Common Consents in a Divided Age?

Let’s risk a dialogue. By no means a new challenge, but rather a new season…so let’s risk.

These days we hear how Americans have grown so divided we cannot possibly work together toward shared goals. Evidence for disunity appears by the hour, while efforts to create common ground apparently lose ground at the same rate.

Similarly in the faith community, when followers of Christ come together, the left and the right continue divergent in many arenas. On what might we agree in order to have fruitful conversation?

In the spirit of the apostle Paul’s challenge to the Ephesian church to “Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace,” (Eph. 4:3 NIV), I humbly propose the following (not very original) draft communion, welcoming all thoughtful comments toward a final covenant of sorts. Seems like a mature pursuit right?

Dive in. It’s a draft and the comment section is open. Let us know your ideas to make the following seven consents better. Tell us why a point should be excluded, why a different point ought to be included, or how to change the language. You might even tell everyone what you like. People of faith and not-faith…all are invited to participate, and we’ll post more content around each of these consents over the next many weeks.

Seven Consents (Draft)

  1. We hold in common a respect for TRUTH based in fact and evidence. Party allegiance should not get in the way of insisting upon truth—or calling out lies.

  2. When we inject faith and scripture into our conversations, we avoid arguing as if we hold the only possible interpretation of the tenets of our faith. We avoid eisegesis (the process of interpreting text in such a way as to introduce one’s own presuppositions, agendas or biases.) We avoid phrases like, “God told me…” and “The Bible clearly says…”.

  3. If we stand for religious liberty, we also stand against religious discrimination. Political ideology should not impede any of us from speaking out against flagrant ‘anti-people group’ declarations.

  4. We agree that obscene and careless use of language poses a genuine obstacle to honorable politics, basic decency, and a well-functioning government. Words matter.

  5. We resist political commentary that sees deception, bigotry and casual malice as a courageous form of “disruption” designed to bring down “the establishment.”

  6. We avoid arguing from the premise of “what-about” or via the “projection” of one individual or party’s error onto the other, in order to make a counterpoint. We stay on topic.

  7. We grow our capacity to hold competing truths. For instance, we embrace the necessity of repentance to lay the groundwork for reconciliation and restoration (e.g. “the prodigal son”.) We hold down truth and love, justice and mercy, accountability and unity, and the many more dualities that mark our journey toward maturity.