Misrepresentations

“People understand me so poorly that they don’t even understand my complaint about them not understanding me.”

~ Kierkegaard

It’s common courtesy in the academic world to send a manuscript which critiques someone else’s work to the author of that work before the manuscripts is published and circulated (via a blog, magazine article, or book).

The reason is simple. Intellectual honesty demands accuracy in the critique. It’s important to truthfully and fairly represent someone’s work when critiquing it. Without such, straw-man arguments get passed off as honest critiques. This breeds the misrepresentation of a person’s work (which is largely exacerbated by the Internet, which is noted for making misinformation viral).

One of the lessons God has taught me is that He sovereignly uses misrepresentation for His own purposes. It’s yet another case of God doing what He’s so good at – writing straight with crooked lines.

So if you are an author who is breaking with status quo thinking or practice, you would be wise to accept misrepresentations as coming from the hand of your Lord.

Sometimes the Lord uses such misrepresentations to keep certain people from reading a book or hearing a message at a certain time in their lives. Perhaps at those times when they are not ready to receive it.

Other times it’s to humble the person whose work is being misrepresented. Sometimes it’s to give opportunity to demonstrate to others how to accept criticism and unfair critiques, handling them with grace and refusing to attack back or defend oneself.

Still other times it’s to magnify the truth. When a person must resort to misrepresentation and/or ad hominem (personal attacks) to discredit a spiritual statement, it only underscores the truth of that statement.

Last month, an ex-pastor in his 30s visited one of the organic churches I’m presently working with. We had breakfast together, and he told me a fascinating story. He said that when he was serving as a pastor, he kept hearing about Pagan Christianity.

But he was told not to read it, that it was just an attack on Christmas and Easter and other trivial matters. So he had no interest in looking at it.

Yet every time he would pray, strangely, the title kept coming to his mind. Time passed and one day he was at Barnes and Noble. Before entering into the store, he asked God what book he should buy and read (he had done this before – praying about what book to buy and read before entering into a bookstore).

As he walked through the Christian section, he saw Pagan Christianity starring him in the face, and he intuitively knew he should buy it.

Upon reading it, it wasn’t anything like he thought or had heard. There wasn’t a word in it about Christmas or Easter, for example. All told, he said the book changed his life and put him on a brand new journey with the Lord and His ultimate intention.

It’s been about a year when it came to my attention that two authors critiqued my book Pagan Christianity. Unfortunately, neither of these authors came to me or to George Barna before they published their work. Sadly, their work is filled with gross misrepresentations.

Also, as most people now know, Pagan Christianity is not a stand-alone book. It’s only “part 1” of the discussion. The follow-up, Reimagining Church, must be read with Pagan to get the whole picture. (Reimagining Church was published well before these two books were released.)

One book is called DEEP CHURCH by Jim Belcher. Tomorrow, I will post an open, honest, and very powerful analysis of Jim Belcher’s book written by a brilliant scholar.

I’ll mention the other book tomorrow and post an analysis of it on Wednesday.

Both analyses are highly educational. They include some great teaching in them. I’m posting them for your education and enjoyment as they touch matters that go far beyond books, misrepresentations, critiques, and reviews.

How have you dealt with misrepresentations of yourself or your work?

facebooktwitterlinkedinmail

Comments

  1. Mark Sequeira says

    I agree that we should, like David, accept criticism with grace. However while authors, teachers, etc. do so, it is critical that we as the body hold these critics up to Biblical standards of love and truth, gossip, rumor-mongering, etc. This is rampant in the body of Christ and is sin, plain and simple. If pastors in adultery must be held to account, so must pastors spreading gossip and slander.

  2. Lee says

    I feel like i’m the last one to the party even though, that will never really be the case for any of us where the truth of Jesus Christ is concerned. I read Mark Driscoll’s so-called critique of Pagan Christianity, well, some and then I couldn’t go on. One thing I really dislike is how people in the IC will not even consider that perhaps we do need to look at the way we’ve been doing things instead of building tradition upon tradition, with little regard to the consequences. Thank you for being obedient to the call, before I read PC, read your blogs knew conversations like this were going on, I thought something was seriously wrong with me and that I was alone in this.

  3. MichaelO says

    Frank is busy making the Pagan Christianity site fireproof from all those flaming missles from the status-quo :)

  4. Michael O. says

    Frankly Frank,
    I am surprised there hasn’t been an International “Pagan Christianity?” book burning at one of the “World Outreach” buildings, or one of those monolithic Evangelical temples by now. It does sort of rain on their proverbial parade.
    Actually if properly digested the triune “Revolution” by Barna, “Pagan Christianity” By you and Barna, and “Reimagining Church” by you, are a much bigger threat to status-quo christianity, than the koran.
    Do you think the Pope, Obama, etc would come to your defense if thy started burning PC?
    Boy, I sure love those three books!
    Set my mind free from christian religion.
    Just thought I would throw that in there with all of the religious/political rhetoric flying around the air waves right now.
    The Vatican, Washington, Nato, UN, beating up on little Dove WOC for burning a couple dozen korans is quite an ironic, pot calling the kettle black exercise.
    Those three books stir the pot much more so and God has you off the radar. Sort of a quiet revolution.
    Pretty humorous in my estimation.

  5. Fiona says

    A past small group leader told me about Pagan Christianity over the phone. I have to laugh out loud because my immediate thought was, ‘oh should I read that?” I had already left the ic earlier in the year. Unknown to me was that my small group leader had been struggling with exactly what I had been and I never knew, but GOD knew and I knew that God had made this book known to me now and I had to read it. Well all I can say is liberating!!
    I was so excited about Organic Church that I attended Threshold 2010 and was blessed to meet Frank. I am now reading Reimagining Church and am praying for God’s provision of an Organic Church.
    Thank you Frank for your courage to write the book that, undoubtedly, God is using to change many lives!

  6. says

    Johnny, I wish I could have condensed all 5 books in the ReChurch series to one volume. But it would have been impossible without losing scores of essential points and properly developing the arguments.

  7. alisonp says

    thank you for putting this out there. i have been struggling myself about people i have talked to about your books and don’t want to have anything to do with them. they just hear something negative about them and then form judgements, although they will never read them for themselves. it’s infuriating. but i need to learn to let these things go as works of God Himself. you’re right. some people are just not ready… but i pray the whole Church will one day wake up.

  8. Farrah says

    This is almost exactly what happened to me before I read “Pagan Christianity”. I had seen it, and had some idea of what it was about, but no one I knew had ever read it. Then, one day the Lord told me to read it. I was going through a difficult transition, and feeling frustrated with the institutional church, so I debated with God for a few weeks telling Him I really didn’t think I needed more fuel added to this fire. Finally, His demand that I read this book became so insistent that I left my office in the middle of the day, drove directly to a bookstore and bought it. I read the book in four days, and it was instant relief. I describe it this way: I learned new things reading “Pagan Christianity”, but more than that, God used it to give language to what He was already teaching me and working out inside of me. Needless to say, my life is changed.

  9. Ron says

    Hey Frank.. that story is full of examples of how God is constantly at work in all of the circumstances of our lives… cirucmstances that He is in control of… Like you implied, it’s not the circumstance so much as it is how we respond to the working of God in those circumstances… not resisting Him. I too am looking forward to hearing what the Lord is saying through both of those
    analyses.. Thanks for sharing them.
    YourBroRon (Missiion BC)

  10. wesleysaunders says

    I enjoy your candor (frankness ;) on how you handle and talk about your personal misrepresentations. It is something that I deal with constantly with family and friends. Most write me off and I never understood why.

    “It’s yet another case of God doing what He’s so good at – writing straight with crooked lines.”

    I luuuuuv how the Lord works. Perfectly put, at least I think.

  11. mark says

    I glanced at Deep Church once b/c the title caught my eye. Looking through a few pages on amazon, it seemed to be more about doing church services better than presenting a “third way” between traditional and emerging. Doesn’t seem to get close to the root of the problem of institutional Christianity. Looking forward to the review.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>