Speaking TRUTH in Love

October 26, 2009 by  
Filed under Church

Anyone who engages theological discourse in any Public Forum has been excoriated, abused or just plain trashed. Who perpetrates this abuse? The minions of Satan? The atheist that abound? The ‘lunatic fringe’? None of the above.

Tragically it is often other professed believers who would also wish to be considered capable Christian Scholars. How sad. I address this topic with the motive and purpose of launching a MOVEMENT.

What will this require? Nothing more or less than ‘Life in Community’.

Accountability is – - each one helping the other keep the commitments they have made to GOD on the basis of loving relationships.

Believers have a commitment to the NEW COVENANT. That covenant contains a very explicit communication protocol. When I write something that violates this covenant, you, ALL of you, bring that to my attention with precision and a call to repentance. You cite the error (sin) that I am guilty of and call me to confess and repent. It is a violation of our union with Christ to merely shrug and say – - “Oh, that is just Tom”. Not acceptable. People who engage in ad-hominem attacks, shoddy scholarship and just plain ineptitude do so because the ‘body’ remains silent. This kind of abusive communication is the “Funny Uncle” in our living room. No more! Expose him and shine the light of Truth on his abominable abusive behavior.

Here are some characteristics I propose. These are the bare minimum that must shape acceptable communication that honors Christ and promotes open and honest consideration of the text of Scripture and the application of that text to life – Applied Theology.

1. Logical non-contradiction. (God is not schizophrenic and neither is His revelation of Himself).

2. Empirical Adequacy (exegetical substance/accuracy that supports the thesis I am promoting).

3. Existential Viability (what we are deliberating really matters in the real world).

4. Humility (if it is demonstrated that I am in error, I submit graciously to the Truth and modify my position to harmonize with Truth).

5. Civility (if we cannot agree on a position that is clearly preferable to others, we accept the impass and do not engage in immature and unkind exchanges).

6. Contact with the Principal (I address the issue with the primary participants, not through a circuitous collection of others to whom I disparage the other Principal in that exchange).

7. Collaborative Consultation (Both parties are receptive to the larger Christian Community and are willing to consider their contribution to the issue being deliberated).

8. Historic Orthodoxy (I acknowledge the historic perspective embraced through the centuries of church and draw effectively on the fruit of that history).

9. Exegesis not Polemics (Most exchanges are heavy on polemics and light on exegetical substance. The issue is ‘what does the text say?’).

I am praying earnestly that this profile becomes an operative and beneficial addition to understanding and applying Truth to life – - A MOVEMENT. Join this effort. Hold one another accountable. Remember Joshua & Caleb (Num. 14:36-38). They were true Leaders. The other ten were impostors. Together we can do this. God is honored by this endeavor and He will bring it to pass!

I close this post with the exhortation of Paul to Timothy. These words capture the heart of this process. If applied, Truth will reign supreme, God will be honored and we as His servants will benefit.

Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will. (2 Tim. 2:23-26; ESV).

Resources:

Exegetical Fallacies, D. A. Carson

Integrative Theology, Gordon R. Lewis & Bruce A. Demarest

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