An Open Letter to the Gospel Coalition


{editors note: the following is an email I recently sent to the Gospel Coalition concerning a recent blog post on their site and the ensuing controversy about it. The post entitled The Polluted Waters of 50 Shades can be found here. The teeming mass of public reaction can be found here. An excellent post speaking out against this post can be found here. Last a follow-up post from the author can be found here. Last one may find out about the Gospel Coalition, here.

That said, I have no quarrel with the Gospel Coalition and much respect for their desire to see the Gospel sent out to all the Earth. I respect them and their vision, and wish them well. I would like to believe that the post in question was simply a post gone wrong [which is something I know a little about]. However, let me say that as an egalitarian, I do not share many of the same presuppositions of the more complementarian Coalition. Here we disagree and while this disagreement should be noted, I do not long to add my name to the list heaping scorn because another simply does not agree with me. I, therefore choose to discuss my feelings about the tactical nature of the post rather than the beliefs of the post [though I believe one could be made albeit in a hopefully non-combative, Christ-honoring way].}

To Whom It May Concern:

I was recently disturbed by your post on the book 50 Shades of Grey. While I,too, am disturbed by the books and the sexuality displayed within it, I do not feel the author’s analysis to have been flavored by the grace of Christ with which we are required to act. Granted some of the commentators have made the same error, but the post as stands, it reads horribly and does no favors to the site or the authors. Here are my concerns:

1)When you put something up, you do so knowing that the majority of the readers have not read the book in question, and so have not the correct context for the quote– it is important then to provide that context within the post itself. As no context was given, the reader can run with any idea the quote elicits. On the one hand, this means that you could gain some supporters you would rather not have. On the other, your detractors can have a field day playing the ‘worst association’ game. Neither action is beneficial to the authors, the readers, the community of faith, or the gospel, itself.

2) Using a book that a group would find abhorrent to criticize the beliefs of said group is never a good tactic. First you are sure to make enemies where a partnership or bridge would serve both sides (and the surrounding community) better. Second, you have not been fair to the group and its ideology. You do not like when the ‘liberal’ media uses similar smear and ‘gotcha’ tactics, and should be willing to give the grace you request to others.

3) Isn’t time we the Body of Christ live up to the words of Christ in Gethsemane? Isn’t it time to stop attacking each other, pulling each other to shreds with our finely timed quotes, and our fancy slogans. Isn’t it time to love our brothers and sisters especially when we disagree. Isn’t it time to focus on the real enemy? Hear me, now. This is a question both for the authors of the post and the commentators. Playing the ‘blame’ game. Calling each other names. Vowing to never speak to one another again. These are actions that we would condemn as childish and improper in our youth, and petty in our adults. These are not the actions of mature, god-fearing Christians. Maybe the post was bad and the continuing dialogue worse, but is this the type of behavior we want the world to associate with Christians. Isn’t it time we at least act like better men and women (in public at least if we can not in private).

Gotcha quotes and cultural in-fighting are ‘tactics’ best left to the world. Like others I long for a Church that balances ‘truth’ with love. If our ‘truths’ cannot be said with love; then perhaps we need to keep them (like some many kids our have been told about their hands while in the backseat with their siblings)to ourselves. I would hope that our organization with the word Gospel in its name, would in the future be better able to focus on the good news of great joy that Jesus Christ has come bringing reconciliation to the Father, to others, and within ourselves. That is a post worth writing. Now about that book…

{P.S. The authors of this post have responded to initial post and I have added a link to that response above. I would also like to add a comment to the post. I appreciate the author being willing to come out and clarify in a follow-up what he did and did not mean. This goes to point one of my letter and hopefully would have prevented some of the flare-up. Yet the email would now include one final comment included here}

4. Writing a blog post or any type of public communication is a dicey proposition. It is all too easy to presume. Both writers and commentators do it. It is for that reason that we must write not only for ourselves but for our readers. This is a hard lesson for me, as well. We must have the ability to see our work not as it  is to us, but for how it will read to others. We can only do this if we are willing to read carefully and calmly the words of our ‘opponents.’ The authors dismay at the hullabaloo speaks to this issue. They had no idea that the words in question would incite others so vehemently and this speaks to a lack of fluency on topic.

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