Years ago, my father fulfilled a dream for me by taking me to Oxford where C. S. Lewis walked, talked, taught, and was buried. We went to the pub where the Inklings discussed God and their writings. Sometimes the “Inklings” disagreed strongly, but they respected and listened to one another — and these discussions changed the world. They were, indeed, like iron sharpening iron.
Soon (pray for me to know timing) I am finally going to venture us into The Song of Songs. This is something I’ve longed to do for years but have not sensed an open door from the Lord until now. So I am excited to see what the Lord will do in our hearts. Keller hasn’t yet preached on The Song of Songs, though he has referenced a few passages — so I must plunge ahead without my “security blanket,” which is, indeed, good for me, for my rock must not be Keller! There are godly men from the past and present who have preached and written on it.
But before we consider together such a controversial book, I want to talk about discernment and discussions on the internet. There is so much out there on The Song of Songs that is wild. This is true whether they see The Song of Songs as primarily about marriage or primarily about Christ and the church. So we must be discerning.
And, we are all still learning to use the social media wisely to edify and not tear down. I’ve made mistakes, am on a learning curve, and I want us to learn together.
Also, David and I are also looking ahead to the fall, when we are going to make some changes on this website, so I’ll have a few questions this week about that as well. I’m seeking the Lord, and you are often helpful to me in discerning His will. So this week is a bit different, not a true “Bible study,” but a pause, a “selah.”
IRON SHARPENING IRON
The internet makes it possible for us to access discussions easily, at our convenience. The internet also makes it possible for us to discuss these sermons or articles, and be like iron sharpening iron. I try to give you sermons that I believe are true to God’s Word — but no man or woman is always without error.
I have come to see that the internet, used rightly, can be a great gift, but used wrongly, can destroy. We must be discerning about what we watch and listen to, and we must be careful with our words. It is so easy to be misunderstood or to hurt unintentionally. Some have also used it as a weapon to hurt others.
I understand why some shun Facebook and the internet altogether, feeling like the Amish about this modern technology. But I am convinced it can be a tool for great good, used rightly. Sometimes we will disagree with one another or with popular Bible teachers. Godly men and women would never claim to be right all the time. I loved the humility of Chuck Swindoll when he said, “I disagree with half of what I wrote when I was young.”
So we need discernment, for only the Word of God is without error.
We can also question these teachers and a lively debate can be healthy if we follow certain principles. There are those who like to disagree for the excitement of disagreement — and Paul warns against useless controversies. On the other hand, there are healthy disagreements. Paul disagreed with Peter in Galatians 2, and it was good that he did. For teachers of influence can lead many astray.
If the teacher is widely popular, like Keller or Piper or Driscoll, I doubt that you could talk to him personally, though you could try. But we can discuss his thoughts here, as long as we follow some guidelines, which we will consider this week.
1. Do you have comments on the above?
2. How have you been edified by resources on the internet? Share a specific? What is your favorite site — other than this one? 🙂 Why do you like it?
3. How have you hurt others through the internet? How have you been hurt? Can you share a specific without blaming anyone, but rather sharing what you learned from the experience on how to be wiser?
Tuesday: DISCERNING AND FAIR
4. According to Acts 17:11, what was wise and noble about the Bereans?
One of my favorite internet sites is www.thegospelcoalition.org — yet I don’t agree with everything on that site. Mark Driscoll used to be a part of The Gospel Coalition and he also was instrumental in founding the Acts 29 churches, which have been used mightily by God for good. Yet I often disagree with him, as I did when he gave his opinion on stay-at-home dads as part of a Q and A following his teaching on The Song of Songs. I posted the video of his thoughts on my author Facebook and asked what people thought about the scripture he used to support his conviction. I suggested they be like the Bereans. I received several angry responses and withdrew the video.
This caused me to reflect. Was I wrong to post it? Those who felt I was quoted Matthew 18:15-17, saying I should have gone to him directly rather than confronting him on the internet. I knew I would feel uncomfortable if someone posted a video of me and questioned the truth of what I was saying. And yet, I also felt conflicted, for when something is taught that we believe is false, shouldn’t we question it? Do we need to go to that author or teacher first personally if he or she is not in our church? Many of these extremely well-known preachers are not accessible, simply because they cannot be due to the sheer number of readers and listeners.
I know that I have grown personally when a friend has questioned my behavior, even though it is painful. Would it be more painful it it was public? Of course. And yet I know a teacher bears more responsibility so I must be open to being questioned. I know the times that have been most hurtful to me is when people have gone on the internet and said that I said things that I didn’t say, belittled me, or called me names, for that, as Keller says, is “not an argument.”
Please read this short article by Tim Keller. He gives three principles for how to disagree in a fair way.
5. What principles does Keller give for discussions and disagreement on the internet?
WEDNESDAY/THURSDAY: A MODEL OF A HEALTHY INTERNET DEBATE
After reading Keller I felt I was not wrong to post Dricoll’s video. I felt that even if I had a way to contact Pastor Driscoll personally it would not be addressed, for he has a huge ministry, and, on the video, he said “you could debate with me all day,” but he would not change his mind for he feels other points of view are not in Scripture. I am guarding against misquoting him by using his own words. I do not malign him for I see that God has used him mightily. As John Piper said, in his defense, he is reaching people that others have not reached — there were four hundred baptisms at his church one Easter. Christ is being preached, and in that I rejoice. John Piper sees Driscoll like a “son” who needs mentoring. I appreciate that grace for I think back to when I was forty-two and confident about some things I now feel are not so black and white. Mark Driscoll now also has a book on marriage which has been very controversial, and he says The Song of Songs is his favorite book, but I believe he distorts the intent of the book. He gave a very controversial sermon in Scotland condoning certain sexual practices within marriage based on his perspective of The Song of Songs. Piper suggested Driscoll remove it from the internet, and he did. John MacArthur has been less gentle with him, feeling he is leading others astray.
I am going to post Mark’s video about Stay At Home Dads, and then a video by a woman whom I felt followed the principles in Keller’s article on internet debates — and you can give your reactions to either or both. Remember to always speak in kindness and never twist someone’s words. This video is apparently from a Q and A session following Driscoll’s second teaching on the Song of Songs at his church in Seattle. It is true that a wise pastor tries to address the culture of his church, and Driscoll’s church is primarily twenty-something individuals who may be quite immature. It is important to remember this. As I thought about this I realized how many young men are caught up in video games and sports and neglect their families, or may be lazy about finding work. I think that is part of Driscoll’s framework.
6. Look up the Scripture he gives for his opinion, the context, and comment.
Here is the video from the woman who calls herself “Theology Mom” in which she comments on the above video.
7. Comment on “Theology Mom’s” rebuttal. Do you feel she followed the principles of a fair debate? Why or why not?
FRIDAY: NEEDING PRAYERFUL INPUT FOR THIS BLOG
I’d love your input for how to better handle the high number of participants we have, particularly at the beginning of new studies, and at Lent and Advent. I am so glad to see each new woman, wondering what God will do, and I hate it that she can feel lost in the crowed. I also know a discussion group of forty people answering all the questions is overwhelming to everyone. Pray with me about a solution, particularly for these two times.
One part of the solution for me has come already in the form of mature women who have been on this blog for several years who help read the comments and mentor. It has become clear to me that many days I cannot read all the comments. There are others who are so faithful to pray for those who need prayer.
But that does not solve the problem of feeling overwhelmed by the sheer number of participants.
What would God have us do? Please pray and give me prayer and input if He leads you.
I am also dealing with the growing expense. I know it can be frustrating when the site does not work well, and each update is expensive. I also must pay David for his time when one of you requests help. I want to have a site that has minimal frustration, I want you to have help when you need it, but I need to also be prudent with costs.
One thought I am praying about, but would like your input, is to suggest a donation for those who are actually participating online. As many of you know I have a prison ministry in which we are supplying studyguides to the women behind bars. They cannot pay, so we solicit from those who can. I am thinking, but want your input, of suggesting 10 dollars a month toward my prison ministry for those who participate online. However, no one would be compelled to give — it would be a suggested donation. I don’t want to lose some godly women we have here for whom this would be a burden, even though it is just a suggested donation, and I think that could happen. Please pray with me and give me input.
David has suggested that I possibly divide the groups at busy seasons — giving one group to the mentors and I take the other. I don’t know how we’d do that or if it is a good idea. Again, I’d love your input.
Last Lent we asked people to just share nuggets so there was not so much to read — some resisted, and others liked it. Thoughts?
8. What thoughts do you have on the above ideas and do you have other ideas?
How I’d love your prayers here for the dilemmas above and for our venture and timing into The Song of Songs. I appreciate each of you so much