Dear Russell & Friends,
I’ve cc:ed you on my open letter to Dr. Robert Jeffress, pastor of First Baptist Church Dallas, Texas. For point of reference, I’m responding to his sermon here:
Dear Dr. Jeffress,
My name is Pascal and I am a follower of Christ. I have done so since I was a child, trained by imperfect but godly parents who loved me and taught me to to love scripture. I had not heard your name or seen your face before you chose to address the world in the guise of addressing your congregation. My first impression was that you must be a Republican politician. Red tie. Dark suit. Dour expression with forced smiles. When I searched your name, most posts were from Fox News. First impressions can be illuminating. Malcolm Gladwell would call it a blink. That was type 1 thinking – – a heuristic reflex that recoiled and said – – this man is a Pharisee. In this open letter, let me return to type 2 and carefully respond to what you carelessly constructed.
“As Christians we follow the Bible. We follow the New Testament specifically. You cannot find a verse anywhere in the New Testament that commands us to kill unbelievers.” Jeffress, above: 1:50-
Your polemic was actually very short on the scripture that I love. Let’s go to that scripture to evaluate your words. First:
Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness. James 3:1
Jesus’ brother James is talking to both of us. We both teach. You teach the scripture as a vocation and presumably well for you were called to teach at a powerful church in one of America’s largest cities. By posting on YouTube you are teaching more people than could ever crowd that building and reaching those who would never darken its doors. What about scripture? What does scripture say about itself? Second:
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17
Your assertion that Christians follow the New Testament specifically is constructed in a way that dismisses the Old Testament. As a debater, I understand why you did it. The Old Testament is rife with verses that say exactly what you assert the Qu’ran says. As a believer, I must remind you that our whole story of redemption – – creation, fall, chosen tribe to bless the earth, saviour and much of what we learn about government comes from the Hebrew scriptures – – our Old Testament. Paul, who wrote the precious verses to his young pastor mentee Timothy above, loved scripture and said that it was useful. Christians follow all of scripture. What is scripture useful for? It is useful for one thing I’ve honestly never used it for before – – rebuking error, even from a pastor-politician.
You said that God does not intend man to live without borders and that securing borders is the God-given priority of government. Be careful. Using God’s name in vain does not only mean swearing. It means speaking for him without sufficient study and respect. A false prophet uses God’s name in vain. In support of your argument you quoted this:
From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. Acts 17:26
Paul was speaking in Athens on Mars Hill to believers in all current faiths, including those who believed in no God. To read the words in context belies your thesis. What does scripture say that God intends for the people of the world?
After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. Rev 7:9
At the outset of your speech, a version of which I expect to see at the Republican National Convention for which you were auditioning, Christ-following was constrained – – even reduced – – to the New Testament. False. Scripture rebukes you. That allowed you to conclude that Donald Trump was right. Shame on you. What does scripture say about refugees and immigrants? Again and again – – it says this:
When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them. The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the Lord your God. Lev 19:33-34
I realize your position. You are an elder. I recognize that scripture warns me to take accusations against an elder very seriously and to do so only in the presence of other mature believers. That is why this letter is as open as the video that you posted.
You are wrong. You have misrepresented scripture and handled it poorly. You have used your pulpit for politics. Change. Bring back the prophecy of truth telling, not punditry. Go back to the full counsel of scripture. Repent (turn around) and pray for God to humble your heart. He will if you ask. I’ve been there and he’s forgiven me of my foolish pride too.
Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. 2 Tim 2:15
Pascal – – 1:16