Monday, August 16, 2010

You're wrong in how you tell people they are wrong

One of the things that has been overlooked recently in Confessional circles is the importance of tact. We by in large love the idea of being a theologian of the Cross, and we delight in the truth that a Theologian of the Cross calls a thing what it is. I'm all for that - and I'm all for bluntness. I have no problem saying that something is poorly done, or even mocking it on occasion. Especially ideas and the like - those are well and thoroughly lampooned.

However, I would like to point out that Lutheranism historically does place a large amount of value upon tact, especially in dealing with other people. Consider the 8th commandment - we are to put the best construction on things. This also holds true when we are correcting or admonishing a person, especially when they are engaging in poor practice.

For example, let us assume a brother in the ministry who engages in open communion. How shall we approach him?

A: You are wrong to do open communion, you flaming liberal heretic - you make baby Jesus cry!
B: I understand that you have a great concern for people - so why do you engage in open communion when St. Paul warns us that this can lead to their damnation? Aren't you a Steward of the Mysteries of God - shouldn't you be acting as a steward and taking care to see that people receive the Supper properly?

While choice A is most satisfying (to the self), it isn't the best. It will quickly make the person become defensive, and they will write you off as just another confessional kook. However, with the later, you acknowledge that the person has good intentions (flattery gets you everywhere), but then show how his actions don't live up to his intention. Then perhaps you can win, convince, and teach this brother. . . and if he says, "Eh, I only do open communion because people like it," then you can say:

C: You pathetic excuse for a horse's [backside]! Why don't just got find yourself a millstone and spare the Church militant your stupidity, jackwad.

See, here's the key - point out how people can do better -- it would be better if we said _______ or didn't use ________. "It would be better" is a nicer phrase -- or even better is "wouldn't it be better if_________" because then the person has to agree with you or HE's being disagreeable.

Tact. It's what lets Luther dedicate Freedom of the Christian to the Pope even as he is being excommunicated. Reclaim tact, Lutherans!

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