This past Friday at the annual Shepherds Conference, Phil Johnson's session on Sound Words quickly became one of the most talked (in Christian blog circles anyway) about sessions of the conference. Why? Simple, he addressed a timely topic and named currently popular pastors who are doing and saying things they ought not be doing and saying. I have no reason to believe Phil set out to be controversial in his approach simply for the sake of controversy, but regardless of how you address such things there is controversy attached to it, and controversy draws people's attention and gets them talking. It's just the way it works.
In a similar vein, I sat down last night and poured my heart out on a topic that means a great deal to me. Here's how the piece starts:
"From time to time whenever I blog about particular subjects, I get email about it. There is one subject specifically that is almost certain to generate emails and that has happened again this past week. Without going into detail or anything that would violate the privacy of the folks that email me, I want to just say a few things that are on my mind."
As I sat and wrote my key concern was Biblical accuracy and appealing to those who take sound doctrine and genuine Christian living seriously. I did what I always do when tackling a NT Biblical doctrine that is often mis-taught, and I consulted the Greek, and several commentaries and cross reference passages and verses. After writing the post I proofread it and did some editing and then saved it to draft to re-read again today before posting.
After re-reading it today, one thing stood out clear to me and that was the controversy of the subject matter. It never even occured to me last night how controversial it actually could be. Suffice it to say, I was disappointed in my own ability to take on a Biblical subject and defuse the controversy enough to write about it and have it possibly serve someone for the glory of God.
It wasn't that long ago that such things wouldn't have mattered to me at all. Controversy or not, I wrote about whatever I wanted to and let the chips fall where they may. However, about a year ago I began to notice that I was at a sort of crossroads where I found myself asking myself more and more often if what I was saying actually needed to be said, and if so, if it could be said in a way that was more encouraging than the way I wanted to say it. In other words, I began to become convicted about the old "more heat than light" cliche. Some may see that as a good thing while others might see this as a sign of becoming weak or wimpy. Truth be told, it feels pretty good to be my own best critic when it comes to these things, so if that's weak and wimpy then I'm all for it.
While I am certainly no stranger to controversy, and will indeed take it on again I'm sure, eventually, it certainly can become quite exhausting. Especially if you're involved in it all the time, either by choice or by circumstances. I know this from personal, firsthand experience during several high-tension episodes in life, including the few years that I was one of the only Christian bloggers daring to say anything negative about the Emergent Church Movement. It's rather trippy to realize that began nearly five years ago now, but I'm glad I wrote what I did and said what I did at the time. Were I given the opportunity to do it again, I think I just might pass and let someone else take something like that on. Trust me, it's more stress than most people realize, dealing with controversy all the time.
So, while Phil Johnson generated some fresh controversy with what he delivered to the Christian community on Friday (and I am in no way comparing myself to Phil, I'm just using the example since it's current) he did so with subject matter that truly needed to be addressed and called out for what it is. The controversy is the unavoidable by-product and I just hope folks truly get that.
Until I can re-draft my own post on the topic that I wish to address (I believe it's timely and indeed very important) it will sit in the draft mode. I have no desire to stir up a hornets nest unless I can do it with grace and edification. That's a very tricky balance and one I've really been striving for for a long time. It's part of why I actually blog less than I did before. It's not that I don't still write as much as I always have, it's that I am a lot more circumspect with what and how I write what I do write. I think this is a good thing, and I'm glad to be "where I'm at" right now.