Avoid Your Own “Very Fine People”

In the wake of the presidential debate of September 29th, 2020, we are given a great example of what not to do when answering questions about what we believe. The presidential debate illustrated on a national stage, how an opposing party can attack someone with a dishonest representation of one’s words. In our daily lives, we often have a great opportunity to share the Gospel, but not only squander the opportunity, we actually give people who oppose Christianity weapons of our own making.

When Christians share from chapter and verse on Scripture, and let the Bible do the talking, they (a) have the power of the Holy Spirit behind their answer, and (b) don’t offer their opinion or incorrect quoting of Scripture to be parsed and sliced up to be used against them later and in perpetuity.

We saw in the debate a perfect example of biased people parsing and then abusing someone’s words against them. The quote, “Very fine people” has been used by President Donald Trump’s political and media enemies to color him as a white supremacist. That quote exists because the Marxist media siezed on the opportunity to parse a small piece from a much larger quote, and beat him incessantly with the offending piece. The truth is that a fair reading three lines into the paragraph would destroy the “very fine people” claim, as the president roundly condemned Nazi’s and White Nationalists. This parsing technique is also regularly used do discredit Christians who defend the Bible. USA Today published regarding the media’s disingenuousness:

The statement came from an August 15, 2017 press availability, in which the president was engaged in a spirited discussion with journalists over the broader implications of the Charlottesville street clash. Check the transcript. Here’s a more complete quote:

 “You had some very bad people in that group, but you also had people that were very fine people, on both sides. … I saw the same pictures as you did. You had people in that group that were there to protest the taking down of, to them, a very, very important statue and the renaming of a park from Robert E. Lee to another name. … So you know what, it’s fine. You’re changing history. You’re changing culture. And you had people — and I’m not talking about the neo-Nazis and the White nationalists, because they should be condemned totally — but you had many people in that group other than neo-Nazis and White nationalists”.1

Most people who quote an individual don’t do it with the best of intentions. They harvest the quote to be used for leverage later on. Where Christians loose the greatest opportunity in a conversation is when they use their own words when a much more powerful alternative is always at hand. If you believe “the Word” that the apostle John used synonymously with Jesus Christ is the supernatural essence of The Deity, then you will come to understand that the text of the Bible has the power of The Deity, Jesus Christ, Son of God. Suddenly, our human words hatched out of our human heads fail and profoundly disserve the cause of Christ.

The writer of Hebrews is rightly and regularly quoted regarding the power of Scripture:

For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

Hebrews 4:12 NIV

As a young pastor working my way through homiletics (pulpit ministry training), I wrote and later cringed at many of the things I said while preaching. I quickly discovered that there was nothing I could say with any power like the power of Scripture. It took lots of catching myself failing, to start defaulting to using Scripture to say what I wanted to say. That meant that I had to overcome my pridefulness and not react with my own words when The Word had already spoken on the question at hand. I realized that my job was to give the questioner a warm hand-off to God’s Word so they could come to understand the importance and power of letting God’s Word speak for our lives.

1 Corinthians 10:13 actually says… “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it”

The moral of this story is simple. Don’t miss the opportunity to share God’s Word when someone asks something about your faith. Also, be aware how your words can (a) be used as a weapon by others, and (b) can be a terrible weapon used against the Gospel. Let me close with the words of Christ’s half-brother James:

With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness.  Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be

James 3:9-10

1 Robbins, James S., USA Today, 4-6-2019 https://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2019/04/26/joe-biden-donald-trump-charlotttesville-fine-people-neo-nazis-column/3588970002/