Jul 12, 2011 by Mark Young | 1 Comments
The pattern is all too familiar these days, isn’t it? The pitch and volume of the voice increases as the radio talk show host interrupts the invited guest or caller who dares to offer a different perspective on the issue at hand. Their incredulity cannot be mistaken and the message is clear, “How could anyone see the matter differently? There’s only one way to view this issue? You must be an idiot to think there’s another way to see it.” Television pundits, sometimes three of them talking over one another simultaneously, repeat the same sad performance nightly. Understanding takes a back seat to entertainment and civility gets drowned in bombast. The New Living Translation of Proverbs 18:2 seems to capture the tone and content of contemporary public discourse, “Fools have no interest in understanding; they only want to air their own opinions.”
At Denver Seminary we believe that there’s a better way for those with strong convictions to interact with others. We call it charitable orthodoxy. Unfortunately, a phrase like, “charitable orthodoxy” seems oxymoronic in contemporary culture. But it must not be so among the people of God.
Charitable orthodoxy is the third of five Core Commitments that define Denver Seminary. It means that we are committed to the core doctrines that have defined Christianity for centuries. We cling to these great truths of our faith for they frame our understanding of God, of the world in which we live, and His work in it. Furthermore, we confess these great truths as the way forward for those trapped in the mire of indifference and relativism. Around our common confession we engage in gracious and serious conversations about faith and life. Sometimes we disagree with one another about the interpretation of particular passages, about theological issues of secondary importance, about the expression of Christian ethics in public life, and about the application of Scripture to ministry. At all times, however, we are committed to be a community that relates to one another charitably, with a penchant to listen before speaking and a desire to learn that trumps the instinct to defend and to tell. The freedom and courage to think is only half the equation for a vibrant learning community; freedom and courage to listen completes it.
Our commitment to orthodoxy means that we believe passionately in the truths that Christians have confessed in every generation and on every continent. But passionate belief must never eclipse compassionate engagement with those who do not see the truth as we see it. In the life of a Christian, there is no room for demeaning and disrespectful behavior toward others. The integrity of our faith and witness demands charity toward all people. Being charitable toward another is more than being polite; it means seeking the good of others, even those who misunderstand you, malign you and even seek to harm you. Although often mistaken for weakness, acting charitably toward others requires the strength of conviction and depth of character that many lack.
Charitable orthodoxy means that it’s not enough for us to be right; we must also be redemptive. That means we must be committed to seeking their good through the truth that we hold dear. That’s why our mission is to prepare men and women to engage the needs of the world with the redemptive power of the gospel and the life-changing truth of Scripture. Passionately committed to the truth and compassionately engaged in the lives of others.