Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Basic Assumptions for Conversation in Christian Community

Dr. Kathleen Henderson Staudt shares Bishop Mark Dyers' “basic assumptions for conversation in Christian community.” I think these are worth pondering and implementing for all Christians who desire to change the current ecclesial ethos of distrust.

1. Assume that “My partner takes the Bible as seriously as I do.” That is part of who we are as Christians: we are grounded in Scripture. Do not mistake differences in interpretation for differences in desire to be faithful to Scripture.

2. Listen with a Christlike heart. Be guided by 1 Corinthians 1, where Paul urges Christlike conversations between schismatic bodies.

3. Be radically honest on what you believe and why you believe it, and let the other do the same. Bishop Mark pointed out that in Ecumenical conversations the point is not to be “nice” but to be truthful. That is the best way to acknowledge our ultimate common ground in Christ. He quoted Orthodox theologian John Zizoulas, a longtime friend partner in ecumenical conversation, who insists that our unity is grounded in our love for one another, in the church of the Triune God.

4. While you are listening, also pray for the person who is speaking: pray for discernment. Be open to the possibility that maybe they are correct.

5. Practice forgiveness and reconciliation as a habit. Think about and discuss how we forgive and find reconciliation with one another.

6. Should the other attribute to you evil intentions, take a deep breath and pray. Who is setting the agenda? Do not let them be your environment. Reach down, find the Christ within you, and only then, speak.

7. Practice daily intercession, as part of a group that meets regularly for conversation and prayer. Covenant to pray for one another daily.

8. Be guided by the Benedictines, who know that they do not agree with each other AND that they have to live together.

Read it all.

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