To begin with, I should apologize. I know I can’t presume to speak on behalf of Evangelical Christians everywhere, but I do have something of a platform with this website. So, I’ll do my part to aid any potential for healing that might take place. Technically speaking (at least according to my dictionary), an apology is a reasoned argument that makes sense of something we may find difficult to understand. Of course, we also know that the word “apology” has some emotional overtones as well. That combination of reason and emotion, I believe, can lead us to understanding. And understanding may lead us to healing.
And God knows some healing needs to take place.
It seems the gaps are growing these days – the gap between left and right on the political spectrum, the gap between liberal and conservative on the theological spectrum, the gap between the cultural elites in places like New York or San Francisco and the regular, salt-of-the-earth folks in the heartland – growing, growing, growing.
I fear we’re dangerously close to losing the ability to sit together and talk, to share ideas, to disagree with and to learn from each other. This would be a terrible thing, in my opinion. Left to expand, these gaps threaten to undo us, to render us incapable of simply conversing with one another, especially when we disagree over issues of faith and morality.
When such a disagreement arises, we tend to assume that the problem is intellectual in nature. So, we Christians jump into apologetics mode, pulling out our arsenal of books by McDowell, Strobel and Geisler. If we are not Christian, we may find a similar arsenal of books by Dawkins, Dennett, Harris and Hitchens.
Perhaps our arguments come from Glenn Beck or Rachel Maddow. Perhaps they come from Peter Singer or from Stanley Fish. Regardless of the source, the outcome is the same. We’ve read something that convinced us of a particular point of view (or more likely confirmed a point of view we already held). Now we want to use that same argument to persuade you – even if it is persuasion by intellectual assault.
But I’m not finding the problem to be primarily intellectual anymore. I think our communication problems are primarily emotional in nature. We’ve been hurt. We don’t trust. We’re tired of being beaten up. So, we do unto others before it can be done unto us, launching vitriolic attacks not designed to bring us together but push us further apart …where we can’t hurt each other anymore.
This has to stop.