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Disagreeing with brothers and sisters

Yet another conversation containing the names Goldsworthy and Blackham has collapsed under the weight of pointed comments that got out of hand. And I was the chief commenter.

[deep exhale]

And this is precisely why people hate the issue being brought up.

It aggravates old wounds.

Wrong response 1:  We should be able to discuss such things dispassionately.

No, actually.  If we're not emotionally engaged it's obviously not an issue close to the heart of the gospel.  Dispassionate disagreements are not worth having at all.  But I think this is an issue touching on the nature of faith, our doctrine of God, the supremacy of Christ.  If those things don't tug on heart strings there's something wrong.  Dispassionate engagement is not an option.  But Christian engagement is a necessity.  Dying to self.  Crucifying the flesh with its desires.  Giving our lives up for others.  Paul said he'd go veggie for life if it protected non-meat-eating brothers. (1 Cor 8:13)  That's not dispassionate engagement, it's a costly love for those with whom we disagree.  We should feel strongly and make the conscious effort to swallow pride, to abandon the need to be right, to look on people we feel are mistaken and love them (Mark 10:21).  Such disagreements among believers should be prime opportunities to give and receive grace.

Wrong response 2:  Given the aggro that attends it, it's always wrong to raise this issue.

Well - maybe on the Paul-going-veggie example, we should just go vegan!  And Paul says he'd do it for life.  There will be seasons when we just have to go veggie.  And this must not be with the thought of regrouping for our next assault.  It must be with the thought, "I will shut my mouth indefinitely on this issue if that is in their best interests."  But then of course Paul did actually side with the strong and taught accordingly.  There must be ways of raising the issue while at the same time making every effort to serve those with whom we disagree.  We have to find ways of doing that.

What we really need to do is go on mission together.  Like in the best buddy movies, we need to go into the front lines as a rag-tag bunch of awkward, mistrustful rejects.  But as the heat of the battle presses us together, as we start sticking up for each other, as we see each other's gifts serve the common good, then we'll have that common love and respect for each other that is the ground not the goal of such discussions.

But we're very sick at heart you know...


0 thoughts on “Disagreeing with brothers and sisters

  1. dave bish

    Something that frustrates me about this "The OT is about Jesus" vs. "The OT is even more about Jesus" debate is that it's happening in a context where (anecdotally) lots and lots of Christians still read the OT without reference to Jesus at all...

    Couldn't agree more with the way forward - yes lets talk but lets do mission together. And then I find myself writing an evangelistic series preaching Genesis and then the whole debate blows up again, c'est la vie...

  2. Jacky

    Hi Glen,
    This post comes at a good time. We just started a fellowship at the law firm I work at, and the disagreements (though subtle) would prove a sore thumb later on when we get to know each other better. Why? As you say - its because when we know each other's passion deeper and deeper, it (a) makes things a bit more confrontational... (b) but it gives way to opportunities to turn the spiteful tit-for-tat (and possibly ad hominem) tide with Christ-like love. I'm sure our Godhead has something to say about this, given that all of them love so outwardly just as we all should, and so appropriately shaped in the context of outward looking mission!

  3. chris oldfield

    wrong response '3: treat ideas as people, projecting your provisional understandings onto a (real but silenced) person to engage with by association, thus flattening a person under another's provisional view...rather than treat ideas as ideas and people as people, letting a person speak for herself to move provisional understandings forward.

    I think I've just learnt what paul ricoeur meant by the dialogue of the deaf, silencing another under the self-same, rather than treating oneself as another. thanks for grace. chris

  4. glenscriv

    Welcome debate refugees of the blogosphere. We do try to keep blood-shed to a minimum here at Christ the Truth.
    As proof, most commenters managed to escape our creation debate with a full complement of limbs. How many blogs can say that? (Much thanks to Chris on that count!)

  5. Pete Myers

    Hey Glen,

    Good post.

    Though, I think that the internet is a place where seeming heat can be generated totally unnecessarily. I think it's extremely easy to say something and intend it at, say, level 2, but for it to be heard at, say, level 22. And in that process, there's no one particular person to blame. The way it's expressed is not as carefully worded as it could be, and the way it's read is not as charitable as it could be.

    I used to think it was just me that inadvertantly prompted these kinds of debates. Or maybe it was just the issues I talked about (I have quite a few "minority" views).

    But, actually, disengaging from the blogosphere for a few months, and just reading others talking about anything and everything and, unfortunately, it becomes clear that the *norm* is for discussions to go in directions that nobody is that happy with. It's abnormal when things like clarity and charity are able to colour a discussion from beginning to end.

    It doesn't mean that you shouldn't keep talking about the Christocentric nature of the OT. (or, rather, the more internal discussion among friends of "what it means" for the OT to be Christocentric). But, maybe we should just have lower views about what can be achieved on the web in particular???

    (I open that last statement up for discussion)

    I don't know about you, but, I'm the kind of guy who likes to really "think my way into" different people's view points before I settle on what I think is true. The internet is on the one hand a great place for that (you get to engage with lots of viewpoints), but also a bad place for it (because what you say and think is recorded, making it psychologically hard to "climb down" from a position that you're possibly not committed to).

    Finally (sorry for long comment, but haven't spoken to you in a while!), on the Trinity thing, Witsius in the Economy of hte Covenants between God and Man records that people in Reformed circles were having this discussion in his day (Book 1, chapter 2, paras 5-8). Which means that none of us should allow ourselves to portray the other side in too stark a terms... if we think the issue is clear cut and easy, then, we've obviously not properly understood the other side of the debate.

  6. Christocentrism

    It is a shame the comments there were closed- I was enjoying them! Will the conversation continue here?

  7. glenscriv

    Hi Christocentrism,

    Welcome to comments. I clicked on your avatar but it didn't take me anywhere. You blog here no?

    Happy to continue discussion here or at yours. I've spilt a lot of 'ink' on the subject here. But mildly interested in discussing further.

    Your thoughts?


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