Civility and More

February 18, 2011

Recently, two evangelical leaders who agree on few issues came together to call for more civility. Conservative Chuck Colson and liberal Jim Wallis jointly wrote a Christianity Today column entitled "Conviction and civility." Arguing for respectful dialogue, they wrote:

That means that when we disagree, especially when we strongly disagree, we should have robust debate but not resort to personal attack, falsely impugning others' motives, assaulting their character, questioning their faith, or doubting their patriotism. ... We must be ever mindful of the language we use and the spirit of our communication. Arrogance and boasting are indeed sins, and violent language can create a poisonous and dangerous public atmosphere. We must take care to not paint our political adversaries as our mortal enemies.
Amen! On a similar note, evangelical megachurch pastor Joel Hunter wrote in a recent column in Sojourners that we need more that just civility. In the piece, entitled "Civility is Only a Beginning," Hunter wrote:
Our society is facing challenges it has never had to face before, and they won't be resolved just by being civil in our public discourse. In fact, we will not have enough moral credibility to make a difference until we can see the world from the other’s perspective. ... The struggle for a country dedicated to the common good does not demand that we be less passionate in our advocacy, but it will not come without each side feeling respected and valued. So let's listen so well that we can state others' cases in the way they would state them, with due sympathy and clarity.
Amen! Hopefully, the call of these evangelical leaders will be heeded by many.

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