I rarely ever participate in online debates. They often are dominated by a few who bully others with their opinions. Unfortunately, this is also true of theological debates. Some years ago, a man told me he avoided Reformed churches not because of their theology but because there were too many “wanna be John Knoxs.”
That was not an attack on Knox, but on the modern preference for confrontation when it is unnecessary. Confrontation of the royals was important and effective in Knox’s case; it is rarely so in a church fellowship, discussion, or evangelical setting. I think confrontation is an easy way of avoiding communicating with others. It’s a way of assuming the moral high ground and presuming condemnation of others is a constructive course.
Contrast that trend with the attitude Pastor Wang Yi, who has been imprisoned in China since December 9 of last year. Seeing the current crisis as the calling of faithful believers in China, he sees the battle as that between the state and Christ’s church. He therefore self-consciously chose not to argue with other Christians – no debates within the church, no response to criticism or slander against him, and no focus on justice for himself. Rather, he would “use all God-given grace to defend the gospel rather than someone named “Wang Yi.’”
The battles we face must be clearly understood as against the forces of ungodliness, not other believers. There is no virtue in proving we can “win” an argument on social media by being so obnoxious that no one responds. The real battles we face ahead will be won by God’s grace and a rising tide of faithful believers. I hope the stand of believers in China is the beginning of such a well there.
Our focus here at Chalcedon works toward that end.