In reflecting on the strange objections and odd misunderstandings and striking displays of the very thing he was warning against in my dad's wonderful post this past week, I'm struck by my own and others' inability to discern between concern for the truth and concern for being right. One cares about God's honor, the other about mine. Yet what we assume to be truth-concern as we type our blog comment and hit 'submit' (a more inappropriate verb could not have been picked) is often self-concern.
How easy it is to act on that sense of truth-violation we perceive in others when it wells up within us, yet the intense emotion of that moment may so easily--so, so easily--simply be a desire that we be seen to be right. It's alarmingly natural to pass off cantankerous or scoffing comments as concern for truth when really it is just a form of self-vindication.
The ironic thing here is that some who read this will already find welling up within themselves an objection. 'How can you take truth so lightly? Paul certainly didn't mince words about theological error!'
So true! And not only Paul--the apostle was a boy scout with his language compared to Ezekiel. The culture in which we live certainly devalues objective truth. I cringe at the thought of truth-whittling Kumbaya-singing hand-holding Rodney King-echoing creed-demoting confession-neglecting lowest-common-denominator fluff. That's about as attractive to me as Dennis Rodman in high heels and lipstick. But if our deepening knowledge of God and grace in all its doctrinal contours creates in us, imperceptibly perhaps, impatience or frustration with other believers, it is not knowledge of God and of grace that fuels our frustration and snide tone but concern for being personally right. It is sin.
Paul said that if we have all knowledge and all faith but lack love, we are nothing. What if we made every blog comment mindful of that?
If you define yourself as Reformed (whatever you say that means) yet find within yourself, as I often do, an impulse to vehemently correct others doctrinally, will you join me in questioning of your own heart whether it is an urge to defend the truth or an urge to defend your own rightness? I need to grow in this and I invite you to join me.
By the way, at my own discretion I'll be deleting any comment on this post that I deem unedifying. There are enough platforms for theological hotheads already out there without providing one more here.