04 February 2010

New Rule

by Phil Johnson

    was gone all day Wednesday and missed the entire discussion that was prompted by Frank's post. I'm sorry about that, because I gather some of the comments were intended for me personally, invoking the name of John MacArthur and whatnot in a backhanded way.

Here's something to consider, and then I'm off to London this afternoon. (Incidentally, I'm going to close comments on this post, since I won't be here.)

We do fully realize that our replies to critics and dissenters are often more blunt, to the point, and firm than evangelicals who have imbibed heavy doses of Christianity Today (or dabbled at the edge of Emergence) are accustomed to. That is deliberate. Read our blog and you'll see that one of the things we are openly trying to do here is bring Christian candor, courage, and vigorous theological convictions out of the closet (where they were forcibly locked away at the end of the nineteenth century) and set them free into our little corner of the blogosphere.

Although we are fallen and certainly fallible, we don't want to be uncharitable or carnal in what we write, and we do our best to acknowledge our failings. On the other hand, we're vehemently opposed to unbiblical and worldly ideas about what true charitableness looks like. (Bear in mind: that stance alone is enough for some folks today to conclude that a person is wickedly uncharitable.)

Vague complaints about "tone" and assumptions about our motives are themselves uncharitable. If you are truly offended at something I have said, point it out to me, and say why it is offensive or inappropriate. It sometimes happens that I do say things too harshly, or make some uncharitable generalization of my own. I try to acknowledge those offenses and seek forgiveness when they occur. If you think I'm guilty, say so, but have the courtesy to show me why.

If, on the other hand, you think it is always our duty to defer to every serial complainant who plays the victim card as soon as he runs out of other arguments, then you haven't heard a word we have been saying about how earnestly we despise postmodernism's distaste for truth, faith, certainty, steadfastness, and open discourse thereon.

Now, if your real complaint is that you like the pomo idea of "charity" better than the biblical method of speaking the truth in love, just say so and let's move on.

Over the years, whenever anyone has fanned the flames of this argument, I have repeatedly asked our critics to be specific; cite my words if you feel I have transgressed, and make your case biblically. Somehow, no one ever seems to follow up with an actual reply to that plea. Yet as we saw Wednesday, those who prefer their accusations vague don't even take a breather. Then characters come running to join the dogpile who almost never comment on our blog except to complain that we're too harsh when we disagree. And the cycle begins again.

So I've made a new rule and added it to the short list in the right sidebar: If you think we have breached the boundaries of Christian civility, please be specific. Point out the infraction and explain why you think it is unbiblical. General complaints or cheap-shot comments about tone will be summarily deleted.

If you want to challenge a point we make or dispute about our doctrine, have at it. Be as forceful and persistent as you like. But if you just want to badger us with vague objections to our intonation, I'm afraid you have missed your chance. That thread is now closed.


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