On Dudes and Nuance

I’m all for sound theology. Especially I favor well-articulated sound theology. But I’m no fan of “nuance.”

At least not in the way it’s currently being used in my insulated, small, Presbyterian, Reformed, PCA, neck-of-the-woods.

It goes like this: Dude writes something. Another Dude says, “That’s wrong because of X.” Original Dude replies, “You don’t understand the nuance.” Sometimes the conversation continues, but often it ends.

The effect being that an appeal to “nuance” explains away legitimate disagreement. I’d be much happier if Dude simply replied, “I disagree. I think X is good theology.” At least then we could talk about it. But when Dude appeals to “nuance,” he is like a Master Sommelier who tastes hints of moldy bark and burnt moss in his Cabernet. How do you argue with burnt moss? You can’t taste anything but fruity goodness. “Nuance” shuts down plain conversation and precludes plain disagreement. Dudes agree to agree that nobody can understand the nuance well enough to agree or disagree. Really?

I call Uncle. Enough with the nuance already.

Something similar happens with “tone.” Instead of Dude saying, “Dude, you’re an insensitive jerk,” he says, “Dude, you’re tone deaf.” Which roughly translated means, “Dude, you’re an insensitive jerk.” Only it’s not polite or politically correct to call a Dude an insensitive jerk, so we call him tone deaf instead. This is the ecclesiastical equivalent of a sweet Southern Belle saying, “Well, bless your heart!” when she really means, “I hate you and everyone who has ever contributed to your ancestry.”

How about we just say what we mean and deal with disagreement openly?

Please don’t hear me saying that I’m in favor of name-calling. I’m sure that some Dude will reply to this post by telling me I’m tone deaf. But all I am asking for is a little more forthrightness and willingness to have open, clear, and frank debate, absent the politically correct euphemisms that veil rather than clarify meaning. Polite? Yes. Murky? No thank you.

I fear that PCA Dudes are becoming so “nuanced” that we’re no longer following Paul’s example in 2 Corinthians 4:2, in which he asserts that “by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God.” Paul favored precise theology, and he offered clear distinctions. But he also modeled an open statement of his convictions.

Our current use of “nuance” does no favors to such forthrightness.

Dudes, “open statement of the truth,” please.

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