Civility: the act of showing regard for others; formal politeness and courtesy in behavior and speech
A couple years ago, Richard Mouw, President of the Fuller Theological Seminary, called for more convicted civility in our interfaith dialogue. It was a challenge to be true to our own faith and convictions, not compromising our doctrine or way of life, while at the same time striving to better understand and respect our neighbors of other religious persuasions. So on the whole, how do you think we're doing?
I've enjoyed my short experience and have been amazed at all that I've learned, both in my own faith, and from others. We can gain a lot by learning the lessons that Robert L. Millet and Pastor Greg Johnson have demonstrated here in this YouTube video on Convicted Civility. Greg Johnson summarizes what's different about the "Faith Dialogue" he wants to foster here, and here's a link to a similarly applicable and interesting article by Robert Millet.
In addition to deepening my own religious understanding, I've learned from recent conversations not to jump to conclusions, to give the benefit of the doubt, to not be quick to take offense but to seek understanding, patience, how I come across to others and how I am perceived, to think things through more deeply, and that we can still be civil while sharing (as well as solidifying) our convictions. "Aquinas", a Latter-day Saint I have much respect for, explains why he enjoys this approach here on his blog, Summa Theologica. I was also quite inspired by Richard Bushman and the way he conversed with the national media and answered their probing questions at this Pew Forum's faith conference.
Ultimately I've learned that I'm much more into building bridges of understanding than I am into trying to convert people. We can still be respectful and neighborly while discussing our surprising similarities and our unique and striking differences. Stephen E. Robinson and Craig L. Blomberg modeled this and also created a masterpiece in writing "How Wide the Divide?".
President Hinckley once said that "the true gospel of Jesus Christ never led to bigotry. It never led to self-righteousness. It never led to arrogance. The true gospel of Jesus Christ leads to brotherhood, to friendship, to appreciation of others, to respect and kindness and love."("The BYU Experience"). As we strive to portray each other more accurately and more fairly, ultimately we ought to be motivated by the pure love of Christ, which "suffers long, and is kind" (1 Corinthians 13:4)--even when we disagree.
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