How should Christians handle differences of opinion in the public square?


(SeanO) #1

I read an interesting article in Christianity Today about how a group of staff at Taylor university published a news letter / website anonymously to voice their opinions because they felt their viewpoint was being silenced. They titled the project Excalibur and voiced their opinion that Taylor had given into a liberal minded agenda.

As a result of Excalibur, some on both sides of the political spectrum felt racial oppression had been encouraged, though the professors tried to make it clear that was not their intent in a follow up statement.

I am not at all interested in taking sides in this debate. More so, my questions are practical:

  1. How should Christians respond in the public square when they feel they are being silenced?
  2. How can we give brothers and sisters who disagree with us space in the public square so that they feel they are being heard?
  3. Where do we draw the line between being open to other opinions and avoiding giving space in the public square for false teachers to lead others astray?

Notice that all of my questions have ‘public square’ in them. That is really what is interesting to me - how can we engage one another before the watching world in a way that is winsome rather than divisive without surrendering a commitment to truth?

(Natasha Morton) #2

I feel the most important thing we must remember is we are called to speak up in love and kindness. Unfortunately we are also told we will face oppression because of our faith in Christ. It seems that when Christianity is on topic, folks tend to have a ready made offensive with the assumption we are against them in some manner. Perhaps keeping steady, but clear, voices, but remembering to listen to the other person is imperative in this. I have seen too often where each person tries to talk over the other to prove their point, and in the end, nothing is proven and every one is frustrated, including the bystanders. Respect the other person and truly try to understand where they may be coming will help us to approach them better and clearer.

As for false teachers, I think this is also where knowing The Word well is what is most important. When Christ was in the desert, he always negated Satan with scripture. It will help us, the Christians, from being led astray and help us to expose false teachings to others. But again, we must be careful not to be so caught up in making our point loudly and over the others, that anyone watching completely misses it.

(SeanO) #3

@natasha.morton Those are great points. Being willing to listen and to discern truth from error are both critical to presenting Christ winsomely in the public square.

Sometimes I wish debates would be structured as dialogues so that the focus would be on an ongoing discussion rather than seeking to prove the other person wrong to those listening.

(Theja Tseikha) #4

Very good questions @SeanO.
My thoughts are very similar to what @natasha.morton has said.
I think even when we are silenced in the public square, we should stick true to our means of love, respect and humility and at the same time not reclining back but standing strong for our rights and the truth; and I feel truth eventually always wins out over falsehood after the test of time. I like what Ravi says,“What you win a person with is what you win them to.”
As for false teachers, I think it calls for wisdom- seeking the guidance of the Holy Spirit in the Word and prayer and also doing a quick check on the person’s track record? :slight_smile:

(SeanO) #5

@Theja That is a very good point - we are creating disciples even in the way that we interact with those who disagree with us. To lead people to a God of grace and holiness we must must live lives that show both sacrificial love and an absolute commitment to truth and holiness.