Over the past few months, I have not been able to get on Defending Contending that much for a variety of reasons. The main reason is because I have been very busy with work, working on a professional level exam in the evening, and trying to squeeze in time for family with what little bit of time I have left. Having said that, I wanted to take a few minutes to say that I appreciate those who have been able to contribute and who have commented.
Yet, with the responsibility of sharing with others comes another responsibility that I believe is even more important. This responsibility has been sadly lacking in some of the things that have been shared and I want to clarify a few points so we can move forward. The responsibility of which I speak is that, as true believers, we are called to reflect Jesus Christ in all that we say or do. Our position can be right, but if our disposition is wrong, then we are wrong. Being belligerent, obstinate, hateful, derogatory, or even caustic does not reflect who we are in Christ.
Hebrews 12:1 reminds us that we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses who have walked the path before us. When I think of this passage, I cannot help but wonder what they would say to us if they could read our words or hear what we say to others who are true believers. As but one example, I wonder if they would wince when our words are written or designed to tear strips off of those who believe in salvation by grace through faith alone in Christ alone yet are not in total agreement with us on some point of doctrine that has nothing to do with our salvation.
It seems that on a regular basis, we can get sideways with others for a variety of reasons and in the process we forget that part of being in Christ is that we exhibit the fruit of the Spirit. This has not always been the case here at Defending Contending, and even I have had to back off and extend an apology to our readers and our commenters for not being gracious. Again, my position may well have been right, but my disposition only inspired others to dive for shelter instead of looking to Jesus Christ.
Too often it seems that we forget the passage in 1 Corinthians 3 where Paul reminded the believers of Corinth that we are not called to be followers of Paul, or Apollos, or Luther, or Calvin, or MacArthur, or Sproul, or Paul Washer, or fill-in-the-blank. When we put our eyes on mere men who are fallible and by no means 100% correct in every single area of their life, we will be disappointed. Not only will we be disappointed, but the world will have reason to wonder as to who really paid the ultimate sacrifice for our sins. They may well wonder why we spend more time trying to defend points of doctrine over acting, speaking, and listening in ways that are truly glorifying and Christ-honoring.
Recently, we have had posts that were meant to be words of encouragement only for the gloves to come off and comments began to spin out of control. The post was never intended to be anything more than apples of gold in pitchers of silver. The short post got hijacked and it became a stomping ground for people from different ends of the spectrum to parade how they felt. Several posts recently have been such that I cringe when I look back and read them and the comments. I wonder what in the world we are really doing or what we are attempting to do.
Finger-pointing does nothing profitable. Thus I felt this post was necessary to hopefully clear the air. First, let me reiterate that I am unashamedly, first and foremost, a Christ-follower. Second, I hold to the Bible as the inerrant and infallible word of God that is good for ALL that pertains to life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3). Third, I do not have any desire to follow a mere man. Yes, I, myself, have posted comments or quote or even sermons from men like MacArthur, Washer, or Dr. Steve Lawson, but they are men just like me. Others quote Calvin, Luther, Wesley, Sproul, or whoever as though they are to be esteemed to the level of the apostle Paul.
Anybody that cares to take the time to read through more of this blog will know where I have stood for the more than 8 years I have written here at Defending Contending. I have no intention of backing down from defending truth or contending for the faith. Many of you already know that I do not use the term Calvinist to describe myself. Most would be hard pressed to tell you exactly where Mark Escalera stands, but I am willing to share if I am asked. I have no issues standing against false teaching or false teachers. What I do have an issue with is the attitudes that are portrayed at times that are not Christ-like.
I have almost shared enough for now, but I want to share just a couple more things. Not every reader, nor every person who comments, nor even every person who has been asked to contribute stands on the same ground theologically. While I disagree on various points with each contributor, I still have the final say on the blog and who I invite to write here.
I would kindly ask that each reader remember that ultimately, I am the one that is responsible for Defending Contending and that this is not, nor will it be, a forum for just anybody to come here and defend and contend for what everyone else believes. If a person comes here and desires to share, there are still rules that are not going to change.
If you come to DefCon just for the purpose of trying to change all of our minds on a particular area, then please feel free to start your own blog. We do not mind questions, nor do we mind disagreements. But, writing inflammatory comments or demanding to be heard on one side or another of a particular issue will not be tolerated. If you have a comment that is held in moderation, I do not need 1, 2, 5, or 10 more comments letting me know that your comment is in moderation. I have a busy life and it may not be answered for an hour, a day, or even 2 days.
As for those who write blog posts here at DefCon, I respect each one and each one has added to the mix various points that I appreciate. This is true whether it is George Alvarado’s points on evangelism or apologetics, Manfred’s book reviews or posts on various doctrinal issues, J.L. Pattison’s posts on various topics, or even Sony Elise’s words of encouragement. Each of these individuals are my friends, some closer than others, and I will defend each one of them even if I do not always agree with them with everything they post or will post.
In conclusion, my entire point of the post is to bring us back to the reality that we will all disagree until the Lord takes us home. Then we will quickly come to the understanding that we were not right on everything. However, that will quickly fade as we realize how glorious it is to be worshiping with the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. To find ourselves standing, kneeling, dancing, waving our hands, stomping our feet with glee, or running the hills of glory will be all worth it in the end when we see Jesus Christ, who ALONE is the author and finisher of our faith. I expect, in the meantime, that we each strive diligently to be gracious to each other so that others will see the reflection of the Master Carpenter.
Gosh dontcha know, it’s all about free speech. I get told that quite often, that I must allow anything, by anybody, about anything(on topic or not), to anyone, at any time. I am told that to do so violates people’s right to free speech. Oddly, these comments come from folks who live in places where there is not a right to free speech, and furthermore would never allow me the same latitude if I went to there blogs and did the same.
A good, well put together post here Mark.
Thanks for the reminder, Mark. I had just visited your Writer’s Blog for the first time and was inspired by the many quotes. Fresh with the memory, one particular quotation is apt for this post:
Discussion is always better than Argument.
Because Argument is to find who is right and
Discussion is to fight what is right.
Perhaps you would like to post that graphic here.
Oops, “DIscussion is to find what is right.”
Spot on, Mark. As I’ve grown older I’ve become less interested in arguing with people about anything. Grown weary to be honest. Most people are set in their ways and will not change no matter how persuasive the argument is.
In our defending and contending we musn’t lose sight of the instruction to “pursue peace with all men” (Heb. 12:14) and we would all do better to keep in mind Romans 12:18, “If possible, so far as depends on you, be at peace with all men.”
– J.L. Pattison
Spot on bro! Love you.
Thank you Doreen. It is good to see you here again. Trust all is well in the UK.
J.L., thanks for your encouraging reminders. You are right that we should live at peace as much as possible.
George, love you too brother.
Mark, another great reminder of a great truth and godly principle to keep in the forefront of all online topical discussions.
I would appreciate another equally thoughtful article concerning the times and occasions where even Jesus ,”took the gloves off”. One the one hand being the creator He is just to speak to His rebellious supreme creations according to His nature. As our incarnate living example as love incarnate he, ungently, also called mankind hypocrites, snakes in the grass and evil.
Paul called the Galations foolish. 1 Cor. is virtually one long corrective rebuke. Paul confronted Peter in public. Paul labeled and exposed several men by name in writing.
I am not trying to be contrary. Is being at peace with all men and bearing the fruit of the Spirit at all times always correct? It is much better to repay evil with good but is that biblically applicable with all the people all of time?.
The reason why I have not been posting much is because in May 2014 I suffered a stroke, and it has taken a while to recover.
So I post now, but moderately.
Thank you for the post, Mark. Take care, Doreen. God bless you in your health recovery.
Sherlock Holmes to Watson, “When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.” Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, The Sign of the Four.