My friend Harold Heie has a passionate commitment to fostering respectful conversations on the internet about difficult topics among evangelicals. Heie is Senior Fellow at the Center for Faith and Inquiry at Gordon College (full bio here). He is the author of Learning to Listen, Ready to Talk: A Pilgrimage Toward Peacemaking and Evangelicals on Public Policy Issues: Sustaining a Respectful Political Conversation.
His recent book tackles another difficult topic: A Future for American Evangelicalism: Commitment, Openness, and Conversation, where Heie summarizes and reflects on an eCircle conversation he hosted on his blog in 2013, “American Evangelicalism: Present conditions, Future Possibilities.” (See also my earlier post.) That conversation took place among 26 evangelical thinkers, including me, John R. Franke, Karl Giberson, Jeannine Brown, Christopher M. Hays, Richard Mouw, Amos Yong, John Wilson, and Molly Worthen.
After two brief introductory chapters (“American Evangelicalism and the Broader Christian Tradition” and “Continuing the Conversation”), Heie covers over the next 7 chapters the issues that were addressed in the original eCircle conversation.
- Evangelicalism and the Exclusivity of Christianity
- Evangelicalism and the Modern Study of Scripture
- Evangelicalism and Morality
- Evangelicalism and Politics
- Evangelicalism and Scientific Models of Humanity and Cosmic and Human Origins
- Evangelicalism and Higher Education
- The Future of Evangelicalism
Nothing controversial at all in these topics. Back to your homes, citizens. Nothing to see here.
In this volume, Heie does what he does best: he assembled a group of thinkers representing diverse points of view, who are (see subtitle) committed to what they believe, are open to hearing what others have to say, and demonstrate that openness by engaging in a respectful conversation with others.
I have to say, that’s hard to pull off for a person like me, seeing that I know I’m basically right most of the time (just ask my wife) and wish everyone else would see it so the world would be a happier place.
On the other hand, Heie opens the volume with a favorite quote of his from the late Ian Barbour:
It is by no means easy to hold beliefs for which you would be willing to die, and yet to remain open to new insights; but it is precisely such a combination of commitment and inquiry that constitutes religious maturity (Myths, Models and Paradigms, p. 138).
True, that is “by no means easy” but a worthy endeavor nonetheless. I promise to try harder. In the meantime, Heie is already pulling it off.
If you want a break from internet rancor and ideological battles, Heie walks the walk and talks the talk.