Understanding People, Preface

Understanding People: Deep Longings for Relationship, by Dr. Larry Crabb.

I am going to attempt to quickly comment on each chapter or section of books that I read. I have a number of books that I need to read fairly quickly for both my counseling and my cross-cultural ministry classes. So the comments will be brief; a key quote or a main question or subject that stands out.

In the Preface, he makes a plea for dialogue among Christians, especially ones that disagree. It might be that we could learn something from each other if we practice love, respect, and forbearance in our dialogue of difficult subjects. His comments apply directly to Biblical Counseling, but in light of various recent posts at JesusCreed.com, the overall appeal remains timely.

He wonders why the children of God, who should be the first to be compassionate, are so prone to “pettiness and clanishness and backbiting?” (13) Perhaps we are “defensive, proud, and threatened people.” We don’t have to renounce truth in order to dialogue. But we will have to drop the rhetoric and attacks and felt superiority.

He gives three guidelines:

  1. Articulate our positions carefully and nondefensively.
  2. Maintain a willing openness to changing positions we currently cherish if we come to believe that change is warranted by new insights into Scripture.
  3. Self-Consciously labor to walk the tightrope of open conviction by working to avoid falling into either 1) accomodationism (openness to the point where unity is placed above the truth), or 2) exclusivism (conviction to the point where condemnation of another viewpoint precedes understanding of it).

“We should agree when we can, disagree when we must, and cooperate whenver possible without compromising the pursuit of godly purposes.” (15)

 What I appreciated about his discussion was the emphasis on intelligent and kind dialogue yet did not remove right and wrong from the table. His point three above is spot on.


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