Today I am looking at C Michael Patton’s Parchment and Pen blog again.
And the topic of on of his recent posts: irenic. (Really the post is about more than the word: irenic. But I am focusing on the word irenic and not throughly looking at Michael’s post, because I am intrigued by it.)
[Greek eirēnikos, from eirēnē, peace.]”
Michael says “This does not involve compromise, but a willingness to engage issues fairly.” He goes on to talk about how we should conduct ourselves online (and off line) when dealing with theological beliefs and issues. Basically how to be assertive and respectful at the same time.
Here is an excerpt from Michael’s blog post:
“Here are some of the characteristics to being irenic in theological conversation and controversy:
- You accurately represent all theological positions, even when you strongly oppose them.
- Your tone of engagement comes from a humble respectful attitude.
- Your primary goal is not to win an argument, but to contribute to understanding.
- Your defense of your position recognizes that strengths of the opposing side.
- You are gentle.
Here are two important Scripture references concerning how we are to engage in theological discussion irenically:
2 Timothy 2:24 “The Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, 25 with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, 26 and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will.” “
This is great advise. I agree with what he is saying. I think a lot of it is derived from personal experience, dealing with theology and controversial topics on a regular basis.
Synonyms for Irenic are :
Mollifying – To calm in temper or feeling; soothe, lessen the temper, soothe.
Appeasing – To bring peace, quiet, or calm to; soothe. Satisfy, pacify.
Pacifying – To ease the anger or agitation of. End war, bring peace.
Peace-making – settling disputes.
Assuaging – To make (something burdensome or painful) less intense or severe. To satisfy, calm.
Conciliatory – Tending to conciliate; pacific; mollifying; propitiating
Soothing – To calm or placate, ease, relieve, bring comfort.
Gentle – considerate or kindly in disposition; amiable and tender. Not harsh or severe.
I think Michael is saying we should be fair and balanced. Show all angles of an argument even if we do not agree, contribute to the understanding, and not being aggressive about our arguments. He is not suggesting that we are too be so gentle and Placate that our arguments are not there at all. We should be assertive enough to make stand our ground on an issue, but we need to do it gently and be fair.