So a couple weeks ago I posted a status update making fun of a blog article discussion where someone called me “rigid and dogmatic.” I added a link to the blog so others could see it. I continued participating in the commentary on the blog, “SBC Voices,” but need to address the manner by which I went about it.
Some good friends called me on the tone I was using–I wore the label as a “badge of honor,” and made sweeping generalizations about those who adhere to the “five fundamentals” and/or to the “T.U.L.I.P.” doctrines, and invited like-minded Facebook friends to join in and pile on.
The voices quoted and priorities set forth by some of those adherents have really disappointed and angered me at times for a variety of reasons. However, I have to confess that, while Scripture asks “In your anger, do not sin,” I did indeed express my anger in such a way that it was sin. It was self-serving, belittling to others, and unfairly generalized about a group when in fact there is diversity of belief and practice among them.
If I hope to be a credible voice in discussions of theology, Biblical exegesis, and church leadership, I need to participate in those discussions in a respectful and compassionate manner. Further, as an appointed leader of the church, I set a poor example about how to engage in such dialogue–especially hypocritical since just a few weeks ago I preached a sermon about Christians getting engaged in politics so that loving and peaceful voices might be heard and someday prevail against the angry and hurtful ones.
James 3:13-18 says, “Who is wise and understanding among you? Show by your good life that your works are done with gentleness born of wisdom. But if you have bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not be boastful and false to the truth. Such wisdom does not come down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, devilish. For where there is envy and selfish ambition, there will also be disorder and wickedness of every kind. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without a trace of partiality or hypocrisy. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace for those who make peace.”
My words fell far short of this standard for sure. I owe apologies to those who look to me for leadership, and to those which whom I spoke disrespectfully. And I owe thanks to those who love me enough to call me out when I go astray. “As iron sharpens iron, so one of us can sharpen another.” (Proverbs 27:17)