Apologetics · Christian Living · Culture · Culture & Society

Making It Personal

Many years ago a lady took the time and effort to call me from Canada to protest an article I had posted. She thought I was writing against her husband, whom I have never met. Such is the power of the printed word. People can see their own thoughts and ideas reflected, for good or bad, for praise or censorship.

Like most authors, I enjoy writing about things that are of interest to me. I have found that what is of interest to me is sometimes of interest to others. But, whether or not the topics I address find an audience, I still enjoy writing. I do try to write so as to help everyone, and hurt no one, personally. But that does not mean individuals do not take something written personally and, sometimes, become offended. I am always sorry when people take offense. It is certainly not necessary.

Nevertheless, I will risk offending a casual reader for the privilege of trying to advance the gospel to a worldwide audience. And, in the immortal words of William Lloyd Garrison, “I will be heard!”

As a historical note, Mr. Garrison was the editor of “The Liberator,” a newspaper committed to abolishing slavery. In the inaugural editorial on January 1, 1831, Mr. Garrison stated his proposals for publishing “The Liberator.” Then he concluded with these words.

“I am aware that many object to the severity of my language; but is there not cause for severity?  I will be as harsh as truth, and as uncompromising as justice.  On this subject, I do not wish to think, or to speak, or write, with moderation.  No!  No!  Tell a man whose house is on fire to give a moderate alarm; tell him to moderately rescue his wife from the hands of the ravisher; tell the mother to gradually extricate her babe from the fire into which it has fallen; — but urge me not to use moderation in a cause like the present.  I am in earnest – I will not equivocate — I will not excuse — I will not retreat a single inch — AND I WILL BE HEARD.”

Every Christian writer can appreciate that sentiment. We want to be heard for the glory of God and the good of mankind. I confess that I passionately want to tell others of the sovereignty of God, the free grace of salvation, the bondage of man’s will to sin, and the hope of eternal life. I want to exalt the church, and warn individuals that if they pick up their cross to follow Jesus, they will suffer persecution. Only through much tribulation will Christians enter into the kingdom of God. The people of God must look for the return of Christ, not an imaginary rapture to escape suffering. I want to tell others about a historic faith that is being challenged by a contemporary faith. I want to warn local churches not to abandon their historic confessions of faith, but to contend for the truth once delivered to the saints.

With that being noted, I will also confess that sometimes I do write with a particular person in mind. But, when I write with a particular person in view, I name the individual. A general perusal of the website will reveal that I have invoked the names of Hershel Hobbs, Anne Graham Lotz, Stephen Hawking, Bruce Jenner, Ray Rice, Billy Graham, and many others. I name names when I am being personal. When I do not name an individual, then a reader can be assured I am only addressing an idea, that is of interest to me, in pursuit of the truth.

It is instructive to observe that, in the Bible, we find the apostle Paul, on occasions, named names. Sometimes Paul named an individual in order to warn others. Paul warned the church about a man named Alexander. “Alexander the coppersmith did me much evil: the Lord reward him according to his works” (2 Tim. 4:14). Sometimes Paul wrote in order to correct an individual’s thinking. Paul wrote about confronting Peter personally because the ideas Peter held were beginning to embrace were contrary to the gospel of grace. “But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed” (Gal. 2:11). Paul wanted to tell Peter, and others, not to be led astray by the Judaizers.

On other occasions, Paul merely addressed an idea, or a pressing issue, that was of interest, or concern, to him, without naming names. Paul’s pastoral letters offer many illustrations of dealing with an issue, not someone personally (1 Cor. 7:1, 25; 12:1; 16:1).

Of course, it is my ultimate desire that every visitor to my writings will find something that is useful, and even personal, in the sense that whatever topic is being commented on, will, at the very least, be thought about. In this way the heart matures and grows in grace and in knowledge. Therefore, let every reader make every article personal, but without becoming offended. Convicted, perhaps. Challenged in one’s thinking, only if it applies. Blessed, hopefully. But, always personal.

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