January 27, 2021

That One Guy

moeYou might also want to read an IM essay from almost 8 years ago: The Little Brothers of St. Archie Bunker.

There’s always “that one guy….”

Some of the posts here at Internet Monk run well over a hundred + comments these days, and you won’t be surprised that someone usually finds a way to get deleted. I’ve come to call that predictable commenter “that one guy.”

“That one guy” seems to always be on a different page from the rest of us in the conversation, and that’s not always bad. A different point of view can be God’s truth. I believe that. But I don’t think that’s what’s going on here.

Let’s review some of the classic contributions by “that one guy.”

A hundred people have shared their painful stories of being lost in the evangelical wilderness. “That one guy” condemns everyone for being whiners.

I criticize something Southern Baptists are doing. “That one guy” tells us that there’s nothing but wonderful in our denomination and I’m a hater.

The church has problems, fails to produce disciples and trades the Gospel in for “relevance.” “That one guy” says the church ought to be admired, complimented and praised for its beauty and devotion. Why do I hate it?

The prosperity Gospel is a cancer. “That one guy” can’t understand why we can’t see all the good it’s done. And why am I riding Osteen? He smiles a lot.

Contemporary/Traditional music gets kicked around a bit. “That one guy” is stunned that anyone doesn’t admit that traditional/contemporary music is exactly what we need more of.

We’re trying to understand one another by listening to the viewpoints of other traditions, even if we continue to disagree. “That one guy” hauls out the usual bigotry toward Catholics or Pentecostals, repeats the oldest canards and states bald prejudice as pure reason AND devotion to Christ.

Maybe a prominent Christian teacher needs to be critically evaluated or even avoided. “That one guy” reminds us we are rejecting the Gospel and that we should never criticize what God is blessing. I’m just jealous.

It’s been a great conversation about topic X, Y or Z. “That one guy” condemns us all for wasting time discussing topic X, Y or Z. In fact, all blogs and the internet itself are a complete waste of time.

Point west. “That one guy” will break glass to point east. Stand up. “That one guy” will blow up puppies to sit down.

I used to think “that one guy” was a manifestation of internet crankiness, but I have to admit I’ve run into this person in churches, businesses, breakfast tables, discussions on politics, funerals, sporting events and family gatherings. You may hear him one at a time, but there’s a warehouse full of this character.

And sometimes, to my horror, I am “that guy.” I discover him when I’m in the pulpit, preaching some point that amounts to me talking about me. My wife points him out in family discussions. I realize after an evening with friends that he’s dominated the conversation. How did he get

There’s always an effort to rehabilitate “that one guy;” to make him appear as a brave soul who’s the one person willing to stand up for truth and go against the grain. He’s the embodiment of the road less traveled, the true Christian who takes the path of suffering and unpopularity. Or he’s a jerk. Take your pick, but “b” is right.

All those efforts can’t rehab the truth. “That other guy” is simply determined to fight the battle of contrariness until he wins or everyone gives up. He is convinced that being right is so important it really stops mattering what the context of disagreement or discussion happens to be or who gets hurt, crushed or mangled in the fray. “That other guy” is drunk on the brain chemistry that he’s straightening the world out.

For some of you, just the thought of living like this makes you nauseous. But for others, it’s like a Dr. Jeckyl/Mr. Hyde existence. You are always one provocation away from running the cook-out so your view on health care can be heard.

Inside the world of “that other guy,” peace and good will are always suspect. Agreement under broad principles is deception. Ecumenism is the devil’s errand. Open-minded people are idiots. Respect, kindness and listening- all tools of the devil to put us to sleep. “That one guy” will beat his drum and wake up the block, but it’s for their own good. He’s screaming “fire” while tossing matches.

Ignorance is excusable; even commendable in the right doses. All the important information is available from “that guy,” or at least from what he/she’s seen/heard/read/watched/googled/listened to. If you didn’t listen to the program or read the web site, just let him yell at you. It’s just as good.

Humility? Don’t shoot yourself in the foot. For “that other guy,” a good witness is to be certain of everything all the time. Say you changed your mind and you’ve admitted your weakness and let the world down.

When “that one guy” shows up at IM, he can be deleted from the discussion, but unfortunately he keeps turning up in the real world. Your kids know him. So do your spouse and many of your co-workers. And for thousands and thousands of the de-churched, “that one guy” was the voice that came to represent all Christians. A wrong conclusion? Without a doubt, but a common one. Sometimes, it seems that “that one guy” takes alienation as his/her mission.

Does our tolerance of this voice within us, around us and for us tell us something about ourselves? Do we want our own dark side to have its place? Is this the treaty we’ve made with our own complex sinful nature? Is it evidence that we are allergic to the Gospel and are more comfortable with the law’s brutal condemnation? Do we so crave authority and authoritarianism that this voice always has a chair at the table where, like a drunken uncle, we tolerate his tirades and find a way to swallow our embarrassment?

Yes, there are always excesses in any human endeavor. There are oddities and hard edges in any community. But “that one guy” is more than the by-product of our attempts to communicate. He/she is a kind of Christianity that has disconnected from Jesus and connected with too many of the destructive and hurtful tendencies we tolerate within ourselves and our movement. Until we can straightforwardly deal with “that one guy,” we can expect his voice to continue to drown out many worth hearing.


  1. I can’t believe this article! It’s so dumb! Michael, why can’t you just…
    Hey wait a minute…am I that guy? Hmmmm… ; )

  2. Aww…Tim beat me to it!

    Great post Michael. I was right with you until you said that you are sometimes “that one guy.” Then conviction set in and I realized that I am too…all too often.

  3. I’ve found that “That one guy” can get quite disturbed when everyone pretends to agree with him. It can suddenly make him feel more like “One of them”, which can be fatal to all his Thatoneguyness.

  4. “That one guy” is sometimes Socrates.

    • I agree and acknowledged that early on in the post.

      >A different point of view can be God’s truth. I believe that.

      But acknowledging the exception doesn’t mean myself and all other jerks get a pass.

    • Actually no that one guy is never Socrates.
      If you read about Socrates in the dialogues of Plato what he mostly does is ask questions, and more questions, and try to understand what others are saying, and so help them to understand better what they are saying, an in that context he suggests alternatives.

      But that one guy never asked a non rhetorical question in his life. He has no interest in understanding what others are saying that might cut into his talking time.

  5. “Point west. ‘That one guy’ will break glass to point east. Stand up. ‘That one guy’ will blow up puppies to sit down.

    I used to think ‘that one guy’ was a manifestation of internet crankiness, but I have to admit I’ve run into this person in churches, businesses, breakfast tables, discussions on politics, funerals, sporting events and family gatherings…”

    Imonk, I believe I needed a good little laugh today and this was pretty funny. Thank you…

  6. “blow up puppies” ?!?!

    That is a simultaneously horrifying and hilarious exaggeration. 😉

  7. I sometimes, too, am ‘that other guy,’ and it is usually when I feel threatened by someone’s knowledge or I fear that I might be wrong or I just cannot stand be on the losing side, even if there are no sides. Sigh.

  8. Dear God! I may be him, er, he! I’ve said it a thousand times: “When all the world is advocating A, I consider the merits of B.”

    Thanks for the shock. I needed that.

  9. Good thing I’m a girl. I guess that makes me immune. JUST KIDDING!

  10. Perhaps “those guys” could be reminded of James 1:19 – “My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry”

    I was going to comment on the fact that “that one guy” sometimes has the truth of the issue. Then I remembered you already pointed that out. I guess you could say I’m a recovering “that guy.” 😉

    But even when they have the truth, does that excuse the lack of etiquette “that guy” often displays? Even when we realize we are “that guy,” sometimes it is difficult to speak truth in love.

  11. Hey! How did you hack into my internal monologue?
    Our only hope? God’s Grace, grace greater than all our sin.

  12. A seminary professor admonished us to not be “that guy” in class today. I’m afraid I’ve been “that guy” plenty of times (probably on here once or twice).

  13. Papyrus, man! I’m telling you! 😉

  14. Ouch.

  15. You are wasting time by posting a silly post like this on the internet. You are such a terrible person.

  16. Best Line: “And sometimes, to my horror, I am “that guy.””

  17. Coffee and donuts, man! I’m telling you! 😉

  18. Before we go off the deep end here….

    I fully believe the individual is often right and the group wrong. I believe that deeply. I’m not advocating conformity.

    I am pointing out the fallen side of individuality: the assertion of self to the point of compulsion. The devotion to one’s own rightness and pov that sets a person in immediate opposition and in immediate refusal to see the experience and wisdom of others.

    • I’m not at all advocating being a jerk, but does “the group” have any responsibility here? I know that the times I have been, “that guy” are the times when I’ve felt cornered and my first (not good, but first) reaction is to put my fists up and try to get back to the center of the room. Are there any lessons for the group or group mentality here or does the fault rest on the shoulders of the persnickety one who lacks the humility to be gracious in these moments?

    • This is a good clarification, and I appreciate it. Indeed, oftentimes the group/majority feeds and fosters its own ignorance, foolishness, sin, etc., and “That guy” is needed. To this extent Jesus was “that guy.” Thank God!

      Of course, his divine POV far outweighs my worms-eye-view. The problem, perhaps especially on the Internet, is that when a genuine conviction, rebuke, contrary opinion is needed, how should one go about it? It appears that the definition of “That guy” here and in the post, is based upon attitude and motives.

      Our culture tends to shun and avoid confrontation, but it is desperately needed on occasion. Yet, how does one confront with charity and pure motives? How does one express a different opinion while at the same time radiate a demeanor of genuine concern for others and the truth? This is a skill I am far from mastering.

      This is good stuff, Pastor Spencer. Thanks for bringing it to the fore.



  19. a few miscellaneous thoughts:

    1) each denomination and group has its own flavor of “that guy.”
    2) it’s really awful when “that guy” is the pastor or chairman of the board.
    3) about 25% of the blogosphere is dominated by “that guy.”
    4) liberal “that guy” is just as bothersome as conservative “that guy.”
    5) “that guy” may not be too happy in heaven or on the new earth, because he will have to share it with “those people.”
    6) you don’t want “that guy” in your small group
    7) you don’t want to get stuck in a corner with “that guy” at a church supper, retreat, or family reunion
    8) to my shame, as a pastor i failed to deal quickly and assertively to make sure “that guy” didn’t tear down the house. guess why i’m a hospice chaplain now?
    9) i still have nightmares about “that guy.”
    10) “that guy” lives in a very small world. i feel sorry for him, but even more sorry for the people he hurts.

    • can the smiley face on #8. that’s the one that least merits one.

    • 5) “that guy” may not be too happy in heaven or on the new earth, because he will have to share it with “those people.”

      Of course we would have to trust God to finish that sanctification job on us before we get to heaven — that should take care of “that-guy-ness” before this problem arises.

    • Bob Sacamento says

      3) about 25% of the blogosphere is dominated by “that guy.”
      If only it were that small, IMHO.

      4) liberal “that guy” is just as bothersome as conservative “that guy.”

      Yes. Thank you. I’ve met a few “that raging moderate guys” who were pretty unsavory too.

  20. I am ‘that guy’ on a daily basis.

    I will be contrary to a position someone is making at anytime of the day especially if someone is gossiping to me. I get painted as a ‘devil’s advocate’. In the aforementioned times of being contrary, I like to think of myself of God’s advocate, but more often not just find myself engaging someone on an issue merely to engage. It’s a deeply rooted fascination to find out what others are interested in and then to find out what they think about it and how much they have really considered, investigated, or explored that interest. I don’t often engage in the online version of what I describe because it is grudgingly slow, and you don’t have body language to aid in knowing when you have pushed too hard in the engagement. I have felt for a long time(about 15 years, since I met some of my wife’s college friends that started this thought process)that it is getting harder to find persons who will engage in meaningful conversation, that instead I find more and more that persons would rather just toss something into the mix of a social gathering like a bird flying overhead, to say “Ooo, look, what was that? Oh, it’s gone now.” If there is a place, time, or person presented to you that will go beyond that gloss, even for a moment beyond the statement “..it’s gone now.”, person’s like myself will gravitate to it just for the hope of dipping past the clean still waters of safe dialogue, without much thought where the ripples may go. Needless to say that IM is a place where this happens daily, that is, where people go beyond the gloss and engage in deeper elements of what they are thinking or feeling about something. I can not speak for all who would stand up when all are just sitting down, but when you have trouble finding something, you will look harder for it and sometimes accept what you find, even if it’s not exactly what you or somebody else wants.

    I like to think that as I walk this world, spending a lot of my time as ‘that guy’, that I will get better at engaging people about the things that they and I care about more compassionately, and that my convictions, principles, and beliefs (which I believe came from God or another person/s that I consider smarter than me on both accounts for about 99% of all I think and know) will one day find a way to interact with others without being ‘that guy’.

  21. We’ve got “that guy” over here in Western Europe, but in our church we seem to have a “that gal”. At first I thought she was just trying to bring another view to things, but it’s become clear over time that if everyone says “black”, her immediate reaction is to ask, “but what about white?” This happens so much that her opposite reaction doesn’t always make sense to the discussion but promotes confusion, especially in Bible studies.

    While I can respect discussion and opposing views, being opposite for opposite’s sake when it literally doesn’t make sense is just being difficult. Sometimes she does have good ideas, but her weird opposition makes it hard to take any of what she says seriously.

    • One of our sons can be like this. It’s like his “default” position. He is getting better with maturity, but when he was about ten, he made me want to turn in my certificate of motherhood to just about anyone who would take it.

      We have spent, cumulatively, hours guiding and advising beloved son on this issue. As I mentioned, he has made huge improvements and is actually pretty enjoyable most of the time.

      I think IM has made it clear that we can all be “that guy” or “that gal” from time to time (no exceptions here!), but for the folks that “live there”, I just have to wonder. . . did their parents or no one else ever tell them how annoying they were?

    • There are some men in the community I grew up in who were on the local Christian school board. They would start a “discussion” (argument) at the meeting by saying something fairly outrageous, or taking the opposing position that was pretty far out there. But then as the argument went on they would slyly change sides and argue for the other side.

      When people called them on it they acted surprised , as if they didn’t know what was up, but they did. They just liked to argue and keep something going.

  22. Is “that guy” another way of calling someone a contrarian? He sounds so sinister.

    • Try contrarianism as blind pride, not contrarianism as, for example, Wendall Berry.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        Contrarian as Professor Wagstaff in Horsefeathers:


      • ok. I like some contrarians. If they have interesting things to say and do it with a smile and grace. I can’t stand angry prideful contrarians who enjoy conflict for the sake of conflict. Encouraging some thoughtful debate is a good thing I would say. Encoraging anger and dissent is a bad thing.

        I certainly can be a contrarian in the first sence (I like to think about the other hand) but hopefully I don’t come across prideful or angry.

  23. C.D. Helmuth says

    Are there any clear examples from scripture of Jesus as “that guy”?

    • I would suggest several from the Sermon on the Mount, among others. When it comes to the Law, He frequently says, “You have heard it said… but I tell you…” This is certainly contrarian, and so I’d suggest that it fits. Other examples might be His not fasting while John’s disciples do, or eating the heads of grain on the Sabbath (or better, allowing His disciples to eat them).

      Still, Christ has an unmatched humilty and an unmatched authority. To that extent, He does not fit the “that guy” pattern.


    • I don’t think Jesus ever found being a jerk to be an enjoyable way to relate to the whole world.

      • I don’t recall the passage of scripture just now, but I love the story of the disciples traveling, they passed a church and went in and basically ate the communion wafers. I’m not sure how that is entirely relevant, but it seems something a rebel character would do, only these rebels had a cause. The first time I realized that story with my adult eyes and mind it gave me great comfort to know this is not a world of absolutes, of black and white. There are greys, and I have to say that is where I find myself most at ease. To me, the Word of God is living and breathing, and that allows for fewer absolutes as life is fluid and not stagnant.
        I am sometimes “that guy” when in online discussions about issues that effect my life, and in the process of those discussions I can usually see the other side as being more of “that guy” than I because of the views of a larger number of people collectively outweighing my pov, i.e. the southern baptist position on most things. That’s where my battles have been fought. I was raised by a southern baptist preacher, so that is where my most contentious arguments have taken place. When it’s the collective opinion decided upon at a convention each year, “that guy” can appear to be a giant bully when approached to discuss an issue. There seem to be very few individual opinions among the masses.
        Sorry to be processing thoughts while typing a post. This has given me something very meaty to marinate on and digest today.

  24. Could Santa Claus be “that guy”?

    He “knows” if you’ve been bad or good so be good for goodness’ sake.

  25. I sometimes have to rewrite a post several times, and not just because it needs to read better. In frustration I finally created the Father Orthoduck character on my blog to allow an outlet character who could blog less polite posts. It is just as well that people do not often see what is going on in my mind. Of course, I still have to respond to God about my thoughts.

  26. the trouble is that many of us are “that guy” and don’t see it–and others of us see it but enjoy being a jerk too much to stop it.

    John Armstrong posted something on his Facebook page yesterday that sort of runs along these lines that I found helpful anyways, “The best way to get to know a viewpoint is to allow an advocate to speak for it. Listen and then ask them if you heard them correctly.”… advice I need to follow a little more often myself.

  27. That’s gorgeous. I teach English at Midwestern Baptist Seminary (on Thursdays, but don’t tell my real job), and this guy is currently enrolled in both of my classes. He’s in them most semesters. And he/she’s also lurking on the secular campus that lets me pay the mortgage.

    *REQUEST* May I have permission to reproduce this for the MBTS students? I can always project it from IM, but it’s nice to have the text in hand at times. Thanks.

  28. You’ve thought about this a wee bit, it seems. I think you’ve nailed the major villains: compulsion to be right, inflexibility to outside influence, low or clouded self-awareness. When does THIS book come out ??

  29. Maybe I’m misreading the post, but it seems that what makes “that one guy” that one guy is more his attitude than his content.

    Some people can argue the other side without being a jerk; others seem more interested in being “that one guy” than they are in bringing balance or some important consideration to a conversation.

    I think the minor prophets were typically “that one guy” and were probably called jerks by their contemporaries; in fact, Micaiah fits that description in 1 Ki 22.

    I think that’s the point Michael is making here, and it is a good point and one needing to be made.

    • I think attitude ends up bleeding into content: THAT ONE GUY is not really listening, he has his responses prepped up on a ‘macro key’, and of course he has no idea that he is not listening, or sees real listening as ‘giving in to the enemy’, or some such blather. I do agree that it’s shortsighted to say that Mr. That Guy has NOTHING to say, that’s not it: but his comments, though partially true, are just not helpful.

    • Sometimes one person, one voice contrary to many, can be prophetic. Surely this is what’s going on with the OT prophets.

      But I think “that one guy” is a different animal. Is he/she humbly submitted to God like the prophets? Called like the prophets? Agonized over the decision to be the lone voice, or even tried to get out of it, as many of the prophets did? Or, if we want to ask a NT question, is there evidence of the fruits of the spirit in his/her life and interactions? Is he/she concerned first and foremost with the welfare of others and with building up the body of Christ? With “that one guy,” too often the honest inquirer is compelled by the evidence to answer these questions in the negative and so concludes rightly that what’s going on is something else entirely.

  30. The worst is when you feel yourself slipping into your that-guy suit and can’t quite figure out how to stop. Blind pride again.

  31. OK, I admit it.

    I too have been that “one guy” more often than you might imagine.

    My “one guy” persona is always on-call when the need arises.

    Sometimes my “one guy” persona is the only method to move the passive group to engage the unrecognized elephant in the corner. Other times my “one guy” can flush out the hidden agenda and thereby illuminate true motivations that may be hidden behind the Christian cultural masquerades of Christian-speak and sanctified behaviors.

    On occasion he is pleasant, and at other times he may be caustic, but my “one guy” is the hidden catalyst that can bring surprising results when few others have the courage to shake up the holy static condition bound in tradition and group think.

  32. OK, so most of us admit to being “that one guy” at times. Me too. My goal is to be him a smaller percentage of the time. But, we sure know some full-timers, don’t we!

    Sometimes, my “that one guy” -ness stems from cynicism as a reaction to the malarkey I’ve seen from some in authority. I was pondering this the other day, and realized that my ecclesiastical cynicism has not really served me very well. On the other hand, my early trust in people who proceeded to shaft me didn’t serve me very well either. It’s a dilemma!

    Resolved: to drag my internal “that one guy” to the foot of the cross, and let him and Jesus thrash it out. I have a pretty good idea how that will end…

    Also Resolved: to resist error when appropriate, without becoming “that one guy”.

  33. I’m That Girl.

    God’s working on that.

  34. This is TentStaked over in my desert. Because I can. 😉

  35. I wonder if that one guy is more at home in the Evangelical milieu than others. Sure I’ve encountered that one guy in both Marxist (your read that right) and computer geek techie sub-cultures, but there seems something about our concern for right belief which feeds this notion that “being right” excuses being a jerk.

    I think that the posters who’ve claim that Yshua was that one guy are missing it.
    He was unpredictable, that one guy never is far too predictable, He was far far more real, and I’d rather hear his rebuke than a thousand well meant “encouragements” from the self righteous. I guess what really hurts sometimes for those of us who are in the post Evangelical wilderness is that that one guy makes communication impossible. We can’t talk about our pain. we can’t puzzle through our confusion, we can’t have a conversation, because that one guy knows all the answers, and has your life figured out even if you don’t.

    Lets put this in context again. Thousands, no hundreds of thousands of people are leaving Evangelical churches, leaders, pastors we are leaving, and hundreds of thousands, maybe millions more have emotionally checked out from those same Evangelical churches, many of us are the 80% who let the other 20% frenetically run the machine, and they never wonder why.
    On the Internet, in church, in lots of different places we need to have real conversations, no more formula’s, no more trite sayings, no more people getting off on pretending that they have all the answers.That one guy is not just another sinner, he is a very particular kind of sinner, and his sin has very particular effects.

  36. When that one guy has authority, we all suffer.
    I think there is a definite breeding grounds for thatoneguyism in the evangelical world. The desire to stand and shout against the wrongs and blindness of the world can make one feel like john the Baptist when in reality one is being John the Bas***d.

  37. There are certainly times when it seems that a clear statement of something being overlooked is needed. But in my opinion, the first thing that realization should trigger in us is a series of honest questions, not an outburst. Is this really something I am sure no one will figure out for themselves? Why not? Do they have well-informed consciences and enough education? Will experience quickly teach them what I would point out? Is there someone here better suited to say this than I am? Is God really calling *me* to speak up here and now?

    These are not questions born of self doubt. They are questions born of an honest view of oneself, and of a realization that God’s will can be done by many other people besides me.

    The second set of questions might be: Do I really understand where the others in this discussion are coming from? Can I feel the feelings that lead them to look at things this way? What parts of the truth do they already understand? Can I speak with compassion, i.e. literally “feeling with” them?

    The result of this self questioning may still be, “I think you’re wrong about this, and here’s why.” But it seems to me that such questioning might derail the impulse to speak up if the reason for speaking up is “I know the right answer and I feel so good about being able to say what no one else has the courage/smarts/guts to say.”

    (Not to belabor the point, but the other half of being wise as serpents is…..)

    • Chris, I read something somewhere that has stayed with me. It said that if you are considering speaking to someone about what you feel is a problem behavior/attitude, ask yourself three questions about what you are about to say:

      1. Is it true?
      2. Is it kind?
      3. Is it necessary?

      I often find that something may be true and kind but not necessary for me to say. I have not been appointed by God to correct all the errors that I may see. This process has also made it easier for me to live in a difficult world. I accept that people will be unkind, lazy, stupid, wrong, misled and that it’s not my job to “fix” them. I have enough trouble fixing myself! In fact, without God’s help, I would be totally unfixable and I even give God a run for his money. 😉

  38. I still am “that guy”. Maybe not in relation to the blogosphere where more people seem to be open to taking position A and still listening to the merits of Position B. But I’m what McManus refers to as a Barbarian. I don’t know what percentage of “that guy” are barbarians, but I imagine it’s pretty high. Especially in a tightly-knit family-grown church where “that guy” was neither raised in that congregation, that denomination or, the church, period. The barbarian (me) is oftentimes one who looks, sounds, and thinks against the grain of the society. It might be for good or it might not be for good.

    But when “that guy” is basically ignored until he leaves the church… I’ve seen it happen before to other people. And that’s why I left, too. But to hear, a year after leaving, that I was a problem to be ignored until I went away. Michael, feel free to remove this post if you feel the need, but that really…. sucks.

    • I would have preferred dialogue over why I disagreed with stuff and why people disagreed with me than to have been ignored.

      • point well made and taken, BUT ask yourself if being “the barbarian” was helpful or not and why; I’d like to hear your thots on that. I can see where being being ignored was ‘no win’ for anyone.

        • I had no choice in being the barbarian. I wasn’t raised to sit in a pew like nice good little boys and girls on a Sunday morning. And Wednesday evening. And Sunday evening. I was raised to let God do the transforming work in me. Not to change it of my own will – because all that does is mask the brokenness.

          It comes back to Michael’s post on Law to Gospel to New Law. (paraphrased). When someone comes to Christ, we expect conversion of behavior to be immediate. Don’t cuss. Don’t smoke. Don’t drink. Tithe. If the doors are open, be in church. If there’s a need and someone asks you to fill it, do it. And the pastor always has great sermons, so tell him so.

          Galations 5:1 says (paraphrased): It is for FREEDOM He set us free. It does not say, “It is for CHORES He set us free.”

          I also don’t think that they much cared for the way I led a Sunday school class (adults) where each Parable was often discussed alongside a movie. All the adult classes (one class, 8 to 10 to a discussion table) were talking about Parables. The modern idea of a parable is the movie. Story with a higher truth. So, each week, I tied movies to the parables as we discussed them (when I was able to find a fitting movie clip to discuss – didn’t have the video, just discussion).

          Further, if I was “barbarian” and unsaved, I’d have been marketed to get saved. Then the expectation would have been that I shave the beard, put away my sword and armor, and be nice.

          • your description of yourself doesn’t seem, to me, to be all that similar to the guy described in today’s post. I’m not getting the connection (other than you both disagree with others, but I’m not seeing a lot of other parallels). I think there is a difference between being BRANDED “That One Guy”, and REALLY being “That One Guy”. Being called contrarian is not necessarily being contrarian.

            The subject of Michael’s post is something altogether different , IMO, than just someone who thinks unconventionally, and outside the box. THAT GUY really tries to say ‘yin’ if anyone says ‘yang’. Is that you ???

          • Thanks, Greg r. Do I disagree for the sake of disagreeing with others and raising hackles? No. If something someone presents has merit, I’ll consider it well and not just arbitrarily toss it out with the baby and the bathwater. Thanks for the encouraging note.

            Yeah, I’m branded “That other guy” a lot. However, I guess I’ve been looking at branding the way they do in cattle country. Branding = ownership.

            You helped me today as I’m putting a few things into perspective, brother. Unconventional thought. Yeah, that’s me. Heck, most of the people who’ve branded me wouldn’t even bother with iM. “He’s a righteous dude.”

    • Definitely sometimes there is a necessity for the voice of one crying in the wilderness.

      But I think that Michael’s post is more about the kind of guy (or gal) whose attitude is, in the words of the Groucho Marx song, “I’m against it!”


  39. Great summation of a real problem in the body of Christ, Michael. I acted like “that one guy” some in my 20s but now a lot less in my 40s. The older I get the more comfortabel I am with the questions and the mysteries of the faith.

    I think a lot of “that oneguy”s behavior is at bottom driven by fear. Fear of uncertainty, of not having all the answers, of not having it all laid out neatly with all the right boxes checked. Fear of having to love those with whom one disagrees. And lots of other fears. The absolute certainty can be a great cover for these fears and many others.

    I’ve watched one of my family members become more and more like “that one guy” in recent years as they have moved increasingly into an isolated ultra-conservative evanglical bubble of an existence. It’s sad and strange and very different from the faith journeys of other family members, mature believers all. Even “that one guy,” perhaps especially “that one guy,” needs the love of Jesus Christ.

    • I share this belief with you John. It seems the ultra-conservatives have their politics all mixed up with their spiritual lives, and they are paying for it in ways that is heart breaking to watch. I pray for the collective group the moment I begin to sense those feelings of contentiousness coming from me directed at “them”. I don’t want anything to do with the vitriolic behaviors, and yet my human nature will take me there in a NY minute if I am not on guard. My defense is prayer, as nothing brings my focus back to God faster.
      My mother and her husband attend a sizable Baptist church in Alabama, and the pastor there said from the pulpit not long ago that he doesn’t see how it’s possible for a Democrat to go to heaven. AND, he wasn’t joking. How miserable a man he must be, and how badly he needs to feel the Love and Peace that is in Jesus.

      • I think it has more to do with human nature than with politics per se. There are many truly wonderful believers with conservative political views and with liberal political views, and with moderate political views, and with various combinations and mixtures of any of those. The problem comes when faith is subsumed under and begins to become a subset of those politics rather than the other way around.

  40. Who is “that guy” that everyone is talking about? You don’t want to hurt his feelings! Uh oh – just tell me. Is it me?

  41. “Sometimes, it seems that ‘that one guy’ takes alienation as his/her mission.”

    Reminds me of your excellent “Do Some Christians Want to Be Hated?” post. That One Guys gets off on being hated. That confirms he’s on the “narrow path.” Interested when two people of diametrically opposed theological systems are both “persecuted for the Gospel.” Oooh, my poor head!

  42. A pastor friend and I were talking about this sort of fellow just yesterday, and my friend asked a pertinent question. Why is it that when smaller churches are adversely affected by ‘that guy’ over a long period of time, they continue to try and placate him? They don’t agree, but they remain silent even when his negative activity is running people off and causing pastors to be fired.

    • Jay…

      My experience is that “that guy” either has money or political power or both, and is thus able to hold a church in bondage. A new pastor doesn’t always see the problem right away, and the congregation has made a deal with the devil because “that guy” gives them something they think they need. The value of a having a healthy church must become greater than the misplaced value of placating “that guy.” Confrontation needs to take place directly addressing the issue. Unfortunately, many people are often reluctant to confront problems. A pastor can’t do the confrontation alone; it takes a board to stand with the pastor in holding up the high values of church unity and health. If that happens it’s been my experience that the person will probably not repent (which would be the ideal solution), but will often leave the church, and the church will often thrive because the cancer has been removed.

    • In my case, I thought I was being loving–you know, patient, kind, forbearing, not returning evil for evil. However, in reality I was just avoiding unpleasant conflict, and failing to see my responsibility of protecting the church family from harm. I also wasn’t truly loving to him, for I failed to be a true pastor to him and try to help him with spiritual formation. When one has a position of God-given responsibility for others (parent, pastor, etc) love includes discipline and correction. I didn’t do it, and lived to regret it, while learning a valuable life-lesson.

  43. An eerie silence has fallen over the discussion (if I’m reading the time signatures correctly). Where did everybody go?

  44. I dealt with that one guy and been that one guy.

    We’re both in need of grace, but not necessarily a voice.

  45. Our ELCA church just blew up over the sexuality issues. There was a lot of anger on both sides with nasty e-mails (“they’re stealing my church!”) and accusations of conspiracies, etc. I voted to leave the ELCA, which garnered only 57% (needed 66%). Many pro-ELCA left in a huff. I personally had resolved to stay regardless of outcome.
    I missed out on (?!) many of the e-mails, and my anger level was pretty much at zero. So my question is, in a big brawl like this, who was “that guy”? The pro-ELCA, i.e. status quo, people didn’t start it, but they were pretty wild with the vituperation. They demanded that the rebels just leave, and were prepared to depose the call committee chairman if they won, because he supported leaving.

  46. I can’t help but think that your “that one guy” is really an aggregate of “those guys”, unfairly grouped together in one person – much like the stuffing of a straw man.

    Does any one guy actually qualify as “that one guy?” Otherwise, I’m left with:

    Dick says “nay” to one thing out of ten, and Tom says “Hell no!”, and then Harry comes in and says, “uh, uh… nope…” to something else…

    And everyone replies, “There’s that one guy again, making a wreck of things…”

    I just have to admit, that I’ve not experienced this one “one guy”. I’ve met the spirit of him though, but I can’t seem to single out the one guy.

    I can tell you that I’ve been singled out as that one guy quite often, though.

    But, let me ask you something. If I come into a room full of Ethiopian Orthodoxists, all deifying Mary… What exactly do you expect me to say?

    If a man comes in and says, “but let me show you a more excellent way”, does that invoke the one guyness theme?

    What if he actually believes what he is syaing? Does that mean no one else believes what THEY are saying?

    A while back, Tim Challies did a bit on “Evil as Entertainment.” And in reading it, I felt compelled to defend those he was criticizing. it was a “first impulse.” But I knew I couldn’t do it because I knew I agreed with Tim.

    I guess the thing that makes me NOT “that one guy” (sometimes, anyway), is that I am willing to admit when I am wrong by simply not opening my mouth in the first place. 😉

  47. Wow…there’s way too much truth in that posting. 🙂

  48. I think our general bent to take the path of least resistance and not speak our true thoughts creates the perfect conditions, and even beckons the “one guy” to stand up and pontificate.

    In my limited experience the “one guy” rarely engages after honest thoughts, opinions, convictions, etc. are expressed in a group setting.

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