Saturday, February 05, 2011

Christians and Conflict

Civility is what I always wish for on this blog. Wade Burleson, our son, posted an EXCELLENT post a long while back on this subject that I'm reposting here. Read carefully and enjoy the wisdom of what is said.

Pursue the Greater Graces and the Greatest Gifts

Dr. Molly Marshall, a graduate of Oklahoma Baptist University and former professor at Southern Theological Seminary, is now the President of Central Baptist Theological Seminary in Shawnee, Kansas. Dr. Marshall has a blog entitled Trinitarian Soundings. Recently, Dr. Marshall wrote the following insightful blog:

"The Apostle ends 1 Corinthians 12 with the following exhortation: “But strive for the greater gifts.” As summation of his discussion of how the many members of the Body of Christ can work together and as prelude to the beloved next chapter on love, St. Paul knows that sustained unity amidst diversity taxes even the best among us. At the first hint of conflict persons nervously move away from one another, fearful of what might damage the relationship. Yet they ensure that the relationship will be damaged by refusing to enter into transformative conflict. The most mature relationships are characterized by conflict, not forced unanimity which subjugates one party to another.

Richard P. Olson, Distinguished Professor of Pastoral Theology at Central, has recently published Love Letter to a Conflicted Church. He offers distilled wisdom from over 40 years in pastoral ministry on how to engage conflict constructively. He writes: “…there are redemptive and transforming possibilities in conflict. Through conflict a person can become more self aware, articulate, and personally empowered. Not only that—one can learn to see the other as a human being, a child of God, one with struggles and needs much like one’s own. Indeed, redemption can happen in conflict when one obeys Jesus to love both neighbor and self” (p. 21). These are words to live by, indeed to “fight” by. I commend his insightful work.

Another scholar I respect, Mitch Carnell, a Baptist layperson in Charleston, S.C., has issues a clarion call for a different kind of discourse than what populates the varied radio and cable news talk shows. In his book Christian Civility in an Uncivil World, he suggests that a challenge greater than the political arena may be in bringing people of faith together to practice the way of civility. The purpose of his book is “to explore ways for people of faith to talk to and about each other in a way that glorifies God and advances God’s kingdom” (p.14). Our stewardship of words matters.

While I am not sure what all the Apostle had in mind when he referred to the “greater gifts,” surely he was urging the Corinthians (and those who listen to the epistle today) to learn how to live with others respectfully. In Pauline theology, one of the functions of the Spirit of God is to assist persons in bearing the strains of their differences in a constructive way. Learning to “speak the truth in love” and not “to think too highly of oneself” are grace gifts worth striving for in our day."

Excellent article! I long for the day when we conservative inerrantists, particularly those in positions of strategic leadership in the SBC, will write similar articles.

Nobody is saying we shouldn't take strong stands for truth. We should. But we should pursue the greater graces and the greatest gifts more than any other.

In His Grace,



Aussie John said...


Right on!

Grace? Civility? That's a characteristic of those who are new creatures in Christ, but....amongst Christians of different faiths? Amongst Baptists?

I'm trying to be realistic, not cynical.

Certainly one of the reasons that many younger Christians are looking for new forms of meeting together, is the example being set by tradition hardened older ones.

They believe Jesus when He said, " You will recognize them by their fruit. Grapes are not gathered from thorns or figs from thistles, are they?"

Bob Cleveland said...

Aussie John correctly attributes civility and grace .. in most instances .. to being hew creatures in Christ. But "in Christ" is the key there, and that doesn't always crop up immediately in believers' lives. It seems to me that, as with other Biblical indications as to how we act when the Holy Spirit has His way with us, folks have to learn what's expected of them as believers.

I'm not sure I recall a lot of instruction about that; not as much as, say, tithing. People need to know that such reflections of the Spirit in our lives are part of the abundant life, not simply some sort of behavior we're supposed to emulate.

Good post/repost.

Bob Cleveland said...

"hew", of course, ="new".

First mistake I've made since, oh, say, the last one.

Rex Ray said...

Ah! But what happens when ‘two worlds’ collide? This is a great post by Wade, but I’m referring to him saying: “I long for the day when we conservative inerrantists…”

In the early 1900’s, atheists said God didn’t exist because the Bible wasn’t perfect. Their crazy reasoning started another crazy reasoning by fundamentalists saying God existed because the Bible was perfect.

(The devil set a trap and fundamentalists fell in – my opinion of course.)

God exists because of a million reasons – the best one: “I AM”, and not on the ‘messenger’ being perfect.

The first president of the SBC elected by the Conservative Reassurance in showing they had control said, “If we say pickles have souls, then pickles have souls.”
He also said, “Scripture cannot be set against Scripture” meaning since the Bible was innerrant, Scripture was not needed to interpret other Scripture; that all Scripture stood alone in being perfect.

Illustration: Women are to submit to their husbands. (Ephesians 5:22) Never mind the previous verse says they are to submit to each other since ‘all Scripture stands alone’.

With this theory, they picked what Scriptures they liked to change the BFM so only men could be pastors and a dozen other changes like changing “the church is committed to His teachings” to “the church is governed by His laws.”

If there’s no difference, why did they change it? I believe they changed to give more control by the SBC over churches which does away with autonomy.

When a committee can decide what “His laws” are and demand all they have control over to agree or be fired, then the freedom of the priesthood of the believer is governed by others.

I believe that is ‘liberal’ thinking and NOT conservative. That’s why in ‘religion’ I believe Liberals stole the name conservative and is the opposite of conservative in politics.

Rex Ray said...

Before I’m labeled a non-Bible believer, I’ll say all truth in the Bible comes from God (He cannot tell a lie), and all untruth comes from the devil starting with his lies in the Garden.

Thus the lies of man, his lack of understanding, ignorance, and stupidity that’s recorded in the Bible does NOT come from God and is not inerrant.

That’s what I believe Second Timothy 2:16 is saying: “…a workman that needeth not be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”

That’s why the BFM since 1925 has “It [Bible] has God for its author, salvation for its end, and truth, without any mixture of error, for its matter.”

Notice it DOES NOT have “…truth, without any error…”

The lawyer for the SBC explained to me that “without any mixture of error” meant the truth of the Bible is true, and the untruth of the Bible is not true.

Paul Burleson said...


I've read your comments and recognize you have views that will be rejected by many but accepted by some. I can't speak for Wade but he did say this in print which I thought to be quite insightful...

Wade said...

"I have some sincere questions for inerrantists...

(1). Is your faith in Jesus Christ or in a "perfect" English text (or Greek manuscript)?

(2). Do you talk more to others about your faith in Jesus or your belief in a perfect English text (or Greek manuscript)?

We inerrantist need to realize that the belief in the veracity of the Scriptures does not exclude textual criticisms of our English translations.

We worship the Christ the Bible reveals, not the Bible itself."

Paul speaking here..

My own view is that the "inerrant" statement is for the original manuscripts only. If one asks " why does THAT matter since we don't have them?" My answer to that is two-fold.

1. It means there was a perfect revelation from heaven when God spoke originally.

2 .It means also that the study of the earlier manuscripts we DO have is important because the further we can go back the more likely we are to have a correct understanding of the meaning and intent of the language. [Like a carpenter goes back to the original or earliest cut wood to continue to get a more accurate cut.]

I'm assuming the reason we don't have the originals providentially is that we are so prone to idol worship. The same reason the Brass serpent had to eventually be destroyed. That's only an assumption as you know.

Rex Ray said...

I believe you hit the nail on the head with your last statement: “I'm assuming the reason we don't have the originals providentially is that we are so prone to idol worship.”

God’s ways are not man’s ways. If we were God, we would have the linage of Jesus from ‘perfect’ people. If we wrote the Bible, we would use the finger that wrote on the wall in every language of the world.

God hits straight licks using crooked sticks.

You said, “It means also that the study of the earlier manuscripts we DO have is important because the further we can go back the more likely we are to have a correct understanding of the meaning and intent of the language.”

I agree with you, but I can also disagree. :)

On one hand, going back eliminates those who have put their ideas into the Bible, but is that always bad? For instance “For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the Glory, for ever. Amen” (Matthew 6:13) is not found in the other Gospels – nor is it found in earlier transcripts of Matthew, but do you ever hear the ‘Lord’s Prayer’ sung without that verse?

Two years have gone by since the study below was complete. Why haven’t we heard much about it?


Dallas Morning News Friday, March 11, 2005
For oldest Bible, a divine new look.
Once texts are digitally reunited, public can see and interpret changes. by Tod Robberson…Europe Bureau

(I'll print the rest later)

Rex Ray said...

LONDON---Is the Bible the infallible word of God or a text doctored by calligrapher, priest and politicians to satisfy their own earthly motivations?
Evidence suggesting the latter is contained on the pages of the world’s oldest Bible, the Codex Sinaiticus. The ancient Greek Bible, written between the first and fourth centuries, has been divided since the mid-1800s after visitors from Russia and Western Europe removed sections of it from a desert monastery in Egypt.
But on Thursday, experts from Britain, Germany, Russia, Egypt and the United States launched a four-year project to digitally reunite the fragile texts and make them available to anyone with the click of a mouse.
“The codex is so special as a foundation document and a unique icon to Christianity,” said John Tuck, head of British Collections at the
British Library in London. Unification of the manuscript, even digitally, “is a blockbuster in scholarship.”
Only a privileged few have ever been allowed to handle the original manuscripts. Scholars need access to determine, among other things, how far the modern Bible has veered in interpretation from the codex. Parts of the project announced Thursday will include Christian texts written as few as 45 years after the death of Jesus Christ.
The manuscripts are so delicate that only four scholars have been granted access in the last 19 years to sections of the text housed in London, said Scot McKendrick, head of medieval and earlier manuscripts at the British Library in London.
But researchers and the general public will be able to examine the digitized texts in minute detail. Historical and explanatory notations will accompany the digitized texts so that viewers can trace how changes were made and, more important, why.
“Obviously, the way the editing works…is exceedingly interesting. What is process leading to this or that correction? Whether it was merely editorial, or if they were following a theological led” in altering the message, Mr. McKendrick said.
Ray Bruce, a film director who is producing a documentary on the project cited the Book of Mark as an example of how much the modern Bible has been altered from the codex. In the codex, he said, the Book of Mark ends at Chapter 16, Verse 8, with the discovery the Christ’s tomb was empty.
But more modern versions contain additionally 12 verses with the testimony from Mary Magdalene and 11 apostles referring to the resurrection of Jesus.
“It shows how much this is a dynamic process of editing and adaptation,” he said, but also raises questions about the influence man has had on texts regarded by Christians as divinely inspired.
Researchers and plunderers have particularly coveted the codex because the texts were written so soon after the life of Jesus, and they are the largest and longest-surviving biblical manuscript in existence, including both the Old and New Testaments. In addition, the codex contains two Christian texts written around A.D. 65, the Shepherd of Hermas and the Epistle of Barnabas.

Rex Ray said...

Until the mid-1800s, the complete codex was housed inside St. Catherine’s Monastery in Sinai, Egypt. But the texts were broken up when visitors bribed, cajoled or deceived monks into letting certain sections be removed for further examination in Russia, Britain, and Germany.
“They were never returned,” said Greek Orthodox Archbishop Damianos of Sinai. “The monastery felt a great injustice was done.”
He said the disappearance of the texts led to upheaval in the monastery, and because of lingering resentment, the monks at St. Catherine’s had been “a bit reluctant to respond positively” when asked to participate in the current project.
In particular, he singled out Britain for criticism because of what he described as the underhanded manner in which it obtained its texts and its longtime refusal to return them. Nevertheless, he said the monastery agreed to join the digitization project.
Other parts of the manuscript that had been taken to Russia disappeared after the 1918 Bolshevik Revolution and were feared lost forever. They did not reappear until the mid-1940s and are now kept at the National Library of Russian St. Petersburg.
Mr. Mckendrick said the codex was originally produced on high-grade papyrus with the state-of-the-art ink and pens---the best available at the time.
Similarly, the new digitization project will use some of today’s most advanced technology, he added. “So in a sense, we’ll be matching fourth century cutting-edge technology with cutting-edge 21st century technology.”

Sorry for the long news article.

Paul Burleson said...


Thanks for the article. [I think.] ;)

I read it and it reminded me, for whatever reason, of Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis, Which is a lung disease. ;o)

Rex Ray said...

Wow! What a word! Instead of a lung disease – I’d think it’d be some kind of tongue trouble.

That Bible study has been released, but I’ve been able to find it only in Hebrew and Greek. And as they say…that’s Greek to me.

Paul Burleson said...


From the FWIWD..[For what it's worth department] that the longest word in the English language. I think it's kinda fun to know dumb stuff like this.

Good job on the research and I'm putting that article [copied and pasted] in a file I have on "Theological Issues." Again, thanks.

Rodney Sprayberry said...


What ever the greater gifts are that Paul refers to..he suggests the way to access them them can be found in chapter 13!

The only measuring stick that seems to matter is that of love (I suspect the includes some type of civility and respect but is much more than that). It also informs how we should function in conflict "when two world collide" . The problem is that loving well (properly understood of course) is not easy in any relationship. Many times it is the exception rather than the rule even in the church...and especially in the face of conflict.

That is why Dan Allender says that forgiveness is the "sine qua non" of real love. Though both concepts of "love" and "forgiveness" are often misused, misunderstood, and misrepresented.

He writes:

"For every person, in every instance, either brief or interminable, cruel or civil, warm or hostile, there will be enough sin in all of our relationships that forgiveness is required if they are to continue to grow towards and end that is good."

In other words the issue is not whether or not we can all get along
but whether or not redemptive love will be infused into the moment,the conversation, the relationship,or even the conflict.

Paul Burleson said...


I could not agree more. Frankly, my agreement is with ALL you've said .

I think it would be fair to say that "Love is not civility and respect, but civility and respect are aspects of true love."

Dan Allender's quote is on target and your "In other words" statement closing your comment should be the concluding statement of any discussion about genuine biblical love. Extremely well said IMHO.

Anonymous said...

About those 'original texts'(autographs) of sacred Scripture:
I wouldn't be at all surprised if some day, at an appropriate time, they were rediscovered for the sake of all mankind.

The reason for my hope is that the early Church was so very concerned and careful with 'preserving' and 'handing down' what had been given from the Apostles.
We do know what great care was given to the burial places of all of the early martyrs, and that great care was also given to the copying of the sacred Scriptures, for sake of accuracy.
For these reasons, I am 'hopeful' that, in a time of God's choosing, the 'originals' will surface to benefit all mankind, as holy testaments in a way that brings many to Our Lord.

I hope I'm right. I have a feeling that I am right. Hope is good thing.


Rex Ray said...

Someone like ‘Thy Peace’ put this websight on Wade’s blog a long time ago. I didn’t know I had it but knew I couldn’t get English from it. I just found it in my files and I think I found English. The web is

I’m a ‘babe in the woods’ when it comes to things like this, but I looked up 1 Timothy 2:15 and got this link:

Hey Rodney! I caught your quote on “when two worlds collide”. Thanks for the prayer at our last deacon’s meeting.

It’s always a joy to hear you. You express a hope from love we all should have. I remember you hoping to prove true that fiction email why the napkin of Jesus was folded. (I think I forward that email and then had to confess.)

But Paul hoped God would heal his affliction. He finally saw the glory of God was best with his thorn in the flesh. I believe the same is God’s will in Christians not having Noah’s arc, the cross of Jesus, his robe, etc. or the original Bible.

Thanks for your comment.

Anonymous said...

I thought this email was good:

If you look at what you don’t have in life,
you don’t have anything;

But if you look at what you have in life,
you have everything.

I might add – starting with Jesus.

Anonymous said...

What is going on? I couldn't make the comment above without being anonymous.


Paul Burleson said...


I'm not sure of any error in the blog system. Sorry.

Anonymous said...

After pasting my comment, the word verification is shown.
(Paul, it does not ask for email as it used to do.)
It says:
"Choose an identity"
1. "Google account (You will be asked to sign in after submitting your comment."
2. OpenID

Paul I type in the word verification and click "Publish your comment"

Then this shows up:

"Blogger - create a blog, it's free" and more stuff.
My comment never is posted unless I choose "Anomous"

Paul Burleson said...


Sorry, I don't have a clue about how to change anything. The settings haven't been changed in months and I'm not sure I would know how to change anything at present.

If others have the same problem we'll know Blogspot is at fault and I would certain inform them. But what I KNOW about all this you could write on a postage stamp.