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I just finished my 6th book of the year, The Conviction to Lead by Albert Mohler. Personally I don’t like consuming “self-help” style books and this one is certainly getting too close to the border of that category, but I was encouraged to read a book on leadership for a goal at work.

Albert Mohler is an author, preacher, and podcaster that I greatly respect and quote regularly. I’ll say that one of my key takeaways from this one was that I need to read more biographies of leaders, so I’m fairly sure I’ll be doing that.

When the leader writes, he writes to inform, to motivate, to explain, and to inspire. Sometimes the leader has to clarify, correct, or even sound an alarm. Whatever the context, words matter and the effective leader works hard to develop the ability to write clearly, cogently, and powerfully.

The Conviction to Lead, Chapter 20

Note that I’ve also updated my Shelf to include the remaining 2023 books.

The phrase means different things to different people. By and large, it has been the way of the West of centuries. Put a different way, most areas of disagreement do not constitute separation.

We deal with this in the church all the time, where Albert Mohler divides theological arguments into three tiers. First tier issues being orthodoxy and worth saying “you are not a Christian” over. These are matters of heresy. Second tier issues are matters that divide denominations, such as paedobaptism. We agree that we are both Christians, but we might not be able to go to the same church together. Third tier are the, what I call, long-beard issues. These are topics that are fun to discuss and debate, but have no affect on our salvation.

I say this to say that we need to think about what hills are worth dying on and realize that the majority of hills are not worth such acts.

This leads us back to the phrase: agree to disagree. When we agree to disagree on a specific topic, sometimes that looks like leaving the topic lay, knowing there is disagreement and being okay with it. There are other topics to discuss, after all. Other times we respectfully continue conversation around the topic because of a mutual desire to understand people we disagree with.

But the truth of the matter is that the existence of agreeing to disagree means that there are topics we cannot agree to disagree on. See first tier topics. For a Christian, this doesn’t mean that you hate— or show any less love for— the person you disagree with, it just means the disagreement is on a topic important enough to cut certain ties— in the context of these disagreements, the tie is the church, this individual is not allowed to lead or participate in certain ways in one’s church and could see church discipline, for instance. For instance, sometimes a disagreement can be on a topic important enough to prevent an individual from being around your children.

These are healthy things to do, but one has to weigh the importance of topics. As a Christian, we have to weigh these things against the Bible and our duties therein.

As a Christian, we are to go and spread the Gospel. To do that, you will be encountering people that disagree with you on the topics that are of most importance to you as a Christian every single day. If I cut ties with everyone that believed that children with Down Syndrome should be rooted out in the womb and murdered, I would be cutting ties with a lot of people that need Jesus. This ends in me being Amish, sequestered to a hundred acres in Arkansas with no Internet, no phone, and no contact with the outside world. Just me, my woodshop, and lots of laughing kids. Actually, that sounds great. But my Lord commands that I engage with the world.

But that is the Christian worldview. Lovingly living alongside men and women that disagree with us is part of the plan. It’s how we spread the Gospel. The worldview that is spreading through the West like wildfire is almost Darwinian: destroy those that you disagree with. Why would you continue to love someone that disagrees with you? You don’t need that kind of negativity in your life. And the result is that the bar for what is worth destroying a relationship, or possible relationship, is much lower for many. What used to clearly fall into “you are Jewish and I am Christian, but we can still be friends,” now lands in “you are Christian and I am trans, so we cannot be friends and I’ll call your manager on Monday to demand that they fire you.”

This is a worldview difference that is stark as we enter into an era of post-Christian society. Where a couple decades ago the atheists followed Christian principles, the new atheists most certainly do not. For many of them, not only are they not okay with agreeing to disagree on their topics, they will chase you down and harass you until you agree. That will come in the way of threats of violence against you, threats against your job, threats to destroy your reputation, threats to go after your children, and worse.

Some of those reading this have seen this form of disagreement either personally or close friends. Others think I am being sensational and hyperbolic. I assure you I am not. All those types of threats I mentioned in the last paragraph I have experienced personally in the last year.

Please Christian, be aware that persecution is coming in the States. If your job hasn’t been threatened yet, it will be sooner or later. You will get a call from HR and be told to defend yourself against baseless claims. If your children haven’t been used as collateral to get your obedience yet, they will be sooner or later. Hold to your faith and show grace in these situations. Look to the martyrs of old. Don’t waiver in your faith or your testimony.

Understand, Christian, that we are dealing with worldview differences so often now that it is becoming normal. Try to be peaceable in all things and know that many in our modern world have no intent on doing anything of the such. You are now the counterculture.

The Bible is without error. Do not hide, slink away, say only the safe things. That is what they want. That is what the culture wants. They want their ideologies to have supreme visibility and anyone that disagrees with it to capitulate and celebrate it. In the words of Democratic Rep. Jared Moskowitz, we are focusing on “[banning] books touching on gender issues” but “dead kids can’t read.”

Celebrate it and don’t get in between us and your kids or your kids will keep dying.

We see you, we hear you.

But, Christian, dare to respond with biblical truth as the Word of God is perfect, authoritative, and without error. Boldly share and don’t let their threats of death scare you.

Senseless

Beyond that unfolding storyline was the urgent sense that some motive must explain this targeted attack on a school, including young children. […] Interestingly, CNN’s Laura Coates seemed to defend the search for a motive by arguing (quite correctly) that a motive is not justification for the crime.

[…]

Christians know that the hunger for a motive is explained by the fact that God made us in His image as moral creatures, and we cannot keep ourselves from the hunger to know some motive behind such a heinous crime. At the same time, we can learn of some motive only to realize that there is no merely rational answer to the darkness of the human heart. There is no way for us to know the depth of an individual’s depravity once a heart is committed to sin. Audrey Hale left behind a map of The Covenant School. Perhaps her dark manifesto will offer some map of her murderous heart. Even that will not answer all our questions.

[…]

But Christians know that the real urgency is six grieving families in Nashville. Christian moms and dads, with brothers and sisters, are living a pain no one else would dare to understand. In Nashville, there is a wounded community and a congregation that has experienced unspeakable loss. A Presbyterian pastor with his wife and their children are experiencing the death of their little daughter and beloved sister.

The world’s trouble erupts in Nashville by R. Albert Mohler Jr.

I am numb right now. I said somewhere last week that I felt like I was trying to stop a train. God, I pray this was enough to wake the world up that we have to stop the hateful, demonizing, us-vs.-them rhetoric. The children that died on Monday were my daughter’s age. I find some peace in that they are in Heaven now, away from the pain of this world, but I mourn all the more for these families and all the time they lost here. I pray they stay the course and follow them into the hereafter. A young sister cried out, “I don’t want to be an only child,” and my heart broke.

As I said on Tuesday, I could write many words. But words are seriously falling short right now. I trip and I just want to rage. There will be time for that, there will. But right now we mourn.

Jesus did tell His disciples that those who follow him would face trouble in this world. Big trouble. Heartbreaking trouble. Mind-bending trouble. But we must remember that Jesus went on to say: “But take heart; I have overcome the world.” Sometimes, remembering that promise is all that will get us through.

My thoughts exactly.

I thought of that parable when I read the headlines that announced the news that Playboy would cease the publication of nude photographs of women in its magazine. From any moral perspective, that should appear as good news. The headlines might suggest that Playboy has had a change of heart. A closer look at the story, however, reveals a very different moral reality. Playboy acknowledged that its decision had nothing to do with any admission that pornography is morally wrong. Instead, the publishers of the magazine were acknowledging that their product was no longer commercially viable as explicit pornography because pornography is so pervasive in the Internet age that no one need buy their product.

Scott Flanders, Playboy CEO, told the media that his product had been overtaken by the larger culture. “You’re just one click away from every sex act imaginable for free. And it’s just passé at this juncture.”

That is one of the most morally revealing statements of recent times. Playboy has outlived its ability to transgress and to push the moral boundaries. As a matter of fact, it was a victim of its own sad success. Pornography is such a pervasive part of modern society that Playboy is now a commercial victim of the very moral revolution it symbolized and promoted for decades.

Albert Mohler