Three cheers for Dwight Longenecker's challenging and insightful article “Liberal? Conservative? Keep ‘Em Guessing” (May 23-29).
With each paragraph, I felt like shouting out “Yes!” louder and louder. At last, a commentator who is not interested in telling us who's right and who's wrong. At last, a commentator who's not interested in telling us how to think. Finally, an author who admits he doesn't have a corner on the truth and who doesn't demonize everyone who disagrees with him. What a refreshing piece to read in a Church that is becoming more and more polarized.
Longenecker's perspective that the Church is more like a bus stop than a club seems to have fallen out of favor recently, much to the detriment of our ability to witness to the Gospel in a pluralistic world. When all we do is tell people whether they're “in” or not, we're not really manifesting the love of Christ to them. When all we do is check someone's positions on one or two issues — and make final judgment on the whole of their lives based upon these positions — we show that we've lost the capacity to wonder at all the goodness God has placed within that person. And what's probably worst of all, when we “put other people into neat categories in order to dispose of them” (as Longenecker writes), we're committing a sin against the “right-to-life” principles we hold so dear.
If every life is sacred, then every person deserves respect and honor, even if we disagree with him — even if he is advocating something we consider dangerous and even heretical. Neat little categories such as “liberal” and “conservative” do nothing more than reduce the amazing — and admittedly frustrating — complexity of a beloved creation of God into a couple of sound bites.
Longenecker is right: It's very hard to have a respectful dialogue with someone we have categorized and dismissed. And where there is no dialogue, there is no room for the Holy Spirit. And where there is no room for the Holy Spirit, there is no room for the love of Christ, which can transform everyone, liberal and conservative alike.
MARK JAMESON Fruit Cove, Florida