“A Few Words of Observations Among Christian Academics and Thinkers Engaged in Public Discourse”
More recently, I have observed an ongoing trend among Christian academics in America that is detrimental to Christian witness in public, Christian unity and alliance, and the solidarity all Christians share in Christ. Many of contenporary influential Christian thinkers and scholars, who write for the popular (church) audience, do not know how to have constructive and Christ-honoring conversations with each other in public and via social media outlets.
If one among them made a mistake (i.e. in interpreting the Scripture or a cultural issue) in public through a published article, Op-ed, or a talk, the common tendency among these Christian thinkers or Christian academic community is to shame each other in public so certain individuals could show that the other party is wrong and they are right.
Unfortunately, the end of these public discourses or conversations is never about correcting the other brother or sister so that this individual could become more mature spiritually, relationally, and intellectually or is it ever about cultivating healthy Christian friendship and relationship, and robust and Christ-like discipleship in the body of Christ. The focus is much on the self and defending the self, the ego, and it’s not on Christ or for the betterment of the sister or brother at fault.
Perhaps, we should ask this question: is this a trait that Christian academics and thinkers inherited from the academic and scholarly world? Even if this is the case, as Apostle Paul exhorts the Christian community in Galatia, “This is not the way you’ve learned Christ,” and how to relate to each other. This particular behavior toward the other individual is not Christ-like and does not lift up the other party; it brings dishonor to the members of the Christian community .
The goal of the other party is unfortunately to show off his or her academic pedigree and vast knowledge in matters relating to interpreting cultural ideas and concepts and understanding the Bible in light of these pertinent matters, and the application of the Biblical text to everyday life experience and decision-making. This is not the way of Christ nor is it the way of biblical wisdom and understanding appropriating to the love for God and correspondingly, the love for the (Christian) neighbor.
As a result, the Christian community in Anerica is becoming more divided and a hostile group or environment; it’s drifting away from being a coherent, relational, and supporting community of faith. The ensuing result is unfortunately the promotion of Christian tribalism and group exceptionalism.
We need to exercise more grace and gentleness and just a little more tolerance and patience toward each other as we exchange ideas and engage in biblical hermeneutics about life issues and theological matters.
May God help us to seek his wisdom and understanding on matters of faith and life, and teach us how to appreciate each other!