Banned in Blogdom
I hate to cause any diversion from the great topic at hand, and I certainly have no desire to take away from the tremendous first two posts on this issue. But, I also have some unfinished business that really must be taken care of, and so, without further delay…
During the last month that we blogged, we did a sort of biographical month. Jeff gave us all questions to answer… really deep, probing questions, too. I was sorta embarrassed by a few of them. But, I answered anyway. Then, Kent gave his perspective on Jeff and I — I really blushed when I read those. And finally, I made fun of Jeff. I’m sure that if he ever gets it, he’ll be blushing. But we’ll have to wait for him to think it over.
But, I never got to Kent. And I have wanted to. I need to, really. I started to, back at the end of December. But some very pressing duties combined with my rather foggy brain, hung-over as it was with cookies, candy, and Christmas vacation, simply prevented my completing the process. In fact, those very same pressing duties have prevented me from even touching a blog over the past 4-5 weeks. Today is my first day back at “Blog Central” (the place in my office where I do all this wonderful blogging), and so I want to dedicate today’s piece to my friend Kent.
Kent has already told you the story of our first meeting. Whatever he says about it, I will admit that I didn’t even notice him being there (when it is time to preach, I get a bad case of tunnel vision anyway), until during the lunch time afterwards. As I recall, his youngest sat in a high chair next to my oldest (also in a high chair), and we had a very nice time at the table. I suppose that if I had realized that the balding guy with the baby was THE Kent Brandenburg, I probably would have acted differently at the time, but I didn’t know half the people at that meeting, and I’m not an outgoing guy. Not at all. So, I just enjoyed the talk. Whatever Kent might have seen, I looked across that table, and I saw a friend.
And that is exactly what Kent has been to me throughout these years since then. When Pastor Short died, Kent flew here for the funeral. He couldn’t stop crying long enough to talk much then. Later, he flew out here again to preach for me, and we enjoyed sitting up late discussing, debating, and in general growing acquainted. And, Kent was a friend. Many, many times, too many times really, I have picked up the phone to dial his number. Sometimes it was important. Sometimes I needed advice in a desparate way. Other times, it was less urgent, but still important to me. Always, Kent is there to give the help, the nudge, the encouragement, and even, at times, the kick in the pants, the cuff upside the head, or the stinging rebuke that was needed.
No doubt there are readers of this blog who see Kent as a theologue. No doubt some consider him to be a braniac. Probably we have a reader or three who think of him as a crank. To some, he is an extremist. To others, a hard-liner. I would be surprised if some of our readers didn’t associate him very closely with the mascot for our President’s party. Kent is a strong man, a godly man, a true pastor, an expert exegete, a faithful preacher, a father and a husband and a brother in Christ. But all who read this post should understand that above all else, Kent is a friend.
Will he always say what you want to hear? Emphatically not. Will you always like the “friendship” he extends your way? No, not really. Will you feel warm and fuzzy feelings towards him all the time? I think not. Kent is not the kind of friend that you make on MySpace or on Facebook. He’s not a friend for the Socially Unfulfilled. He’s no make-believe friend. He won’t be leaving comments on your wall to the tune of “you’re so kewl.” Kent is not a virtual friend. He is a real-life friend. The kind that will cry because you are suffering. The kind that will rejoice because you are rejoicing. The kind that will listen when you call, will help you when you stumble, will rebuke you when you need it most, and will extend a helping hand when you need that too.
I have stayed in Kent’s home. I have observed his family. I have been in his church. I know his staff. Kent understands and practices the grace of hospitality. He is a good host. He has a very gracious wife, and a couple of the best kids you’ll ever meet (at least in the daughter department). His home is well-run, his children well-mannered. I watched as his kids woke up early and started practicing their music. For the first two hours of the morning, the Brandenburg house sounds like Carnegie hall ten minutes before the Symphony. Kent has established a well-ordered home.
In this day and age, it seems like most pastors are either doctrinally sound or manly, but never both. Not so with Kent. He’ll run you over on the basketball court, and then call the foul on you. He’s a man’s man when it comes to athletics. He throws his whole heart and soul into whatever he is doing. But he isn’t just a man on the athletic field. He understands that manliness is spiritual, and he is spiritual in a manly way. He takes a strong stand, and never apologizes until he sees that he was wrong. I like that about Kent.
There have been plenty of times that Kent and I have disagreed. Publicly, in fact. Often, we have done so on purpose. We both hold our convictions very strongly, and yet, we have a mutual respect for one another. I suppose that if you are looking for a connection between this post and the month’s theme, this is it. We both strive to take our stands on defensible ground, with a strong Scriptural basis for all our beliefs and practices. There are times when we take very different stands. One of the goals of this blog has been to model a Biblical approach to doctrinal debate. We desire to show the world that these issues can be debated, and debated passionately, without there being a wounded friendship in the end. We hope that we are succeeding in this.
But that brings up another point about Kent. Like iron, Kent sharpens those around him. Anyone who has debated Kent understands the need to “bring your A-game.” That is why Phil Johnson won’t touch him. I still remember that promise, made so very long ago, that Phil made to Kent — I’m gonna debate you (said Phil), and when I do, you’ll need to bring your A-game. That’s what Phil said. Somehow, I’m thinking that in the ensuing days, Phil realized that Kent only brings his A-game. And, maybe, Phil decided that his own A-game had “left the building.” Who knows?
Kent is a tough debater. As one who has gone more than a few rounds with Kent, I should know. Kent doesn’t shadow box. He never heard of 50%. Kent is a model of Biblical tenacity. And, as a result, Kent has gotten himself banned. Banned at Sharper Iron. Banned by Frank Turk. Banned at PyroMeaniacs. Banned in Blogdom. I understand their strategy. If you can’t beat Kent, silence him. They have put him out of their Synagogues. They think they have done God a service. They can’t bear to debate him, and so they gag him instead. And, if you have no other reason to admire Kent, that should be reason enough.