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Topic: COMMENTARIES by S. Michael Craven

Politicized and Polarized: Why Christians Don't Love One Another

August 16, 2010
S. Michael Craven
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Okay, I knew it was going to happen. I even prefaced last week’s commentary on public education by granting the fact that “this is a dicey issue that can get you into a lot of trouble very quickly.” However, my appeal was couched in terms of inviting examination of the issue from a thoughtful Christian perspective (given education’s enormous role in shaping our children) and “wrestling” with the answers—honestly and intelligently—because our faith demands serious self-examination when it comes to our engagement with the changing world around us.

If you read the article, then you know I never criticized or attacked anyone for any decision they made relative to educating their children. I didn’t call public education “evil” or suggest that Christians working in the public schools were being “bad Christians.” I merely offered an exploration of the institution’s philosophical history and not the individual actions of teachers, administrators and the like.

For those who homeschool or choose private Christian education, the article was edifying. For those whose children attend public schools, the article was deemed offensive and not surprisingly, the reaction was significant and occasionally extreme. Some charged me with disagreement with “the words of Jesus.” One reader who introduced herself by saying, “I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior at the age of 7” wrote, “you have absolutely lost your mind,” adding I was “absolutely ignorant!” Another writes, “It is unfortunate that this article was published and these Un-Christian views are put forth.” And so it went.

My concern is not so much with the fact that some folks assumed a different view of the topic but with the manner and content of their disagreement. Every person responding professed to be a follower of Jesus and yet they showed no reluctance in attacking a fellow Christian, going so far as to accuse me of being “Un-Christian” and contradicting the “words of Jesus.” Such charges are tantamount to calling someone a heretic—a denier of the faith. Others were content to be condescending and uncivil, as if I were an enemy.

This is by no means my first time to encounter this manner of reaction from fellow Christians. However, this lack of civility and love toward one another should warrant serious concern on the part of every Christian (see John 17). However, I am equally concerned by the content of those rebuttals, which are frequently unrelated to the specifics of my message. Few ever address the actual argument but instead assert emotional opines and editorials that are rooted in personal experience rather than serious study. Many are just angry rants that neither appeal to the facts nor reflect any serious consideration. And I rarely receive a rebuttal that begins with a humble inquiry such as “What do you think about…?” or “Are you saying…?” The disposition to listen is often superseded by a temperament to attack.

I have been a syndicated columnist, author, and speaker for nearly ten years now and I am regularly baffled by the apparent inability (or unwillingness) of people to either comprehend the central thesis of an argument or to thoughtfully analyze the content of the text. 

I am concerned by the pervasiveness of these conditions and so I want to understand the forces responsible. I have been carefully reading James Davidson Hunter’s groundbreaking new book, To Change the World: The Irony, Tragedy, and Possibility of Christianity in the Late Modern World (Oxford University Press, 2010) and I think he offers insight into one possible factor contributing to this condition.

Hunter contends that “in response to a thinning consensus of substantive beliefs and dispositions in the larger culture, there has been a turn toward politics as a foundation and structure for social solidarity.” Read this slowly! I think what Hunter is saying is that due to the disintegration of common values, worldviews, and the like that now animate our pluralistic culture, our society is increasingly polarized as competing interests seek to establish their respective views as the right view. As a consequence, persuasion is thought to be an inadequate way of competing; in order to defend our view, we resort to forms of power, namely political power, which is inherently polarizing.

In the absence of intelligent and reasonable discussion of contentious topics, special interest groups have arisen that seek the power of the state (legislation) to advance their cause. (Make no mistake, both conservatives and liberals embrace this strategy.) The consequence is that “every area of civic life has been politicized to one degree or another and strained by ideological conflict” (Hunter).

One practical effect of this, I would argue, is that we surrender critical inquiry into the matter and opt instead for politicized inspections of content, persons, organizations, and so forth. In other words, we try to determine where someone stands first, inhibiting any thoughtful examination of their words and ideas, looking instead for clues to their ideological category. Are they conservative, liberal, centrist? For example, if I said I watched Fox News, you would likely assume that I am politically conservative. If I said MSNBC, you would assume I’m liberal. Even the reference to Hunter’s somewhat controversial book may lead some to conclude that I oppose Christian political activism, when I’ve said no such thing. You see how much we can assume from so little?

Within the church we do this as well, using theological labels. Are they Protestant or Catholic, Calvinistic or Arminian, mid-trib, post-trib, no-trib, Covenantal or Dispensational, and so on? In other words, what “tribe” do they belong to? And if they aren’t in my tribe then I have nothing to learn from them. The church, like the culture, is equally politicized. In reality, culture and people are not reducible to political categories. The world is far more complex than this.

This approach is so deficient in so many ways. For one, you’ll never learn anything beyond what you already know. Hunter adds that “politicization provides a framework of expectations and action and very little substantive content.” As a result, I think the whole of society is dumbed down and we lose the ability and/or inclination to wrestle with tough questions and discover intelligent responses to issues. The larger, more meaningful questions of life (or theology) remain ignored. Everything gravitates to the pursuit of power in order to impose one’s vision for the world, either because we feel ill equipped to persuade or too lazy. And here the church—the living body of Christ—is often playing by the same rules. However, this conception of “power” to change the world is drawn from the broader culture and not from Christianity.

Ours is a power greater than that of the world—but it is often a paradoxical power that is strong when we are weak, is greatest when we are the least, is first when we make ourselves last. It is a power only given to the humble. This is the power that can change the world, but unfortunately our flesh is inclined to the world’s view of power, coercive power, both corporately and individually.

If we maintain this thoughtless and politicized posture, we’ll never be able to effectively relate to others with whom we disagree and we’ll only marginalize the church’s witness.  We won’t listen to one another, learning from the community of God’s people. We’ll continue to divide the body of Christ through rancorous contentions. In essence, we become the worst enemies of the kingdom that is characterized by love, unity, and peace.

Can we disagree? Sure! But we must abandon the cynicism and skepticism toward others that keeps us entrenched in our personal political categories. We should approach one another in the spirit of Paul’s letter to the Corinthians. We are patient and kind toward one another. We are not arrogant or rude; we do not insist on our own way. We are not irritable or resentful. We do not rejoice in the flaws or failures of one another. We bear all things; we assume the best of others, we hope for the best in others, and we endure every conflict and disagreement; we work together to grow in our faith and understanding and we never quit on each other (see 1 Cor. 13)!

© 2010 by S. Michael Craven

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Responses
Response from : sam jones  

August 16, 2010 8:59 AM
 

Michael,
It is indeed strange that Christians profess their love of God, yet adhere to the worldly view of politics, money, and race. These areas, in my opinion, cause a polarization of large blocks of our Country. For example, as a Catholic, I truly believe that abortion should be termed "Baby Murder". Yet, many, many Christians see it simply as a right of a woman to control her body. Your article about schools undoubtedly awakened the passions of the "education system" (which is one of the major political forces in the Country). This system results in a graduation rate of less than 40% in the Dallas system. My Grandchildren live in the area, and I pleaded with my son to NOT send them to that terrible system. He agreed.
You may be a "Voice crying out in the wilderness"...but please continue.
Sam


 
Response from : John H. Armstrong  

August 16, 2010 9:07 AM
 

You have underscored clearly the reigning problem in the church: human ideology. So long as human ideologies of stand beside the gospel story (on equal ground) then the story of good news is rendered ineffective, i.e. just another religious story. When the story of Christ stands above all else it truly judges everything, taking all things captive to Christ alone.

I heard a great story yesterday about a prayer request shared by a person in a church meeting. The individual asked the pastor to remember to pray during the intercession time for the salvation of Democrats. When he came to actually pray he said: "Lord, save the Democrats and please Lord would you also save self-righteous Republicans too." I wonder how many in conservative churches today would receive, and rejoice in, such a magnificent and courageous prayer?

http://www.johnharmstrong.com

 
Response from : George Cooley  

August 16, 2010 9:24 AM
 

Dear Mr Craven,
I appreciate your thoughtful articles and your prayerful heart. We are in a battle for truth. When I read the end of Romans chapter One it is like reading current affairs. It is all there to see clearly. The bottom line is we must turn back to the living creator God. Unfortunately if Romans One is talked about we Christians would be considered the scum of the earth.
Imagine for one moment the President of the United States reading this chapter and telling the public this is why we are having so many serious problems. We need to turn back to God. The outrage and protest would be severe. The war would truly begin ---we would see the truth--we would see both sides and we would see the root of division in this country. There is no amount of worldy decisons that will heal our land or the world-- we must pray and we must be prepared. Many people are angry because of fear and confusion over the future. Our future is secure in Christ and Christ alone.

in His grip
George Cooley


 
Response from : Curtis  

August 16, 2010 9:27 AM
 

Michael, thank you for this commentary. While I loved last week's commentary (yes, I am a home school dad), some of today's content certainly applies to me as well. Too often I am looking for the label in others rather than looking to see what I can learn from them regardless of the label. We are called to be lifelong learners, yet I'm afraid many times that I am only interested in learning from a very narrow spectrum of people/ideas/etc and quickly turn others off. Unfortunately, I am probably guilty of one of your other statements more than I would like to admit: "either because we feel ill equipped to persuade or too lazy"--OUCH! Thanks you for your Godly reminder of how those in the Body should approach these issues.


 
Response from : Greg Williams  

August 16, 2010 9:27 AM
 

Thanks for your courage and humility in both this article (Politicized and Polarized) and the previous one (Christians and Public Education) that prompted this article. You, along with Hunter, have made excellent points, perhaps the greatest being that the Church has conformed to the world (as Rom. 12: 2 warns us not to do and most interpret this only on an individual level and yet we've conformed at both the individual and corporate level).

In one of our programs (Heritage - character based abstinence until marriage/healthy relationship) the Lord recently gave me an image of 3 trees that clearly show that not only have we conformed but we are allowing the 'world' to disciple our youth and sow seeds of flesh leading to destruction and the outcomes continue to move to greater and greater devastation and we simply think our various marriage prep, enrichment, mentoring and reconciliation programs with stem the tide of this destruction when all it does is cover it up and make us feel good while culturally (including the churches) the outcomes grow worse and worse.

If you're interested at all in the short (5 slides) PowerPoint that illustrates the images please let me know as I'm compelled to share it with all who can help get the word out.

Thanks for all you do and God bless in Christ!

Greg Williams

http://www.ip315.org

 
Response from : Johnny Johnston  

August 16, 2010 9:33 AM
 

Dear Michael,

Commenting on the negative responses by confessing Christians - I am more and more concerned about the lack of a fear of God in our Christian culture today. This lack of fear is exhibited in a disregard and ignorance of the Scriptures, a lack of kindness and love toward believers snd unbelievers. So my brother - keep admonishing us to live like The Lord Jesus taught us in such passages as John 17. In Christ, Johnny Johnston


 
Response from : Irene Tomchik  

August 16, 2010 9:38 AM
 

Dear Mr. Craven,
(I feel like I want to cal you Michael because you are a true brother in Christ but I will address you with honor and respect!)
I want to tell you that you are an answered prayer! In fact, you are a voice crying out in the desert!!
For so long I thought I was alone in this world trying to figure out how to think and live the life Christ expects from me. None of my Christian friends ever seem to even ponder half the questions and concerns I feel. Then I found your website. I am still a filthy rag but at least I have a much greater understanding of what I should strive to be in our modern world, thanks to you!!! I share your emails with others and have finally found a precious few who share my appreciation for your thoughts, even if we dont always agree with each other 100%. In fact, these new found friends and I have just finished a Bible study on your book. You have stimulated many exciting conversations!
I am so sorry that you have suffered recent personal attacks for being so dedicated to Christ.
Be encouraged my friend!!! I will pray for your ministry and for you personally! Continue to speak for our dear Savior! We need your words now more than ever!! We must be diligent in revealing the one true Savior not the mamby-pamby pop-culture image everyone finds so easy to manipulate. We need to know the genuine article, the real deal, the only truth that can save us even if it is hard to hear!
There are so many verses that come to mind to encourage you but I think I will leave you with my favorite..Nehemiah 8:10..The Joy of the Lord is my strength!!! May the joy of the Lord be all that you need for you to continue to do His work.
May God Bless you abundantly for your faithfulness!!
Irene Tomchik


 
Response from : Mark Farrell  

August 16, 2010 10:11 AM
 

I knew you had kicked the hornet's nest last week. My wife and I have found that how one decides to school their children, to be one of the most touchy subjects you can get into. This can sometimes become even more sensitive than politics.

http://www.transparentfire.wordpress.com

 
Response from : Louie Rudin  

August 16, 2010 10:20 AM
 

Michael, I'm very sorry to hear about the unpleasant response to last week's article, but unfortunately I'm not the least bit surprised. And please understand that my surprise is not associated with the content of your article, but only with my own personal experience with people who claim to know Jesus. I am continually disappointed with the response I get from the college students of these same folks who have reacted so strongly, as if you had renounced the name of Jesus. There is little wonder why the 'non-religious' sector looks at Western Christians with disdain. It truly amazes and saddens me that we can read the Gospels so many times and totally miss what they are telling us. I'm really curious what the percentage of Pharisees was compared to the supporters of your article. Were they a large percentage of the total responses? I would like to think not, but would not be surprised to hear otherwise. Sorry again, and please know that you have supporters out here who think that you do 'get' what Jesus teaches us in the Scriptures. Peace.


 
Response from : Chip Burkitt  

August 16, 2010 10:30 AM
 

Thanks, Michael! I don't always agree with what you say, but I certainly appreciate the thoughtful and patient way you present ideas. I have to say that the temptation to attack is difficult to resist. Sometimes, I just get carried away by my own cleverness, which you ought to be a sufficient warning sign by itself. However, when I'm demolishing an opponent's arguments, I am not very self reflective. If a topic rouses my ire, I have learned to sit on it for awhile before pressing "Send."
I think you are right about the tendency to politicize all discourse. It has become almost impossible to discuss anything except with people you already know agree with you.


 
Response from : Dawn  

August 16, 2010 10:42 AM
 

Michael,

Liberal Christians will always default to liberalism. That's their real worldview, not Christianity. We appreciated the commentary...as usual it was well thought out and very well written.

Mike and Dawn Urton


 
Response from : Dorita Smith  

August 16, 2010 10:52 AM
 

THANK YOU for being faithful to the call of the Lord in writing about this whole arena. Both your articles are very timely and came across clear, well prepared, thoughtful, thorough, genuine, God-centered and God-fearing, being true to the Scripture, humble, and challenging.


 
Response from : David  

August 16, 2010 10:54 AM
 

Excellent summary of not only some entrenched problems, but where we need to be as Christians in dialogue and "witness" in order to truly and positively make a difference for Christ. I found Michael's comments especially encouraging as they aligned well with Pastor Dan Scott's Aug 15 message (worth hearing at www.christchurchnashville.org ).


 
Response from : Michael Cooper  

August 16, 2010 11:23 AM
 

Michael,

Thank you for approaching such a polarizing issue with sensitivity and grace. It seems that we have chosen to use the "ways of the world" to advance the Kingdom, when we rely more on political pressure to advance the cause of Christ.

Working from a position of powerlessness, much like the early church, should be to our advantage. Of course, you are correct in saying that it makes us uncomfortable. Perhaps, this is true because we are unable to control either the outcome or the means of the change.

While I don't fully agree with all of your positions on public education, I think you expressed quite clearly many of the deficiences of this system in our country. My fear is that these conditions exist because many of us in the church have failed to be as active in the public square as we should.

I always appreciate your candor and the way that you are willing to take on some of the more challenging issues that face the church today.

Don't lose heart. You're doing a great job of making us think.


 
Response from : Ed  

August 16, 2010 1:29 PM
 

Hello Michael,

I haven' read the "commentary" you are commenting on (although I will now! LOL).

However the issue you are addressing is of great concern, and regularly breaks my heart, and if truth be told is one I must deal with daily in my own action/reaction to people I come in contact with (like I tell my children, "the furthest I have to go to find a "sinner" is the mirror).

I just last night watched a movie called "The Sensei" it was pretty low budget, but definitely had me in the mode of asking that question "what camp is this producer in". I finally got past that surface question and got to the more important questions the film was raising, which I believe can be summarized as: how do I treat and love people, even ones I wouldn't choose to be?

I always appreciate your perspectives which, for me, are thought provoking and very clear.

The bottom line for me is this:

Jesus was the only person who had a right to be offended as well as the power to, as you put it, "impose ones vision for the world" and he chose to die instead....this is a huge "clue".

Thanks for enriching my life,
Ed Farris
Child of the King, Husband, Father, Friend


 
Response from : ann barton  

August 16, 2010 1:34 PM
 

*EPIC*, Michael. As far as my 'vision' can determine, you have not only hit the nail squarely on the head in every paragraph, you have 'hammered it home' without missing a stroke. I will read this over and over again. Thank you for 'hanging in there' in the marketplace/ in the 'public square' and defending the faith. GOD BLESS YOU for standing for TRUTH. ~ann in faith


 
Response from : Brad Kautz  

August 16, 2010 2:42 PM
 

Michael,

This was thoughtful and articulate. You have made a very accurate assessment of the lack of civility and the default defensiveness of much discourse among Christians.


 
Response from : Ronald Newcomb  

August 16, 2010 4:11 PM
 

Dear Michael,
Your surprise, or perhaps dismay at the inability of Christians to think through a problem makes me think you have not read, or at least forgot, the very first paragraphs of The Screwtape Letters, explaining that people used to know when something had been proved and when it had not, but this hasnt been so for a long time.
While this is a frightening indictment of humanity from C.S. Lewis, it was made some 70 years ago. Today, we must start from there then overlay that with Modernism (there is not truth) and then Post Modernism (there is truth but you have to discover it yourself, i.e. Relativism), both of which further undermine our ability to consider thoughts that might be different than our current thinking about any subject. (Below, the use of you and your are generic to humans, not directed to the reader themselves.)
People often consider Christian close-minded, and they are right, but not for the reason most think, because closed-mindedness is not what most people think it is.
Open-mindedness is not believing everything and anything, rather, it is being willing to rationally consider anything, and then, make a rational and well-reasoned decision about it after such consideration. This can include believing in the absolutes of the Bible, if you have first examined the evidence for Biblical inerrancy and the fact that it is the Word of God, and why this is true. If, however, you have not done this, then, likely as not, you will not be willing to consider other things, because your own belief is not based on facts, rather, on rote learning. Of course, once you have rationally considered the facts of the Bible, and Christian thought, you can be open minded, and consider any other thought, then reject it sometimes very quickly if it is against the Bible, and not against something other than what the Bible actually teaches, something, lets say, such as a denominational belief which is less founded on the Bible and more grounded in historic beliefs.
Close-mindedness is, then, the inability or unwillingness to rationally consider someone elses statements to weight them up and see if they are true or false. This is what has happened to you with the barrage of negative notions and pointed statements. One way we can know that is so is because of the emotions involved in the accusatory verbiage.
This disorder is not limited to Christians; in fact, in todays article (8/16/2010) Michael points out that all people are now encamping into tribes or groups and set guards to watch that no one consider alternatives to the party lines. This is not Christian. Christ is the great uniter, not the great divider.
A trouble mankind has had since the time of Adams fall is that we divide very easily and think much less easily, so, we divide into Catholic and Protestant, denominations and sub-denominations almost ad lib, and quite often for political reasons, that is, church politics. Too often this is only for personal power and to create your own little kingdom of followers you can claim as your own. Far too often, it is quite without reason or rational consideration of the facts and quite without adequate understanding of the scriptures.
It is, therefore, the lack of an adequate defense of your own beliefs that make many Christians react poorly toward others when what they should do is to give different thought just and rational consideration.
I know a man who takes this to the extreme and does not have his family attend church because he cannot find a pastor who believes exactly the way he does. And another man who does not attend because Christians bicker and argue while the world wastes away for the lack of Christian action. Instead, he uses his considerable wealth and travels the world and makes very real world changing impacts in the name of Christ. He actually does something. And then there are the thousands I know that simply sit in various churches, believe whatever they are told, having checked their brains at the door. They make good attenders, much like fat little children that have never really considered their own state of affairs. Thank God for those of this group who are in Bible believing churches, and pity those who are in the various cults and never bother to check and see if what they are being taught it true or false. Unfortunately, this group also gets the way we have always done it confused with right and wrong.
God bless your ministry. Do not be discouraged.


 
Response from : Mike Coulter  

August 16, 2010 4:39 PM
 

Brother,
It breaks my heart to hear yet of another instance of un-Christ like behavior within the body.
I have and will continue to pray for strongholds to be broken and torn down. That we, the Body of Christ, set whatever divides and detracts from what our Lord has asked us to do and that is to be a light unto the world.
blessings,
mc


 
Response from : Jeff  

August 16, 2010 8:44 PM
 

Michael, if I thought this was the first time you wrote on subjects like this, I would say, "Welcome to the Center for Christ and Culture"!! We are clearly in a battle! Unfortuately, whether the issue is theological, political, social or whatever, Christians, along with any and every one else in our culture have indeed become very polarized. Personally, I believe a lot of this stems from a general lack of the knowledge of God, His Word and His ways. God's way are very intolerant....that's why it's called the "narrow way". I am sure I have done the same many times, choosing my way versus His Way. Jesus IS the way. We must become deeply in love and devoted to Him and His Word, led by His ever present Spirit. And we must remain faithful to Him and His leading, even when the "multitudes" are against us. We can not judge another by their response to dialogue such as this, but we can and must question misguided devotion to the world and it's ways. Just as Paul did with the Corinthian Christians.
Thank you for standing firm in the midst of a thousand different voices.


 
Response from : Dean Hasler  

August 16, 2010 9:58 PM
 

Michael,

I am sorry to hear that you received the responses that you did, but I am not surprised. I have largely tuned out politics lately because it is so absolutely polarized, and I just hate it. Unfortunately, you and Hunter are correct in that the same spirit lives in the church as well.

With regard to your original article on public education, my wife and I chose to send our daughters to the local public school, but we chose that school with great care. We wanted a school where our Christian beliefs would be honored, and where we would be allowed to have input. My wife volunteered at the elementary school for years before becoming a paid aid, and that time allowed her to be a positive influence on the school and on the kids. While I understand your reasoning for preferring home schooling, I stand by our decision. By the same token, I've known several people who have home schooled their children for various reasons, and support their choice to do so. Either approach needs to be taken thoughtfully, though, because it is possible for idealogical zealots to reduce education to the simple implanting of one set of polarized, conditioned responses in either setting (public or home school).


 
Response from : JERRY CRAWFORD  

August 16, 2010 10:52 PM
 

AFTER CAREFULLY REREADING THE EARLIER ARTICLE I CAN ONLY BELIEVE THAT NOTHING ANGERS PEOPLE TO REACT EMOTIONALLY MORE THAN EXPOSING THE ERRORS OF THEIR THOUGHTS AND ACTIONS WITH PLAIN SIMPLE TRUTHFULL SPEECH SPOKEN UNAPOLOGETICALLY


 
Response from : John  

August 16, 2010 11:53 PM
 

Michael, I can only say that you are one of the most constantly graceful persons with those who disagree with you (often me!) that I have ever seen. I can only pray I learn to be more like that.

It is a worthy goal. Just keep doing what is right, and respond to the anger in the sincere questioning fashion I have seen you do so many times.

Ironic that it was the topic I agree with you on most whole heartedly (I am an avid supporter of the separation of school and state) that sparked all the anger from everyone else...


 
Response from : William R Garrard, Jr  

August 17, 2010 9:01 AM
 

Thank you for your call for love prevailing in the knee jerk reactions of Christian people based on stereotypical categorizations and outright rejection of even their Christianity. I have been the "victim" of such behavior and indeed I am sure have certainly succumbed to the temptation myself.

Many people left our congregation because we as United Methodist clergy would not affirm their view of the authority of the Bible using the catch phrases such as "infallible" and "inerrant". Many of them had grown under the teaching of Kay Author's Precept ministry but Ms. Author's statements calling anyone who might not have these same views of scripture to be suspect and perhaps even not Christian. When I and my fellow clergy would not affirm the authority of scripture in the way they felt we should our spiritual integrity was questions.

I personally was in line at a pot luck as a guest at another United Methodist Church when making causal conversation with a member of that church. All of a sudden he asked what my position on abortion was. When I stated that it was morally wrong but that I did not believe that it should be made a crime, he immediately said he had no respect for me and anything I said from the pulpit could not be believed. His position is that abortion is murder pure and simple and that if you did not agree with his position you were supporting murder. Clearly whether I had the "correct" position or not could be debated (I have seriously studied the abortion issue myself.) but for me the distaste of his vehement advocacy was demeaning and left me reeling.

As I know with two of my adult children, the sadness of all of this, Christian polarization, adamant posturing, and claim of superior authority, pushes many people away from seriously considering and embracing the reality of the Christian gospel.

Although I may disagree with you on many matters, (I suspect I am more of a liberal evangelical, whatever that means. Rat! another label conjured up.), I respect your desire to led the Body in a loving engagement with the world culture and each person and community and nation who needs God's precious redemption in Christ.

Blessings.

Bill Garrard,

1327 36th Avenue NE
Hickory, NC 28601
828-962-7566


 
Response from : Steve Treibel  

August 17, 2010 6:26 PM
 

Well stated and much needed viewpoint, Michael. I applaud both your content and style. :)


 
Response from : Jeff  

August 17, 2010 7:44 PM
 

Nice response to the article last week, and good analysis on the current state of how we handle dissension as followers of Christ. Years ago I was talking to a couple who were visibly upset about the current political administration. Sounding as if the end of the world was near, one said, "Our country can't make it much longer." All I could say was, "Thank goodness we already know how it all ends, and we win." They were more interested in talking about politics and fighting with someone than concern for lost souls.


 
Response from : Donna  

August 18, 2010 1:21 PM
 

WOW! This is a great article. It is like a good sermon. I'm still pondering it.
It really makes me consider my own prejudices toward different viewpoints. Honestly, how long has it been since I studied the ideas I believe in? Am I prepared to persuade someone through thoughtful questions or do I just sit there preparing to blast them out of the water with my strong political beliefs?
Yesterday, the Democratic Precinct Chair knocked on my door. He asked if the vote was today, how would I vote. I quickly responded that I am the Republican Precinct Chair. I admired he was out in 103 degree weather knocking on doors but I didn't tell him. Perhaps if I had not been polarized in my thinking, I could have presented my point of view and persuaded him to reconsider his.
Blessings!
Donna


 
Response from : Thomas  

August 19, 2010 12:19 AM
 

This article is pretty much spot on. In addition Kerby Anderson writes that the rise of incivility correlates with the moral decline of our society.

http://www.leaderu.com/orgs/probe/docs/civility.html


 
Response from : Jennifer  

August 19, 2010 7:07 AM
 

Hi there, firstly, I want to say that I am sorry that you were "attacked" by fellow believers for your previous article. That said though, isn't it just as wrong to use the platform that you have been given to vindicate yourself? I may be being too forward, but it just seems like it might have been better to forgive and give it to God.....just saying


 
Response from : Lisa  

August 19, 2010 8:02 AM
 

I think both of your commentaries on education and the reaction of readers are excellent. It is true that public education has been a great disappointment to me. I have a boy who just graduated high school and one that is entering 9th grade. If I could start over I would definitely put them in Catholic school where the children are allowed to pray and to talk about God. The indoctrination that goes on in public schools is truly disgusting. Our children are not allowed to think freely. They are ridiculed if they happen to have conservative family values. Parents have a greater responsibility than ever before to bring up their children with courage and strength to stand up for their beliefs. These beliefs must be taught and practiced in the home. Thank you for speaking the truth even if it hurts. We Christians must see things for what they are and do our best to change it by raising kids that will stand up for the teachings of God. God bless you!


 
Response from : Ariel Dawson  

August 19, 2010 9:36 AM
 

Hey,

I think this was such an amazing article and such a timely one too. It is exactly what i needed to hear. I think your spot on when saying that as Christians we shouldn't be 'categorising' each other and when we 'feel' someones opinions differs from our own we should humbly seek to find out more, dig deeper and use Christ as our Guide when conversing / arguing (depending how much you are letting Christ guide you lol). I think that we (my self very much included) spend too much time trying to be 'right' when there are so many things we could be doing with our time ( ahem, Gods time) - pehaps reading our bibles more for instance, and asking WWJD- and focusing on glorifying Jesus with our actions and words.

Thanks again for this article its something i am/was struggling with in my personal life and a new perspective was just what i needed. I very sorry to hear all that mean stuff that was said to you, i pray that God blesses your ministry - Keep it up mate!

Ariel =)


 
Response from : Hollie  

August 19, 2010 10:01 AM
 

today is my forst day recieving this letter & I must of missed a very touchy subject. I have caught on that it was homeschool or christian schools vs public schools & that many were offended. I could see why people are offended, offense comes from feeling threatened or wronged & od course they want to lash out. It's human nature. My son goes to a public school & I wanted to put him in a christian school or home school him, but we have a 2 year old so homeschooling would be hard & the christian school here costs 432.00 a month & I am a stay at home mom so as you can imagine our bidget is very blessed but sometimes a little tighter than we'd like. So I volunteer every chance I get & ask alot of questions to keep in the know about what is going on at school. I make sure I know his teacher & his teacher knows me. I could come across as an annoying overproctective mom to some teachers but I hope they instead see that I just want to know my son is safe & educated. It does not offend me that anyone leabs more to either side, but I can understand the offense because when I talked about homeschooling to my husband he said only freaks are homschooled & that was highly offensive to me & that comment was from my own husband & yes the part of me that is still more of this world than I should be wanted to smack him..lol..My point is everyone has an opinion & no one like to feel that someone is telling them that thier opinion is wrong. WE want to be assured in out decisions that we make. Offense & judging are the 2 hardest things to get past but it does say in the bible that the truth cannot be offended only a lie so somewhere down deep when I am offended I try to find what it is that truly offended me, is there a lie in me that I have suppressed or forgot & of course we all know that the bible says we are never to judge anyone for anything. Again I believe those 2 are the hardest things to get past & I think the 3rd hardest thing is to be greatful for everything you have in the present situation you are in. We all know there can be tough situations so learning to be greatful can be hard. but I am greatful that God pours his blessing out on my son's public school & his teacher so that I can rest at ease knowing my son is safe & I an making the right decision for now. Ask believe & you shall recieve so I ask that God blesses all of us in our decision to homeschool,private school or public school. I ask that he guide us all the the right decision & that he opours his blessing out on that decision to remind us that we have made the right choice & that no one can offend us by saying otherwise.


 
Response from : Wren  

August 19, 2010 10:30 AM
 

I'm so glad to hear this said. I have been extremely disenchanted with the politics. Abraham Lincoln was smart enough to put people with opposite views in his cabinet so that he could look at things from all angles, why not us? There is so much to be learned in relationships with others. Thanks for stating what I've been thinking!


 
Response from : Terese Collins  

August 19, 2010 1:23 PM
 

Be encouraged and know that the Father would be pleased by your response. The bible says "A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger." Proverbs 15:1


 
Response from : Cheryl Beamon  

August 19, 2010 9:19 PM
 

Thank you for the thoughtful and well written article. The art of holding purposeful conversations to discuss and share views and opinion have died. I recently experience the "tribe" mindset and the polarization some Christians are doing based upon a closed view of faith. A colleague who is a Christian and I were at meeting with another colleague. I introduced them to each other. Later, while exiting the ladies room the colleague stopped me and asked was the newly introduced colleague a member of the club. Dumbfounded, I asked what club where she referring to in her question. She answered the Christian club. I was both saddened and upset by her response. This colleague is respected member of her community and is active leader in her church. I wondered did we serve the same God. Did we both read about how Jesus walked among the people to teach and serve them? God warned as not to think more highly ourselves and be like the high priest. Sadly, we no longer walk in love but in the world, reflecting division and hate. If you do not love your brother then you are not walking in the word. I did no t think the work environment was the place to speak to about her views ( maybe I was a chicken) however I did say all of us are children of God. Get to know her. God may have placed her in your life on this day for her to teach you and for you to serve him.


 
Response from : Forgiving Heart  

August 23, 2010 7:07 AM
 

I too read some of the opposing comments with disbelief. I agree with your assessment that people opting for public school felt as if you were yet one more person pointing a finger saying shame on you (my own paraphrase of course) but wow, some people were downright mean in their responses.

However just as you feel you were being attacked, I can say the same of those of us who are choosing public education. Many many church groups, websites such as this one, and other Christian media outlets make parents who either choose (because they want or have) to utilize public education feel "less than" for that choice.

I think the problem is not so much a personal attack on you, but rather misplaced feelings that have built up and now our brothers/sisters in Christ react in defensiveness rather than in love.

But conversely, I've even witnessed a homeschooling Christian say to a close friend that if you send your child to public school you deserve to have them snatched up by the world. --Not very Christian and loving but a common underlying thought I've witnessed among homeschoolers.


 
Response from : Robin  

August 24, 2010 11:06 AM
 

I actually agree with you. I am a Christian and I happen to work in the public schools. I travel to different schools all week long and work with people who I know disagree with me on education and if we get to know one another enough, eventually it comes to the point where we find we may disagree or agree on religion. I have tried to maintain my motto that my hearing impaired students come first so if the teachers I work with disagree on something, I will try my hardest to find a common point of interest and work from there. Not only is it a professional thing to do but it shows that person that they are important and they deserve my respect. That can only come from God.
I don't believe I could do my job if I was not a Christian.
I have two kids of my own and my husband and I have taught them to respect their teachers and their opinions as well as the opinions of their peers. We've talked about the way to handle things from our point of view yet not put others down for theirs. It has opened up a lot of good discussions and it allows opportunities for my kids to look at how their faith can be applied and strengthened. I always tell my kids to think about things and not just guess. Think it through.
I even try to encourage my students to do it. Religion can be a touchy subject in the public schools so I look for non-threatening ways to incorporate my values in my teaching.
I think the problem comes from Christians forgetting what Jesus did for them and realizing that whether we agree or not is not the issue. The issue is whether or not we will be spending eternity with those people. They deserve our respect and love just because they are just as important to God as we are.


 
Response from : Lynn  

August 4, 2012 8:48 AM
 

I belong to a book club that is all one certain group of political persons and I the other. Where I am willing to discuss and accept and learn, they become very offended and in attack mode it seems when I express opposing views. Discussion is difficult because they cannot really listen. Interesting to read your comments. Thank you.


 

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