Friday, February 20, 2009


To finish [partially at least] what was started last time.....I'm going to turn to some thoughts about the charge recently made about someone who did something that some people thought unreasonable and dishonorable.

[For context read my last post]

Well is the charge true or not? Was the writer of the incident who used an anonymous source both unreasonable and dishonorable to do so? Are YOU better off knowing that what you do is thought of as reasonable? Should YOU make certain they know YOU were right so YOU can erase any idea of unreasonableness to what YOU have done? You can see what I'm writing is not about one person but it's about all of us

Webster's says that 'reason' [among some other things] is the 'due exercise of the faculty of logical thought.' My assumption is this was the critic's intended meaning since their statement was that it was 'unreasonable' to ask anyone to accept what was said without knowing the source.

You've gathered I'm sure that I am going to address the reason/unreasonable issue first.

Someone has said that sometimes you don't do the -right- thing by doing the -reasonable- thing. I think that is likely true. To equate reasonable with right may be making a big mistake. Our Lord would have been reasonable had He taken the crown offered by the crowd just fed when they wanted to make Him King. It was only reasonable for them to want someone who fed them miraculously since they got hungry so regularly and it was certainly reasonable for Him to pass on the personal pain and suffering of the Cross. But it would not have been the right to do within the purposes of God at all. Reasonable and right are not synonyms.

But how can I vindicate my self if what I do seems so unreasonable to others? I want people to know I'm right. It's important for others to know you're right isn't it?

It is if you're keeping score. But for a believer vindication is really of no value because we are NOT keeping score and we believe we are better off in the hands of the One who DOES know the true score and is, in fact, calling the game. He's the only one who ultimately matters.

It was Robert Frost, the poet, who said correctly I think [though no spiritual giant himself] and I quote, "The fear of God asks the question, is my action acceptable, is it worthy, in His sight?" It seems to me, when it's all over and done with, that that is the only legitimate issue when deciding, "Is the action I'm performing reasonable or right? "

Don't hear me saying you are to check your mind and intellect at the door when you become a christian. Far from it. The most genuinely thinking person you can find is one who has considered the eternal nature of things. That is the point I am making. Because it is true that our standard of measurement is different entirely as christians. It is the standard of faith. We are saved by it. We are to live by it. Whatever action is not of it, no matter how reasonable or unreasonable that action might appear, is not valid.

Add to that the fact that what seems so reasonable to the world is foolishness to faith and what is so unreasonable to the world is sensible to faith and one would be wise to recognize a charge of some one being unreasonable may not be, in fact, wise at all. It may take someone greater than any of us to measure whether another's action is one of faith or not.

Next time some thoughts on Honor.

Paul B.


greg.w.h said...


Truth is truth no matter what the conduit is through which it flows. I'm reminded of how Intel tried to downplay a flaw with one of its processors by saying the typical person wouldn't ever encounter it. The only truth that mattered in that case was that the buying public wasn't satisfied with that answer. Intel offered replacements for everyone who wanted one at the cost of $400 million.

Was Intel's behavior dishonorable in offering an explanation that the public didn't accept? No. What happened when they offered replacements? They re-established trust with the marketplace and went on to many profitable years after that.

At some level the source of information is only a source and cannot be indicted for the effort of sharing information. You can judge the quality of the information with a jaundiced eye, of course, if it is from an anonymous source. That's the perogative of anyone asked to consider the information. But discarding perfectly true information because it comes from an anonymous source is simply ridiculous.

Let me give you a very specific example. Some friends of mine when I was 14 were discussing the behavior of one of the senior missionaries while we were on the field in Indonesia. He had small MKs sitting on his lap and was singing to them and being affectionate with them. I made a positive comment about it.

One of my friends startled me by saying the MK on his lap should consider herself lucky if the missionary didn't put his hand down her pants. It was one of those moments when you absolutely know someone is telling the truth. The anger was righteous, white hot, and the hurt was so palpable you could practically capture it with a camera. And you certainly could cut it with a knife.

I told him if that was true we had an obligation to go tell someone about it. He said, sarcastically, that it was being "worked out" and begged me to promise that I would say nothing. I so promised.

Then I immediately went to my parents and presented it as something I "overheard" and I couldn't reveal my source. I told my parents I needed them to do something meaningful about it. But he was a senior missionary and surely someone else would do something.

The man went on to molest children for at least 10-15 more years after that and eventually was fired by the IMB in the 1995 timeframe for his actions when they finally and fully caught up with him.

Before I read your post today, I happened to have reviewed some information posted by that teenager's brother on a site where just once MKs, now just children of Ms share our thoughts, feelings, and stories. Another child of an M shared with me her story previously and I have those materials in a drawer in my file cabinet at home. The two sets of information are built on similar materials, but there are significant, substantial differences between the two.

Yet when I speak of either set of materials, I very carefully couch my terms so that there are no personal details from each. I've actually revealed more details in this comment than I have in a public forum anywhere. And I'm only doing so in order to confirm your position that sometimes the information MUST be anonymous, and yet Christians have a faith-based obligation to act regardless of the anonymity. To do otherwise not only IS unconsionable, but we can review this case and see that at least 9 MKs and possibly dozens of children were further harmed due to lack of action.

I can't say that the situation you referenced is one of those or not, but it seems to me it was. Christians intentionally bringing harm to other Christians is something we cannot use anonymity to excuse nor to allow.

Greg Harvey

Paul Burleson said...

Greg W.H.

While your comment is a perfect illustration of the point of my last post, it is more than welcome on this one and I could not..I repeat..could not agree with you more having had to deal with the same set of circumstances in my past ministry with abused kids.

Anonymous said...

The last two paragraphs you wrote are words we should all think about in my opinion. Of course you know that I believe strongly it was wise to give the information even anonymously. I believe it to have been true, and for the very reasons you have noted on this post.

Paul Burleson said...


Thanks for your comment.

Mary and I were with you guys at Emmanuel for worship this morning but we were in the Refuge service and didn't get to see many of you who were in the other service. Next time. :)

Anonymous said...

Sorry I missed both of you. Merrill didn't come yesterday, so I thought about going to Refuge, then went ahead and went to the service in the sanctuary. Hopefully next time.