In the summer of 1971, waiting for Army orders, I befriended a Baptist minister who had been assigned to an old, staid congregation at the First Baptist Church. We golfed together all summer long. While walking the course, he often talked about his congregation. He’d become a preacher with a missionary’s zeal, to find lost souls, then save them, so was frustrated with this self-satisfied congregation, for no matter what the subject was, from avarice to vanity to gluttony to covetedness to stewardship and stinginess, everyone in the congregation acted as though he were preaching to anyone else other than themselves.
He said he soon began carrying a second sermon in his coat pocket, just in case…just in case…a stranger walked in and sat down in the back pew. A lost soul maybe? Hell, even a Catholic would do, but he’d stop in mid-sermon, reach in his pocket and pull out that other sermon, then talk directly to that lone form at the back of the church the rest of the service.
Now, we all agree, singling out a person in a public place is not the way to generally win friends and bring in converts, but he was a Baptist and had been taught to do it just that way. But he also had a point, because I often thought about what he was was really aiming at was to impress upon his own congregation a lesson of some sorts.
A similar thing happened here last week at UnifiedPatriots.
A fellow (I assume he was a fellow) came in and sat right down on our back pew and began making fun of the sermon. In internetspeak he was a troll. I won’t give his name anymore credit than he’s already assumed for himself, but you can look for yourself at the way his conversation degenerated into childish gibberish. Just visit BlueCollarMuse’s article on Obama’s astounding proclamation that the infamous communist Ho Chi Minh was “inspired” (Obama’s words, not BCM’s) by the words of Thomas Jefferson and the Declaration.
But as my Baptist preacher friend was trying to do, there’s a larger lesson here.
You see, as the back-and-forth continued to dwindle, as they always seem to do, we showed the person the door, by invoking my version of the Hinz Rule, which, for those of you with a history at RedState, is a bringing down of the gavel by the Chair, ending further debate. My version was to invoke Proverbs 26: 4-5, which states:
4 Do not answer a fool according to his folly,
or you yourself will be just like him
5 Answer a fool according to his folly,
or he will be wise in his own eyes. (NIV)
Now, everyone knows and agrees with the first verse, for everyone knows you shouldn’t sit in the counsel of, and debate with, fools. In fact, I think that rule has wormed its way into the Book of Etiquette since Victorian days.
But the second verse seems to contradict this, and for many, what I call 2-dotters, another huge Biblical contradiction, things they like to dwell on. Fools, most Democrats, and low-information-voters would likely see this second verse this way, especially since, in any conversation with us, they believe with equal fervor that it is we who are the fools.
When trolls come to any conservative blog site, if only to lay down a barrage of f-bombs then run away, they all have a preconceived notion as to who it is they’ll be talking to. If Christians, they assume you only have three teeth, and if tea party, they assume you wait tables for a living, or run a diner that hires others to wait those tables. I can sympathize, for I felt the same way when I went to my first gay mixer in law school. I wore my catcher’s cup just in case.
But it’s verse 5 that separates the slow-witted-two-dotters and the three-dotters-and-up we associate with. It’s our duty to point this difference out, especially when fooles of that kind come calling, for they often bring their friends, to watch them count coup.
Let me quote from GotQuestions?org, a pretty good Bible reference to explain what I mean:
The futility of trying to impart wisdom to a fool is the basis of Proverbs 26: 4-5, which tell us how to answer a fool. These seemingly contradictory verses are actually a common form of parallelism found in the Old Testament, where one idea builds upon another.
Verse 4 warns against arguing with a fool on his own terms, lest we stoop to his level and become as foolish as he is. Because he despises wisdom and correction, the fool will not listen to wise reason and will try to draw us into his type of argument, whether it is by using deceit, scoffing at our wisdom, or becoming angry and abusive. If we allow him to draw us into this type of discourse, we are answering him “according to his folly” in the sense of becoming like him.
The phrase “according to his folly” in verse 5, on the other hand, tells us that there are times when a fool has to be addressed so that his foolishness will not go unchallenged. In this sense answering him according to his folly means to expose the foolishness of his words, rebuking him on the basis of his folly so he will see the idiocy of his words and reasoning. Our “answer” in this case is to be one of reproof, showing him the truth so he might see the foolishness of his words in the light of reason. Even though he will most likely despise and reject the wisdom offered to him, we are to make the attempt, both for the sake of the truth which is always to be declared, and for the sake of those listening, that they may see the difference between wisdom and folly and be instructed.
So the test is situational in nature. And territorial. It’s best not to confront an idiot and let him draw you in, but if he invades your space, you cannot allow him to simply hit and run, for as we know, there are others who may be watching, who might think that this foole has won the field.