On Avoiding Public Self-Humiliation

Posted by
Is it just me, or has there been an outbreak this past week of embarrassing examples of Christians dialoging badly with one another in the public square?

Off the top of my head:

R. Scott Clark's blog response to Clark Pinnock's death was title, "Clark Pinnock Dies at Age 73; Was God Surprised?" Get it? You don't have to be a card-carrying member of the Tone Police to find this unnecessary. I myself criticized Dr. Pinnock's work in my blog obituary--indeed, I have virtually no sympathy for Open Theism and have produced work arguing strenuously against it--but I tried to avoid this sort of  straw-man mockery. (If you're going to be clever, you should also be accurate: even on the terms of open theists, if someone is dying, God knows it.)

Or David Bahnsen's reaction to Carl Trueman's criticism of the hiring of a non-practicing Catholic to head an evangelical institution. "Westminster Theological Seminary may want to look into what happens when a school flees from institutional incest in its hiring and actually demonstrates an iota of academic credibility." It's not entirely clear what this slander had to do with the substance of Trueman's argument. Or Jim Wallis's response to Marvin Olasky suggesting that Sojourners takes grant money from George Soros: Wallis said Olasky "lies for a living" and adamantly denied every receiving grant money from Soros. Turns out that Olasky was telling the truth, and Wallis finally asked for forgiveness--but then threw the reporter under the bus for asking the question in the first place! Or Karl Giberson of Biologos, who was upset that Albert Mohler did not publicly correct a single sentence of his Ligonier talk. Giberson, writing in The Huffington Post said that Mohler does not "seem to care about the truth," that he seem "quite content to make stuff up when it serves his purpose," and that Mohler probably just had an assistant find a quote from Giberson's book to ridicule. When Mohler finally responded, Giberson explained, "I felt a bit like a schoolyard bully posting an aggressive piece on The Huffington Post but, when you didn't respond to my more constructive piece on the BioLogos site, I felt I had to metaphorically poke you in the chest, or take your pencils, or insult your mother to draw you out. The internet playground is a cruel place." I think in our little corner of the Reformed-evangelical blogosphere, some people perceive me as only wanting to say nice things about people and avoiding offense or criticism. But I still think there's a way to be classy and careful without being contentious or cantankerous. Just because something is lawful does not mean it's helpful. And some things are both impermissible and unhelpful at the same time.
Posted August 27, 2010 @ 10:51 AM by Justin Taylor

Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals, Inc. © 2005-2018   |   alliance@alliancenet.org   |   800.956.2644   |   Frequently Asked Questions   |   Login