The worst examples are, of course, the real estate salesmen who seem to stalk you through a house inspection, following you from room to room, pointing out what they consider to be the salient features of the house that make it a must-have for your family even though they know nothing about you.
I find myself asking if this is just a personal preference or do others feel this way? Is it simply that my personality/style prefers a more laid back, 'can I be of help' style of sales pitch?
What got me thinking along these lines was a post by friend Andrew Finden about Mark Driscoll's latest Facebook post where he says: "
I owe much to the reformed tradition in my own faith journey - I would affirm that theologically, I remain attuned and aligned even with the emphasis on God's grace, on the priority and importance of Scripture and the atoning work of Christ.
But increasingly I find myself repelled by the strident nature of the commentary by some of the neo-reformed proponents - the salesmen if you like of the neo-reformed movement. I find myself wanting to move away and try a different 'store'.
On the other hand, I find Tim Keller a most winsome and winning advocate of key aspects of the reformed tradition. I have not read any of Francis Chan's works but the interview referred to above carries the same sense of humility that I find attractive.
So my questions are:
- Is it just me or do others feel this way? Is it a personality issue rather than a theological one? While clearly some are attracted to Mars Hill of Driscoll fame, others are attracted to Mars Hill of Bell fame!
- What is the impact of this sort of internal critique and carry on both inside and outside the church? Doe it really help to promote the gospel and the kingdom or just the profiles and empires of the various protagonists?
- Is this a feature of American evangelical debate in particular - the home of individualism and celebrity? My spiritual hero John Stott (English), while never backing away from an opportunity to present a biblical perspecte on any issue, never seemed to indulge in the sort of vitriole that now seems to characterise much of the debate.
- And finally, is it somehow related to the new world of the blogosphere - a place where you can say anything, anytime about anyone without fear of real retribution, hiding behind the relative anonymity? These couple of paragraphs on a David Nilsen's guest blog at Rachel Held Evans site captured some of this for me:
You will not always like the people who disagree with you, and you will not always be able to have civil disagreements with them. But if you can start and maintain relationships with Christians who see things differently than you do, you'll discover they are real human beings who care about other people. When they think a lot of the same things are funny, and when they like a lot of the TV shows you like, you'll have a harder time calling them (and people like them) Pharisees or Heretics or Nazis or whatever else you are tempted to call the people with whom you disagree.
I know that there is more at stake here than the purchase of a new house or car ... just wondering though ...