Apologist Dr. Ravi Zacharias tells the story of a man stranded on the proverbial desert island for many years. Finally discovered, his rescuers were curious about the three huts the man had built while a resident of the island. Pointing to the first hut the man said, “That’s my house.” Pointing to the second hut he said, “That’s my church.” Pointing to the third hut he said, “Oh, and that’s the church I used to go to.”
It seems that in order to prove ourselves socially adept these days we need to be able to point to a church and say, “we used to go to that church.” The hope seems to be that shopping prowess will be displayed to envious friends, proving the ability to discover the, “best buy for someone like me.”
In truth what is displayed is probably the inability to live collegially in disagreement.
The framers of our country envisioned a community, the strength of which was dependent on coming together in disagreement with many views voiced in debate. How else could good decisions be made without the exploration of the many cases that can be made for many disparate views?
Bill Bishop wrote a book several years ago called, “The Big Sort: Why the Clustering of Like-minded America is Tearing Us Apart.” He offers a compelling explanation for our polarization as a nation, fueled by our proclivity to mingle solely with those who see, think, and act the same as we.
From the history of this editor comes a story from a faith tradition other than United Methodist. A father and son, well-educated, holding highly-respected leadership positions, enjoyed a collegial relationship with one exception. In their religious context there were staunchly-held views about the mode of Christian baptism. Was it immersion, pouring, or sprinkling? Was it children or adults? Father and son strongly disagreed in their conclusions.
Father passed away and many years passed.
A few years ago, in casual conversation with the son, the question arose, “How did you resolve the strong disagreement between the two of you?”
The answer was, “We never came to agreement about the mode of baptism. However, we were at peace. One day Father came to me and said, “It’s all right; I just wanted to know that you had thought it through.”
There is a glimmer of hope through all of our disagreements in the United Methodist Church. There is evidence that persons within the churches of our annual conference and across the denominations are wrestling with their closely-held views and are spending more time thinking it through.
This periodical would like to accommodate that. We welcome Rev. Chuck Sprenkle to the commentary in this issue. It will then join other views that have been posted on the conference blog at susumc.blogspot.com. We welcome any view as long as it is offered in a spirit of love and consideration for those who may hold different views.