Thursday, February 23, 2006

On Intolerant "Tolerance" and a Call to Balance and Accuracy

Rev. Bruce G. recently wrote the following in a Baptist message board:

“I stumbled upon this interesting blog today: In light of Baptist blogging making the news of late (and excluding the blogs of our own excellent ABCers), what ABC blogs would you nominate as some of the best in ABC life?”

The Moderator of the "Baptist Faith and Practice Forum" for the message board responded: "I wouldn't nominate the above blog. He has a very negative spin on everything ABC and is personally part of a crowd that is leaving the ABC. He soon will not be an American Baptist and is seeking ordination from another body.”

One of the most pervasive charges by the left against the right deals with the purported “intolerance” of conservatives. In my own experience, such rhetoric fails to describe the situation accurately. Most of the conservative bloggers and message boards known to me carry posts by persons concerned about factual accuracy and a willingness to credit one’s opponents with intellectual acumen, regardless of strong and principled disagreement on issues. In the last week, I have seen three evangelical ABC bloggers respond to corrections offered by critics. In a couple of cases the lurkers were rude and intolerant and the bloggers humble, gracious, and quick to accept correction. Yesterday, for example, a blogger openly admitted he had been wrong, thanked his critic for the correction, and pledged to do better in the future.

In the instance cited above where a Moderator of a forum dismissed this blog as having “a very negative spin on everything ABC,” the blogger exercised his right to disagree on the intellectual or literary merit of His Barking Dog (join the crowd!). That is certainly fair enough. However, it is more than a little interesting that while this same individual has frequently been praised and quoted with approval in this blog, he misstates factual matters on which he and I have already corresponded by e-mail!

In the current ABC crisis, feelings will inevitably become frayed through the exchange of strongly worded disagreements. We can little afford to allow ourselves the luxury of dismissing our opposition, misstating their positions, or engaging in what we know (or should know) to be factually untrue. The ethics of blogging for Christians should at least require us not to bear false witness in our efforts to advance our own case. For us, the words of James should rule: “Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness that God requires” (James 1:19-20).

But, even beyond this, we owe it to ourselves and our readers to avoid the tendency to sample only that with which we already agree. In the forum cited, the only blogs that made the cut so far as recommended by readers were those from the left to the center-left of the ABC spectrum. While progressives often decry the intolerance of the right, at least most of those on the right try to read and consider both sides of the issue before expressing their opinions.

[His Barking Dog professes, along with Sgt. Schulz of "Hogan's Heroes" to "know nothing, nothing," especially about the formal authority structures of the PSW and other entities within this region. I speak only for myself]

1 comment:

Jerry said...
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