I was thinking the other day about a class I took in seminary called "How to handle opposition, criticism, resistance, and passive-aggression." Come to think of it, I think I missed that course. The class I took was on source criticism, not criticism per se. Not that understanding source criticism hasn't been useful. I have new attenders coming up to me all the time to ask why J, D, P, and E couldn't all just get along.
Still, I think the other class would have been more useful.
Opposition is an inevitable reality of pastoral life. Not just spiritual opposition ("we wrestle not against flesh and blood"). Not just the intellectual opposition of Richard Dawkins/Daniel Dennet/Samuel Harris/Christopher Hitchens readers. I'm talking about friendly fire. The deacon board who votes to wish you a speedy recovery 13-12. The e-mail writer who wonders about your orthodoxy, theological literacy, or citation of unsafe authors. The helpful critic who wonders why you don't ...1