Jan 19, 2007

A precursory comment on cussing


This is a response to a blog post and the discussion (http://www.challies.com/archives/002318.php) regarding where, in the course of a dis’cuss’ion, a very esteemed and influential pastor, John Piper, said something to the effect, “sometimes God just kicks our asses” – and the fact that he vigorously apologized and a well known, respected theologian, Wayne Grudem, responded as well; weighing in on all the reasons why saying “ass” in a sermon – and not meaning a donkey – was inappropriate. So many people were completely agh’ass’t. Umm – well, hell, I sure wasn’t. Here is why…

I understand and appreciate all the things that have been said about this issue. I also understand and appreciate all the scripture that is also referenced. But as I was reading through the various conversations revolving around the three letter word that Piper used, a term kept coming to mind, a term that J. Gresham Machen was often heard to say in regards to Prohibition: Overblown Pietism. It is one thing to walk in pietism – but can it in fact be overblown? I am willing to stake out the position that it in fact can be – and truthfully often is.

At one point in time I was an adamant prohibitionist in regards to alcohol consumption. A natural disposition towards sincere scriptural study, over a period of time, forced me to believe the whole notion was a theological house of cards. I slowly reversed myself and have had a somewhat Saul/Paul conversion on the issue. I have adamant tendencies to theologically grill/excavate those who still hold to that position; but I am digressing. Needless to say I hang out with a great number of Christians who share my own transversal history as well as those who grew up in strong christian households where it was taught that is was always to be used with responsibility but never that is was inherently evil. Those who lack my background are often heard to say: “regarding all of ‘that’ – I just don’t get it”. You have to have been against it to understand why and even how you could be against it. To those who have never been – your contestations are what they are: Overblown Pietism, and they have the utmost accompanying vestiges of spiritual neurosis – so profound that when you see and understand the needless anxiety for what it is in the eyes of those who don’t and have never felt it – not because they were spiritually ignorant but conversely because they were actually brought up spiritually stronger then you – you feel like you need to fall on your knees and say “God forgive me for worrying about things that were important to me but really did not matter that much to those that I really wanted to reach for you”. Profanity might be a huge issue to saints who would purport themselves to sport gilded crowns – but to the rest of the world, they just say “whatever dude”. I know of an individual who makes great mention of the fact that they are a Christian and used to cuss like a sailor until they ‘became a Christian’ – but in the eyes of other people they are derided for other issues that the individual is no doubt spiritually blind to see. Others in this same group of people speak much more highly of another individual who’s life actually reflects more Christ-like attributes, yet who’s language at times can be somewhat salty. Conventional Christians might judge these two individuals one way – but the people who both of these people are trying to reach, judge and esteem them each in markedly different ways. Just food for thought…maybe something even to cuss about.