Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The Velvet Covered Sword
...where are the Christian men more concerned about the truth than niceness?

"Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. 
Let all that you do be done in love." 
-1 Corinthians 16:13-14

There is a feminization going on in evangelicalism today that has recently spilled over to the blogosphere.  It has manifested itself by saying things like,
"All you truth-detectors and discernment watch-dogs are just so nasty all the time... Can't we all just get along? Just be nice; make nice; play nice; and OOZE nice? I don't think it is loving to criticize others. You're all just a bunch of big 'ol meanies.  You think you know it all.  If you say anything negative, I'm just going to ignore you. Tissue please... it's just too much to bear..."
These toy-soldiers carry what I call "a velvet covered sword."  It's lightweight, easy to wield, isn't designed for battle, takes little strength to lift it, looks inviting, and won't cut too deep for fear of offending too greatly.  It's like reading the ESV or NASB; and then one day you pickup up a copy of The Message thinking that it too is a Bible; when all that it is, is just a velvet covered sword. 

Speak the Truth in Love
To "speak the truth in love" beloved does not mean to be non-confrontational, passive, soft, or simply 'nice'.  No question, Christ-like love is the godly compassion behind speaking the truth in an uncompromised and unadulterated way.  

As Paul said in warning of false teachers to Timothy and the church at Ephesus,
"the aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith."  -1 Timothy 1:5

"Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all of you, for I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God. Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood. I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; 30 and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them. Therefore be alert, remembering that for three years I did not cease night or day to admonish everyone with tears. And now I commend you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified." -Acts 20:26-32
It is out of this unmerited, undeserved, self-sacrificial, unfailing agape love that comes the courage and the boldness to contend for the faith, to instruct in sound doctrine and refute those who contradict, to preach the Word in season and out of season, to guard the trust, and to defend the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.

It is precisely because of this love for the Lord and for the truth, men of God have and will unwaveringly say,
"I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God."  -Acts 20:24
Ephesians 4:15 in context is that standing for the truth of Scripture as central to ministry within the local church guards against people being tossed to and fro by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning and by craftiness in deceitful schemes; and against the savage wolves that propagate such error.  
The result:
"we are to grow up in every way into Him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love."
And that is a most loving thing to do.

It's always fascinating to me that those who fancy themselves the most kind, the most gracious, the most sensitive, and the most endearing are usually the same ones who are most critical against those who champion the faith, yet seldom champion it themselves. Once again, we do need to speak the truth in love beloved –  but speak the truth we must.  We need to always ask the Lord prayerfully, that He gives us the grace-filled balance of courage and compassion; the prophet’s piercing voice and the prophet’s burning tears; the boldness of a Lion and the benevolence of a Lamb.

But in our day, postmodern evangelicalism would have us place tone above truth, demeanor above doctrine, feelings before faith, and embrace the comfort of the retreat rather than the campaign of the battlefield.

Where Are All the Men of God Today?
  • Where are the men of God that are willing to contend for the once for all delivered to the saints faith? 
  • Where are the men of God who are willing to instruct in sound doctrine and refute those who contradict? 
  • Where are the men of God who won't tolerate a scatological mouth in the pulpit and will guard the integrity of the sacred desk?
  • Where are the men of God who will preach not themselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord?
  • Where are the men of God who are biblically discerning, armed with the sword of the Spirit, and in the power of the Spirit will abandon themselves to nothing save Christ and Him crucified? 
  • Where are the men of God who will say no to the world and yes to Christ - leaving behind career, fame, and the promise of fortune for the sake of the gospel? 
  • Where are the men of God today who consider it more a joy to bear the reproaches and insults of men for the glory of Christ, then seek after the praise of men for the glory of themselves? 
  • Where are the men of God who love God more than they fear man?
Where are these kind of men of God today?

Martin Luther said it best: 
"I would rather preach the truth with too great a severity, 
than to ever once act the hypocrite and conceal the truth!"

May the Lord give us men like that once again; men who will leave behind the velvet covered sword of today's evangelical, postmodern world and take up without shame, the sword of the Spirit wielding its truths with love, courage and biblical resolve.

"I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry." -2 Timothy 4:1-5


andy said...
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andy said...
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andy said...

The deleted post were mine sorry ..

But i didn't want a reason to keep peeking back :-p Anyhow GB

Alexander M. Jordan said...

Hi Steve:

This is a very hard-hitting post, as always, but timely and apt. I wrote an article with a similar theme a few months back titled The Age of Tolerance Calls for Bold Proclamation of Truth"

Thank you for issuing this challenge, especially to men in the church.

Grace to you,


Detoured By Travel said...

Steve - Thanks for this. It hits home.

I've always thought of this as a bataka bat or a nerf-sword, but your analogy is the same. We need to be unfailing in our unwillingness to compromise. Our motivations must be God-centered and not self-centered.

I need to cry out daily: "Oh God, drive out all of me and replace it with all of you."

Pastor_Frank said...

I agree with your assertion about the wimpy nature of evangelical men. We need to stand and contend for the truth. However, I take offense at referring to it as "feminization." It is a poor choice of words as it is an insult to strong women of God everywhere. My wife is an outspoken lady of God who stands up for the truth. To equate wimpy-ness with being feminine is a slap in the face of Godly, Christian women.

Mike Leake said...

Perhaps a better word than "feminization" would be "wussification".


I have the utmost respect for your passion for truth. I agree with what you are saying here; as far as diagnosing the problem. However, I am not 100% sure I agree with your solution. (If I even understand correctly your proposed solution).

If all you are saying is that we must not conceal the truth, but the most loving thing to do is tell the truth, then I agree wholeheartedly. However, if what you are saying is that we must preach the truth and not worry so much about demeanor then I'm not sure that I agree. I think that maybe you are creating a false dichotomy here. Why must we separate demeanor from doctrine? Why do we separate truth from tone? Is it possible that we are called to rebuke with gentleness and respect?

Maybe I've misunderstood what you are saying...if so, please accept my humble apology.

Brian @ voiceofthesheep said...

The sword we are to carry is the sword of the Spirit, which, according to Scripture, is the Word of God.

The word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

When one begins to wield something that pierces down to the division of soul and spirit, and discerns the thoughts and intentions of the heart, accusations of not being loving will undoubtably arise from those who wish for unity apart from right doctrine...from those who esteem peace above truth.

Great post, Steve.

gigantor1231 said...


"Feminization" is the perfect word for what you are talking about, it conjures up the limp wrist and the frail voice of one who is ready to fold at the slightest sign of conflict. I do not know any woman that see the use of this as a slap in the face but if they do so be it, it is still the right word!!!

The body of Christ is under attack more than ever and innocent lives are at stake, 2 timothy 2: 15 tells us 

15 Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. 16 But shun profane and idle babblings, for they will increase to more ungodliness.

I am sure most know that the word in greek for rightly dividing is ὀρθοτομέω/orthotomeo and it means to 'cut it straight'. That is what Christ did, He never beat around the bush, He said the right words at the right time. We have his Holy Spirit and we need to know His word as if our lives depend on it, because our lives do depend on it! The better we know his word the more we can speak in season what needs to be said, not only will we have the right words but the boldness too, He will empower us.
So, let's get those swords out and spar, we need to be those necessary men with the right words because we know the truth!

Detoured By Travel said...

Gig -

Agreed...but let's not forget our motivation is the battle for souls, so we must rightly divide the truth in love, not just to prove ourselves as warriors.

As I young Christian I found it was easy to be so consumed with zeal that I often spoke with anger with those I sought to convert in the attempt to prove myself right more than with the love that comes from an earnest concern for the soul.

We are agreed that the Word must not be compromised for any purpose, but to present it without a complete love and concern for the soul....depending on the intent of your heart, that could be battling for battling's sake, not battling for the cause of Christ.

Pastor_Frank said...

Gigantor said, "Feminization" is the perfect word for what you are talking about, it conjures up the limp wrist and the frail voice of one who is ready to fold at the slightest sign of conflict. I do not know any woman that see the use of this as a slap in the face but if they do so be it"

So you think feminity conjures images of one who folds at the slightest sign of conflict and you think women wouldn't be offended? My wife, a pastor's wife, does not fold at the first sign of conflict. You then went on to say, if such a rude mischaracterization of women offends them, the so be it. Square that thinking up with I Peter 3 that admonishes us to defend the faith with gentleness and RESPECT!

I agree with Steve that weak Christian men need to toughen up and stand for the truth. I too am sick of spineless Christians. I am also sick of Christians who don't know there is a difference between being boldly truthful and just being rude.

SJ Camp said...

To All
Thank you for all your comments; thought-provoking and meaningful.

I want to clarify two things here:

1. The word "feminization" is not meant to communicate a misogynistic put down to women in anyway whatsoever. It is for the most part a commonly understand term to mean the softening of convictions where men no longer act like men. That is how I meant it here.

2. I also wholeheartedly affirm that tone and truth must walk hand in hand. Speak the truth in love. But it seems that in our day tone has become elevated as being more important than truth.

IMHO, if we are gong to err, may we err on the side of guarding the truth and proclaiming God's Word.

I appreciate you all greatly.
Col. 1:9-14

gigantor1231 said...

Pastor Frank

Perhaps a better word would be unmanly,? Look, I am not into playing P.C. games nor am I into scatology that we have discussed in Steve's previous publications. I am also not going to concede to liberal thinking that refuses to see the context in which something is being presented. I think the majority of the people here understand the context of the word feminization. If you have a personal problem with this word I won't argue with you about it, I also will not stop using it when it delivers the meaning that I desire in what I write.
I have to be honest with you, it seems that you are straining at gnats here! As you said 1 Peter 3 exhorts us to defend the faith with gentleness and respect, but that does not mean that we can not use words that offend, if that were the case we would not be able to use the word of God because it is the greatest offense to a world that loves darkness and hates light.
So, if your wife or you is offended by the word "feminization" sorry, but it still fits and still should be used. The truth will offend someone no matter what words you use to express it!

gigantor1231 said...


I agree that when we act as apologists or we are evangelizing others we should be concerned for the soul, we should be gentle and loving but many times we need to be willing to offend to reach the lost. The Gospel is offensive to the world, it is a stumbling block to the Jew and foolishness to the Greeks. Truth offends, words offend many because they choose to be offended, I am not talking about scatological words here, but words that we use all the time like feminization, a relatively common word today. If you understand the context of it here as Steve has applied it you absolutely should not be offended, or are we gonna get all P.C.... I do not think that is going to happen here!

Detoured By Travel said...

Gig -

I am not now nor was I previously offended by your position and thoughts. My only thoughts here are that in the process of rightly dividing the Word of Truth we must contend for the soul in LOVE.

If by telling the truth, we offend then "so be it," but as I believe we all agree, God's Word must not be compromised under any circumstances.

May our merciful Lord continue to bless you all...and thanks to you all for helping me examine my thoughts/motives and challenge my attitudes.

Pastor_Frank said...

gigantor, you said, "Look, I am not into playing P.C. games"

Neither am I. I am simply saying equating feminine with wimpy is wrong. There are many Godly women like Fanny Crosby, Sojurner Truth, Corrie Ten Boom, and many more who were feminine but stood very strongly for the truth. My point from the beginning was simply that wimpy nature of modern Christendom is not is wimpy. You said "feminization fits and should be used." I disagree doesn't fit. The promblem is not one of feminity but of compromise and to equate the two is WRONG! It is not an issue of semantics, but an issue of correct terminology. Rahab was a female and feminine...was she a weak, wimpy, compromiser? How about Phoebe or Pricilla in Acts? They were feminine...does that mean they were spineless cowards? I agree with what Steve's original post taught, I just think his terminology was wrong. The problem is not an issue of feminine or masculine but of compromise or faithfulness to God's word. Compromising the truth doesn't make a man makes him unfaithful to God's word. Females who are faithful to His word don't deserve to have their gender used as an insult. That is all I was saying. Terminology is important as words convey thoughts and ideas. HOW we say something matters as much as WHAT we say!

gigantor1231 said...

Pastor Frank

In all seriousness, do you parse your sermons in an attempt to remove words that might be offensive to someone who might be sitting in your congregation? Do you bounce from version or paraphrase of the Bible looking for passages that will not carry a offensive tone to those you preach to... this is feminization!
The word feminization, in context is a acceptable word and I have yet to see or talk to ANY women who takes offense to it, they see the meaning of the word, they get it!

2 Tim 2: 14

14 Remind them of these things, and charge them before God not to quarrel about words, which does no good, but only ruins the hearers.

The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001 (2 Ti 2:14). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

I truly hope you do not waste your time protesting the use of the word, it would be a terrible waste of time. My prayers are with you and your wife.

Denise said...

Its been a while since I've visited your blog but I read this article over at Christian Network.

I have to tell you I SO LONG for true leaders in our churches today; men who truly love God and Truth and will actually lead, not follow a popular man; men who will speak the Truth and stand ready and ACTUALLY draw swords bodly with error and heretics where they come up.

I'm done with the fence-riding, cowardly types who may speak boldly in private, but fall apart in public.

I'm done with those who think ignorance is a virtue.

I'm done with those who think that not knowing truth is true humility, and that knowing Truth and being confident and bold in it, is a vice.

And while there is perhaps, room for improving how we declare things I'm done with the shooting of the messenger because the message is not like--by men who say they love Truth.

This is happening in my own church and it grieves me greatly. All of it. I have taken a bold stand against Rick Warren and I'm called hyper-critical and judgemental. I refuse to back down when confronting a seminary professor on his error in believing Allah is another name for God, or confronting another seminary professor who thinks Open Theists can be Christians.

I'll take the shots, but I pray so often that God would send us TRUE leaders who actually lead and not defer everything b/c taking a stand might be uncomfortable. Truth divides but it also unifies those in like-faith. How I long for that!

Caroline said...

Unfortunately, when I hear the word "feminization" used in a derogatory way, from an evangelical, I hear the dripping sarcasm of Driscoll and Anthony Bradley in their diatribes blaming women for the decline of men. "the woman you gave me made me do it" did not cut it with God in the garden and still does not cut it.

As a midwife, I have seen women give birth in some complicated labors that were so astonishingly painful as to be inconceivable to men, pardon the pun. I have seen them endure abusive marriages, a culutre that despises their lack of status as stay at home moms, and I have helped them breatfeed when their nipples were about to fall off in a bloody mess. For what? For love! I have seen extraodinary self-denial, courageous endurance.
It doesn't end at birth eiher. The other day I talked a woman in her pushing 80 working a minimum wage job on her feet all day to get her 55 year old son medication for his schizophrenia. She told me she was very tired, but what choice did she have?

We have a country full of families headed by women because the men were too weak to be men and take care of them.

Don't call it feminization, call it weakness. Feminine does not necessarily mean weakness.

Women have paid extraodinary costs to love their children and husbands and the price they are willing to pay for the sake of love is perhaps one of the reasons God uses the metaphor "as a mother" for himself in Isaiah.

Lastly, I am tired of men in the church devouting more energy keeping women in their place, than they do mentoring them as servants of Christ. Using a derivitive of the word feminine as an insult of masculinity is offensive, a number of people registered that so why not be a "man" and own up to our protest that maybe that isn't the best word?

It bothers me that you are adopting one of Driscolls favorite words and using it the way he does.

SJ Camp said...


gigantor1231 said...

Test! Yes, got one tomorrow in discrete mathematics, final exam, pray for me. Wow, see, you had a word of knowledge there and you did not even know it... LOL, seriously though I do have a final.