It seems that my little ol’ article about Dr. Gleason’s great big article stirred up a few emotions. For a few minutes last weekend, the tubes of the interweb that serve the PCA world were positively clogged with the debris from our little dust-up. If your attempt to download Game of Thrones was slowed down by the dust in those tubes, I sincerely apologize. Really, I mean that.
For the rest of you, I would like to offer an explanation:
Whenever you find yourself disagreeing with another person, you have a number of choices. The first choice is “Do I even make my disagreement known?” Judging by the personal feedback that I received, many of those that disagreed with Ron (and presumably also with me) elected to keep that disagreement to themselves. Obviously, these people are much smarter than I. The second choice you have to make, presuming that you have chosen to give voice to your disagreement, is “How do I express my disagreement?”
As I see it, you have three options. First option: Humor. Satire, irony and even a bit of gentle kidding fall into this category. Second option: Anger. This includes everything in the how-dare-you-challenge-me school of thinking to outright ranting. Third option: Logic. By this I mean the kind of point/counterpoint style of dialogue found in high school debate clubs, General Assembly committee and the U.S. Congress.
Let me be clear. I did disagree with Dr. Gleason in serious ways. So why did I respond to Dr. Gleason’s article the way that I did? Why my halting attempt at humor? Simple, really–I prefered to address Dr. Gleason in the manner in which he is accustomed to speak, whilst addressing those with whom he has a disagreement.
This is Ron “Birkenstock” Gleason that we are talking about, correct? The same Ron Gleason who identifies himself, at General Assembly, as being from America’s “left coast.” The same guy who, in part one of his article, followed up his comment about illegal immigration with a jibe about “undocumented workers” that Ron Gleason?
Also, since I am not angry with Dr. Gleason (far from it) I thought that humor was the medium best suited for a bit of intramural back-and-forth. It doesn’t really bother me that most of my jokes fell flat. Really, it doesn’t. I have teenagers in my house, so I am used to people thinking all of my jokes are dumb. It was those commenters (thanks for coming out, by the way) that claimed not to even know the whole thing was tongue in cheek that puzzled me. Seriously, I opened with a crack about camping, under a photo of Bob and Doug! Yet some people thought that I was simply responding to a different set of articles? Honestly? Well, It is certainly possible that they missed the point. Perhaps they also were trying out humor as a means of commenting.
So, for the record. My article was a tongue-in-cheek response to Dr. Gleason’s three articles. I was attempting to point out serious shortcomings and areas of genuine disagreement in his article by use of humor. Also for the record, here are my main points of disagreement with Dr. Gleason, bare bones, irony checked at the door:
First, I was troubled by his use of military experience as a qualification for speaking to the church about a matter of ecclesiastical importance. I do not oppose men with military experience serving the church, far from it. Many such men serve her well. Our values are skewed when lessons learned at Officer Candidate School become a qualification to speak to the church. Feel free to disagree, but it bothers me. And I don’t think I am the only one that would prefer to hear our Elders reflect on lessons learned somewhere that places less emphasis on shooting enemies and places more emphasis on loving them.
Second, I was troubled by Dr. Gleason’s evident Latitudinarianism. This danger is seen most often by those that would downgrade important issues. But I saw Dr. Gleason’s as being guilty of it in the opposite direction. When he put opposition to illegal immigration in a list of serious ills facing the church, next to justification by faith alone, he belittled that great doctrine of our faith, in my honest opinion. Conflating political opinions with theological values lessens the importance of the theological. From Dr. Gleason’s Second Article:
“What is your view of liturgy? Diversity and tolerance! What is your view of women reading Scripture and praying in the worship service and distributing the elements or the Lord’s Supper? Diversity and tolerance!…What is your view of justification by faith? Diversity and tolerance! What is your view of illegal aliens? (or for the sensitive PCA pastor “undocumented workers”) Diversity and tolerance!“
Third, I disagreed with him on his conflation of the issue of church union. Dr. Gleason’s article makes great use of an older piece, written by William Brenton Greene, Jr. The problem is, the issue at hand in the older article is the union between orthodox and unorthodox (i.e. heretical) communions. This is the true danger of “Broad Churchism”. To conflate union with unbelievers with disagreements within an orthodox church, is to downplay the danger of apostasy.
These three issues are my main points of disagreement with my brother in the Lord. So when I decided to voice my disagreement, I used a writing style that Dr. Gleason himself has employed from time-to-time. Perhaps I shouldn’t have, but I did. I was writing an opinion piece, after all. And those were my opinions.