Blunting the Serrated Edge

Posted by Bob Mattes

If you missed the dust-up here at GreenBagginses over Thanksgiving weekend, you missed quite a show. I am deeply appreciative of, and indebted to, those who so quickly and freely rose to my defense, as well as that of the PCA and SJC. I had an amazing a post written in my head to right all the many wrongs against the PCA, the personal attacks, and more. But then…

While struggling with how to wrap all this up, I providentially encountered a passage in William Cunningham’s The Reformers and the Theology of the Reformation. This is a collection of articles that William Cunningham wrote in the mid-19th century. The third essay, written in 1856, is on assurance and refutes an article by Sir William Hamilton. Dr. Cunningham starts out by quoting a very long section of Hamilton’s work, then starts his analysis with this sentence (page 112-113):

We hope to be able to prove that this elaborate statement contains about as large an amount of inaccuracy as could well have been crammed into the space which it occupies; and, if we succeed in doing this, we may surely expect that Sir William’s authority upon theological subjects will henceforth stand at least as low as zero.

OK, that seems to fit into the “serrated edge” mentality. But then I read a footnote added after Dr. Cunningham’s paper was initially presented. My heart broke as I read it:

In the interval between the publication of the former article and the present one, Sir William Hamilton died, and Dr. Cunningham, in his introductory remarks, thus refers to the event: “The knowledge, if we had possessed it, that he was to die so soon, would assuredly have modified somewhat the tone in which the discussion was conducted, would have shut out something of its lightness and severity, and imparted to it more of solemnity and tenderness; and the knowledge which we did possess, that he, as well as ourselves, was liable every day to be called out of this world and summoned into God’s presence, ought to have produced this result.” [italics in original]

“…ought to have produced this result.” Reading this brought home the reality of Dr. R. C. Sproul’s constant reminder that we live our lives Coram Deo–before the face of God. Our Lord could call us to His presence in heaven in the next second. With apologies to Francis Shaeffer, how then shall we blog?

Are we bringing honor and glory to our Lord Jesus Christ with our words and wit, or are we adding our pride and acerbic “peculiar talents” to the offense of the cross? Do we seek to justify ourselves, or to humbly offer the justification of God freely to the lost, even those with whose politics, business, or lifestyle we disagree–becoming all things to all men so that we may bring some to Christ (1 Cor 9:19-23)?

Here’s what God says about the “serrated edge” in Titus 3:2:

…to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people. (ESV)

How about James 1:26 on “peculiar talents”?

If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless. (ESV)

And last but certainly not least, 1 Cor 10:31-33 to tie it all together:

So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God, just as I try to please everyone in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, that they may be saved. (ESV) [all emphasis added]

How then shall we blog, brothers?

Posted by Bob Mattes