Much ado… or much to do?

Gary Manning, on his blog Eutychus, has gone through the effort to produce a very good line by line refutation of the argument found in the Alef-Tav video that I pointed out at the end of my post ( Etymology Studies Live ) the other day.

I am going to bump a comment into this post to hopefully get some discussion going.

Bob Macdonald commented on my original post:

I wondered if you would get any comments on this painful video. The poor fellow is looking for certainty and absolutes where there is a different kind of knowledge available but its absolutism is unspeakable. Still it may be that by the foolishness of such preaching, even the wrongly impressed will find themselves moving towards a refreshed image.

To which I replied:

Bob, I struggle with these kinds of videos (and whether or not I should draw attention to them) because I vacillate between wanting to point out the misuse of language and recognizing that he is (probably) not trying to be deceptive/manipulative. On the one hand, his air of authority is distressing because I know an entire congregation is hanging on his every word as truth (and it’s not). On the other hand, his methodology seems to be simply an overly creative type of midrash (perhaps on steroids) and as you point out, may lead to a refreshed image. I don’t agree with what he is doing, but I don’t want to mock it either. It actually saddens me. There are a lot of people like this who are part of the Church, and as such, are brethren. How to lovingly relate, correct, challenge, and encourage are the tasks I wrestle with.

I think it is important to point out things that are erroneous or untrue. But I also think we sometimes cross a line and forget that some of these people who err (in our opinion) are often brothers and sisters in Christ. Would I say the same things that I do in a post (or in jest to a friend) to the person in the video? Do I take too much delight in pointing out someone’s shortfall? I also care about the people listening to this kind of teaching and wonder about the misunderstandings being fed to them. But the last thing I want to come across as is a “know-it-all” (which I don’t) who is tearing down without building up.

What is the best way to handle these types of issues? We all know churches and individuals who are different than us. When do we step up and try to correct, when do we sit back and let things go, and how do we do all of this in a godly manner?

4 thoughts on “Much ado… or much to do?

  1. Gary Manning

    Good title for your post – and good questions. I usually don’t bother addressing these “Christian urban myths” until someone posts questions about them to my blog. For example, I only posted on the “Obama = antichrist” phenomenon because people were asking me to refute the claims of that video.

    You have an excellent point about civility in posting – and I have the feeling that it would be best to respond merely factually (if at all) rather than throwing in little pokes at the speaker. You can see that I had a hard time showing restraint in my blog post on this topic, as well as in my comments on your earlier post.

  2. Bob MacDonald

    Karyn – your question has sat for a day or two now in my mind and I awoke early this first day of standard time with thoughts about how we compartmentalize ourselves and others into degrees of acceptability and unacceptability. So I am critical of translations that inadvertently support a colonialist mentality or a policy of subordination of one group to another – so slave-free, male-female, right-wrong, in-out, protestant-catholic, head coverer – bald. The list is endless. What would I call the ‘school’ of aleph-taf? Absolutist with respect to the letter-perfect nature of the Bible? Am I then relative or just vague in my own understanding?

    There are ways in which I strive for clarity and precision – but not for absolutism. My current question on the meaning of sacrifice (here) and the careless use of that word reveals part of this. (You might be able to help here too.)

    At the same time, though I am Anglican – great via media – I was prodded into hearing by the closed table Brethren – more precise absolutism I can hardly imagine. Yet to bring back a sinner from the way of death covers a multitude of sins. So I must respect the different tradition even if I suspect fear. Nonetheless when I see a confused absolutism, it hurts. Because our trust is not in words and letters – though I value every space of white fire – but in God who really does something more than titillate our intellect or comfort our convenience.

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