I implore my fellow elders to quit trying to solve denominational controversies in 280 words or less. Let us return to true dialogue and persuasion, taking the time to develop our thoughts and measure our responses. This could be in blogs (remember those), articles, and yes overtures which are meant to be debated in person in the church courts.
A recent dust up on Twitter has me asking, “Where are all the peaceable presbyters?”
Several years ago, I had a personal Twitter account. It seemed like every PCA pastor was using it, and I felt like I was missing out on important debates and issues. I deleted my account after a fellow elder confronted me about something I posted. I appreciated this brother’s courage to call me out. We still disagreed about the substance of what I posted, but as I looked at it again, I saw how my tone was not inviting dialogue or seeking to persuade. Twitter was full of hot takes and quick thumbed retorts, and I, consciously or unconsciously, was replicating what I saw. It was not a space promoting dialogue. Instead of feeling engaged with the issues facing my denomination, I grew increasingly self-righteous and assumed many motives behind what others were posting. A few years later, I created a new Twitter account because I kept receiving links to Tweets and threads. I never interact just observe. My observations have caused me to read Paul’s words to Timothy on the character traits of Elders, specifically that they be “peaceable” (NASB).
“Peaceable” in the NASB is translated as “not quarrelsome” in the ESV. Philip Towner in his commentary on the Pastoral Epistles writes, “This tendency betrays an inability to get along with and accept the views of others, and perhaps deeper personality flaws as well.” This inability to get along must have been a problem in the early church. Paul elsewhere encourages his readers that as “far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men” (Rom 12:18). Our connectional church means that we have to find ways to be at peace with one another. My fear is that we are not living up to the qualifications of our office as we engage with one another online.
Brothers, are we peaceable presbyters? If our church members read our Tweets, would they recognize us? Would they be shocked at the derision we lob at one another? Would they see Christ glorified in our hasty judgments of others motives? The ridicule and scorn we seem to revel in? Let’s be honest are we Tweeting to win a brother or slam him?