In my bloglines feeds, I opened up the post by Mark Driscoll, pastor of a church of 5,000 young people in Seattle, titled 'Brian McLaren on the Homosexual Question 3: A Rant by Mark Driscoll'
Here are some issues/reflections as I read and responded to it, that I think relate to the whole area of what makes conversations healthy.
1. Christians Shouldn't Rant: It got my attention immediately, as I am convinced that Christians have no place to rant, especially against each other. Now we are supposed to speak the truth in love to each other and go to each other in love to help each other, especially for correction. But to write publicly and to rant, flame, make accusations, surely does little more than polarize, belittle, and make genuine conversation and understanding impossible.
2. Don't use sarcasm: Unless it's about yourself. They say sarcasm is the lowest form of wit. It's cheap and easy, and can be very hurtful. Another thing is that we can often say someone was using sarcasm when it wasn't, it was just plain rude. But it's hard to differentiate between the two, and the person on the receiving end won't notice about the difference.
3. Ask Questions, don't accuse: Ask for help, ask for clarification, own the struggle to understand, and it is less argumentative. In this case if someone thinks Brian McLaren is evasive, instead of saying 'you are evasive' say 'I might be wrong but I find the reply unhelpful, as it seems evasive, can you help me see how it answers the question/issue?'. If we invited each other into dialogue I think things would go better for everyone.
4. Don't be manipulative:Proof texting, claiming to know God's thoughts and feelings to support your argument, when the other person is a christian who loves Jesus, is a slippery slope to using God's name in vane. Better to ask together, I wonder what God makes of this?
So in the case of this posting by Mark Driscoll, I think Mark is concerned that Brian McLaren was evasive and for someone who believes the bible say clearly homosexuality is wrong Brian's answer was less than helfpul for him. But Mark seems to use perjoratives, like 'homo-evangelical', calling Doug Pagitt 'Tonto', which I am sure was the word for 'Stupid' and was used for the indian in the Lone Ranger for that reason, and he seems to suggest that he knows God is upset by Brian's article.
I have submitted a reply to Mark, I hope leadership post it. And I hope I am not making things worse. I just think that as christians we can and should do better. I think if people approached Brian, Emergent, whoever, and said this is causing us concerns, help us to understand, can we dialogue together, can we express our opinions together, so others can see we love and support each other whilst disagreeing. Maybe that would help people to find a way through issues healthily.
Now if you go over there, play nicely in the comments!