No, not posting pictures of the kids or the family pet. I’m writing of the tendency at times for blogger disagreements to get personal. I’ve been accused a few times of launching ad hominems. Sometimes the charge is valid. Other times I think I’m just making a natural response to being accused of being a heretic, to being encouraged to leave the church, to being placed in a category of those who should lose voting rights at Conference, or of being unpatriotic or America-hating.
In terms of “faith wars” getting personal greatly pre-dates blogging. Consider the case of one of the esteemed founders of the Methodist movement, John Wesley, and Anglican clergy member and hymn writer Augustus Toplady, who wrote the words to Rock of Ages.
Toplady was a convert to Calvinism. Wesley was an Arminian. Now consider some of the things Toplady accused Wesley of:
1. Satanic shamelessness.
2. Acting the part of a lurking, sly assassin.
3. Uniting the sophistry of a Jesuit with the authority of a pope.
And here are some lines from Toplady’s March 26, 1770 letter to Wesley:
Much less, if you descend to your customary resource of false quotations, despicable invective, and unsupported dogmatisms, shall I hold myself obliged again to enter the lists with you. An opponent who thinks to add weight to his arguments by scurrility and abuse, resembles the insane person, who rolled himself in mud, in order to make himself fine. I would no more enter into a formal controversy with such a scribbler, than I would contend for the wall with a chimney-sweeper.
I do not expect to be treated by Mr. John Wesley with the candour of a gentleman, or the meekness of a Christian; but I wish him, for his reputation’s sake, to write and act with the honesty of a heathen.
On his death bed, Toplady said he would never agree to making amends with Wesley and in fact had no desire to ever see the man again. To make amends would be tantamount to repudiating his own beliefs, Toplady believed.
Perhaps there was a “post-death” reconciliation of sorts. Our United Methodist Hymnal includes Toplady’s much-loved hymn, Rock of Ages. Note, though, that while Toplady died at age 37, Wesley lived to be 87. or or or ?