Whatever the merits or otherwise of Giles Goddard's actions, the whole debate sheds light on one of the huge problems we have in conducting and modelling Christian disagreement today (I'm opting for 'Christian disagreement' as I think we can do better than 'good disagreement').
1. Party A says or does something novel.
2. Party B takes offence. Or feels the need to be seen to take a position.
3. Party B takes to the blogosphere to explain the legal, theological, philosophical, biblical, cultural or historical minutae of why Party A's words or actions are intolerable.
The language used is often forensically legalistic and serves to deepen division, rather than seek grace or understanding. Lines are drawn, trenches dug and by lunchtime we all know where we are.
Another brick in the wall of division and mistrust has been cemented in place. Grace seems harder to find than ever.
Is there a better way? Is there a way of talking to one another which might allow grace and love to flow, rather than law and death?
Parties A and B are interchangeable. I write this as a liberal sinner who has made his own contribution to this unholy way of disagreeing.
Is there a way of speaking to each other which might be characterised as Christian disagreement? I hope so...
Two thoughts, from very different sources:
Even if you're right, when you hear the other guy's shoulder blades hit the wall, you've lost the argument.
(verbatim, John Chapman from my notes at a Proclamation Trust conference 1992)
When someone profoundly disagrees with what I am saying, even if I can only find 10% to agree with in what he's saying, I'll respond 'Sir, you make an excellent point...'
(Richard Rohr, The Art of Letting Go)