Common in the fables of African culture is the concept that “when elephants fight the grass gets hurt.” The ferocity of the beasts as they defend their right to territory or property renders them insensitive to their surroundings and thus considerable damage is done. They hurt themselves while other entities suffer.
It must be obvious where this is leading. How frequently today we hear of conflicting schools of thought within the Christian community – even the Reformed and Evangelical. We fret over whether Piper picked a peck of pickled Packer, or follow the Gresham Machen road to Gerstner and Sproul. We have champions whom we are tempted to follow and who sometimes let us down by their Driscoll/MacArthur interlocutions. And what may we say of Biologos and its adherents, “masters of theological confusion and compromise?” In fact it appears that the Christian community is more hindered than helped by a multitude of alignments that easily divert us from the simple faith that adheres us to the sticking place of Scripture; “... the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God.”
When elephants fight it matters more to them that they be proved correct, than that the Body of Christ is enriched by them. They must win. Consider the appalling altercations that are passed back and forth between six-day creationists and all the other “ists” who find that trusting “thus saith the Lord” is evidence of intellectual ineptitude. It isn't so much that brethren disagree, but they must castigate one another in order to persuasively develop camp followers who will comfortably argue opinions that they may not have completely understood themselves, but they do have a champion who does.
When the “grass gets hurt” the Church of Jesus Christ suffers. The “unity of the Body in the bond of peace” becomes fragmented, and love for the brethren is replaced by harsh and unyielding criticism.
But imagine now the one who has no elephant in the fight and is content to let the animals destroy one another. After all is said and done, when the giants have exhausted their repertoire, the damage is done, the grass has been decimated, and the territory is available for the “strong man” to help himself to the spoils.
Wilfred A. Bellamy, Ph.D.
October 27, 2013