In 2006, let us be good listeners
Our newspaper is committed to providing accurate information about these events so readers will know what is happening and have a reasonable context for what it means.
Our credibility as a newspaper demands that we cover these events between leaders, churches and colleges on both sides of the issues. We seek ideals of fairness, balance and breadth of scope.
February 1, 2006
In this issue, the Chronicle devotes a Page 1 story and thefour-page Currents section to events and discussion related to the 2006centennial of the division between a capella churches of Christ and ChristianChurches/Churches of Christ (instrumental).
Our newspaper iscommitted to providing accurate information about these events so readers willknow what is happening and have a reasonable context for what it means.
Our credibility as anewspaper demands that we cover these events between leaders, churches andcolleges on both sides of the issues. We seek ideals of fairness, balance andbreadth of scope.
Our coverage willfocus on what some leaders and congregations are doing this year as we report ona range of perspectives and opinions.
Several ideas will bekeys to accurate and effective communication during this centennial year.
First, we wouldsuggest that readers remember how dangerous and debilitating rumors are to thelife of any community. The Web makes rumor-mongering easy, prolific, rapid andmore harmful than ever. Let us avoid inflammatory rhetoric and inaccuracy inall communication. In particular, let us all make a solemn commitment never toforward e-mail unless it is is pure, wholesome and authoritative.
Second, we believeall Christians must remember that these discussions are occurring betweenpeople in two circles of faith long separated, but with much in common. Forexample, these two groups believe Christ is Lord, baptize for the remission ofsin and observe the Lord’s Supper weekly.
Another importantcommonality makes such discussions complicated: All are autonomous fellowships,so the discussion is not highly cohesive and will take time. The circles offaith are heterogenous, so “they believe…” and “we believe…” are phrasesthat call for footnotes, qualifiers and, above all, humility.
Clear communicationand patience are vital in this context. At stake is more than the survival of acongregation, ministry or institution. Most important is our commitment toChrist and our mutual witness to a dark world that will be damaged by attitudesthat are judgmental, impatient, uninformed or rash. It is a challenge to bedistinctive, Kingdom people in a world that misunderstands our commitment tothe God and Christ revealed in the Bible.
Third, the 1906-eradivision that separated these circles of faith and fellowship was painful. Itwas damaging. The pain and difficulties linger. Let us avoid unncessary pain.Let us beware further fragmentation of the church. Let us be Christlike to oneanother.
Regardless where youstand on the issues involved, Christ hates division and calls his followers tobe distinctive in a world of conflict and self-assuredness. It is not an easycalling. Ugly words are not of Christ, who calls us to love one another. Unitymattered to Christ. It is a daunting reality to those on all sides of thepresent questions, and probably those to come.
Finally, if the Kingdom of Christ is to be served in this process,we must work together to bring about increased understanding in a time ofescalating anxiety and tension. Understanding will help us love one another andlove those outside our circles of fellowship, too.
This much we know:Fear has no place in a family of love and truth.
Do not be swayed bye-mails, letter campaigns or coercive tactices. Each of us, instead, mustremember a principle that predates 1906 — an ancient call to seek the Godrevealed in Scripture. From the Creator’s eternal perspective, none of this isconfusing, difficult or frustrating.
Ourassurance — our resting place this year and always — is through his Son. For,despite the imperfections of his saints, the Kingdom of God will never fail.