One of my readers, Alan Nobel, commented on my recent post in a Facebook thread:
“We were all so primed to take offence at his [Piper’s] tweet that when it happened we didn’t bother to see that it was unoffensive. Note how RHE opens her piece describing how she was looking for him to say something foolish. Sometimes, when people act like we predict they will, it’s only because we have interpreted their actions to fit our narrative.”
Dart, meet bullseye. Bullseye, Dart.
I was proud to see that so many who normally cheer when RHE goes after a big neo-reformed gun took umbrage with her latest. Of course they were far outnumbered by those who cheered anyways. But the point stands. Something was off, and many knew it. I knew it. James-Michael Smith knew it. Alan Nobel knew it. John Hundley knew it. Derek Rishmawy suspected as much. And many others.
But something must have happened behind the scene because suddenly Rachel offered up some type of apology (poetically written in its generality, and contingent in its specific). It was fairly vague, but I suppose we should take what we can get.
“I stand by the message of yesterday’s post–that the theology of “deserved” tragedy has serious, ugly consequences–but I owe it to you to tackle big topics like this with as much care, precision, and grace as possible. So if I failed in that way, I’m sorry.”
I’ll resist the urge to further critic what seems to me to be a backhanded apology.
That apology may or may not have something to do with Tony Reinke’s explanation on the Desiring God website of the two (yes, two) deleted tweets.
“Different motives were assigned to Pastor John for deleting the tweets. What he told us was this: “The reason I pulled my tweets from Job is that it became clear that what I feel as comfort was not affecting others the same.”… Whatever final conclusion you draw about the tweets is between you and the Lord. But we wanted to take a moment to address misinformation online as you make your own conclusions on the matter.”
There are so many lessons to be learned in this debacle. Here are two which readily come to mind:
1. Just because RHE’s said it doesn’t mean we should jump on the bandwagon. Rachel has garnered a very large and committed tribe (of which I’m happy to not belong despite my basic agreement with her general position). But each person has the responsibility to think things through for themselves in as careful a manner as possible.
2. A part of “loving our adversary” means thinking the best in their motives, especially when ambiguity is involved.
I think James-Michael Smith said it right:
“Thus, not knowing Piper’s exact intent in posting the Job quote, we who follow Jesus should seek clarity from Piper himself rather than assuming we know what he intended and rebuking him for it. This is what, as N.T. Wright once wrote (in response to a debate between him and John Piper, no less!) that we urgently need: “a Christian ethic of blogging”.”
In the end, this whole debacle did not need to exist. I hope we all learned some lessons on the ethic of Christian blogging.
WHAT ARE SOME OTHER LESSONS WE CAN LEARN FROM THIS DEBACLE?
[UPDATE: Rachel has updated her article to make the apology explicit. Good for her.]