I have been thinking about views that are polemical. People in my denomination have often been considered to be so.
Looking up the definition and seeing that it combines “controversial” with “given to disputing the views of others,” I can see where we get that label. Sometimes we even deserve it.
Polemical would be giving a sermon on why we are not Catholic instead of showing why we believe the views we hold are found in the Bible.
Polemical would be a vegetarian giving a talk on the evils of meat-eating rather than explaining why she thinks fruits and vegetables are the healthiest way for her to eat.
Polemical would be a La Leche League volunteer holding forth on the evils of formula instead of addressing the wonders of a mother’s breast milk.
There is a time and a place for polemical thinking, and even for polemical speeches.
But the fact is that that time and place is not every Sunday at 10:00 from the same pulpit.
If we have gotten so stale at explaining to others the beauty of following Christ that all we can do is run down other churches for the imperfect way they follow Christ (because we are all imperfect . . .), then polemical is center stage for us and will eventually cause us to become irrelevant.
That is the same whether we are an older mainline denomination, a newer edgier denomination, or some denomination that has never belonged to either of those camps (like my non-conformist Baptists).
If all we have is non-conformity and being out of step with the rest of the world, we should not be surprised when they dismiss our views. Especially when we use precious time on our pulpits to call everyone else out for their supposed errors!!!
People don’t get fed hearing us brag about how many people we oppose. They get fed hearing what we stand for, if that is the gospel of Jesus Christ.