Having grace-filled converations about difficult issues

Campus Edge has just finished a pilot study with The Colossian Forum related to origins, focusing on how a difficult issue (like creation vs. evolution) can be a catalyst for spiritual growth, as opposed to leading only to division and strife.

Many people have come to the study with the hope of learning how better to talk about this issue with family members, friends, church folks, colleagues, etc.  As it’s not always obvious to see how and what we’re learning, I thought I’d actually ask people. It was encouraging to have the whiteboard covered with the wisdom of the entire group. Below is the question and the answers that were given:

“What (i.e., skills, attitudes, phrases, virtues, etc.) have you learned (here or elsewhere) that helps you have a grace-filled conversation about origin issues?”

  • Learning to see information people give as additional data and not being evidence of a lack of logic (or even bad logic);
  • Having a fuller awareness of an issue;
  • Defensiveness often indicates somebody is offended. Responding by being offended is not helpful. Taking a step back and reflecting is a much more helpful response to another person’s defensiveness;
  • We tend to throw reasons (opposing viewpoints) at each other. However, change happens more often if you can have a conversation at a deeper (gut) level.
  • Find common ground, as opposed to highlighting differences.
  • Don’t assume that natural science folks always believe that evolution is how God formed the world and that non-science folks assume the world came into being through (6-day) creation.
  • Separating the person from the issue (and trying not to take another person’s disagreement of your view personally).
  • Doing best not to belittle the person you’re interacting with. (i.e., don’t think or say things like “you’re/they’re stupid.”)
  • Refraining from you….. statements, as this tends to make assumptions, belittle and/or equate the person with the issue.
  • Recognize that both (all) sides are coming at this from a love of Scripture; having a good conversation includes finding ways that we can all protect and hold up the value of Scripture together.
  • Recognize how not to be self-centered about my beliefs, i.e., thinking that my beliefs are the only good and true beliefs.
  • Recognizing that just because I believe something wholeheartedly doesn’t make it wholeheartedly, without a doubt, true.
  • Approaching a conversation by being open, recognizing how hard it is to change one’s mind. In other words, approach the conversation + issues with intellectual humility.

Hopefully this will lead to many good conversations!