It is no secret in my circle of friends that I have a low opinion of Toby Sumpter. So imagine my surprise when, a few months back, CrossPolitic said Baptist theology causes transgenderism and I learned after an assumption that not only did Sumpter not say that but he wasn’t even on the show at the time. The problem is that it is not beyond the pale that he would say something so ridiculous, ignorant, and stupid. Well he did return to she show and has lead the charge in doubling down and in the most maddening way possible.
The Formula for Manipulative Dishonesty
While I find much to applaud about the Christ Kirk people in Moscow they do have their fair share of groan inducing ideas. I want to be charitable and as Driscoll would say, “shouldn’t we give a shiny gold star to the guy who is actually doing something instead of criticize him all the time.” But there is a subset (I assume they are a subset) that takes too much pleasure in thumbing their nose at everyone. I had almost said, takes sinful pleasure. And if that subset does exist it is the, Fight, Laugh, Feast” triumvirate. They keep declaring themselves to be Chestertonian Calvinists and I keep finding myself paraphrasing Inigo Montoya, “You keep saying those words, I don’t think they mean what you think they mean.
Some of my problems come down to their multiplying of words. I don’t know if the nightly Tucker Carlson model is wise for Christians to engage in, especially since it is typically used expressly within a bubble to affirm the bubble. I don’t see CrossPolitic (esp. since “personalized” algorithms determine much of what is suggested people watch) convincing anyone to “Come and welcome to Jesus Christ” no matter how much they say that is what they are doing. To me a podcast like theirs seems like discernment blogging 2.0
“The words of a wise man’s mouth win him favor, but the lips of a fool consume him.” – Ecclesiastes 10:12
“Whoever guards his mouth preserves his life; he who opens wide his lips comes to ruin.” – Proverbs 13:3
“They are brought to ruin, with their own tongues turned against them; all who see them will wag their heads.” – Psalm 64:8
After that the mocking of everything outside of their worldview is tiresome and juvenile. I have written perviously about the need for Christians to move beyond our current twelve-year old boy schoolyard sense of humor. And the kind we need to move on from is embodied by CrossPolitic. Again where they think they are contributing I fear they are just part of the noise. They embody the kind of pot calling a kettle black criticizing Colbert for not being funny but just mocking his enemies while they do the same thing. Neither is funny, but they do stir up anger, masked with a smug smirk.
“Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers.” – Psalm 1:1 (emphasis added)
“If you have been foolish, exalting yourself, or if you have been devising evil, put your hand on your mouth.
For pressing milk produces curds, pressing the nose produces blood, and pressing anger produces strife.” – Proverbs 30:32-33
Both of these problems, excessive foolish talk and mocking anger, come together with competent marketing to create storms in teacups; that then are handled, frankly, dishonestly.
One of the skills that the digital media team at Cannon Press (producers of Crosspolitic) is weaponizing a soundbite and then using the blowback to great promotional advantage while claiming to be victims. It is the same play the left makes all the time, you know the stance, “How dare you make public this thing I put out on the internet!” You said it and you published it, the only difference is that the Cannon Press people know what will push buttons and they meant to in the first place. Beyond that the game becomes to explain they didn’t actually say what they actually said. Suddenly context matters, you misunderstood me, it was just a joke, people need to grow a thicker skin. This behavior is justified by the fact that the left does it. Fire has to be fought with fire and so forth. But the hand is shown when the level of outrage is maintained the next time the left makes the play and yet again Crosspolitic spends an hour winging on about the hypocrisy of it all. Earlier I said that this was the pot calling the kettle black but it is more of What Toby from In the Loop would say is, “A kettle calling a kettle a kettle.”
For a group of men who make a big deal out of being strong, straight forward, examples of how Christian men should behave the amount of shifty tactics is concerning at best. It is not exactly boldness to say one thing and then backtrack six ways from Sunday.
“Like a madman shooting firebrands and deadly arrows, so is the man who deceives his neighbor and says, “I was only joking!” – Proverbs 37:18-19
The Recent Example
So the boys claimed that Baptist Theology causes transgenderism, or opens the door to it. The thinking is shoddy no matter what way you approach it. It was the kind of inane statement that was said just to stir the pot not actually inform anyone. The Three Amigos clambered up on their high horses and rode into town incompetent to fight the actually bad guys and instead ended up shooting the locals who were on their side. And if I may stretch the metaphor a bit further, some days later the sheriff rode into town and offered the boys a chance to explain themselves. What he got in return was the kind of defense, redefinitions, justifications, misdirections, and slippery words that would have brought a tear to Grima Wormtonge’s eye. By this I reference the interview Tom Ascol did with them and charitably did read their own words back to them. Only to be told that when they said Baptist they didn’t mean the good baptists, now redefined to include Ascol, but all those bad baptists that they just didn’t have time to name or define things about because those sorts of clarifications would have gotten in the way of their paedobaptist yucking it up.
There is just something about the interview that brings to mind Badger looking down is nose at the weasels and stoats in Wind in the Willows as they slither and cower and connive their way out of their latest scheme. And the interview came a month after in which they did a followup episode, several written responses, many tweets, each one more mealy mouthed than the last, all in the vein of what Ascol called, not addressing what they said but what they wish they had said. As I said, Badger standing there wishing against hope that the weasels and stoats could become something better than they are.
I have quoted it before and I will do so again:
“Doug Wilson is a very smart guy, but he surrounded by idiots.” – John Piper
Part of why I think this particular episode bothered me so much is that I thought Wilson finally had found a guy, an heir apparent, in Jared Longshore. He has all of Wilson’s style, theology, and none of the baggage (Southern Slavery as it was anyone?). And there on the Baptists theology leads to transgenderism was Longshore chucking along in Toby Sumpters place. The Christ Kirk people in Moscow are a force to be reckoned with, NBC certainly thinks so and is running scared. Lessons are to be learned from them. But it would be good for one of their main voices, embodied in CrossPolitic, to learn that just because the other side does something juvenile and underhanded that doesn’t mean it is wise for you to follow suit, turnabout is not always Godly play. What a tragedy it would be if the entire enterprise of Christ Kirk in Moscow was failed because of arrogant childish humor or sniping. As Bryan Loritts was fond of saying.
“Don’t give the devil a stick to hit you upside the head with.” – Bryan Loritts obviously taken from something he read.