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27 Mar '14

Civil and uncivil discourse in the Christian community

Posted by T.J. Addington in civil discourse, criticism, relationships
I have watched closely the comments (thousands) posted on Christianity Today's website over both homosexuality and World Vision's recent decision and retraction. I have also noted how some high profile leaders among Evangelical's reacted and pontificated.

Of course I was not surprised by the outcry of exception to World Vision's actions. What surprised me was the lack of wisdom and Biblical discernment by World Vision's board.

That aside I was truly appalled by the uncivil discourse by Christ followers in the debate. Unfortunately it is not an uncommon thing. We seem to lack the ability to speak to one another and to those outside our community with respect and kindness while disagreeing with the other side's conclusions. 

We often forget that our position (truth - as we understand it) is just as important as how we communicate that truth (grace - the flip side of truth). Jesus was described as one who was full of "grace and truth."

If the words of Paul were applied to the comments on CT and elsewhere a great deal of them would be gone. "Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen...Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another...(Ephesians 4:29-32)."

Truth without grace does not reflect Jesus or the fruit of the Spirit. Many outside the evangelical community see us as angry and unloving and they are often right - and that is sad. Is it not possible to speak and write our minds even while demonstrating the heart and kindness of Christ? This applies to controversies like World Vision as well as disagreements within congregations. Angry and unkind believers do not reflect the values or character of Jesus no matter how "right" they might be. And we lose our hearing if our words do not reflect the love of Jesus as well as the truth of Jesus.

(Posted from Milwaukee)