t has recently been brought to my attention that I lack discernment. It has been demonstrated that I lack the ability to carefully read someone’s post and see what they really are saying. I choose to believe what I choose to believe, and can easily be manipulated.
Or so I’ve been told.
This was all demonstrated by a blogger who was so concerned about the amount of manipulation taking place in the blogosphere that he, by his own admission, “played [his readers] like a fiddle”. In his (again, his own words) “planned manipulation”, he composed a blog post that he carefully crafted to lead his readers to a conclusion that was entirely false.
He spoke no untruths directly, but very systematically put words together in a way that would lead to an untruth. He knew that his readers would believe something that was completely false, yet he intentionally did everything he could to lead them to that conclusion.
And his reasoning? He wanted to demonstrate how easily it could be done. He believes that a whole lot of bloggers are doing it all the time. And he believes that it was necessary to shame his readers into seeing what a “shallow” (his word) group of people they are.
The scenario: Controversy has been raging in a certain denomination (I’m very carefully picking words that will not prompt Google searches. Forgive the vagueness here.) over a certain spiritual gift. (It’s named after the thing that is in your mouth…got it?) And this particular person is a member of a select group of people who oversee an extremely large agency of that denomination. That agency is the arm of that denomination that sends people to foreign countries to preach the Gospel.
So this was not some young, renegade blogger pulling a stunt. No, this was a man who is supposedly worthy of honor and respect, allegedly mature in the faith, and viewed as a leader by many. And more seriously, this is a man who claims to be doing all of this in the name of Christ.
So, after making lots of public statements regarding his view of this particular gift, he decided to pull a fast one on some of his readers.
He wrote an entire post that gave the impression he had changed his position on this issue. He claimed to have had experiences far in his past that he had forgotten about. And he said that remembering that he had those experiences allowed him to finally see things from another perspective.
When I read this post, I was encouraged and hopeful. If someone so high up in a denomination could humble himself to admit that he could relate to those against whom he had previously spoken, that seemed like something that could only come from the Spirit of God. And my heart rejoiced!
I posted a comment in response, hoping to encourage him. I was sure he would take flack from many people, and I wanted to be a voice of support for him. So I wrote my comment.
The next morning, when I awoke, I found an email from this blogger telling me that I probably needed to read his next post, and that he could understand if I was embarrassed or thought he was “treacherous”.
When I read his follow-up post, I was stunned. He admitted that he had crafted the whole thing to make a point. He admitted that he had designed the whole thing to show how undiscerning people really are. He called it “planned manipulation”.
Everything that he had written in his “manipulation” was technically true. He had not technically “lied”. However, he had reported the truths in such a way as to lead the reader to believe something entirely other than the truth.
I waited several hours before replying. I was hurt. I was angry. I was embarrassed. And yes, I saw what he did as “treacherous”.
In my comments, I told him that I couldn’t see any justification in what he had done. And I asked him if Jesus had ever been deceitful like that. I didn’t think so, but put it out there anyway.
Well, it turns out that I’m even denser than the previous post pointed out. Because now I have “learned” several things:
- “Planned manipulation” apparently is not deceit. And I was falsely accusing this man of being deceptive.
- “Planned manipulation” is apparently completely acceptable if you are trying to make a spiritual point.
- “Planned manipulation” is apparently what Jesus was doing when he spoke in parables.
- “Planned manipulation” has been used by God all throughout Scripture in order to humble people and make a point.
- It is wrong for me to claim that “planned manipulation” is not God-honoring, and I am just showing that I am rejecting the need for discernment (his words).
Well, I don’t know what your thoughts are reading those bullet points, but guess what? I think all of that is complete and utter bunk. I fully reject the idea that God ever “manipulated” anyone by intentionally leading them to a false conclusion.
And I stand completely opposed to anyone doing such in the name of Christ.
I don’t care what your point is. I don’t care what you think other bloggers are doing that is sinful. Nothing, nothing, nothing gives you the right to deliberately manipulate others and then claim that you are following God’s example.
If these are the actions of a leader in a huge denomination, then Lord help us all.
Until next time,