Letter to the Editor of InterMountain Christian News, Boise, Idaho
Dear Mr. Harper,
First, the intent of my letter is to help – not destroy or confuse. My straightforwardness is not to discredit the legitimacy and seriousness of the unfolding of the events around Saeed and Naghmeh Abedini in the public eye.
You and Intermountain Christian News have been strong advocates for the suffering saints around the world and helped in keeping the news of Saeed’s imprisonment in front of Christians in the intermountain region; For this, I’m thankful.
When we express concern for how things are unfolding in the lives of public figures many may be angry at what will appear to sound like unfair judgment or casting of stones, I am not trying to dig into another man’s personal affairs. I do understand the private boundary. I’m not requesting details of any private matters.
As you have read my public comments and were so kind to visit with me on the phone multiple times the day you released your YouTube interview with Saeed, I once again put out my plea to churches, Christian universities, mission agencies and Christian media outlets to not give Saeed Abedini a platform to speak until he gives clarity of his church affiliation, questions around his ordination, phone activity while in prison, humbly submitting to the authority of his local church in regards to his marriage and answer his alleged past abusive behavior in his marriage. I don’t make these demands; it’s simply a call for accountability. I respect that I have no authority or responsibility for any other church but the one I pastor. I’m not trying to usurp another churches autonomy or pastor’s duty.
I’m not concerned with secular media. They are not bound to responsibly report to the church. Their base is more secular; however, I have found their interviews to be more honest and even bold enough to ask questions regarding the public difficulties. I will give any Christian media outlet the benefit of the doubt until they show themselves more interested in financial gain than responsibly reporting to Christians helpful information.
All Christian media outlets, if publishing a reworked report from the Associated Press is as good as you can do, please report nothing.
I do not write this to incite, accuse, or disparage. I want Saeed’s story told, but not while these unclear and unanswered questions linger. I will tell of how the church in America came together to pray for Saeed and Naghmeh and their children during his days of imprisonment. I will tell of how my church prayed faithfully for the plight of suffering saints everywhere. This was an expression of joy in the Lord to be reminded that when a member of the body of Christ suffers, the body suffers. It was good to be faced with reality during these God ordained days that the hardship Saeed faced, and worse, is the normal experience of believers in many places around the world. And good to be reminded today that the suffering of this kind is a blessing when it is without cause. But when it is because of personal actions, it is wrong to interpret that as the same thing. It is of a different kind.
- I have made attempts to communicate with Saeed in private, all attempts met with silence. It is not necessary or required that anyone I write must respond or agree with me. I’m accountable for my words and spirit of my correspondence. I’m willing to be judged by the reader and scrutinized about my intent, motive and spirit of communication.
- Christians have been conditioned by fear of men, in the name of love, to not hold fellow Christians accountable. We’re told it is unfair, unloving, and even rude to judge. Will we hear the mandate of an uninformed reader of Scripture force us to adopt a secular philosophy that loving someone means we don’t hold them accountable or discern how words and actions are not equal? We must be careful. We want others to be graceful to us, we too should speak with a graceful motive. I am willing to be scrutinized in the same manner. Where it is true, we have a history of being unfair, unloving and even rude; it should not be so when we do exercise discernment. For too long we’ve been told that boldness is rude. Let’s not let the fear of being labeled rude keep us from being bold, and let’s not let the duty of being bold give reason for rudeness.
- Does the bible instruct us in how to do this at all? It does. When we probe for clarity we give consideration. When we inquire with concern we should do so as gentle as a dove and with discernment of a serpent. We are not easily offended if the one we are speaking with does not see things as we perceive them – we give room that we may be wrong in our inquiry, and if we are we are quick to humble ourselves and ask for forgiveness.
The is an attempt to gain clarity and attempting to act in a spirit of love for the gospel of the LORD Jesus Christ and a professing brother. With respect, I ask you once again to not give Saeed Abedini a platform to speak as a leader to the churches in the intermountain region while serious questions need to be addressed. I submit my letter with an expectation to be judged in the same manner. Words are important; my words should be scrutinized for clarity and weighed against logic in the spirit of Christ, described by Scripture not secular philosophy.