THE STONE THROWER CHRONICLES – the "verse and run" tactics used by people who want to attack not dialog
(© John Kundert, Editor of FIG LEAF FORUM, all rights reserved, used by permission)
By John Kundert
John is the editor of the Fig Leaf Forum. Fig Leaf Forum is a newsletter offering fellowship, edification and encouragement to Bible-believing Christian nudists. It's a conservative publication for serious-minded Christians who wish to be part of a serious discussion about Christian participation in social nudism. Check it out at www.FigLeafForum.com.
[This article appeared in issue 99 of the Fig Leaf Forum (FLF). The author, John Kundert, has been promoting serious discussion about simple nudity for over 10 years. What struck me about this article is how the "Stone Thrower" reveals himself. In my years of dealing with theological topics I've seen the "Stone Thrower," in fact I've been the Stone Thrower (ST)! As you read this the topic that the ST attacks is simple nudity. However, don't think that this is the only topic for the ST. I've seen STers go after ANY point of theology or Bible doctrine. I've seen stones fly over issues of water baptism, eternal security (or lack thereof), which version of the Bible to use, and a host of other topics. John Kundert masterfully tries to get the STer to dialog rather than attack... read on with an open heart -- perhaps you'll realize that even you can be an ST. -- Pastor Jeff]
The Stone Thrower Chronicles
The Bible informs us concerning a group of notable men who were more interested in the condemnation of the wayward than in their correction or restoration (John 8.1-11). Not surprisingly, Fig Leaf Forum has been the target of similarly motivated "stone throwers" since the very first issues were mailed, and it's been your editor's task to reason with them as best I can. What follows is a recent e-mail exchange (edited for continuity and style) that involved one such critic, an individual I'll call "ST."
ST: Do you guys read the Bible? The reason I ask is that it teaches us that our nakedness should be covered. There aren't any verses that teach that it is good or okay to display or show our naked bodies to anyone, except our husband or wife of course. If you know of any Scripture that does say it is good or okay, let me know right away!
FLF: Thanks for your message. Yes, Christian nudists do read their Bibles. Many of us have put a great deal of study into the matter and have concluded that the Bible does not prohibit our participation in social nudism.
I invite you to read the material available on Fig Leaf Forum's Web site. I also invite you to learn the facts about social nudism. If you wish to talk about specific passages from the Bible that you believe would prohibit Christians from participating in legitimate family-oriented social nudism, please feel free to share them with me. I would be happy to discuss Scripture with you as a way to demonstrate what Christian nudists believe and why.
ST: Look what I found regarding nakedness: Genesis 2.25, 3.7, 3.10-11, 3.21, 9.23, Exodus 20.26, 28.42, and Leviticus 18.6-17. I also visited your Web site and got tired of reading your ridiculous responses in the debate posted there and had to stop. Truly, if you cannot see anything sinful with what you are doing, I cannot make you see. I hope God will help you out of your deception so you can help to free others.
FLF: The way in which you concluded your message would seem to indicate that you are not open to exploring the Word with me. This is unfortunate. I'm more than willing to discuss all of the Scriptures you listed in your message and many more besides if you wish -- so long as you in turn are willing to dialogue with me in the spirit of Ephesians 4.29-32:
Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.You concluded, "I hope God will help you out of your deception so you can help to free others." Galatians 6.1 says, "Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently." I invite you to consider the possibility that God may wish to use you to accomplish this very purpose. The tenor of your messages leaves little doubt that you perceive me to be "caught in a sin." Are "you who are spiritual" really prepared to take it upon yourself to "restore [me] gently"? We shall see, I suppose.
I pray that you're willing to be guided by the spirit of Ephesians 4.29-32 and Galatians 6.1 in your actions concerning me and the multitude of Christian nudists that I serve. I echo our Heavenly Father by inviting you to "Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD" (Isaiah 1.18).
ST: I think you have already made up your mind, although I actually did consider your point regarding how or if there is something I could do to help you guys. After reading your responses to the other debate it seems pointless to begin another, since your perspective of the Scriptures do not parallel my own. There are so many verses that you seem to think have nothing to do with people seeing our nakedness, which appear very clear to me.
It will probably have to be the Holy Spirit working with you for you to consider any other view than your own. Thanks for the invitation!
FLF: Thanks for your reply. It seems that you have already made up your mind, as well. The fact that both of us have made up our minds on this issue is as it should be in many respects. Christians are to act according to their convictions (Romans 14.5,14), and Jesus made it very clear that indecisiveness can be a dangerous thing (Revelation 3.15-16).
Making up our mind on an issue after sufficient investigation is really not a problem unless we also choose to close our mind on that issue. Oliver Cromwell once asked, "Is it...infallibly agreeable to the Word of God, all that you say? I beseech you, in the bowels of Christ, think it possible you may be mistaken." Such an entreaty applies to me, and to you, and to all Christians who truly value the search for truth. We are all capable of being mistaken in our beliefs. Proverbs 27.17 tells us that "As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another." Such mutual edification cannot take place when minds are closed.
Concerning the debate, it occurred after I discovered my name in a disparaging article posted on a Church of Christ Web site. I sent a letter asking someone from that church to substantiate their views from the Bible. Rather than opening a personal dialogue regarding my concerns (the truly Biblical approach, in my view), they threatened to smear me even further on their Web site if I did not engage in a public debate with them. Debating, I was to learn later, is something of a tradition within this branch of the wider Christian church.
This was my first experience as a debater, and it shows. I certainly do not disavow what I wrote for the debate, but I readily acknowledge that my amateur performance there makes it a rather poor source from which to learn the basis for my views concerning nakedness and social nudism as they relate to the Bible. Hence, my personal invitation to open and explore the Word with me. What is clear to you may not necessarily be clear to me, and vice versa. Life experience along with study and reflection can often influence and even change the way we see and understand things.
For what it's worth, I do not desire a debate with you. Scripture teaches that "He who answers before listening -- that is his folly and his shame" (Proverbs 18.13). I merely seek civil and rational dialogue, an avenue affording each of us the opportunity to actually "listen" to the other as we strive to understand why our beliefs differ in the ways that they do.
You wrote, "It will probably have to be the Holy Spirit working with you for you to consider any other view than your own." An identical prediction concerning you and your views could easily be made. This all seems very premature. I had hoped that your idea of correction, restoration and truth seeking would have involved something a bit more noble than a "my way or the highway" approach. My invitation still stands: "Come now, and let us reason together."
ST: A closed mind is not good, but a made-up mind is. Jesus isn't going to make anyone listen to His Word, but He will give opportunity to hear and repent. The Bible also says to avoid foolish and unlearned questions, which in this case fits my position very well.
There isn't any teaching anywhere in the Bible that suggests the things you do are ordained, necessary or glorifying to God in the least. These are fully your invention. If something is not supported by the Word, then what? We are supposed to do what we want and God honors it? I don't think so!
FLF: That a "closed mind is not good, but a made-up mind is" was my point exactly! Are you certain that you understand the difference between the two? A person with a made-up mind is willing to test the veracity of his beliefs on occasion. A person with a closed mind is not.
Asking reasonable and rational questions about what the Bible says concerning the human body and nakedness is not a "foolish" exercise, in my view, and I do not recognize a willingness to submit one's beliefs to careful scrutiny as an attribute of the "unlearned."
It's your position that there "isn't any teaching anywhere in the Bible that suggests the things you do are ordained, necessary or glorifying to God in the least." Do you really understand "the things [we] do"? Do you? Have you well and truly investigated the things you now condemn? Herbert Spencer once wrote that "There is a principle which is a bar against all information, which is proof against all argument, and which cannot fail to keep man in everlasting ignorance. That principle is condemnation without investigation."
Are the beliefs and behavior of Christian nudists really our "invention"? Without understanding the Scriptural foundation for (and the true nature of) "the things [we] do," how would you know? Once again, "He who answers before listening -- that is his folly and his shame" (Proverbs 18.13).
You asked, "If something is not supported by the Word, then what?" If you step back from your question and think for a moment, you'll quickly realize that the Bible is silent concerning the vast majority of everyday activities that occupy us in modern, 21st century life. Scriptural principle and the Holy Spirit must be our guide in such matters.
Do I think we "are supposed to do what we want and God honors it?" Of course not. I have never advocated such a view, and I have never lived by such a principle.
Know this. It's my position that opening the Word of God and seriously undertaking to understand what it teaches is one of the most noble enterprises that any man or woman can pursue in this life. You believe that Genesis 2.25, 3.7, 3.10-11, 3.21, 9.23, Exodus 20.26, 28.42, and Leviticus 18.6-17 support your views concerning nakedness. I have a sincere and abiding interest in gaining a deeper understanding concerning your interpretation of these passages, and I'm deeply interested in discussing that interpretation with you as it relates to my own. The subject of social nudism need not even enter into such a basic discussion of the Scriptures. Do you consider sharing one's understanding of God's Word a "foolish" and "unlearned" endeavor? If so, then I suppose our correspondence will probably come to an end. Regardless of what you decide to do, my invitation remains open: "Come now, and let us reason together."
ST: If you cannot "see" any error, I cannot make you see. This is all I am saying.
FLF: "Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently" (Galatians 6.1).
"Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up" (Galatians 6.9).
"'Come now, let us reason together,' says the LORD" (Isaiah 1.18).
ST: 1. You do not think you are taken in sin. You can't repent of something you do not think you are guilty of.
2. God has not given up on you. He had me offer the Scripture to you, which I sent already. He will probably send others as well, until time runs out.
3. You have NO Biblically supported "reason" or foundation for doing what you are doing.
FLF: I've been sitting at my computer for hours, writing and discarding my words. I've been trying to compose a letter that would move you. A letter that would move your heart, if not your intellect. A letter that would finally break down whatever barrier it is that's keeping you from opening the Bible with me. My humanity keeps getting in the way, however. My pride, too. I've tried everything I can think of, but God keeps bringing me back to these words, which are actually His Words:
Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently (Galatians 6.1).Galatians 6 is a reminder that the correction and restoration of someone we believe to be in sin requires more from us than just slinging accusations against them. More than just making uncertain assumptions about them. More than just tossing a few Scriptures to them. Correction and restoration requires our hard work, our unflinching tenacity, and our unfailing love.
This correspondence with you has left me wondering. What did you hope to accomplish by contacting me as you did? Did you think a simple accusation of sin would cause me to abandon long-held convictions? Did you think merely supplying a short list of Scriptures without discussing your understanding of them would make me instantly change my ways? What kind of Christian would you be if you held your own convictions so lightly? What made you think that turning your perceived "sinner" around would be so easy?
Or perhaps correction and restoration were never in mind when you first contacted me, stones in hand. Such a circumstance might easily remind one of others who were once thus engaged. About the nature of sin they could not be in error. About the guilt of their sinner they were utterly convinced. About their sinner's condemnation they were clearly zealous. And about God's Word their knowledge was flawless (or so they thought). Then they met our Lord. In His own unique way, Jesus reminded them that they were actually human -- very human, in fact -- and very capable of being wrong about what they "knew" so well to be right. Jesus' actions that day show us that correction and restoration are of more importance to God than accusation and retribution. Perhaps Jesus is writing Galatians 6.1 on the ground for you right now, right before your eyes.
John 8 and Galatians 6 teach us that accusation without attempts at correction and restoration is no less dead than faith without works. It has no currency in Heaven, and no traction on Earth. However convenient, inventing specious assumptions about your "sinner's" intransigence won't excuse you from obedience to our Lord. Starting the process and then just dumping it all upon Him to finish isn't an option, either. Though He plays a critical role, there's no escape clause in Galatians 6 under which "YOU who are spiritual" may shirk your responsibilities.
It's my belief that one Christian should never have to plead with another to open and discuss Scripture, but I'm at my wits end in this exchange and feel I'm left with no other recourse. And so I'm pleading. With all the sincerity I can muster, I'm pleading with you to open the Bible and discuss your list of Scriptures with me in a systematic, structured, passage by passage way -- for my benefit, and for your benefit.
I'm holding you accountable as my accuser, no less than our Lord held accountable those scribes and Pharisees so long ago. Please. Don't walk away like they did.
"Is it...infallibly agreeable to the Word of God, all that you say? I beseech you, in the bowels of Christ, think it possible you may be mistaken."
"'Come now, let us reason together,' says the LORD."
Based upon my experience with Christian critics of social nudism (and it is considerable), I have learned that among them there exists an almost universal unwillingness to open and discuss Scripture. "ST" has been no exception. No further responses from him have been received by Fig Leaf Forum. (JK)