Churchill and Twain for Church Leaders

A friend of mine in California, Jeff Brazil, sent me two quotes after we had a conversation about the negative and inaccurate blogging words being penned about Brian McLaren and his orthodoxy. I think both Winston Churchill and Mark Twain have something to say to Christians about our tendency to impulsively write and speak words before we are willing to fully explore a situation and listen carefully to one another.

A lie gets halfway ‘round the world before the truth can get its pants on.

Winston Churchill

Religion and politics are two subjects where people draw their conclusions based on information that is almost exclusively second-hand.

Mark Twain

I was reminded once again of those words today when I had the privilege of interviewing Brian (along with Bill Hybels) for an upcoming Defining Moments recording. Every time I am with Brian, I am more convinced of his passionate love for Christ, his devotion to Scripture, and his prophetic voice for what it means for each one of us to invest our life in building the kingdom of God on earth. Yes, Brian is controversial. He makes us think. He stretches us out of our paradigms and challenges our assumptions. That’s what prophets do. But Brian’s motivation is pure and his heart is solid gold.

Why can’t Christians learn how to respectfully disagree with one another? Instead of engaging in animated dialogs about issues we care so much about, we instead too often resort to expressing hateful thoughts, not believing the best about our brothers and sisters, extending no grace. Go ahead and ask your questions about Brian, his writing and his theology. That is healthy. But in the process, speak with a tone of love and respect and acknowledge the possibility that you may not fully grasp what Brian believes or is advocating. Are there any more gracious words for any of us to say than the words, “I may be wrong about this…” or “Am I misunderstanding something here…?” I wish all of us would more closely follow the words of James, to be “quick to listen and slow to speak.”

This June, at our Arts Conference titled Arise, I couldn’t be more thrilled that Brian will serve as one of our primary speakers. I believe God has something for us to learn from him. And whether or not we end up agreeing 100% with what Brian has to say, I am certain we will all be enriched as we wrestle with some new thoughts, as we consider what it means to be fully devoted followers of Christ seeking to redeem and restore this broken world with the love of Christ. Thank you, Jeff, for giving me a window into the reflections of Churchill and Twain from long ago – words that could not be more relevant for Christian leaders today.

1 comment:

Ray Deck III said...

You're exactly right that we often jump to conclusions to quickly. James 3 talks about how damaging the tongue can be. It is easy to be even sharper with our communication on the internet than in person. Bloggers are notoriously brutal toward things that they disapprove of. Christian bloggers should be different.

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