Is there a piece of biblical wisdom more routinely ignored on the internet, not to mention in our own hearts, than Proverbs 18:17?—”The one who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him.” I’ve never been accused of serious misconduct that I knew to be patently false or horribly misunderstood. But if I am someday, I hope folks will remember the book of Proverbs. “”If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame” (Prov. 18:13). Too often we are quick to speak and slow to listen. The world, the flesh, the devil, and the internet want us to rush to judgment, when the Bible urges us to suspend judgment until we’ve heard from both sides. It happens all the time: pastors sinfully judge parishoners based on hearsay, church members criticize pastors without knowing the whole story, citizen assume the worst about politicians whenever another Scandalgate emerges, kids attack their siblings at the first whiff of error.
Ideas have consequences. Since the dawn of Western philosophy, we have witnessed the good, the bad, and the ugly of this axiom. From the influence of John Locke upon the founders of America, to the disastrous results of the influence of Karl Marx in Communist Russia and Friedrich Nietzsche in Hitler’s Germany, it can hardly be argued that ideas don’t have consequences. Yet, not only do ideas have consequences, but so too does exegesis.
After a one-year hiatus, Band of Bloggers is returning this year in conjunction with T4G, and the topic is a doozy—building platform and the gospel:
There’s a lot of pressure today for pastors and leaders to build their “platform” in order to gain an audience and building influence. This is especially true if you are seeking to publish a book. With all the encouragement to self-promote and brand your identity online, how does this relate to the gospel call of taking up your cross and denying yourself? How do we make much of Christ when it seems so necessary to make much of our work?
When people criticize the Bible, they often point to contradictions. “The Bible says this here, but says the opposite over here!” This proves, they say, that this cannot be God’s book, it’s no different from any other human book with the usual errors and mistakes.
Whether one is in a congregational or presbyterian church, the twin issues of transparency and leadership accountability are vital to healthy life. There must be transparent processes whereby the elders and minister can be held to account by congregants. And there must be a culture among the elders whereby the minister is held to account for his life and doctrine. It is not complicated: a decent book of church order and a few good men, elected by the congregation, are all that is needed.