Sunday, November 2, 2008

Transcending Winning and Losing

One of the figures I admire among clergy is Dr. Tony Campolo. Campolo models and advocates a Christianity which proves that 'evangelical' and 'progressive' are not mutually exclusives.

In a recent address at Baylor University's George Truett Seminary, Dr. Campolo said, “To be a Christian is to manifest a commitment to the poor,” Campolo asserted. Red-letter Christians have the potential to offer solutions to “hot-button” issues -- such as abortion, same-sex marriage and immigration reform -- that defy traditional ideological and political categories, he insisted. “We can find common ground for the common good.”

I think that it is vitally important those of us who believe as do Campolo, Jim Wallis, Ron Sider and others, don't let one side of the church aisle do all of the talking. And I think it is possible to do so without the world seeing this as a huge 'church fight', or viewing us as people who don't know what we believe.

We all see things differently. 'Right' or 'Left', inside the church or out, there are the disingenuous, insincere and self serving - and just flat out wrong. But on the 'right' or on the 'left', inside the church or out, there are those of us who are willing to listen and willing to debate our opinions, informed by our faith and values in the public square. The challenge is the willingness to not only 'win', but to understand that in a healthy public debate, there are no 'losers'. And that we believe in a Truth that can not only influence but transcend culture.

For believers, neither politics nor culture have to be a zero sum proposition. The ultimate non-negotiables of our principles and values can find healthy, vigorous, public expression, no matter who holds political office, at whatever level. Dr. David Gushee, Christian Ethics Professor at Mercer University's McAffee School of Theology, expressed them speaking at the same conference:

“In the fabric of humanity that God has made, every thread matters. Sanctity of life means all human beings -- at every stage of life and without distinction -- are people who possess “equal and immeasurable worth inviolable dignity. Therefore, they must be treated with the reverence and respect commensurate with this elevated moral status -- beginning with a commitment to the preservation, protection and flourishing of their lives,” he said.

“In particular, life is sacred because -- according to Scripture -- God created humans in his image, declared them precious, ascribed to them a unique status in creation, blessed them with unique God-like capacities, made them for eternal life, governs them under his sovereign lordship, commands in his moral law that they be treated with reverence and respect, and forever elevates their dignity by his decision to take human form in Jesus Christ and to give up that human life at the Cross."
"No social order treats people as immeasurably valuable -- but Jesus did.”


Tessa said...

I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


Gerald said...

Well, Tesse/Ruth, welcome to CTW! Glad to have you aboard. Thanks for reading!