A Time to Marginalize: Some People Need to Be Ignored

by Dave Miller on May 30, 2014 · 82 comments

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 tells us that all things have their proper time and place.

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
2  a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
3  a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
4  a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
5  a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
6  a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
7  a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
8  a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.

There is also a time – a proper, God-honoring time – to marginalize people who create division, promote error or exhibit the works of the flesh instead of the fruit of the Spirit.

I realize two things as I say this. First, this is considered heresy by those who would view marginalization as inherently sinful and contrary to propriety. Second, this site has been devoted to providing a forum for many voices to be heard. The most consistent criticism I receive about this site comes because I publish articles by people or about topics that others disdain. I’ve been accused by non-Calvinists of running a Calvinist site. Recently, I’ve been villified in some circles for allowing voices on the moderate side to air their views on this site. I consider those criticisms a compliment. I am committed to the belief that we will do better if we talk to one another and try to understand one another.

I have published dozens, perhaps hundreds of articles with which I, to one degree or another, passionately disagree. We benefit from the variety of voices and the airing of various viewpoints and opinions.

But there are limits to that. There is a time to close your eyes and ears, to shut someone off and and stop listening. I do not need to listen to all voices and neither do you. We ought not be embarrassed to just draw a line and say “no more” from this person or that.

It is right and good that Christians should marginalize, block and exclude some self-professed believers from their online fellowship.

However, we have to be careful how and why we do that. Permit me to share a few observations about marginalization. First, I must specify what I mean by marginalization.

Defining “Marginalization”

This word means many things to many people, and I am using it in a very specific way. Culling from various dictionaries, the basic meanings of marginalization are:

  • To place in a position of marginal importance, influence, or power:
  • To relegate to the fringes, out of the mainstream; make seem unimportant.
  • To relegate or confine to a lower or outer limit or edge, as of social standing.

I am using the term primarily in its first two meanings here – to place someone in  a position of marginal importance, influence or power in my life. If I marginalize someone, I just don’t let them have influence over me. I do not give their viewpoints significance or concern. In that sense, I relegate them to the fringes of my life and treat their views as unimportant.

The third meaning smacks of something more organized, more political, more general. We are not looking to demote people in their social standing or confine them in any way. In the SBC, every person is free to hold their own views and promote them as they wish. I’m not talking about creating any kind of virtual ghetto to confine folks I don’t like or whose opinions I don’t respect.

When I speak of marginalization, I am speaking of something much simpler.

There are people I simply ignore, whose views I give little credence or import, whose writings I do not read and to whose comments I seldom respond. It is a personal choice to relegate someone’s views to the fringes of my life. 

If marginalization is done for the wrong reasons or in the wrong way, it is sinful. But it is not only righteous, but biblically required in certain situations. Here are my thoughts on the topic.

1) Marginalization ought never be practiced simply on the basis of theological disagreement.

At the root of many of our denomination problems, especially in those on the extremes of the soteriological debate at least, is a tendency toward isolationism. If you only read Calvinists, or refuse to read them, you have a problem. Reading only those with whom you agree is not learning, it is reinforcing your prejudices.

I’m going to be blunt. Some Calvinists tend to view non-Calvinists as if they are theologically deficient and have nothing worthy to say. Some non-Calvinists, especially some among the group that self-identifies as Traditionalists, treat Calvinism like a spiritual West-Nile virus that is spreading through our entities and must be quarantined. Treating non-Calvinists with dismissive disdain, or treating Calvinists as dangerous – this is not the marginalization I’m talking about.

It is (in this author’s opinion) an offense against the Body of Christ and a root of destruction among Southern Baptists, that we would treat one another like this.

We ought never marginalize people simply because we don’t like their viewpoints or don’t want to hear ours challenged.

2) Marginalization must never occur on the basis of race, wealth or other human measures. 

Need I even say that marginalization should never occur because of the color of another’s skin or how much money he has. In the Baptist world, church size is too often used to judge worth and pastors of smaller churches feel marginalized. That is not right.

Those who would separate on the basis of race, social status or any other human factor ought to remember what Paul said in 1 Corinthians 11. They were observing the Lord’s Supper in a way that magnified human social standing and treated the poor as less worthy and important. Paul told them that because of this, God’s judgment was on them and that “many are weak and sickly and some have died.”

Dividing the Body of Christ because of race is a stain on the history of American Christianity and especially on Baptist history that we still struggle to remove. It is still an offense when churches qualify leaders because of their wealth, business acumen or social standing instead of their spiritual qualifications.

Marginalization on the basis of human factors is evil and has no place among the people of God.

3) Leaders ought not marginalize people to avoid accountability and shield themselves from accountability. 

No one likes to be criticized, but each of us who is a leader knows that it will come. It is easier to just write people off as quacks to be ignored than to deal with those criticisms. Leaders need to have the humility to listen and receive criticism from those they lead. Even someone who is a constant critic may have wisdom at times.

4) Marginalization is required on certain biblical grounds.

Biblical marginalization must happen on biblical grounds, and those do exist. The problem is that they are usually not the grounds by which we separate.

  • We separate because others do not share our specific theological system. This is especially true of some Calvinists and some Traditionalists. These doctrines, while significant, are not sufficient to justify marginalization.
  • We separate because of personalities and preferences.

But the biblical grounds are very different.

First Grounds for Marginalization

Perhaps the clearest passage is Titus 3:9-11

Titus 3:9-11 But avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless. As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him, knowing that such a person is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned.

The primary biblical reason to marginalize someone is that they are argumentative, quarrelsome, divisive or a lover of controversy. Those who devote themselves to blasting those with whom they disagree and engaging in online search and destroy missions are more in violation of the Scripture than many of those at whom they target their words.

I am disturbed that some view seeking unity in the Body of Christ as a lack of conviction or a sign of weakness. That is simply evidence they have not processed the Word of God and are walking in the flesh, not the Spirit. The works of flesh focus on divisive behavior and the Fruit of the Spirit is unifying behavior.

In self-deception some justify their rage, their divisiveness, theirr quarrelsome and controversy-mongering behavior as some kind of righteous indignation in the spirit of Matthew 23 and a few admonitions of Paul. The ability of the human heart to lie, even to itself, is amazing.

It is not compromise to seek unity. Loving other Christians, even those who are hard to love, is not a lack of conviction but a devotion to walking in the ways of the Spirit.

Divisiveness, not doctrinal disagreement, is the root of the biblical command to marginalize someone. Paul commands Titus to “have nothing to do with a man who is so warped and sinful that he would actually seek to divide the Body of Christ.

When we disagree, we discuss with and learn from each other. But when one is a divisive, quarrelsome, lover of controversy, they are a cancer in the Body of Christ and must be marginalized.

Second Grounds for Marginalization

Paul said some pretty harsh things in Galatians, things that I’d get in trouble if I said from the pulpit. Paul’s words are often used to justify harsh words against others on blogs and tweets. But it is important to remember the context of Paul’s words, established in Galatians 1:6-9.

I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel—not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.

Paul’s diatribes in Galatians were not against people who held to fewer points of the TULIP than he did, or more. He called down God’s curses on those who proclaim another gospel.

Christians have a natural unity, a God-given unity, based on our common experience of grace in Jesus Christ. It unites Baptists with other (even theologically disparate) Baptists, but it also unites us with all who have been redeemed by the blood of Christ. We may not be able to partner for church planting or ignore our theological differences, but if we are fellow-heirs of grace we are united in Christ.

But that unity does not extend to those who proclaim a gospel other than salvation that is all of grace and by faith. Those who promote false doctrines of salvation and try to deceive others to leave the true faith are accursed of God and ought to be marginalized. If someone is confused or inquisitive, we instruct them in the truth. But one who proclaims a false gospel must be marginalized.

Frankly, in Baptist blogging, there are few of the second gospel-denying folks out there. We encounter a few, but not many. But we do see plenty of the former. Divisive, argumentative, blustery, dissension-prone folks abound. They tend to be confident that they are fighting for  truth, justice and the American way, that God is on their side and that those who dissent from them also dissent from God. In fact, blogging too often attracts those kinds of folks.

But none of us has to give them our time, our attention, or allow them to have any influence or power over us. They can talk all they want. I don’t have to listen. In fact, according to God’s word it is best that I do not listen or respond to their writings or opinions.

5) Marginalizing involves ignoring someone, not attacking him.

The key to biblical marginalization is to “have nothing to do with” a divisive person. But if I devote myself to blasting that person, if I spend all my time answering that person’s posts or responding to his comments, then I am giving that person a great place of importance, influence and power. It often results in a root of bitterness.

If we simply ignore divisive people, we save ourselves a lot of anger, quarreling and argumentation. We choose to go on serving God and doing his will. We turn the divisive man over to God for his discipline and leave him in those capable hands. It is our job to serve God; straightening out divisive men or women is not our duty.

It is my observation that much of the argument and division on blogs is a result of the fact that we do not trust the Holy Spirit to deal with sinful people. We think we have to force conviction and repentance. Paul told Timothy to warn a man once, then again, then to simply walk away. Ignore him. Trust the Spirit to do God’s work.

If the Spirit cannot get through to the sinner’s heart to bring repentance, will my angry words have any real effect?

The End of the Matter

Few of the posts I’ve written have greater opportunity for misunderstanding and misrepresentation than this one. I am saying that in a limited number of instances, the best and most biblical response to quarrelsome, angry, belligerent, attack-prone, divisive bloggers, those with a party spirit an an angry heart, is to simply ignore them.

Our devotion must be to unity and edification, to living at peace with all men, to loving one another in spite of our faults, to forgiving and bearing with one another. These must be our primary passions. But we must also realize that there are people who are a constant hindrance to unity, who disdain others and cause division.

They must, for the glory of God, be marginalized.

NOTE: I will not be at my computer much today and will have precious little time to interact with your comments. I apologize in advance for this. Don’t marginalize me for that, okay? 

NOTE 2: There is NO PLACE in this discussion to name names of those you think deserve marginalization. Such comments will be deleted when I get the chance and I will think of you while I read Psalm 109 out loud. 

 

1 Adam Blosser May 30, 2014 at 8:12 am

I am interested to know if you are referring to blogging in general or conversations that have been held on SBC Voices. I have found the conversations here to be respectful and tame for the most part.

2 Jeremy Parks May 30, 2014 at 8:44 am

Good grief. If you’ve found the discussions here to be tame, then I would hate to encounter that which you would call divisive. Perhaps it’s simply a matter of perspective, but I’ve walked away from some of the discussions here due to what I would call extreme vitriol.

I agree with Dave, though I find it difficult to walk away when the other guy is attacking me. Self-defense runs deeply in my psyche. General fighting and divisiveness, though, doesn’t deserve a response.

3 Adam Blosser May 30, 2014 at 10:30 am

I am speaking generally. There have been some pretty vicious things written. Seems like that was even more the case several years ago than now. The sharp disagreement and even strong language that is sometimes used here is extremely tame compared to what you can find out there. Personal attacks are where it crosses the line in my estimation. As you say, it is certainly a matter of perspective.

4 Dave Miller May 30, 2014 at 9:37 am

Me? I speak primarily of interaction with various blogs.

5 Joe Blackmon May 30, 2014 at 8:52 am

1) Marginalization ought never be practiced simply on the basis of theological disagreement

I disagree with this to a degree. I think Southern Baptists who are really moderates (i.e. churches that are dually alligned in states like Texas and Virginia) should be marginalized solely on the basis of their disagreement with orthodox Biblical teachings.

6 Jeff Farnham May 30, 2014 at 9:47 am

I enjoyed reading this article. I would say that not only on blogs but also on all social media there is a great need for marginalization as this article defines it. I’ve found that it is unhealthy for me spiritually when I spend a lot of time reading things that are divisive, snarky and mean as opposed to honest debate among brothers and sisters in Christ. Not only did I enjoy reading this article, it also has given me some key take-aways to apply to my social media habits.

7 Dave Miller May 30, 2014 at 10:47 am

Exactly, Jeff.

It is absolutely unhealthy to give ear to snarky, mean, divisive bloggers. And it encourages them. There are guys who seem to thrive on the maelstrom of controversy.

The old adage, one of my favorites:

“Never ‘rassle with a pig. You both get dirty and the pig likes it.”

8 Tim G May 30, 2014 at 4:57 pm

I love that adage! It is why I raised bulls in High School! :-)

9 Mike Leake May 30, 2014 at 10:02 am

I appreciate this piece, Dave.

One question. How would you differentiate the marginalization that you are arguing for here from just being passive aggressive? I believe there is a difference but I’d like to hear your comments on this.

10 Dave Miller May 30, 2014 at 10:38 am

I’m not sure. I can tell you from experience that if you choose not to engage with the kind of aggressive, angry bloggers I am talking about, you will be ACCUSED of being passive-aggressive.

But Jesus told us to turn the other cheek and obedience to Christ demands the willingness to be not strike back. Those who walk in the flesh will always find it as weakness if you don’t fight.

My initial thought here is that the difference here would be how you go about this marginalization.

I remember a couple of bloggers from years ago who would include post after post against certain people but never named a name. When challenged, they would say, “I never mentioned such and such.”

For the record and in the interests of honesty, there were several bloggers (and a boat-load of tweeters) in my mind as I wrote this. This was meant to be a general principle, not a response to any particular person.

Mike, I would honestly love to hear your reflections on the difference.

11 Dave Miller May 30, 2014 at 10:51 am

Here’s one thought, Mike.

If I had a problem with you, and I blogged in generalities about certain bloggers but my focus was on you, that would seem to be passive aggression.

Now, I know that there are bloggers who will, if they happen to read this, think I am being passive aggressive toward them. But this is a general principle I’ve used for years with bloggers on a wide range of positions.

12 Mike Leake May 30, 2014 at 10:55 am

Dave,
I imagine it is a pretty fine line and I’m not sure that we can give any sort of 5 reasons why this is not passive-aggressive. Truthfully, I believe it’s a matter of the heart. If you marginalize because you want to get back at someone and punish them through silence–then I believe it is being passive aggressive and just using bible verses on unity to defend a wicked heart.

But if you are truly driven by texts on unity, and your heart is truly grieved, and you see the onslaught that can happen when some men are given a voice, etc. and you want to promote unity in the body of Christ and you see certain men stirring up dissension, then I believe the marginalization of which you speak is not being passive-aggressive.
I also believe that it can be very gracious to a fool not to answer him according to his folly. Perhaps a quiet demeanor that doesn’t enter the fray will grab his/her attention and cause the light of Christ to shine.

Those are just my thoughts. I’m sure there is much more that could be said.

13 Dave Miller May 30, 2014 at 11:23 am

I have never engaged one of those angry, divisive bloggers and had him say, “You know, Dave, you make a good point.” Nor have any of them offered me any encouragement or benefit from the exchange.

Engaging angry bloggers publicly accomplishes nothing.

14 Mike Leake May 30, 2014 at 11:26 am

Yep. I think there is also something to be said about being good stewards of our time. Grabbing a barking dog by the ears isn’t just stupid it’s also going to be a huge waste of your time trying to shake him off your leg.

I’ll occasionally engage a couple of times when I don’t know a person, but he/she appears to be angry. I just assume that maybe I’m wrong on how I’m perceiving them. I try to build some rapport but if I see that they aren’t actually interested in talking or aren’t going to have any give and take then I don’t bother much more.

15 Dave Miller May 30, 2014 at 11:29 am

If you want a model of godly engagement, just search through comments made by David Rogers. The guy amazes me. I have seen him be accused of the most awful things in horrendous ways and he responds with kindness, engaging with grace. .

I never know whether to blame that on genetics or the Spirit or a combination of the two. He is my blogging hero. I wish I was more like him sometimes.

16 Dale Pugh May 30, 2014 at 12:25 pm

I’m going to venture a guess that David’s role model growing up has a lot to do with both his natural and spiritual inclinations. I would have loved to have gleaned from his father’s wisdom. I still enjoy learning from Adrian Rogers’ preaching.

17 Dale Pugh May 30, 2014 at 12:28 pm

Twitter is, in my opinion, a place where so much strife and dissension can arise becasue of the “one liner” approach.

18 Christiane May 30, 2014 at 4:07 pm

I don’t use the twitter medium . . . too many people get pecked by the tweets of others. Credit goes to those who use the best one-liners and entertain, even when they are dissing someone . . . that encourages a lot of open hostility and open contempt for laughs. Not the most humane medium in which to communicate, is it. I would never want to be mis-tweeted. I would not want to mis-tweet another person, either.

19 formeratheist May 30, 2014 at 10:03 am

Titus 3:9-11 is such a great reference, and one of the reasons I no longer blog. I do enjoy reading some blogs and comment every once in awhile. However, I’m not so sure the blogosphere, especially in the SBC corner of the world, has done anything to curb division and strife. I believe it has actually increased it. Sometimes I think the best thing we could do is stop blogging. Somehow we made it centuries without all this social media. Trust me, I’m no old fogey who hates technology – I love my internet. We just have to use it wisely. If our old friend Paul was around today, I wonder if he would have a blog and what he would blog about?

In conclusion the ultimate question becomes: (1) Do we blog because we have so much division or (2) do we have so much division because we blog?

Randy

20 Dave Miller May 30, 2014 at 11:25 am

Randy, I think blogging can do a lot of good.

It is precisely because I believe that that I advocate this marginalization. If we engage the extremes, the angry, divisive bloggers, then they become the center of attention and everything degrades.

If we ignore them, we can have productive discussions of good topics and not be sidetracked by the voices of division.

21 formeratheist May 30, 2014 at 1:38 pm

I’m terrible at ignoring those guys :) That’s what I admire about you guys that can do that. I am working on it.

22 Louis May 30, 2014 at 10:44 am

Great thoughts!

Context is also important. Sometimes people say things in certain ways because of their experience and education. They need encouragement and reorientation.

That often can’t happen on a blog because of the nature of the medium.

So my tolerance for people is higher in person. I can talk with them, exhort and encourage them, and then hopefully over time they will improve. Writing them off is not always the best option. But this does take judgment.

On blogs, however, the chance to exhort and correct may be more limited. I do think people change over time, however, and I always hold out that continued communication improves things.

But marginalization is sometimes the best route.

23 Dave Miller May 30, 2014 at 11:05 am

Adam, permit me to expound a little on my post, then I have other tasks to get on to and my prophecy that I will not interact will come true.

Back in the day, I engaged on many blogs and if I saw someone who I thought was divisive, I called him on it. I wrote posts in response to other bloggers here or at other blogs.

They never really accomplished anything except perhaps to drive traffic at the other blogs.

So, I just don’t go to those blogs. I could name (but won’t) about 7 or 8 right off the top of my head that I just avoid. Once in a while, I’ll look in just to see what is going on at that blog, or if I happen to see a post on Twitter or facebook. I just don’t go there.

It took me way too long to realize this, but it is the HOly Spirit’s job, not mine, to straighten out all the troublemakers on blogs.

I have done quite a bit of Twitter blocking as well. There are networks of Twitter hate merchants who dog-pile on people they don’t like. I can’t stop them from doing that but I CAN stop listening to it. There is a block mechanism on Twitter and a “mute” as well. (That means they don’t know they are blocked but I don’t have to see their tweets).

These Twitter terror brigades are evil, but I have no contact with their evil – I’ve just chosen not to listen anymore. I don’t fight back, I just obey Titus 3:9-11.

One more thing. As regards this site, if it comes to that point, I usually moderate or block a person. There have been a few I’ve blocked and more that I have moderated because they a) promoted a false gospel or false teaching belligerently here, or b) they are constantly contentious and stir up dissension.

There are posts and posters that I tend to ignore more than others. People are surprised at times to hear that I don’t read all the posts or comments at Voices. Just don’t have time.

If something is outside the pale, I will turn it down. I’ve done that a few times. But I am under no obligation to interact with or to engage every author here or every post. This is a forum for ideas but not all of them are interesting to me.

Now, on to the rest of my day.

24 Dave Miller May 30, 2014 at 11:30 am

Now I’m really, really, really, really going away! Really.

25 dr. james willingham May 30, 2014 at 11:41 am

Promises, promises, promises, promises, questionable promises.:). I really, really, really, really could not resist the temptation. Really.

26 D. L. Payton May 30, 2014 at 4:51 pm

Boys, really now

27 dr. james willingham May 31, 2014 at 12:00 pm

Well, Really, and why not?

28 D. L. Payton May 31, 2014 at 1:22 pm

Oh My! I am speechless….that is a first! :-)

29 Christiane May 30, 2014 at 4:03 pm

“If the Spirit cannot get through to the sinner’s heart to bring repentance, will my angry words have any real effect? ”
No.

DAVID, ‘kindness’, like that of Our God, may help them:

“. . . God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance . . . ”
(from Romans 2:4)

and this ‘kindness’ in us needs to mirror the kindness shown to sinners by Our Lord Jesus Christ, when He was among us, when He talked and ate and sat with sinners . . . when He went out among the people and had great compassion for those with problems.

Romans, Chapter 2 helps to answer your question, and it does a better job than I could ever do.

30 volfan007 May 30, 2014 at 4:28 pm

Now, I’m feeling like I’ve been marginalized.

Does anyone, out there, hear me? Willing to talk to me? Anyone?

oh well…..sigh.

David

31 Tarheel May 30, 2014 at 4:46 pm

I am here, VolFan.

Maybe we co-found the “Merry Band of Marginalized SBCvoices” club.

32 Dave Miller May 30, 2014 at 4:47 pm

It was those comments about skinny jeans.

33 D. L. Payton May 30, 2014 at 4:52 pm

Yo Volfan I am here, what do you want to talk about.

34 Tim G May 30, 2014 at 4:59 pm

Volfan,
Drink two pots of coffee, have some ribs, dive into a big ol pie to finish it up and all will be well again!

35 D. L. Payton May 30, 2014 at 5:08 pm

Tim, please, I have not had lunch yet

36 volfan007 May 30, 2014 at 5:13 pm

Tim G.,

You know me too well…..

David

37 volfan007 May 30, 2014 at 6:03 pm
38 volfan007 May 30, 2014 at 6:06 pm

Also, this is exactly how I feel before mealtime…..wooo hoooo! Yes, we gonna eat good, tonight!

David

39 Rick Patrick May 30, 2014 at 6:10 pm

You mention *especially* Traditionalists who “treat Calvinism like a West Nile virus…needing to be quarantined.”

I have not heard any Trads call Calvinism a deadly disease. I think many Trads might wish for greater theological balance among our most recently elected entity heads. I myself have called for more proportionally balanced leaders, as when the ERLC hired five Calvinists in one day–only two of which were Southern Baptists.

Such observations, I believe, are well within the realm of reasonable opinion. If comments suggesting more balance are interpreted as extreme calls for disease fighting measures, then I have been misunderstood. Perhaps it would help to know more specifically the people you deem worthy of marginalization. By not naming names, it leaves things a little vague.

40 Greg Harvey May 30, 2014 at 6:34 pm

You’re amazing Rick.

41 Rick Patrick May 30, 2014 at 9:31 pm

Well, Greg, I’m blushing, but you’re right. And so are you. Aren’t we all? We have been made in the image of God! We are His “poiema” or His masterpiece.

42 Les Prouty May 30, 2014 at 6:37 pm

Rick,

I think Dave was “balanced” in his statement with, “Some Calvinists tend to view non-Calvinists as if they are theologically deficient and have nothing worthy to say.” He cut it both ways in his hyperbole.

43 Les Prouty May 30, 2014 at 6:42 pm

And it looks like to me that the *especially* was identifying a subset of the non C group. Like *particularly” these non Cs. I can’t imagine he was saying that you and other Trads need to be more marginalized than some Cs need to be marginalized. Just my observation.

44 Jim G. May 30, 2014 at 8:26 pm

I’m with Rick on this one. This is not the first marginalize-the-extremes post Dave has written, though I do not have the link to the previous one. It is his blog and he can maintain it as he wishes, but at the end of the day, we are Baptists. We are (or perhaps once were but no longer) about congregationalism, priesthood of the believer, and soul competency. That means no one gets marginalized just because he appears divisive. Remember, one man’s divisive is another man’s prophet.

Rather than marginalize, here’s another idea: we listen. There are those on the opposite sides of theological fences in the SBC that I would almost disagree with them on the color of the sky. But I don’t want them marginalized. I don’t agree with what they say, but I’ll defend with all I have their right to say it. Their views are healthy for all of us. If we are free to marginalize people who appear divisive, we may be marginalizing a true prophet. I seem to recall lots of OT voices who were divisive to the status quo. We need to listen to those who appear most divisive. It’s who we are as Baptists. And, maybe, we can learn something from them.

I also agree with Rick (and I’ve stated it here before), that if someone is publicly divisive, call them on it publicly. It’s the right thing to do.

Jim G.

45 Dave Miller May 30, 2014 at 11:05 pm

Jim, I find myself wondering if you actually read the post before you disagreed with it, or if you just started with the comments.

46 Jim G. May 30, 2014 at 11:17 pm

I read it. I just don’t agree with the whole marginalization thing. I’m not being mean about it (At least I don’t think I am. Forgive me if I am.), but I disagree.

We’re all going to have to get along in glory. The person I might want to marginalize now might wind up my eternal next door neighbor.

The evangelical world in general and the SBC in particular are behaving strangely. We always seem to be looking to attack and marginalize, when a dash of loving and understanding might work better. I stress might, but it’s worth a try.

Jim G.

47 Tarheel May 30, 2014 at 11:39 pm

Jim,

I’m finding myself somewhat spangly in agreement with you (Rick) and with Dave as well.

I agree with Dave that some people are best ignored….when all they’re about is division and they refuse to engage in real conversation (even terse disagreement) except “to expose hw they’re better than the one they’re engaging with (or tweeting about)

I agree with you that this threshold for marginalization (whether “personal” or corporate) should be very, very high. Making a conscience decision to ignore and marginalize every word (or almost every word) of someone who is a bother in Christ seems counter intuitive to the unity called for in scripture.

I think people are quick to “marginalize” the’s with whom they disagree, have differences in personality, and/or don’t seem to live up to our preferences and standards…but doing so might be akin to what James speaks of relating to not showing preferences in our interactions.

I see, often not always, marginalization as a Form of arrogance and elitism. This is why it should be excercized very, very judiciously.

48 Tarheel May 30, 2014 at 11:43 pm

Spangy – *strangely

Lol. I hope the other phone typos in my post are hopefully easily discernible. ;-)

49 Dave Miller May 30, 2014 at 11:51 pm

Honestly, Jim, are you telling me that you read every blog and every post by every person? Of course not – unless you are a full time blogger.

All of us make choices as to what we read.

I choose not to read angry, hateful voices of division. When I read them, when I respond to them, it feeds the monster. I want no part in that.

50 Jim G. May 31, 2014 at 8:19 am

Of course not, Dave. I don’t have a great deal of time for reading blogs. I keep up with about 3 and that’s it. I have to make time management decisions same as you.

Upon further thought, I see your point. Perhaps “marginalize” is a difficult word because it is supercharged with the idea of theological exclusion (as it was used by a certain seminary president to describe what should happen to theological dissidents not too awful long ago). If you are making a preferential decision based on time and other factors, that’s cool. We all do it. Maybe use prioritize rather than marginalize?

Jim G.

51 Tarheel May 31, 2014 at 9:17 am

You are right Jim. The word marginalize is supercharged.

The idea marginalization certainly lends itself easily to feed arrogance and a notion of elitism if not utilized extremely judiciously. It also runs afoul of the calls in scripture regarding fostering a spirit of unity among brothers for bearing with one another.

Time management is totally different…but that’s not really what Dave is talking about (though it’s a side point he’s made) he seems to be talking about personally shutting someone out because he doesn’t like them for one reason or another.

52 Tarheel May 31, 2014 at 9:29 am

Let me say here that I do not think it’s appropriate for reformed persons to argue that non reformed people are theologically inferior or lacking in intelligence.

Arguing that someone is wrong or in error is totally different than calling them stupid.

I think “Trads” are wrong (not unlike they do me) but I don’t think or call them stupid.

53 Jim G. May 31, 2014 at 11:09 am

We’re on the same page here, fellow North Carolinian. (i only live in NC, I am a Mountaineer through and through).

I agree on your statement of Reformed and non-Reformed, coming from the other side of the fence. I have many Reformed people that I admire greatly (both in and out of the USA). I disagree with their Reformed leanings, but they are anything but stupid or naive. They are also committed brothers in Christ. We just see the same Bible through different (and valid) paradigms. We can learn from each other and grow to truly love and admire one another. I’ve learned an incredible amount from my Reformed teachers. I hope my more Reformed-leaning students learn a lot from being around me.

Jim G.

54 Dave Miller May 31, 2014 at 11:36 am

Honestly, Jim, I think you hit the nail on the head. The trouble is with the word choice. “Intentional Ignoring” might have been better. Who knows?

55 Tarheel May 31, 2014 at 11:55 am

“We’re on the same page here, fellow North Carolinian. (I only live in NC, I am a Mountaineer through and through)”

I’m a born and bred North Carolinian who still calls it home despite my having lived previously in Ga, and now Va. (and of course the Tarheels are and forever shall be my team!)

Note: while I don’t call Trads stupid – if they or anyone else hate on the Heels….they are in fact and with absolute certainty showing thier stupidity/idiocy. ;-)

56 Adam Blosser May 30, 2014 at 8:58 pm

What do they say about throwing a rock in a crowd of dogs?

I really can’t imagine that Dave is talking about you, Rick. He still allows you to post your conspiracy theories here.

57 Rick Patrick May 30, 2014 at 9:19 pm

Adam,
You must be right. If Dave was talking about me, he wouldn’t let me post here. And when the new IMB President is named, if he is a four or five point Calvinist with close ties to Al Mohler like six of the last seven entity heads, you will hear the theories once again. I will even post the chart that the commenter formerly known as Tarheel loves to see so much.

58 Adam Blosser May 30, 2014 at 9:38 pm

haha…I wouldn’t expect anything less.

59 Tarheel May 30, 2014 at 10:23 pm

Nor would I Ruck. nor would I.

(and I like the Prince reference.). ;-)

60 Tarheel May 30, 2014 at 10:24 pm

*Rick

61 Dave Miller May 30, 2014 at 11:08 pm

It is not surprising, but it is a little disappointing that out of this entire article, you chose that one (balanced) comment to deal with.

Sigh.

62 William Thornton May 30, 2014 at 8:10 pm

Rick Patrick does not need to be marginalized in any way. He is an example of a major reactionary movement in SBC life in regard to New Calvinism. Others have already negatively designated their CP giving around SEBTS and SBTS. Some in positions of influence have declared that they are instantly suspicious of all grads from those two seminaries. I’m not there yet but do admit to being weary of seeing Piper, Mahaney, TGC, and other individuals and organizations continually touted in the SBC. The Cals who believe they are correcting heresy in our churches have self-marginalized themselves.

There may be some Trads who need to be marginalized. I don’t know any but I’m sure there are some out there.

I wish Dave would suit up, Green Lantern style, and name names and movements for this post.

63 Dave Miller May 30, 2014 at 11:02 pm

No. This is NOT about whom I consider worthy of marginalization. It is a personal decision.

Feel free to take the principles and process them – buy into them or reject them. But whom I engage with and whom I believe is so disruptive and divisive that I ought “have nothing more to do with them” – that is my personal business.

64 Chris Roberts May 31, 2014 at 12:00 pm

But if we guess correctly, will you tell us that we’re right?

65 Dave Miller May 30, 2014 at 11:13 pm

And William, you are using marginalize differently than I did. I tried to be careful and specific.

I am talking about a personal decision not to read certain blogs and bloggers, not to interact with them and not to respond to their rantings.

That is based on what I think I demonstrated was a biblical command. No one who questions my point has engaged the verse and showed how I misinterpreted or misapplied it. I would love to engage the verse if one is willing to do so.

You seem to be talking about a more organized and institutionalized marginalization, which again demonstrates that either you didn’t read and understand my point or that I didn’t make it clear enough.

66 William Thornton May 31, 2014 at 6:34 am

Guess it was too hard for me to overcome the marginalization thrust du jour in the SBC. If you let me write all of your stuff, I would understand it better.

Re the C/NonC stuff you said: “Treating non-Calvinists with dismissive disdain, or treating Calvinists as dangerous – this is not the marginalization I’m talking about.”

I take your point. Like many (most?) commenters here, I was reacting to what I thought you should have said (which would have been a much more interesting and relevant article).

67 cb scott May 30, 2014 at 11:01 pm

Will wonders never cease?
Dave “Buzzard-Eye” Miller has written a post about divisiveness among the brethren??

How can a hater of all things SEC and a devoted Yankee Fan write a post cautioning others on the dangers of entanglement with divisive people?

The only thing I can say about such conduct is:

ROLL TIDE ROLL!!!!

SEC, SEC, SEC!!! . . . . and throw in a little GO BRAVES GO!!!

68 Dave Miller May 30, 2014 at 11:03 pm

If your Braves can’t beat Boston they aren’t worth talking about.

69 cb scott May 30, 2014 at 11:08 pm

See what I mean, guys?

He rubs salt in the wounds and smiles in the way that only a Yankee Fan can.

Despicable. Just despicable.

70 Dave Miller May 30, 2014 at 11:14 pm

Bout to start some marginalization up in here.

71 Tarheel May 30, 2014 at 11:21 pm

CB, just ignore him.

The Bronx cheaters – I mean Bronx Bombers fans don’t know ny better.

72 Dean Stewart May 30, 2014 at 11:39 pm

Dave, I hate to say it but congrats to Heat fans. It must be like cheering for the Taliban. To your post, there are some, especially on twitter, who may be exactly right on a subject yet I have chosen to marginalize because of their attitude, arrogance and hatred. Some believe they are the voice of God. My only disagreement with you is that I have included some in my daily reading to remind me of what I pray I never become. Some of these individuals, in my opinion, are just evil. They seem to be governed by hatred often camouflaged as righteous indignation.

73 Dave Miller May 31, 2014 at 12:01 am

Actually, if you only marginalize those with whom you disagree, you are doing it wrong!

Good point, Dean.

And go Heat!

74 Tim Rogers (@Timothy_Rogers) May 31, 2014 at 5:46 am

Dave,

Before I get marginalized along with Rick, let me ask some questions.

First, if I am reading your article correct you are directing marginalization toward those who not only disagree with someone but would constantly and consistently track the person and lambast every statement they make. That same person would encircle him/herself with people that would protect every statement that person would make and argue how unregenerate someone is that would disagree. Is this what you are saying about marginalization?

Second, I really find it curious that you made this statement; “Paul’s diatribes in Galatians were not against people who held to fewer points of the TULIP than he did, or more.” With the Council of Dort coming over 1500 years after Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, penned the scripture we refer to as the Book of Galatians your attributing to Paul as being one who affirmed the “TULIP” seems, well….obtuse. (I learned “obtuse” watching Shawshank Redemption) Would you not agree that your position stated, whether in jest or being serious, has placed you in the same disagreement as Rick has expressed?

Third, you write; “We ought never marginalize people simply because we don’t like their viewpoints or don’t want to hear ours challenged.” This is your concluding statement to your very first point. As a matter of fact, I like your first point and I agree wholeheartedly. We should never marginalize people simply because their viewpoint, theologically, is different than ours. On a local church level it is the pastor that makes the decisions as to who/m he would invite to preach in his pulpit. I have recently had a 5-point Calvinist come and preach for me and even recommended him to a local church. But, that is my decision and it seemed to be led by God to do that. Others would disagree and never even have a Calvinist in their pulpit but that is their local church decision. As we move to the state level I remember hearing John Piper preach in North Carolina some years back. We had a big bruhahaha over that invitation but he was invited and I went to hear him. As we move to the national convention we are seeing more and more Calvinists and non-Calvinists share the stage at the Pastors Conference. All of these examples fall perfectly within your first point and I would agree. However…..(you knew it was coming), since T4G and the Gospel Coalition, only invite Calvinists to their platform and that is the only soteriology they promote, are they not violating your first point–we are not to marginalize based on theological disagreement?

Just a few questions I felt you need to elaborate on.

75 parsonsmike May 31, 2014 at 3:10 pm

Tim,
“Paul’s diatribes in Galatians were not against people who held to fewer points of the TULIP than he did, or more.”

From this alone how do you discern that Paul is a TULIP man?
Since it says to fewer or more! Dave is not saying here that Paul is a 5 pt Calvinist that lines up with Dort [or is it Dordt?].

Second, Dave is speaking of individual PRIVATE marginalization. He is not speaking of a group deciding who or who should not be invited, but rather who he wants to allow in the limited time God has given him, to be read and to be mulled over.

In my case there are certain websites I just don visit. There are certain TV shows i just don’t watch, There are certain groups I do not want to be a part of. IMHO they are not worth MY time, although you might think them quite worthy. i am not asking you to marginalize them, and I, like Dave, am refraining from getting specific. The latter only out of respect for Dave who has a responsibility here I do not have. Otherwise i would be happy to share the who and why.

76 Tom Stowe May 31, 2014 at 11:06 am

I think we SHOULD marginalize theological perspectives that are heretical and/or dangerously differ with historical orthodoxy. Now, I know some of you hyper-scrupulous commenters will seek to define what I mean by “dangerously differ.” Quite simply, I am referring to variances concerning essential, first-tier doctrines. If asked to define first-tier doctrines, I will yield to the SBC prima donnas who are ever-narrowing the tent.

77 Dave Miller May 31, 2014 at 11:38 am

And Tom, I think I made it clear I agree with that.

78 Tom Stowe May 31, 2014 at 2:55 pm

Yes, and I never even implied that you didn’t, Dave. Perhaps I should have specified that I was reinforcing your fourth point’s “second reason for marginalization.” I am deeply apologetic for my lack of specificity and emphatically urge you to consider forgiving my distressingly ill attempt at communicating.

79 dr. james willingham May 31, 2014 at 12:27 pm

Dave: Some people are just simply hard headed, not hard hearted. Tim Rogers (above) had indicated that he is not hard hearted. He is probably like my brother-in-law who was won to Christ by a Calvinist, ordained by a Hyper Calvinist, and has a brother-in-law who is one, and he is yet a Traditionalist!!!! Like you, Tim, he does recognize that there are good and bad on both sides of the coin. I had a taste of marginalization recently (in the last 10 years). The pastor of a church had told me that he would have me preach for him on some Sunday mornings, while he was working on a degree. Then he got with some folks (Ministers from elsewhere) who apparently nixed that, and he allowed me to speak a few times on Wednesday night prayer meetings, one of which he even heard and loudly claimed he enjoyed. I have had many experiences like that. One experiences it even in the camp of so-called fellow believers, Calvinists who cut out other Calvinists because they don’t quite cut the mustard as desired. I rather suspect, knowing human nature (or at least have more than a passing acquaintance with it) as I think, that some Traditionalists treat one another in the same manner. Human nature likes to play oneupsmanship, a game that can have terrible consequences.

I know of a church where on of the great pastors was a post millenialist, but pre millenialist persuaded that church to change its rules so that they would never call a post milenialist. And then there is the issue of second marriages, where a seminary will never call anyone to teach whose marital situation is like that of the founder, a divorce over adultery and a remarriage. Tsk! Tsk! Tsk! Wisdom is known of her children. Being marginalized ain’t no fun. While I realize that you, David, have justification for desiring to marginalize some folks who richly deserve such treatment, the problem is that it soon gets out of hand. How do we manage to keep such effort within the bounds of propriety?

80 parsonsmike May 31, 2014 at 1:38 pm

Jim.
You gave examples of public or corporate marginalization. Dave speaks of personal marginalization. And Private as well.

81 dr. james willingham May 31, 2014 at 5:11 pm

Pretty easy to see, Parsonsmike, that I was passing back and forth between the public and the private. Don’t know as I disagree with Dave at all, at least, most of the time. There are stinkers out there. At the same time, marginalization can cut off some folks who later turn out to be vips in our lives.

82 Brent Hobbs May 31, 2014 at 11:19 pm

Dave, Fantastic post. We would be much better off if these principles were implemented by most SBC bloggers. A long time ago I made a list of SBC blogs I would not visit except occasionally when a specific controversy arose and even then I would never comment. Divisive people don’t deserve our attention, links, comments, or hit counts.

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: