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October 18, 2005

"No More Christian Nice Guy"

Bryan Preston has a review of the book by that name. An excerpt:

Modern Christian men, argues Coughlin, have grown up with an image of Jesus as always patient, longsuffering, deferrent and even obsequious and effette. This softheaded, soft-focus Jesus is a false image that removes the very masculine character of Christ's leadership, thereby giving Christian men a false understanding of their role in life and church. Christian men cannot be effective leaders if they're afraid that Christ discourages them from being men. Coughlin argues that the Christian Nice Guy who is a product of this false, emasculated Jesus is unwilling to stand for truth, to battle wrong and to make waves. Ultimately, the Christian Nice Guy lives in fear that he'll upset someone, and so he takes no action even when he sees clearly that something must be done, and perhaps even knows what that something is.

Christ never lived that way. He picked fights with the Pharisees to expose their hypocrisy, used sarcasm to mock their false holiness and their stinginess, and even went on a rampage in the middle of the temple in order to correct gross misconduct. Christ never feared that his actions might upset someone, and in fact at times went out of his way to say upsetting things in order to advance truth.

Posted by Doug at October 18, 2005 10:12 AM

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As a conservative activist who is a Christian, I appreciate the motive of the author. Yet, it may be that his perspective is immaturely militant. Not that he is bad or his motive is bad, just that he is responding to the pendulum of social activism: it moved to an extreme isolationism and he swings it back to the other side. I appreciate it, but approach it cautiously.

Does the image of Christ need to be recast? Yes, but His perfect balance must be kept in the forefront of our minds.

Just my thoughts.

Posted by: JR @ RightFaith at October 18, 2005 10:51 AM

So, let me get this straight. Jesus doesn't want me to be nice.

Posted by: s9 at October 18, 2005 07:42 PM

That sound was the point whizzing by s9 entirely.

Posted by: Doug Payton at October 18, 2005 09:01 PM

"Christ never feared that his actions might upset someone"

This is why I deliberately aim to upset others.

Posted by: D.C. Wang at October 19, 2005 12:13 AM

The point that sailed by me, of course, couldn't possibly have had anything to do with the first paragraph of Mr. Preston's review:

"This is a book that every Christian man needs to read. It's a book that George W. Bush needs to read. Christians aren't put on this earth to be nice and get along, but to seek and defend truth, and lead others to truth."

Shorter Preston: Christians need to stop trying to be nice. It's preventing them from productively evangelizing.

Do I even need to construct the syllogism that leads to the argument in my post above?

Posted by: s9 at October 19, 2005 01:42 AM

s9, yes, you do need to construct it, because you've made a leap that defies logic. Let me demonstrate. Assume Preston noted:

"Christians aren't put on this earth to eat, but to seek and defend truth." By your "logic", Christians need to stop eating.

The author's point, which whizzed by you, is that our main purpose in life, the reason we are here, is not simply to be nice and get along. Jesus said to go into the world and preach the gospel. If we aren't going to do that when we fear it'll be construed as "not nice" or "offensive", then we've subjigated our prime purpose to the feelings and emotions of others (and ourselves). The admonisions in the Bible to be kind and gentle, while important, are not to trump our purpose. When circumstances call for it (and this is by no means all the time, as JR notes), truth trumps the avoidance of making waves.

The first paragraph I quoted above makes that very plain.

Posted by: Doug Payton at October 19, 2005 06:12 AM

""Christians aren't put on this earth to eat, but to seek and defend truth.""

Which would have made for an interesting review of a book titled No More Full Christian Stomachs...

If the author's point was something so brane-numbingly simple, then Mr. Preston should have been able to convey it in his review without savagely smearing it.

Posted by: s9 at October 19, 2005 03:41 PM

Myself, I have to admit a certain perverse pleasure in picking fights with the pharisees. They're so easily goaded.

Posted by: Dan Trabue at October 20, 2005 09:39 AM

I can just picture Christ himself in a fighter jet
swoooping down on Bagdad saying "Yes Father I am about to remove the people you mistakenly made. Please try and be more careful next time since it makes me look bad doing this kind of thing. Bombs away!!"

Posted by: Daniel Springhill at November 1, 2005 10:27 PM

So Daniel Springhill, can you picture Jesus saying "Yes, Father I have pronounced a judgement on Israel (year 70AD) yep, the same people you sent me to die for, now I judging them the death." You should be able to picture that because it actually happen!

This I think is the author's point. Yes! Jesus came to "seek and save." Yes! Jesus came to give is life as a ransom for many. Yes! Jesus came to destroy death and the power of sin. And Yes! He called the religious leaders of that day "hypocrites, brood of vipers and children of the devil." He did all that and was a nice guy too! Then Jesus said we shall do "greater works" than those. So let's go take on the world!

Posted by: chenzo at November 7, 2005 06:36 PM

If Jesus is just the masculine image for believers, then who do female believers model their lives after?

All things are lawful, but not all things edify. Sometimes a sharp, responsive word can build up and sometimes silence is the best response. According to Jesus, the holy spirit will lead us to speak such things or not speak such things. The spirit calls us into into rememberance of the teachings of Jesus and pours through us the love of God - if we allow that to happen. Sometimes that leads to reactions where a sharp word might be said, others might lead to no word at all. The only proper balance is that which comes from God. Jesus certainly lives out both ends of the spectrum.

In the midst of all that Jesus has done, prior to coming to this earth, coming here and since ascending shows the fruit of patience, gentleness, mercy, grace and justice. In the kingdom of God, God is in control and anything were we think that we need to help Him out because He seems to be letting things get a little slack from our perspective, seems arrogant and outside of faith.

Posted by: don at November 14, 2005 04:45 PM

I think that the author is trying to distinguish the difference between being "nice" and "good". While Jesus was good ALL the time, there were times when he was not nice. The story of Jesus at the Temple - at that point "good" and "nice" could not exist in the same person. A "nice" person would have not made a mess nor made a scene, but a "good" person stood up for his Father's house. Jesus, when not nice, was NOT being a jerk; he stuck to the truth and did not sugar coat it either. It's just that simple. Thus to be more like Jesus, we should become more like little children in our honesty, but also control our tounge as adults. Some quick examples when dress shopping with your wife, a jerk will remind her about her extra poundage, a good guy will give an honest opinion on what he thinks (a smart man will sugar coat here, and a nice guy will agree with her. Possible results: nice guy's wife may be one of the worst dressed women there as "everything looked nice..." Jerk's wife will most likely look better as she was more aware that not all dresses will look good on her. She and her husband will be on opposite sides of he room most of the event. Good guy will have a nice looking wife by his side.

Posted by: Frederick at February 8, 2006 03:55 PM

This book doesn't call people to be rude and cruel, but rather not to sacrafice ones values and beliefs for being nice. There is a difference between kind and nice. Kind is being of service to others while keeping ones own piece of mind. Nice is being a dorrmat to others, letting them walk all over you in order to please them. This book calls for Christians to be bold, strong, and kind. It doesn't agrue for people to go out a pick fights. The image one poster painted of Jesus in a fighter jet is highly critical and ignorant.

Posted by: Paddy at May 19, 2006 12:09 AM

I have found myself to be one of the really nice guys. Unfortunately, I have become so nice that I don't want to offend, and I am too worried about everything to even make a decision and letting life pass me by. I have known what is right, but not done anything as I didn't want to offend or cause trouble. Or it was just too hard.

but the message is a double edged sword - you need to avoid "jerkdom". As a guy you still need mercy and compassion. To truly understand you need wisdom and maturity. To know when to do something, and when to step back. The whole niceness thing is never to truly assert yourself and to let others take what they will from you.

goodness is an oxymoron - boundaries and openess.

I think the whole point is - do the right thing, but be aware. Be strong, but do it with love and maturity.

Posted by: Rayn at May 29, 2006 04:36 AM

The point is that for far too long we (Christian men) have been allowing the feninazition of our Churches to take place. It is time to stand up and be the men God has called us to be......

Posted by: PAUL at May 2, 2007 02:31 PM