Carl Trueman, in the latest issue of Themelios, has some helpful comments on engaging controversy.
Interestingly, and correctly in my estimation, one of his emphases is the matter of the controversies relation to our local sphere of ministry. He comments that the Internet makes the world appear smaller than it really is and warns about the danger of “introducing certain errors to people who would otherwise be blissfully unaware of them.” He uses Rob Bell’s recent book as an example where many people were taught about a heresy by addressing something they would have likely never known about.
I am increasingly convinced of the centrality of the local church and local ministry. Obviously, the internet age has changed this somewhat, but probably not as much as most people think.
The truth is that people involved in real ministry do not need to concern themselves with every thing that happens all over the globe. Know the people you minister to, and minister to them. And I am going to go out on a limb and suggest that many people who blog prolifically are not involved in real ministry. (No, spouting your personal opinions and attacking other people to faceless blogrolls is not real ministry.)
Another helpful emphasis of Trueman is that of competence. A lot of people speaking up in controversies are simply incompetent. They are not equipped to render a legitimate viewpoint on the matter at hand.
Of course, this will bring charges of elitism.
And I plead guilty.
I am an elitist. I am one of those narrow-minded bigots who think you ought to know a little bit about something before pontificating on it.
Today, the blogosphere is filled with armchair theologians, armchair psychologists, armchair attorneys, armchair political scientists, armchair cultural critics, and armchair blog commenters.
And honestly, at the risk of appearing elitist, some of these people seem barely qualified to mow my grass. That’s about the only thing I am not elitist about. And I have a yard I will let you mow. And I will minister to you by keeping you busy for a while so you don’t get involved in something you should not get involved in.
So pick your battles wisely and carefully. And don’t pick them all.