Science in Christian Perspective
Letter to the Editor
Coping with Controversy
Professor of Geology
Grand Rapids, MI 49506
From: PSCF 40 (September 1988): 191.
I want to express my appreciation for the comments by D. Gareth Jones on "Coping with Controversy" (Perspectives, March 1988). 1 confess that I have not consistently lived according to the right Christian standards which he listed there. I repent, and I will try to do better.
There are some situations, both real and potential, which were not treated in that article, and which deserve our careful consideration from a Christian perspective. Consider the following cases:
1. Suppose I have a sharp disagreement with a claim or idea which has been published by my fellow Christian, and I contact that fellow Christian in an effort to establish personal communication by letter or face-to-face, and I am rebuffed or ignored. Meanwhile, the claim or concept with which I disagree continues to be affirmed and proclaimed publicly. What alternatives are open to me to deal with that matter in a Christian way?
2. Suppose I disagree with a claim or concept which has been published by a fellow Christian, and I express my disagreement with that claim or concept in a book review or in a published response. I frame that disagreement in the proper Christian way, taking care to address the issue and not condemn the person. It is not possible, however, to completely dissociate an idea from the person who has originated or promoted that idea, and the idea is necessarily identified as That Person's idea. Suppose, now, that That Person takes my disagreement with his idea to be a personal affront to him. In response, That Person launches a personal attack on me in a very public manner. What alternatives are open to me to deal with that matter in a Christian way?
3. Suppose that I find an error in a claim or concept which has been published by my fellow Christian, and suppose the error is of such a nature that it will seriously mislead the uninformed reader. Suppose I point out that error in personal correspondence, and my fellow Christian acknowledges the error. Suppose further that the publication which contains that misleading error continues to be distributed with the error uncorrected. What alternatives are open to me to deal with that matter in a Christian way?
4. Suppose that my very best efforts to handle a disagreement with a fellow Christian in a Christian manner are met consistently with a response of personal attack and seeming refusal to discuss the issue at hand in a context of mutual Christian respect. Suppose further that such personal attack on me is made repeatedly and in widely distributed publications. What alternatives are open to me to deal with that matter in a Christian way?
I'm not asking Brother Jones to respond to all of these tough questions, but I think it is a matter worthy of consideration by all readers of Perspectives. I will certainly appreciate any words of wisdom which any reader sends to me.