Here is a question for those of you who run church websites and/or are church staff: how do you deal with ‘believers’ who courageously ensconced behind a wall of electronic anonymity, hurl threats, commandments, admonishments and ‘exhortations’ at you, your pastor or your congregation?
For example, below is an email that came to my ‘catch-all’ account at redlandbaptist.org because the sender typo’d the pastor’s email address:
This is what God does to His chosen people when they do not glorify HIM.
What do think He is going to do to you and your church if you do not submit to Christ?
Do you REALLY know how CHRIST defines submission? You won’t see this one in seminary!
If you are sure you know, and you ARE in this SUBMISSION, you can praise Him for your obedience. If not, REPENT! REPENT! REPENT! Love, A— D——
While I enjoy a spirited Bible debate as much as the next guy, this is at techBlog so please forgive my ‘theology for dummies‘ … that is, I interpreted A——’s email as an unsolicited admonishment and threat. This is because the quoted portion of Jeremiah 15:1-2 in the original message is not the words of the prophet, but a response of dire consequence from God after Jeremiah pled for mercy regarding the nation of Judah.
So not wanting to be attacked by Babylon, and a bit purturbed over the implication that somehow Mark and/or the members of RBC had set aside real-World ministries such as taking care of the needy, supporting missions and teaching His Word in favor of practicing idolatry, I replied:
Please reply within 48 hours or I’ll be compelled to follow standard procedures for said communications.
Having dealt with spiritually abusive individuals before, I was neither surprised nor angered by the following response:
Instead, I just kept ticking down the “I‘m going to report you” clock in my responses while asking A—— each time to cite specific actions on the part of my pastor or congregation; and to produce two or more witnesses to corroborate any such charges (Matthew 18:15-20).
His reply? For the sake of space, he first tried to correct my view of God’s Grace with an out-of-context snippet from Isaiah 63. When he saw I wasn’t intimidated or deterred in my promise to report him to his ISP, he then cited Paul’s “Lawsuits Against Believers” passages found in 1 Corinthians 6 and demanded this issue be turned over to the moderation of elders within the Church.
Nothing like wanting to have it both ways, huh?
I suspect at this point, some of you are going to say ‘why suffer fools, just block his email address?‘ Don’t worry, I’m going to, but I often react with this big-stick approach for three reasons, all educational:
- convey to the individual their inappropriate use of email;
- solicit and apology and a pledge not to do it again;
- sting them just enough so they think twice about doing the same unto others at other churches.
However, instead of taking Jesus’ advice to settle matters quickly, this guy smugly informed me that he’s sending a hard-copy of our correspondence along with a letter to my pastor via U.S. Snail Mail. Don’t worry folks, I’ve already been assured it will get the attention it richly deserves. I just hope I can get a hold of a copy so I can scan it in and post it as I’m sure ‘it is as much fun to read as it is to eat.‘
Back to Business:
I find myself having to deal with such tripe once or twice a month, I’m curious to know if you do too; and if you have some ideas that we could all effectively employ. So if you don’t mind, how about leaving a comment to one or all of the following questions:
- how would you handle the above situation?
- how do you deal with zealots who instead of putting their energies and resources into something productive, prefer to beat the believers with bad Biblical hermeneutics?
- how do we convey to these cowardly lions that they’re flogging of the faithful over issues of sin is about as useful as preaching to the choir about church attendance?
Leave a comment, tell us a story, render an opinion, I’d like to hear what you have to say.