by Steve Kindle, Energion Discussion Network Editor
Henry Neufeld, our publisher, has drawn some criticism lately for publishing on this blog and in Energion books opinions that favor LGBT inclusion in our churches. It should be noted that he also has writers with the opposite opinion. Henry will not oblige us with his own point of view on the matter as he sees his role as a facilitator in the discussion, not the arbitrator.
Now, Henry doesn’t need me to take his side, (nor has he asked) as he is quite able to articulate his own views, as he recently did here. Why I am entering into this discussion is because I see a profound vision of what not only publishing should be, but about how we as Christians should comport ourselves. It is a vision of humility, love, respect, and openness to correction.
It is presumptuous to assume that one knows all there is to know on a subject, especially one as controversial as gay issues. To assume such a stance places one as judge and jury on a subject that precludes any further possibility of correction, something which the haughty despise. By giving the reading public options in the search for answers, the public is served well. Exposure to many opinions can often lead to a well thought out conclusion. In that vein, Henry/Energion is not going to tell you what you should believe in this or any other matter. But you will find much help along the way to a decision.
By examining the mind and lives of those with whom we disagree, for the purpose of actually learning from them, we open ourselves to the “other” as an act of love. We do this not to convert, or belittle, but to treat them with the dignity of a human possessing God’s image. To reach out to another is to welcome one into your life. And if this is done with no strings attached, it is an act of love.
Engaging in honest, open dialog with those we disagree with means that we find them just as capable of discerning truth as ourselves.
Martin Buber taught us the difference between treating a person as a human being (a Thou—one like yourself) or an object (an It—a thing to be used). If our purpose in discussion is to win someone over, we no longer treat our conversationalist as a person, but as a thing to dominate. If, on the other hand, our objective is to discover something valuable and give our conversation partner an opportunity to teach us, we and our partner are one, or I/ Thou.
We cannot allow differences of opinion to come between us and another created in the image of God. Always bear in mind that we are not the one another is called to please. Follow the Golden Rule. After all, we learn not to appear scholarly, or erudite, or to win arguments, but to follow Jesus as a faithful disciple. That’s the difference between being right and righteous. It’s also the point of why we study in the first place. And I think this is why Energion exists.
On Openness to Correction
I’m sure that most of us have changed our minds about many things over the years. I know I have. This seldom occurs in a vacuum. Rather, we engage the questions over time, usually in the company of others or with their books. Had I not changed over time, I’d still have the “know-it-all” attitude of my teenage self, the opinions of an unformed mind, and the inability to appreciate when I am wrong. Being open to correction is a wonderful gift that produces rewards our whole life. Wise people try to surround themselves with people smarter than themselves. This has often led to successful presidencies!
I have taken advantage of the wide choices in the Energion catalog and will continue to do so. Among my selections are books chosen for what I thought would be more helpful as illustrating an incorrect position. But I actually found them to be enlightening. (I hate it when that happens!) Life is so much easier when we finally realize we’re not Truth’s arbitrator. Rather, working within a community of seekers, truth finds us.
Therefore, I find in the publishing philosophy of Energion Publications a model for Christian behavior. One that, if taken into one’s life, will yield a humble spirit and a loving heart. Thank you, Henry.
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