I read a number of other blogs on a semi-regular basis in order to keep my finger on the pulse of the evangelical psyche. There are lots of great blogs out there, lots of blogs whose authors should be excommunicated for their heresy, and lots with everything in between. From time to time, I comment on a blog that I find interesting or intriguing. I recently struck up a discussion with a blog writer who made what I thought were grandiose claims about the application of a particular doctrine. What transpired during this discussion is completely baffling to me.
Both I and this other blog writer profess to be Christians as well as minsters within the kingdom of God. I thought this would serve as a strong foundation for us to have a robust yet edifying discussion about his application of the particular doctrine. So, I started posting comments on his blog and asking him questions. None of my comments were approved for public viewing, so I contacted him by email and asked if there was a reason why my comments had not been approved. He responded very kindly and said that he does not have the opportunity to approve comments everyday but that he had seen my comments and would approve them once he had the time to answer my questions. I responded and told him to take as much time as he needed.
While I waited, I kept reading his blog and commenting here and there. None of my comments were approved, so I just figured he was really busy. After six weeks and five days passed, I emailed him again asking if he was going to be able to approve my comments and if he was still willing to conduct a discussion. This is what I received in response:
“I approve comments with questions once I’m able to write a response. I enjoy the discussion. Unfortunately yours are just too much for my time and are not intended for discussion, but for proving a point that I find to be incredibly off base. I don’t have the time to invest in an email conversation that will not go anywhere. I’ve read your blog posts. They’re exhausting. As are your comments. I would encourage you to move on and find a better use of your time. I’d also encourage you to find ways to care for the marginalized and orphaned. Perhaps some of your ‘biblical’ arguments against doing so would change significantly. This is my last communication with you.”
Why is it that people think they can make such outrageous and offensive claims, even if they are covered in a thin veneer of platitudes? Maybe he thinks I did not notice his insulting language and that he will never be held accountable for what he says. Well, I did notice, and he will ultimately have to give an account for what he has said. If you think his words aren’t too bad, allow me to unpack them for you.
I will go ahead and accept as truth his statement that he enjoys the discussion even though all of his actions indicate that he enjoys avoiding discussion. The next sentence, though, is where things start to get interesting. He says that my comments are not intended for discussion but for proving a point that he thinks is way off base. How does he know what my intentions are? Does he have some mystical gift of discernment that allows him to look into my soul (though a computer screen) and see my intentions? If so, that is either really amazing or really scary. By saying that my intention is not to conduct a discussion, he calls me a liar. I have been telling him that I would like to have a discussion, but he has accused me of lying and concealing the fact that I just have an axe to grind.
He next says that he does not have time to invest in an email conversation that will go nowhere. I am not sure where he wants conversations to go, but isn’t there value in having a discussion regardless of where the participants arrive at the end? Apparently, he is only willing to talk to people who will go where he wants them to go; and, somehow, he knows that I am not one of those people. Therefore, I am not worth his time.
He has read my blog posts (a reference to this blog) and the comments I have made on his blog, and they are apparently exhausting. I don’t know what that means. Maybe my language is so poor that it tires him to read my writing. Maybe what I write is not interesting, so I bore him nearly to death. Maybe it is exhausting for someone of superior intellect, such as himself, to read the elementary writing of a normal person, such as myself. I don’t know.
He then encourages me to find ways to care for the marginalized and orphaned. I have never met this man in my life, yet he knows for whom I do and do not care. Not only is he intellectually superior to me, he is also morally superior to me. I would take some time to tell him about the ways in which I do care for people in this world, but he would probably just accuse me of lying to him again.
His next comment is highly offensive. He refers to my “biblical” arguments. In other words, he accuses me of trying to couch un-biblical arguments in biblical language so that people will think that my arguments are biblical. Does he provide any evidence for this claim? Of course not, but why should he? His intellectual and moral superiority apparently exempt him from having to provide evidence when he accuses a brother in Christ of being un-biblical.
His last statement is the most baffling to me, “This is my last communication with you.” In other words, “I am never speaking to you again.” How is it that someone can treat a fellow brother in Christ this way and see absolutely nothing wrong with it? Where in the Bible does it say, “If you ever come across a fellow Christian who asks you questions, you should never speak to that brother again”? There is only one instance in the Bible when Christians are instructed to treat someone this way. In Matthew 18, Jesus instructs us to shun a brother who refuses to repent after his sin has been confronted, exposed, and proven. This guy has decided that he has the right to privately try me of an un-named sin and act as the prosecutor and the judge and then issue his unilateral verdict and treat me accordingly.
Why do Christians behave like this? I doubt I will ever understand it. We are supposed to be different than the world, different in a positive way. Yet, we treat each other as if we were mortal enemies who won’t spend eternity together in the kingdom. Maybe that’s just it. Maybe that’s the explanation. Maybe some of us are actually enemies who won’t spend eternity together. If so, it would be in the best interest of all of us to stop for a moment and consider whether our behavior towards each other is consistent with God’s instructions in the Bible. If our behavior is consistent with the commands of the Bible, we should be comforted and accept ill-treatment with joy. If our behavior is not consistent with the commands of the Bible, we should be afraid . . . very afraid.