About Beyond the Pale

If you have ever heard something described as being “beyond the pale” it was most certainly meant to express outrage. The phrase is commonly used to label something as intolerable, to be totally outside the bounds of decency. Knowing this, it may seem like an odd choice for a name. I can imagine that some readers might find the views expressed on this blog to be intolerable but stirring up outrage is hardly my aim. My interest is in the origins of this phrase and its relevance to contemporary Christians.

A ‘pale’ is a stake or a pointed piece of wood that would be used in the building of a fence (and dealing with Dracula and his kind). In earlier centuries these wooden fences where used across Europe to secure regional borders. To live within the protection of the fence was to be home—venturing beyond the pale meant you were far from home, in alien territory.

Christians live their lives beyond the pale. As aliens and sojourners, we are in this world but it is not our home. Home for the believer is the eternal rest that we will one day enjoy when Christ’s kingdom is finally consummated. Until then, we live here as residents without permanent status. As the writer of Hebrews put it, For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come” (13:14).

Being a resident alien isn’t always easy. The ways of this world are often opposed to our faith and living in the resulting tension is hard. Maintaining holiness in a culture that celebrates impurity is hard. Advocating for the value life when society seems intent on cheapening it is hard. Championing the truth when the growing consensus denies its existence is hard. It’s just hard to be faithful to Christ while living in a faithless society.

This blog is meant to offer encouragement and advice to we that live beyond the pale. I don’t presume to have the answers but leaning on the Scriptures and a long legacy of Christian thinkers I know where they can be found. With these guides I’m sure we can find our way.

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5 thoughts on “About Beyond the Pale

  1. Your late father and I were close friends at the Baptist Theological College of Southern Africa. Your mother provided me with your Blog name and suggested that I look at it. I have, and I am deeply impressed. You address the relevant issue head on and you provide a biblical response in language that is clear and concise. I have signed on to receive your blog and offer you my hearty congratulations on this, your additional ministry. With appreciation, Arthur Song, (retired Theology professor)

  2. Scott You are truly an inspiration. I would love to see you be able to touch base with the younger generation. Especially the younger entertainers today who are wasting their blessings away! So blessed with talent that God gave them but they so full of everything else forget where it all came from! They get lost in this world all caught up that they forget God. Thankyou and God Bless you!

  3. I am a pastor’s wife in eastern WA. I saw your post on Scott Hamilton, which began with your amusing story about your aversion to dance. A missionary friend had shared your link. I, too, was very impressed with Scott Hamilton’s testimony. I particularly connected on a personal level to his story as our 23 year old daughter recently had surgery for a persistent brain tumor that we had thought was long behind us. God makes no mistakes. Scott Hamilton’s story is one of the most profound beauty from ashes tales I have ever read I think. I wanted to also thank you for explaining the term “beyond the pale”. I did not fully understand the historical context of that and found it very interesting. It suits your blog well! God bless you in your ministry!

  4. I loved your Feb 13 blog on Scott Hamilton. This was really well said. Your writing reaches wall outside the box. I appreciate it. thanks. Alaska

  5. Eugene~
    I was at the service last night with my daughter Sally. She is a Wednesday Night Volunteer and has been attending Fellowship for a few years. My husband and I visit when we come to town from our home in Grand Rapids, MI. Sally has been here for almost 10 years – first as a student at Union University and now as a Kindergarten Teacher at Thelma Barker Elementary School here in Jackson. She is engaged to a wonderful young man named Juan Pablo (NOT the creep on the TV show) who also attends with Sally every Sunday. We are so thankful for this church. It comforts this mom to know that our daughter is surrounded by a body of Believers-Christ followers, and is exposed to solid, biblical instruction from you and others on the staff. I have downloaded the App and have been reading your blog. I look forward to listening to more of your sermons. Thank you for all that you are doing as a pastor. We serve a Great God who does cause ALL things to work together for good…. I continue to be amazed with that.
    Kathy Goulooze

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