Saturday, January 15, 2011

My Apologies For "Slamming"

1. systematic argumentative discourse in defense (as of a doctrine)

2. a branch of theology devoted to the defense of the divine origin and authority of Christianity 

I have been lately accused of "slamming" Baptists. The accusation, delivered by a series of e-mails, came from a person who has taken issue with the fact that I reference Baptists and my Baptist  heritage when discussing the faith. This apparently is such an offense to the person that they have concluded that my conduct is unbecoming of a Christian. They have resorted to sarcasms, name-calling and judgments about by motives and character. I have offered, on two occasions, to speak, in person, with the offended one, but I have been turned down.  The offended one has yet to offer a critique or comment on the issues in the content of my posts. In fact, they made a point of letting me know they do not and would not ever go to the JTO blog, but for the fact that someone alerted them to one of my posts. This prompted the shoot-from-the-hip e-mails.

Make no mistake, I welcome discourse on a private level and provide my e-mail publicly for those who wish to talk privately. I have found, however, that this shoot-the-messenger approach of personal attack, is a common response from those who know little about apologetic discourse. I have even seen this from Orthodox believers who have the misguided view that we are never to say a disparaging word about anything. This view comes from ignorance of the fact that The Faith Of Our Fathers was propagated by apologetic discourse. Saint Paul the Apostle used the term apologia (απολογία), which means "in defense of",  in Acts 26:2, when he told Festas and Aggripa "I make my defense". In this same way, I apologize, as should we all.  A baptist-based university offers this similar definition of "apologetics:

"Christian Apologetics is an essential interdisciplinary field of study that has as its goal the defense of the great truths of the Christian faith. Indeed, the Apostle Peter thought it important enough to exhort all believers to be prepared always to give a defense (apologian) to everyone who asks about the hope that we have in Christ (1 Peter 3:15)."

Is engaging in apologetics "slamming"? I can only assume the offended one understands the definition of the word "slam"-to criticize harshly. Given that the word, "harsh", means undue exacting, I would have to ask the offended one to point out what, in the discourse of my posts, has been undue? Defending the faith includes, as a necessary element, the exposing of ideology and doctrines that are foreign to the Faith, and, therefore, foreign to the Church, which was established by Christ and His Apostles. Any validly acquired offense should only be taken as a result of  the dissemination of untruths, not by the act of apologetic discourse. Apologetic criticism is only undue if it is false. Then it is characterized by "not a valid argument" not as "slamming". That I use my personal experience and relationships as a frame of reference for my apologetics is not only not undue, it is necessary.

It is a challenge to communicate with those who are unable or unwilling to have a reasonable discussion of the issues. It is especially challenging to communicate with those who, through insecurity, pride, or other emotional entanglements, resort to personal attacks, innuendos, and false assumptions as this offended one and others have. It is impossible to keep them on the subject. I have discovered a good tool for rooting out those who do not understand apologetic discourse (Please keep this a secret). In my response to them, I refuse to answer any personal accusations or to defend myself, but, rather, I repeatedly state the points of  the issues in question. Eventually they either 1. disappear, never having come to the truth, or they 2. become more aggressive and persistent, hurling new variations of old personal attacks. When the latter occurs, I have to discern when it is time to cut off the lines of fruitless discourse. To do so seems abrupt to the offended one, and they deem such an action as "cutting and running". Some people thrive on argument. They must win. How unfortunate it is when any such one has not learned the art of productive argument. In this case, there can be no winners and I will not provide a forum for such a losing endeavor.

Yes, I do "slam". I duly criticize, the Baptist theology, doctrine, and mindset, being that it is a man-initiated denomination, founded by John Smythe, the "self-baptiser", in the 1600's and looks very little like the Church of our Fathers. Baptists don't even reflect the belief of the tenants of the Lutheran Reformation. Baptists place their faith in the truth of the tenants and doctrines of an English, Anglican Preacher, all the while assuming they are following the Apostolic faith handed down to us. They are not. Why is that important? Because one will never know the fullness of the faith unless he is safe within the gates  where the "pillar and foundation of all truth" resides- the Church, the Orthodox Church, the original Church that has been here for over 2000 years, and for which Christ has promised, "The gates of hell will not prevail against." 

Authentic, respectful, apologetic discourse is what I offer here on Journey to Orthodoxy, but the offended one will not participate. Instead, brief, bullet-bearing e-mails are shot at me accusing me of the very conduct in which they are engaging. I am encouraged, however, that JTO, is visited daily by hundreds from all over the world, and from almost every religious persuasion, who do understand proper Apologetic discourse.

So, herein, I have offered My Apologies For Slamming. Now, you may offer your apology to this apology but, be careful not to say anything for which you may have to apologize.

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