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21 Apr '14

From theological foes to personal friends: An example of civil discourse across a great divide

Posted by T.J. Addington in conflict resolution, friendships, reconciliation
One of my bedrock convictions is that if people of differing points of view would develop friendships and relationships and seek to understand each other, much of the rancor and uncivil discourse we encounter in the church would fade. This is not about compromising our convictions but it is about relationship, a willingness to talk and a willingness to understand rather then to simply throw stones and vilify. 

In my observation, there is a whole cadre of Christians out there whose sole purpose in life is to vilify those who engage in dialogue with the "wrong people." And so the industry on the web to discredit people by their association with other people (Rick Warren's friendships with non-evangelical or Christians display number one). If person A, and evangelical, becomes friends with person B, a "heretic" that must make person A suspect as well. So lets go after person A. 

We have lost the ability to have civil discourse among many evangelicals (see my BLOG on this). This is amazing from my point of view when you consider who Jesus hung around with. What do you think He was doing when He  ate at the homes of sinners and Pharisees? Was He not developing relationships? Was He not developing the relational equity necessary to have a conversation about matters of the heart or life? I suspect that if the blogosphere had been around in His time, Jesus would have been castigated for all kinds of relationships.

So, with that introduction, let me share a recent article on what I wish was the case more often. "Two Ministers who forge a relationship across a church divide." I applaud these two men, who come from very different theological places, who started to talk, developed a friendship and in the process started to bring healing between two congregations. If peacemaking is part of the character and heart of God, these two are demonstrating God's character, while their critics in the blogosphere are often not. 

I wish more of this were happening within the evangelical community and that the professional heretic hunters would be seen for what they are when they demonstrate ungodly attitudes in order to castigate Godly enterprises.

(Posted from Santiago, Chile)