Thursday, October 23, 2008

when Christians disagree

In my early blogging days, maybe around four years ago, I ran into this phenomena called blogging, and I began to run into "Christian" blogs. Of course anyone can start a blog, and there are numerous blogs like my own, which have minimal blog traffic, at least comment-wise.

I soon ran into Christian blogs which either had some comment traffic, or some which spent alot of time taking other Christians to task for not being true to God's word. Of course there's a place for correcting each other, but such blogs were all about just how lukewarm and rancid Christians had become, and just how error prone Christian leaders are.

I would leave my comments on such blogs, or in such discussions, challenging some of the assumptions made. But seeking to do so in a civil manner. Finally, I may have been about ready to give up blogging, or at least set it to the side, when I ran into Scot McKnight's Jesus Creed. I already appreciated Scot McKnight quite a bit, having read his two commentaries in the NIV Application Commentary series, on 1 Peter and Galatians. I found this blog not only an opportunity to keep learning, and learning alot, but a place of civil and loving discourse. There was plenty of disagreement on the blog, but most of the time it was done with words carefully chosen. Sometimes Scot would moderate in various ways, always making sure the thread was one of not only seeking truth, but of doing so in grace.

When Christians disagree, it's important for us to really hear each other out. We tend to easily move into a debate mode which we could possibly win, without really proving we have the better case. And that ends up being about who is right. This leaves "winners" and "losers" and all too often neither may be that close to the truth. But even if the winner of the debate is closer to the truth, at what expense?

Is there a place for debate, even vigorous debate in the midst of discussion? Of course there is, Paul employed it in Acts (and Apollos), and the early church fathers on their way to hammering out the creeds. In the midst of doing so, we may need to take back some of our words, just as I did this morning on my own blog (comment #12). We need to listen well to what the other is saying, and then present our case.

When Christians discuss issues, oftentimes we find we can learn quite a bit from the other side which we will need to account for. We may end up altering or refining our own view in the process.

As I get older, I really like to steer away from areas in which we Christians disagree, because I believe what we have in Jesus and in God's kingdom in Jesus is so much more important and central. But with theology being in the flux in which it's in today, there's bound to be some differences among us, differences on how to look at difficult issues.

I'm thankful to be doing so with people who adhere to and follow the Jesus creed. So that at the end of the day, it's really not about who won or lost, or who was right, but about us all following Jesus- even when, in this life, we don't see eye to eye on everything.

Just a few thoughts on this. What would anyone like to add here?


Crowm said...


I believe you've heard my view on this particular subject. However, I really appreciate what you have to say. I've read blogs from time to time that seem to spew their ideologies and disassociate with views different than their own - often times in a vitriol manner.

I believe it's important to discern (as much as possible) the motive of one's post. In other words, is the author looking for a fight or do they really seek to understand? Much of the time, this discernment can only take place after establishing a pattern of thoughts from an author. If I decide the author has questionable motives, I simply move on.

On my own blog, I truly want opinions that don't coincide with my own. But I desire to hear good thoughts and not just talking points. I learn best this way. Isn't this really what discipleship is about?

You said:
"As I get older, I really like to steer away from areas in which we Christians disagree, because I believe what we have in Jesus and in God's kingdom in Jesus is so much more important and central."

I too appreciate the charity found on Jesus Creed. But here's where I struggle. If one chooses to be a pacifist in everything (including the tough stuff), might we lose our passion about our own faith/theological essentials? Shouldn't it be possible to be passionate about one's own beliefs and yet respect those who disagree?

I apologize for the length.


L.L. Barkat said...

It's funny, in a way, that we think we need to agree on everything and that when we don't we make a big fuss about it. Honestly, I hardly even agree with my own self about so many things. : )

Ted M. Gossard said...

Thanks for your good thoughts and thoughtful comment, and please don't apologize for the length, because every word you say is more than worth it.

I think we need to be passionate about where we stand in Jesus, but when that differs with other good Christians I mean to temper it some. And what Christians need to do is find their common ground in Jesus, even as they walk away just as divided on the side issues as ever- such as election (as in predestination), the election, Scripture and science (as yesterday on "Jesus Creed"), etc.

When younger I enjoyed debating the hard subjects and was not easily offended, and still am not- hopefully less so. But I find alot of heat and desire to "win" among some, and I just am not interested.

But your words about discernment and noticing thought patterns are excellent. I'm sure I practice that as well, and I enjoy talking to a person of grace and listening to them, over difficult matters. Seems only some fit into that category, I'm afraid.

Thanks again.

Ted M. Gossard said...

Yes, I agree. I could care less how anyone votes in this election in a way. What gets hard is when some can't accept where others are on this or anything else.

Good to disagree with one's self. Just give me time, and I will. Partly why I try to spend so much time in God's thoughts in Scripture during the day, trying to think God's thoughts after them, and go from there. That helps me see the silliness at times, of my own thoughts.


Ted M. Gossard said...

I should say I COULDN'T care less. And of course I mean that as far as letting each vote according to their own decision, etc.

Thomas said...

I think that people need to experience Jesus and The Holy Spirit. I know this is what I need. Yet it seems that there are few of us willing to lay down what we know in order to be instructed by The Holy Spirit.

Ted M. Gossard said...

I like your thought about the need to lay down what we know in order to be instructed by the Holy Spirit.

And I think that work of the Spirit, while meant to bring to us clarity in understanding truth, will at some times prompt us in directions in which we really don't know where we're going, or we don't yet understand much to speak of, at all.

Thanks for commenting, and for your good comment.