Thursday, July 21, 2005

Michael Frost and Alan Hirsch response to DA Carson's Critique of the Emerging Church precipitates some controversy

andrew jones lets us know about the Australian group Forge's to DA Carson's latest book.

The original report has now been deleted as a result of the controversy it quickly precipitated.

Some thoughts:

I've been reading Willard Sterne Randall's book George Washington: A Life. One of the most significant American developments during Washington's two terms was the birth of the party system in the United States, with Alexander Hamilton and the Federalists on one side and their emphasis on a strong central government, and Thomas Jefferson and the Republicans (technically the Democratic-Republicans in distinction from the modern group) on the other who took a more minimalist view of federal control.

Washington just hated this.

He was very anti-party and was constantly working as a mediator between these opposing elements within his very own cabinet. He counseled his cabinet to remember that they were Americans first.

As long-time readers of emergesque and faithmaps and my Next-Wave articles know, I've done a bit of work consulting, training, teaching, and mediating in the area of conflict resolution. One of the personal results of that focus has been for me to strive to not be drawn into conflict in the first place. Some of this I learned from Brian McLaren himself who has and shows a commendable longing for the high road.

Sometimes conflict is unavoidable and sometimes, even, one should intentionally take actions that can reasonably be predicted to be controversial. But many, many times, different perspectives debilitate into conflicting egos. That - in my opinion - is what can make party so horrible and dangerous to both community and truth.

There is only one antidote: humility. This expresses itself

  • by focusing on the substance of what's being said and setting aside ego and party.
  • by provisionally and hypothetically assuming the other person is completely correct
  • by evaluating that hypothesis
  • by sifting out what is true and
  • either embrace it enthusiastically or - if necessary - to refute or, in many cases, both! Many times wholesale rejection of a point of view is inappropriate. Surely something of worth is being said.
Now, that being said, if you will read the comments on Andrew's original blog as they are developing through today, I think you will observe that we are beginning to see this humility on all sides. Bravo!

I originally wrote The Emerging Storm to suggest ways the ec might handle critique from without. It's obvious that we will need to use the same principles (and others) to handle critique from within!

I suggest how we handle the controversy may be more important than that the controversy itself.


Scot McKnight said...

Very nice post on conflict. Thanks.

Stephen said...

Thanks Scot!