One of the commenters, in a comment that wasn’t approved, falsely accused me of something that has cut me quite deeply. It also made clear to me what exactly was happening with the comments. Since this blog has seen an enormous amount of traffic in the last few days, far more than I ever expected, I imagine that among the hundreds of visitors there have been a good number who agreed with many of the comments. So I should make something clear.
It seems that what a number of you saw when you read Mr. Eelhart’s piece was a man who had been driven from the Canadian Reformed Church by its insensitivity, its narrow-mindedness, its arrogance, or its resistance to doubt or questions. Further, you saw that man expressing his hurt, his doubt, and his questions, and then you saw me come along and mercilessly rip the poor guy to shreds. Thus, my post was a perfect example of the aforementioned faults.
The problem, however, is that that’s not how Mr. Eelhart saw it. He does not see himself as a man who has been wounded in any way by the Canadian Reformed Church. His article mentioned that he had enjoyed the benefits of growing up within the church, but that despite the benefits, he found the teachings and doctrines to be both ignorant and wrong. Further, in his response, he notes that he harbours no ill will towards anyone in our church. Mr. Eelhart sees himself as a mature, freethinking adult who has taken responsibility for his life and has made his own rational decisions based on what he sees is the truth. And I would entirely agree with Mr. Eelhart. That is indeed who he is, and I wrote my original post with that picture in my mind.
Was my tone biting? It surely was. Did I have to put that dig in there about his punctuation? Of course not. Could I have been softer and more therapeutic in my response? Without question. I have no doubt that he was offended, but I assumed that I was dealing with a man secure in his beliefs who could fully take this sort of thing, and it turns out that I was right. In his response to my post, he does not speak from a position of hurt feelings or victimhood, but instead reasserts his refusal to believe the teachings of the church. That’s why he left, and not on any account of meanness or shame.
So if you’ve read your own baggage into my critique, please consider what I’ve said here. As a former expat myself, I am familiar with many of the grievances that were aired, for they were once my grievances. I do not mean to give the impression that I care nothing for genuine questions, fears, and doubts, for that would be to ignore the lion’s share of Christian literature throughout history. The Christian life is indeed one of profound wrestling, and of deeply moving experiences, and I believe sincerely that no church worth its salt should be insensitive to those things.
(Again, no comments – except for Mr. Eelhart’s.)