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February 17, 2005

The Barnabas Project

Some time later Paul said to Barnabas, "Let us go back and visit the brothers in all the towns where we preached the word of the Lord . . . ." Barnabas wanted to take John, also called Mark, . . . , but Paul did not think it wise to take him, because he had deserted them in Pamphylia . . . . They had such a sharp disagreement that they parted company. Barnabas took Mark and sailed to Cyprus, but Paul chose Silas and left, . . . . (Acts 15:36-40)

Most Christians know the story of the parting of Paul and Barnabas, after the disagreement about Mark, who was the cousin of Barnabas. (See Colossians 4:10) The three eventually reconcile, as Paul subsequently refers to Barnabas twice (1 Co. 9:6 and Col. 4:10, although it appears they did not minister together after the separation) and Paul later asks that Mark come to him in prison (2 Timothy 4:11).

Although Christians today, particularly Evangelicals and, increasingly, Catholics, are often associated with the Republican party, the truth is that faithful Christians are found at all points on the political spectrum. This mix also plays out on the internet, with a spectrum of Christian blogs running from right to left. Two blogs that tend to be on the left side are Sacking Rome, written by Ray Grieselhuber (who helped design this blog), and Itsara, written by Adam Heine. Both tend to eschew labels, but I would argue that Ray is a bit more politically liberal than Adam. Both, however, are to the left of me and, I would contend, the other Stones.

Ray and I have had extended debates working through politics and faith between Sacking Rome and my other blog Sidesspot. (See this post, which will link you back through the rest.) Ray and Rick Brady have also had some debates, most of which are contained in various comments at Ray's blog. We have sharp differences; however, I would say that we all tried to be careful to follow Paul's instruction in Ephesians 4:2-3:

Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.

I think that we politically conservative Christians have much to learn from Christians who are left of center. I think it is good for us to be constantly reminded of the oppressed and less fortunate and that it is our duty to help them. I think we ought to expose ourselves more to our brethren who are more left leaning politically. I believe the reverse for politically liberal Christians (not, by the way, to be confused with liberal Christians--those who are necessarily orthodox). I think that politically liberal Christians ought to regularly expose themselves to conservative Christian thought.

To that end, I commend to our conservative readers a post by Ray, which lists several sites by faithful Christians who tend to be politically left of center. I would suggest that you read one or two of those sites regularly. As mentioned, I make Sacking Rome and Itsara regular weekly reading.

Similarly, I would suggest that those who tend to be left of center read regularly a few of the right of center Christian blogs. You can start with almost any of the blogs on the Stones Cry Out blogroll.

Visit the sites, leave comments, post responses on your own blogs. Be humble and gentle, and bear with one another in love. We can all improve our walk and sharpen our reasoning if we do this. Let's meet together under the Cross and see what we can accomplish if we work together, even when we disagree.

(I want to thank Pastor Mark Roberts, who suggested this post.)

Posted by Mark at February 17, 2005 07:29 AM

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For myself, I'm glad to have gotten to know both of you (Mark and Rick) online. The last few months when all of us started blogging (except for Ray, who's got us three beat by a long shot) have been politically heated, and I've seen this heat break into our larger Christian community in a not good way. However you two have always responded to the politically liberal Christian perspective with grace - conceding points where they need to be conceded and answering incorrect points with soft words rather than harsh. As I've said before to Rick, it's for this reason that I continue to read your blog(s) even when I sometimes strongly disagree with your views.

I think more conservative Christians could learn this from you, as both Ray and I have learned to answer softly from you. We're all brothers who read the same Bible and have made different decisions based on it. We want the same things, though we disagree on the way to go about it. I think we all need to remember that.

Posted by: Adam Heine at February 17, 2005 11:33 AM

I think that Christians should generally separate themsevles from an involvement in politics, which is very much a worldly and corrupting enterprise. It is disappointing that there are so few Christian blogs that actually deal with living the Christian life rather than how Christians are to interact with politics and cultural hot button issues.

Does anyone know of any Christian blogs that are not explicitly politically-oriented?

Posted by: Tom B. at February 17, 2005 12:01 PM

Adam, thanks!

Tom - I'm sure Mark could tell you of many, but I suggest Mark D. Roberts (see blogroll) and Brad Hightower ( Also, you can check out Catez of Of course there is also Mark Daniels (see blogroll)... I'm sure I'm missing MANY.

Oh, but Tom, God doesn't call us to withdraw from the world. Politics is part of the world. As Hugh reminds us, we are to be in the world (including politics) as salt and light, but not of the world. So, I hope you don't stop reading and commenting :-) Peace.

Posted by: Rick Brady at February 17, 2005 05:44 PM

Mark wrote: "We have sharp differences; however, I would say that we all tried to be careful to follow Paul's instruction in Ephesians 4:2-3:

"Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace."

Ray had to smack me pretty hard, but I got the message. I can be quite brash in my typing. I have to try hard to regulate tone in writing. It's the medium, I know, but my wife says it's also my personality. I'm not perfect and am thankful for the occasional smack down :-)

Posted by: Rick Brady at February 17, 2005 05:50 PM

Tom - my blog purposely avoids politics, though I still mention them every once in a while. But my blog doesn't always focus on living the Christian life either, since it's mainly a way of keeping friends, family, and supporters updated on our (upcoming) work in Thailand, but a lot of times I can't help myself - I have a lot to say about the Christian life ;-)

I tend to agree with you on the topic of politics. Not that we should pull out entirely, but I generally think they should be a distant second to living The Life. Love God, love people - it can be done through politics, but not very well.

On the other hand, I've also learned not to berate those Christians that I think are too political - unless they're interest in politics has clearly become an idol. It's all part of the "humble and gentle" thing Rick's talking about. We've all been learning a lot these last couple of months, which is where this whole "Barnabas Project" came about, I gather.

Posted by: Adam Heine at February 17, 2005 06:57 PM

I'm really, REALLY uncomfortable with this. Firstly, I am not left of centre. I used to be, but now am not. I am in New Zealand, and morally I am definitely conservative. As far as NZ politics go I am best described as centre and on some issues leaning right. I used to be left of centre but have changed a lot from that position.
I would ask that you remove me from your categorisation here.
Secondly, I regularly read blogs that are centre-right or right and share much in common with them.
Thirdly, and this is something that Stones Cry Out needs to appreciate - I am NOT a poliblogger. Hugh Hewitt drew attention to one of my posts on Pascal - not because it was political. Hugh got what I was doing with that post. I'm not sure if you do.
I have to say, as much as I like your blog and have been reading Stones Cry Out since it was relatively undiscovered, you have made an error here and I have been misrepresented. The fact that I work in street evangelism and take the gospel to the down-and-outs of society is not me playing politics. Please amend your post - either remove me from the categorisation or rectify it.
And again - I live in New Zealand. Our system is very different and I am not left of centre here or by your standards in the US. Still love you guys but you have mucked it up here.

Posted by: Catez at February 17, 2005 08:45 PM

My wife's blog at doesn't touch on politics -- it's all about living the Christian life. She'd probably write more if she had readers though ;)

Posted by: LotharBot at February 17, 2005 08:47 PM

Also: I don't think it particularly matters how bloggers categorize themselves -- right, left, or whatever. Really, the point of this is to read ideas coming from people who are different from you and think differently from you, and interact with them on a human level.

Posted by: LotharBot at February 17, 2005 08:49 PM

It matters very much to me when some-one else incorrectly categorises me. And it matters very much to me when they trackback their incorrect categorisation to a post on my blog about street ministry and how a homeless man has come to know Jesus. Don't use my involvement with the gospel of Jesus Christ for politics please. And don't name me in a post which centres on division between Paul and Barnabas when I am not in any such division. Will you please fix this up.

Posted by: Catez at February 17, 2005 09:44 PM


Thanks for this excellent post. This is the sort of discourse that will actually help us learn and grow, rather than simply become more entrenched in our own opinions (and biases).

I would add one left-leaning blog, excellently written. It's

I should have mentioned this to you earlier.

Anyway, thanks for your contribution here.


Posted by: Mark D. Roberts at February 17, 2005 10:55 PM

Catez and all,

I have fixed the post to remove Catez's blog. I will take up the issue with Catez in a private email. No offense, however, was intended here. I'm not in the habit of saying "good writer" about people I intend to offend (with the possible exception of Christopher Hitchens).


Posted by: Mark Sides at February 17, 2005 11:07 PM

Greetings from a self-described liberal.
I have been following your blog from the jump, noting it along with a few other items on Groundhog Day, just after it launched. []
I still check it out and think you guys are doing a workmanlike job. Seems to me that group blogs may be a better vehicle than individual sites, especially for professionals, since the exhaustive work of generating a weblog can be very draining. My list of inactive blogs grows weekly.
I just noted the Barnabas Project [] and made a few notes, but my need to participate is muted. For me, a focus on ideas is far more important than positioning myself somewhere along a political continuum. I am also weary of cocooning, which I sense may be normal social behavior, even in the blog world.

Posted by: John Ballard at February 17, 2005 11:11 PM

As I re-read my note to Catez above, I feel the need to be clear: I am sorry for misrepresenting her blog and want to publicly apologize. I will post a longer apology later but want to make it clear here that I was wrong in my characterization.


Posted by: Mark Sides at February 17, 2005 11:32 PM

This whole issue with Catez (I hope it has been resolved to the satisfaction of all parties, btw) brings up an important point. In addition to being humble and gentle, we need to be really careful about throwing labels around and unfairly characterizing each other.

That's one of the reasons I would rather not have the label "liberal". It carries a lot of baggage with it that simply does not apply to me. And I'm sure the term "conservative" carries with it connotations that do not apply to you guys.

The Political Compass is a good attempt at categorizing each other, but ultimately the only way we can do this properly is to get to know each other. Which, really, is what the Barnabas Project seems to be about.

Posted by: Adam Heine at February 18, 2005 12:55 AM

Hi Mark,
Well I did panic a bit but I appreciate your swift response. I also must say that with the amount of writing we bloggers do it is easy to slip up sometimes and I can understand what happened here. Looking forward to some more posts from you.

Posted by: Catez at February 18, 2005 01:19 AM

To clarify Adam Heine's point a little:

The "political compass" would be a good way to categorize each other if the questions weren't slanted to influence people to answer in the libertarian direction.

Posted by: LotharBot at February 18, 2005 04:01 PM

It looks like I'm a little bit late here but I have some things I'd like to say.

First, I don't think I'm a political blogger. I have virtually no interest in the day to day squabbles of our government. I think politicians are weak puppets of large lobbyist groups, corporations, and occasionally the people. I don't think that any valuable social change will ever come from the actions of politicians and I have no faith in any political leader's ability or influence to save our nation. So there's the rant for today.

I'm more concerned about the consciousness of normal people and I like to write about things that question what I see to be the arrogance, greed, and waste that in our society. And when I see the church reinforcing those views, I write about that too. With a modest readership of 100 people, I don't think I'm going to start any revolutions, but I enjoy the conversations and the poeple I have met through it (including Mark and Rick). Aside from that, my site is mainly personal covering everything from travel to photography and it's mainly to stay in touch with friends and family.

But as Adam, Rick, and Mark pointed out, I'm always learning. Humility and grace is key if we ever hope to change things for the better, and while it's a hard lesson, it's one that we all need to learn. For that, I'm grateful for the guys here that have helped me with that.

Finally, if I had been told a few years ago that I would be known as "liberal" I would have laughed in your face. While I still don't know if I agree with the label, I have to say that life is strange.

Posted by: Ray Grieselhuber at February 18, 2005 08:59 PM