Additional Thoughts on Our Theological Vision: Slander as the Enemy of Reformed Catholicity

“Additional Thoughts on Our Theological Vision:

Slander as the Enemy of Reformed Catholicity”

Various Texts

March 27, 2022

Faith Presbyterian Church – Evening Service

Pastor Nicoletti

The Reading of the Word

We return this evening to our theme from this morning: our church’s core value of Reformed catholicity.

This morning we defined Reformed catholicity as the fact “that we intend to be a congregation that is, at one and the same time, committed to the Reformed faith as a particular understanding of the Word of God and committed to the unity of the Christian church.” [Rayburn, “Reformed Catholicism”]

Put more simply, we are committed to both truth and unity among the people of God.

And those commitments hold true for us as we interact with one another, and as we participate in our broader denomination, and also as we interact with others in the Christian Church.

Tonight, we consider an enemy of Reformed catholicity, as we spend some time talking about slander.

Now, at first this might sound like it means that we’re in store for a lopsided sermon: for one that champions the unity of the church, but fails to consider the purity of the church. But that’s not our goal. Because slander often goes in both directions in the Church of Christ.

On the one hand, there are some who find themselves distressed by people who have views that they don’t like – views they believe are dangerous or problematic. And as they confront those views, they can face a serious temptation to slander those who hold them in a way that undermines Reformed catholicity. And we need to consider that within this category.

But on the other hand, there are others who find themselves distressed by the critiques or complaints of such people – who believe those critiques are overly narrow or overly harsh. And as they confront those critiques, they too can face a serious temptation to slander the critics in a way that undermines Reformed catholicity. And we need to consider that as well within this category.

And these temptations can arise when we discuss public figures in the church, but they can also come up when we interact with one another.

And so, whatever role you may find yourself in – whether you are one who tends to sound the alarm about others, or one who tends to wave off the concerns of others in the church – you can face this temptation to slander. And slander is both an enemy of Reformed catholicity, and a sin. Two good reasons to resist it.

Tonight, I want to consider several forms that temptation might take, and then, briefly at the end, we will consider several things we should try to do instead.

With all that said, we will hear from a number of different texts relevant to our theme this evening, though we will not read everything printed in your bulletin.

Please do listen carefully, for this is God’s word for us this evening.

From Exodus 20:16:

16 “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

From Leviticus 19:15-16:

15 “You shall do no injustice in court. You shall not be partial to the poor or defer to the great, but in righteousness shall you judge your neighbor. 16 You shall not go around as a slanderer among your people, and you shall not stand up against the life of your neighbor: I am the Lord.

From Ephesians 4:25-27:

25 Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another. 26 Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, 27 and give no opportunity to the devil.

From James 4:11:

11 Do not speak evil against one another, brothers. 

And then, jumping down, from 1 Corinthians 13, starting in verse four:

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

From Proverbs 17:9:

Whoever covers an offense seeks love,
    but he who repeats a matter separates close friends.

From 1 Peter 4:8

Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.        

From Proverbs 18:17:

17 The one who states his case first seems right,
    until the other comes and examines him.

And finally, from Leviticus 26:27-28, 36-37. God says:

27 “But if in spite of this you will not listen to me, but walk contrary to me, 28 then I will walk contrary to you in fury, and I myself will discipline you sevenfold for your sins. […] 36 And as for those of you who are left, I will send faintness into their hearts in the lands of their enemies. The sound of a driven leaf shall put them to flight, and they shall flee as one flees from the sword, and they shall fall when none pursues. 37 They shall stumble over one another, as if to escape a sword, though none pursues. And you shall have no power to stand before your enemies.

This is the word of the Lord.  (Thanks be to God.)

Introduction

So tonight we consider several ways that we can be tempted to slander, which undermines Reformed catholicity.

And again, we should have in mind that these temptations can appear in many different places. They can show up in how we treat one another in personal conversation. They can show up in how we interact with others online. They can show up in how we think about or speak about our church, or our presbytery, or our denomination, or other churches and denominations. They can show up in how we interact with other demographics here among us.

So as we consider the different ways this temptation to slander can work, I encourage you to ask yourself what forms and what places it shows up in your own life and your own heart.

Our theme tonight is on our speech. We have heard from several texts already. We’ve heard from the Heidelberg Catechism. Let’s add one more piece to it: just a portion of the Westminster Larger Catechism’s handling of the ninth commandment.

First, the catechism considers what the ninth commandment – the commandment not to bear false witness – what it requires. It says: “The duties required in the ninth commandment are, the preserving and promoting of truth between man and man, and the good name of our neighbor, as well as our own; appearing and standing for the truth; and from the heart, sincerely, freely, clearly, and fully, speaking the truth, and only the truth, in matters of judgment and justice, and in all other things whatsoever; a charitable esteem of our neighbors; loving, desiring, and rejoicing in their good name; sorrowing for and covering of their infirmities; freely acknowledging of their gifts and graces, defending their innocency; a ready receiving of a good report, and unwillingness to admit of an evil report, concerning them; discouraging talebearers, flatterers, and slanderers.”

Next, it asks what the ninth commandment forbids. This section includes that “The sins forbidden in the ninth commandment are, all prejudicing the truth, and the good name of our neighbors, […]  giving false evidence, suborning false witnesses, […] undue silence in a just cause, and holding our peace when iniquity calleth for either a reproof from ourselves, or complaint to others; speaking the truth unseasonably, or maliciously to a wrong end, or perverting it to a wrong meaning, or in doubtful or equivocal expressions, to the prejudice of the truth or justice; speaking untruth, lying, slandering, backbiting, detracting, talebearing, whispering, scoffing, reviling, rash, harsh, and partial censuring; misconstructing intentions, words, and actions; […] denying the gifts and graces of God; aggravating smaller faults; […] unnecessary discovering of infirmities; raising false rumors, receiving and countenancing evil reports, and stopping our ears against just defense; evil suspicion.”

There is so much we can say here. But let’s restrict ourselves to six common forms of the temptation to slander others, in our lives and especially in the church.

Temptation #1

First, we must resist the temptation to be quick to receive a negative report about someone, despite questions about the source.

This is the temptation, when we hear something negative about someone, to simply assume it is true because it feels true – because it fits with our assumptions about them.

If we considered the source objectively, we might have more hesitations, either because the source’s claims are openly a bit speculative or, because we know the source may be a bit biased, or because we know the source has overstated things in the past. And this can be true whether the source is a friend speaking about a mutual acquaintance, or some form of media that is giving a negative report on a public figure, or a negative report on those who would criticize a certain public figure.

Either way, we are often tempted not to evaluate the evidence or the source behind a negative report when it is about someone we tend to think negatively about. Because the negative report just feels true. It seems to affirm what we suspect, and so we readily accept the negative report.

On the flip side, we may be slow to accept a positive report about those we already struggle to like for the very same reason: it doesn’t feel true – it doesn’t go with what we already want to believe.

And yet the Larger Catechism identifies both of those tendencies as a violation of the ninth commandment. It tells us that with all people (not just those we like), we are to be hesitant to receive an evil report, but ready instead to receive a good report [WLC #144], all the while resisting the temptation to prejudicing the truth [WLC #145].

Similarly, we are warned against partiality in Leviticus 19:15, and against the tendency to believe the worst of others in 1 Corinthians 13:7.

Not only are such tendencies unloving, but Proverbs 18:17 reminds us that such tendencies often lead us into error, as it says: “The one who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him.”

And so the first temptation we must resist is the temptation to be quick to receive a negative report, despite the source.

Temptation #2

The second temptation we must resist is the temptation to be quick to share a negative report, despite the damage it might do.

When we hear a negative report about someone – especially someone we find ourselves in opposition to – we often have such a strong urge to share that negative report with others, don’t we?

On a personal level, we often justify this form of gossip by framing it as concern or as a prayer request. On the internet, we often justify it as simply passing on information for others to evaluate themselves.

When this sharing goes wrong – either because it turns out to be untrue, or because sharing it ends up hurting someone – we are often quick to absolve ourselves of blame. We tell ourselves that our motives really were good. We tell ourselves that we didn’t expect others to just believe us, but to evaluate it for themselves.

But we are responsible for our words, and for the rumors and negative reports that we spread.

Leviticus 19 warns us that we should not go around as slanderers. Ephesians 4 warns us that we should be concerned that our words really are true. James warns us not to speak evil of another. And Proverbs 17:9 tells us: “Whoever covers an offense seeks love, but he who repeats a matter separates close friends.”

The Catechism similarly tells us that we are called, when appropriate, to cover the infirmities of others, discouraging talebearers, and to beware not only of spreading false rumors, but of even speaking the truth unseasonably.

When we are quick to share negative reports that we don’t know are true, we undermine truth. When we are quick to share negative reports that we do know are true, we undermine love. In either case, we undermine Reformed catholicity among the people of God – whether we do it to an individual we know personally, or a well-known public figure.

And so we must resist the temptation to be quick to share a negative report, despite the damage it might do.

Temptation #3

Third, we must resist the temptation to be quick to declare negative motives about others, despite the fact that we don’t actually know their hearts.

This is the temptation, when we respond to a person’s views, or their actions, or their concerns about someone else, by simply attributing their views or actions or concerns to some sort of negative motivation – even if we have little or no evidence.

This temptation too strikes against both truth and unity among God’s people.

First, it strikes at the loving unity of God’s people, because it attributes negative emotions to them despite the fact that we don’t really know their hearts. Now, in various matters, there is a place to raise questions about someone’s motives – that is true. We can wonder about someone’s motives. And indeed, we are called on to be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. But even as we may need to ask such questions, we are not to declare that we know someone’s negative motivations when we clearly do not. The “innocent as doves” part must call us at the least to that.

Such declarations do not foster love and unity among God’s people, but rather suspicion that becomes an obstacle to love.

At the very same time, in a matter of debate or dispute, this tendency to assume negative motives can also strike against the pursuit of truth. Because it shifts whatever the disagreement is, from the disagreement itself, and to a new debate about the person’s motivation and psychology. It is, in this way, a logical fallacy – one that C.S. Lewis has labeled “Bulverism.” In an essay by that name, he explains it like this – he writes:

“Suppose I think, after doing my accounts, that I have a large balance at the bank. And suppose you want to find out whether this belief of mine is ‘wishful thinking.’ You can never come to any conclusion by examining my psychological condition. Your only chance of finding out is to sit down and work through the sum yourself. When you have checked my figures, then, and then only, will you know whether I have that balance or not. If you find my arithmetic correct, then no amount of vapouring about my psychological condition can be anything but a waste of time. If you find my arithmetic wrong, then it may be relevant to explain psychologically how I came to be so bad at my arithmetic, and the doctrine of the concealed wish will become relevant – but only after you have yourself done the sum and discovered me to be wrong on purely arithmetical grounds. It is the same with all thinking and all systems of thought. If you try to find out which are tainted by speculating about the wishes of the thinkers, you are merely making a fool of yourself. You must find out on purely logical grounds which of them do, in fact, break down as arguments. Afterwards, if you like, go on and discover the psychological causes of the error.

“In other words, [Lewis continues,] you must show that a man is wrong before you start explaining why he is wrong. The modern method is to assume without discussion that he is wrong and then distract his attention from this (the only real issue) by busily explaining how he became so silly. In the course of the last fifteen years I have found this vice so common that I have had to invent a name for it. I call it ‘Bulverism.’ Some day I am going to write the biography of its imaginary inventor, Ezekiel Bulver, whose destiny was determined at the age of five when he heard his mother say to his father – who had been maintaining that two sides of a triangle were together greater than the third – ‘Oh, you say that because you are a man.’ ‘At that moment,’ E. Bulver assures us, ‘there flashed across my opening mind the great truth that refutation is no necessary part of argument. Assume your opponent is wrong, and then explain his error, and the world will be at your feet. Attempt to prove that he is wrong or (worse still) try to find out whether he is wrong or right, and the national dynamism of our age will thrust you to the wall.’ That is how Bulver became one of the makers of the Twentieth Century.” [Lewis]

And so, for the sake of love, and for the sake of truth, we must resist the temptation to be quick to assume negative motives despite the fact that we don’t really know them.

Temptation #4

Fourth, we must resist the temptation to take a smaller error of someone else, and take it to all the extreme logical conclusions we can imagine for it, and then act as if the person who simply holds the smaller error is really advocating for all the logical conclusions we have made from it.

What I mean by that is this: in disputes and in debates, there is a tendency to respond not to the actual issue of the person before us – the belief or the behavior or the critique they bring – but to respond, instead, to what we see as the logical result of that belief or behavior or critique, even if the person before us denies that they would ever draw such conclusions.

The “slippery slope” fallacy is one form of this tendency, and it is, indeed a fallacy, though many people often seem to fail to realize that.

There can, of course, be wisdom in thinking things through to what they might lead us to in the long run. But when we take those possible conclusions and lay them at the feet of someone advocating for something much smaller, we are in danger of slander. And this is true for at least two reasons.

For one thing, the logical dominoes so obvious in our head may not themselves be valid, and we need to make sure we are not making faulty or improbable assumptions.

But second, and even more than that, people and life are seldom logically consistent. For example, there are all sorts of small or medium doctrinal errors, that if a Christian were logically consistent with them and carried them out to their logical end, would lead to absurdities and even heresies. I’ve heard such arguments made regarding Arminianism, and credo-baptism, and other common positions. But the fact is that almost no one carries those views out to their logical extremes. And so we should stop acting like they do, and stop attributing perspectives to them that they clearly do not hold.

A similar thing happens with behaviors. It may be true that if we allow one behavior, we should logically allow all sorts of other more problematic behaviors. But human expectations and customs and even laws about behaviors often draw arbitrary lines at a certain point. And while they may not be logically consistent, they do often prevent the runaway dominoes of logic from taking things in a bad direction. [Douthat]

We should think about such things – it is true. And considering possible long-term effects of a position, or a behavior, or a critique is not itself slander.

But it can become slander when we try to attribute the end of our logical chain, or the end of a slippery slope, to an individual who is saying or doing or critiquing something much more minor than that.

This tendency often becomes a form of exaggeration, then. It is not careful about speaking the truth, as Ephesians 4 calls us to. And it tends towards “aggravating smaller faults” and raising “evil suspicion,” which the Catechism warns us against.

And so, fourth, we must resist the temptation to misrepresent someone as advocating for what we see as the conclusions of their smaller error.

Temptation #5

Fifth, we must resist the temptation to be quick to sound the alarm, despite having insufficient evidence that there’s an actual fire.

In Leviticus 26, God is describing the judgments he will bring on his people if they are faithless, and one of them is this – he says: “I will send faintness into their hearts in the lands of their enemies. The sound of a driven leaf shall put them to flight, and they shall flee as one flees from the sword, and they shall fall when none pursues. They shall stumble over one another, as if to escape a sword, though none pursues. And you shall have no power to stand before your enemies.”

John Calvin, in connection with this text, says: “Even when Satan makes no attacks, we contrive for ourselves idle alarms which disturb us before the time.” [Calvin, 199]

Marilynne Robinson, in an essay six years ago, applied this passage to us today. She began her essay by saying: “My thesis […] has two parts: first, contemporary America is full of fear. And second, fear is not a Christian habit of mind.”

After quoting from Leviticus 26, she writes: “Those who forget God, the single assurance of our safety however that word may be defined, can be recognized in the fact that they make irrational responses to irrational fears.”

Robinson notes that whereas Christians have seen such irrational fears as a spiritual problem in the past, today we tend to recast our fears as being a sign of our shrewdness, wisdom, and courage … and to emphasize the point, we often cast those who are unafraid as the real problem.

In the past, Christians were quite critical of inordinate fear. “But,” Robinson writes, “no one seems to have an unkind word to say about fear these days, un-Christian as it surely is.”

This tendency not only hurts our faith, but also our unity and our commitment to the truth.

It harms unity because it over-reacts to smaller faults, and thus misrepresents others, and damaging love and trust within the Body of Christ.

But in addition to all that, it harms truth, because if you sound the alarm for everything, eventually people stop paying attention.

It reminds me of when I was looking into different types of smoke alarms for our home a few years ago. As I learned more about them, I was struck that one of the biggest dangers they talked about for a smoke alarm for your kitchen is if it is too sensitive. If a smoke alarm in your kitchen is over-sensitive, and it goes off in response to just ordinary cooking, or burnt toast, then people start to either ignore it, or to disconnect it.

When we are too quick to sound the alarm about someone else’s views, or behaviors, or their critiques of others, then the people around us will have a pretty similar response. They’ll soon start to ignore us – to take us less and less seriously. They may even mentally mute us. And then, one day, when there is a real cause for concern, we can sound all the alarms we want, but no one will hear us. And so, such over-reactions, actually harm the communication of the truth when it most matters.

And so, fifth, we must resist the temptation to be quick to sound the alarm, despite having insufficient reason for thinking there is an actual fire.

Temptation #6

Sixth, and finally, we need to resist the temptation to be quick to overlook the consequences of slander, despite the fact that there are many of them.

We have already named a few consequences.

For one thing, such slander hurts and misrepresents others in a way that is unloving, untrue, and a form of sin against our neighbor.

Second, such slander also often misrepresents God, when we enlist him, and claim that he too is opposed to those we are slandering. The Pharisees employed this kind of argument, and we must beware of sinning against God in the same way.

Third, as we have just said, this tendency to slander makes it less likely that we will be able to warn others when it is really needed.

But then, fourth, this form of slander drives others – especially the next generation – away from the Church. This is ironic, because in many cases our vigilance – whether against certain views, or certain behaviors, or even certain forms of criticism – our vigilance is often motivated by a desire to protect our children from the temptations of the world. And yet, when we fall into slander, our actions can instead have the effect of driving our children towards the world. Because our kids are not stupid. And they can often see our fear and see our slander more clearly than we can. And if Christianity means living by such fear, and living by such twisting of the truth about others, then they may want no part of it.

Slander is the enemy of Reformed catholicity. It undermines both unity and truth – both love and purity.

What We Should Do Instead

So what should we do instead?

Let me very briefly list just a few things we can think about.

1. Take a Firm Stand

First, we should take firm stands.

Nothing I’ve said tonight is meant to diminish the importance of truth – quite the opposite, actually, because slander is a sin against both our neighbor and against the truth.

We should be firm and open about what we believe and why. Strength of conviction is part of how we are to navigate these issues. So think through what you believe about Christian doctrines and Christian ethics, and when you are convinced of a position, stand firm in it.

2. Truly Listen to the Other Side

Second, we should truly listen to the other side.

James said: “Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger;” [James 1:19] That applies to personal relationships, but also to issues in the church and to disputes over doctrine and ethics. We are called to be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger.

Which means that we must truly listen to those who oppose us. We should want to really understand those we disagree with, so much so, that, as Tim Keller has said, our goal should be to be able to describe their views in ways that they themselves would recognize as better even than how they put it. In other words, when we summarize their views, our goal should be not that they respond by saying “No, no – that’s not what I’m saying at all!” but rather that they hear us and say “Wow – That’s exactly right. And I like how you put it. I think I’m gunna use your summary of my views from now on, because they get at the heart of my views even better than I have myself in the past!”

Now, we will not always hit that mark – we may never hit it. But we should listen with the goal of trying to hit it.

We should truly listen to those whom we disagree with.

3. Exercise Epistemic Humility

Third, as we discuss these matters, we should exercise epistemic humility. Meaning we should be humble about what we know and don’t know, and open to the fact that in many things we may be confused, or simply be wrong.

It’s possible that there’s an important fact that we missed. It’s possible that we are assuming something we shouldn’t be. It’s possible we’ve misunderstood something. Or it’s possible that we may simply be wrong.

Any of these things can be true without any malice on our part, but simply because we are limited, finite creatures who sometimes get things wrong.

Now, I’m not saying that we should be wishy-washy and filled with indecisive self-doubt. What I’m saying is that in tense discussions and disagreements, we should always have on the table as a real possibility that we are wrong – that we’ve misunderstood something, or been mistaken about something in one way or another.

We’ve each, in the course of our lives, been wrong about enough things that that possibility should be obvious to us. But often we act as if it’s not.

And so, third, when we discuss disagreements, we must do so with epistemic humility – with humility about our knowledge and our understanding, and the possibility that we may be wrong.

4. Give a Proportional Response

Fourth, if, after all that, we still disagree with someone, our response to that disagreement should be proportionate. We should give a proportional response.

Meaning we should respond to minor errors with lower concern, medium errors with medium concern, and major errors with high concern. Both justice and pragmatism call for this.

Justice calls for it as part of loving our neighbors.

But pragmatism calls for it because, as we said earlier, if we respond with high alerts over everything, then like an over-sensitive smoke alarm, we will soon be ignored.

5. Seek to Believe the Best About the Other Person

Fifth, even when we disagree, we should seek to believe the best about the person we disagree with.

This can promote both love and truth.

It promotes love, as it desires to believe the best about people, as we read of in 1 Corinthians 13.

And it can promote truth, because sometimes errors – even serious errors – can come from good intentions, and we should acknowledge that, when possible, even as we oppose the errors themselves.

And so, if we are dealing with someone whom we believe is overly critical or overly narrow about one thing or another, we could just conclude that they are a jerk who likes to go after other people. Or we might try to assume that they really care about truth, which is a good thing, even if, in their zeal, they have taken it in an unhelpful direction.

Or, if we are dealing with someone whom we believe has adopted a problematic belief or behavior, we could just conclude that they don’t care much about what is true or what is good. Or we might consider whether there is indeed some true or good thing that they are trying to preserve in their efforts, even if, in their zeal, they have gone in an unhelpful direction with it.

This is an extension of love. And as we do it, it not only may uncover deeper truths, but it may also help others to really hear us – because they see that we are trying to be charitable to them even as we disagree.

Seeking to believe the best about those we disagree with is also a good witness to our children. That is of course, how we usually want them to treat us and one another. But when controversies arise, we often fail to model that for them … and when we fail to do that, we lose credibility before their eyes.

6. Love Your Opponents and Even Your Enemies

Finally, we should love our opponents – even our enemies.

This is, of course, Jesus’s commandment to us – he says to us: “44 But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.”

When we seek to disciple the next generation, and they themselves experience and interact with the unbelieving world, and they struggle with their faith, we sometimes assume that the only thing that will satisfy them is if we adopt the mistaken views of the unbelieving world. And to be sure, that sometimes is the case.

But I also think it’s often true that our witness is much more credible with them when they see that we really do love those we disagree with – both inside the Church and outside the Church. If we are seeking to love our opponents, and even our enemies, by really hearing and really understanding them … if we are seeking to love them by responding proportionately to our disagreements … if we are seeking to love them by being humble about ourselves in our interactions with them … if we are seeking to love them by assuming the best of their intentions, then both our opponents, and our enemies, and our children, will be more likely to really believe that our opposition really is rooted in love.

Which, of course, it should be. When we disagree or oppose or even confront someone else who holds a different view from us, it must be motivated by love – to help them, not to destroy them.

But if we fail to love them at each step along the way of that process, then we ourselves should maybe even doubt whether we really are as motivated by love as we like to tell ourselves.

Conclusion

Disagreeing, in a Christian way, is hard. Loving our opponents can be hard. You see it in Christian families. You see it out in the world. You see it on the internet. You see it in congregations.

Slander – whether out of willfulness or carelessness – does so much damage. And one of the things it damages is Reformed catholicity – because it is both a sin against our unity with others and a sin against the truth.

And so, as we strive to cultivate and live out a culture of Reformed catholicity here, let us resist the temptation to slander. Let us resist the temptation to bear false witness against our neighbor.

And instead, let us devote ourselves both to loving one another, and to the discovery and promotion of the truth.

Amen.

 This sermon draws on material from:

Calvin, John. Commentary on the Gospel According to John. Vol. 2. Translated by William Pringle. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1847 (2005 Reprint).

Douthat, Ross. “We Aren’t in Vegas Anymore.” The New York Times. February 12, 2022. https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/12/opinion/super-bowl-gambling-sports.html

Lewis, C.S. “‘Bulverism’ or, the Foundation of 20th Century Thought.” In God in the Dock: Essays on Theology and Ethics. Edited by Walter Hooper. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1970 (1977 printing). 271-277

Robinson, Marilynne. “Fear.” The New York Review of Books. September 24, 2015. https://www.nybooks.com/articles/2015/09/24/marilynne-robinson-fear/

Rayburn, Robert S. “Reformed Catholicism – Romans 15:1-7” Preached at Faith Presbyterian Church on April 23, 2017. https://www.faithtacoma.org/characteristicsoffaith/reformed-catholicism-romans-151-7

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