Thursday, April 23, 2009

Blogging Boldly

I, Paul, myself entreat you, by the meekness and gentleness of Christ—I who am humble when face to face with you, but bold toward you when I am away!— I beg of you that when I am present I may not have to show boldness with such confidence as I count on showing against some who suspect us of walking according to the flesh. For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete.

Look at what is before your eyes. If anyone is confident that he is Christ's, let him remind himself that just as he is Christ's, so also are we. For even if I boast a little too much of our authority, which the Lord gave for building you up and not for destroying you, I will not be ashamed. I do not want to appear to be frightening you with my letters. For they say, “His letters are weighty and strong, but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech of no account.” Let such a person understand that what we say by letter when absent, we do when present. Not that we dare to classify or compare ourselves with some of those who are commending themselves. But when they measure themselves by one another and compare themselves with one another, they are without understanding. (2 Corinthians 10:1-12, ESV)


How can we apply this to the blogosphere? I say this with the understanding that Paul's intent was far broader than such an application, but I consider that many of the theological debates I read are less than charitable. It should not be so with those in Christ and I observe that many who debate do not walk according to the Spirit. Let's look at this passage line-by-line:


I, Paul, myself entreat you, by the meekness and gentleness of Christ—I who am humble when face to face with you,

Christ is meek and gentle and Paul is likewise humble in person. Should we not also be?


I who am humble when face to face with you, but bold toward you when I am away!

Is Paul saying that it's okay to be harsh in our writing to one another? No. Bold and harsh are two different things. Furthermore:


I beg of you that when I am present I may not have to show boldness

Why would he have to show boldness at all? Because it's...


boldness with such confidence as I count on showing against some who suspect us of walking according to the flesh.

People who do not have the revelation of God through the Holy Spirit conclude that those who walk according to the spirit actually are walking according to the flesh. For example, if I who have the Holy Spirit say that I believe homosexuality to be wrong, I do so because I love people who practice homosexuality enough to instruct them in the ways of the living God. However, homosexuals who do not have the Spirit believe I would do so because I hate them. They believe I hate them because they hate me for saying that homosexuality is wrong and they think my motivation must be the same as theirs.


For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds.

Their hatred comes from the observation that although they do not have the Spirit, they yet know what is right and despise any who voice this knowledge because they desire to act according to the flesh.


We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete.

You see, we have boldness in the authority of Christ against sin. With those who are in the Spirit, we submit ourselves one to another for careful reproof. With those who are in the flesh, we are holy that they may see our fellowship unto righteousness. However, our mutual submission often appears to those in the flesh as legalistic rather than loving. To be sure, no body of believers is perfect, but we are perfected in our submission.


Look at what is before your eyes. If anyone is confident that he is Christ's, let him remind himself that just as he is Christ's, so also are we. For even if I boast a little too much of our authority, which the Lord gave for building you up and not for destroying you, I will not be ashamed.

Where our mutual submission is made public through the writing of letters, articles, blog posts, comments in metas, and online forums, our boldness has authority that may cause those in the flesh to stumble. We should not be ashamed of this, however. But we must not desire to destroy those in the flesh:


I do not want to appear to be frightening you with my letters. For they say, “His letters are weighty and strong, but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech of no account.” Let such a person understand that what we say by letter when absent, we do when present.

Lest any in the body of Christ who are weak in the faith question the authority of God, there must not be any inconsistency in substance. Therefore, we must take care to write openly only the truth and likewise when we meet together in private, face-to-face, to speak only the truth that while there may be a difference in tact, there is no difference in the truth we abide by.


Not that we dare to classify or compare ourselves with some of those who are commending themselves. But when they measure themselves by one another and compare themselves with one another, they are without understanding.

For there are those who commend themselves publicly who would not say the same things in private. Rather their desire is for their own boldness rather than the truth. So whether the online debate is won or lost according to the wisdom of men the truth remains steadfast.

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