Should we fight all the time, and always be criticizing, and ever only be against things? Some, who at least think they are good at fighting, and take up polemics as a matter of course, yet seem not to know anything other than war, demonstrate by their actions and ways of relating that their answer is ‘yes.’
Polemics, by the way, is contentious rhetoric, deriving its name from the Ancient Greek word polemikos, meaning ‘warlike, hostile.’ And while I believe there is, as Ecclesiastes says in the Old Testament, ‘a time for war,’ there is more that needs to be said to have a balanced view. Only that much and no more is not good.
You cannot wage war in a time of peace, for instance. Moreover, if you try to anyway, you will not get far. But you may turn a time for peace into a time for war. And in that case you will soon find yourself rightly beset on all sides by decent men intent on neutralizing the threat you pose, and rewarding your disturbance of the peace with unpleasant consequences.
But equally so, in the opposite direction, we must say something about ecumenics, and how ecumenicism is the idea that Christians from diverse denominations should promote unity to the end of cooperation and closer relationships among the diverse churches. Borne of another Greek word, oikoumene means ‘the whole inhabited world’ and historically referred to the Roman Empire. And perhaps that should serve as a clue.
Unfortunately, many ecumenicists in the past century have steadily but surely been working to erase all meaningful doctrinal differences, or much care for them, between the Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, and Protestant traditions. And I think this is not good. Rather, I believe it ultimately lends itself to the development of a unifying future of global paganism. And that possibility seems decreasingly far-fetched with each passing year, particularly with the craze about Climate Change and transgenderism.
For those who pattern themselves in the ecumenical mold, peace is of the utmost importance. Yet as much as depends on us to live peaceably with all men seems to give way with many of them to believing that all depends on us, even at the expense of peace with God.
Both polemicists and ecumenicists seem not to notice that Ecclesiastes says both that there is ‘a time for war’ and ‘a time for peace,’ preferring by turn one or the other but not both, or insisting for this or that reason that we perpetually inhabit only one or the other because of their aspirations.
The simple truth is that we must know how to make peace just as skillfully as we would train for or wage just war, and fight the good fights.
Moreover, we want neither to be those about whom it was said they cried ‘Peace, peace’ when there was no peace, nor do we want to be those who are contentious and whom, after being warned, no one has anything more to do with.
Yet I am sure we can know these times apart from one another, and that they are more individual to circumstances and individuals than to epochs or seasons. The former way of looking is where wisdom is needed – God-given, found only perfectly in His Word and with the help of the Holy Spirit. The latter way has more to do with group-think, conformity, opportunism, and loving the spirit of whatever age we happen to find ourselves living in.
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