Thursday, March 28, 2013

The Anniverary of the High Priestly Prayer: On Reconciliation

"For those who will believe in me through their word: that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me." (John 17:20-21)
The divisions among Christians are nothing for us to be proud of on any day. Today of all days, as we remember Jesus' prayer before his arrest, we remember: the prayer for unity was not merely for our sake, but "so that the world may believe that you have sent me." Our divisions make people disbelieve that Jesus is from God. That's not merely a theory or a speculation. I have often talked to non-Christians, and "Which group should I believe?" comes up fairly often, sometimes as a mocking taunt meant to justify their thoughts that Christianity is worthless, sometimes as an honest expression of confusion. Our divisions have real-world consequences.

It has been awhile since I have updated the series on Christian reconciliation and divisions in the church, and that is because I need a change of format. For the earlier posts about liberal/conservative controversies, I am reasonably familiar with both points of view. That is, I can present both views well enough so that each side might see the other point of view. One benefit of arguing both sides myself was this: the person defending one side couldn't very well question the intelligence, diligence, faithfulness, motives etc of the person presenting the other side. That's a real problem in debates, and the solution was to take both sides myself so long as I had a working understanding of both sides.

For some of the other controversies, I don't have a clear idea of why people take the other side. Based on the times when I've heard people attacking my own point of view, I'm fairly sure the other side likewise doesn't have a clear idea of the beliefs of my own side. But debates tend to go badly, often beginning with mistaken ideas about what the other person thinks, and unkind guesses as to why they believe it. It's not unusual for each side to assume bad faith, bad reasoning, or bad motives on the part of the other side.

So I'd like to try a new format for controversies/reconciliation series. I'll start (after the festival of the Resurrection) by putting together a basic, simple statement of what I think the other side believes on a certain controversy, and follow it with a simple pair of questions:
  1. Is that what you believe? 
  2. (If yes) Why do you believe it? (If no) What would be more accurate?
After we see how that works out, I'll figure out how to go forward from there.

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