Disagreeing Well (because people are watching)

Davis Williams (you’d think he was paying me for reposting his stuff) put this up today from Francis Schaeffer.

Before a watching world, an observable love in the midst of difference will show a difference between Christians’ differences and other men’s differences.  The world may not understand what the Christians are disagreeing about, but they will very quickly understand the difference of our differences from the world’s differences if they see us having our differences in an open and observable love on a practical level.

~Francis Schaeffer, The Mark of a Christian, The Complete Works of Francis A. Schaeffer, Volume 4, p. 201

True that, Francis, and thanks for pointing us there, David.


  • Bev Mitchell

    On wynsume and winsomeness

    This is great, and so true. But can we find some other way to express it than the overused “winsome”? This is not so much a problem here but is scattered far too widely and liberally in the blogosphere when we want to encourage the good behaviour Schaeffer is talking about. One thing winsome does have going for it is that it is an old word. This is important and somewhat comforting. “Ōær wæs hælepa hleahtor, hlyn swynsode, word wæron wynsume.” “Then was laughter of liegemen loud resounding with winsome words.” (Beowulf). But I still don’t like to be called winsome or wynsume, and do whatever little things are necessary to avoid giving off that impression. Some say I needn’t try too hard nor worry overmuch. Maybe it’s a generational thing. “The rugged root that bear the winsome flower is weak and withere’d.” H. Coleridge. 1833. :)

  • http://resurrectingraleigh.wordpress.com/ David

    Thanks for the link, Pete! Unfortunately, here’s how most of our theological disagreements are actually argued: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CVKojginwj0&feature=related

    • peteenns


  • Barry Ickes

    As a traveler on the road to the heavenly city, I find one word most disturbingly undefined by friends and foes alike, and that word is “LOVE.” It’s meaning is both elusive and unclear, but it seems to simply satisfy the masses when said or quoted. Please folks, try to give content or synonyms to it, otherwise, I will think you are satisfied with the husk.

    • peteenns

      Can you be more specific? It seems a bit unclear in Johns Gospel and letters, no?

    • Bev Mitchell


      This may be because we understand power so much better than love. In the same way that death is swallowed up in victory, power has been swallowed up in love. It’s certainly not the other way around, though we very often act as if it was.

      We will always need to imagine better what God can do with love, even through us.  No husk there. :)

  • http://craigvick.wordpress.com Craig Vick

    A root problem occurs, in my view, when we lose or impair the ability to listen. This shows up in our conversations with one another, but even worse, in our conversations with “the world”. In our arrogance, we think we know. When we think we know we don’t think we need to listen. We don’t listen to God, one another or the world. It’s all related.

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  • Brett Blatchley

    Francis Schaeffer is thought to be one of the “founders” of the Evangelical movement, spurring Christian’s engagement with the cultures of the world, but too many of us who think of ourselves as engaged-Evangelicals have forgotten this part of what he said. We too often assume the privilege of disagreeing without having *first* established the credibility and trust needed to be taken seriously by others. Even worse, some of us don’t even care what the rest of the world thinks: “we’re doing this FOR God” is our attitude (and even words). Jesus didn’t do this. He didn’t compromise God, AND demonstrated Himself to be credible and trustworthy; He did this by acting in a loving way personally, in relationship. His reputation for loving people personally carried forward into His speaking with multitudes – His credibility and trust preceded Him. Likewise, we should be known as people who love each other, and others…known for this in ways that people who don’t yet know God can easily spot, because they see God in those very loving ways and acts.

    Love doesn’t primarily mean disagreeing with things we think God doesn’t like. Love doesn’t primarily mean denouncing other people for real (or perceived) sin. We are meant to understand and *do* love in the common sense of the word that friends parents understand, and even to elevate this to self-sacrificial degrees, and to people we don’t like, to people who may even hate us and want us dead. Think of the “love chapter” in 1st Corinthians 13, or just the fruits of the Spirit…

    Abandon yourself to God (who has your back), and when in doubt, do the kind thing.