The Rule of Mouw (Guidelines for Orthodox Ruminations)

downloadA lot of people have been coming to the blog recently and following it, which is amazing! A lot of new faces. I welcome all who come. I also welcome that this may bring with it more conversation within this blog, which is something I’d like to see as well. So I thought I’d share this post as sort of a guideline of how to conduct ourselves here:

I came across this list from my friend Carson Clark. One thing I often end up repenting of is my zealous ways. I often let my zeal for the truth, for Orthodoxy, get in my way. It has burned bridges and hurt people. This I know. I’m a very stubborn person with my beliefs, but that does not mean I can’t be more gracious in how I present myself and my beliefs. I’m learning how to do so, but please be patience. I am a weak human being, a man filled with fault and weakness.

“A lot of people today who have strong convictions are not very civil and a lot of people who are civil don’t have very strong convictions. What we really need is convicted civility,” writes Richard Mouw. This is something I need to hear and practice. I am a strongly convicted person! I am not going to lie about that! I believe in having strong convictions. When I first entered into a certain professor’s class at Johnson he told me a couple days before that class started that he was looking forward to having me in class. He told me, “Jon, I’m looking forward to having you in my class. There’s too many pussies in this world that don’t stand up for what they believe!” I was blown away! But that speaks to who I am. I do stand up for what I believe. I am a vocal person, very outspoken! But doing so with respect, love, charity, and grace is a must. It doesn’t take a lot for me to be a convicted person, but it does take a lot to be skilled in communicating those convictions.

Mouw also said, ”Too often in life we proceed with a hermeneutic of self-assuredness and criticism of those for whom we disagree rather than a hermeneutic of self-criticism and grace for others.” There’s a fine line between an Orthodox Christian, which says “right belief” in our very name, and knowing that we don’t know it all. That’s the beauty of Orthodoxy. There’s a tension between a Foundationalism and Post-Foundationalism so to speak with Orthodoxy. Tension between having right belief, but having mystery and paradox and not knowing it all. Orthodoxy has taught me that I do not know it all. It has taught me to first examine myself and my sins and to repent of them. It has taught me to focus on growing in Christ.

So that all being said I repent of sometimes not being one of these Christians:

Top 10 List of Things I love to Hear from Intellectually Honest, Humble Christians 

10. I meant well, but I’ve been wrong about that.

9. I’d like to offer a little good-natured push-back.

8. While I still disagree, I have a better sense of where you’re coming from.

7. I let my experiences and emotions get in the way of the facts. My bad.

6. Wasn’t aware of that (fact, logical fallacy, etc.) before. Thanks.

5. Huh. Hadn’t thought of that before. I’ll have to consider it.

4. I stand by the content of what I said, but the tone wasn’t gracious. Sorry.

3. I’m confused but don’t want to assume. Can you please clarify what you mean?

2. Yeah, my perspective probably could use a little more nuance.

1. I’ve been thinking about what you said…

Forgive me if my zealous ways have led me to be the opposite of these. Let us all strive to be healthy and to have healthy ways of communicating.

So let us go forth together to share, wrestle, learn, discuss, but do so with love, charity, kindness, and peace. I welcome all views here that may even disagree. However, I reserve the right to delete posts and comments that have a spirit of meanness that goes against the convicted civility I am trying to foster. If it seems uncivil to you chances are I will think so too and thus take care of it.

Other than that and the Golden Rule there is not much to the rules. Let us strive to be like the things Carson lists. Let us strive to follow Mouw’s Rule here.

Let us wrestle with life and its complexities and engage in critical thinking that entertains all ideas and thoughts with respect. We do not have to agree with one another, but ideology is not something we should fall trap too. Ideology is easy. It is mere adoption of a system of thinking. Let us think together critically and for ourselves. Let us not be ideologues, but wrestlers of the moderate, the gray, the middle, the paradox.

Grace and peace from Jesus Christ,

Jonathan Anderson


2 thoughts on “The Rule of Mouw (Guidelines for Orthodox Ruminations)

  1. Pingback: Jonathan Anderson – Top 10 Things I love to Hear from Intellectually Honest, Humble Christians | Persona

  2. Pingback: Why is Our Culture so Sensitive to Even Disagreement? | Orthodox Ruminations

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