5 Reasons Christians Need to “Stifle It” (and #6 Will Change Your Life)


I’ve come to the point that I no longer care about what happens in cultural evangelicalism. I walked away from evangelicalism years ago, frustrated with the direction of the movement. I guess this is the natural end point of that walking away.

My leaving, however, is not even a blip on the radar. No one cares. And why should they?

Since I’m pushing rapidly toward geezerdom, I remember the ’70s-era TV show All in the Family. Opinionated loudmouth Archie Bunker would shoot down wife Edith’s insights by telling her to “stifle it.” And people would laugh.

Archie BunkerBut as I look around the Internet, I see plenty of indicators that evangelicals need to take Archie’s advice and stifle it lest they become Archie Bunkers themselves. The Internet has become a gossip-fest, where too many Christians feel compelled to blather on about the latest scandal in the Christian community, whether it’s a real scandal or not. We must let others know just how a mature Christian views such goings on. We must.

I’ve been casually noticing the neo-Calvs cannibalize each other this past summer, culminating in one of their most famous members torn to pieces recently by former friends and supporters. The talk and speculation are crazed. It’s a nonstop train wreck, all of it, and we’re fooling ourselves if we think it makes us stronger.

We’ve become obsessed with celebrity Christians on the national stage, especially pastors, and their rightness or wrongness. We jump into cultural and racial conversations to inject supposedly Christian ideals, only they’re not all that Christian, and their lack of winsomeness makes us look horrible. We comment without facts. We talk without sense. We go on and on spouting myths. half-truths, and outright stupidity. We spew words about situations we know absolutely nothing about, and yet we think we’re worthy of enshrining on a panel for Meet the Press, Christian Edition, because we are so “wise.”

It’s foolishness writ large and in public. And nearly all of it does nothing but dishonor the Lord.

More than at any time in recent memory, I think we American Christians need a real self-check about how opinionated we’ve become. I know that’s an opinion in itself, but nonetheless, I think we would all be better off if we pulled out of all the online discourse and took a couple months off from making sure everyone knows what we think about _______.

One of the reasons that Cerulean Sanctum has been quiet goes beyond just my change in work. A good chunk of it is because I’m disgusted by online discourse. Everyone talks past everyone else, and there is little reasoned discussion. Worse, we seem to be investing huge amounts of emotional energy into conversations that have no Kingdom benefit—none. It’s just windbagdom, and it’s cruel, without love, and pompous to the nth degree.

Did you catch the title of this post? It’s SEO gold—at least the theory of it is. We’re sucked into this kind of thing on the Web, and it doesn’t help the situation. We feel we must comment. If a celebrity Christian’s name is attached, all the better.

Can we stifle it? Please? Does anyone else see how pathetic our discourse has become? Is my expressing my golden words the reason Jesus died? Is it critical to for everyone to know what you or I think about Pastor ________? Or about our government? Or about race relations in some town we’ve never visited? Or who is liberal and who is not? Or our thoughts on the sex lives of celebrities? Or why some actor killed himself? Or? Or? Or…?


Honestly, I’m at a point where I’ve stopped caring. We’re becoming blowhards talking our own smack. Time for all of us to wake up and get a life.

When Christian “Answers” Are Too Simplistic


Many Christians are talking about what it means to be radical for Jesus. You’re either caught in the hellbound grip of the comfortable American Dream, or you give it all up to follow the Lord and therefore gain eternal life as a true disciple.

Alex and Bree are a young couple who read David Platt’s book Radical and decided they could no longer live the complacent hipster lifestyle they’d adopted. They sold their townhouse, quit their jobs as a videogame designer and a florist, and moved to Uganda, where they now serve as missionaries, working in an orphanage.

Rob and Tiffani, on the other hand, go to the same church as Alex and Bree once did. Tiffani works as a paralegal but is saving money to attend law school one day. After work, she holds down a second job as a waitress at an upscale restaurant, where Rob is one of the cooks and has a small vested interest in the restaurant as a limited partner. Both spend most of their day working, collapsing into bed at 10 p.m. each night. Neither has much time for church activities, but they are there in the seats every Sunday morning.

Alex and Bree versus Rob and Tiffani. Which couple is truly radical for Jesus?

What if you knew that Rob and Tiffani are the major dollar donors that make it possible for Alex and Bree to stay in Uganda? What if you knew that Tiffani works her second job solely to ensure that money keeps going to Alex and Bree?

Who is radical for Jesus now?

I don’t know about you, but I’m bored with facile arguments from within the Christian community. Most of the situations we set up to illustrate “Bible truths” are so disconnected from most people’s lives as to be utterly useless. No one can argue against them because they are so simplistic and obvious.

But people’s lives are not so easily measured. And what folks do with those lives is more complex than the simplistic bins we want to file them in.

I think that one reason that Christianity is suffering some losses in the United States is that smart people can see through the oversimplifications we sometimes hold out as “truth” on Sunday mornings. We attempt to take Scripture and shoehorn it into our perception of “genuine Christian living” only to find out that result leaves something to be desired—at least it does for those folks who think hard about implications.

Einstein: Duh!The problem is that not enough Christian leaders think about implications. Doesn’t matter what the topic is, they stay on the surface and then try to sell their biblical solution as the only way.

In the case of Rob and Tiffani, I think a lot of Christian leaders who ascribe to the new radicalism would condemn them  as not being radical enough. But what those leaders never consider is how folks like Rob and Tiffani are the ones who make it possible for others to pursue the kind of radical faith that the leaders hold up as necessary. Such is true in a lot of cases. People living a supposedly “self-centered, American Dream life” wind up funding big chunks of ministry because of the fact they ARE living according to the system. Take away the Robs and Tiffanis of the world, and you get a lot fewer Alexes and Brees as a result.

It’s not just that illustration I raise, either. Thousands of other cases exist that don’t fit our facile arguments of what genuine discipleship and commitment look like in real life.

More than ever, we need Christian leaders who go deeper. Not just deeper in Jesus, but deeper into the complex problems that face modern America.

Because I have to say that we are doing a terrible job communicating the essence of real discipleship to real people. Our answers are too simpleminded and not well considered. Living for Jesus doesn’t just mean handing out food to the homeless. Sometimes it means tackling entire systems of thought and redeeming them in Jesus name. Sadly, because we avoid the tougher problems in favor of the easy ones, our efforts are a figurative Band-Aid on a severed limb, and we pat ourselves on the back for what we label “radical ministry.”

Church, we have to do better. And doing better is going to ask more of us. And what is asked of us is going to be more complex than what we’re hearing from the pulpit on Sundays IF Christian leaders start examining what goes on beneath the veneer of real discipleship.

What is the radical Christian life? It’s not always the Alex and Bree response. Sometimes, it’s asking the harder question and then doing something about it.

The Gong Show–Or When We Christians Don’t Have Enough Sense to Stifle It


I don’t blog as much as I used to. Part of that is because life intrudes more than it once did and age is proving me less adequate to the task of addressing all those intrusions.

But there is another reason: I simply don’t have as much to say. Past posts have addressed—and sometimes even well—the thoughts I felt the Lord wanted me to share. Nowadays, I don’t have that same spiritual prompting to opine on the latest scandal, lack, or cultural sickness.

Most of this increased silence has come about through wisdom. I’ve been more chastened by the vicissitudes of life and by the Lord’s discipline. The angry, young prophet isn’t as angry as he once was. If anything, I feel more compassion for people. They really are, for the most part, sheep without a shepherd.

Still, the Godblogosphere is filled with the opinionated. Amplified YammeringIt’s a sad commentary on our age, but it’s the highly opinionated who get the most site hits. Some writers feel they must contribute their thoughts daily to keep faithful followers faithful and ensure the meager revenue stream keeps flowing. Recently, a well-known Christian blogger felt obligated to opine on the legacy of the not-quite-at-room-temperature-yet Chuck Colson.

I say “had to” because one got the sense that the blogger was struggling with the entire commentary. I suspect that was for a good reason. The resulting blowback wasn’t pretty.

Jesus says this:

“Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise.”
—John 5:19 ESV

I’ve written in the past about the most neglected verses of the Bible (here, here, and probably elsewhere too),  but the above verse is certainly one of the most ignored, particularly in application in the lives of Christians.

The reality of Christianity that sets it apart from all other religions is the inner presence of the Holy Spirit. Christians are to be supernatural people led daily by God, who dwells inside of them, guiding, empowering, and sealing for Heaven.

What should then distinguish the Christian from all other people on earth is the Christian, when confronted with addressing a spiritual need, speaks only what the Spirit says and only when the Spirit says it.

If this is critical to walking in true faith and in proper practice, how is it then that so few Christians ever learn to listen to the Spirit?

As it applies to this topic of speaking/writing, is the Holy Spirit always asking us to comment on this or that? Or is He more often silent (in which case we should be silent as well)?

It is not by coincidence that the Spirit chose the following as the opening of a certain line of thinking by Paul:

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.
—1 Corinthians 13:1 ESV

I believe with my whole heart that the key to being a Christian in 2012 is to do only what the Holy Spirit reveals the Father is doing. This applies to our commentary on life as well. Then we can be assured that what we say is from God and is fittingly gracious.

The plague of the Western Church today is too much talk and not enough walk. We seem to lack even the common sense of pagans when it comes to shutting our traps for a moment. Instead, we feel driven to pontificate on this topic and that. Given how poor much of that pontificating is, I suspect the Holy Spirit has little to do with inspiring it and much more our own inflated sense of importance.