark now works with Ryan as an associate pastor in Sacramento, California. His books include Resonate: Enjoying God’s Gift of Music and the New York Times bestseller Multiply: Disciples Making Disciples, which he co-authored with Francis Chan. This site contains affiliate links to products. We may receive a commission for purchases made through these links. There are costs associated with running the blog. These links help to cover overhead.

2 COMMENTS

  1. I was wondering if the blow back and animosity stemming from that MacArthur post frustrating you from posting more. I read it and agree with what you’re saying, but like you a I’m not sure that’s the best way to go about disagreeing, but I’m also not sure what the best way is?
    When dealing with specific people that we feel the need to correct I think I lean heavily into confronting them privately first. Just as I think John should have done with Beth. This seems to make things a little more human, and I think biblical, but maybe not. Obviously when dealing with high profile people that we don’t have access to then maybe we should hold our comments close and to only those that inquire, yet still with the intention of not smearing someone we haven’t conversed with on the subject. For the purposes of this blog that would make things far less entertaining, but it may also be more promoting of the type of unity you are striving for. The question is how long do we stay silent in public? Maybe until every avenue to have the private conversation has been exhausted and the other party is not interested in conversing personally? I don’t have all of the answers, but I think unity in the body can’t be overstated.
    Keep your head up bro, and keep seeking. There’s a lot more grey area than people like to acknowledge.

    • Thanks for this, Seth.

      Yeah, I wrestle with it too. The blowback didn’t really keep me from posting more, that’s just been a function of being in a busy season over here. But I’ve had lots of time to consider.

      I agree on the whole thing about talking to someone privately, but I’m also with you on feeling like there’s a difference when it’s a public person you have no access to. Some have unhelpfully said, “Just go and talk to John about it.” Lol. I have some things to talk to President Trump about too, while I’m at it. I think there’s a difference when something is made into a public conversation. It’s different than just confronting someone who sinned against me. It’s speaking into an issue that has now been brought into a popular level discussion. There’s no privacy to preserve, so to me it doesn’t seem like gossip to acknowledge to others what happened, because they already know about it, or it’s readily available information. But like you, I don’t have the answers for the best way to do it. I just want to avoid being slanderous even when I’m talking about someone who has been slanderous. That’s tough.

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