March 17, 2014

Controversy: Can We Avoid It? by Bryan Norford

Should Christians be controversial? To ask the question is to answer it, for the question is controversial--especially judging by the blogs to date.

Every statement is controversial—to someone. The lightly controversial statements and comments of our cosy group might be highly contentious in an atheist or gay blog.

Controversy is less in what we say or write, but more the audience to whom we pitch our beliefs. Remember, the Christian faith itself is an offense; we cannot state our beliefs without risk of attack or derision. But should that stop us?

I often think I should venture into the big, bad, blog world and hammer a stake into foreign territory. But two things stop me. First, intimidation, I’m not sure I can handle the emotional toll it may bring. Second, issues of family, health, ministry, and writing—yes I actually write!—take my time and resources.

I read the blogs this month and as usual, found them thoughtful and stimulating, although I’ve not added my comments. Hey, if I can’t find time to respond to you dear folk, where’s the time for greater controversy out there?

A year or two ago, I did have a protracted electronic discussion with a young atheist. The dialogue was mostly on a rational level, with little emotional baggage, so I quite enjoyed it. But again, it fell by the wayside due to necessary commitments.

But there’s a further consideration to controversial writing. It’s not just what we say, it’s the way we say it. Two texts come to mind: “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. Proverbs 15:1. “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,” 1 Peter 3:15.

The last phrase captivates me. Who better than a Christian to speak with humility and grace? Easy among a sympathetic crowd, but can we handle anger and abuse? Remember, we may intimidate the opposition by our stand—it’s a two-way street.

In fact, where the Holy Spirit is active in an unbeliever, the Spirit engenders guilt: “He will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment,” John 16:8. That often provokes an angry response. Any mention of God suggests eventual accountability.

So maybe we need to reverse the question: Will anything we write find unanimous consent? Does that answer our original question?

Bryan Norford also writes at Norfords' Writings and Norfords' Ramblings


  1. You are right that it is context that defines the level of controversy. I never thought about it before. I love the scripture you selected that reminds us to be gentle with our answers and to always have a reason for our hope. And, no, I don't think we can avoid controversy. Somebody will always disagree with us! Haha.

  2. Very true. Simply by living our faith out loud, we're rubbing someone the wrong way. Or we should be!

    I wonder if I need to pay more attention to how people react to my Christian world view? Perhaps there are openings for discussion that I miss, simply because I'm just happily going on my believing way.

    Good food for thought, Brian.

  3. The scriptures you shared are SO appropriate. It is the 'gentle' answer that makes the most impact, it seems. Jesus Himself didn't steer clear of controversy.

  4. I too think your scripture passages are right on, Bryan. I think most of us would agree that we are involving ourselves in an important and meaningful discussion this month, and each month for that matter.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts here too.


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