To whom it may concern:
I have read a few of your questions and answers, as well as layouts of certain topics in worshipping God, and several sins. Everything is very insightful and I appreciate it that you answer straight from the Bible. However, in general, you are very judgmental and do not allow enough for repentance and total forgiveness. God has laid it upon me to let you know that you have no right to be so condemning to sinners who have already repented or are asking your assistance in helping them to repent and be forgiven. You are not serving the love and will of God when you tell people how bad they are when they already know it and are terribly sorry about it.
It is true that several sins and their outcomes are described in the Bible, but to say that there is no way of receiving forgiveness, only death, is unchristian. Christ has died for all our sins and even the worst sin can be washed away with his blood if you only repent and accept Him as your Savior.
I will pray for your church and this site and believe that you will be able to work on this. Do you not want to help people to become and stay believers? Why accentuate their sins up to the point where you make them want to give up and stay sinners? Nobody on earth is holy and nobody has the right to cast stones. Please, when people ask you for help, don’t go off at the length of how sinful they are, stating only a few sentences of how they may be forgiven, if at all.
I'm curious as to where you supposedly found this. I write most of the answers on this site and what you claim and what I know I wrote are two totally different things. When someone talks about a sin they've committed, I do discuss why it is wrong because I know others read the answers. Also, a person cannot make an effective change away from sin without a better understanding of why the sin is wrong. Sometimes a person is sorry about sin but does nothing to change, and that also is discussed because sorrow is not repentance.
What I have never said is that there is no way to receive forgiveness. The closest you can get is that there is no way to be forgiven while remaining in sin (II Peter 3:9). You indicate that you accept this truth, so again I'm left wondering why you wish to make false accusations.
I think the saddest part is your lack of understanding regarding the nature of a preacher's job and thinking that you can give advice based solely on your opinion. Notice that you failed to back up your accusations and your points; you only gave your "think so" contrary to I Peter 4:11.
"I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry" (II Timothy 4:1-5).
"Speak these things, exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no one despise you" (Titus 2:15).
Thank you for answering my letter. I appreciate.
I did not state the Bible verses, as I presumed it would be common knowledge to you, as you have then also kindly demonstrated. I also did not make false accusations. As an example of what I tried to say, I take two letters that have been answered on your website.
Here are two women who have both committed adultery, both very sorry and repenting or wanting to repent completely, both asking you what they should do.
Then you answered thoroughly, but very aggressively, in such a way that it caused this woman to write that she felt worse after receiving your answer.
(Please note that both these women talk about 'we'.)
My letter refers to the harshness with which you spoke to woman A, as compared to woman B. To woman B you write explaining, to woman A not. I expect that you will say that it is because woman A was an adulteress more than once. But you could have included the explanation with the harsh scolding to her. The impact would have been the same, but the woman would not have felt so much despair. Both these women needed to be forgiven, but both of them also felt very sorry and sad. All I was asking you, was to deliver the love and forgiveness from God consistently and not write in such a scolding way that it makes people want to give up and maybe rather stay sinners. God is a God of love and kindness. That should be accentuated.
Furthermore, I want to assure you that I definitely do not have a lack of understanding of your job. I know exactly what it is that ministers have to do. You, on the other hand, seem to have a lack of understanding that people seeking the love of God, definitely have no idea what your job is about and frankly don't care. If and when they are looking for God and His forgiveness and understanding, that is what a minister should tell them about, because that is what hope is all about. I, as a Christian, knowing what your job is about, may know why you accentuate the sin so much. Unfortunately, people who struggle with belief, or Christians under the attack of Satan and sin, need to know about forgiveness, mercy, and grace, not about how terrible their sins are. They know that already.
I have grown up with several preachers preaching about the horrors of sin and how we will not go to heaven unless we repent and accept God as a personal Savior. However, they (also believing they do the right thing and believing they know what their job is) did not accentuate the kindness, love, forgiveness, and power of God enough. With that, I saw many people leave the church in despair and dismay. Preachers tend to forget that they do not deal with only saved Christians, but with a lot of hurt souls being attacked by Satan.
My advice does not come solely from myself and is not based on what I think. It comes from what I have seen, experienced, and heard through many years and from many people. I also do not have to name all the Bible verses. You know them by heart. I need not rewrite it.
As you might have noticed, the criticism is given in love and serves only to let you know that harshness does not win over a person. The love and grace of God do. And telling that to people who want to repent, is surely part of a preacher's job. I believe and trust that you and the La Vista Church will keep up the good work. Nobody, however, is above well-meant objective advice, coming from the receiving end of your job.
The reason I request the citation of God's Word is that you demonstrate views contrary to what the Bible teaches. Either I'll learn how it is that you came to the wrong conclusion or you will discover that the Bible doesn't support your position. I do note that you ended your letter stating your source is your own opinions developed from your life. I'm sorry, but such is a poor standard and completely inadequate to hold anyone else to. "Who are you to judge another's servant? To his own master he stands or falls. Indeed, he will be made to stand, for God is able to make him stand. ... But why do you judge your brother? Or why do you show contempt for your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. For it is written: "As I live, says the LORD, Every knee shall bow to Me, And every tongue shall confess to God." So then each of us shall give account of himself to God" (Romans 14:4,10-12).
From what I gather, it isn't the accuracy of the responses that concern you, only your perception of the tone used in the two cases.
I readily admit that I use different styles with different people. "And on some have compassion, making a distinction; but others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire, hating even the garment defiled by the flesh" (Jude 22-23).
Here is what I noted about Woman A, as you styled her:
- She mentioned fooling around with several men. She repented, told her husband, and later did it again.
- While stating it was wrong, she hedged by stating it was with a Christian man, that they had things in common, and that she did it because she loved him. Here is a woman who makes decisions based on personal feelings and not based on what is right or wrong. Even while stating it is wrong, she shades it to indicate that it wasn't completely bad.
- She had sex repeatedly with a man, despite knowing that he was a married man. Thus, the fact that she was contributing to the destruction of another marriage is less important than her personal preferences. Yet she speaks about concern for the harm they both did to innocent spouses. This is a conflict in claims.
- What I particularly took note of was the fact that she was continuing to communicate with the man. This doesn't match the claim that she repented. Repentance is a change in mind and a change in behavior. A person who repents would not continue to have discussions with the person who caused him to sin. One thing Christ tells us to do is pay more attention to what a person does than what they say (Matthew 7:16-20). When statements conflict with actions, the actions are more likely closer to the truth of the matter.
While you feel sorry for the woman because she says she feels worse, I had already noted that her words aren't honest. Though I scolded her for her continued contact with the man she committed adultery with, in her response she indicates that the communication is continuing. Though I told her what she needed to do, she acted as if I hadn't answered her question. I had told her that she needed to truly repent which is much more than feeling sorry that she sinned. I also discussed that when a repentant sinner is forgiven, he needs to move on and not wallow in his past sins. Her false accusation in her response that she feels because of my answer that there is no forgiveness for her only tells me that she is still clinging to her affair. She is sorry in some ways, but she isn't going to fully repent and stop talking with this man.
Woman B hints that her adultery was more due to a reaction to her husband's unfaithfulness. Unlike Woman A, it wasn't something she would typically consider doing. She does wonder if they both can go to heaven, but there is no hint that communication is continuing. It might be, but I try not to make unwarranted assumptions. For instance, there is no mention of whether the man was married. There is no excusing of what she did. She notes the motivating cause, but she labels it as being stupid.
The answer to both was to work on their marriages, though in Woman B's situation, that isn't likely to be productive. Still, the divorce hasn't gone through, so I assume she has some hope of restoration. In both cases, I did not advise announcing the affair because they claim that the affairs are over (though I have my doubts about Woman A).
But, yes, the tone was different because what was written indicated that different approaches were needed. That you wouldn't have handled them in the way I did doesn't make a bit of difference. Nor does your personal preference indicate that the two approaches violated the teachings of God. As I pointed out, you originally claimed that I told someone she couldn't be saved. You proved your claim was false.
As you read through the gospels you'll find that Jesus used a variety of responses with people and sometimes the responses were quite harsh. Consider John's response to the Pharisees who came to see him: "But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, "Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance, and do not think to say to yourselves, 'We have Abraham as our father.' For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones" (Matthew 3:7-9). In the view you expressed, you would claim that John was wrong. God indicates that John was right.
Thank you for the explanation of the two example cases. I now understand your different approaches and agree.