Friday, June 22, 2012

Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you

Some good friends of mine have been continually bullied by two members of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). Teaching elder John Shuck and ruling elder Alan Kiste, are cronies in belittling and vilification. I know how that feels because once they ganged up on me with their vile bile.

But stop and consider, they are simply following the word of God—without intention of course. Jesus promised that his followers would suffer persecution just as he did. Jesus stated that if they had called him Beelzebul they would call his disciples far uglier names. (Mt. 10-25)

Have care, Jesus takes very seriously the harm done to those the Father has given him. In fact, when Paul was on the road to Damascus, eager to jail and kill more Christians, and Jesus stopped him; Jesus’ question wasn’t why are you harming my disciples but why are you harming me. So those awful names and insults are actually flung at Jesus.

John Shuck and Alan Kiste are in reality bullying Jesus. They are throwing hate speech at him.

And I must add that those in leadership who know about the insults and could do something about it, and will not even speak up are also guilty of demeaning Jesus.

"Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad for your reward in heaven is great: for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (Mt. 5:11-12)"

Bonhoeffer wrote of the above verse in his book The Cost of Discipleship. His thoughts include:

“’For my sake’ the disciples are reproached, but because it is for his sake, the reproach falls on him. It is he who bears the guilt. The curse, the deadly persecution and evil slander confirm the blessed state of the disciples in their fellowship with Jesus.”


Anonymous said...

A sad, evil lot of assumptions on the part of John and Alan! They would not understand faith and conscience if it hit them over the head. Instead, they project their own twisted motivations on others. Sick. Sick. Sick.

Jim Berkley
Roslyn, WA

Chris Enoch said...

The persecution is just going to increase. Scoffers like those who you have mentioned are on a roll.

May we continue to pray for them and rejoice in what we have in Jesus Christ.

Christ is not done with us; Indeed Christ might even not be finished with them.

God bless you Viola.

Chris Enoch
Uniontown, PA

will spotts said...

The behavior you describe is just childish and pitiable.

The sad part (from a communication standpoint) is that there is genuine misunderstanding of theological conservatives by many moderates and progressives. [The reverse is sometimes true, as well, of course.] I'm not saying these groups would not draw opposite conclusions, or that they would even like one another.

But the type of behavior you mention merely serves to prevent that genuine conversation.

will spotts said...

In truth, I've always felt bad about one of the people you referenced, because - while I meant no personal harm to him - he had some reason to act the way he as acted toward me.

I think I expected to be able to oppose his public statements without it being taken personally. [I regarded them as incompatible with historic and biblical Christianity.] But that was naive of me.

The truth is, I still regard the statements that way, but I probably should have approached that differently.

Anonymous said...

I don't know why it is but every time I read a posting by John Shuck I think of His Excellency Global Community Potentate Nicolae Carpathia in the Left Behind series.

Jodie said...

Frankly, considering that there really is persecution of Christians in the world, men and women who are condemned to death and killed by stoning or beheading for the crime of acknowledging Jesus Christ as the Son of God, Lord and Savior, this is way over stating your position. Just saying.

Jodie Gallo

Viola Larson said...

A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a slave above his master. It is enough for the disciple that he become like his teacher, and the slave like his master. If they have called the head of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign the members of his household! (Matthew 10:24-25)

God comfort, help and sustain those Christians who in so many other parts of the world are being horribly persecuted. Our prayers should be with them always. There have been more Christians killed in this and the last century than in all the other centuries taken together. We are not allowed to forget them or in any way compare ourselves to them.

However, the truth is the truth and it cannot be hid away. According to Jesus if you read the whole chapter calling Christians names because of their faithful stand is persecution. John Shuck and Alan Kiste are persecuting Christians and despite the little poem about sticks and stones, words do hurt. They are without excuse.

Jodie said...

They are suffering a fair bit of persecution themselves, then. But compared to real persecution, this stuff is just a lover's quarrel. IMHO.

In the mean time, maybe we should be asking what we can do to help our brothers and sisters who are truly suffering for their faith?

Viola Larson said...

Jodie you are trying to change the subject of my post. Do not comment on this particular posting again. It is too important to me.

Doug Hagler said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Doug Hagler said...

Sorry -

Doug Hagler
Columbia, MO

Doug Hagler said...

I need to clarify - I think that John has done some conservative-baiting in the past, and for me personally that falls into the category of bullying. I say that because I have bullied, and that's one way I did it.

To be clear, though, I think John gets FAR worse than he gives back. The guy definitely attracts some ridiculously overblown and even venomous language from people who don't like what he has to say. Interacting with John directly is something I've enjoyed in the past and gotten something out of. Being part of some of the back-and-forth on blog comment threads that tends to occur around him is what I found distasteful and had to just choose to avoid.

Doug Hagler
Columbia, MO

Doug Hagler said...

@Jim: Oh, come now, I and a number of friends and colleagues have had more than our share of your "faith and conscience", and it was quite unpleasant. The number one Google search result for "Rev Doug Hagler" was you making ad hominem attacks for a couple years straight, and the experience of trying to confront you directly convinced me I had to stop responding to you in any way. It was excellent motivation, however, so I suppose in that small way I have to thank you and others who act out of a particular kind of "faith and conscience".

@Viola: Does John Shuck bully? Yes. Is John Shuck bullied in return? Yes. There is often a haze of bile going both ways where he's engaging with people who disagree with him, and as a result I've avoided that situation for years now. Tons of heat, precious little light. I do question, though, whether the way someone treats you is the same as the way a person therefore treats Jesus. The move from 'John Shuck insults me' and 'John Shuck insults Jesus' is far from justified in my view.

Doug Hagler
Columbia, MO

Viola Larson said...
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Viola Larson said...

I honestly don't know what to say to you. I have never bullied Shuck. I have disagreed with his very progressive theology. And publicly which is quite proper. I have deplored that he is representing Christianity at a GA, etc. But as a person I have not insulted him or made fun of him. Neither have any of the people I am concerned about. And as for Kiste ... will I decided to just let that go... I will leave it with the Lord.

That he is not concerned about this and that no one on the Progressive side is speaks volumes to me.

And as far as that aim being at Jesus rather than the orthodox-I stand by scripture.

Debbie said...

Doug, I'm sincerely mystified. Give me an example of what you see as ad hominem attacks by Jim against you.

Or of what you see as bullying by Viola against John Shuck.


Debbie Berkley
Bellevue, WA

Kevin T. Smith said...

Matthew 5:11-12 were perfect verses for this post, Viola.

I found myself reading the Westminster Confession of Faith, Chapter XXII - "Of Christian Liberty, and Liberty of Conscience" today. What I found is of interest to both the "peace, unity, and purity" of the church and to this discussion.

Here are excerpts:

They who, upon the pretense of Christian liberty, do practice any sin, or cherish any lust, do thereby destroy the end of Christian liberty....

And for their publishing of such opinions, or maintaining of such practices, as are contrary to the light of nature, or to the known principles of Christianity, whether concerning faith, worship, or conversation; or to the power of godliness; or such erroneous opinions or practices as, either in their own nature, or in the manner of publishing or maintaining them, are destructive to the external peace and order which Christ has established in the church; they may lawfully be called to account, and proceeded against by the censures of the church."

Ah, if only we had the marks of the true church where "ecclesiastical discipline is uprightly ministered" as referred to in the Scot's Confession, Chapter XVIII.. This is a failure of the church.

Noel said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Viola Larson said...


I apologize-knowing that you are trying to be helpful. But I just can't allow name calling when I want others to stop name calling.