Convictional Kindness

Greg Strand – April 23, 2015 2 Comments

Often differences of theology and thought can be expressed in a shrill manner. This becomes even more acute as we engage in cultural discussion and debate.

As we engage in these discussions I like the expression “convictional kindness.” Being kind does not mean we do not have convictions; having convictions does not mean we cannot be kind. As believers keeping in step with the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23) and evidencing the graces of Christ (2 Pet. 3:18) we must/will be both kind and with conviction.

Millard Erickson has written a helpful covenant regarding “convictional civility” as one engages in this discussion/debate with another (“Toward Convictional Civility,” in Convictional Civility: Engaging the Culture in the 21st Century, ed. C. Ben Mitchell, Carla D. Sanderson and Gregory A. Thornbury [Nashville: B & H, 2015], 33).

  1. I will not point out the presuppositions of another’s position without acknowledging that I have presuppositions myself.
  2. I will not contend that another’s view is historically conditioned without conceding that mine is also.
  3. I will be more concerned not to misunderstand or misrepresent others’ views than to claim that mine has been misunderstood or misrepresented.
  4. I will be more concerned that my language be fair and objective than I am that others’ language about me may not be.
  5. I will not caricature my opponent’s view to make my own appear more moderate.
  6. I will not employ ad hominem arguments.
  7. I will abstain from the use of pejorative language.
  8. I will not impute motives or emotions to others.
  9. I will think of intellectual arguments in terms of differences over ideas, not as personal disputes.

Although I like the word kindness better than civility, since it is a fruit of the Spirit, I appreciate greatly Erickson’s covenant.

Some questions for thought:

  • What do you learn?
  • What might you add?
  • What do you need to apply?

Greg Strand

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Affectionately called “Walking Bible” by his youngest daughter, Greg Strand has a ministry history that goes back to 1982. Since that time, he has served in local church ministry in a variety of ministry capacities: youth pastor, associate pastor of adult ministries and senior pastor. He is currently the EFCA's Executive Director of Theology and Credentialing. Greg reads voraciously and never stops learning — a passion reflected in the overflowing bookshelves that spill from his library to multiple offices. And he could tell you about each of those books! His hunger for learning pales in contrast to his great love for God and for teaching the Word of God.

2 responses to Convictional Kindness

  1. Excellent. Thanks.
    Kerry

    • You are welcome, Kerry. I am grateful you found it helpful. As with most of these statements, I confess from personal experience that they are much easier to pronounce than they are to live.

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