Apologetics in the Void” are repostings from an on-going electronic discussion and debate I had some time ago with members of our local community, whose names I have changed. The list serve is called Vision 20/20, and hence the name “visionaries.” Reading just these posts probably feels like listening to one half of a phone conversation, but I don’t feel at liberty to publish what others have written. But I have been editing these posts (lightly) with intelligibility in mind.
As I indicated earlier, I am unsubscribing from this list in just a few minutes. If I may be allowed just a few comments as I go, I would appreciate it. Four things.
First, I want to thank everyone from this list who came to the meeting last night. I was glad to meet a number of you, and appreciated the opportunity to answer all the questions that we were able to get to. Thank you.
Second, I appreciate those who have asked me to stay on the list. While I still think I need to go, I am not becoming a recluse, or going away mad. As we emphasized at the meeting last night, we live here, and we know we have civic responsibilities related to that. This departure is part of that responsibility. Since Vision 20/20 is not a moderated list, and since there is something about my boyish smile that whips a certain kind of person into a froth, I think it is only reasonable for me to do something else for a while. Because the People of the Clenched Jaw, not to mention the People of Exuberant Slander, cannot be made to go, I think it only reasonable for the person who sets them off to do so voluntarily. In other words, my absence will likely mean the absence of some others as well. And Scripture says, “Where no wood is, there the fire goeth out: so where there is no talebearer, the strife ceaseth. As coals are to burning coals, and wood to fire; so is a contentious man to kindle strife. The words of a talebearer are as wounds, and they go down into the innermost parts of the belly” (Prov. 26:20-22).
Third, if any issue comes up related to this fracas that absolutely demands a response from us, our session of elders still has a committee that could supply any necessary answers in a timely way. The overall situation in Moscow remains much as it was, with a few key misunderstandings removed. For many of us, we have moved to understanding our disagreements, which certainly remain. There will be other debates, other situations, and (I hope) other conversations such as many of us had last night. But as far as I am concerned, in this slavery discussion, you can deal me out not.
And last, please permit a generic pastoral warning against the corrosive effects of bitterness. As I have counseled many over the years with regard to this problem, I have seen that bitterness never stays put. The author of Hebrews put it this way: “Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord: Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled” (Heb. 12:14-15). Bitterness is a root, and roots gather nutrients. And if bitterness is nurtured and tolerated in any area, it grows until the point when it springs up and defiles many. Those “many” may not be the Evil Others who set you off in the first place — too often the many who are defiled by it are those who are closest to you. Bitterness is a true corrosive, and Jesus Christ offers a way out of that bondage through the grace of God.
So if you will excuse me, I am heading off to prepare for the celebration of the Incarnation. God made flesh in a virgin’s womb, and nothing will ever be the same again. Merry Christmas.