Thursday, July 2, 2009

The Need for Covering with Love in the Blogosphere

I am following a discussion at SBC Voices.  Todd Burus asks “why are so many in the SBC afraid of Calvinism”?  Perhaps, he chose a poor title; Calvinism: The New Racism?, nonetheless, I am convinced that the discussion has went a direction Todd did not intend.  Truthfully, there has been very little helpful interaction on this particular thread.

However, in following this discussion I think the Lord revealed to me something of my own heart.   When someone disagrees with, argues against, or even attacks something that I hold dear I tend to respond by nit-picking.  You actually see this quite a bit in the blogosphere, and I probably do not help the problem—I’ve been guilty of adding to it.

You see this quite often in comments about Mark Driscoll (whether for or against).  Person A leaves a comment that is not 100% accurate.  Rather than dealing with the 97% that is accurate Person B address the 3% that he/she can deal with.  Then the thread spirals out of control because Person B was also not 100% accurate with his comment about Person A’s 3%.  So, Person C comments and picks out how Person B was inaccurate.  By this time Person A rejoins the thread, defends himself and deals with Person B’s inaccuracies.   The whole time there is probably only 1% of the discussion that is actually helpful or useful. 

I will not pretend to judge your own heart.  But, allow me to be honest about my own.  The reason I deal with the 3% instead of the 97% is because it’s much easier to stay in my own comfort zone than to actually engage in a meaningful discussion.  At the same time I can look knowledgeable and not deal with the issues raised, what a perfect plan. 

Furthermore, this is a reflection of my heart that wants to be perceived as right (regardless of whether it really is true).  I am convinced that when I pick at the 3% (or even 43%) I am not truly loving the person I am talking with.  “Love rejoices in the truth”.  Doesn’t that at least mean that I am so happy for the 97% that is true that I am able to cover over the 3% with love? 

I understand there is another side to this.  If we let 3% of heresy slide then a little leaven will work its way through and that 3% will turn into 30% and then that 30% will turn into 90%, etc.  I’m just not convinced that such a slippery slope is true. 

The disciples and people surrounding Jesus often said some pretty dim witted things.  Sometimes, Jesus rebuked them.  Sometimes, he just let it slide and proclaimed truth without picking at the error.  So, I understand this is a difficult task to discover if something should be covered with love or dealt with.  But we ought to a least mull it over before ripping on someone’s error.  Most error is not intended to be malicious but only a result of being fallen.  I am convinced that actually engaging with gentleness, love, and respect looks quite different than what you see from us “truth warriors”.

Lord, change my prideful heart. 


  1. Well, I know what you are saying, BUTTTTT (HA--here is the 3 percent)--I love debate, I love people wrestling over stuff because it makes me think. There has to be a way to do all of this in love, however the written word makes it a bit more difficult because you have no idea of inflections, facial expressions etc. I am reading a book called, Sitting at the feet of Rabbi Jesus--and it says that with rabbis, "...debate was a central aspect of study--the rabbis believed that a mark of an excellent student was his ability to argue well....Though some of Jesus' listeners tried to trap him with clever questions, others debated him simply because this was how study and teaching was done."

    I guess you are saying people go overboard or get nit picky--whatever ...I like it....I may really disagree at times, but it does make me think and we need to wrestle with the word and doctrine. I know what you are saying about the love angle---I guess that is why some moderate the comments. You can feel free to delete mine anytime ;-)--I like your blog!!

  2. Thank you for the encouragment. Your comment is actually not an example of the 3%. You tackled the whole and asked for clarity on a piece. That is NOT what I am referring to. That is good debate. There is nothing wrong with that. And there is nothing wrong with disagreeing. I absolutely agree that debate and wrestling over stuff is what makes us think many times.

    The problem is that some people do not wrestle. Wrestling requires that you attempt to tackle the whole. Let's use a wrestling analogy. If I were a wrestler and I managed to pin a guys finger and then started celebrating like I won a massive victory people would think I was insane. You have to pin the wrestler to the mat and not his finger. Many bloggers (myself included) will pick out a minor flaw or a weak part of the argument...ignore the the weak part and celebrate like they've won a great victory.

    So engagement, debate, disagreement? Absolutely. Being "nit-picky"? Just cover it with love and have the guts to tackle the whole argument.



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