Gracious dialogue: a call to humility and building up, not tearing down

Please share any thoughts you have about how you respond to people with differing scientific or theological views in a way that maintains a peaceful and productive conversation. Thanks!

Just read today’s “Our Daily Bread” (from February 16). It was a good reminder about being gracious in our dialogue with people of differing views
https://odb.org/2020/02/16/divided-in-love

Here’s the text:

Divided in Love

“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” - Ephesians 4:2

When public debate erupted over a controversial Singapore law, it divided believers with differing views. Some called others “narrow-minded” or accused them of compromising their faith.

Controversies can cause sharp divisions among God’s family, bringing much hurt and discouraging people. I’ve been made to feel small over personal convictions on how I apply the Bible’s teachings to my life. And I’m sure I’ve been equally guilty of criticizing others I disagree with.

I wonder if the problem lies not in what or even in how we express our views, but in the attitudes of our hearts when we do so. Are we just disagreeing with views or seeking to tear down the people behind them?

Yet there are times when we need to address false teaching or explain our stand. Ephesians 4:2–6 reminds us to do so with humility, gentleness, patience, and love. And, above all else, to make every effort “to keep the unity of the Spirit” (v. 3).

Some controversies will remain unresolved. God’s Word, however, reminds us that our goal should always be to build up people’s faith, not tear them down (v. 29). Are we putting others down to win an argument? Or are we allowing God to help us understand His truths in His time and His way, remembering that we share one faith in one Lord? (vv. 4–6).

There’s lots of good stuff in Ephesians 4


Ephesians 4:29-32 “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”

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Great, and I love RBC. Thanks. I’m going to use this for my kids’ devotion, I think.

I posted this question on another forum and got this great TED talk in response:

It has a lot of good ideas to think about and some very helpful advice about how to approach contentious discussions

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A friend of mine posted this the other day. It has some good reminders. I especially liked this part:

Remember, not every “wrong” opinion on the internet needs your response. People do not change their opinions easily. Chances are, your passing comment on the internet will not be the thing that changes the other person’s mind.

At the same time, some debates are worth having. It’s worth pushing back against hatred, prejudice, or the marginalization of other people. Sometimes it’s worth the extra effort to correct misinformation or simply to try to open someone’s mind to another point of view.

But just as we cannot bomb our way to peace, we cannot shout, troll, or shame our way to common ground on the internet.

If you want to push back hate, if you really want to make a difference, approach the conversation—and especially the person—with love.

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Gosh, that is so true. Thank you for the reminder. Will check out the full article.

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It also reminded me of this webcomic from XKCD:

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Especially when the alternative is to oppose their point of view so they can dig in defending it, ensuring they will be even more invested in maintaining the offending opinion than before.

I find not opposing what others think directly more helpful. Conceding that it is their choice of course to decide what they think on the matter but, for me … and then try to offer some point which they are likely to at least in part agree with which can be seen as a reason to choose otherwise.

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As I just said elsewhere ‘…Peace. I’ve been graceless. I fear I’m too old to change. I need to recalibrate. Start again. I don’t know how to do that and still respond to your last comment.’. I score 2/7 at best. One isn’t even aware of low level or unexamined, unacknowledged anger, ‘wit’ a.k.a. sarcasm, point scoring, game playing, disrespect… and that’s a lie. The lack of awareness.

Sigh.

What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?

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Yes, we are all guilty. Its good to be reminded of our guilt, so we can be brought into repentance, pick ourselves up, and try again

Here’s another great discourse article for discussing ideas!

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“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:6

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