“Some have complained that Luther was too severe. I will not deny this. But I will answer in the language of Erasmus: Because the sickness was so great, God gave this age a rough doctor … If Luther was severe, it was because of his earnestness for the truth, not because he loved strife or harshness.”
Luther’s Funeral Oration
“I was born for this purpose, to fight with the rebels and the devils and to lead the charge. Therefore my books are very stormy and war like. I have to uproot trunks and stumps, hack at the thorns and hedges, and fill the potholes. So I am the crude woodsman who has to clear and make the path. But master Philip comes after me, meticulously and quietly, builds and plants, widows and waters happily according to the talents God richly given him.”
Recently, a friend told me in a online conversation that I had gotten my orneriness back quickly following surgery. It was a good natured quip that found me replying that “McAtee is Scottish after all.”
Honestly though, his quip did sting a little. It is not my desire to be remembered someday as always being cantankerous, ornery, or curmudgeonly. In point of fact, I think, that most people who know me personally would not reach for those adjective first as descriptors.
Having said that I admit that I can get prickly, but I trust when the prickliness comes out there is some higher and greater principle that I see of being in danger.
God has gifted me with the ability to see the implications of ideas if left unattended. This means that my orneriness quotient rises in direct correlation to otherwise good people championing ideas that will end in bad results if not “nipped in the bud.” (A little Barney Fife lingo there.)
I don’t want to bring tension into relationships among the few of us who are left defending the gates by criticizing too sharply things that are said by my fellow gate defenders. However, I also do not desire for the gate defenders to have ideas that will lead to some bad outcomes if those ideas are allowed to fester.
It is not always easy to decide when to be irenic with the brethren and so let matters pass unspoken to, and when to go all “tomahawk chop” on people that are otherwise on your side. It takes discernment and I freely admit that I likely often fail here.
I do teach my students that one of the dangers of drawing one’s worldview net to tight is that one begins to see embers in thinking that one becomes easily convinced will turn into raging forest fires if not doused.
At the end of it all though, I am convinced that we are living in an age that generally speaking could use a little more orneriness. I’ll work on being irenic if more of you will work a little on being an old cuss like myself.