Thursday, December 9, 2010

cancel the 39 1/2- foot pole

Your brain is full of spiders,

You’ve got garlic in your soul,

Mr. Grinch

Merry Christmas.

Check out this website, courtesy of one of the usual suspects, First Baptist Church in Dallas.

Christians have really developed a subculture of whistleblowers in this country. As evidenced by the website, the gospel is secondary to comfort level.

Their bishop…er…pastor swears that this is a friendly forum where the “Merry Christmas” camp can label businesses that don’t show enough specifically Christmas cheer as being “grinches.”

He also suggests that the church is not responsible for the reviews, since they are submitted. Funny – it says FBC Dallas at the bottom of the page. Their pastor has been on national news to (rather unsuccessfully) explain the intended humor of the site. There’s even a review process each comment must go through before being posted. Claiming no responsibility is ridiculous.

By the way, I submitted FBC Dallas as being a very naughty grinch. My submission is yet to be posted.

At least two of the businesses named have fought back in the local media, the owners of one, a Mexican restaurant, actually responding by professing Christian faith and identifying several charity events they sponsor during the holiday…er…Christmas season.

But they’re still grinches because their employees were instructed to say “Happy Holidays.”

There is an accumulation of things that are wrong with this website, but here are a few that are obvious to me.

First, though the Bible is clear that Christians will be hated, despised and persecuted, it also exhorts Christians to respond with rejoicing, since, when we are despised, we are participating in Christ’s suffering.

In other words, we don’t need to hit back.

Second, Jesus never went about change by political means. To the contrary, he responded to hatred and insult with love, mercy, and grace, instead of a “power over” approach. He could have eliminated his opposition with a single breath, but he didn’t. His example shows us what true Kingdom work is about: a “power under” approach, where we respond to all with grace and love, reflecting the grace and love that we have been shown through Christ.

FBC may have intended it to be fun, but we all know about good intentions.

Third, God does not need us to defend Christmas. That is not Kingdom work. It actually portrays hearts of judgment, distrust, and vengeance. Compiling a list of establishments that offend our righteous indignation and publishing it for the world to see seems to me to be decidedly mean-spirited and sub-Christian. If we are offended, that is okay. If we are made to feel uncomfortable, that is okay. Neither is a hindrance to our faith. I cannot adequately express how grieving this action is to me.

Fourth, this is plain mean. It’s name-calling, pure and simple.

Fifth, other Baptist churches and other evangelical individuals, congregations, and denominations are associated by name with this attitude. Here is brief sample of the comments this story has received on the Dallas Morning News website:

“I just want to go on record as a Christian to say that I do not approve of this at all, and this type of disrespect for non-Christians in not to be tolerated.”

“I would shop at all of the stores on the naughty list. I doubt Jesus would concern himself with this trivial website, but instead be ministering to the homeless, sick and destitute.”

“If you are a Christian, celebrate what Jesus was really about...”

“Funny thing is, these people's heads would explode if one of these businesses dared wish them a happy Hanukkah or a happy Kwanzaa.”

"’Happy Holidays’ is an appropriate greeting, even for Christians, because there's more than one holiday in the Season. In the Christian calendar, we're now in Advent, awaiting the arrival of the Christ child. Christmas runs from December 25 for 12 days, ending on Epiphany, when Christians celebrate the arrival of the Wise Men to the manger.”

“Baptist? Dallas? That about says it all! These folks take themselves way too seriously. Look beyond your noses, people! God is a whole lot bigger than you think.”

I had a professor at Wheaton who said several years ago, “The Southern Baptists have lost their minds.”

Please forgive us.