Saturday, August 17, 2019

A mean spirit. . .

One of the things often noted is that traditionalists seem to have a mean streak.  Although most of the evidence for this is anecdotal, I am fairly certain it is a common perception and one that probably in evidence right here on this blog and, in particular, in the comments section.  I know that this is not denominational.  Some Roman Catholics accuse their traddies of being mean. Some Lutherans find their confessional folks to be short-tempered and mean.  Even Methodists have suggested that there are those who from the conservative side are not always nice.  I could go on.  I will not.  It does appear to me to be somewhat universal.

This meanness is not toward those who oppose them but rather to those who would appear to be on the same side.  Conservatives seem to allow those on the same side less leeway.  Liberals are most liberal toward the folks on their side.  Except, of course, that liberals are most illiberal toward those who oppose them.  In other words, conservatives, traditionalists, confessionals, etc., seem to live within a small circle of approval and it appears to be a circle that grows ever smaller while those on the other end of the spectrum seem to tolerate more diversity among their loose coalitions and widen the circle.

I worry about this.  Not about the zeal of those on the more conservative side for the clear confession of truth and for the preservation of pure doctrine but about the meanness that sometimes seems to predominate even within this good and salutary concern for God, good doctrine, and right practice.  I must admit that it does not seem there is much sadness on the part of many who may be right on the issues but wrong in the way they deal with others.  There ought to be great sadness over the errors that we note within the confession and practice of those who veer from the Scriptures, creeds, and confessions of old.  We dare not write them off even when we can and must mark the divisions between us.  Neither should pride or arrogance mark the ways we deal one to another.  So I would urge you to consider this when you comment here and I would ask you to keep me accountable in the same way.  The truth, yes, but the truth spoken in love with unfeigned grief over the divisions between us over the truth that endures forever.


6 comments:

Pastor Rich Balvanz said...

Thank you for this. If two men are 20 feet away from me doctrinally, and one is moving closer while the other is moving away, they should not be treated identically, which often is indiscernible through internet comments. I feel we often stop in his tracks the one who was moving closer while giving aid and comfort to the one moving away.

Pastor Harvey S. Mozolak said...

to use your illustration... I sense that sometimes we also, not necessarily only conservatives because there is a temptation for all to throw rocks at the one moving away instead of baking a large batch of bread and letting it generate clouds of bakery fragrances to accompany many and loving invitations to return to us... I know the Lord can make from the rocks the miracle of a meal but can't we grab a bowl and flour and....

Cliff said...

Thanks for this article as this has been on my mind for some time now and is an observation that needs to be addressed. We conservatives tend to use the hammer of the law far too easily. But for the astute observer, there are many types of conservatives, including moderate to ultra conservatives. It is the latter that give all conservatives a bad name as they sometimes find a devil under every rock and a dark shadow behind every tree.

For those familiar with traditional or "trads" in the RC Church, especially those at Church Militant and Crisis Magazine would cringe at some of their comments regarding what's wrong in the Catholic Church. Everywhere from smearing Protestants to the evils of Vatican II, the Novus Ordo Mass, and beliefs that the church was infiltrated by communists. The wildest ideas seem to hatch in their far right thinking. The Latin Mass or more "traditional" forms are the only faithful path to follow.

While I do sympathize with some of their concerns, the tendency to throw out the baby with the wash scares me to no end. What with their labelling so many things as bad or evil shows a lack of faith in the Holy Spirit leading the church. Vatican II opened a whole new respect for other faiths, and much fruitful dialogue resulted with so much goodwill between Christian groups. To say Vatican II was off the mark shows lack of trust in God. Trads can be "rad".

John J. Flanagan said...

Traditionalists and progressives have been at war for thousands of years in the political, religious, and social arena of life. It has a lot to do with the acceptance or rejection of change, and how we view it. Do we welcome change or feel threatened by it. In the religious area, Catholics and Protestants waged bloody wars in Europe over doctrinal differences, although it was likely related to land, resources, power and tribalism more than anything else. Fast forward to the present, the churches have conflicts within each denomination and between denominations over the true interpretation of scripture and the true practice of the faith. As a conservative and a traditionalist worshiping as a Lutheran (LCMS), I see dangers in the adoption of non liturgical and casual contemporary services, and the watering down of sermons to make them culturally relevant. Holding on to traditions and reacting in opposition to the new acceptance of casual worship and concert style Christian music, for example, may put some of us at odds with one another. However, it is not meant to be mean spirited or contentious, but we must be willing to stand up for these convictions, not silently back away for fear of hurting someone's feelings. If Isaiah, Amos, Moses, Paul, and even Martin Luther were wimps, we would never remove heresy and schism from the body of Christ. The Lord expects us to fight for the truth.

Cliff said...

John, thanks for your respectful analogy and concerns and I think we are basically on the same page except for minor differences on the value of change. We all know that change in many denominations has resulted in the loss of traditional Christianity. Change for the sake of change is indeed detrimental to faithfulness.

But on the other side of the coin to discredit the work of the Holy Spirit is also not being open to God directing His church. In RCC this is quite evident in regards to Vatican II as the "Trads" discredit everything that happened during this era. They are even smearing good popes John Paul II & Pope Benedict XVI. Under Benedict XVI we had very respectful dialogue and gained a better understanding of each other. Great strides were made in cooperation such as pro-life, social programs, etc. The "trads" in the Roman Church see this as satanic to even use any Protestant music/liturgy/dialogue. They only wish to hang onto the "old ways" or in Catholicism, the Latin Mass.

Now LCMS, LCC Lutheranism may not be as severe, but one thing I am sure of is many would still be using the 1941 hymnal if this was offered as a choice. Or to translate into Catholics terminology, The Latin Mass.

I think we both have an intellectual understanding of change, but change done under the guidance of the Holy Trinity. God Bless!

John said...

Pastor Peters, I hardly ever bother to wade into comments due to the fact that Ricard Strickert/Carl Vehse is allowed to comment here. I respectfully as you to ban him from commenting. This would go a very long way to raising the level of civil commenting on your blog site. I guess I am posting this per your invitation to hold you accountable. Since this is your blog, please end his participation.

John