It's not about division. It's not about politics. My concern is how do we come together? LeVar Burton link
Small change in commenting policy
We have had a few visitors to the blog make what Deb and I consider inflammatory statements or unsubstantiated claims. The accusations include words such as lying, wanting to destroy a person, caricaturing a position, etc.
In response to such claims, Deb and I have very occasionally asked for clarification. However, sometimes a person does not respond to our query. We have no wish to pull rank on anyone. Nevertheless, we ask these questions as editors and owners of the blog. We have our reasons for doing so. We are not trying to be mean.
For example, if someone is accused of being a liar, we believe it is in our purview to ask for proof of the lies. If someone did lie, we would take steps to make sure the person does not lie to us again. We never intentionally lie in our posts. But, we can, and do, make mistakes. We take such comments seriously and wish to clear our name or our readers' names. Therefore, we ask for proof.
If we make a mistake, we will correct it. As you know, we have apologized in the past link. So, from this point forward, we expect an answer to our questions regarding serious matters. You do not have to answer if we ask you to describe your favorite taco.
If we do not get a response, we may hold subsequent comments from the individual until we get an answer. We will alert the reader in a comment that we are holding their comments until they respond to our query. If we receive no response, we may delete the original comment that caused our concern. As always, we would be happy to communicate about our decision via email.
We believe that people should answer honest questions. We believe that anyone who comments in the public should do so as well.That debate is ongoing in our last post. So, in keeping with our contention that leaders should answer questions, we ask our readers to do the same. Maybe we can prove that our readers have more guts than some role models of "Biblical Manhood" ® out there.
What would you think if I started off this post by saying that I think John Calvin was a divisive individual? Then, I launched into my reasons which might include his assertions that the Anabaptists had left the faith link and his denouncements of Michael Servetus as a heretic for his nonTrinitarian theology which led to his death link. (Digression-Did you know that Servetus was the first to describe pulmonary circulation and was a genius in lots of fields? I didn't.)
I can hear it now. There is that non-Calvinist Dee doing her typical screed against the Calvinists. Some of our readers are probably gearing up to *prove* that my sources are not as good as their sources and that I am categorically wrong.
Dee writes a post on the problems of Martin Luther and claims that he was divisive. I would highlight the problem I have with his support of the princes over the peasants ( We did discuss that here ), his attacks on the Jews and his decision to break with Zwingli over communion. Perhaps the Calvinists would not make peep and might even secretly congratulate me for my perspicuity. But, maybe some Lutherans would be upset with me.
RC Sproul and Divisiveness
Recently, Sproul wrote a post called A Warning About Division in the Church. I agree with the facts and assertions in his entire post! Read that sentence again because I am going to turn the tables a bit. He says that often Christians do not trust one another.
Today, we might say, “He may claim to be a Christian, but he’s not really Reformed so we can’t trust him. Or, he’s not an Episcopalian or a Lutheran like we are, so we can’t trust him.”
He then claims to be the biggest fan of Martin Luther and proceeds to accurately point out Luther's divisive act. In regards to Luther and Zwingli:
After much discussion, they couldn’t agree on the manner in which Christ is present in the Lord’s Supper. Both sides believed that He is present, but the mode of His presence was a matter of dispute.
…The two Reformers could not come to an agreement. But beyond disagreeing, the saddest thing was when Luther turned to Zwingli and said, “You are an andern Geist“—German for “a different spirit.” Luther questioned Zwingli’s Christianity altogether. Thus was introduced the divide between the Lutheran and Reformed wings of the Reformation that exists to this day.
At this point, I have to say, “Shame on you Martin Luther;
Sproul concludes his arguments with the following:
Luther insisted that those who don’t agree with us at every point are really not of Christ
He then excoriates Luther (rightly so) for his divisiveness. Please read the entire post for the development of his arguments.
But Daddy and Son Sproul need to take their own advice.
Yet, Sproul, himself, and his son, have contributed to today's divide between Calvinists and non-Calvinists by saying something similar.
Take this quote from TWW's post in March link
Not long ago, R.C. Sproul, Jr. responded to a question on his website (see below).
Ask RC: Do Arminians go to heaven when they die?
"From one perspective, to even ask this question seems almost ghastly. From another perspective, asking this question seems like surrender. On the one hand, no one believes in justification by having all my theological ducks in a row. On the other hand, many of our fathers saw the divide between Arminian theology and Calvinistic theology as a decisive one. We want to honor our brothers if they are our brothers, and we want to honor our fathers, if they are right on this issue. Better still, we want to be true to the gospel of Jesus Christ.
My own earthly father (ed. Sproul Sr) has been known to answer this question this way- Arminians are Christians, barely."
I believe that Sproul Jr is in a position to speak for his father. Who else would be a better historian? Sproul Sr. has not publicly disagreed with his son on this matter and they both work together. Perhaps this post by Sproul Sr is a way to back away from this uncomfortable statement? If so, he should be a "Biblical Man"® and say so.
Also, in keeping with his expressed wish for unity, I think he could have strengthened his case by presenting a boneheaded example of discordant behavior by somebody in his tribe. ( The word *tribe* is the new *winsome* for the Neo-Cal set. Watch for frequent cameo appearances in YRR publications.)
A Doug Wilson example
Let me jump away from the Sprouls for a minute and give another illustration of insensitivity by Doug Wilson. I did an analysis of a debate between Thabiti Anyabwile and Doug Wilson which dealt with accusations that Wilson's professed views on slavery could be construed as racist. The point here is not to rehash the debate but to demonstrate there are smarter ways to communicate with one another. Remember, Wilson is being critiqued because some have accused him of racism, a charge which he denies. He takes an opportunity to criticize the theology of another pastor. He had tons of pastors to use an an example. Guess who he chooses?
(Me )Wilson believes in progressive revelation. In other words, we get better over time.
(Wilson) Writing Black & Tan was racially insensitive? But so is orthodox Trinitarian theology anywhere in the neighborhood of T.D. Jakes.
In other words, I believe our Christian brothers 500 years from now we look at our behavior now, in the present crisis, with as much consternation as they look at our brothers at the time of the Civil War. History really is a mess.
(Me) My perception:
To compare the horrors of racism to TD Jakes Trinitarian theology (or lack thereof) is insensitive to Anyabwile's discussion. To make matters worse, TD Jakes is also an African American which could lead some to think that Wilson just might have a problem with racial animosity. There are a thousand white preachers he could have quoted to make his point but, no, he had to quote a black guy.
Wilson made two mistakes. He equated the horrors of racism to bad theology. That is dangerous and insensitive. He then chose an African American preacher to demonstrate bad theology when he could have chosen from hundreds of white preachers. He could have made his point very differently. By doing it this way, he alienated many people. This is the type of insensitivity that leads to divisiveness and anger.
Another writer observed the beginnings of divisive relationships over Calvinism and non-Calvinism in 2006.
From the post at Straight Shot, Dr RC Sproul on Free Will and Salvation link he outlines what he believes are divisive comments.
The new generation of evangelical leaders — those to whom young seminarians look toward for guidance and inspiration — is notably hostile to these moderate elements of the generation past. The likes of a Chuck Colson and Billy Graham would not get invited to speak at the major conferences currently, such as Together for the Gospel, The Gospel Coalition, and Desiring God. If an aspiring evangelical leader today were an inclusivist, evolutionist, affirming of women’s ordination, or ECT-affirming, they would be accused on a number of fronts for diluting the “purity” of the gospel. Thus, it is not surprising to see Tim Challies, one of the most popular Piper-esque bloggers today, criticizing Colson for working “against the Lord’s church” and laboring “for outright sinful causes.” Why? His work with Evangelicals and Catholics Together.
Ed Young Jr: a non-Calvinist insults Calvinists
Now, to round out this discussion, I will show you the other side. I attended Young's church for a short time. I did not like his Bible light sermons and we bolted as soon as we could. (My daughter was sick during this time which made it difficult for us to evaluate alternatives.) Denny Burke published a post Ed Young's Recent Sermon on Reformed Theology in which Ed said the following about Calvinists.
“They pimp God not to reach people who are dying and going to hell.” He also charges reformed Christians with preaching the social gospel, with being more concerned with digging wells in South Africa than with sharing the gospel anywhere.
Yes, after months of personal phone calls, text messages and in-person meetings, I am coming out in a new way, as a friend of Chick-fil-A's president and COO, Dan Cathy, and I am nervous about it. I have come to know him and Chick-fil-A in ways that I would not have thought possible when I first started hearing from LGBT students about their concerns over the chicken chain's giving practices.
For many this news of friendship might be shocking. After all, I am an out, 40-year-old gay man and a lifelong activist for equality. I am also the founder and executive director of Campus Pride, the leading national organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) and ally college students. Just seven months ago our organization advanced anational campaign against Chick-fil-A for the millions of dollars it donated to anti-LGBT organizations and divisive political groups that work each day to harm hardworking LGBT young people, adults and our families. I have spent quite some time being angry at and deeply distrustful of Dan Cathy and Chick-fil-A. If he had his way, my husband of 18 years and I would never be legally married.
… Dan and I shared respectful, enduring communication and built trust. His demeanor has always been one of kindness and openness. Even when I continued to directly question his public actions and the funding decisions, Dan embraced the opportunity to have dialogue and hear my perspective. He and I were committed to a better understanding of one another. Our mutual hope was to find common ground if possible, and to build respect no matter what. We learned about each other as people with opposing views, not as opposing people.
…During our meetings I came to see that the Chick-fil-A brand was being used by both sides of the political debate around gay marriage. The repercussion of this was a deep division and polarization that was fueling feelings of hate on all sides. As a result, we agreed to keep the ongoing nature of our meetings private for the time being. The fire needed no more fuel.
…Even as Campus Pride and so many in the community protested Chick-fil-A and its funding of groups like Family Research Council, Eagle Forum and Exodus International, the funding of these groups had already stopped. Dan Cathy and Chick-fil-A could have noted this publicly earlier. Instead, they chose to be patient, to engage in private dialogue, to reach understanding,and to share proof with me when it was official. There was no "caving"; there were no "concessions." There was, in my view, conscience.
Listen very carefully to Shane in this closing comment.
In the end, it is not about eating (or eating a certain chicken sandwich). It is about sitting down at a table together and sharing our views as human beings, engaged in real, respectful, civil dialogue. Dan would probably call this act the biblical definition of hospitality. I would call it human decency. So long as we are all at the same table and talking, does it matter what we call it or what we eat?
To quote Captain Jean Luc Picard:
Make it so!
Lydia's Corner: Nehemiah 1:1-3:14 1 Corinthians 7:1-24 Psalm 31:19-24 Proverbs 21:4