“We need to keep remembering that we don’t beat an idea by beating a person.” (Barry H. Corey)
There is a deep polarization in Christianity today. Thankfully, it is not around the doctrine that Jesus Christ is Lord. It mostly centers around social issues, and how we respond to them. Barry Corey, the president of Biola University, has a suggestion: Love kindness.
He writes in his Introduction:
In today’s polarized culture, we are often pulled toward one extreme or the other, soft centers or hard edges. I’m proposing a different approach, a third way. Rather than the harshness of firm centers and hard edges, and rather than the weakness of spongy centers and soft edges, why don’t we start with kindness? Kindness is the way of firm centers and soft edges.
Corey comes from an evangelical, traditional background. He is open and honest about that throughout his book. As such, he does not suggest that his tradition changes their mind regarding the “truth” about key issues. While at times, that is distracting, his message remains strong: We should love kindness more than we love debating.
He uses personal illustrations that are compelling to articulate why kindness matters. At first it seems like a no-brainer. Christians should love kindness. But as Corey reminds us over and over again, Christians do not always act with kindness. It is a message to his own community as much as it is to anyone else. In fact, you get the sense that Corey is writing to the evangelical community, reminding them to follow Jesus’ example of loving kindness.
Right off the bat, Corey addresses the elephant in the sanctuary – the LGBTQ community. This is where Corey asks the question, “How do we live a life with a firm center and soft edges in conversations on human sexuality?” A firm center is the truth on an issue, which is unchanging from his perceptive. And while there seems to be no transformation in that area, we have to acknowledge that Corey is calling for soft edges. As he says, “Reach-across-the-aisle kindness is not meant to affirm each other’s choices, but it does mean we listen to each other’s voices.”
While I do not agree with everything Corey writes, human sexuality aside, I have great respect for how he articulates to his community that the way to respond to those who think differently is with respect, kindness, and love. The illustrations from his own life provide clear evidence that it makes a difference.
As Corey reminds us, “Biblical kindness means we love and receive others even though we may not affirm their decisions.”
You can purchase your own copy by clicking on the image:
Thanks to Tyndale BlogNetwork for providing a preview copy for this review.