I’ve seen it in churches. We have certainly seen it in blogging. And we are currently seeing the phenomenon as the crisis plays out at Louisiana College.
None of us likes to be criticized. It is uncomfortable, painful, frustrating and infuriating. And in today’s “everything has to be positive,” “never admit a problem,” “sweep it all under the rug” Christian world, we see the unfortunate response that we are seeing at Louisiana College.
Never admit or address the problem. Attack the people who identify the issues.
If you have blogged very long, you’ve seen someone in power respond to criticisms by attacking blogs and bloggers rather than by answering the criticisms. It is easier to denigrate your critics than it is to admit they may have a point and answer their concerns. Better to launch a verbal nuclear missile against the critic as a preemptive strike.
I’ve seen pastors do the same thing. People who do not buy into their vision or their agenda are cast as rebellious, ungodly or resistant to the will of God. Instead of listening to their criticisms, they attack the critics.
I will have to admit that until recently I knew almost nothing about Louisiana College. Then a young (unshaven hippie) whippersnapper named Joshua Breland began to interact here. He started a blog with one of the best names in blogdom – “The Daily Bleat.” Another (respectably clean-shaven) whippersnapper named Drew Wales started a blog focused on Baptist history called “SBC Heritage.” I met these guys at SBC NOLA and hung out with them. They seemed to be pretty harmless, sincere young men who passionately care about the future of the SBC.
Who knew that in reality they are agents of the enemy committed to destroying the college they both attend?
At least that is what the administration of Louisiana College seems to think. Joshua and Drew are in trouble. They have both been summoned to answer to charges that they are engaging in conduct detrimental to the college. They face censure or even expulsion.
Again, I don’t know a lot about the issues that face Louisiana College. Evidently, for the last few years it has been a place where Calvinists and non-Calvinists coexisted and interacted. But recently, the president of LC, Dr. Joe Aguillard, launched an offensive against Calvinism on his “President’s Pen” column on the college website. He then fired three professors who, according to reports, lean to the Calvinist side of the aisle. I am told by sources who need to remain nameless that there is a lot more working here than just the Calvinist issue. There are serious leadership issues at the college.
I don’t think it is any secret that Joshua and Drew are not exactly Arminians. And, it is a fact that these two used their blogs (very successfully, I might observe) to call attention to what is going on at LC. But, having read most if not all of what they have written on the subject, I can observe that they have been respectful in their writings, expressing hope for the prosperity of the college. They have affirmed their respect for those in power even as they have disagreed with their actions.
But no matter how respectfully they have expressed their disagreements, they are now in the dock simply because they have publicly questioned the decisions made by the administration.
And that, in my opinion, is wrong.
None of us is a repository of all wisdom, knowledge and truth. The workings of God are beyond dispute, but our opinions and actions are eminently questionable. As pastor, I encourage my people to question me and my ideas, to study, pray and review what I think. I’m not God; I’m just a preacher. Any man who sets himself up as above questioning is foolish and sinful. That is true of a pastor, a seminary president, an entity head or a college president.
Here is what I know about Louisiana College. It has some serious problems of leadership, vision, and direction. Unfortunately, because of the recent actions of the president, those problems are being played out on blogs and in both Christian and secular press. But Joshua Breland didn’t cause those problems. Neither did Drew Wales. They simply shined a light on them and that is neither a sin nor an attack against the college. In fact, when leaders are wise, institutions can grow and prosper from giving ear to those who have opinions differing from the powers tht be.
What Louisiana College’s administration and board of trustees need to do is fix the problems, not train their guns on a couple of young bloggers. Josh and Drew have called attention to the problem, but they are not the problem. And treating them as the enemy is just not right.