What about Jesus’ Whataboutism?

Our Lord could be hard to pin down (so to speak):

Then Pharisees and scribes came to Jesus from Jerusalem and said, 2“Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat.” 3He answered them, “And why do you break the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition? 4For God commanded, ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and, ‘Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.’ 5But you say, ‘If anyone tells his father or his mother, “What you would have gained from me is given to God,” 6he need not honor his father.’ So for the sake of your tradition you have made void the word of God. 7You hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy of you, when he said:

8“‘This people honors me with their lips,
but their heart is far from me;
9in vain do they worship me,
teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’”
(Matthew 15)

Imagine how he would have gotten ratioed on Twitter.

Postscript

Was Supposism the Hebrew equivalent for Whataboutism?

23 Then Abraham drew near and said, “Will you indeed sweep away the righteous with the wicked? 24 Suppose there are fifty righteous within the city. Will you then sweep away the place and not spare it for the fifty righteous who are in it? 25 Far be it from you to do such a thing, to put the righteous to death with the wicked, so that the righteous fare as the wicked! Far be that from you! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do what is just?” 26 And the Lord said, “If I find at Sodom fifty righteous in the city, I will spare the whole place for their sake.”

27 Abraham answered and said, “Behold, I have undertaken to speak to the Lord, I who am but dust and ashes. 28 Suppose five of the fifty righteous are lacking. Will you destroy the whole city for lack of five?” And he said, “I will not destroy it if I find forty-five there.” 29 Again he spoke to him and said, “Suppose forty are found there.” He answered, “For the sake of forty I will not do it.” 30 Then he said, “Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak. Suppose thirty are found there.” He answered, “I will not do it, if I find thirty there.” 31 He said, “Behold, I have undertaken to speak to the Lord. Suppose twenty are found there.” He answered, “For the sake of twenty I will not destroy it.” 32 Then he said, “Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak again but this once. Suppose ten are found there.” He answered, “For the sake of ten I will not destroy it.” (Genesis 18)

Isn’t the Point of Social Media to Attract Followers?

So why is it that some tweeters choose to block followers? If you want to have a private conversation on social media I believe we still have email, discussion list-serves, and even password protected blogs. But if you are in the business of trying to enlighten as many as possible about how unjust U.S. society is, why do you cut off someone from hearing what you tweet and link?

I mean, not even Johnny Eric Williams was all that careful about his social media profile (Greg and those like consider this a trigger warning):

Williams’s case has attracted the interest of academic freedom and free speech advocates, partly because the sociologist is among a number of other scholars who have been physically threatened or harassed online in recent months for their public comments. Most of those comments concerned race in some way.

Williams last week shared an article from Medium called “Let Them Fucking Die.” The piece argues that “indifference to their well-being is the only thing that terrifies” bigots, and so people of color should “Let. Them. Fucking. Die” if they’re ever in peril. The Medium piece linked to another Fusion piece about Republican Representative Steve Scalise, who was shot earlier this month in Alexandria, Va. It says Scalise has previously opposed extending protections to LGBTQ people and reportedly once spoke at a meeting of white supremacists, while one of the black law enforcement officers who rescued him is a married lesbian.

In sharing the Medium piece, Williams used the “Let them fucking die” comment as a hashtag, and wrote that it is “past time for the racially oppressed to do what people who believe themselves to be ‘white’ will not do, put end to the vectors of their destructive mythology of whiteness and their white supremacy system.”

That post and a similar one prompted critical reports on conservative websites suggesting Williams was advocating violence against white people.

“Less than one week after a gunman opened fire on more than a dozen Republican members of Congress on a Virginia baseball field, a Connecticut college professor said that first responders to the shooting should have ‘let them die’ because they are white,” The Blaze reported, for example.

Williams has since apologized for his remarks and said he was not advocating violence against whites, only drawing attention to systemic racism.

Maybe this is a case where you want to block those who may disagree. But what fun is it to be provocative with those already #provake?

My Podcast Ministry

Just when you thought you heard enough from mmmmeeeeEEEEE, along comes another interview. Adam Holland of The Daily Brew was kind enough to invite me to chat about The Lost Soul of American Protestantism under the heading of pietism and revivalism. I think I showed restraint.

The main reason for engaging in such self-promotion is that I did tell Adam I would mention the podcast here at Old Life. Not to worry, I won’t be heading down the trail of weekly lists of the ten most popular posts.

Enough.

There Goes Peer Review

Peter Leithart warns about the danger of Christians taking their complaints before the court of bloggers:

Paul urges that it is better to be defrauded and wronged than to take a brother to court: “It is already a defeat for you, that you have lawsuits with one another” (v. 7). Paul urged the Corinthians to follow Jesus by suffering shame, rather than seeking vindication before unbelievers.

Many Christians today are resolved not to take a brother to a civil court, but try to solve disputes through arbitration or through church-courts. That is highly commendable.

Yet many Christians are perfectly content to take disputes with their brothers to the web, presenting them before the court of public opinion, before unbelievers.

What should we say about that? Does that come under the same Pauline strictures? The web, after all, is not only filled with unbelievers but is a notorious free-for-all. Civil courts have rules of evidence and mechanisms to confirm or refute allegations. The web has none of these controls, and taking a case to the web is like taking it to a court where everyone is judge, jury, and executioner. People who have no right to have an opinion get to express an opinion. Is that a good place for Christians to be wrangling with each other?

Is there a difference between public theological debate and public airing of grievances and complaints against a church or a pastor? Am I contradicting my own principle by blogging about this?

I understand the temptation to take it to the Court of Google. Resolving disputes through church channels is laborious, slow, unsatisfying. Church boards and courts make mistakes, and, as in civil courts, decisions often leave all parties frustrated and unhappy about the outcome. Many churches in the United States are nondenominational churches that don’t present any obvious way of resolving conflicts that are unresolved in a local church.

I get the point. If we lived in a world of Caesaro-papism, maybe all aspects of life would be overseen by the emperor/bishop.

But not taking every dispute to the church also pertains to a whole host of modern conveniences. Do we not solicit a second opinion about a surgery? Do church courts decide? Do scholars not seek publication in journals reviewed by experts in the field?

And why can’t the Internet just be a place to have a conversation? Do we really need to check with session or consistory about what the family might discuss over dinner tonight? Peter’s point seems a tad pietistic, which is surprising since I suspect he has frequently found himself, independent of church oversight, in a bar gassing on with friends about various foes.