**Disclosure and disclaimer: I have never met Bekah Merkle and wouldn’t recognize her if she crossed my path. I have also never met Rachel Held Evans (RHE), although I have occasionally been annoyed by her blog. I do know, like, and admire Douglas Wilson. And while this post is not about him directly, it has implications for the way I digest his writings. He’s not perfect – none of us are. But he has contributed a lot to the cause of the kingdom and I’m thankful for his unique and meaningful work. Let the reader beware.

So here’s the down-low. Doug Wilson’s daughter, Bekah Merkle, offered a sardonic critique of Rachel Held Evans and a bunch of folks felt Merkle’s piece was mean-spirited, ill-advised, and unloving. Even people who aren’t particularly fond of RHE’s writings were deeply disheartened by the tone of Merkle’s blog. A quick scan of the comment section of the blog reveals a handful of Scriptures that seem to suggest that such an approach is deeply unChristian.

Since we’re in Bible quoting-mode I would like to offer a couple verses of my own from Proverbs 26:4,5:

Answer not a fool according to his folly,
    lest you be like him yourself.
Answer a fool according to his folly,
    lest he be wise in his own eyes.

 

I’m not sure this requires a lot of explanation, but I will offer a couple of quick observations. Proverbs is teaching that wisdom has to make a choice. Sometimes it is better not to deal with a fool in a way that mirrors the fool’s approach because it will reflect poorly on us. But sometimes it is best to deal with a fool in a way that mirrors the fool’s approach because it casts a light on the fool’s folly and brings the fool to a new level of self-awareness. So the bottom-line is that there is no “one” approach to dealing with a fool’s folly. Sometimes the loving and wise thing to do is to dish up the fool’s folly right back. The Scriptures do not offer a univocal or one-dimensional strategy for interacting with fools.

The question isn’t necessarily or obviously whether Merkle’s article was mean-spirited or unloving. The question is – was Merkle’s tactic wise? I’m of the persuasion that it was wise indeed. Part of RHE’s appeal is not the substance of her arguments, but the ethos and rhetoric of her writings. Simply dealing with her at the level of substance will only go so far because honestly, the substance is so thin. At some level, RHE’s folly is not just her positions, but the manner in which she holds them forth. And Merkle’s piece put that in the light of day in a way few could have achieved.

But will it work? Who knows? Whatever the outcome is, I think it was more than legitimate because maybe – just maybe – it will cause RHE to be slightly more self-conscious of her own tone. Perhaps she will be more self-aware of her own lack of substance and childish contrarianism. In time it may work to give her more time for pause and reflection before she spouts whatever nonsense she decides to blog on. And while we will never know, it may be because Merkle was willing to answer a fool according to her folly.