integrity

One of the three definitions of “integrity” which the Miriam-Webster dictionary offers is this: “adherence to a high moral standard.”  I would like to consider that word in the light of the topic of “dissent.” 

Our Synod provides opportunity for called workers to dissent from the doctrine of our Synod in Bylaw 1.8:

1.8.1 While retaining the right of brotherly dissent, members of the Synod are expected as part of the life together within the fellowship of the Synod to honor and uphold the resolutions of Synod.

1.8.2 Dissent from doctrinal resolutions and statements is to be expressed first within the fellowship of peers and then brought to the attention of the Commission on Theology and Church Relations before finding expression as an overture to the convention calling for revisions or recisions. While the conscience of the dissenter shall be respected, the consciences of others, as well as the collective will of the Synod, shall also be respected.

We also have a Dispute Resolution process in the Synod that is designed to address disputes, disagreements, or offenses should they arise among members of the Synod. It is an orderly process that, for the most part, works very well.

What I am getting at is that we have workers who have chosen to add other means for airing disagreement with Synodical doctrine. The one I am going to address here is the internet. Blogs and/or Facebook pages are not appropriate places to voice disagreement with Synodical doctrine. One may object, "But I'm just voicing my opinion." If I were to criticize a newly-released movie or TV show, yes, that would simply be my opinion. I have no formal training in cinema or TV production-related disciplines, nor in script writing. But if I were to criticize it for bad theology it presents, that would go beyond opinion, for that is a subject for which I have been trained. For a pastor to object that he is only giving his opinion about Synod doctrine and not calling it into question, is naïve at best. Giving his arguments, and quoting and interpreting Scripture is teaching a viewpoint just as surely as it were being done in a classroom or from a pulpit. Short-circuiting our processes is not helpful for anyone.

What if a dissenter exhausts the processes but is still not convinced that his position is wrong? Here's where the word "integrity" comes into play. If his is unable to persuade the Synod that its teaching is wrong, I believe he should go to a church body whose doctrine is compatible with his. If he still thinks his position is correct, why doesn't he at least follow Jesus' dictum and shake the dust from his feet and move on? Why not simply admit we have a difference of interpretation and conclude the matter? I would respect such an individual far more than I do one who finds enjoyment in continuing to stir the pot by his continual internet postings.