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.
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...