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Fingers on Fire

June 20, 2009
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“How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, ull of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water? Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water.”

The joy of studying theology is quickly destroyed as our differences of opinion degrade into personal attacks. None of us are free from this charge and I am confident we all have felt that knot of anger in the pit of our stomach (sometimes confused with righteous indignation) that begins to control how we respond and interact with each other. It takes over and forces us to gloss over and ignore valid points in discussion, it makes us over-reach and over-stress OUR point at the expense of fair dialog, and in its worse moments of control it makes us challenge, degrade, and insult the image of God in one of our own bodily members joined together through the Blood of our Savior.

The internet with its forums, blogs,and email groups is a media that allows an uncontrolled access to teach and to learn. One one hand it is a great tool comparable to the printing press, that has allowed suppressed cultures and nations virtually unlimited access to Christian thought. It has also opened a door that many Churches would never have opened: Unbridled teaching and instruction by anyone with an opinion.

The internet has opened the doors for self appointed teachers, it is not a matter if you see yourself in that role or not. When someone clicks a blog, a website and is taught or persuaded by your writing and interaction, you have assumed the role.

Calvinism has hosted in house debates over 1000 years, nor is it the sole doctrine that sets us out on heated debates. We can disagree on Church Government but accept Baptists as well as Presbyterians as brothers, we disagree on Prevenient Grace but do not refuse Wesleyans an outstretched hand of brotherhood. There is no sin in disagreeing, it is when our disagreement brings pride, exclusiveness, and sets our tongues on fire.

Contrary to the view of some, the Bible is not a text book on systematic theology. It is not a book written as a series of topics or theological definitions. It is a story of creation, separation and new creation. It is much more a history of relationship and an eternal love letter than it is a line of demarcation on who is in or out of the Kingdom based on their view of atonement, government, or redemptive history.

From God’s warning through James, I am imploring everyone involved to reset and reevaluate how we and why we dialog. Is Jesus better served by a hate filled correct argument or through patience, love, and continued disagreement?

Much to David’s displeasure, I am moderating comments until they resume less accusations and more credible points and counter points.

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