May 27Liked by Samuel D. James

This is excellent. Your conclusion is spot on: "The most effective mission is the one that flows out of Christian character. Anything less is a volatile compromise, and the bill will come due eventually." Discipleship must focus on Christian character, as Paul does in his letters. We mustn't neglect character in favor of perceived "influence."

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Stellar piece. Finished Edwin Friedman’s A Failure of Nerve earlier this week and recognized much of Sayer’s language. Probably need to pick that up soon and help him translate Friedman’s more dense sections.

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May 26Liked by Samuel D. James

Excellent article as usual. One of the biggest hallmarks of immaturity (including spiritual) to me, is black and white thinking. Especially online there is often no room for nuance or shades of gray. One can’t acknowledge redeeming qualities in one’s ideological opponents and sometimes even that situations (such as Neely/Penney) might occur outside a political/cultural spectrum.

This is abundantly true in segments of online Christianity as well. We all carry the image of God. We are His children and He loves every one of us and our opponents equally. Yet I see these lines in the sand drawn about how one’s opinion of current cultural issues define what kind of Christian one is. I’m not claiming to be mature but I find I don’t neatly fit on either “side” of the culture war. I suspect some of people expressing opinions diametrically opposite to me on certain issues probably don’t fit neatly either.

The people I recognize as most mature (online) appear to understand grace and display an ability to see the human behind the keyboard. The immature appear to be often setting a battle of wits against a straw man or excusing too much of their own behavior as being like Jesus turning over the moneylenders’ tables in the temple but with no sense of history or context around that event.

Anyway, I agree that we shouldn’t cater to our most passionately outspoken members but should instead remember in grace when we were that immature. We should ask ourselves how can we lead these members in a way that gives them a pathway to self-recognition and the maturity that comes from that.

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Good insights.

My article on Lamentations came out on MO earlier this week.

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