|Oklahoma Wesleyan University|
I have said it before and I will say it again, Chris Gehrz, the chair of the history department at Bethel University and the man behind The Pietist Schoolman blog, is emerging as one of the most important voices in the Christian college world today. I hope you have been reading his posts on Union University’s decision to withdraw from the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU). (By the way, we have covered this issue here and here).
- Consensus is not the enemy of conviction, for
- convictions are not meant to be held in isolation, but in community.
- (My Latin is virtually non-existent, but doesn’t convictus imply something like “living with”?
- Also, the verb from which it descends means first “to convince” and only secondarily “to conquer.”)
- We hold convictions about what is true not as private property, to be protected from threats, but as public goods, to be shared as part of life together.
- Holding convictions defiantly might feel more emotionally satisfying than seeking the subtle, slow-arriving, and inevitably compromised joys of consensus — but that feeling isn’t always trustworthy.
- (As Yeats wrote, “Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold” when “The best lack all conviction, while the worst / Are full of passionate intensity.” Too many people who think they’re holding convictions courageously are really just full of “passionate intensity.”)
- To hold convictions as a way of “living with” others requires more conversation than declaration.
- Conversation requires time, but what’s the hurry?
- Shouldn’t a deeply held belief sustain more, rather than less, patience?
- A dialogue might reveal what you’ll rarely realize in the middle of a monologue: that your belief is misheld.
- Which should remind us that we use the word “conviction” far too often to label a strongly held belief and too rarely in the sense of being convicted of our own shortcomings (including shortcomings of understanding and belief).
- So finally, conviction is less something that you decide to hold to and much more something that happens to you, a sinner.