Christianity,  Culture

Open Letter to Derek Webb

Frank Turk has given two thorough critiques of Derek Webb’s recent interview with The Huffington Post: “Open Letter” and “Notes”. Turk’s engagement with Webb is not for the faint of heart. He’s pretty tough, though I think also very fair. His critiques and questions are along the lines of the ones I asked earlier this year (see here and here).

To give you a sample of Turk’s take on this, I’ll highlight two items.

First, Turk criticizes the ironic legalism of moral permisiveness. He writes, “The legalism of permissiveness” is merely license raised to a moral imperative.” This is an insight that you don’t want to miss. Make no mistake, the permissiveness that condones what the Bible condemns is fast becoming the new law. So much so that if you speak with a clear voice what the Bible says about the sanctity of the marital bed and the unholiness of all other unions, you will be deemed a bigot by the prevailing culture. That is legalism, whether the culture realizes it or not.

Second, Turk is correct to challenge the idea that Jesus would not have called a spade a spade. He writes:

“Derek Webb in this essay is” obviously soft-soaping the problem of sin. This is the way Joel Osteen talks about sin; this is the way Oprah talks about sin. This is not the way people who are serious about sin being a problem for mankind which sets them at odds against God speak about sin. Sin is not the fault of the church which drives people away: sin is what comes out of a man by the overflow of his heart (a saying of Jesus, btw), and God judges it.”

The rest of Turk’s two posts are discerning a helpful. I commend them to you.


  • Zack

    That first point that you note is really important.

    It parallels the whole postmodern idea of “tolerance”, which is actually very intolerant of any pretty much any notion of absolute truth.

  • Tom1st

    Derek’s response via twitter is that he wouldn’t be who he is if he cared what a random blogger he’s never met thinks about him. He’s okay with being misunderstood…this isn’t the first time.

    Just for general FYI.

  • Zack

    Also, just FWIW: reading the all the twitter banter tied to @DerekWebb from the past two days, it looks like the author/interviewer is a homosexual (he says so in his twitter ‘profile’ here:

    Maybe this was a given for folks who read the Huffington Post, but I failed to figure it out when I first read the interview.

  • Jim W

    Derek’s response to that random blogger is even more concerning. Webb refers to him as an [expletive deleted}-a part of the body that should go unnamed and never used to refer to anyone. Class act, that Webb.

  • Tom1st

    You think maybe Webb knowing the guy’s a homosexual influenced the way he approached the interview – understanding that the truth must be contextualized within a relationship of love and compassion?

  • Scott

    I’m no defender of Derek Webb, but the folks over at Teampyro have zero credibility in my book. They are consistently antagonistic, rude, and arrogant. Even worse, they justify their actions as “defending the faith.” Whether it’s the racists images displayed on the blog, the crude & vulgar website Phil Johnson created to mock fundamentalists, or the brash comments they make in response to their critics, their testimony is loud and clear.

  • Jason

    I remember on the House Show cd, Derek said something to the effect that “loving people is not sufficient; start preaching the Gospel and get into trouble.” Seems opposite of what he said in the Huff Post interview. Are his coversations amongst believers less vague than his interviews with the media? Or has he completely drifted away from this?

  • Tom1st

    I think Jason makes a good observation – maybe the context of his statements matter. One cannot just take him out of context and either praise him or castigate him. When he’s talking to ‘insiders’ he says certain things because they understand the communal rhetoric. When speaking to ‘outsiders’ he switches it all up, not because he’s wishy-washy, but because he’s trying to show them he loves them first as a person…only then can he have a prophetic voice in their lives.

    Just a thought.

  • Frank Turk

    Scott —

    my e-mail is in the links Prof. Burk posted. You could e-mail me if you think you have something substantive to say about my blogging in this case or in any other case. You are also welcome to provide your own editorial comments in public as we are public people with our opinions.

    However, pot-shots referencing unrelated items probably don’t gain you any credibility either. I welcome feedback and especially factual criticism. Please try that.

  • Derek

    Just read some of the tweets from Derek Webb in recent days, including the expletive he tweeted about Frank Turk. I wish I could say that the sarcasm and dark humor was out of character, but it does appear to be consistent with other comments he makes. Out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks… or tweets. I guess all I can say other than that he has harmed his Christian witness is that I sorta wish I didn’t share his first name. :\

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