Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Lessons from 1 Corinthians 6

"If any of you has a dispute with another, dare he take it before the ungodly for judgment instead of before the saints? Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if you are to judge the world, are you not competent to judge trivial cases? Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more the things of this life! Therefore, if you have disputes about such matters, appoint as judges even men of little account in the church! I say this to shame you. Is it possible that there is nobody among you wise enough to judge a dispute between believers? But instead, one brother goes to law against another-and this in front of unbelievers! The very fact that you have lawsuits among you means you have been completely defeated already. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be cheated? Instead, you yourselves cheat and do wrong, and you do this to your brothers." (1 Cor 6:1-8, NIV).

Paul makes three main points in this passage:

1) Christian cases should be decided by Christians.

2) There should be no Christian cases.

3) If you are still uncertain about your course of action, see point # 2.

A while back I posted a CT article regarding Hank Hanegraaff and a supposed investigation of mail fraud resulting from a fundraising letter. The entire issue was brought up by Bill Alnor, a journalism professor at Texas A&M. It now appears there was no fraud and that Alnor simply engaged in careless and irresponsible journalism--libel, actually--for which he should be ashamed, and for which his church should discipline him.

However, Hanegraaff has now decided to sue Alnor for an unspecified amount. Here is CT:
On why CRI is taking a fellow believer to court, Hanegraaff told CT that Christians should never do so in an arbitrary fashion, but, "At some point, you have to say, 'Enough is enough.' Truth and justice do matter." Hanegraaff added,"If you don't respond, people think there may be something to it."
So Hanegraaff, the self-styled "Bible Answer Man," has decided that his case is the exception to God-breathed Scripture.

For everyone else, it's a complete defeat to bring a lawsuit against a brother in the first place. For the Bible Answer Man's "special" circumstances, it's a victory.

For everyone else, it's "better to be wronged." for the Bible Answer Man, it's better that "truth and justice" prevail.

For everyone else, it's better to be cheated. For the Bible Answer Man, it's better that people don't "think there may be something to [the charge]."

It's always convenient to apply the Scriptures to someone else. It's much more difficult to live them out. I've had opportunities to bring defamation lawsuits against others (not Christians), but have resisted the urge. Scripture demands that Alnor be ashamed of his reckless libel, repent of it in front of those to whom he maliciously spread that libel (on his weblog), and offer his sincere apology to Hanegraaff for engaging in such godless gossip. And Hanegraaff should be ashamed of his self-serving lawsuit, and cease and desist of it for the sake of the same "truth and justice" he claims "matters." Truth will prevail in this case only to the extent that the "Bible Answer Man" obeys the Bible in 1 Corinthians 6.