Here is Paul’s response to my Clarifications and Rebuttal post. I understand that Paul is not happy that I am challenging his belief system. I understand that Paul feels that I have misrepresented his position in the same way that I feel he has misrepresented mine. I respect his right to reply to my arguments objectively and address what he considers to be flaws, but I just can’t figure out why Paul feels the need to treat me personally with such disrespect.
I tried to be gracious in my response to his first critique of my post but realize that I could have done better. There were some things that I said which may have offended Paul and I apologize for that publicly. I looked for an e-mail for Paul at his site and in his profile but could not find one. I would have said the following privately if I could have found an e-mail, but since I could not I will communicate it publicly:
I consider you a brother in the Lord and I respect your passion for what you believe to be true. I understand being passionate for one’s position but I think we can both do better with regards to the way we interact with each other.
I prefer to be called Ben. I don’t mind you goofing off with my kangaroo screen name, but other than that I would appreciate that you address me as Ben. I am pretty sure that I have only ever called you Paul, or Mr. Paul Manata. It doesn’t hurt my feelings that you call me names or use my name in a way that I do not, and it doesn’t make me feel like crying, but I don’t think it is too much to ask for you to address me in a respectful manner.
We are both adults, and this dialogue is getting real childish. I am not interested in childish discussions. I work with youth everyday and try to model respect to them. I want to be a role model of righteousness and a living example of Christ-like behavior for them to follow. I pray that God will help me do that almost everyday on my way to work. There are very few positive role models out there and it is our duty as believers to model and teach respect. I have worked in shelters and group homes with very challenging youth. I have been called every name in the book. Often times I felt that my job was only to take verbal abuse from the youth that I worked with because that was the one thing I could count on everyday. I can handle being ridiculed and personally attacked. I just don’t understand why you feel it is acceptable to address a fellow believer in the manner that you have done, and I don’t think it unreasonable to ask for a little respect in Christian love and tolerance.
We need to recognize that believers and unbelievers are watching us and reading what we write. We have a responsibility to them and need to understand the profound affect our words can have on those onlookers (1 Tim. 4:12; Titus 2:6-8, 11-14). We can do better than this and we need to do better than this for the sake of Christ and His Kingdom.
I am not a fan of debate for the very reason that it can so easily disintegrate into such childish behavior. I see it as a necessary evil and realize that if I am going to criticize another person’s position, there are going to be those who will want to defend themselves which will often lead to debate. I am fine with that as I said above and I do not shy away from debate if it is conducted in a civil and respectful manner. I have never disabled comments at any of my posts because I enjoy discussing theology with those who agree and disagree with me. I have apologized many times when I let my passion get the better of me and have said things that I should not have. I grew up in a very sarcastic environment and used to try to impress my friends as a teenager by ridiculing kids that I felt were easy targets. I was a bully of sorts. I also had a wicked temper which I still struggle with today. God has changed me dramatically since I got saved but I can still slip into that ungodly behavior if I let my guard down. I apologize if I have offended you personally Paul by something I have written. I don’t need an apology from you but I hope that you will at least consider what I am saying and maybe make some adjustments in how you communicate with others in future discussions with me or anyone else you may disagree with on any particular subject.
I haven’t decided yet if I will respond to Paul’s latest post. I am not sure it is worth the effort and time or if it will really accomplish anything. I believe that Paul has again misunderstood much of what I wrote just as he sees that I am misunderstanding him and his position. If I do respond it will be mostly for the purpose of clarification and will probably not be posted until late next week.