I have retracted the post in which I linked to Ann Coulter’s article about Christian missionaries, as I believe that it reflected a lack of judgment on my part. Since my readers raised a number of issues, I will be clear which ones are relevant here.
First of all, I don’t believe that those who undertake to obey the Great Commission somehow transcend the severe limitations of their sinful nature. This is what Al Mohler, a man whom I otherwise have great respect for, seemed to suggest. Even missionaries have hearts that are deceitful above all things, and are capable of doing very noble deeds for very wrong reasons. They are not above criticism. I don’t think that Ann Coulter was out of place with the main point of her article.
Second, Coulter believes that America is in a privileged position of power in the current global order, a position that if lost could lead to a collapse of that order and a subsequent darkening of civilization. There is nothing inherently wrong with this belief, and considering the increasing disorder we observe on the global scene, there is much that is right about it. Her opinion that American Christians ought to be addressing these concerns may be an unpopular opinion, but it isn’t wrong.
Third, her sharp rhetoric was also not in itself a problem. Scripture uses insults far worse than the ones she gave, and those were insults within God’s own covenant. Christians throughout history have also used sharp rhetoric to expose idolatry, hypocrisy, and false teaching – which were the targets of the writers of Scripture. The present-day prickliness about giving offense does not arise from Scripture, but from a culture of self-worshipers who see themselves as above the goads of rebuke.
I am retracting my post because of her choice of Dr. Brantly as an example. This was a bad example that not only did not work in her favour, but actually made her whole article distasteful.
While it is true that qualities like compassion and sensitivity are blown to idolatrous proportions these days, the proper response is not to overreact and be uncompassionate or insensitive. Rather, the response should be to define one’s compassion as Scripture does. Scripture commands us to show compassion to the poor and needy, especially among our brothers in the faith, and Dr. Brantly was no doubt needy during his hellish ordeal.
Also, being accused of being selfish is oftentimes impossible to defend against. If you accuse another of being selfish, you ought to have a good case. Coulter accused Dr. Brantly of selfishness, but her only evidence was that he wasn’t doing what she thought he should be doing. The only reason he was in Africa fighting Ebola, she charged, was that he was being selfish. Well, if you’re going to accuse a very sick man of narcissism, you’ll need a far better case than the one she made.
Coulter is a Christian, and she should have held back from lashing him during that time. But more importantly, I should not have linked approvingly to her article. This was poor judgment on my part, as some commenters rightly pointed out. I was not allowing myself to be guided by Scripture, but rather by my jadedness at all the contemporary complaining about giving offense. In doing so, I was party to giving offense in an ungodly manner. I apologize for this, and for the undue controversy it caused among my readers.