I work in a field (higher education) where we recognize that there are many glaring problems. Everyone has their own opinion of how to fix these problems – but there are more “solution” opinions than I can count. Some of them are radically different from each other. But one thing we all know: you have to get other people’s positions correct or else you will look ignorant and nobody will listen to your ideas.
I think this is also an important stance to take with the progressive/conservative divide in the church… except for the conservative side seems to refuse to really learn what the progressive side believes.
For example, take this quote from John Stonestreet in his article “Attractions vs. Actions: Homosexuality & God’s Story”:
“The LGBT crowd says same-sex attraction is unchangeable, and therefore same-sex acts are legitimate. Many Christians, meanwhile, realize that being tempted isn’t a sin, but we’ve failed to apply this to the issue of homosexuality.”
This is prime example of a failure to understand what other people believe. The problem is not that people think that same-sex attraction can’t change and have failed to apply Biblical principles to the issue. The point of disagreement is that many people have studied the Bible in-depth and have found that the Bible’s stance on homosexuality is very unclear at best. They acknowledge the translation problems with the few verses that are used in this issue, and have come to take a more nuanced stance on them.
“After a while, these “reviews” (or blog comments or whatever) seem to all be the same, as if there’s an anti-“progressive” rant-generator somewhere that just puts out various combinations of standard accusations: not taking sin seriously, not really loving or obeying the Bible, valuing historical church leaders and practice, and associating with emergent “heretics.”.
At some point, I just have to conclude that these “anti-progressive rant generators” are either outright lying about the people they rail against, or that they are choosing to be intentionally ignorant. I really want to believe the best in people, so I guess I have to believe in willful ignorance. Which I get: straw man arguments are so much easier to tear down. Dealing with someone that logically came to their conclusion? Much more difficult.
To be honest, I don’t really like to be tagged as evangelical, fundamentalist, conservative, progressive, or liberal. My views are a very aggravating (at times) mix of all of these. But for whatever reason, people that tend to gravitate towards one position always seem to become blind to the real beliefs of people from other positions. I know that the evangelical fundamentalists seem to do this more often, but truth be told there are those on both sides that have big problems with willful ignorance.
So, if I could just make this one suggestion for anyone reading this: please try to consider that the people you label as “the other side” are not as stupid as you think they are.
Now, while it may seem like I am completely upset with Mr. Stonestreet, I will point out that his article is a massive step forward for the typical evangelical mindset. Of course, it still only steps into the late 1970s/80s, but it is a step forward. Now if we could talk about the annoying use of the word “chide” to describe Rachel Held Evans words… that would be another step forward. How come when men get on to people it is called a “strong point” or a “passionate plea” but when women say something like that it is “chiding” or “bossy”?