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Posts Tagged ‘Nelus Niemandt’

The Ongoing Discussion with Rev. Guillaume Smit

Posted by Tom Lessing on April 9, 2009

Please read Rev Guillaume Smit’s rebuttal to my previous commentary here.

pharasaical-justificationBearing in mind that you have decided to stop any further discussions with me, I do however want to ask you to bear with me and at least grant me some grace to write a rebuttal to your scathing attack. Perhaps I should start off with your “loving” and “godly” description of my moral fibre.

You use a tactic of divide and intimidate and the spreading of slanderous comments about the integrity of people you disagree with under the guise of protecting the faith. In the mean time you have become an agent of the devil himself.

As a man of the cloth you should know that the only safe way to discern or to arrive at a final and conclusive verdict that someone is an agent of the devil is to consult the Word of God (i.e. the Bible) for it alone gives us a true insight into the character and work of the devil. Yet you categorically refuse to quote from the Bible when you converse with me in writing. You said:

I deliberately refrain from using Scripture references when I write to you. The Bible is not intended to be a proof text for one’s arguments. The Bible is also not intended to be used as a legalistic document viewed as containing only universal laws to be abided [sic]. The Bible is God’s Word, through the testimonies of the faithful believers who wrote it down.

How do you expect to make a fair judgment when someone contravenes our constitution without reading, quoting and referring to the constitution? Any court of law and its judge would be in direct contravention of the law if they refuse the opposing parties and their advocates to study and refer to previous cases? Furthermore, how can you judge me to be an agent of the devil when you yourself declared that the “Bible is not intended to be a proof text for one’s arguments.” This and I really mean “this,” is really and truly one of the most magnanimous enigmas of the emergent fraternity. The other side or the anti-emergent crowd is forbidden to use the Bible as a proof text, but the emergents themselves furtively afford themselves the right to use it as a proof text to identify their critics as agents of the devil. What kind of logical thinking is that?

While we’re on the subject of the law and in our particular case, the copyright law I humbly refer you to the term “Fair Use” which seems to have become an international law for copyrighted material on the internet.

Fair Use

. . . Courts have found that to be “fair” a use has to be transformative and not just reproductive. This means that someone cannot simply start up a blog and upload all the images from the Neiman Marcus website. This would be a merely reproductive use that was not in any way transformative. If, however, you upload select photos from the Neiman Marcus website in order to comment on or criticize the store, products, or even the photograph itself, you are not longer just reproducing the work, you are transforming it. If you are using an image for the following purposes, it is most likely a transformative fair use and not copyright infringement: criticism, comment, news reporting; teaching; scholarship or research; parody. (Emphasis added).

Nonetheless, with due respect to your request to remove your photo form my blog; I have decided to do so unceremoniously, but only on one condition. I will remove your photo from my blog if you remove your slanderous remark that I am an agent of the devil and, in addition, make an official and “Twitter”-like apology on the internet. Like you, I too have copyright on the use of my “picture,” especially when you take into account that the Bible itself provides me with that copyright (As I have already said; only the Bible presents us with a fair an unbiased description of the devil).

In your introductory sentence you said:

It is against my better judgment that I engage in this correspondence with you. I am afraid that you will take what I write and strip it of its original context and use the quote as if itself was what I meant to say.

Okay, I can live with that, only if you would be so kind as to put your gross and slanderous accusation that I am an agent of the devil in the right context for me. If my use of the quote itself distorts and undermines your original intention and the meaning thereof, how would you juggle and mix your original words to prove to me that you intended it to mean something entirely different? Could it be possible that you inadvertently used the word “devil” while you intended to use the word “saint”? This is just another one of the emergent’s magnanimous slight of the hands. When someone quotes you word for word you furtively and ingeniously cry “wrong context, wrong context.” I can only guess where you learnt this wondrous battle cry of defeat. (Does the institution’s name start with a “U” and end with a “P” or is it “U” and “S”?) Be that as it may, you make the most startling and unfounded statements.

For the record: I did not say or even imply in the very slightest that you are a follower of Stephan Joubert’s thoughts, and I can appreciate your innovative thoughts in forging a new missiology (1997) that eventually and quite naturally flowed into the emergent stream, but are your thoughts biblically correct? I have always wondered why people want to deconstruct the old and reconstruct allegedly new ways of presenting the Gospel to a lost world. Isn’t Jesus’ words in Matthew 28 sufficient? —“ All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” If His power on high provides us the ways and means to present His Gospel, why do we need new uncharted ways? Oh! Sorry, I have just overstepped your unwritten law not to quote Scripture in our discussions. What I did say, was that you trusted Stephen Joubert’s testimonial of Rob Bell without examining what Bell says in the light of Scripture. I quoted to you word for word what Rob Bell said in his infamous “Yoga” video, but you conveniently prefer to ignore it. Is your relational philosophy such an overriding impulse that you do not care at all what they say about the Jesus you are claiming to follow and love? What did Jesus mean when He said:

Luke 14:26 If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.

I’m sorry, but I smell a rat and that rat’s name is “relational.” I am all for a loving and right relationship with my brethren but then it must be embedded in the truth as we find it in God’s Word. Any other relationship is forced and disregards God’s truth; it is not genuine and it cannot last because it is built on sand and not the solid rock of truth whose Name is Jesus Christ. There are many other Jesusus, Christs and spirits in our society today and we must make dead sure that we are following the right one.

Rest assured, I wasn’t that concerned about your typo about Rob Bell in your other post. I am more concerned about your false impression of his teachings. Typos will have no effect on your spiritual make-up; wrong doctrines will.

You continued saying:

It seems that your underlying issue is with the New Age Movement. You force remarks from leaders in the Dutch Reformed Church, as well as people associated with the emerging church movement, into a common denominator, by declaring them all to be New Age adherents or worse. There is a saying that goes something like this: If you look for the devil behind every bush, all you will eventually see is the devil. In this process you and Sarel van der Merwe take remarks from its intended context and meaning; you intentionally attack and belittle the integrity of people who sincerely love and serve Jesus Christ; you spread malicious half-truths to the people who read your blog or attend your workshops; you intimidate ministers of religion and other Christian leaders by trying to hijack every meeting where your favourite subject is being discussed or your current enemies are involved. In all this you forget the overarching principle of Christ’s love as the ultimate driving force in Christian dealings. My actual problem is that you consequently accuse everybody associated with the Emerging Church Movement of being deluded by New Age Philosophy, but nowhere do you provide substance to your accusations (i.e. you do not explain why it is new age or how any reasonable reader or listener will be induced into new age philosophy by listening or reading it). You also expect your readers/listeners to know what the true gospel is that you so vociferously defend without putting it forth as alternative to that with which you differ. All I read is biblical verses that you use as support for your own arguments. Please, help me here, what exactly should we preach, in your opinion? Perhaps you could devote a blog post to elaborating on your beliefs and theology? It should be a recurring thing, however, because from time to time newer readers should be able to understand why you think the way you do.

Allow me to correct you on some of your remarks.

  • Love is not the overarching principle and the ultimate driving force in Christian dealings. Let me set it down for you in biblical terms: Love without God’s truth is not the overarching principle and the ultimate force in Christian dealings. Please bear with me while I try to explain this to you in the words of the apostle of love — our beloved John.

3 John 2 and 3: Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth. For I rejoiced greatly, when the brethren came and testified of the truth that is in thee, even as thou walkest in the truth.

Wow brother John, what about love? Jesus taught us to love one another as He loved us. How can you prioritize truth and not love? I’m sure John’s answer would have been more or less the following: “Love can never be divorced from truth, for the simple reason that Jesus Christ is both love and truth. He is the essence of both truth and love. If it were possible to divorce love from truth you would have had to divide Christ into two halves — the one Truth and the other love in which case you would have had two false Christs. That is impossible because love and truth are the indivisible essence of Jesus Christ.” Moreover, without absolute truth there can be no justice. No court of law would ever be in a position to prosecute and bring to justice a criminal without a justice system that is able to distinguish between right and wrong and true and false. And yet you expect God who is the Great Judge of all people to relinquish His right to judge between a black and white situation (right and wrong, true and false). I can assure you that you are no candidate for Rev. Jannie Pelser’s initiative to instil acceptable norms and values in our society. The words “norm” and “value” entail the necessity to distinguish between right and wrong and true and false (black –and-white as you coined it). Your value system can only lead to total chaos. You said:

You do not acknowledge for a single moment your own shortcomings in the way you interpret Scripture, expecting from your readers to accept your interpretation as the one and only single possible reading. From this viewpoint you spend all your time and energy attacking Christian leaders and pastors and thinkers – people who mostly stood up to the challenge of communicating Jesus’ redemption to a group of people who cannot be reached by your way of evangelism or your black-and-white theology anymore. You use a tactic of divide and intimidate and the spreading of slanderous comments about the integrity of people you disagree with under the guise of protecting the faith. In the mean time you have become an agent of the devil himself. When I read the Bible I see that Jesus reserved his most scathing criticism for the Pharisees and rabbis of his time, people who used the Old Testament in exactly the same legalistic way you are doing today with the whole Bible. In stead of attacking Christians who are trying to bring the gospel of Jesus Christ to a increasingly broken generation, why don’t you start spending your considerable energy and knowledge to find ways to help broken, lost and destitute seekers see the light of God’s presence, and the love of Jesus, without judging them?

If you do not accept my interpretation of Scripture you should at least show me where I had misinterpreted it. Neither you nor any other doctors, professors and reverends have ever taken the time to prove to me (from Scripture) that my interpretation is faulty. Nonetheless, you insidiously refuse to quote Scripture to me. How on earth can you prove to me that I am wrong when you refuse to quote the only book that distinguishes justifiably between right and wrong (black-and-white as you put it)? You remind me of Jesus’ words in John 18.

And when he had thus spoken, one of the officers which stood by struck Jesus with the palm of his hand, saying, Answerest thou the high priest so? Jesus answered him, If I have spoken evil, bear witness of the evil: but if well, why smitest thou me?

I wonder who the real Pharisees of today are. Like the officers of the then self-righteous Pharisees they accuse Jesus’ disciples with all kinds of horrendous things but never once  do they take the time to witness (from Scripture) of their evils. Perhaps they are unable to do so because they have rejected the Word of God as the only infallible truth (by cuddling up to the alleged truths in other religions and cultures) and therefore do not know how to distinguish between black and white. Instead they strike the disciples of Jesus with malice and hatred, calling them “agents of the devil.” You were in high spirits and ecstatic with joy when I engrafted your name in the hall of fame, containing the names of Jannie Pelser, Nelus Niemandt and Stephan Joubert. I prefer to be associated with the wonderful Name of Jesus Christ who once said:

Mt 10:25 It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more shall they call them of his household?

  • My underlying issue was not with the New Age, at least as far as my comment on Rev. Jannie Pelser’s programme “Brandpunt” is concerned. Ironically, it was Jannie Pelser who mentioned the New Age as a possible enhancement and enrichment of the truth in the Bible. You may recall that he said:

“Is God’s revelation, God’s work, not bigger than just Christianity? Could there not be elements, could we not learn from one another, even if it had to be the New Age? But when we think of the contemplative . . . a being silent in die presence of God, an opening up to God. Is it not a rewarding moment?”

Have you forgotten that you immediately answered in the affirmative by saying:

“Of course it is a rewarding moment . . . but I also specifically want to say the rewarding moment is that we have the opportunity to engage in a conversation with cultural expressions that enable us to come to a standstill so that we may hear what God wants to say to us in a new and fresh way.”

Jannie Pelser referred to the New Age as one possible avenue Christians may explore to learn more about God’s general revelation and you heartily went along with him. What do you mean by “cultural expressions” and “enable us to come to a standstill?” Do you mean that Christians should learn from Eastern religions prevalent in the New Age, such as meditation, contemplation and silence in order to find new ways for God to speak to them?

You claim to bring the Gospel of Jesus Christ to an increasingly broken generation and advise me to start spending my considerable energy and knowledge to find ways to help broken, lost and destitute seekers see the light of God’s presence, and the love of Jesus, without judging them? You seem to know quite a lot about my evangelical outreach to other people. You’re dead wrong, you will never know anything about me because I prefer to obey Jesus who said that my left hand should never know what my right hand is doing.

Are you sure you are following the real Jesus and bringing His Gospel?

2Co 11:4 For [you seem readily to endure it] if a man comes and preaches another Jesus than the One we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the [Spirit] you [once] received or a different gospel from the one you [then] received and welcomed; you tolerate [all that] well enough!

Should you ever decide to continue your discussion with me, kindly refrain from beginning your comments with “Dear Tom” and rather begin with “Dear agent of the devil.”  That would at least prove to me that you are not hypocritical.

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