“As iron sharpens iron, so one friend sharpens another.” (Proverbs 27:17)
Over the weekend I entered into a public dialogue with Tony Jones over his treatment of denominations in his blogging and published work. In my post I think I strayed away from addressing Tony’s ideas, and into attacking him personally.
I want to say here that I’m sorry that I did that.
The church of Jesus Christ is made up of broken people who are being pieced back together by a loving God. Obviously—obviously—I’m one of those cracked pots. And so in the only real currency we trade as Christian people, I’m asking for a little grace as I learn some new skills. The discussion Tony and I are having—along with many of you—is a very important one, and I don’t want my indiscretion to get in the way of that.
If you haven’t seen it already, here’s Part One of Tony’s response to my letter.
I remain a fan of Tony’s thought and work—even when we don't agree, and even more so since he modeled it in his gracious response to my complaint. My hope is to continue this multi-part conversation not just to increase our understanding of the different viewpoints, but more to see how we can work together to accomplish the real task before us:
How do we demonstrate the love of Jesus to a desperate world?
How do we act as the Body of Christ—through teaching, service, proclamation, sacraments, work, play, intellectual life and the arts—how do we work together to be the tangible presence of Christ in a world that rejects him…often because of us? In this discussion of who and how we ordain for ministry, let’s not lose focus on the bigger questions at hand.
In future posts I want to explore how this complex of issues—how churches are organized and managed, how we set aside people for special ministries within the Body, and even how we compensate ministers—how all of that helps/hinders/annoys the community of faith as it lives out its calling.
One last thought: The handling of these topics in a blog format has some inherent dangers to it. In the not-too-distant-past the discussion between myself and Tony would have taken place over a longer period of time, and it also would have benefited from the review and comment of our peers before publishing. Tony rightfully points out that blogging is different, but I wonder if a few self-imposed boundaries might serve all of us better. N.T. Wright thinks so, and Blake Huggins has (of course) blogged about it at the link below.