I just read a very interesting post on Adam Hamilton’s blog Seeing Gray. Adam Hamilton has made the decision, at least for the time being, to turn off the comments on his blog. I can really sense his wrestling with the desire to create a place for people to dialog and listen to one another. Instead, it seems that a few people are monopolizing the conversation, and they are doing so in an unloving way.

I have been blessed during my time blogging to not find that this has been a problem… so far. But, I have also been surprised to find how rude, even hateful, Christians can be on Christian blogs or discussion boards. A few years ago there was one board I finally had to quit visiting, because I realized I always left angry and hurt.

I have not been following Adam’s blog closely enough to know what the comments were about that he found to be troublesome enough to make the decision to go ahead and turn off the comments. But, there seems to be something very mixed up going on in our understanding (and more importantly out practice) of faith when we feel justified bashing someone verbally because we do not agree with them on a particular issue.

This seems to point to a broader concern that I have with the universal Church. People on different sides of issues far too often seem to be unable to respect one another to listen carefully to what they are saying and try to understand where they are coming from. More specifically, I see this happening to some extent with the United Methodist Church – particularly in relation to the most controversial issues.

I am reminded of Wesley’s exhortation that though we may not all think alike, may we not love alike? Unfortunately, this is sometimes used as a justification for doctrinal indifference. This is not what Wesley meant at all. Wesley made a distinction between essential and nonessentials. I wonder if the first step for Christians in trying to find a way forward might not be to first take a major step backward. Maybe instead of talking about specific issues that we disagree on, could it be that we first need to make sure we agree on what the essentials are? Sometimes when I observe arguments between Christians, I wonder if there is anything they agree on.

For Jesus’ sake, may we rediscover the essentials of the Christian faith and learn to listen to one another, remembering that Jesus commanded us to love our neighbor in the same breath that he commanded us to love God.