3 Tips for How Christian Progressives and Christian Conservatives Can Communicate
Translating ideas past the caricatures and angry rhetoric.
June 17, 2012 - 2:30 pm
The general point is that there is a great deal of scorn flying back and forth between conservative and liberal Christians today, especially online, where scorn is rewarded. This should be of great concern. We may profit from writing scorn, but the kingdom pays the cost. Scorn is corrosive. It cuts us off from fellow believers who could teach us many things. And it hardens the world’s caricatures of Christians.
My constructive recommendations for all of us would be:
1. When a Christian on the Left sees conservative Christians being caricatured, he or she should (as a general rule of thumb) first of all seek to correct the caricature, and then explain why he or she differs from conservative Christians on that issue. And the same goes for the Right. We on the Right should defend progressive Christians when they are being misunderstood or unfairly maligned. We can except truly exceptional cases where a small sect believes something genuinely evil, of course. But as a general rule of thumb, we ought to defend one another against caricature, not affirm the caricature but say it only applies to those Christians.
2. If you find that you cannot explain charitably why your fellow believers come to a different conclusion on this issue, then you should probably not write about the issue until you can. Christian charity and intellectual integrity really require us, I believe, to understand fully before we criticize.
3. Let’s be very, very careful in how we use the internet. We may think we’re addressing only believers, but then our post goes viral and the world reads it. Or we may write something in a moment of anger that soars across the blogosphere and slanders our fellow believers. We should bear in mind that the world of online media incentivizes scorn, ridicule, exaggeration and caricature. So we should never blog angry, and we should always examine our motives.