Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Maybe we're too mean?

My last post asked if Christians are too nice when it comes to difference but perhaps I was wrong - maybe we are really too mean and too quick to condemn or over eager to point out false teachings - maybe we need more niceness or more grace?

One friend wrote me to say:
I think if a pastor or author is in question, we should discuss their ideas openly. If someone we are personally talking to has bad ideas, we should use grace if we correct them. Public individuals often stand for certain ideas and if we don't agree with their ideas, generally we'll ignore them completely and try to have others ignore them as well if possible. I think this is natural and expected. Some people I know quote Jerry Falwell and Pa Robertson as sources of what all Christians think. I try to tell them to not pay attention to these folks and realize that there is a diversity of voices about politics and many other issues among Christians if one looks hard enough.

then another friend, Sheryl, wrote and said:
The problem with Driscoll is that he tends to draw lines in the sand and seems to lack a lot of grace when he talks about people with whom he disagrees. He hangs out with the likes of John Piper, who tends to be the same way when discussing people with theological differences. The emerging/emergent "movement" is a varied one. To say that people and leaders within that "movement" have abandoned or are in the process of abandoning the historic Christian faith is a loaded statement. Some of it comes from ignorance (not knowing what the emergent movement is about or unwilling to investigate). This issue was a source of intense discussion at Jesus Creed a couple of weeks ago. Look for the post on "mapping" and read the comments.

I think the issue is that Christians are more often mean than nice. A primary issue is how we voice our disagreements. Is it vengeful? combative and argumentative? Are we seeking to "throw down" others with the belt of truth, intent on proving we are right? Does our discourse lack humility and grace? Do we need to be right and let everyone else know they're wrong? We can disagree with others theologically in a respectful, tactful, peaceful manner. And if we really think someone is in error, "throwing them down" like Driscoll,, will not incline them to listen to one word we have to say.

Maybe this is true that Christians are rather too quick to point out differences and quick to draw a line in the sand as to who is right and who is wrong as though it were all black and white? I know many independent fundamentalists baptists tend to be this way - anything different than KJVO or literalistic interpretations of the Bible is oft to be condemned and labeled as false teaching. Some have whole lists of supposed "false teachers" many of whom pastor a church right down the street from themselves.

What say you?


At 3:25 PM, Blogger Eric said...


This can be a difficult issue. A key verse to keep in mind is Eph. 4:15, which exhorts us to speak the truth in love.

When we have differences with another person, we need to really listen to what they are saying and then compare that to scripture. If they are being unbiblical, then we need to lovingly tell them.

As for the emergent movement, there are those within that movement that adhere to the gospel and those who don't. The truth of the gospel is the key. We can't know where someone stands on this until we lovingly ask and listen to what they have to say.

Some emergents come dangerously close to suggesting that truth is relative or that we can't know the truth. This must be rejected as false teaching. However, when we differ with others on secondary points (such as speaking in tongues), we should graciously talk the issue over. If we must agree to disagree, then so be it.

If within the church we all remembered to speak the truth in love, we would probably avoid a lot of the problems we have.


At 8:18 AM, Blogger Brian said...

Thanks for commenting Eric. Speaking the truth in Love can be tricky but I know what you mean. Too many folks use that to tear others down (even if not in a openly mean way) when it should be done to encourage one another and build one another up in the Lord.


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