Truth brings division
Linda Downing | Highlands TodaySome things, like truth and compromise, don't mix. When they try to mingle, they bring further division. Examples include groups as seemingly diverse as Guns N' Roses (GN'R) and Wycliffe Bible Translators. In their recent decisions lie lessons for us all.
Published: May 4, 2012
Published: May 4, 2012
Axl Rose's life may not be the best to emulate despite the meteoric rise of his hard rock band GN'R, formed during the '80s. Like other rebels, Rose's questionable activities marred him and his band, contributing to their breakup.
He hit the bad-boy headlines again in April for what could be one of his more honorable decisions: He declined induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of GN'R. Neither the media nor the Hall nor the other band members nor many of the fans liked what some pegged "snubbing."
If Rose's critics read his published letter addressed to the Hall of Fame, his fans, and everyone else, they might see an unexpected dignity. He cuts down no one, is respectful, and states his decision is personal, "not meant to offend, attack, or condemn." He even gives good advice: "It's time to move on."
Despite Rose not attending the ceremony, and his request not to be inducted with other GN'R members, the Hall of Fame insisted on its plan to include him, even "in absentia." It seems mixing certain kinds of fame with personal conviction brings disrespect and division among those who once offered uncensored support.
Wycliffe Bible Translators, respected for its accurate biblical renderings, bridges gaps between denominations, cultures and languages. That reputation has not prevented the controversy surrounding some of its new translations intended for Muslim countries.
Critics accuse Wycliffe of distorting what most of Christianity considers essential: the Trinity. One God revealed as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is hard for certain societies to understand; but, it is a doctrine held dear and beyond dispute. Wycliffe has removed terms like "Father" and "Son," saying "divine familial terms" are not clear to some cultures. To change "this is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased" (Matthew 3:17) to "this is my Messiah" is inaccurate no matter what the motive behind it.
Wycliffe appears as surprised at the outcry as the Hall of Fame over Axl Rose's rejection. However, unlike the Hall, Wycliffe has put its publishing plans on hold until the panel of experts appointed by the World Evangelical Alliance reviews the situation.
Axl Rose has a right not to be in the Hall of Fame. Wycliffe has a right to publish what it wants. If the decisions are questioned, then what is believed right ought to be adhered to no matter the fallout. Rose is already wavering and apologizing, saying even he can get tired of always being on the out's. Wycliffe is simply and wisely waiting.
Rose's action, as interested as the world is in it, will not shape the course of history; Wycliffe's action, as disinterested as those outside Christianity might be, will have ongoing impact. One thing is sure: No matter what our personal truth, it will always appear as "snubbing" to those outside it, and it will always bring division.
Finding truth requires the right starting point. That is the quest of this column. If we seek simple truth, we can find it together—side-by-side. Linda M. Downing is a freelance writer. Contact her at lindadowning.com.