Some time ago a blogger wrote an “open letter” to me inviting me to engage in discussion on a topic where we disagreed.
To avoid specifics and get down to the core issues, let’s say the topic was the pastoral care of remarried divorced people in church.
So I went to the blog and read the open letter. It came across as rational, polite, sensible, compassionate and most of all spiritually sensitive and “listening to where the Spirit is leading the Church.”
In other words, it was all sweetness and light. The blogger lovingly invited me to participate in a discussion. I was invited to “listen carefully” and “walk with them on a difficult journey”
The fact of the matter is, the blogger was living in an adulterous relationship and wanted the church to change the rules for him.
Beneath all the sweetness and light was hard hearted rebellion and the subtext was one of bitterness, hatred and rebellion.
However, it was all cloaked over with a thick layer of sickeningly sweet double talk. It reminded me of one of those revolting birthday cakes you can get where the butter frosting is an inch thick and is all done in lurid colors and flashy effects. Yucch.
Thinking about it further, I was reminded of the dialogue with the devil that Eve had in Eden. The snake was a sneak. He came along, as usual, displayed as an angel of sweetness and light.
Everything he said was reasonable, sensible, attractive and he played the “God is a big nasty disciplinarian” card like a pro.
When confronted with the temptation to enter into this kind of “dialogue” I opt out. I don’t go there. It’s not worth my time and effort. Nothing is accomplished by it. Nothing.
Except the seduction of more and more of God’s faithful people.
One cannot even criticize the method of dialogue. How can you do so when the person who is enticing you into dialogue is simply reeking with reasonableness, sweetness and smiles? You can’t. If you say anything about their style they put on that wounded, disappointed look–the sort of hang dog expression you get from the dog when his feelings are hurt. If you answer bluntly and efficiently you are charged with being harsh and uncaring. If you come at it with a sense of humor and poke fun at yourself and them and the whole charade they pull the self righteous act saying, “I’m sorry that you feel that this is a joking matter. We invited you to have a serious and caring Christian discussion and you have become flippant.”
See? It goes nowhere.
I’m reminded of the response of Ransom in C.S.Lewis science fiction novel Perelandra to the demon possessed Professor Weston. Weston is attempting to engage the woman on the planet in this kind of dialogue. In the end Ransom simply punches the guy. He resorts to physical violence because there is no other way to penetrate the constant barrage of lies, lies, lies.
Of course I’m not advocating that we punch a heretic like St Nicholas did, but we sometimes need to be blunt in our conversation. Speak the truth simply and boldly and then walk away.
I’m not dialoguing with the devil and I advise you not to either.
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