Spectators often lament theological infighting on the internet. All that internecine warfare is so unedifying. By the same token, Catholics deplore schismatics. And, of course, ecumenicists view ecclesiastical unity as both a Christian ideal and a Christian imperative.
Like anything else that sinners do, blogging can put human iniquity on display. However, there are problems with the ecumenical ideal.
Because men are social creatures, we naturally retreat into fairly insular communities. We come in packages. Families. Extended families.
The same applies to theological communities. In the past, this was reinforced by geographical isolation and national churches. And we now have virtual communities. It’s like living in a company town.
There is, however, moral and spiritual dangers which come of taking refuge in self-affirming, self-reinforcing communities. A good example is the priestly abuse scandal in Catholicism. As long as this was perpetrated by one set of insiders on another set of insiders, it went unchecked. It took the scrutiny of outsiders to finally expose it and bring about some measure of reform.
Surrounding ourselves with sympathetic ears is morally and spiritual hazardous. We can become coconspirators in our own moral or spiritual demise. We defend each other. Excuse each other. The in-group can do no wrong. We inoculate ourselves against self-examination–behind the impregnable walls of our fortified city.
So there are benefits to having a clash between one theological community and another. It shakes up the insidious complacency to which we’re prone if we spend too much time in the circular groove of our like-minded fellowship.