Tag Archives: disagreement

95: Obligated Church Attendance?

In this episode John and Gregg discuss a blog post entitled “The Sin of Forsaking Fellowship,” by Dan Dailey, first raised in the Untangling Christianity private Facebook group. John wonders about a comment that Gregg left on the blog post.

Gregg explains that he was struck by what he saw as a crucial contradiction at the beginning of the post. For example, the author both appears to be writing from a personal perspective and has made a rather drastic choice for a Christian (to “quit going to church . . . permanently”), yet the author claims that his reasons for making this decision are not relevant to the post. Gregg explains that he finds this misleading (because his reasons for leaving church surely are relevant to the post!) and so wanted the author to know that this approach created distrust for Gregg.

So Gregg underscores that knowing why someone holds a particular perspective, especially where it appears to deviate radically from accepted norms, is essential to understanding the perspective (and perhaps, being persuaded by it). Particularly, the idea of being a Christian but permanently leaving the church is extremely uncommon and so Gregg wants to have information about why this decision was made and why this might be a good decision for others (which Gregg believes the post is advocating).

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82: Unlearning Youth Group

John and Gregg begin this episode by discussing an article from Relevant Magazine, entitled “3 Youth Group Lessons I’ve Had to Unlearn,” by Addie Zierman.

Gregg explains that the article expresses a similar perspective to the one that he has adopted in his discussion with Tommi, on the matter of theory versus practice. Specifically, Tommi has charged that Gregg seems to be focused more on theory than on practice, yet Gregg disagrees. Instead he believes that we need to approach practice through theory due to certain orientations within evangelical Christianity.

Gregg highlights how the article suggests that evangelical Christians have actually siloed themselves from others because they have been persuaded to adopt an overly defensive pose, much a Gregg has been highlighting in his series of blog posts about churches that adopt “boundary-focused” approaches to outsiders. Gregg’s point is that the author’s view (that Christians are overly defensive) and that of her church / youth pastor (that Christians will be persecuted and must be ready to give reasons for their beliefs) represent two practical orientations that are not only opposed to each other but stalemated, and that this stalemate can only be overcome by appealing to theory.
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80: How to Listen and Disagree

In this episode John and Gregg discuss how one can or should disagree, in situations where others raise viewpoints that one thinks are questionable or does not believe.   John gives the example of being at a party and someone making an offhand comment about the human soul after death. Several people added supporting comments and John observed a number of “courtesy nods.”

John thought something seemed amiss in the comment but didn’t think that he could unpack all his thoughts (or perhaps even be as clear about them as he wanted to be) and so chose to remain silent. Yet he raises the idea that having integrity can also mean being honest about the fact that one doesn’t agree with something. So John wonders: How can we be constructive while disagreeing?
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79: Beneficial Disagreement

In this episode John wonders why Gregg was so pleased when, during the last episode, Tommi disagreed with Gregg’s perspective.

Gregg explains that he is excited and positive about several things. First, that listeners such as Tommi are listening attentively to our episodes, grasping what is being said, formulating their own views on the subject, and being willing to engage with us about the differences. Further, Gregg is becoming further aware of his own perspective on Christianity, even that much of what he and John are doing through this podcast (and in particular, challenging what “counts” as information sources about God, about humanity, and about the relationship between the two) Gregg would now consider to be his vocation.

Gregg summarizes how his spiritual journey (of being a Christian for 7 or 8 years, then as an agnostic for 7 years, and finally as a Christian again for the past 15+ years) was very painful yet also very beneficial. John guesses that this a rare trajectory. Gregg explains that even as his current views about Christianity have been formed by this difficult process, so too Gregg believes that the integration of Christian beliefs and human existence that he is presenting will be mostly unfamiliar (and so challenging) to others. And so perhaps the best sign that listeners are really engaging with this material is that they are having some of the same reactions that Gregg had himself, when he was first grappling with these ideas!
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