Ephesians 4:1-6: “I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; Endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.”
Within the realm of Christendom, there have always been and will continue to be factions. This is in some ways unfortunate, and thus it is in these same ways not entirely good. Perhaps this is simply due to the fallibility of human nature and the inevitable consequences of ideological clashes. From the Corinthian church in the first century to the debates between the early church fathers and Turtullian over the place of reason and the “Academy” in the church, to Martin Luther and the Archbishop of Mainz in the sixteenth century, to today’s divisions among Protestant denominations, we can usually understand the factions by juxtaposing each group’s ideology upon the canvas of general theology.
It is important to recognize the relationships between the factions, which can generally be observed at three levels: Broad, general and specific. “Broad” factions are those whose differences go to the most fundamental theological principles, or different “canvases of general theology” – i.e., Christianity versus Hinduism. “General” factions can be characterized as factions within the Broad factions – i.e., within Christianity, Lutheran versus Baptist. “Specific” factions are those within a General faction –
i.e., within the Baptist movement, those who adhere strictly to the local church structure versus those who do not.
Now, PCC observers and the issues generated generally fall into the Specific level, and occasionally the General. The intricacies of this are not necessarily relevant to this discussion, but understand it to the extent that virtually all of us are on the same canvas; we all have, or at least claim to have a belief in the same fundamental premise – the ultimate Scriptural authority and the importance of being a light in a dark world.
Perhaps one of the naive misconceptions of The Student Voice at its inception was that although there would understandably be strong differences of opinion among observers, there would at least be a minimal level of civility and maturity in discussing issues that are, regardless of a few assertions to the contrary, important to a lot of people. Since there was no alternative available, The Voice was created to provide a forum for “alternative” (alternative to PCC’s, that is) ideas, ideas that were, and are, quite relevant to PCC’s existence.
A major problem has developed in that attempts to “sabotage” both “sides” have been undertaken. Attempts have been made to destroy The Voice, not through superior ideas, but through base, destructive blows. However, that does not concern us as much as do recent attempts to sabotage those who oppose the ideas of The Voice. This is absolutely and completely uncalled for, and it demonstrates a real immaturity in a few rogues on each side.
It is vital to keep in mind that we are all, or at least we generally profess to be, Christians. Therefore, it is incumbent upon us all to act as such. The clash of ideas is not at all a bad thing – recognizing and discussing a diversity of opinions is healthy and should be encouraged. In other words, the SUBSTANCE of the debate should be mature, intelligent, and enlightening to all of us, regardless of where one falls along the spectrum of ideas. The methods and tactics of formulating and engaging in this
debate, however, should not sink beneath the threshold of decency and civility.
Now, some will profess that this debate and these ideas deserve no civility, but it is this type of approach that will do more to damage the cause of Christ than simply ignoring the debate all together. We simply ask that all involved observe the only two legitimate avenues for making one’s opinion known: leave the discussion or engage in it like an adult.
While we may be properly disposed to our each and individual “factions,” let us not permit our philosophical quest to revert into a moral vacuum that resembles Golding’s island in LORD OF THE FLIES more than it does a search for truth among God’s people. There is plenty of room within Christianity for a debate of this sort, but there is no room for un-Christian-like behavior. Let us recognize that we do have differences of opinion, but let us also recognize that we are on the same “canvas.” Unity and diversity are not irreconcilable differences.
We recognize the difficulties The Student Voice presents, but if The Voice is ever going to see its own demise, let us not see it come about as a result of Christians who are incapable of common civility.