Among members of the PCA, there is a huge dissatisfaction with how blogs are run today. Lack of love, harshness, unfounded accusations, and many like things are par for the course, they say. There is certainly an element of truth to this. Many people do not exercise self-control in what they say on the internet, because it is more anonymous. They say things to another person or about another person, which they would probably not say if that person were standing there in front of them. This is a large problem on blogs, and I certainly cannot claim that my blog (including my own statements) has been immune from this problem.
However, there is another side to this question, that raised by the title of the post. Most of the people I have seen talk about this issue are confusing niceness and love. By the former term, I mean never saying anything harsh towards someone else. By the latter, I mean seeking the best interests of the other person in an unselfish way. These are not the same things! Let me demonstrate from the actions of Jesus, surely one of the best places to go in examining this question.
Jesus used the proverbial carrot or the stick, depending on the audience. If He was talking to sheep, or to the disciples, or to ignorant Gentiles, He typically used the carrot (though He addressed His dense disciples on occasion with somewhat sarcastic harshness, and Peter once with downright non-sarcastic harshness). He was patiently instructing them about Himself, and about salvation in Him. When He was talking to the wolves (the scribes and the Pharisees), He wasn’t “nice” but rather quite harsh. If Jesus were to blog today about FV guys and use the words “whitewashed tombs,” would He fall foul of the niceness police? He probably would. But would anyone dare to accuse His words against the Pharisees of being unloving? I would hope not. He was loving the sheep by protecting them! It is possible to be loving and yet harsh. This does not compute with the niceness police of today. It is not even a possibility, if you read some accounts. Again, I am not panning exhortations to patience, kindness, politeness or anything else. Those are excellent and wonderful things. What I am doing is saying that there are wolves about, and we should not be “nice” to the wolves. If we are, matters will result in fully satisfied, content, sheep-filled wolves. We will “nice” the wolves straight to the dinner table full of lamb chops. Unless the niceness police wish to deny that there are any wolves about whatsoever, they need to be more discerning about distinguishing the audience. At the very least, they could extend the benefit of the doubt, the judgment of charity, towards those who believe they are addressing wolf problems, and not impute wrongful motivations to bloggers who are trying to protect sheep from the depredations of wolves. Instead, the least harshness, the least lack of niceness, is automatically judged to be from the devil, and lacking completely in the fruit of the Spirit.
One last thing I would ask the niceness police. Is it possible for a teaching elder to be in good standing in the PCA and be a wolf at the same time? Does being in good standing require niceness from everyone else? If so, I could complain about treatment I have received from the FV guys, and others in the PCA. I am not going to do so, however, because defending the sheep means getting scratched by the wolves. What I notice, however, is that the niceness police never slap the wolves’ hands when they take a swipe at confessional ministers in the PCA, if those confessional ministers have been outspoken against liberal creep in the PCA. Something to ponder.