Follow up on recent post
In a recent post (“Response to Professor Mary Stange” – http://lakeopc.net/2014/response-to-professor-mary-stange/ ) I copied a personal email I had sent to Dr. Stange in response to her recent article in USA Today on Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl’s faith, in which she made critical remarks about the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, the denomination in which Mr. Bergdahl was raised. While I continue to stand by the substance of my criticisms of her article, especially in my belief that her article misrepresents the OPC, presents an unfair caricature of the denomination, and that it also represents, at least to some degree, a lapse in academic professionalism on her part; nevertheless, after prayerful reflection I have come to recognize that I could have (and should have!) expressed my concerns to her in a more even-tempered, less bombastic, more Christ-like manner. It was especially unhelpful, hurtful and even juvenile of me to make my snide “with all due respect” comment, and my cynical comment about her lack of ethical integrity. I confess I allowed my emotions get the best of me, and communicated to her in a manner unworthy of one called to represent Christ as a minister of word and sacrament. I should have taken the log out of my own eye first before going after the speck of dust in hers (Matt. 7:3-5).
I did send a follow up email to Dr. Stange expressing my apology, and she responded in a timely fashion by graciously accepting my apology and by offering me a detailed, helpful explanation of her perspective. In all fairness to her, she pointed out to me that op-ed writers do not entirely control their text, and she informed me that the editors of USA Today, not her, were responsible for the headline. The space limitations and editorial activity explain at least some of the objectionable or unclear parts of her article.
For those of you who appreciated my original response to Dr. Stange, let me say that this follow up post does not mean that I am recanting the basic substance of my concerns as laid out in my original post; nor does it mean that I am now simply trying to “play nice” in “politically correct” fashion. I continue to believe that Dr. Stange’s article in a national newspaper needed a public response, and I continue to believe that the OPC was not fairly or accurately represented in that article (though I will say that I do not believe that this misrepresentation was somehow intentional on the part of Dr. Stange). I am almost certain that if the good professor and I were to sit down for a face-to-face dialogue we would probably find that we disagree about many vital and important theological issues. But at the same time, the tone of my response to Professor Stange was unnecessarily and unhelpfully harsh, hurtful, and unwise in addressing the concerns at hand; and thus it contributed toward further polarization rather than toward mutual understanding. In responding to her in the way that I did I presented the reading public with a poor example, and for that poor example I apologize to you, my readers.
In the grip of sovereign grace,
P.S. – For a response to Professor Stange’s article that I believe was more even-tempered and Christ-honoring than my own, yet which still addresses some of the substantive concerns I share, I would encourage you to read “Helping the media understand Bergdahl and his religious past” by fellow OPC Pastor, Rev. Shawn Mathis. The irenic tone and thoughtful content of Rev. Mathis’ article were instrumental in helping me to re-examine the tone of my own article; thus I thank God for his godly example. You can find his article here: http://www.examiner.com/article/helping-the-media-understand-bergdahl-and-his-religious-past