A lightening rod serves the purpose of giving a bolt of lightning something to hit. When evangelicals go on mainstream media it seems that they are volunteering to be lightning rods. The encounter becomes a soundbite with a flash of light, a lot of heat and then it is over. It does seem to me that both sides of the interview desk are getting better at handling this. (And Rick Warren seems to be the master at making this work.)
If the controversial pastor Mark Driscoll can successfully navigate an interview that gives me hope. I was particularly impressed with this exchange from a recent interview on CNN.
Morgan: Do you think you’re a tolerant kind of guy?
Driscoll: I love people very much and—
Morgan: That’s not the same thing.
Driscoll: Well, how do you disagree with people that you love? That’s a very difficult issue for everybody, but for a pastor in particular, because—
Morgan: But do you preach tolerance?
Driscoll: I’ve preached that we should love our neighbor, that we should accept—
Morgan: But tolerance. Tolerance in particular.
Driscoll: You keep hammering it. What do you mean by tolerance?
Morgan: Tolerating people who may have a lifestyle or a belief that you don’t agree with.
Driscoll: Yes, we have to. When Jesus says “Love your neighbor,” he knows you’re not going to agree with all your neighbors, but he wants you to love them, to seek good for them, to care for them.
Go to the Resurgence blog for more thoughts on how this interview worked. I was particularly interested in Mark’s reflections on the new definition of tolerance.
Theologian D. A. Carson explains how the definition of tolerance has changed from accepting that lots of people have different views, some of which are wrong, to agreeing that all views are equally true. The old view of tolerance assumed that (1) there is objective truth that can be known; (2) various people, groups, and perspectives each think they know what that objective truth is; and (3) as people/groups disagree, dialogue, and debate their conflicting views of the truth, everyone involved will have an opportunity to learn, grow, change, and possibly arrive together at the truth.
The new tolerance is different from the old tolerance. The new view of tolerance assumes that (1) there is no objective truth that can be known; (2) various people, groups, and perspectives do not have the truth but only what they believe to be the truth; and (3) various people, groups, and perspectives should not argue and debate their disagreements because there is no truth to be discovered and to assume otherwise only leads to needless conflicts and prejudices.
Some worthwhile light and heat to consider.