I probably read more SBC blogs than a healthy person should. One great help here is the site sbcvoices.com. While occasionally there’s original content there that’s sparks some interesting conversation, the directory page is neat for introducing new bloggers and bloggers who run in different circles to each other in the SBC universe.
This past month in the SBC blogosphere has been a rough one though. I mean Shrek-style ugly. It’s amazing how the de-personalizing element of the Internet can can inflame minor disagreements and cause people (including pastors) to step across boundaries of etiquette and at times, morality.
For example, one blogger’s series about tithing (I’m guessing I saw so many of these the past month or so because many pastors teach on stewardship-related themes early in the year while many families are reconsidering budgets and finances anyways?) exploded into a full-blown controversy over email privacy, transparency at seminaries, and the usual issues of doctrine/cooperation so prevalent in the SBC. Things were made public with a few clicks that only a few minutes’ conversation or a personal email (rather than a public b/f-logging) might have sorted out.
Another issue involves an apparently long-running and (unfortunately) heated dispute between a pair of apologists. Believe it or not, they come to different conclusions on some issues of soteriology (Southern Baptists would never!!) and have managed to make each other running punchlines in their own circles. I don’t really care about who hit whom first or whatever. Each side has its own groupies, shown by blogs blasting each other for talking about the other one–followed by a swarm of militant commenters eager to “gently” point out the original blogger’s errors in the name of love in all caps usually followed by a sinister emoticon of disapproval.
And that’s just the Christian blogs. (ever read the comments below a news article? same thing usually. a few less theological terms. but the bad spelling is still king of all.)
I didn’t put links on here for a reason. I don’t know everything in those situations mentioned above. The kids may be fighting but I’m certainly not anyone’s mommy. (at best I’m an awkward bag boy watching as yet another scene is made in the supermarket aisle.) But the truth is, people are watching.
I mean, is there no person with contact between any of these groups who might pick up the phone and say, “Friends, let cool it down a little.” Do we have no one who can at least push for a detente? or better yet, some form of Christian reconciliation between parties? I can think of situations in my own life where relationships could have used such a peacemaker to step out, take a few shots from both sides but eventually get a truce worked out. It’s not as if people don’t know these things are happening, especially those close friends who are staying in touch via twitter or bookface or whatever.
Unfortunately, there are very few who have this mindset. I can’t imagine why we have fights in our churches, if this is the model our leadership gives. The mindset of the “Christian” blogosphere isn’t to stop fighting with the known risk of taking an extra punch or two before the other guy quits. It’s more like a playground fight where it’s assumed everyone’s getting detention so you might as well bruise whoever you can before the teacher shows up. and of course, like any playground fight, having some bruisin’ buddies for backup never hurt either.
I’m glad for the Internet in many ways. People in the SBC need to hear from people in the other states or in the other circles of influence. We also need to remember Who is the reason that draws us together, one who “made both groups one” and identified those who make peace as his brothers and sisters.
Update: Not on any account of mine (I think I had a whopping two people read this original post!), but one of the major parties in the latter situation came forward and apologized in an effort to quiet the madness. Good for him. The response by and large from the other side still seems to be “well, thank you, but back to the problem…” Oops. Sometimes we do a better service by letting some small things drop in the pursuit of loving, rather than demanding an exact apology for every wrong we ever suffered.