Thank You to Carma for this Term: Toxic Positivity

Jer 37:19 Where are your prophets who prophesied to you, saying, ‘The king of Babylon will not come against you and against this land’?

In our current sermon series on the book of Jeremiah, we meet large numbers of false prophets who claimed to speak for the Lord. Their message was the exact opposite of Jeremiah’s. According to them, there was no way that God would ever hand Jerusalem over to the Babylonians. “The temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord,” was their motto. “We are His covenant people. His temple is right here in this city. He will bless us and bless us no matter what.”

These were lies of course, and when the Babylonian armies laid seige to Jerusalem, Jeremiah asked King Zedekiah…”where are your prophets now?” They were nowhere to be found. Their message was a lie and as such, it was poison. Toxic. Deadly. Jerusalem and the temple were in fact destroyed, the people slaughtered, and others carried off to captivity. All because they refused to love the truth spoken by the Lord through His true prophet.

Recently, a lady named Carma wrote a comment on a short post I put on Facebook. I was writing about how the “glass-is-always-half-full” philosophy is so destructive. It refuses to see evil. It twists everything into positivism – and excuses evil. It always sees the “good” that surely must be lurking somewhere in the most wicked person. Carma said that she gave this kind of thinking a name – “toxic positivism.” This nails it and I thank her for it. Toxic positivism.

This is the kind of garbage that is laid on abuse victims in their churches so typically. “Your husband just needs understanding. He is really a good person. He isn’t perfect, but we must see the good in him and be patient.” Here is Carma’s description:

It’s a term I made up out of observations, and realize it is a form of denial, saying positive affirmations for example, with the belief it will make everything better. I used to say, “I’ll be a better wife tomorrow.” “I’ll make him happy tomorrow.” “I’m going to be the best wife ever because I’m a hard worker,” etc., every night before bed. It kept me holding onto the hope that God would move in the ex husband’s heart, and soften it. All the positive words I said didn’t change the situation or him. Toxic positivity is a thing, even with PTSD,…think positive thoughts and it will go away. This is similar to toxic faith, if you prayed more you wouldn’t have cancer. I’ve seen people in palitive care dying, and their loved ones still in denial saying “think positive thoughts and you will rally. We know it. You can beat cancer.”

Toxic positivism is poison. It is deadly. It enables the wicked. It energizes evil. It denies the truth of God’s Word as it denies reality. It shuts down victims when they seek help – “well, let’s see the sunny side in all of this. Let’s turn to a brighter note.” And then it just blows off the grief and pain of the victim. Toxic Positive people are toxic. To themselves and others. They actually embrace a false gospel. They deny the wickedness of the human heart. It was Toxic Positivism that largely led to World War 2 in Europe. The allies refused to see the evil in Hitler, even though the evidence was right in front of their eyes and it nearly destroyed them and it did destroy millions of others.

I have found that Toxic Positive people do not like the plain and truthful teaching of God’s Word. Why? Because the Bible shocks and threatens their toxic philosophy. The Bible talks about evil all the time. Jesus told the wicked they are children of the devil. God announces His judgment upon the wicked He exposes. Wisdom books like Proverbs would be gutted if a Toxic Positive person edited them. Which is exactly what is happening week after week in the churches. Scripture is gutted by their red pens of unbelief.

Jerusalem came down. And this present world is coming down. The wicked are headed for judgment and hell. Each one will give account to Christ and He isn’t going to buy their Toxic positivism-

Mat 7:21-23 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. (22) On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ (23) And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’

This is What Enables Evil to Hide in Our Churches

This post is difficult for me to write because I have lived it so many, many times. The subject gets my blood pressure, dander, ire and anger “up” big time. I hate this stuff. It is soooo prevalent in our churches and there is no excuse for it. This time, as is so common, it comes from a pastor.

Now, I do not know Pastor Brian G. Najapfour, pastor of Dutton United Reformed Church in Michigan. I did however read his recent article in The Outlook magazine entitled “Reflections from My 16 Years of Experience as a Pastor.” I am not trying to do him harm here, but I am attempting to keep his words from doing harm to others.

First of all, let me say that 16 years is not very long. I have been a pastor now for 38 years and it seems like it has only been in the last six or so that I really started to grasp real wisdom, especially wisdom about wickedness parading in the church in a Christian disguise. Perhaps in another 20 years Pastor Najapfour will see the nature and tactics of evil more clearly. I hope so.

But listen now to what he wrote in this part of his article:

In the ministry you will encounter someone who will dislike you for no good reason. And that person can be one of your church leaders. I remember talking to a fellow pastor of another congregation. He told me that one of his elders just doesn’t like him and he did not know why. This elder treats him unfairly and negatively. When dealing with people like this elder, seek by God’s grace to always take the high road. Don’t pay these people back with evil for the evil they do to you (1 Pet 3:9). Instead, pray for them and show more the love of Christ to them.

Why does this kind of thing get me so riled? Because for years and years as a pastor I was told this stuff by people who were supposedly eminent holy wise ones in Christendom. I read it in their books. I heard them say it in sermons. Some of them told me these things in person. And all the while it kept me in bondage to evil.

There is no excuse for a minister of the gospel to teach such things. Why? Because God’s Word is so very, very clear and what Pastor Najapfour says is absolutely contrary to Scripture. What he is doing is teaching as Scripture what is really the tradition of man. Let me bullet-point what he is saying:

  • A Christian can dislike another Christian for no good reason
  • Such a Christian can even be a church elder
  • A Christian can treat another Christian unfairly and negatively
  • A Christian can do evil to another Christian
  • And a Christian can do these things habitually, in an ongoing pattern, with no repentance
  • The Lord’s command to us is to pray for such a person and show them the love of Christ

Now, what does God’s Word really have to say on this? Here you go:

Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness. Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him there is no cause for stumbling. But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes. (1 John 2:9-11)

No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God. By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother. (1 John 3:9-10)

See it? There is nothing unclear about God’s Word and there is everything unclear about man’s traditions parading as Scripture. What this pastor is saying is exactly opposite of what the Apostle John writes here. The result? An evil man parading as a Christian is allowed to remain in church leadership, continuing in his abusive ways for his own glory as he lusts for power and control. How should he be dealt with according to Scripture? The Apostle John has the answer to that question to, in the second paragraph of this passage:

Dear friend, you are faithful in what you are doing for the brothers and sisters, even though they are strangers to you. They have told the church about your love. Please send them on their way in a manner that honors God. It was for the sake of the Name that they went out, receiving no help from the pagans. We ought therefore to show hospitality to such people so that we may work together for the truth.

I wrote to the church, but Diotrephes, who loves to be first, will not welcome us. So when I come, I will call attention to what he is doing, spreading malicious nonsense about us. Not satisfied with that, he even refuses to welcome other believers. He also stops those who want to do so and puts them out of the church.

Dear friend, do not imitate what is evil but what is good. Anyone who does what is good is from God. Anyone who does what is evil has not seen God. (3 John 1:5-11 NIV) 

Now, what do these words of Pastor Najapfour accomplish in regard to an abuse victim and her abuser in a local church? Most all of you know the answer because you have lived it. The abuser is going to be most certainly enabled, allowed to go right on parading as a Christian, his salvation never, ever challenged and in fact he is not even going to be confronted. His victim? Well, Pastor Najapfour gives the same common and terrible counsel to her ‘ “suck it up, be a better Christian yourself, love him more and pray for him.”

Do you see why what he has written makes me so angry? I lived it. For decades I lived it as a pastor in three local churches. I was in bondage to this very same false teaching until ultimately, after over 25 years in that condition, the Lord turned the lights on for me. I saw these kinds of people Najapfour tells us we must love, pray for, and be sooooo patient with, for what they truly are. Wolves in wool. Children of the devil parading as sons of righteousness. And we are to deal with them as such, not as Christian brethren who sometimes sin.

That is Christ’s truth. And it really does set us free.

The Haughty Evil of the Wicked and Their Just End

There are those who are clean in their own eyes but are not washed of their filth. There are those–how lofty are their eyes, how high their eyelids lift! There are those whose teeth are swords, whose fangs are knives, to devour the poor from off the earth, the needy from among mankind. (Proverbs 30:12-14)

The wicked, the narcissist, the sociopath, the abuser, is clean in his own eyes. He is covered with the filth of his evil, but he sees himself as spotless. Justified. Yes, he raged and threatened last night, but he had a right to it. He had to do it. Any guilt lies elsewhere. Like the Pharisees whom Jesus rebuked, this fellow sees himself as white and clean, all the while inside he is filthy, filthy, filthy with the corrupt evil of his own heart.

Look at him. See how lofty his eyes are? He is proud of himself and even boasts of his evil to those whom he oppresses. He is never wrong. Never guilty. Always right. Blame never rests upon him.

But when he speaks, his sword and fangs go to work. His words are uttered with the purpose of destroying and devouring his victims off the face of the earth. He is a bully, picking on the weak. And even if you were to record his words, the slashes of his sword-tongue, and play them back to him, he would admit no wrong. “You made me. I had to do it. You deserved to be punished.”

He is clean in his own eyes, yet dripping with his own moral filth. One Day. One Day, finally, his mouth will be shut. No excuses possible. Because the One Who charges him on that Day is pure truth whose Word cuts far more deeply and cleanly than any sword the wicked might have used. And everyone will see it. Everyone. To the glory of God.