When I think about having cordial disagreements in the church, I often focus on how I describe others. I rarely think about how I describe myself. Yet what I say about me and those that agree with me can speak volumes about how I view others.
For example, I was in an Internet discussion group where people would often ask, “Does anyone know a sound church in Smallville?” When I would press them for a definition of “sound church,” there would typically be no response. But the meaning was obvious: if you agree with me, you are sound. If you don’t, you are unsound.
When someone tells me that another person “still believes in the Bible,” I know that the two of them agree on certain doctrinal points. And that they assume their opponents no longer hold Scripture in high regard.
Sometimes people tell me they are speaking for gender justice. What they mean, of course, is their definition of what is just. Anyone who disagrees must be promoting injustice, right?
Others say that they favor the biblical view of manhood and womanhood. I’m sure they feel their opponents prefer an unbiblical view.
I’m the one who stands for truth. I’m the one who teaches what the Bible says. I’m viewing this matter as Jesus does. I stand for justice. I stand for equity. I stand for the theologically sound, intellectually fair, culturally relevant… well, you get the idea.
Here are a few reminders as we disagree with people:
- We’re wrong. About something.
- They’re right. About something.
- Nobody holds a position because they think it’s wrong. Or ungodly. Or unbiblical. Or unjust.
- Labeling your position or your movement as “defenders of truth” or “promoters of justice” or “doctrinally sound” isn’t helpful. Since we’re all seeking truth and justice and soundness, it’s arrogant to claim those titles for you and yours.
Remember, a little humility can go a long way.
Keep at it, and you can join me on the side of truth. And justice. And faithfulness. And…