"The most important aspect of Christianity is not the work we do, but the relationship we maintain and the surrounding influence and qualities produced by that relationship. That is all God asks us to give our attention to, and it is the one thing that is continually under attack. "

- Oswald Chambers, My Utmost For His Highest
Trusting God for the Sanctification of Others

Okay, well, I did not anticipate the wannabe blog-storm resulting from my rant about that watchblog post on clown-led worship services. And, honestly, the reason I haven't weighed in with a follow-up, despite that I may have ignited the whole thing (or, maybe iMonk ignited the whole thing by highlighting my post), is mainly because I just haven't had time. But I also really lack the interest. My rant aside, there's more between heaven and earth than somebody's ridiculous logic and somebody else's "rebuke" of me.

But people are emailing me asking my response to Phil Johnson's piece, so I guess some sort of reply is expected. I am responding to those emailers via email, but the bottom line gist is this: I was sort of amused, actually, by Phil's introductory poke at me, not irked or offended, and really and truly, I thought his post in general was very, very good.
So there's that.

In addition, after sifting through various posts by various bloggers on this specific exchange and the whole guilt-by-association phenomenon in general, I want to point out two gems:

The first is this great piece by Mark Bertrand titled Diss Isn't Discernment.

The other is R-E-S-P-E-C-T -- Find Out What It Means to Me by David Wayne, the Jollyblogger.
Concluding his fine post, David writes:

In that vein, I got a big kick out of reading Tim Challies' review of N. T. Wright's upcoming book on the Gospel of Judas. He gave it a glowing review but at the end he has to put in this disclaimer that he is not advocating all of Wright's views, lest he be villified by Wright haters. That's pathetic, no, not that Tim is pathetic, its pathetic that you can't even extend legitimate praise without fear of reprisal for complimenting the wrong guy.

This is a problem that is more widespread than just in the blogosphere - it's the kind of mindset that thinks "everyone besides me is stupid, therefore I must tell them what to think." And I think it does get back to the whole idea of respect. Do we respect our brothers and sisters in Christ enough to assume that they are capable of making their own decisions and/or evaluations.

This is a point I've been trying to make at various stages of the blogging game for quite some time. But I'll take it a full step further. It's not just that we should respect our brothers and sisters in Christ enough to assume they are capable, it's that we ought to trust the Holy Spirit with these folks' sanctification, just like we trust Him with ours. Not that we don't get all discerning up in their grill (provided it's real discernment). Not that we don't rebuke or correct or criticize or even contend when all those things are really called for. But that we do not condemn as if we know God's gameplan for people outside our own box of discernment.

Dismissal is not one of the fruits of the Spirit. But patience is. People are going to screw up, and they're going to have some screwy ideas. We can help them, no doubt. But let's trust that God knows how to finish the good work He began in believers we think aren't as far along as we are. He will certainly be better at working their perseverance than we are.

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Comments on "Trusting God for the Sanctification of Others":
1. Brian in Fresno - 08/23/2006 8:17 am CDT

Good word, Dude! Thanks.

2. De - 08/23/2006 10:54 am CDT

Amen x 1,000.

I read Challies post and was also both amused and saddened that he felt he had to put the "I'm not totally sold on Wright" disclaimer, just to avoid being GBA'd to death.

Your point about patience and trusting the Holy Spirit is so, so good. As they say, you're speaking my language, Jared!

3. Jared - 08/23/2006 11:29 am CDT

Thanks, guys. ;-)

4. Gina - 08/23/2006 12:06 pm CDT

Well said.

5. codepoke - 08/23/2006 12:13 pm CDT

Amen, Jared.

6. GL - 08/23/2006 4:52 pm CDT

Amen.

Comments are closed