The Middle Ground Leads to Nowhere - Living Strong Television Network
The Middle Ground Leads to Nowhere

Neutrality doesn’t work in church. But we can recover the heart of our faith.

I’m a textbook middle child. I’ve spent a lifetime perfecting the art of placation, walking fine lines and threading needles. For years as a pastor, I relied on such diplomatic instincts to shepherd a politically and theologically diverse congregation.

In our current era of heightened polarization, it has become more challenging to carve out a place where people with serious differences can fellowship and worship together. Still, carving leaves a void. You keep everyone in the same room, but to what end? Neutrality suppresses incendiary topics and calls it peace.

Most people with strong beliefs distrust middle ground, especially when convinced that their perspective is biblical truth that must be fiercely defended. Decades ago, Sen. Barry Goldwater observed this tendency: “Frankly, these people frighten me. Politics and governing demand compromise. But these Christians believe they are acting in the name of God, so they can’t and won’t compromise.”

To the purists, the middle is where hard truth gets watered down, making it more palatable and less meaningful. Even God shows a disdain for the lukewarm in-between (Rev. 3:16). Be hot or cold, but don’t be tepid.

No wonder many congregations have homogenous viewpoints. Half of US Protestant churchgoers say they’d prefer attending a church where people hold similar political views, Lifeway Research found, and more than half think the members of their church already do. Sometimes, this unity is obtained through attrition, as unwelcome voices simply leave.

Of course, not all arguments are equally valid. Truth isn’t relative and sin matters. And when it comes to the most essential, common Christian convictions, there is not room for …

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