Noble: We don’t fight critics (except when we do) 50

Perry Noble took a few minutes to coach his congregations on how not to respond to critics last Sunday. Here’s some of what he said (after bragging about asking God for permission to throw over the table of a young woman at a local restaurant who dared to talk about entertainment in church within earshot of Noble):

We don’t fight battles with people that claim to be Christian but don’t like us.

We don’t fight battles with bloggers. We don’t read the stuff, we don’t go on and comment, we don’t do that stuff.

You know why? That’s not our calling. Our calling is to preach the Gospel…and I don’t have time, and neither do any of you, to worry about what people say. We can’t control what they say. We can control what Jesus says to us, and whether or not we’re obedient to it.

Recently we had to release a staff member over him responding to a critic, and he went over the line and confessed some stuff that he did. He said some stuff that he shouldn’t have said. (We don’t have the unabomber. He didn’t blow up anybody’s house. Don’t worry.) And we had to talk to some church members that did some things. And we’re like, “Listen guys, we don’t fight these people.”…

Let me just kind of coach you. If you see people and bloggers and stuff, don’t fight with these people. Because here’s the deal. If we’re wrong, and we’re doing it wrong, God will, like, blow this place up, and they can come celebrate the bonfire.

But if we’re right, if we’re preaching the gospel and lives are being changed, it can’t be stopped. It’s in God’s hands, not ours.

Here’s the video.

In his talk and later that night, he reported this:

I loved coaching our church today on how to respond to critics…we DON’T fight with them (see Nehemiah 6:1-4)…as Rick Warren says…we OUTLOVE them, OUTLIVE them and OUTFRUIT them.

Sounds nice (except for the outlive them bit), but Noble’s proof texting completely contradicts his don’t-fight advice. This passage is a favorite of pastors like Noble, but the problem is that most of his critics are not analogous to Nehemiah’s enemies. As I explained in more detail a few months ago, the differences are manifold.

  1. Nehemiah was responding to a lie.
  2. Nehemiah did reply.
  3. Nehemiah faced real mortal enemies who plotted to take his life.

In calling for passivity, Noble once again paints his critics as enemies of God. So long as he keeps doing that, why would he honestly expect that his followers would take his advice seriously?

At the beginning of his coaching session, Noble acknowledged that he is a controversial character, so we assume that no-one should be surprised that he attracts some criticism. Instead of defending his controversial behaviors and beliefs, his argument to his congregation is roughly as follows:

  1. People who don’t like Perry are not really Christians. This is the same as his Nehemiah argument. If you criticize Perry, you are the enemy.
  2. Don’t read their blogs or even try to persuade them that we’re right. Just for context, this is coming from a blogger and major-league tweeter. If you have the truth on your side, where’s the threat in reading other blogs?
  3. God will stop us if we’re wrong. Coming from a teacher of the gospel, this is the height of irresponsibility. It’s also what Joseph Smith said. It’s what every heretic says. And it’s what Peter said in 2 Peter 2:3: “Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping.” Peter says that God will “blow up” false teachers, but not immediately. That’s why believers are required to test the truth of what a teacher says, not just assume that because he’s temporarily successful that everything is alright. It’s a fatalistic argument, and one we’ve dealt with before.

Perry’s warning against fighting isn’t terribly persuasive, especially given what else he said. He starts the illustration by asking God if he could fight a young woman at a fast-food restaurant who wasn’t even talking to Perry. The only reason that he didn’t is because God told him, after Noble sent up a quick prayer request, that he couldn’t. He then claims that his critics are sons of Satan, then he tops off the whole performance by wanting to hurl food at the young woman after hearing the testimony another young lady.

If this man were your boss, what kind of response to critics do you think would impress him most?

A while back I asked, When you call us sons and daughters of the Devil, what kinds of passions do you unleash and endorse among your true believers?

Based on his report of misadventure among his staff and church members, the answer appears to be “not good ones.”

50 thoughts on “Noble: We don’t fight critics (except when we do)

  1. James Downing Oct 15, 2009 4:40 pm

    “Now, I COULD go on and on about how awful that joke is because it condones medical malpractice, it makes light of a man’s last few days and his disappointment in it suddenly shrinking to 1 day.

    I could. But I’d be a moron if I did.”

    Wow.

    Wow. We’ve reached a new low for rediculous comments here.

  2. Corner Coffee Oct 15, 2009 4:56 pm

    I never said I was good at the comedy thing 🙂

  3. James Duncan Oct 15, 2009 10:57 pm

    All humor has to have a kernel of truth in it for it to work. I’ve heard PN tell a similar story a few months ago about asking God for permission to beat up a man at Sams Club–also in front of his wife and child. Search his blog for “punch in the throat” for a few more examples.

    Do you suppose that we’re totally stupid to think that this man’s first response to criticism is angry and violent? God–so far–keeps talking him out of acting it out, but there’s something there.

    I repeat a point made earlier. The insensitivity is amazing. He’s informing his church about a staffer’s overreaction to criticism–and does so by joking about PN’s own fantasies of overreaction. At least pick another time to tell your beat-up-the-girl “joke.”

    Also, I’m with Sylvia. There’s nothing funny about violence against women.

  4. Tommy F Oct 16, 2009 12:00 am

    One further thought about the firing of the staff member.

    According to Noble’s logic, you should not criticize Noble.
    And in case one was tempted to help stop the criticism, you should also not defend Noble from those who criticize Noble.

    So, NS-ers should skip the criticism and skip the defense of the criticism. Huh?

    If I were the employee, I’d claim unfair dismissal from the fuzzy logic that Noble is promoting. After all remember Noble’s ridiculous logic, God didn’t stop the employee from whatever he/she did. God must have endorsed it.

    Shouldn’t the employee have said to Noble: “God never stopped me. I thought he approved.”

  5. Corner Coffee Oct 16, 2009 12:00 am

    Duncan,
    “All humor has to have a kernel of truth in it for it to work”

    Absolutely true. But exaggerating your reaction from “I got really upset/angry” to “I wanted to kill them!” for the sake of dramatic and/or humorous effect is not uncommon. I do it quite frequently.

    I don’t think you’re stupid, but I keep getting pushback over the fact that he made a joke AS IF the content of the joke was his actual reaction.

    “He’s informing his church about a staffer’s overreaction to criticism–and does so by joking about PN’s own fantasies of overreaction.”

    This is the only valid criticism I’ve seen so far. But it’s important to note (while we dealing with the facts of the situation) that he did not act upon his desire to argue with the girl. If I were a staffer at his church, I wouldn’t be confused at his desire to react, or his joking about his desire to react, so long as he, himself, didn’t react. The point of the story could very easily be “I understand your desire to react. Here’s a humorous story that exemplifies my understanding of that desire. I didn’t react. Neither should you.”

    “There’s nothing funny about violence against women.”

    Indeed. And if he was telling a story about his experience actually beating up a woman, I wouldn’t be slapping my knee either. But he wasn’t.

    Does anyone else remember that line from The Honeymooners?

    “One of these days, Alice … to the moon!”

    He wasn’t serious. It was a joke. And it was VERY funny!

  6. Corner Coffee Oct 16, 2009 12:04 am

    Tommy,
    As JT said above, this is a valid criticism. Bad things happen all the time, and God lets them happen. He needs to stop using that one. It just doesn’t make any sense.

    (So, correction to my above comment. There are 2 valid criticisms I’ve seen so far. The one Tommy mentioned, though, is the only one that I think really stands up.)

  7. James Duncan Oct 16, 2009 12:39 am

    CC,

    To quote the joker: “Everything in me, everything in me” wanted to do it.

  8. Corner Coffee Oct 16, 2009 10:22 am

    Duncan,
    You know that quote was referring to putting his arm around her and asking if she went to church to be bored. Here’s the quote, in context. Note the use of the word “and” in its transitional form:

    “And I’m like ‘God, she’s a girl, but I’ll take her out. I mean, I’ll do it right now, Lord.’, and everything in me, everything in me — I just gotta be honest, I struggle just like you (…) — I wanted to look at Lucretia and Charisse and say (I’ll be right back), I wanna kinda go sit down and put my arm around her and say “Do you go to church to be bored??? Do you go to church to be bored???”

    (edited for length)

  9. James Downing Oct 16, 2009 10:24 am

    Coffee – read the first 12 words of the quote you just posted.

  10. James Duncan Oct 16, 2009 10:32 am

    Sylvia (or any other lady), how would you have felt having him come and put his arm around you like that?

  11. Corner Coffee Oct 16, 2009 10:47 am

    1. The girl obviously provoked him. I doubt she would have been surprised or upset. She was looking to start a fight about it. (at least according to Noble’s version of the events)

    2. HE DIDN’T DO IT. He wanted to, but he didn’t. That’s the point!!! He admitted he was wrong. He went ON and ON about how he was wrong for wanting to do it. He used it as an illustration to his congregation on what NOT TO DO.

    What more do you want from the guy?

  12. Seth Oct 16, 2009 11:50 am

    Corner Coffee

    Duncan just wants Perry to be perfect like his pastor at his church.

    I personally find it fresh that the Pastor shares what he struggles with to the congregation, it makes him more human and shows that he is a normal person who struggles with normal things. Kind of like what Paul does in Romans 7:14-21. Paul is honest and shows that he is really no different than anyone else. I count it as a humility thing, when one can confess their short-comings infront of thousands of people.

  13. JT Oct 16, 2009 11:53 am

    Coffee,

    I said the same thing in the very first comment, which was ignored:

    “In general terms, my objection to this post is that you’ve taken examples which were offered as what not to do, and then you’ve implied that Noble was endorsing those behaviors.”

  14. James Duncan Oct 16, 2009 12:23 pm

    At least we seem to have reached a consensus that it wasn’t a joke.

  15. Corner Coffee Oct 16, 2009 1:38 pm

    Duncan,
    Are we seriously back here … again? I’m just going to quote what I said above:

    “The story is real. The part about wanting to beat up a girl is obviously a joke.”

  16. James Duncan Oct 16, 2009 1:48 pm

    Sorry, CC, I must have misread you.

    I do see it clearly now. A pastor confessing to consuming violent urges against young Christian women is absolutely hilarious, especially when he’s setting up a story about a staffer whom he just fired.

    What a riot.

  17. Corner Coffee Oct 16, 2009 2:29 pm

    Duncan,
    Does any humor NOT offend you?

  18. Sylvia Oct 17, 2009 3:16 am

    Mr.Duncan,
    I would like to think that I would scream bloody murder, but, wow, I don’t even know. I already find the guy terrifying, I wonder if I wouldn’t just shut down completely. I mean, the thought of a person coming up and just feeling free to touch me like that, and then speaking in that really ridiculing tone—-it just has such an ugly, gendered, bullying quality to it.
    The dude expressed his desire to, firstly, destabilize her by invading her space, secondly create a false dichotomy; entertained vs. bored (I think the right answer is “C”‘fed from the word of God’)and, thirdly, try to pass off a bogus and contrived definition of the word “entertainment”. Basically, he was talking about bullying her into accepting a completely fallacious argument through brute domination.
    Ugh, I’m sorry if I sound like Ms.Magazine here. That’s really not where I’m coming from at all. Its actually because I’m NOT a feminist that I wish that pastor’s like this and the men in their congregations would lead with gentleness and consider the entire flock, not just the unregenerate, 30-something, male Jackie Gleason fans who might be visiting.

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