The Power of Admitting You Might Be Wrong

Brian McLaren has a great piece in Sojourners on how to talk about politics in church. More than that, it's a great piece on how to have constructive dialogue with people when you disagree on an issue. He borrows this model from a Leadership Journal piece by Adam Hamilton, which deals with preaching on controverial issues.

Here's it is:

  • Show respect for all positions on an issue, and for those who hold opposing opinions.
  • Understand the opposing side so well that you can present its arguments as clearly as its proponents do.
  • Begin your sermon by presenting the opposing case’s position.
  • Then present your position, rooting your position in biblical soil, admitting your position’s downsides.
  • Confess your openness to changing your thinking—thus modeling the teachability you hope your people will demonstrate.

What's missing from our public and private rebates--from the war in Iraq to what kinds of songs to play in church--is exactly this kind of humility and willingness to look at someone's point of view. It's even more true in the blogosphere, where flaming is preferred to thoughtful responses, and where opening up a can of digital whup ass and toxic commentary is a sure fire way to become a blogstar.

A fews days back, I got an email asking me to take part in a forum on stem cells for a group of medical students. I wondered, how on earth can I say anything meaningful about this emotionally charged issue, where the battles lines are so clearly drawn? Especially when I'm supposed to give the "anti stem cell" argument. (The request came after someone read my Sojourners piece on the issue)

Thanks to McLaren, I might just be able to add something useful to this dialogue.


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