We generally assume that those sitting around us in church share our beliefs. But when our personal convictions are contested by fellow Christians, everything changes. We feel attacked from behind. When other Christians doubt or deny our convictions, we don't experience it as a mere difference of opinion, but as a violation of an unspoken agreement.
Tim Muehlhoff and Rick Langer offer a guide to help Christians navigate disagreements with one another. In today's polarized context, Christians often have committed, biblical rationales for very different positions. How do we discern between core biblical convictions and secondary issues? How do we cultivate better understanding and compassion for those we disagree with? Muehlhoff and Langer provide lessons from conflict theory and church history on how to avoid the dangers of groupthink and how to negotiate differing biblical convictions to avoid church splits and repair interpersonal ruptures.
Christian unity is possible. Discover how we can navigate differences by speaking in both truth and love.
"The church is a family, and as with any family there are bound to be disagreements. In a world of increasing theological relativism and shifting political correctness, there's plenty to get upset about. This much-needed book is a practical guide to picking your battles and developing the art of loving people with whom you disagree. Muehlhoff and Langer demonstrate that we can do both—and must for the health of the church."
"Much of my work is in the realm of ethnic unity, where people hold very deep convictions and many times say the wrong thing. Sadly, when this happens, they are met not with grace and civility but with meanness. And most of this work is among Christians! We need to reexamine what we hold dear and how we can communicate our beliefs in a way that's winsome and compelling. For this I'm grateful to God for Tim Muehlhoff and Richard Langer and their timely resource, Winsome Conviction."
"It's hard to imagine a more timely and relevant book for the church today as we navigate faithful living in a post-truth, post-civil, pandemic culture where the church seems as divided as the rest of the country. Muehlhoff and Langer spotlight the pivotal role that the church's transformational ministry can have during such times, and how it can lead the way in witnessing Christ in hospitable ways to a weary and often fear-filled public. These thoughtful scholars and practitioners prod us patiently, persistently, and gently to understand how we can experience Christian unity and what's at stake. A must-read."
Introduction: Christian Unity in the Argument Culture
Section I: Biblical Foundations
1. Historical Prelude: Roger Williams
2. Disputable Matters: The Forgotten Middle Ground
3. The Conviction Spectrum
4. Does Division Have to be Divisive?
Section II: Communicating Convictions
5. Crosscultural Interlude: Of Tattoos and Adultery
6. How Unity Is Threatened
7. Perception Is Reality
8. Fellowship Groups or Echo Chambers
Section III: Putting It All Together
9. Power and Civility
10. Joint Pain in the Body of Christ
11. Conviction Mapping
12. Guidelines for Hard Conversations
13. Historical Postlude: Convictions in Nazi Germany