Joel Belz: Five rules for feistiness

MARY REICHARD, HOST: Today is Wednesday, June 26th. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Mary Reichard.

NICK EICHER, HOST: And I’m Nick Eicher. Another presidential campaign season is in full swing.

AUDIO: No! Noooooo!

REICHARD: I’m with her.

EICHER: Hey, bad as it is, it beats the alternative. WORLD founder Joel Belz now has a few recommended rules of engagement for this difficult time.

JOEL BELZ, FOUNDER: Maybe it’s the summer heat. Or maybe it’s the launch of a new presidential election cycle. Whatever the source, it’s appropriate to ask: How angry does God allow his people to get when they see or hear something really wrong going on?

Pretty angry, the Bible suggests. But never so angry that it prompts you to sinful behavior. It’s a balance we at WORLD try to keep in mind.

So if you’re finding yourself in the thick of things and tempted to worry, here are some warnings and suggestions.

No. 1—No “he-hit-me-first” excuses. I have to remember this when folks criticize WORLD for being ugly or unkind. I’m tempted to highlight how mean-spirited some of our critics are.

Yet however tempting it may be to respond in kind, God doesn’t grade on the curve. We must respond to evil in a Biblical manner.

No. 2—Facts first, then opinion. With God, facts and opinion are one and the same. There’s no slippage between the two in his marvelous mind.

But with us mortals, there’s a whole spectrum. It reaches from what the Bible clearly tells us is true, to what we think may or may not be true, to what we know we don’t know. 

There’s nothing wrong with speculations along the middle of that spectrum. But things get dangerous when folks start treating facts and opinions as interchangeable.

No. 3—Lowered voices. Many of us today are inclined to yell when we want to make a point. That’s why WORLD’s editor-in-chief Marvin Olasky reminds staffers of our journalistic goal: “SENSATIONAL FACTS; UNDERSTATED PROSE.” 

That means hard work for all of us. But it’s a more persuasive approach to truth-telling—more satisfying to both listener and reporter.

No. 4—Elusive answers. In God’s scheme of things, not all answers are equally accessible. In my older age, I still hold to the doctrine of creation I learned 70 years ago. But I struggle more with some of the details. 

I hold to male leadership in marriage and in the church. But the principle is less simple than it used to be. 

In these and dozens of similar issues, I want to be a lion with regard to truth but a pussycat on issues where I’m not sure of Scripture’s clarity. 

No. 5—Esteeming others. The Bible repeatedly tells Christians to think of each other as better than themselves. It doesn’t go that far in telling us how to relate to non-Christians, but it does tell us to have high regard even for those who “despitefully use you.” 

These instructions suggest that debates should always leave room for sitting down with our opponent for a face-to-face discussion. Even in this age of anonymity on the internet, you never know when such a meeting might be waiting right around the corner. 

For WORLD Radio, I’m Joel Belz.

(Illustration/Krieg Barrie)

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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