Monday, March 12, 2012

Discerning and Handling Troublemakers

There's a great post at SBC Voices entitled "A Blogging Dilemma: Dealing with the Wolves among the Sheep". Dave Miller writes from the perspective of Christian blogging. Specifically, he says:

"How are we supposed to treat people who oppose the gospel of Jesus Christ but still want to take part in a Baptist blog?"

If you've read even a small number of Christian blogs and the comments that go with them, you've probably seen some people stirring up various kinds of trouble. Dave offers a practical and helpful list of questions to ask yourself for consideration in handling these kinds of troublemakers:

  1. Does the issue touch the cross?
  2. Are they seekers or are they deceivers?
  3. Am I affecting them or are they affecting others?
  4. am I making progress?

This list is only the tip of the iceberg. There's a lot of good substance and the whole article is worth a look.

This touches on something more general. We have a tendency when we perceive ourselves to be in a better spiritual place than someone else to rely on our spiritual superiority. Rather, we should rely on the authority of Christ and the moving of the Holy Spirit as we try to present truth faithfully to someone. So my response to this focused more on the attitude of humility that we should have. If we rely on our spiritual superiority we will be anything but spiritually superior.

Jim Pemberton March 12, 2012 at 3:45 pm
This is the place for discernment. Determining the difference between ignorance and intentional deceit normally requires a little bit of discussion. That discussion should be respectful. If it is determined that someone is intentionally being disruptive, then that is the time for removing further discussion from the blog. If they are not intentionally being disruptive but being disruptive anyway, then they may still be banned while off-line discussion may be considered as an option to help them work through their issues.

To be sure, both Paul and Jesus took a hard line on some folks. it should be noted that these were general groups of people rather than individuals. The harsh comments made by them were also helpful for the people they were ministering to. It should also be noted that Jesus was crucified and Paul martyred not for being vile and curmudgeonly but for boldly proclaiming the compelling truth.

So I would say that when answering someone we should take into account as much as possible the spiritual condition of who we are talking about as well as the possible spiritual condition of anyone who reads what we write. That said, we need to be generally helpful while realizing that we may be talking to someone who is being sanctified by the Holy Spirit as we also are and ask, “Am I agreeing with the Holy Spirit in this person’s sanctification?” It’s easy to be forgiving when we consider the extent of our own depravity from which we have been saved and are being purified.

Additionally, if we consider ourselves to be spiritually superior, we must realize that we were not always so (and are probably not a superior as we think we are if that’s our attitude). As such, we need to consider that the Holy Spirit is far superior to us and has indwelt us without destroying us by overwhelming us with the full disclosure of all of our sin. Consider those sins that we have not been convicted of yet because of the hardness of our hearts.

So we must be gentle of heart and firm on the truth of the gospel guiding our readers into the clear truth and wrestling together on the debatable points of God’s revelation with humility.

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