I noticed an agnostic in the combox who said he (or she) enjoyed this Christian catfight. Could have been a sock puppet, but I doubt it.
When we discuss doctrinal matters online we are hanging out our dirty laundry where nonbelievers can see it. How we conduct ourselves matters. I wouldn't even say denunciations are always wrong, and the Triabloggers are right in pointing out that denunciatory rhetoric does appear in Scripture. Jude, for example, directs extremely harsh rhetoric toward people he considers to be enemies of the Gospel. The problem I have with Triablogue is that not only anti-Calvinists like myself, but defenders of Orthodoxy, and Catholicism, and people who differ with them politically are treated in the same way. Even if Calvinism is true, isn't it at least possible that people who differ with them theological or politically are merely erring believers who still love Christ, as opposed to enemies of the Gospel.
The Triabloggers are bright guys, but no one who disagrees with them comes out feeling as if they had an interesting, worthwhile exchange of ideas about which they happen to disagree.
I don't always maintain a proper tone myself, but my blog is known as a place where we try to provide open and fair discussion. People taking numerous positions will tell me they disagree with me but they enjoy the dialogue. I never hear anyone say that kind of thing after an exchange with the Triabloggers.
It's not a question of being nice. Harsh rhetoric and cheap shots don't bring out the best in people. They don't sustain the dialogue. There's a time and a place for harsh rhetoric, but I think it is overused on Triablogue.
I think there are features of the Calvinism debate that tend to make it acrimonious. Perhaps in a future post I can lay out what I think the problem is.
But biblically, I think we have to weigh our speech by asking if it builds up the body of Christ. I think it's not enough to find people in Scripture who spoke harshly. Paul can be very harsh, but you know he has the health of the body of Christ at heart at all times. With the Triabloggers, I don't see that same spirit.
And I am not whitewashing their opponents, either. As I said, the Calvinism issue can make people mad, which is the reason we all, starting with me, have to watch it.