• Radicals, Centrists, and the Postures of the Kingdom of God

    Centrists and moderates often have a bad reputation. They’re often accused of not really taking a position on today’s most important issues. I’m not here to defend centrists today. But I wonder if this entire conversation might be missing the point.
  • A Call for Conservative Voices

    Conservative Christians, I believe in you. I love you. I admire your faith, your witness, your dedication to Scripture. I value your voice - let no one silence you! You are a crucial, effective part of the Christian faith. We need you to continue kindling our spiritual fervor for being in a personal relationship with Christ. We need your steady reminders about the importance that the Word of God holds for our daily lives. But my heart is breaking for you. When I survey the landscape of Christian writers, the conservative voices that I hear most clearly are not the voices that accurately represent you. The conservative conversation is being dominated by writers who are giving you an identity that is not your own. These writers have become so occupied with shouting the “defense of the Gospel against liberalism” that they’ve forgotten the greatest commandments. You are kind and loving and humble, but the most vocal of the conservative Christian voices that claim to speak for you proclaim judgment and hate and arrogance. I consider myself a political and theological moderate, but I was raised in a strictly conservative home. Even though my own views on some matters have changed with time, I have nothing but respect and appreciation for the way I was raised - the hearts and attitudes of the people in my life were pure and beautiful. My conservative community taught me discernment and trained me to challenge the ideological norms of the world. As I’ve grown, I’ve made it my mission to seek the middle ground, the place of reconciliation between polar extremes, the sanctuary of peace between the labels. I embrace the positives in both liberal ideals and conservative thoughts alike. But recently, based on the loud online conversations of conservative extremists, I am finding less and less of your position that I can defend. I want to stand with you in defense against the far left, but I need ground to defend. I need to hear you - the real you, not the ones that claim your name but don't share your values - so I can stand alongside you. We all know the Bible’s “Love Chapter” and what it says about loving our spouses. Try to read it with me today, though, as if you were reading it for the first time. Apply it to the way we treat those with different ideologies, whether that’s the liberals, the conservatives, the LGBT supporters, the traditional marriage advocates, the egalitarians, the complementarians, or any other “other” perspective. If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body,…
  • Those Who Most Need It Will Never Read It.

    We love to be told that we’re right, especially when that validation is coming from a source that we respect. Reading blogs and articles that affirm our beliefs gives us confidence in our own sense of right-ness and pats us on our proverbial backs. As a society, we have a natural tendency to take this to an extreme and predominantly seek out sources to confirm the perspectives that we already hold. For example, if we believe in the value of attending church services every week, we skip over headlines like “15 Reasons I Left the Church” in favor of articles like “15 Reasons I Returned to the Church.” Or if we are social conservatives, we read rants on why all liberals hate freedom of speech; whereas if we are social liberals, we read diatribes condemning all conservatives as ignorant rednecks. We even see this in the news channels that we watch - you can tell a lot about a person’s politics by asking whether they watch Fox or CNN. We feel strong and encouraged when people agree with us, but it is dangerous for us to live within a bubble of affirmation. Here are three reasons why. 1. It stagnates growth. Learning is defined as the acquisition of knowledge or skills. We cannot learn things unless they are new to us; we cannot grow without being exposed to things that we don’t know or understand. When we skip over articles that present a different perspective than our own, we are depriving ourselves the opportunity to learn and grow as individuals. Even if we don’t agree with the article, the simple act of reading it with an intent to learn from it will enable us clarify our own beliefs and help us to better understand the beliefs of others. As Aristotle once said, “It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.” If we’ll look a little closer as we read these articles, we’ll often find that there are nuggets of truth in them that can be invaluable to our own systems of belief and thought. 2. It reinforces stereotypes. Because it is so natural for us to seek out stories that bolster our own ideas, we end up forming communities of people who all think the same way, and we all reinforce those common ideas in one another. There’s nothing wrong with being in community with like-minded people, but when those are the only places that we get information, we find ourselves becoming blissfully unaware of the world outside that circle. Soon we enter a self-perpetuating spiral of misunderstanding. Because we seldom have meaningful interactions with people outside our own worldview, we dismiss and objectify them. Rather than seeing our neighbor as a loving father and husband, we see him as a conservative bigot (or a part of the liberal agenda). Rather than seeing him as an intelligent contributor to society, we label him a troll or redneck. We end up…