We have been accused of all manner of perfidy here in Moscow, and for those who are following the proceedings with interest, the accusations need to be divided into two categories. The first category is that of specific accusations of specific sins or crimes — pillaging the deacons’ fund, or hating black people, or something like that. The way such accusations have been made (with enthusiasm and abandon), and the way some people have entertained them, was one of the reasons for this justice primer series of posts. If someone is accused of robbing a bank, the Bible tells us what is required before they can be convicted of having done it. Diligence in learning how to process accusations like this is an important spiritual discipline, and it is a prerequisite to wisdom in the second category. If you can’t run with men, how will you run with horses?
The second category of accusation is a global one. For example, one of the things we are accused of is the offense of cultivating an “enemy theology.” This accusation is a grid accusation, or a paradigm accusation. Once you allow the paradigm, pretty soon you are sorting all the information you see and hear the same way a postal worker sorts the mail. So, then, a specific accusation would be, “On thus and such a date, Wilson did this and that, and I really don’t know why the police are not all over it.” But a general accusation, a paradigm accusation, is one that extends over everything, and invites on-lookers to quietly accept it, while still believing they are still retaining their objectivity because they haven’t granted any specific charge. This then skews everything that they hear, invisibly.
So, that said, let us consider this particular charge of having an “enemy theology.” One of the characteristics of our 24/7 critics is that they do not exhibit any real self-awareness. Imagine, if you can, a blog site that is dedicated to publishing exegesis of books of the Bible, homilies on the Lord’s Supper, quotations from books on pop culture, thoughts on biblical business, fiction, poetry, bits of autobiography, book reviews, critiques of postmodernism, apologetic defenses of the Christian faith, sermon outlines, book lists, pictures of grandkids, meditations on Narnia, links to other sites of interest, cartoons, and a raft of other things. Now imagine one or more “whistleblower” sites, no commericials, that are non-stop dedicated to “exposing” and “bringing down” the knavish scoundrel running the first site. Now, who exactly has the enemy theology here?
Not whether, but which. It is not whether you will have an enemy, but rather which enemy you will have. And when you have got your enemy (for you will have one), the remaining question is whether you fight in a clear-headed way like a Christian. Love them, pray for them, and always hit above the belt. Step back when you need to, like Peter did with Miraz.
Those without self-awareness cannot master as simple a concept as whether/which, and so they are driven into massive confusions and the peculiar focus of Churchill’s blinkered fanatic who can’t change his mind and won’t change the subject. Universal tolerance requires the suppression of those who deny universal tolerance. Dogmatic rejection of “enemy theology” demands a monomanaical focus on those who purportedly have this “enemy theology,” for such souls are clearly the Enemy, early in the morning and late, late, late at night.
Being consumed by having an “ememy theology” is a real problem, and some poor people really do have it bad. You can tell by what they have to write about. Their identity is wrapped up in their status as champion against Enemy Theology. So here is a simple test, a thought experiment. So then, I have been accused of cultivating an “enemy theology” by folks who have trouble talking about anything else. Suppose one morning the archangel Gabriel was ordered to hit a celestial delete button which removed all posts of mine that were answering personal critics, engaging “the enemy,” and so on. Would there still be a web site standing? You bet. And if Gabriel did the same thing to the sites accusing me of having an enemy theology, what would be left there? Well, they would pretty much look like Carthage after Rome was done with it. This particular post of mine would be gone, but that’s all right because wisdom is vindicated by her children.