Wearing the Scarlet Letter C

To critique something carries with it a far different connotation than simply criticizing something. For example, I can criticize Senator Obama for his empty rhetoric about change. That is simply voicing my opinion in a rather negative sense without investing too much effort into discovering what lies behind his words. On the other hand, to critique some means that you have read it critically, paying attention to the arguments of the author and voicing either positive reinforcement or a contrasting position. A critique is often distinguished by the existence of arguments and facts supporting the critical positions of the critic. For this I’ve been condemned.

I do not suffer theological fools lightly. Teaching God’s word, exclaiming His promises, and writing and speaking of Him is something that I take quite seriously. I read many people who have staked out theological positions and yet they are unable to support these positions when challenged. Someone taught them A or they read B in a book and it is therefore assumed to be fact. Theology demands more than this however. To speak of God and His Church and the theological tenets that undergird it requires more than single source scholarship. If, for example, you are going to argue against Arminian or Calvinist theology it is incumbent upon you to be well versed in the correct positions, sources, and scriptures of both before exclaiming one side or the other is correct. What we encounter many times are believers who study in one theological school of thought, read only those sources and their interpretations of opposing positions, and form their opinions and beliefs without determining how correct their sources might be.

I recently critiqued a posting published on another blog that taught the authors beliefs about Calvinism. As I said in my earlier piece, after attempting to engage the author to discover the source of the facts she presented through her comments section, it appeared that she resented the challenge and deleted the comment without reply. BECAUSE false teaching is far more dangerous to those who read and are affected by it than simply poor teaching that is factually correct, I decided that it was appropriate to address the piece and write a corresponding post for anyone who cared to read it. It appears that the author is a bit upset about this, posting two (uncommentable) responses on her blog here and here.  I don’t know why she chose this avenue rather than posting a comment here so we could engage the conversation and I could clarify any issues that arose that brought her distress. I will try to address them here.

She says:

Hopefully people realize that each of us have our own name that’s for the purpose of others to respectfully use when they want our attention. To call attention to a person by using his or her name (especially without that person’s approval) for the sake of degrading him or her is gossip. It’s usually done out of the motive of pride. You can’t look good in the eyes of God by trying to make others look bad in the eyes of the world.

Dear sister, your name is published as the name of your blog. If you don’t want others to know your name, perhaps a nom de plume would serve you better. Regardless, it bothered you and I have corrected it, redacting my original posting so that you name does not appear. Now, on to your other issues of being degraded and gossiped about. If challenging your arguments about the God of the universe, the merciful God of love is degrading to you then all I can suggest is that you stop writing about Him and presenting theological opinions that are not universally shared. (Especially when you refer to those who believe them to be “duped” and “deceived”.”  You cannot expect to post something on a public blog and have no one question it, can you? Gossip is a very serious charge as well but, as I understand it, gossip is speaking ill of someone rather than addressing them directly. Since there is no way of addressing your faulty analogy directly but considering the damage that it might do to a non-believer who accepts it as fact, I decided to address it. No one is trying to make you look bad; we are simply valuing the truths of God above your need not to be challenged.

I take from your later posts that you feel attacked and this is certainly not the case. You are challenged though. Your posting entitled “Are you looking for trouble” goes on to excoriate those (and I assume myself among them because of the clever Jacob jab) who hate you because your beliefs are right. Again, you are taking theological liberty with the word of God. No one hates you or is attacking you or is threatening or denigrating you and your Christian beliefs but if you are associating the word of God with the analogy that you laid out in the earlier post, you had best be prepared to teach others from where you derive this theological position. Calvinists, Arminians, Pentecostals: they all support their theology all the time. You are not being martyred as your post attempt to convey.

My dear sister also wrote:

I knew that my refusal to permit someone, who disagreed with my expression of faith on my Calvinism Analogy post and believed I should permit him to publish his negative comment on my weblog, would seek revenge because of my exercising my right to protect the honor of what I believe on my site, but to do so on a blog he names Love Acceptance Forgiveness?!?! Oh well . . . I guess that says it all — actions speak louder than words. I won’t even mention names. I don’t want to be a hypocrite by not honoring what I said in my post on the Golden Rule found in Matthew 7:12. He knows who he is and so does God, so please don’t google his blog. Such a thing could not bring glory to God.

Revenge??!! Why would I seek revenge? I have in no way been harmed by your words. No one challenged your honor or what you believe. I simply asked you to support it scripturally before some other impressionable person read it and accepted it as fact. And yes, sister, in great love and humility I did apply the golden rule as our Lord voiced it:

So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets. Mt 7:12

I would fully expect that if I write or preach on the word of God, on the theological positions that I take, or the way that I live out my calling as a servant of Christ and someone finds something incorrect in it that they will challenge me out of love. I take no greater risk than incorrectly speaking of or for God and I hold others to this same accountability. You included yourself in my purview by posting your theological opinions.

And yes sister, I do know who I am and so does God. Humbly I kneel before him, grateful that his grace covers me and and my family and that he knows my name.

God Bless.

One thought on “Wearing the Scarlet Letter C”

  1. I’m a bit perplexed by her response. Though you and I come from different soteriological perspectives, I count you as a brother and have not known you to employ this blog to degrade others (let alone seek revenge!).

    I think, in many respects, our conversation is like the one between Charles Simeon and Charles Wesley:

    “Sir, I understand that you are called an Arminian; and I have been sometimes called a Calvinist; and therefore I suppose we are to draw daggers. But before I consent to begin the combat, with your permission I will ask you a few questions. Pray, Sir, do you feel yourself a depraved creature, so depraved that you would never have thought of turning to God, if God had not first put it into your heart?

    Yes, I do indeed.

    And do you utterly despair of recommending yourself to God by anything you can do; and look for salvation solely through the blood and righteousness of Christ?

    Yes, solely through Christ.

    But, Sir, supposing you were at first saved by Christ, are you not somehow or other to save yourself afterwards by your own works?

    No, I must be saved by Christ from first to last.

    Allowing, then, that you were first turned by the grace of God, are you not in some way or other to keep yourself by your own power?

    No.

    What then, are you to be upheld every hour and every moment by God, as much as an infant in its mother’s arms?

    Yes, altogether.

    And is all your hope in the grace and mercy of God to preserve you unto His heavenly kingdom?

    Yes, I have no hope but in Him.

    Then, Sir, with your leave I will put up my dagger again; for this is all my Calvinism; this is my election, my justification by faith, my final perseverance: it is in substance all that I hold, and as I hold it; and therefore, if you please, instead of searching out terms and phrases to be a ground of contention between us, we will cordially unite in those things wherein we agree.”

    Your Brother in Christ,
    James

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