Our fearless editor and blogger-in-chief, Dave Miller, has been holding an extended conversation with most of the regular contributors here about blog commenting and posting and how we all interact with each other. I expect we’ll see some additional posts from him about the specifics of those conversations in the days to come. It is not my intention right now to short-circuit what he has to say. Or even preview.
I want to make a few observations about a blog I read last week and offer some thoughts for your consideration. You see, I sat down and read a blog that was obviously written by someone quite immature. And quite certain of his opinions. Given the blog posts I read, I can only begin to imagine how straightforward any of his interactions in a comment stream would have been. I daresay that those interaction would have met the basic qualifications for “rude” in most of our books.
Most of you are smart enough to guess the turning point. It was my blog from when I first started writing one back in 2008. Yes, I have left those posts there for anyone who would care to go back and see the old-style Doug blogposts. I will not, however, go back and put old sermons online. Nobody should have to hear those, even my greatest detractors. There’s enough fault to find in the here and now, you don’t need those.
A similar story comes from four years ago when I was seeking a place to preach. One of the churches that I was interacting with called a pastor I had worked for eight years before that time. He highlighted all of my immaturity that he saw when I was there. I never heard anything further back from that church. I made some youthful mistakes there, but nothing that even approaches disqualifying–unless you really think “hide and seek in the sanctuary” is heretical.
I bring all this up to highlight a point that I think gets missed in blog discussions: everyone of us should be growing and maturing in our understanding. Some of you are more mature in your wisdom and theology than I am and than others are, but you should still be growing in wisdom and grace.
Yet we are often quick to assume that this person who has just questioned our logic, again, is just being an immature buffoon. Is it not possible, though, that he (or she) is processing through what they understand about the given subject? And can you not extend a little bit of patience one more time? After all, even with daily blogging, most of us are a long way from 490 times of forgiveness. Assuming, of course, that we’re supposed to make that number super-literal instead of just symbolic.
It’s important to remember that people change. And people also don’t remember every statement they’ve ever made: the guy that was raging against the NIV three years ago may have forgotten all that since then. When that happens, do we really expect a person to go back and find and delete all of their old thoughts? Wouldn’t we, more likely, accuse them of ‘covering-up?’
To reduce it down to a list of things I think we should consider:
1. For those of you who have attained high levels of maturity and wisdom: restore with gentleness and consider whether or not you were born as you are or whether or not you took some time to get there. I deeply offended a few people in seminary when I wouldn’t immediately adopt a viewpoint that it had taken them years to reach. Guess what? If it’s not truly plain in Scripture, you need to give the Spirit time to work. Because Him, you ain’t.
2. For those of us who are still growing: it’s important that we leave room and time for the Spirit to work in others, just like we expect the mature people to do. You might have spent the last five years nailing down your exact understanding of the end-times and cannot fathom why some of us are still just pan-millenniasts: it will all pan out in the end, now leave me alone. I’ve spent my time on other parts of Scripture, and I may just not be interested in buying what you’re selling. It’s not an insult to you: don’t take it that way. It is that my faith is immensely important, too important to get wrong, and I will not commit myself for or against secondary issues that I am not fully convinced of.
3. For all of us: opinions and views change–so state what you think now or, at the bare minimum, link to an old post of yours and endorse it as current. Really–my views on such topics as Calvinism, GCRism, politics, age of the earth, and others have changed in four years. If you read my blogs from the first post about those topics, you would not know what I think now. It would be worse: you would not know but think you did. Sometimes, you’re going to have to re-express what you believe. It’s a good opportunity to do it.
Finally: spread the grace. We all need room and space to grow, and most of us are going to take it for ourselves, so let’s leave it for others.