21 February 2010

The Importance of Words

I am always amazed by how little attention most people pay to words, especially the words they use. Words have meaning; they are the symbols or maps we use to communicate. While the map is not the territory, it's crucial that the map accurately reflect the territory it represents.

Perhaps I care about this because of my personal experiences with words used carelessly and inaccurately. When you've been a liar and know the treachery of the lies you've told and when you've been on the receiving end of lies, white or Technicolor, you know their ability to gut you. If you've been on the receiving end of a rebuke, one that's hit the truth of your lie on the head and exposed your guilt, it brings with it the sort of shame you can only do one of three things with; repent, attack the one who has exposed you, or retreat like a coward and never deal with the issue in the light.

I have spent the last couple of hours listening and reading through thoughts and opinions about some words that were spoken and/or typed. I didn't really want to put links on my blog to the articles and videos I just waded through. I was trying to avoid prolonging the battle and enabling folks who love controversy for controversy's sake to have one more place to go to get their jollies. Since the author and precipitator of one of the blogs I was reading has chosen to close comments rather than allow further discussion and invited anyone desiring to continue the discussion to do so on their own blogs, I decided to take up his offer. It's the only way I can comment on the thread.

What have I been reading? The Cost of Following Christ, posted by Tim Rogers on the SBC Today blog.

What is the subject matter? Mr. Rogers posts what he believes is a defense of Dr. Ergun Caner, president of the Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary and Graduate School at the Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia.

Why is Mr. Rogers defending Dr. Caner? He takes exception to Dr. James White's response to Dr. Caner's words in a video that you can find on Dr. White's blog by clicking here. I recommend you go to www.aomin.org and have a look at more than just that post as there are some more recent ones that may shed some light for you.

I understand Mr Rogers wanting to defend his friend, Dr. Caner. I want to jump to the defense of my friends too and yes, Dr. White is my friend. I don't know either Dr. Caner or Mr. Rogers personally. I read Mr. Rogers for the first time tonight but I have read and listened to Dr. Caner's materials before. It seems to me that he could be a lot of fun to know- unless you ask him to defend his claims or you hold to reformed theology. I can empathize with the latter, I didn't much care for reformed theology either before I understood it. As for not being willing to defend his claims, that one I am not clear about. What sort of an apologist makes assertions he is unwilling to defend?

Look, for me it is as simple as this: When a man or woman of God lies for any reason, it is a sin. We can all agree on that, can't we? If a man or woman of God embellishes the truth, it ceases to be the truth and it should be fixed immediately with a correction and repentance if necessary. If a man or woman of God speaks carelessly and their careless words cause someone to believe something that is not true, they need to clear that up as soon as it is brought to their attention and not allow their actions to perpetuate any falsehood. Actually, these facts hold true for anyone but for a person claiming to represent Almighty God, it is especially crucial. Personally, I find it particularly unbecoming when a stubborn refusal to repent or own up to responsibilities does not occur. It is particularly unbecoming in me.

Confronting a fellow believer who has told a lie, embellished the truth or spoken carelessly is something all believers should be equipped to do. We should hold one another accountable for our words and our deeds. It is not loving to allow a Christian brother or sister remain in sin. This is the heart of the controversy between these two men. Dr. White has confronted Dr. Caner using Dr. Caner's own words-comments made publicly. Dr Caner needs to either prove he has been accurate or repent. If Dr. Caner can prove the veracity of his statements, Dr. White needs to acknowledge that publicly as well. The purpose of biblical confrontation is always repentance and reconciliation. Those of us on the sidelines watching should remember that and pray for it. I pray for that and to hear/listen to Dr. Caner's response.

More posts worth reading on the matter:
The Cost of Following Men
The Truth The Whole Truth And Nothing But The Truth. Is Ergun Caner Being Truthful?

Proverbs 18:17-19
17 The first to plead his case {seems} just, {until} another comes and examines him.

Proverbs 18:13
13 He who gives an answer before he hears, it is folly and shame to him.

1Thessolonians 2:3-12
3 For our exhortation does not {come} from error or impurity or by way of deceit;
4 but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not as pleasing men but God, who examines our hearts.
5 For we never came with flattering speech, as you know, nor with a pretext for greed-- God is witness--
6 nor did we seek glory from men, either from you or from others, even though as apostles of Christ we might have asserted our authority.
7 But we proved to be gentle among you, as a nursing {mother} tenderly cares for her own children.
8 Having thus a fond affection for you, we were well-pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God but also our own lives, because you had become very dear to us.
9 For you recall, brethren, our labor and hardship, {how} working night and day so as not to be a burden to any of you, we proclaimed to you the gospel of God.
10 You are witnesses, and {so is} God, how devoutly and uprightly and blamelessly we behaved toward you believers;
11 just as you know how we {were} exhorting and encouraging and imploring each one of you as a father {would} his own children,
12 so that you may walk in a manner worthy of the God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory.


Daniel said...

Thanks for your thoughts on this. Tim Rogers has really put his foot in his mouth with his post and he knows it. That's why he shut down comments.

rosemarie said...

Thanks, Daniel. It is easy to lose perspective when your loyalties to men over-ride your responsibility to be godly, even in the face of adversity. It's equally easy to lose sight of what the problem and solution are and get lost in ad hom attacks. I really would like to see Dr. Caner step up and address the issue as befits a man of God. I have a special place in my heart for college students having worked with them for a few years. They do need leaders who can be heroic by being dynamic while being humble at the same time. They will learn more from his godly response to this situation than anything else.

Kelly said...

Thanks for your post. You've captured what needs to be said quite eloquently.

What I find pretty amazing is Caner's claim that "formal debates" have been taken over by myopic Reformed guys. As if the there were formerly some specific entity labeled "formal debate" that was quite healthy, but that has now been taken over by Calvinists. Really? "Formal debate" is now the sole province of myopic Reformed folks? I listen to probably a dozen debates a month, I'd guess. Precious few of them ever have a Calvinist (let alone a Christian) as a presenter. What sorts of "formal debates" is Caner referring to, at this point?

Apparently, only those very, very small number of debates that might potentially involve both himself and a "myopic" Reformed guy.