An Adjunct to My New Year Challenge

I was planning my note on my personal blog, A Challenge to See, when I also saw what Jody posted today regarding many of our books. I’m going to embed the Facebook ad below.

Check the list of authors: David Alan Black is a professor at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. I know from long conversations with him that is a committed conservative evangelical Christian. Then there’s Bruce Epperly, who’s pastor of a United Church of Christ congregation and a process theologian. Edward W. H. Vick is a retired professor who some decades ago was a professor at the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary. Allan Bevere is a United Methodist pastor, and evangelical in theology.

I could expand this list, mentioning authors like Shauna Hyde, Bob Cornwall, Tamika Champion-Hampton, Russell Meek, Elgin Hushbeck, and many, many more.

These authors differ in many ways, not least of which is their theological positions. There are those who believe I publish these different views in order to expand my customer base, and ultimately to sell books and make money.

Don’t be deceived! I want to sell books and make money, but this isn’t the easiest way to do it. I’m certainly not going to apologize for the effort.

But the reason I publish these people is that I think each one has something to say that we in the church would do well to hear and consider. Sometimes we’re going to reject what some of these people say. I publish all this material and I can’t agree with all of them, as they disagree with one another. But I think you would grow by hearing and considering what they have to say.

Each one of them has changed my view of something. Each has drawn me closer to my Creator. Each has challenged me to be a better witness. There is not a one of them that require me to say, “I’d rather not, but I have to publish this person for business reasons.”

Now what, you may be wondering connected this ad created by my wife Jody and my challenge on my personal blog?

Just this! One of our most common reasons for despising someone else is a disagreement on theology. There are plenty of people with whom I cannot agree. The temptation is to despise the person who can be so utterly wrong. If we listen at all we listen with condescension.

What I have found is that the vast majority of people are trying sincerely to understand the truth and to do what is right. The stupid, weak, morally deficient liberal-moderate-conservative-charismatic-Orthodox-Catholic (extend list as desired) is generally an illusion created by our own need to be more right.

So I have a challenge for my friends who are pastors, theologians, teachers of biblical studies, leaders, or just plain ordinary followers of Jesus. Can you see Jesus when you look at the person whose theology you consider terribly wrong? Can you treat that person as one of the least of these, one you can serve as you serve Jesus?

What might this do to our theological debates?