Q & R: Aren’t you just the same …

Here’s the Q:

In your recent blog post, you kept exhorting the Tea Party supporter to read your book Everything Must Change. In an earlier blog post you wrote, “Francis Schaeffer’s ‘A Christian Manifesto’ gave me the creeps.”
Can’t you see that your book is just a liberal/progressive version of Schaeffer’s?
I don’t agree with the positions in either book, but whether you’re on the “right” side of the street, or “left” side, aren’t you both just throwing stones in a glass-zoned nieghborhood?

Here’s the R:

Thanks for your comment. First, I hope I’m not throwing stones … that’s a dangerous thing for a Christian to do in light of Jesus’ words in John 8. I’ve noticed that when polarized people throw stones at one another, a whole lot of innocent people – usually the poor, the vulnerable, the forgotten – get caught in the crossfire. So I’m grateful for your sensitivity to the danger of throwing stones.
But what’s the wisest response when polarized people are throwing stones at one another? To remain silent? That’s tempting, because if you speak up it can easily make you seem like you’re just another strident voice. But if you remain silent, your silence can also make an unintended statement. So I’ve tried to speak up – imperfectly, no doubt – when my conscience moves me to, trying not to indulge in the “stone-throwing” rhetoric neither of us appreciates. In the case you refer to, I was honestly reporting my negative reaction to a book, just as you honestly reported to me your negative reaction to my post. (BTW – did you ever read the book in question? My suspicion is that if you did, you would share “the creeps” that I felt. It felt to me like it was inviting the development of armed militias … the same kinds that have, in fact, formed in the decades since.)
If you’re saying that because I differ with a conservative, that makes me a liberal/progressive … that depends on how one defines the terms, don’t you think? On some issues, I suppose the label might fit; on others, I’m sure it wouldn’t … and on many issues, I think few liberals or conservatives are even asking the right questions, much less proposing the right answers. My hunch is that you would agree with this assessment.
I actually make that quite clear in my book Everything Must Change. For example, regarding what I call in the book “theocapitalism,” conservatives and liberals tend to be two sister denominations in the same religion. I think we need a radically different approach entirely.
I hope to do more writing in the next year that will both affirm and challenge certain elements of both liberal and conservative positions. In the end, we all have to live together – whether we call ourselves liberals or conservatives or notas (“neither of the aboves”). So my preference isn’t to condemn liberal or conservative groups or to try to separate myself from them into a hyper-elite third category. My hope would be to find ways to engage members of each group in a common search for a better future.
Perhaps we can be allies in that quest? In order to do so, we’ll have to show – and receive – a lot of grace, because it’s terribly easy to cause one another offense and fall short of our own high ideals for honest, respectful, collaborative communication. In that regard – falling short of my own ideals at times – I’m just the same as everybody else, sad to say. That’s why I try to show the same grace I know that I need to be shown. I hope we can all try to stumble forward on that gracious path.